Major League Fishing professionals Brent Ehrler and Wesley Strader rely on these go-to baits for new fisheries.
By Joel Shangle
Major League Fishing pros Brent Ehrler and Wesley Strader make their living by catching bass from one end of the country to the other, in a diverse array of fisheries with even broader fluctuations in water conditions.
Shallow, weedy Southern impoundments? Deep, clear, natural mountain lakes? Tidal rivers? Oxbow lakes?
All of the above, and more!
We asked Ehrler and Strader, who have two MLF titles, 89 tour-level Top 10's and $3.6 million in career earnings between them, which baits they take with them to a new lake, no matter which part of the country they're fishing.
Here are their "go-to" baits, and why they prefer them.
Bait: Zoom 3 3/4-inch green pumpkin Super Salty Tube on a 5/16-ounce Reins TG Tungsten sinker
Tennessee-based pro Wesley Strader focuses just as much attention on the size of his sinker as the color and action of the bait, favoring a 5/16-ounce Reins TG Tungsten slip-sinker to cover as many different water conditions and applications as possible.
"That 5/16-ounce sinker is just a good all-around size to fish, whether it's warm or cold," Strader says. "A 3/8-ounce can sometimes be a little heavy if you're trying to finesse-fish; 5/16 is still light enough, but not so light that you can't flip with it."
The bait, a simple green pumpkin tube, is universal to any region or lake in the country.
"That bait and color produce no matter what the water clarity is," Strader says. "It's a diverse bait, too. You can flip with it or you can fish it more finesse style on a fluorocarbon leader."
Baits: Lucky Craft LC 1.5 and LC 1.5DD
You might expect California pro Brent Ehrler to zero in on a finesse plastic as his "go-to " bait, but Ehrler insists on a more aggressive coverage lure as his most important tool for deciphering new fisheries.
"If it's a place that I'm unfamiliar with, I'm throwing a crankbait," Ehrler says. "I can cover water with that bait and find fish. Now, I might not necessarily catch all my fish on a crank, but by the end of the day, I'll darn sure have found most of them with it."
Ehrler's baits of choice are a pearl threadfin shad Lucky Craft LC 1.5 squarebill (which dives 3 to 4 feet) and a Lucky Craft LC 1.5DD (a plastic-billed bait that dives 9 to 10 feet). The pearl threadfin shad pattern is visible in off-colored water but natural enough to use in clear water, and the two different diving depths allow Ehrler to effectively cover the broadest range of new water.
"Day in and day out, if I go somewhere I've never fished before, I'm almost always looking shallow first," Ehrler says. "Those two baits allow you to cover 1 to 10 feet of water. You can't pick up just a 1.5 and go to the Ozarks, but if you add the deeper diver, you're covered."