By David A. Brown
It’s different, it’s versatile and it’s one of the favorite baits in Bassmaster Elite Series pro Fletcher Shryock’s arsenal. It’s the Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits PsychoDad — a well-crafted craw imitator with a softer composition than most Yamamoto baits and a hauntingly realistic appearance.
“The PsychoDad isn’t weighted with salt, so the softer body has the subtle lifelike action of a real craw,” Shryock said. “I’ve seen time after time where the PsychoDad gets bit over other baits hands-down with a guy fishing in front of me.”
Sounds like Shyrock’s sold on this bait. Indeed, he’s keen on using the PsychoDad in a variety of presentations. Here are a few of his top choices:
The shadow realm; the place where bass find cover, seclusion and ambush feeding opportunities. Shryock said this is prime habitat for a jig fitted with a PsychoDad. Fished along the edges, or far back in the darkest, secluded spots, this bait finds eager takers in the dock scenarios.
“It can be effective on a wide variety of jigs from a shaky head to a wobble head,” Shyrock said. “The fact that it slowly floats up gives the PsychoDad a natural look. Some craws stand straight up, but this one just rises up off the bottom like a real craw.”
Shryock said his favorite way to fish the PsychoDad is on the back of a 3/8-ounce flipping jig; particularly for skipping under docks. Here, the bait’s large, round pinchers quickly go to work selling the ruse.
“I understand everyone skips jigs under docks, but this is a great bait because it skips really well,” Shryock said. “I throw it on a stand-up jig, but you wouldn’t even necessarily have to use a standup head because those craw pinchers will rise up.
“I think that’s the key to getting bites. I’ve left it motionless for a while and the fish would pick it up. Back at the boat ramp, I’ve flipped out this bait and watched it (in shallow water) The PsychoDad would still have movement event though it was just sitting there.”
In addition to the pincher posture, Shryock said he also appreciates the PsychoDad’s modest, yet effective paddling motion.
“The pinchers don’t violently paddle back and forth, but they’re not motionless like a beaver style bait,” he said. “I think that’s more of a clear water deal.
“Secondly, I think a chunk trailer can be overpowering on pressured fish. But if you look at things in the water, a lot of times, they’re more subtle.”
For Shyrock, it’s about the right look for the scenario at hand. And for the dock skipping deal, the PsychoDad’s a great fit.
“I like baits that are more subtle like that for skipping docks than the really violent ones,” he said. “You’re really chasing more aggressive fish with those violent baits.”
Another benefit of the PsychoDad’s design — efficiency.
“Because it skips so easily, it seems you can make more accurate casts with the PsychoDad than other trailers,” Shryock said. “You have to get it where they live first. Aside from that, this bait just flat-out gets bit.”
Technique Tip: Shryock stresses attention to detail, especially when rigging the PsychoDad. Take your time, he said, and properly align the bait on your jig. No bunching, no off-centered awkwardness. Keep it straight and properly spaced and the bait will do the work for you.
Of the proper presentation, Shyrock said this: “Let the jig hit the bottom, whether you want to pump it or whatever. Just realize that when you stop moving it, a lot of times, it’s going to have some action for a few seconds, or possibly even longer if you’re in current.
“This means you can fish the jig a little slower.”
Notably, this ability to ease back on the throttle and focus on more measured and methodical presentations is one of the PsychoDad’s brightest benefits, says Shryock. In his view, simple is best and diligent delivery makes good things happen.
“Sometimes, we get so advanced with this stuff and we try to reinvent the wheel,” Shryock said. “I think for a lot of anglers, they just need to make sure that when they’re flipping, pitching or skipping a jig under boat docks they get a vertical fall on slack line and all they allow the bait to hit bottom.
“You can leave the jig motionless for a second before starting to pump it and make sure you maintain that bottom contact.”
Shyrock said he likes this dock-skipping presentation in clear to semi-stained water. In scenarios of lesser visibility, he’ll reach for a larger profile bait.”
Shryock said he likes the PsychoDad for flipping and pitching heavy cover, however, he often finds it challenging to work it through limbs, branches and all those things that like to grab and grip soft figures. Not to worry — he has a creative solution.
With the goal of modifying his bait for Shryock starts by trimming off the bait’s first two segments to make it more compact. Next, he’ll utilize the PsychoDad’s built-in rattle chamber to bolster the bait’s density in a key area. He does so by filling the rattle chamber with a chunk of Senko and using a cigarette lighter, or a torch to melt the filler into the PsychoDad body.
“That allows me to put a little 3/0 Trokar hook right into the rattle chamber, which is the thickest, meatiest part of the bait and I have a really compact craw to flip and pitch with. It holds the hook really well,” Shryock said.
“I’ve found a way to make a smaller, compact profile but still keep a hook in the bait.”
Sounds cool, but does it work? Well, the 11-pound Florida giant Shryock caught in early February sure seemed to like the modified PsychoDad rig.
Technique Tip: Shryock looks for the heaviest cover he can find and lets his bait go all the way to the bottom. In woody cover, such as a big laydown, he’ll soak his bait for several seconds and give it a couple of shakes before retrieving and repeating elsewhere.
“You can leave it sitting motionless (as with dock skipping) and it’s still going to get bit,” Shryock said. “The pinchers are going to rise up while it’s sitting there.”
In heavy vegetation, Shryock punches his ‘Dad through the cover, but before pulling it back out, he’ll snug it against the underside of the thick stuff.
“It looks like a craw that’s hanging from the hyacinth or hydrilla mat,” he said. “When you pull that craw up to the top, it just looks like another (grass) shrimp or crawdad clinging to the vegetation. It looks very natural to the fish.”
Also high on Shryock’s list of PsychoDad presentations is the bottom-bumping football head jig. Here, he said, the rattle chamber plays a key role in adding buoyancy for those deeper spots.
“I’ll fish this in clear to mildly stained water,” Shryock said. “You need some visibility because you want the fish to see what the bait is doing. If it gets to the point that the water’s too dirty, you’ll want a bigger, bulkier bait; maybe something that’s not so detailed.
“That’s the key with this bait, it’s detailed like a crawfish. It looks just like a crawdad in the water.”
Technique Tip: For optimal fit, Shryock suggests trimming off a segment or two from the PsychoDad’s body.
“You want your hook point to come out in front of the rattle chamber,” he said. “That will help with the buoyancy of it, so it stands up.”
Here’s a look at the outfits that Shryock uses for each of his PsychoDad techniques.
Dock Skipping: 7-foot medium-heavy Abu Garcia Villain 2.0 rod with an Abu Garcia Revo MGX 7.9:1 reel and 15-20-pound Berkley 100 Percent Fluorocarbon.
“I like a shorter rod because I’m able to make pinpoint casts and land the jig on the water a lot easier with that shorter rod,” Shryock said.
Texas Rig: For flipping and pitching, Shryock uses a 7-6 heavy Abu Garcia Villain 2.0 with an Abu Garcia Revo MGX 7.9:1 reel and 20-pound fluorocarbon. For punching this bait, he beefs up his tackle to a 7-11 heavy-action rod and 65-pound braid.
Football Head: 7-6 medium-heavy Abu Garcia Villain with an Abu Garcia Revo MGX 7.9:1 reel and 15-pound Berkley 100 Percent Fluorocarbon.
“For all of these techniques, it’s important to have a high speed reel,” Shryock said. “You’re working the bait with the rod tip, but when I have to reel my bait in to make another cast, I want to bring that bait back as fast as I can to make the next cast.
“Because I’m taking up so much line with each turn of the reel, I think that high gear ratio allows me to make more casts and fish a little faster and more productively.”