By Mark Fong
For long time Western Pro Roy Hawk of Lake Havasu, Arizona, 2018 is setting up to be an exciting season of opportunity. Hawk's highly successful campaign at the 2017 Bassmaster Central Opens not only landed him the coveted AOY Title, but also an invitation to fish the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series.
The Inside Line caught up with Hawk last month as he was preparing to depart for the season's first event at Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama. The long time GYCB Pro spoke candidly about the many years of success he has experienced while fishing with Yamamoto baits. Hawk was quick to attribute much of his recent good fortune to the Flappin' Hog, Yamamoto's popular soft plastic crawfish imitator.
“Are you kidding me?” joked Hawk. “We should do a video and go through my boat and you'll see all the Yamamoto stuff I have packed. One of my true favorites in recent years has been the Flappin' Hog. The biggest reason is that I have won a lot of money on it and there are so many different things you can do with it. It just works great, it's got a great profile and a nice subtle action. It comes in two sizes, a 3.75” and a 4.5”. I use them for jig trailers and I use them by themselves Texas rigged for flippin'.”
An Elite Jig Trailer
It did not take long for Hawk to make a big splash at the Elite Series Opener. His four day total of 52lbs 8oz earned him runner up honors at Lake Martin. He concentrated his efforts on a five mile stretch of shoreline just a short distance from the take-off site. In the shallow, off-colored water he cranked a scarlet colored Duo Realis M62 5A and pitched a ½-oz black and blue Pepper Custom Baits casting jig tipped with either a GYCB 3.75” Flappin' Hog (FH-series) or a 5” Double Tail Grub (16-series) both in black w/blue flake (color 021).
While the majority of his fish came on the crankbait, pitchin' the jig to wood accounted for a number of important fish. “I had some really key bites on the jig,” explained Hawk during a phone interview following the tournament. “On the third day, I caught a three pounder that helped me cull out a small spotted bass. When I got to a place where I wasn't able to fish the crankbait because the cover was too heavy, I would fish the jig. If I wanted to give a good looking laydown another shot, a place that looked like it should hold a fish, I'd pitch the jig in there as a cleanup bait.”
Hawk pointed out how very important his line selection was to his result. “I used 12lb Sugoi Fluorocarbon Casting Line,” said Hawk. “The reason I like that line is because it is very low stretch and very abrasion resistant. That's key for fishing in and around the rocks. It's way more abrasion resistant than a lot of the real soft fluorocarbons available on the market today. Fishing the jig I used 20lb Sugoi Flippin' Line, its super strong and abrasion resistant -- perfect for the heavy cover, I was targeting.”
On its own, the Flappin' Hog is an excellent short line power fishing bait. “Just a simple Texas rig works dynamite,” said Hawk. “I flip and pitch them with both a light weight and a heavy weight.” He starts out with a bobber stop and a Gamakatsu Heavy Cover Flippin' Hook, a 4/0 for the smaller size Flappin' Hog and a 5/0 for the bigger bait.
When pitchin' to what he calls 'loose cover' structure like docks, brush, or tules, Hawk's typical setup involves a light tungsten sinker ranging from ¼ to ½ oz, 20lb Clear Sugoi Flippin' Line, and a 7'4” Taipan 5 Power Roy Hawk Signature Series Rod.
Targeting big bed fish is a specific application where the larger 4.5” Flappin' Hog (FHL-series) really shines for the Arizona Pro. “It's 65lb braid, a 3/8oz tungsten weight, a big 5/0 hook and a 4.5” Flappin' Hog,” explained Hawk. “I have caught some giants, 11 and 12 pounders in FLW events with this setup. It's 'Straight Rodeo' when you get them on. There's no playing around, just battle them in and get them in the boat.”
For punchin' heavy vegetation, Hawk revealed a slick modification he makes to his Flappin' Hog. “I take a small Flappin' Hog and laminate a Hula Skirt onto the front of it, sometimes adding a contrasting colored skirt,” he offered. “Just take a 1 or 1.5 oz Tungsten weight, tie your hook on and thread the modified Flappin' Hog on and go. It's so simple. I'll sit home before a tournament and laminate a bunch before I hit the road. I'll make a little bag of them and I'm good to go.” Anytime he is punchin', Hawk relies on 65lb braid and a 7'6” extra heavy action Taipan Punch Rod to get the job done.
Hawk tipped the post spawn and summer as the prime periods for punchin' with the Flappin’ Hog. “Summer is the absolute best,” said Hawk. “When the fish get set up and they're lazy and get up underneath stuff, that is the best time for this bait. The Delta and Clear Lake are great places to punch. Also Havasu; it has tules and grass. We get this long stringy grass we call “hay.” It will grow from twenty foot all the way to the surface and we catch them good out of it.”
When it comes to Flappin’ Hog colors, Hawk, admitted to using a variety of different colors but his mainstays are: (953) smoke with purple and blue flake laminate / watermelon with blue flake (especially around grass and in the summer), (955) watermelon with black and red flake laminate / light watermelon with black and red flake (a favorite for the Delta) and (021) black with blue flake.