By Mark Fong
For many anglers, there is nothing more thrilling than targeting bass in shallow water. For GYCB Pro Jay Yelas some of his greatest professional triumphs have come this way, including his 2002 Bassmaster Classic victory on Lay Lake . Today, when targeting shallow water bass, Yelas relies on a pair of Yamamoto soft plastics to consistently put bass in his livewell: the Flappin' Hog and the Senko. “It's a great one – two punch for flippin' and pitchin' around shallow visible cover,” said Yelas. “I'll have a Flappin' Hog on one rod and a Senko on another or even a couple versions of each.”
“In shallow water if fish are around cover and they're aggressive, they're gonna bite a Flappin' Hog or a jig with a Flappin' Hog trailer, but then there times when they won't bite that,” said Yelas. “Those fish are still catchable with a Senko. You can flip cover all day with a Flappin' Hog and maybe catch a few but not many. But if you pitch a Texas rigged Senko up in the cover you're gonna get some really nice fish.”
“I love the Flappin' Hog,” said Yelas. “It's a big bass bait and I've caught a lot bass on it, flippin' and punchin'. I'll rig it Texas style with a #5/0 ZoneLoc Wide Gap Magnum Hook and I usually peg the tungsten weight with a little rubber bobber stop. I'll use a 3/8oz weight if I'm pitchin' it around brush or docks and I'll go all the way up to 1oz if I am fishing mats. Sometime I'll use a heavier sinker if the mats are really thick. Black and blue (021) and green pumpkin/red flake (318) are my standard color choices for the Texas rig.”
Yelas also likes to employ the Flappin' Hog as a jig trailer especially when fishing in shallow, dirty water with less than two feet of visibility . He'll take off a ½ inch or so from the top of the bait before threading it on to the shank of his jig. Yelas typically matches a black and blue (021) trailer to a black and blue skirted jig or a (318) green pumpkin/red flake to the back of a brown jig.
When the fish are biting the Flappin' Hog, it is not uncommon for Yelas to have multiple rods rigged up with different configurations. “To use an example from the California Delta, I might have a lighter Texas rigged Flappin' Hog on a 3/8oz sinker for fishing tulles, and another one (Flappin' Hog) tied up to a 1oz tungsten bullet weight for punchin' mats, and I might have it on the back of a jig, too,” explained Yelas.
One thing for certain is that heavy cover and big fish require stout tackle. Yelas switches between a 7'6” heavy action and a 7'11” extra heavy action Lew's Custom Pro Rod matched to a Team Lew's Pro Casting Reel. For flippin' and pitchin' he spools up with 20lb fluorocarbon line and for punchin' with 50lb braid.
“Typically I like to fish around shallow cover,” said Yelas. “I like to Texas rig a 5” Senko with a wide gap hook (4/0 ZoneLoc Wide Gap Magnum). “I'll pitch it up in cover around docks, willows, tulles, weedbeds, hydrilla, brush, you name it. It's just a great way to catch fish. It will catch them around any type of shallow cover and they will bite a Senko when they won't bite anything else”
After making a pitch, Yelas lets the Senko fall on a slack line. “The Senko is a lure you can over-fish. It has plenty of action on its own as it sinks and that's what draws the strike,” he added.
Yelas fishes the Senko on a 7'4” to 7'6” heavy action Lew's Custom Pro Rod matched with a Team Lew's Pro Casting Reel spooled with 14 to 17lb fluorocarbon line.
Color-wise Yelas likes to keep his selection simple. He relies on black with blue flake (021), green pumpkin (297), and green pumpkin/watermelon laminate (912). With these three colors Yelas is confident he is equipped to catch bass anywhere in the country.
A Perfect Combination
“The Flappin' Hog is more specific when you are fishing in and around heavy cover,” concluded Yelas. “The beauty of the Senko is that it catches them everywhere, it doesn't matter what type of water you are on.”