By Mark Fong
I have learned that anytime a professional angler is willing to share the details regarding a pet bait or technique, it is wise to take note. In this case, the angler is long time veteran Elite Series Pro Bernie Schultz and the bait is the GYCB Fat Baby Craw.
“The Fat Baby Craw is a great finesse bait. It is anatomically correct and doesn't have too many appendages. It has a nice subtle movement that is key to its effectiveness,” explained Schultz. “It has just the right amount of texture and is loaded with salt. When a fish bites, it won't let go.”
Light Line Finesse
The Fat Baby Craw is very productive rigged on a stand up style head. “It (Fat Baby Craw) has a good action,” offered Schultz. “Maybe I should say, it has a lack of too much action, which is actually a good thing. When you are fishing a finesse bait, you don't want too many appendages moving all the time and the Fat Baby Craw is clean. It has just the right amount of action. In a situation when I am trying to finesse smallmouth or spotted bass, or even largemouths, on deep rock reservoirs, I don't want a lot of movement. I want something more subtle. A lot of guys add too much action. I'll keep the bait in contact with the bottom but I won't shake it, I'll just pull it along so that it creates a little dust trail.”
Schultz also has good success using the Fat Baby Craw as a sight fishing tool. “I am not talking about bed fishing so much,” he said. “When you see smallmouth cruising flats, it's a really good bait to throw. It's not something the fish see as often as a tube or a Senko.”
The GYCB Pro favors a stand up style head and the amount of wind and the depth of the water influences how he selects the weight of his jig head. Under most conditions he will tie on a 1/16 oz to ¼ oz VMC Ike Approved Rugby or Swinging Rugby Head
When it comes to color selection, Schultz likes to keep it basic. “I almost always use natural colored baits,” he said. “The best colors are green and brown variations. Green Pumpkin (297), Watermelon (194J), and Cinnamon (221) are good choices.”
Schultz utilizes a 7'2”Shimano Expride A medium-heavy action spinning rod matched to a Shimano Exsence 3000 reel. He spools up with 10lb Sufix 832 Coastal Camo braid to which he attaches a 20' length of 10lb Sufix Invisiline fluorocarbon leader via back to back uni knots. A long leader enables Schultz to retie multiple times during the course of the day without having to redo the entire leader.
The very attributes that make the Fat Baby Craw so effective on a lead head, directly translate to make the bait an excellent compact bait for flippin', pitchin' and punchin'. “A really good thing about the Fat Baby Craw is that it will go through just about anything,” Schultz commented. “It doesn't have a lot of appendages and it doesn't stick to tulles or flat reeds. For a lot of soft plastics when you try to pitch them into a stand of bulrushes, they'll get caught up and slow the presentation down or make it clumsy. Even though you are flippin' a heavy weight and trying to power fish, there is some finesse involved.”
Heavy cover requires stout rods and heavy line. Schultz likes to use a 7' to 7'6” heavy action Expride A casting rod matched to a Chronarch G reel that he spools up with 30 - 65lb Sufix 832 braid depending on the cover.
He selects the size of his VMC Tungsten Flippin' weights based on the density of the cover. “If I'm pitchin' duck weed I'll go with a ½ oz weight and if I'm punchin' thick hyacinth I'll use a 1 oz or even a 1½ oz sinker,” said Schultz. “I'm a big believer in pegging my weight, I'm still old school and I'll use a tooth pick instead of a bobber stop.”
“I am not one of those guys that likes a straight shank hook, I like an offset style hook instead,” said Schultz. “With the Fat Baby Craw I use a smaller hook because I don't want to overwhelm the bait with too big a hook. A 2/0 VMC heavy duty wide gap fits the bait perfectly.”
In closing, a special thanks to Bernie for providing the readers of the Inside Line with his unique perspective on the Fat Baby Craw.