I don’t know much about what makes a good swimbait, but to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart I know one when I fish one. That’s why I’m pretty excited about the heads from Tennessee’s Ledgehead Lures – if my initial experimentation with them is any indication, they’ve got something good going on.
I first heard about their heads after the recent Bassmaster Open on Lake Chickamauga, where noted ledge expert Michael Neal used them to finish in the runner up position, bolstered by a 24-06 limit on the third day of competition. I checked out the company’s website and was further intrigued by the fact that they offered some models in sizes heavier than an ounce, which I figured would be helpful in 25 to 30 feet of water at El Salto during the afternoons when the wind howls there.
Indeed, both the underspin and “standard” versions proved to be among my best fish catchers at El Salto, as I probably caught more swimbait fish on this trip than on the previous eight or nine combined. I’m not saying that it was totally due to this head, but it definitely helped. First of all, they use a super-stout hook, and you can choose the size you want, ranging from a 5/0 to a 10/0. Second, the corkscrew keeper is a bait saver, as I probably landed eight or ten fish on one before my hollow belly was torn up. Third, they were remarkably snag resistant. While I lost a couple in deep trees and craggy rock, nine times out of ten they either came over the cover, or were easily dislodged after getting hung up. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, they simply swim right. Whether crawling it, swimming it, or letting it fall, something about the way it guided and cradled the bait produced an exceptionally natural swimming motion. Again, I can’t quite explain why that’s the case, but I had more confidence fishing this head than any other swimbait I’ve used.
It didn’t hurt that we used it most often on the ultimate textbook spot – a long, tapering point with two massive (but currently out of the water) rockpiles, which drops off to 10 feet or so before falling into 60 feet of water in the channel. We’d tie up to a tree at the current shoreline, cast out into the channel, and most of the time the bite would come at the lip. While many of my past swimbait fish required a delayed hookset, these were vicious and uncompromising. As soon as you felt it you could lay the steel to them and they almost always stayed pinned.
We got home from El Salto Sunday at 1pm, headed to a friend's birthday party at 4 and picked up the dog at 7. At 8 I ordered more of those heads. We're not headed back to El Salto until January, but I want to be ready for more of that.