While Patrick Walters attracted bass to bite with minnow-shape baits, it was no fluke how he kept those fish buttoned up and got ‘em into his boat to win last week’s Bassmaster Eastern Open on Lake Hartwell – with VMC® hooks and Sufix® line.
On the tournament’s third and final day on the South Carolina reservoir, Walters switched baits, rods, hooks and line. Setting down the baitcasting rods he’d rigged with Super Flukes, he began throwing a Fluke Stick, which is a hybrid fluke/stick bait, on spinning gear. He nose-hooked the Fluke Stick on a sticky-sharp No. 2 VMC Neko Hook tied to a 10-pound-test Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon leader on a mainline of 10-pound-test Sufix 131 G-Core x13 Braid. An interesting trick to note regarding Walters’ setup was incorporating a VMC Spring Keeper in the nose of his baits, which he then passed the hook through. The result of this trick – flawless hookups with every bite and rarely needing to replace his flukes.
“It was lights-out after that,” said Walters, a Rapala Pro and South Carolina native.
Only two of 12 anglers competing against Walters in the championship round bested his five-bass limit weighing a combined 13 pounds, 11 ounces. But Walters, who led the tournament after the second day of competition, had too large a lead for those two to catch him. Walters’ winning combined weight for three five-bass limits was 44 pounds, 5 ounces. Most of the fish he caught came out of five to 15 feet of water, he told bassmaster.com.
On the tournament’s first two days, when Walters caught 5-bass limits of 14 pounds, 15 ounces, and 15 pounds, 11 ounces, respectively, he used baitcasting gear to throw his flukes, rigged two different ways with two VMC hooks – a Texas-rigged 4/0 Wide Gap and a nose-hooked No. 2 Neko. He threw both set-ups on 14-pound-test Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon line. To prevent line twist, he connected his main line to a 4-foot leader line of the same type and test with a “roughly size 10” VMC Black Stainless Steel Rolling Swivel.
Both VMC and Sufix are Rapala Respected Brands.
Neko Hooks feature a black-nickel finish, wide gap, 3-degree offset point, resin-closed eye and a forged, long shank. Numerous Rapala pros have relied on Neko Hooks to win and place high in top tournaments.
“I had such a good landing percentage on the Neko Hook wacky rigging, I started using it as my drop-shot hook for smallies,” Rapala Pro Seth Feider said following a Bassmaster Elite Series win on Lake Mille Lacs.
Rapala Pro Ott DeFoe has enjoyed such success arming drop-shot and wacky worms with a Neko Hook, he called the hook “one of the most amazing pieces of tackle” he’s ever tied on. “Since getting them,” he wrote in his blog, “I’ve caught literally hundreds of fish and I can only think of two that I’ve lost.”
Neko Hooks are available in four sizes: 2, 1, 1/0 and 2/0.
VMC® Wide Gap Hook
Designed for light- to medium-weight fishing conditions, the VMC Wide Gap hooks offer the advantage of a 3-degree offset point, a trick enlisted by tournament pros for years to increase hook-up percentages. A closed, resin eye eliminates the risk of line slip-through. An enhanced “Z” bend holds soft plastics in place better than competitors’ hooks.
Sufix® 131® G-Core x13
Comprising a single strand of GORE Performance Fiber surrounded by 12 precision HMPE fibers, Sufix 131 G-Core x13 Braid is the most reliable braided line ever made. Featuring reduced internal abrasion, Sufix 131 won’t falter via weak points, guaranteeing reliability during casts, bites and battles back to your boat. Additionally, Sufix 131 increases the number of fibers at the knot, providing a better knot-cinch and stronger holding power.
Sufix® Advance® 100% Fluorcarbon
Developed with Gel Phase Technology™, Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon is incredibly tough, offering superior knot strength and incredible abrasion resistance, while offering the suppleness and sensitivity to help anglers feel those “light” bites. With 50-percent lower stretch than standard monofilament line, Sufix Advance offers exceptional lure control, ultimate bite detection and firm hook setting power.