Dredging Pickwick’s famous ledges with a Rapala® DT®-20 crankbait helped Major League Fishing Pro Jacob Wheeler win an FLW Toyota Series tournament Sunday on the Tennessee River reservoir beloved by bass anglers for its reliable offshore summer bite. He said his DT-20’s balsa body gave him an advantage over competitors throwing plastic crankbaits.
“I don’t care what anybody says, a balsa crankbait triggers fish better than any other type of plastic crankbait does,” Wheeler said after weighing in his third five-fish limit in as many days of competition.
“DT” stands for “Dives To.” Built of balsa wood, Rapala’s signature material, a DT-20 will get down to its maximum depth of 20 feet sooner than – and thus stay in the strike zone longer than – lookalike crankbaits. The way its balsa body wobbles while swimming and digging its bill into the bottom make it the perfect tool for triggering bites from bass in deep-water post-spawn and summer haunts.
A DT-20 in the Caribbean Shad color pattern was one of a few “key players” that helped Wheeler catch the winning three-day total weight of 56 pounds, 8 ounces on Pickwick. It “catches the fire out of them,” he said. Wheeler throws DT’s on Sufix® Advance® Fluorocarbon – 12-pound-test for a DT-20.
Advance® Fluorocarbon is the most supple, sensitive and strong fluoro line Sufix® has ever engineered. It features a higher density index than traditional nylon lines, a quality that helps anglers feel bottom and bites better. Its inherent qualities and exclusive G2 Precision Winding make it virtually memory-free, preventing the dreaded line coils that jump off your reel with most other fluorocarbons.
Rotating between about 30 spots, Wheeler did not focus on large schools of fish because he suspected fellow competitors and recreational anglers alike would also find and heavily pressure them. Instead, he targeted small groups of fish in places that were “a little bit out of the way.” He’d also hit some well-known community holes if they weren’t busy when he came upon them in his rotation of “sneaky” spots. He told flwfishing.com that he fished mostly in two depth zones – 8 to 15 feet and 25 to 35 feet. When the bass he could see on his sonar display were in the DT-20’s strikezone, he could “trigger those fish into biting” it.
A DT-20 gets down to the strike-zone fast with the help of a metal disk permanently embedded in its ultra-thin polycarbonate lip. Swimming with a side-to-side action only balsa crankbaits can achieve, DT-20’s pull with ease despite the depth to which they dive. Perfectly weighted to hit the water in a nose-down, quick-dive position, they can be easily cast 150 feet.
Located between Kentucky Lake and Wilson Lake in the popular Tennessee River chain of reservoirs, Pickwick Lake offers some cover to bass in submerged vegetation like hydrilla, milfoil and eelgrass, “but it’s the old submerged Tennessee River banks themselves that form offshore ledges, bars, back ditches and points that get most of the attention during the post spawn,” notes flwfishing.com reporter Rob Newell. “Pickwick’s famous offshore structures and ledges never disappoint in summer tournaments.”
DT-20’s measure 2 ¾ inches, weigh 7/8 oz. and come armed with two No. 3 black-nickel VMC® trebles. They feature a specially tuned internal baritone rattle, premiere finishes in all the right color patterns to match local baitfish across the country.
Wheeler’s main tournament circuit is the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour, which he has been dominating in its first two years of existence. MLF also owns Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and its numerous national and regional tournament trails. FLW Toyota Series tournament fields usually comprise top local and regional anglers, as well as numerous top-level pros from the MLF, Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Pro Circuit. In his win on Pickwick, Wheeler bested 150 other competitors.