Judging by his flat-brim hats and flood of Instagram followers, young-gun bass pro Jacob Wheeler might seem out of place rocking a tactic typically considered old-school — throwing monofilament line. But he does.
“I throw that monofilament a lot,” Wheeler says. “That’s what I like and that’s what I’ve done well with.”
Done well? Bit of an understatement. In five trips to the Forest Wood Cup — the FLW Tour’s championship tournament — he’s never finished outside the top 12. He won it in 2012 — the youngest angler ever to do so. In this year’s Cup, Wheeler threw an Arashi® Top Walker en route to a fourth-place finish. That Storm topwater was spooled up on Sufix® Siege™ mono.
Although monofilament line is considered “old school” by many — it was pretty much the only option back in the day — Sufix Siege isn’t your father’s mono. Smooth and supple, it handles beautifully while remaining exceptionally strong. It features superior casting distance, pinpoint accuracy, up to 15-times-greater abrasion resistance than other lines and has exceptional knot strength.
Sufix Siege mono is Wheeler’s go-to line for topwater fishing.
“When you’re working a topwater and a fish comes up and blows up on it, a lot of guys have a tendency to jerk right away,” Wheeler explains. “So with braid, because it doesn’t stretch, you run the risk of jerking that bait away from the fish, right out of its mouth.”
Because fluorocarbon line sinks, most bass anglers know to avoid it for fishing topwaters. Dock talk continues, however, whether topwater fishing is best with braided line or monofilament. While both float, allowing topwater baits to run true on the surface, personal preference often determines which one an angler uses.
Wheeler prefers mono because it “has a little bit more stretch,” he says. “And that’s what’s really important — especially when you’re throwing that Top Walker, or you’re throwing a Rapala Skitter Walk,” he says. Additionally, mono allows Wheeler to use “a little bit stiffer” rod for topwater fishing, which he favors. The rod-line combo dictates how he sets the hook.
“I’m actually pulling into the fish,” he explains. “I let those VMC® hooks get into the fish and then I pull into them. And they’re so sharp that they’re going to get ‘em about every time. Getting a set-up that you’re comfortable with, that you’ve caught a lot of fish on — not losing a lot of fish — is the key in topwater success.”
While Wheeler will throw his topwaters on mono most of the time, he makes exceptions in Florida.
“I throw 30-pound Sufix Performance Braid when I’m down in Florida, down in a lot of grass with big fish,” he says. “That’s really the deal down there because you’re in such heavy cover that you’ve got to force them out of there. You’re not in an open-water — if that bass gets into that hay field of grass, you’re probably going to lose that fish.”
In Florida, Wheeler favors an X-Rap® Prop when fishing on top. “That’s one of my favorites,” he says. “I’ve won a lot of money down in Florida throwing an X-Rap Prop.”
Even when throwing Performance Braid as his main line, Wheeler connects to his topwater baits with a monofilament leader — most often a 12-inch strand of Sufix Elite™. “It’s little bit thinner, a little bit more supple, and has a little more stretch,” he says.