Master Series On Power Fishing With Kevin VanDam (Lesson 4: The Sexy Shad Phenomena)

Master Series On Power Fishing With Kevin VanDam.(Lesson 4: The Sexy Shad Phenomena)

Here you see Kevin VanDam fishing.

About the author

Kevin VanDam as told to Louie Stout

Kevin VanDam as told to Louie Stout

Kevin VanDam is a 7-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 4-time Bassmaster Classic champion.

I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my lures. I'm looking for a specific action, profile and presentation with every cast I make.

 Most people know I like to fish fast and cover a lot of water. I'm trying to trigger inactive fish and catch ALL of the active fish in an area. The best way to do that is to use a lure that runs the proper depth and one that has an erratic action to help trigger inactive fish into striking.

 Choosing lures that closely match what bass are feeding on at the time is critical. You might catch some bass on any crankbait that rakes the bottom, but wouldn't it be better to use one that catches them all?

 Color is a huge part of the equation. Some guys say color doesn't make that much difference. Maybe that's true if you only want to get a few bites.

 But I want more than a few bites. I want to maximize my opportunities and so should you.

 Our lakes are getting more pressure than ever before by anglers who really know what they are doing. They are reading magazines, they are on the internet, watching videos and learning instantly what is going on out there. Your basic chartreuse/white spinnerbait or traditional shad-colored crankbait may get some of those bites. But as our lakes gets clearer and fishing pressure increases, your bait has to appear a lot more natural to get fish to react to it.



 The color has really caught on. It's the number one hard bait color in America and has carried over into some soft plastic lines, too.

 I've consistently finished high in the standings with it and believe it was instrumental in my back-to-back Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles.

 In fact, it produced for me the minute I got my hands on the first Sexy Shad crankbaits, long before it was on the market. I won at Guntersville. I won at Grand Lake. Every place I threw it the bass bit it better than traditional shad colors.

 At Grand Lake, I gave some Series 5 (crankbaits) Sexy Shads to roommates Davy Hite and Scott Rook and they also finished near the top of the leader board.

 Shad are such predominant forage in most of the nation's lakes, and power fishing with reaction type baits (spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and crankbaits) emulates them well. If a bait is moving erratically, it appears sick, weak or injured, and the bass are programmed to attack. By bouncing your crankbait off the bottom, stopping and starting, jerking or twitching, the bait gives the illusion of a vulnerable and easy meal.

 Action won't do that alone, especially in lakes where bass use their eyesight to feed. You have to match your retrieve with a more precise color, shape and size of lure to sell it that much better.

 We spent about a year tweaking the Sexy Shad colors to provide precise shades for the various conditions we face.

 We wanted a color that best resembles how shad appear in the water — not lying in your hand — and in different water clarity and light conditions.

 We discovered they have a lot of color variations — some with a green tint, some with a grayish look — but they nearly always have an iridescent bluish/grey back to them.

 To get those proper combinations on jigs and spinnerbait skirts, we experimented with different counts of colored strands to get it right. While those baits in a package may look different than the shad you see in the water, they produce a realistic appearance when moving through the water.

 Are there times when Sexy Shad doesn't work? Of course, but in my mind, it's rare. One would be during the early spring when the bass are on a crawdad bite, so those crawfish color patterns would be best. But day in, day out, it's a color that works.

 Even on lakes that don't have shad. I've caught a ton of bass on the color around my home in Michigan where shad aren't the primary baitfish.

 Since the initial introduction, the Sexy color chart has grown. Here's an overview of today's "Sexy" colors and when I opt for them:









  • Sexy Shad: Slightly stained water and clear water. My first choice in most situations.
  • Chartreuse Sexy Shad: For dirtier water conditions.
  • Sexy Blue Back Herring: For those lakes where herring is the primary forage.
  • Sexy Ghost Minnow: For those real clear situations, especially on bright days when you don't want a big silhouette and a loud profile; one of my favorites for topwaters.
  • Chrome Sexy Shad: A good choice when you need a lot of flash. I like it for the Red Eye Shad (lipless crankbait) and jerkbait fishing.
  • Sexy Sunfish: Ideal for those lakes where bluegill are dominant and the crankbait bite is on.


Those are the primary ones and more are on the way. But, like the aforementioned colors, Strike King won't release them until we get them the way we want them — actually, the way the fish want them.