2014 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle Lake Dardanelle - Russellville, AR, May 15 - 18, 2014

Square bills on Dardanelle

With dirty water and active bass, shallow crankbaits should play a key role on Dardanelle this week

Brandon Lester
Courtesy of Brandon Lester
A square bill crankbait has all the attributes to trigger strikes from shallow bass in dirty water.

Lake Dardanelle is setting up to be a shallow water deal. With lots of rain the past few weeks in the Arkansas area, the lake already has a lot of color to it but we are getting even more rain this week. It is getting downright muddy.

That means the fish will go shallow to feed. These fish are fresh off the spawn and ready to eat, so reaction baits should play a big role this week. In my opinion, one of the key players will be a square bill crankbait. Square bills have been around a long time and are available in many shapes and sizes, made of wood or plastic. What makes them so good is the fact that they deflect off of cover really well. Rocky banks and any type of wood cover is prime for a square bill.

Another good attribute of throwing a square bill is its ability to cover a lot of water very quickly. When fish are feeding heavily like I suspect they will be this week, the guy that covers the most water is the guy who will win the tournament, hands down.

My two favorite square bills are the Strike King 1.5 and 2.5 and the Luck "E" Strike RC Series 3. For muddy water like we have here at Dardanelle, I will go with chartreuse with a black back.

Setup: I use a MHX MB843 rod for fishing square bills. It is a 7-foot rod with medium-heavy power and a fast tip, so it is short enough to make precise casts when needed yet long enough to make long casts, too. I use 15-pound-test Vicious Fluorocarbon 90 percent of the time but will not hesitate to drop down to 12 or go up to 17. Pair that with a 6.3:1 baitcasting reel, and you’re good to go.

This is my first tournament on Dardanelle, but I feel comfortable so far. This makes five Elite events in a row for me on new lakes, and I am learning a whole lot here in my rookie season. It has been a great experience so far.

We have a Mud Hole Custom Tackle Big Bass contest each week on my Facebook page, so check that out and you could win a rod building kit of your own and a pair of Costa sunglasses.

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