Bass were scarce for all the competitors at that event. The only place Jones could get bites was in a small eddy about 300 yards below the Kentucky Dam.
The tailwater bass demanded a finesse presentation, but the strong current and riprap bottom made for a snag-fest with shaky head worms and drop shot rigs. However, the short string of clam shots that Jones placed 12 inches in front of a 4-inch finesse worm tickled nicely over the bottom with the current.
Jones camped on the eddy all four days of the tournament and eked out 20 bass with his split shot rig that weighed 43.4 pounds. He claims he was a proponent of split shotting long before this tournament.
“I knew I’d eventually win a major tournament by split shotting,” Jones says. “Actually, I’m surprised it took me 15 years to make that happen.”
A split shot rig catches bass for Jones throughout the year and fares best for him in water less than 12 feet deep. It truly shines in cold water and when the beds of spawning bass are too deep to be seen and must be fished blind, Jones claims. He has caught spawners weighing up to 9 pounds by split shotting.
Chaconas puts these novices in touch with bass by fishing flats and shallow bays where the bottom is covered with hydrilla or wood debris. Here, casting accuracy isn’t an issue. Then, Chaconas sets his clients up with a spinning rod sporting a split shot rig on 10-pound Berkley 100 Percent Fluorocarbon.
“I instruct them to move the bait along the bottom by slowly sweeping the rod tip sideways a few feet at a time,” Chaconas says. “The bass usually hook themselves before my clients know they’ve had a bite.”