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Mastering the power-finesse technique

A fair number of bass anglers divide their approach to fishing into two different game plans — power fishing and finesse fishing. Power fishing, as the name implies, is associated with covering lots of water quickly with big reaction baits, often on heavy tackle. Finesse fishing, on the other hand, refers to down-sized baits and tackle, covering less water but doing it much more thoroughly. They are as different as fishing a 4-inch worm on 6-pound test in 20 feet of water and burning a spinnerbait on 20-pound test in 3 feet. A power fisherman might cover a mile an hour. A finesse fisherman could grow a beard in the time it takes to execute one cast.

But there’s a third way that’s sweeping the Midwest right now and it’s an amalgam of the two. Power-finesse fishing — a name for the approach coined by all-time B.A.S.S. money winner Kevin VanDam and his occasional angling partner, ESPN television host Mark Zona — marries the two techniques into a presentation that proponents say offers the best of both worlds.

“Basically, what it means to me is using a finesse-type technique but doing it in a power mode,” says VanDam, the six-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, who has a solid reputation as a power fisherman. “An example would be snapping a tube. You cast it out there but instead of crawling it on the bottom, you snap it up 8 to 10 feet. Let it fall and do it again, covering a lot of water.

“What’s really good about this presentation is at any time you want to slow down and just drag it on the bot- tom, you can. Swimming a jig is the same thing — you can swim it along at a good clip and then just let it drop and start fishing it slowly.”