Don Iovino on doodling


Name: Don Iovino
Hometown: Burbank, Calif.
Technique: Doodling — a presentation technique for soft plastic baits.
History: Iovino developed doodling about 40 years ago by shaking nightcrawlers and shad for trout in deep water. He was not involved in any bass tournaments at the time, but was catching so many fish while doodling, he thought he'd give it a shot. Iovino got his friend Jim Smith to hand pour some worms for the technique, and he started winning immediately. Several tournament wins put Iovino and his technique on the bass fishing map.
Highlights: Iovino doodled his way to a win at the 1984 Grand National Fly-Away Tournament at Lake Mojave in Nevada. He taught Gary Klein to doodle and supplied him with his own custom worms that led Klein to wins at the 1985 Georgia Bassmaster Invitational at Lake Lanier and the 1988 Arkansas Invitational at Bull Shoals.
When to Use: Iovino doodles successfully 12 months out of the year by choosing the best doodling technique for the season. While in the cool winter months vertical doodling is preferred, it can be done year-round. In the spring, the doodle slide is the most effective. (See below.)
Where to Use: Doodling is a very versatile technique and can be used on any body of water, but Iovino believes it is best for deep, clear lakes. Doodling can be done from 1 to 50 feet deep depending on the specific doodling technique employed.
  The doodling rig is composed of a plastic worm, a 1/0 or 2/0 hook (depending on the size of the worm used) and a conical brass weight above an 8 millimeter faceted glass bead pegged one inch above the hook. The weights he uses range from 3/16- to 1/4-ounce, depending on how hard the wind is blowing. The brass and glass give the rig the "click" that imitates a crawfish as it is manipulated. Lamiglas makes a 6-foot, 2-inch Don Iovino Signature Series rod (62ML) designed specifically for doodling. It has a fast tip to impart a good wiggle to the worm and a strong butt end for positive hook sets. Iovino prefers Ardent's XS 1000 baitcast reel for the technique (he had a hand in developing the drag system). He uses Toray BAWO fluorocarbon line (which is only sold in spools of 100 yards, so backing is necessary). His preferred hooks are the Owner No. 1 weedless Wacky Hooks (for small plastics) or their No. 1 Down Shot offset hooks (for larger baits). His brass weights, glass beads and Peg-It pegs are manufactured by Top Brass.
Lures: Iovino uses his own custom worms, Don Iovino Hand Poured Worms, manufactured by DeZyner Baits for all of his doodling. They come in 3-, 4- and 6-inch sizes. He prefers the smaller sizes during the postspawn and when in deep water, while the 6-inch variety sees the rest of the work. He recommends natural and transparent colors in clear water, and brighter colors in stained water.
Basics: Doodling requires a high level of competency with electronics if it is to be done to its greatest effect. It's done on or off structure breaks and usually done with a horizontal presentation at a specific depth. Vertical doodling is best suited for doodling on the breaks on or the bottom. When vertical doodling on a breakline, Iovino drops the rig on the edge of it, then puts the trolling motor on low speed and circles the bottom carefully so as not to disturb the water directly above the target while shaking the bait with his rod tip. He keeps his rod between the 8 and 12 o'clock positions, keeping slack out of his line with the reel and feeling for a strike. When fishing off structure breaks, Iovino covers more water by using the "doodle slide." For this retrieve, he casts from the shallow side of his target into deeper water and then doodles "uphill" along the break, shaking the bait as his raises his rod tip and taking up slack. Once you find the depth the fish are at, cast the doodle rig beyond them, work it along the break until it reaches the desired depth, then begin doodling.
One More Thing: Iovino stresses the importance of feeling for the bite. A tight line should be maintained at all times. Since most doodling is done in relatively deep water, the bite feels like a rubber band stretching rather than the more customary "tap-tap." When the sharp sensation of the weight hitting the glass at the end of the line goes soft, reel in and set the hook — a fish has taken the bait. All of Iovino's custom doodling tackle (as well as his book and videos) is available at