CORNELIUS, N.C. — Wesley Strader prefers doughnuts and spinnerbaits served in the same manner – fresh. What exactly is a “fresh” spinnerbait? You’ve got an idea if you saw Strader putting one together on “Bassmaster LIVE” while winning the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Kentucky Lake presented by Abu Garcia.
“I know everybody can’t do this, but it works for me,” said Strader, who left Paris, Tenn., in time to get in a day of practice Wednesday on Lake Norman before the Bass Pro Shops Eastern Open. “I’ve got a routine. It’s so much easier for me to carry blank heads and wires than it is to carry a whole box full of spinnerbaits.”
There’s sound thought behind what at first would seem to be an unnecessary chore. It begins with the .030 wire that Strader prefers in a spinnerbait - his signature series Stan Sloan Zorro Bait Co. Bango Blade spinnerbait.
“That 30-1000ths wire creates a whole lot more vibration that anything heavier, and it produces more strikes,” Strader said. “After you catch about 10 fish on a spinnerbait, that wire is pretty mangled.
“I just cut it below the ‘R’ bend with a pair of pliers and slide everything on to the new one. I’ve got a pair of spinnerbait pliers to make the loop for the swivel. It takes me like a minute to do that. So then I’ve got the same blades on a new spinnerbait that I was catching fish on with the old one.”
Strader carries 50 spinnerbait “bodies” in both 5/8ths-ounce and 3/8ths-ounce sizes in his boat at all times. And he’s got bags with the various blades, swivels and skirts he might use during the course of a tournament. He keeps it pretty simple.
“I can look at the water condition and put on the blades for that situation,” he said. “I’m kind of partial to a #3 silver Colorado blade paired with a #4 ½ gold Indiana blade. It’s not a big, bulky bait. You can catch smaller fish as well as big ones with it.”
Strader stays simple with his choice of trailers and skirts, as well – a Zoom Split Tail Trailer in either purple white or chartreuse pearl and a skirt in either glimmer blue or chartreuse/white. The chartreuse/white isn’t a mixed fiber skirt – it’s half chartreuse and half white.
“If it’s clear I’m going to throw glimmer blue, and if it’s off-color, I’m going to throw chartreuse/white,” Strader said. “I always put the chartreuse up and the white down. A threadfin shad is yellow on his back and white on his belly.”
Strader was asked a hypothetical question at Wednesday’s anglers meeting prior to the Lake Norman Open. He and his wife, Stephanie, got to Lake Norman at about 8 p.m. Tuesday night, after driving from Kentucky Lake. So if he’d known he was going to win that Elite Series tournament, would he have signed up to fish the Eastern Opens?
“Oh, definitely,” Strader said. “I love fishing. If it hadn’t been such a long drive from one of the Elite Series events to the Red River, I would have signed up for the Central Opens too. I like bass fishing just as much now as I did when I was a kid.”