Inside Elite Boats

Inside Elite Boats: Jacob Wheeler

Indiana pro Jacob Wheeler fishes the Bassmaster Elite Series in a Legend V20 powered by an Evinrude 250 E-TEC G2. Wheeler tows the big rig all over the country with his Toyota Tundra.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Indiana pro Jacob Wheeler fishes the Bassmaster Elite Series in a Legend V20 powered by an Evinrude 250 E-TEC G2. Wheeler tows the big rig all over the country with his Toyota Tundra.
The new 112-pound thrust Minn Kota Ultrex with the iPilot function is Wheeler's trolling motor of choice.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The new 112-pound thrust Minn Kota Ultrex with the iPilot function is Wheeler's trolling motor of choice.
Ninja prop blade helps Wheeler cut through thick grass on places like Okeechobee and Ross Barnett.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Ninja prop blade helps Wheeler cut through thick grass on places like Okeechobee and Ross Barnett. "I can cut through some serious grass, using the blade of the prop on my trolling motor, plus the sharp edges of the Ninja blade.
Here's a closer look at the iPilot function on the Ultrex that helps anglers stay in certain spots effortlessly.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Here's a closer look at the iPilot function on the Ultrex that helps anglers stay in certain spots effortlessly.
For the graph setup on his bow, Wheeler uses a Lowrance HDS-9 and an HDS-12.
Photo: Seigo Saito - For the graph setup on his bow, Wheeler uses a Lowrance HDS-9 and an HDS-12.
He uses the HDS-9 for full maps and the HDS-12 for down imaging to watch for fish in the back of the boat and regular sonar to keep an eye on fish in the front of his boat.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He uses the HDS-9 for full maps and the HDS-12 for down imaging to watch for fish in the back of the boat and regular sonar to keep an eye on fish in the front of his boat.
Here's another look at the graphs positioned on top of one another.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Here's another look at the graphs positioned on top of one another.
The setup of the graphs allows him to keep tabs on everything that is happening.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The setup of the graphs allows him to keep tabs on everything that is happening.
A small box in the front of Wheeler's boat holds his buoys.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A small box in the front of Wheeler's boat holds his buoys. "With all of these electronics these days, you don’t need a buoy as much," Wheeler said. "But there’s still nothing better for when you get a bite. You can get a buoy out on the side of the boat and you can be exact."
A clear front deck shows the wealth of good sponsors Wheeler has accumulated.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A clear front deck shows the wealth of good sponsors Wheeler has accumulated.
Inside the left rod locker, Wheeler says he normally carries about 30 rods and reels.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Inside the left rod locker, Wheeler says he normally carries about 30 rods and reels.
Because he knows he's going to need multiple different setups, Wheeler keeps rods rigged with a little bit of everything — 14-pound line, 20-pound line, fluorocarbon, braid — whatever he thinks he might need. Since rate of fall is so important when he's fishing, he likes to have many variations ready for every situation.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Because he knows he's going to need multiple different setups, Wheeler keeps rods rigged with a little bit of everything — 14-pound line, 20-pound line, fluorocarbon, braid — whatever he thinks he might need. Since rate of fall is so important when he's fishing, he likes to have many variations ready for every situation.
One of Wheeler's two favorite setups is a 7-foot, 3-inch heavy action rod. It’s a TCS Okuma, which is a tactical concept, with a Helios Casting reel.
Photo: Seigo Saito - One of Wheeler's two favorite setups is a 7-foot, 3-inch heavy action rod. It’s a TCS Okuma, which is a tactical concept, with a Helios Casting reel. "This may be my favorite all-around rod and definitely my favorite hair jig rod. It has a parabolic bend to it, which is key for reaction baits. I fish it with 12- to 14 -pound fluor Sufix castable invisiline.
Wheeler's other favorite setup is a 7-3 heavy-action Okuma Heliois rod. It’s more crisp than the previous rig mentioned, but not very parabolic. It has a faster action tip for fishing a frog.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Wheeler's other favorite setup is a 7-3 heavy-action Okuma Heliois rod. It’s more crisp than the previous rig mentioned, but not very parabolic. It has a faster action tip for fishing a frog.
Using rod socks allows Wheelers to get more rods in the box.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Using rod socks allows Wheelers to get more rods in the box.
It allow him to remove the rods from the box without tangles that can cost precious fishing time.
Photo: Seigo Saito - It allow him to remove the rods from the box without tangles that can cost precious fishing time.
The center box on Wheeler's boat often holds as many as 35 tackle boxes.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The center box on Wheeler's boat often holds as many as 35 tackle boxes. "I try to keep a lot of tackle on hand if I can, because you never know if you’ll need something," Wheeler said. "It just ultimately comes down to having a security blanket. Every time I try to lighten my boat, I end up without something I need. I’d rather sacrifice speed and be sure I have everything."
Under the lid for the center box, Wheeler stores miscellaneous lures he may need later in the day.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Under the lid for the center box, Wheeler stores miscellaneous lures he may need later in the day.
His boxes are clearly labeled on the outside for easy access.
Photo: Seigo Saito - His boxes are clearly labeled on the outside for easy access.
A box filled with Arashi Square 3 and Rapala DT Flats is one of his favorites.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A box filled with Arashi Square 3 and Rapala DT Flats is one of his favorites.
For someone who enjoys fishing topwater baits, this box filled with prop baits is a must.
Photo: Seigo Saito - For someone who enjoys fishing topwater baits, this box filled with prop baits is a must.
That's not just general wear and tear on those prop baits. Those are teeth marks. Some of them have caught well over 100 fish.
Photo: Seigo Saito - That's not just general wear and tear on those prop baits. Those are teeth marks. Some of them have caught well over 100 fish.
Nothing beats a clear label when you need quick access to a certain bait.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Nothing beats a clear label when you need quick access to a certain bait.
Here's another prop bait that has seen its better days, but it's too good to retire.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Here's another prop bait that has seen its better days, but it's too good to retire.
Then there's the crucial frog boxes.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Then there's the crucial frog boxes.
Many frogs, including the Terminator Popping Frog, are part of Wheeler's arsenal.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Many frogs, including the Terminator Popping Frog, are part of Wheeler's arsenal.
The frogs come in all colors and patterns.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The frogs come in all colors and patterns.
He never knows which one might seem more appealing, depending on the conditions of the moment.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He never knows which one might seem more appealing, depending on the conditions of the moment.
The white Terminator Popping Frog is one of Wheeler's personal favorites. He said he prefers a harder frog for practice when he's not as concerned about getting a hook in the fish and a softer frog for tournaments.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The white Terminator Popping Frog is one of Wheeler's personal favorites. He said he prefers a harder frog for practice when he's not as concerned about getting a hook in the fish and a softer frog for tournaments.
Here's a Terminator Popping Frog in the bluegill pattern that Wheeler says works well for bass when the bluegill are spawning in shallow water.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Here's a Terminator Popping Frog in the bluegill pattern that Wheeler says works well for bass when the bluegill are spawning in shallow water.
The cupped shape of the frog's nose gives it its popping motion along the surface.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The cupped shape of the frog's nose gives it its popping motion along the surface.
Here's an example of a good, soft frog that will be part of his tournament-day arsenal.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Here's an example of a good, soft frog that will be part of his tournament-day arsenal.
A three-blade spinnerbait is one of Wheeler's go-to techniques during the shad spawn.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A three-blade spinnerbait is one of Wheeler's go-to techniques during the shad spawn.
The 360 GT search bait works well on Wheeler's spinnerbait when he's exploiting the shad spawn during the spring.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The 360 GT search bait works well on Wheeler's spinnerbait when he's exploiting the shad spawn during the spring.
He has plenty of 360 GT search baits to choose from.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He has plenty of 360 GT search baits to choose from.
Then when it's time for cranking, he has at least one of everything Rapala has to offer.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Then when it's time for cranking, he has at least one of everything Rapala has to offer.
As with everything else, the crankbait boxes are clearly marked on the outside.
Photo: Seigo Saito - As with everything else, the crankbait boxes are clearly marked on the outside.
The world-famous Rapala DT-10 is a favorite choice for many anglers, including Wheeler.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The world-famous Rapala DT-10 is a favorite choice for many anglers, including Wheeler.
Of course, it's hard for him to resist topwater fishing and baits like this new walking Pop-R bait.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Of course, it's hard for him to resist topwater fishing and baits like this new walking Pop-R bait.
A box of Sharpies allows Wheeler to make quick modifications on his baits.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A box of Sharpies allows Wheeler to make quick modifications on his baits. "There are certain times that I want something a little different on my crankbait or my topwater bait," he said. "I see a bluegill or something that causes me to want to try to match the hatch. These markers will let you do that."
The box of VMC Tungsten weights that Wheeler says he can't live without.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The box of VMC Tungsten weights that Wheeler says he can't live without.
And now a look at the hooks...
Photo: Seigo Saito - And now a look at the hooks...
He even has a Neko rig box, complete with hooks, O-rings and nail weights from 1/64-ounce,  all the way to 1/8-ounce.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He even has a Neko rig box, complete with hooks, O-rings and nail weights from 1/64-ounce, all the way to 1/8-ounce.
A box of skirts allows Wheeler to quickly change color or textures for a different look.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A box of skirts allows Wheeler to quickly change color or textures for a different look.
Skirts are stored properly for maximum use and marked from the outside.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Skirts are stored properly for maximum use and marked from the outside.
The skirts allow Wheeler to make jig fishing anything he wants it to be.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The skirts allow Wheeler to make jig fishing anything he wants it to be.
Keep it simple on the right side. Extra Cal Coast cull clips and a light pole. Jacob is a big fan of the clip style culling system.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Keep it simple on the right side. Extra Cal Coast cull clips and a light pole. Jacob is a big fan of the clip style culling system.
Jacob has a few hair jigs.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Jacob has a few hair jigs.
One of his favorites.
Photo: Seigo Saito - One of his favorites.
Soft plastics are also on this side. He carries Biffle Bugs and Punch Out Craws. He uses the Punch Out Craw for a jig trailer, and Biffle Bugs for a swimjig trailer.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Soft plastics are also on this side. He carries Biffle Bugs and Punch Out Craws. He uses the Punch Out Craw for a jig trailer, and Biffle Bugs for a swimjig trailer.
Important for any angler to have a scale to weigh his catch.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Important for any angler to have a scale to weigh his catch.
Blue/Black is a favorite of Jacob's. He gets a big bag of them before they even get packaged.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Blue/Black is a favorite of Jacob's. He gets a big bag of them before they even get packaged. "Saves Gene Larew time by just bagging up a giant bag of them for me. "
A lot of anglers rely on the legendary Biffle Bug from Gene Larew Lures.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A lot of anglers rely on the legendary Biffle Bug from Gene Larew Lures.
When Jacob uses it as a swim jig trailer...
Photo: Seigo Saito - When Jacob uses it as a swim jig trailer...
...he can remove the
Photo: Seigo Saito - ...he can remove the "tongue" to give it a more craw-like action.
He likes having 1 bait he can modify as opposed to 5 different styles that are similar.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He likes having 1 bait he can modify as opposed to 5 different styles that are similar.
Jacob carries four colors at all times with him– Sooner Magic, Green Pumpkin, White, and Blue/Black.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Jacob carries four colors at all times with him– Sooner Magic, Green Pumpkin, White, and Blue/Black. "Bass will always eat one of those four colors."
In the driver's seat, 2 HDS 12s on a BoatLogics mount.
Photo: Seigo Saito - In the driver's seat, 2 HDS 12s on a BoatLogics mount.
Jacob likes a split-screen side scan on two units. Right unit shows right side, left shows left.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Jacob likes a split-screen side scan on two units. Right unit shows right side, left shows left.
That way when he's graphing he gets a bigger picture of what's going on.
Photo: Seigo Saito - That way when he's graphing he gets a bigger picture of what's going on.
He likes the blue palette for side scan to see the shadows better. On downscan, he likes the green tint to point ont fish.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He likes the blue palette for side scan to see the shadows better. On downscan, he likes the green tint to point ont fish.
Not a lot of structure scan in the parking lot for us to see right now!
Photo: Seigo Saito - Not a lot of structure scan in the parking lot for us to see right now!
Jacob has his days all planned out.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Jacob has his days all planned out.
Including the nearest Academy Sports + Outdoors!
Photo: Seigo Saito - Including the nearest Academy Sports + Outdoors!
This Evinrude Gauge allows him to make changes to his motor and controls such as switching from hand to foot throttle which is great for long idles.
Photo: Seigo Saito - This Evinrude Gauge allows him to make changes to his motor and controls such as switching from hand to foot throttle which is great for long idles.
It also gives him a readout for the engine performance.
Photo: Seigo Saito - It also gives him a readout for the engine performance.
Plenty of power hookups including two USB ports on his Legend boat.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Plenty of power hookups including two USB ports on his Legend boat.
In between the seats, he keeps his sunglasses, Under Armor gloves, and a buff. Also a great place to keep his keys and wallet.
Photo: Seigo Saito - In between the seats, he keeps his sunglasses, Under Armor gloves, and a buff. Also a great place to keep his keys and wallet.
Jacob is a big fan of the non puncturing cull tags from Cal Coast.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Jacob is a big fan of the non puncturing cull tags from Cal Coast.
Color coded to make sure he makes the right cull.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Color coded to make sure he makes the right cull.
He keeps an extra set as well.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He keeps an extra set as well.
Behind the driver's seat, an extra life jacket, fire extinguisher.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Behind the driver's seat, an extra life jacket, fire extinguisher.
And his Under Armor rain suit.
Photo: Seigo Saito - And his Under Armor rain suit.
Jacob says it's very important to keep his rain suit at the top of the box. When you need it, you need it quick.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Jacob says it's very important to keep his rain suit at the top of the box. When you need it, you need it quick.
Behind the passenger seat he keeps the box mostly empty for the Marshals to stow their stuff, but there are a few snacks in there.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Behind the passenger seat he keeps the box mostly empty for the Marshals to stow their stuff, but there are a few snacks in there.
Never hurts to keep a push pole nearby as well.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Never hurts to keep a push pole nearby as well.
He runs lithium batteries, but leaves his charger in his truck to save on weight while fishing.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He runs lithium batteries, but leaves his charger in his truck to save on weight while fishing.
That's 30 pounds or so that helps him get on pad quicker and he doesn't need it until at night when he charges his batteries.
Photo: Seigo Saito - That's 30 pounds or so that helps him get on pad quicker and he doesn't need it until at night when he charges his batteries.
Some weight he can't take out is his tool box...
Photo: Seigo Saito - Some weight he can't take out is his tool box...
...and next to it another necessity.
Photo: Seigo Saito - ...and next to it another necessity.
A gallon of oil.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A gallon of oil.
Stowed away, nice and neat.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Stowed away, nice and neat.
On the other side, a starter battery and a spare prop. He swears by having an extra prop. You never know when you may need it.
Photo: Seigo Saito - On the other side, a starter battery and a spare prop. He swears by having an extra prop. You never know when you may need it.
The back of the boat features Power-Poles and a Bob's Jack Plate. Both essential in shallow water. Thanks for the tour, Jacob!
Photo: Seigo Saito - The back of the boat features Power-Poles and a Bob's Jack Plate. Both essential in shallow water. Thanks for the tour, Jacob!