Lures of the Top 12 at Toledo Bend Posted on April 4, 2017 Photo: Garrick Dixon - From top to bottom â the Top 12 finishers covered the entire water column at Toledo Bend Reservoir at the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite. That is best illustrated by winner Kevin VanDam consistently cranking a Strike King 10XD to depths of as much as 28 feet and runnerup Chris Lane relying on a pair of topwater lures. The mid-depths were holding fish too, as youâll notice in this roundup of the Top 12 finishersâ key baits at Toledo Bend. All captions: Steve Wright Photo: Garrick Dixon - 12. Morizo Shimizu, 65-13 Shimizu was one of the shallow flippers, primarily with a half-ounce green pumpkin/brown Evergreen jig paired with a Bait Breath green pumpkin chunk. He also used a green pumpkin Evergreen Jackhammer bladed jig trailed with a green pumpkin Lake Fork Tackle Live Magic Shad. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 11. Stephen Browning, 67-14 âItâs pretty simple,â Browning said. âI caught them on a 7-inch Z-Man Fattys prototype. Iâve got a handful of them, and Iâve been flipping it in bushes and trees. Itâs just a straight tail worm with a big profile. Itâs a big bait that you can sort of finesse for pressured fish.â Green pumpkin was the color, dipped in chartreuse. âI had one fish that spit up a 3- or 4-inch bream,â Browning said. âThese bass were feeding on shad some, but I really think they were feeding on bream. Thatâs what I tried to mimic.â He used both 1/4- and 5/16ths-ounce weights. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 10. Edwin Evers, 71-1 The first day, Evers caught his fish on a red bug Zoom Magnum Trick Worm on a Head Turner stand up head jig and an unnamed deep-diving crankbait. Then he caught them shallow, flipping either a black-and-blue or blue-and-silver Zoom Z-Hawg with a 3/8ths-ounce weight. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 9. Tommy Biffle, 75-9 As you might guess, Biffle was fishing his strength, which is flipping shallow brush. He used a silver Gene Larew Biffle Bug with a 4/0 Paycheck Baits hook and a 5/16ths tungsten slip sinker, and a 1/2-ounce black-and-blue flash Junkyard Jig with a sapphire blue trailer. Photo: Garrick Dixon - âThe deepest bushes were about 3 feet, and Iâd go from there to the bank,â Biffle said. âYou flip about a million of them and you finally get a bite.â Biffle had some big bites â a 7-pounder on Friday and a 7-1 on Saturday. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 8. Andy Montgomery, 78-11 Montgomery is another guy who was able to fish his strength, which is skipping a jig around docks and other shallow cover. He was using a new Strike King Skipping Jig that will be introduced at ICAST this summer. The weight was a 1/2-ounce and the color was green pumpkin, rotating between Strike King Rage Bug and Chunk trailers in green pumpkin as well. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 7. Brett Hite, 79-14 Surprise, surprise, surprise, Hite caught his fish on one bait â the Evergreen Jackhammer bladed jig. Of course, thatâs no surprise for the angler who has won over $500,000 on bladed jigs. He did use three sizes â 3/4-, 1/2- and 3/8ths-ounce. He paired them with a Yamamoto Zako, a soft plastic swimbait-type trailer that Hite designed, as he did the Evergreen Jackhammer. âExactly the same as Winyah Bay,â said Hite of the baits he used in the tournament where he finished second earlier this year. As to color, green pumpkin on both the jig and the trailer, and he dipped the tail of the Zako in chartreuse dye. He was concentrating on any type of aquatic vegetation. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 6. Hank Cherry, 81-2 Cherry caught over half his fish on an ER Lures 9/16ths-ounce white jig paired with a white Zoom Super Chunk. He was swimming it around docks, cypress trees and shallow vegetation. The rest of his weight came on a Strike King Slither Rig â a punch jig â with either a CrÃ¨me Craw or a V&M J-Bug as a trailer. âTheyâd either bite one or the other,â he said. âI threw pretty much green pumpkin black-and-blue.â Cherry found his dock fish during practice when the wind was howling by throwing a Livingston Cherry Picker jerkbait. But once the wind died, they wouldnât hit a jerkbait and the swim jig was the deal. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 5. Paul Mueller, 81-12 Mueller was another one of the deep crankers, using both Strike King 6XDs and 10XDs, mostly 10XDs. âI donât think the color really mattered,â he said. âI was buying them and losing them as fast as I could buy them. I wasnât planning on using the 10XD, so I didnât bring many of them. Splatter back and citrus shad were the two main colors I was throwing. The 10XD I was fishing 18 to 23 feet deep. The 6XD, 12 to 18 feet, both on hard-dropping banks.â Mueller had another key bait. When the deep cranking slowed down, he was drop-shotting a Reins 7-inch Bubbling Shaker in margarita mutilator with a 2-foot leader. âThe fish started to suspend when the sun came out and the wind went away,â he said. âMy whole deal on catching the big fish was wind.â He also caught some fish on a Carolina-rigged 10-inch Berkley Power Worm. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 4. Keith Combs, 82-11 Combs really got dialed into his crankbait pattern north of the Pendleton Bridge on the final day when he caught his biggest bag of 24-13. The first three days he split his time between there and a southern spot below the bridge, where he caught 17 pounds in five casts on a Carolina rig the first day. But that Carolina rig bite diminished in size each day. By far, most of his weight came on a Tennessee shad color Strike King 6XD. âI tried to keep that bait in the 12- to 15-foot zone,ââ Combs said. âI was on big schools of fish, but there were lots of small ones. You could throw a worm and get a bite almost every time. But that crankbait triggered a bigger strike.â Photo: Garrick Dixon - 3. Ish Monroe, 83-4 Monroe flipped shallow cover with 3/4- and 1/2-ounce black-and-blue River2Sea Tommy Biffle jigs with either a Missile Baits D-Bomb or Destroyer trailer in bruiser or bruiser flash colors. âMy best bite was not happening until after 10 oâclock,â Monroe said. âFrom then until weigh-in they were biting best. I caught two fives and a four in the last hour Saturday, along with about 10 other keepers.â Monroe caught some on a topwater frog the first day, but that bite, which was strong during practice, diminished as the tournament progressed. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 2. Chris Lane, 88-7 Lane found a topwater bite that remained strong for him all day long every day of the tournament. He could generally catch a smaller limit in the first hour or two, then have to exert a lot of patience in waiting for the bigger blowups spread throughout the rest of the day. He had two topwater baits â a Heddon Zara Spook and a River2Sea Whopper Plopper, both in shad colors. Lane also flipped an Okeechobee craw-colored Lucky Strike Drop Dead Craw with a 1/2-ounce weight in the bushes when the wind was blowing. Photo: Garrick Dixon - 1. Kevin VanDam, 96-2 VanDamâs No. 1 bait was a Strike King 10XD crankbait, sexy blueback herring color. He also caught fish on a Strike King 6XD in that same color, plus âbar fish,â which imitates the yellow bass that largemouth prey upon in Toledo Bend. Photo: Garrick Dixon - He also caught three big fish the first day on a Strike King 8XD. âBut the 10XD is what triggers a lot of the big ones here,â he said. âI threw a swimbait, a hair jig, a spoon, and I caught one or two on those, but my main deal was cranking.â Photo: Garrick Dixon - VanDam worked creeked channel edges, points, humps â some type of contour change outside of large spawning flats. âI tried to find where the post spawn fish were moving to,â he said.