The upcoming Elite Series event on the Delaware River is going to be a different tournament. I say that for a couple reasons. For starters there is no major tournament history on the Delaware River for us to base the weights on. Therefore, nobody really knows what to expect weight-wise going into the event. The consensus is that 10 to 12 pound limits will be highly coveted, but no one really knows for sure.
The second reason this event is unique is the Delaware River has a 6-foot tidal swing daily. For guys not used to tidal fisheries, that definitely can throw us for a loop. A 6-foot swing is more than most of us have ever seen. The tide is going to be the key to winning this tournament.
There's one thing about a tournament like this though, the guy who can stay mentally strong and not get stressed out by the challenge will have an edge. All but Chickamauga have been new lakes for me this year, so going to a new place is getting to be “old hat” for me now.
In my opinion, this tournament will be a finesse fisherman’s dream. The Delaware River does not have a big population of bass to begin with, and quality-sized bass are quite rare. So I believe we will see a lot of finesse approaches used.
One technique I will be relying on is the shaky head. The shaky head is simply a jig head that is made to Texas-rig a soft plastic lure. The head keeps the bait standing up on the bottom and makes it look really natural to the fish. I use this technique many times when I'm faced with tough conditions where bites are hard to come by.
I try to keep my shaky head baits simple. Ninety percent of the time I use a Zoom Trick Worm, but I will not hesitate to use a small craw imitation like a Zoom Speed Craw if fish are feeding on crawfish.
My favorite shaky head is a 3/16 ounce version made by D&L Tackle. It has a very sturdy Mustad hook and comes through cover like a champ. With bites being limited on the Delaware I have to land everything that bites to do well. I will adjust the weight size if I go shallower or deeper.
I throw my finesse baits on a MHX HM-DS822 rod that I built myself using supplies from Mud Hole Custom Tackle. It's a 6-foot, 10-inch rod, which is the perfect size for shaky heads in my opinion. It has a medium-light power with an extra fast tip. The fast tip helps with casting distance and sensitivity. For line I use 10-pound-test Vicious Braid with a 6- to 10-pound Vicious Fluorocarbon leader depending on cover.
Should be fun!