Fishing Berkley Power Crawlers - Ed Gerdemann

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Edward Gerdemann

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My rigging technique is pretty simple. I Texas rig it with a 1/0 Gamakatsu offset worm hook and usually a 1/4 oz. unpegged bullet weight. If the fish are less than 25 feet and the conditions calm, I sometimes go to a 3/16 oz. bullet weight, but the 1/4 oz. works best for most applications.

This wonderfully simple rig can be worked in a number of ways. Lots of times I cast it, let it sink all the way to the bottom and then slowly lift it off the bottom and let it fall back towards me. When the weight no longer makes contact with the bottom on the fall, I reel up and cast again. Another method is dragging it and letting it fall from one ledge to another. A third method is to take the slack out of the line when the weight hits the bottom and shake it for 15 to 30 seconds, move it a foot or two and shake it for another 15 to 30 seconds. Sometimes I only twitch it a couple of times and then let it sit on a semi-tight line for up to a minute and then twitch it a couple times again. If the fish are holding much below 30 feet I usually go with a vertical presentation either shaking the worm or hopping it as I slowly move the boat with the trolling motor. I've taken smallmouth from Powell down to nearly 50 feet with this method. I also vary my boat position. Sometimes I position my boat in shallow water and cast off to the deep and sometimes visa versa. Again, let the fish tell you what presentation they want.

If the fishing's really tough (particularly in colder water) you might try a brass bullet weight and a glass bead ahead of the hook. This makes a clacking sound like a crayfish snapping its pinchers, and that sometimes entices the fish to hit. California pro Don Iovino invented this method which he calls doodling. I don't think it's necessary or overly effective in warmer water, however, in cold water situations it often makes the difference.

Most of your strikes will be pressure bites, and about half of the hits will come on the initial fall. When taking the slack out of your line, tighten up slowly. If you feel any additional weight or resistance, set the hook! Also, if you are still feeding out line long after you think the weight should have hit bottom, engage your reel and set the hook. These Power Crawlers taste good to the fish, and they will often hold onto them a long time giving you every opportunity to set the hook. Once, while showing off, I led a bass completely around my boat before setting the hook. I don't recommend you try that because the fish is more likely to swallow the hook the longer it holds onto the bait. I will never do it again.

You can fish this rig equally well on spinning or baitcasting tackle. Because the fluorocarbon lines I like to use in Powell's clear water don't fish well on spinning reels, I generally use light baitcasting tackle.

Not only does this rig catch smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleyes love it, too. I think a Berkley Power Crawler is the next best thing to a real crawler for walleye.

Well, that's how I fish these worms. All these methods will work. You simply have to experiment to see what the smallmouth want on a particular day. Don't hesitate to try split shotting, Carolina rigging or drop shotting them. Experiment with your own techniques, and then let us all in on your secrets!
 
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