by Stan Fagerstrom
Nobody is more qualified to tell you and me how to use a brand new bass lure than the guy who created it.
That's why my ears and eyes came to full attention recently when I had a chance to visit with Phil Marks, a bass fishing Texan who is the designer of a new crankbait that's now being marketed by the Strike King Lure Company.
I told you about Marks in my last column. I was especially interested in talking to him now because that new crankbait he came up just might be bigger than anything else you now have in your tackle box.
Phil's new 10XD is a diving crankbait that's a full six inches from its long diving bill to its tail. It weighs nearly 2-ounces. As you'll soon discover if you get a chance to visit with Phil is that a whole lot of thinking went into creation of this lure before it ever hit the drawing board.Here's a close up of the new Strike King 10XD diving crankbait.
For starters, remember that Phil Marks is every bit as deeply hooked as the rest of us who fish for bass. "I wish I'd come up with this new lure 15 years ago," he says. "I started thinking about it seriously about seven years ago. We finally started working on it in 2011and I was still tweaking things here and there in the spring of last year."
Marks does a lot of his fishing in Texas. As anybody who has fished the Lone Star State much know, there is an abundance of sizeable largemouth in that part of the word. "I wasn't worried about the bass being able to eat the 10XD," he says, "I'd seen them spit up stuff larger than the lures we throw at them."Phil Marks has used his new 10XD crankbait successfully under tough tournament conditions.
What Marks says about actually fishing the big new Strike King crankbait ties right in with my personal bass fishing experience over the past half century. Much of my own bass fishing has been done in the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon and Washington aren't renowned for the big bass they produce but I've taken my share of fish in the tall timber country running between eight and nine pounds. And I'm telling it like it was when I say those fish didn't come often but when they did they usually came on just a couple of my largest lures.
Much of what Phil told me simply confirmed my own bass fish beliefs. Sure he's proud of his new 10XD and he's already taken a couple of fish that topped 10-pounds on it. But the first thing he'll tell you is that like the other lures you've got in your box, this big new isn't "always" going to get fish.
Once again his comments tie right in with my own thinking. If you've been reading my material for more than the past half century you know I've said a few hundred times that the word "Always" should be eliminated from a bass angler's vocabulary. Largemouth bass don't always do anything. Replace that always word with "Often" or "Sometimes" and you're headed in the right direction.
"You must have realistic expectations," Marks says. "Big bass often aren't as aggressive as smaller fish. You've got to be sure you're getting a lure the 10XD down where they are and you'll find you need the right line weight and a rod that lets you handle a lure of its size."Anglers who've used this new big crankbait say they're surprised that it's as easy as it is to retrieve despite its size.
So what kind of rod does this likeable tournament winning pro and lure creating expert favor in the way of rods? "I favor an 8-foot light action rod," he says, "that was originally designed for fishing swim baits. I found that I just wasn't comfortable using it on a rod I'd normally use for crankbait fishing."
The main thing that stands out where Phil's actual retrieve tactics are concerned is that he wants his 10XD working its way right down there along the bottom. "That long rod makes it easy to make long cast and get down deep," he says, "if that's what's required. I'm a believer in a fast retrieve. I make contact with the bottom and I make sure to bounce it off anything the lure encounters as I bring it back to the boat."Here's another view of the new Strike King crankbait that's getting lots of attention from anglers going after big bass.
Marks usually loads his reels with fluorocarbon lines running from 10 to 15-pound test. He changes line test if that's what required to make the desired contact with the bottom on the retrieve.
Does Texas sharpshooter have a favorite color in the big 10XD? Yes he does. Like the expert he is, he won't stick to a single color if it doesn't produce but his number one choice is a shad pattern in chartreuse with a blue back.
That's about the size of it. Those big brutes down there in their hidey holes might not feed all that often and can be really selective when they do. Now and then a lure maker comes up with something that turns them on. There's already ample evidence that Strike King's new 10XD does that.
The first chance I get I'm fixin' to find out if it will work as well for me as it has for those plus pitchers down there in Texas.