Stan Fagerstrom

Stan Fagerstrom is a member of both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Stan is also known internationally for his casting skills. Stan welcomes your e-mail comments at stanfagerstrom@hotmail.com.

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February 28, 2014

You Can Make Your Practice Pay

by Stan Fagerstrom

You and your best pal are going fishing in the morning.

You've been thinking all afternoon about what you need to do to be all set when he comes by to pick you up in the morning. As you think about it, you become more aware of just how darn few things you can do that will actually help assure catching a few fish.

You can't, for example, do a blasted thing about what the weather will be. You don't have any kind of control over the water temperature, barometric pressure, wind velocity or direction or any number of other factors - all of which might affect the fish to one degree or another.

As I've mentioned, there are just so many things you can't do anything about as you prepare for the trip. Developing the ability to handle your gear so you can place your lure on target time after time isn't one of them.

Actually, accurate casting is one of the few variables associated with fishing that we can control. Sadly, and as I've endeavored to point out in my last two columns, not all that many anglers do exercise this one controlling factor that is available to them.


A level wind reel is one of the best fishing tools there is. I don't care what the advertising says, you're going to have to accept the need for practice to really learn how to use it.

Let's suppose you're one of those rare newcomers to angling who does recognize and accept the need for practice. What's the best way to go about it? I'm assuming, of course, that you've been successful in finding quality equipment to work with.

The first step is to get yourself a selection of practice casting weights. Be certain that you have weights of 1/4th-ounce, 3/8th-ounce and 5/8th-ounce.


These three different size practice casting weights are essential for your practice sessions.

You'll also want different size targets. They needn't be fancy. You don't have to have water for your practice sessions. That's one of the easy things about it. Just get your gear and head for the backyard or the front lawn. Either spot will work just fine.

Hula Hoops work well as targets if you're doing your practice in your back yard or a neighborhood park. Different sized cardboard boxes also work well.

I like to use a small kiddies' plastic wading pool as a primary target. You can fill it with water if you choose. Your casting weight won't bounce out of the plastic pool if it is filled with water. You can get the same result by placing something like a blanket in an empty pool.

Whatever targets you select - and this so important in the beginning - don't set them way out there somewhere. Forget all about distance as you begin your practice. I'll make you a promise: Concentrate on learning to hit your targets consistently close in. Once you do, you'll find that it's no sweat to reach out farther when it's necessary.

I stress this because it's so darned important in developing good casting techniques. Unfortunately, distance is often what beginning casters are prone to give the most attention to. Don't make that mistake. Again, learn to hit the targets you've positioned fairly close in the beginning. If you do it the other way around you'll be in trouble from day one.


I've had the good fortune to share thoughts and demonstrate casting over a sizeable chunk of the world. This picture is from one of a number of appearances I've made in Brazil.

So what's a good distance to work with in the beginning? I recommend setting your primary target 25 to 30-feet away. There's little physical effort involved in casting that far if you've got good quality, balanced equipment to work with.

If it's a level wind reel and casting rod that you're working with, tie on a 5/8th-ounce practice weight in the beginning. You'll find the heavier weight handles with less effort. A practice plug that size also brings out the action of the rod and helps give you the "feel" for what good casting requires.

You'll eventually want to switch to lighter weights for some of your casting practice with a level wind reel but hold off doing so until you've got a good sense of what's required.


Your level wind reel will never perform the way it should if you screw all of its spool tension devices way down tight. Practice will enable you not to have to do that.

Someone is sure to ask what test lines should they choose for their practice sessions. I favor 12 to 14-pound test on the level winds where monofilaments are concerned. With quality braids like Power Pro, my choice is 20-pound test.

With the open faced spinning reels my choice is usually 6-pound test with monofilament and 10-pound with braid. Incidentally, if you've not used Shimano's Power Pro braid on your open faced spinning reels, don't hesitate to do so. It spools beautifully. You won't quite get distance as easily as you do with monofilament, but as aforesaid, distance is overrated where accurate casting is concerned.

Closed face spinning reels come already loaded with monofilament. If you're teaching a youngster how to use one, and those reels are a great choice for kids, pick one that's small enough for them to easily handle.

Like most anything else, you'll generally get about what you're willing to pay for in purchasing a closed face reel. One of the best I've found is a Daiwa Goldcast. It's a dandy. The smallest of these quality reels, and that's the best size for kids to handle, is the Daiwa GC80.

If your wife, like mine, doesn't want to get into fishing up to her ears, but wants to be able to enjoy herself when she does choose to go, a closed face is also a good choice. Years ago, I got her a Daiwa Goldcast closed face. I taught her how to use it properly early on and she's pretty darn good with it.

There's a whole lot more to be said about the importance of casting practice and how to go about it. But I'll make you a promise: mastering the gear you'll be using for actual fishing will have just one result - that's more fish in the boat.

If that doesn't make you happy, I don't know what would!

January 31, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect - It Also Puts More Fish In The Boat

by Stan Fagerstrom

Practice casting is certain to put more fun into your fishing. It's also going to make it a whole lot more pleasant for your fishing companion.

When I wrote my previous column about the importance of practice, I immediately thought of what a friend told me about a couple of friends he had taken along on fishing adventures, each at a different time.
"I asked both of these guys a few questions well ahead of the time we were to leave," he says. "I was to provide the equipment and I needed to know what kind of gear they could handle.


See the edge of the lily pad field in the background of this picture? I had to get my lure into those pads just right to get results. Here's proof that the practice I'd done prior to getting out there with my bait casting outfit enabled me to get the job done.

"The first of the two I took assured me he was familiar with both level wind reels as well as open faced spinning reels. As a result I put together four bait casting rigs and a couple of spinning outfits. I asked him if he'd like to do a little practice casting before we left. He assured me that wasn't necessary.

"How wrong that turned out to be! I doubt he had ever attempted to cast with a level wind reel. He never even picked up one of the outfits I'd brought along for him. His experience with a spinning reel had evidently been limited to trolling. He's a heck of a good guy and I value his friendship, but if anybody could have used a little practice before getting on the water, it was him.

"I well remember the reaction of the other friend who I invited to accompany me on the same kind of trip. I was again to provide all of the equipment we'd use once we got there. "Jack," this friend said, "any chance I could come down and spend a day or two with you before we go? I've not used a level wind reel much and I'd like to practice with it a bit if that works out for you."


I should never taught this attractive gal to handle a spinning outfit properly. Why? Because now she often catches more fish than I do!

My friend went on to tell me how the second of his two friends did come to stay with him a day before their departure for the trip. He set up a couple of targets out in his yard and gave this guy, his name was Bob, a couple of the same reels he'd be using when they got to where they were going.

You'd like Bob. I'd heard that he was competitive in anything he tackled. He sure as heck was. In no time at all he was handling my level wind reels like he'd been using them for years.

So what was the result of my friend's experience? If you're an experienced angler yourself, you could undoubtedly guess. The first guy, the one who didn't see the need for practice, had an awful time. When he wasn't hung up in the trees, he was picking at tangles. As a result he didn't catch as many fish as he should have.

"That wasn't how it went with Bob," my friend told me. "He was a pleasure to have in the boat. He was able to put his lure on target darn near all the time. As it turned out, he caught more fish than I did and I think he went home happy about the entire experience."

I expect I've done about as much preaching about the importance of casting practice as anybody in the country. As I mentioned in my previous column, I've been at it since I gave my first casting exhibition more than half a century ago.


You can bet that little gal waiting her turn for some hands on instruction is going to hear about the importance of casting practice. So are those other kids waiting their turn. Years later I sometimes hear from one or another of those I've helped at outdoor shows somewhere around the country. They invariably tell me how important their practice casting was to them in learning how to catch fish.

There's no question about it, casting practice is essential if you hope to ever catch your share of fish. The sooner you accept that, and do something about it, the sooner you'll join that 10 per cent of anglers who catch about 90 per cent of the fish.

There are certain steps to take that can be of great help if you do decide to practice your casting. I'll detail what some of the important basics are in my next column. It starts March 1.

-To Be Continued-

November 26, 2013

The Stan’s Spin Spinnerbait - Part 2

by Stan Fagerstrom

Part 2


The Mack's Lure Stan's Spin spinnerbait I talked about in my last column can be a fish-catching son of a gun when it's in the hands of an angler who knows how to use it.

If you read my previous column you know I urged readers to get away from the habit that so many bass anglers share when it comes to spinnerbait fishing. That habit is to simply keep throwing these lures hour after hour without ever varying the speed of retrieve or trying certain other techniques that can sometimes make a dramatic difference in results.

One of the lakes I used to fish contained lots of piling. These piling were a favorite hang out of some of the lake's largest bass. Most of the pilings were located in water that ran from 7 to 10-feet in depth.

Rarely did I take bass on a spinnerbait by simply firing one up next to a piling and then just start reeling back in. What sometimes did work was to cast just as close to the piling as I could get, then just let the lure drop on a slack line. I counted the lure down as I picked up the slack. Once I knew it was near bottom, I flipped my rod tip sharply to cause the lure to dart up and away.

This simple procedure helped me boat some of the largest bass I ever took from that lake. More often than not I had my best success when I added a trailer to my spinnerbait hook. Sometimes I used a plastic trailer, but more often I'd tip the lure with an Uncle Josh pork rind strip.


It doesn't matter where you're fishing largemouth bass, a quality spinnerbait is going to get its share of fish. It may get more than its share if you use the right one in the proper fashion. The one these anglers are about to boat came out of Clear Lake, California.

The Mack's Lure Stan's Spin works wonderfully well for this procedure. The main reason it does is because of the lure's lightweight Mylar plastic spinner blade. To observe what I'm talking about, drop your Stan's Spin in clear water next to your boat and watch what happens as it falls. You'll find that the lure's plastic blade has a unique helicopter-style action as it drops.

A swimming pool provides an even better place for you to get a look at what I'm talking about. Cast your Stan's Spin into the deep end of the pool, let it drop and then flip your rod tip once it gets down a ways.

That old pot bellied bass down there in the cover you're fishing has probably seen more spinnerbaits than you have. But she's never eyeballed one like the Pro Model Stan's Spin. Every now and then that ‘copter blade action and the darting get away it makes when you flip your rod tip are sufficient to trigger her short fuse. She'll smash the living daylights out of that bait and you better have a good grip on your rod when it happens.


See that white skirted Stan's Spin spinnerbait? It got this fish from the cool waters of Siltcoos Lake on the Oregon Coast.

In my last column I also touched on the importance of slowing down your retrieve sufficiently so your Stan's Spin bumps into the underwater cover where big bass often hang out. I love to use this approach whenever the cover happens to be submerged timber.

If you've ever had the good fortune to fish Mexico's Lake El Salto you know what I'm talking about. This wondrous bass fishing paradise is loaded with wood cover. I've had a chance to fish it half a dozen times and always I come away amazed at the number of bass just one cluster of partially submerged trees might hold.

Often, depending on just how thick is the cover you're fishing, plastic lures of one kind or another provide the best chance to take fish. But this doesn't always apply. Never overlook a spinnerbait, especially in stretches where the partially underwater wood thins out a bit.

I'll never forget what transpired one evening at El Salto just before it was time to head back to Anglers Inn Lodge for our evening meal. The guide eased our boat along a steep bank where partially submerged trees were scattered all along the shoreline.


This picture doesn't do justice to the size of the fish. The fish my guide is helping me get out of the net weighed 10-pounds, 4-ounces. I caught it at Mexico's Lake El Salto.

I'd made about a dozen casts with a blue skirted Stan's Spin and---wham! Fish On! That heavyweight bass had to be one of the largest I've ever hooked at El Salto. I've caught largemouth down there of almost 12-pounds so I know what a trophy fish feels like.


Look close and you can see the blue and black skirted Stan's Spin spinnerbait that put this nice fish in the boat.

I was never to find out the exact size of that bass. The guide had the net poised and was all set to use it when the fish came unpinned. The line didn't break and the hook was as sharp as when I took the lure out of its package. The fish just hadn't been well hooked.

As soon as I'd determined my Stan's Spin was in good shape, I went right back to casting. Whenever possible I cast up between the trees that poked slender fingers up above the surface. Then I'd let the lure drop and endeavor to make it bump off the larger underwater limbs I couldn't see but I could feel as the lure came back to me.

I'd made just such a cast, felt it bump off one of those larger submerged limbs and again---wham! Fish on! This one didn't get away. When we finally got it onto our Boga-Grip scales it weighed 10-pounds, 4-ounces. We shot a couple of quick photos of that old girl and back into the water she went.

A guy like me who has spent most of a lifetime fishing bass in the Pacific Northwest doesn't have that many chances to eyeball a bass of 10-pounds or more. There just aren't that many of them around. You can be assured I was one happy camper when the fishing was done that day at El Salto.

This two-part series on the Stan's Spin spinnerbait still just scratches the surface on the tricks and tactics you can use with it. Perhaps you have developed even better methods of using it effectively. If you have, by all means let me know. I'll be happy to hear from you.

While the lure that carries my name is one of my favorites, let me make something else abundantly clear. The Stan's Spin is not "always" going to catch fish. Neither will any other single lure you have in your tackle box.

Be that as it may, few lures are more dependable day in and day out than a spinnerbait. The Mack's Lure Stan's Spin has some things going for it that the others don't. You're missing a bet if you don't let the fish in your area tell you whether they like it or not.

October 31, 2013

The Stan's Spin Spinnerbait - Part 1

by Stan Fagerstrom

Part 1

I never expected it to happen. And not very darn many of us who are into fishing up to our necks have had a similar experience.

So what am I talking about? It's having a lure maker who has just produced a new model of a popular bass fishing lure call and ask if they can use your name on it.

One of the reasons this happened, of course, is because I've been writing about bass fishing since shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire. Well, I guess it hasn't been quite that long but my first writing on the subject did see daylight way back in 1946.

It was still a pleasant surprise when the good folks at Mack's Lure, a growing Pacific Northwest tackle company, came up with a brand new style spinnerbait some years back. The company was headquartered at that time in Leavenworth, Washington and today Mack's is located in Wenatchee, Washington.

You may not be familiar with Mack's Lure but if you're a guy who likes to troll for trout you've undoubtedly heard about their Wedding Ring spinners. If you haven't heard about the Wedding Rings you should remedy that immediately. Those things have probably put more trout in the boat than darn near anything you can find.

Ray McPherson, at that time the president of Mack's Lure, knew that I had helped pioneer the sport of bass fishing in the Pacific Northwest. He asked if I'd help in the testing of his company's new spinnerbait and if it was all right with me if they called it the 'Stan's Spin.'


It's a special kick to catch fish using a lure that has your name on it. The Mack's Lure Stan's Spin spinnerbait has done lots of that for me.

Ray, one of the finest men I've had opportunity to meet, will verify my response. He'll tell you I told him I'd be pleased and proud to have my name associated with a Mack's Lure product, but with one stipulation. That stipulation was that the lure would catch fish. He immediately gave me prototypes of these new lures in an assortment of colors for testing purposes.

I was familiar Ray McPherson and his company. As I've indicated, I had the highest regard for both. Ray and I share a number of beliefs that aren't restricted to just the selling of fishing tackle.

As soon as I got the samples I immediately set about testing them. My first experience with them was at Siltcoos Lake on the Central Oregon Coast. The very first time I tried them there I wound up having one of the better days I'd ever had on that particular lake. I continued to have sufficient success with the new lure elsewhere. They didn't get fish every time out. Neither did the unending assortment of other baits I'd tried. Properly fished they got their share and then some. I called my friend Ray and gave him an enthusiastic "Let's do it."


The original Stan's Spin was marketed with only the plastic spinner blade you see here.


I had a hand in the design of this pro model of the Stan's Spin spinnerbait. As you can see, this one has a metal blade to go along with its Mylar plastic blade. The added metal blade gives the lure more vibration and sound on the retrieve.

While I was proud to see my name on the new spinnerbait once it hit the market, I found I had another reaction. I very much wanted other bass anglers to have the same success with it as I'd had.

One of the first questions I had from anglers who purchased the lure was "What's the best way to fish it?" It's a question I continue to get. I wish there was one easy answer to that question, but there isn't. Bass, you see, don't always react the same way. That's one of the things that make the sport so darn interesting and challenging. What those fickle boogers do today they might not do tomorrow.

Most newcomers to fishing a spinnerbait do the same thing whether it's the Stan Spin or some other model they're throwing. They simply cast it out and reel it back. Rarely do they vary the speed of their retrieve or try a variety of other procedures that sometimes pay off big time.

Have you, for example, ever tried fishing a spinnerbait so slowly that it was bumping the bottom all the way back to the boat? Now and then you're going to be surprised if you can simply manage to slow down enough to try it.

Bass fishing isn't one of my wife's favorite things, but every once in awhile I can talk her into going along. On those relatively rare occasions she does accompany me I know in advance the lure she'll invariably want me to tie on for her. It will be a spinnerbait. That was true before there was a Stan's Spin and it's even truer now.

Like most other bass fishermen I'm inclined to fish too fast. My wife doesn't have that problem. Time after time she'll sit back there in the stern seat of my bass boat and throw her Stan's Spin into water I've already covered. The difference is she retrieves so slowly the lure gets down where mine didn't. Now and then, for that matter more often than I care to admit, she catches fish when all I get is casting practice.

There's more than one reason why that slow retrieve with the Stan's Spin often pays off. If there's a good bit of cover where the bass are holding, a slow retrieve is a cinch to cause the lure to bump off underwater obstructions. For some reason bass can't stand to see a lure bump and run without doing something about it. It's a super way to trigger strikes when the fishing is slow.


I've found smallmouth bass often grab a Stan's Spin spinnerbait as readily as do largemouth. This one did that on Oregon's beautiful Umpqua River.

The Stan's Spin had something else going for it where spinnerbaits are concerned. Its appearance in the water is different. There's nothing else out there quite like it. If you've seen some of the same research on bass fishing I have you know this can be of great significance.

Bass have been proven to stay away from things they've had trouble with before. Show 'em something new, something they aren't aware is going to spell trouble if they grab it, and up go your odds of catching fish.

They put my name on the original Stan's Spin but I didn't design it. I have had a hand in certain parts of the changes made to the lure since it first came to market. The original model had just a single Mylar plastic blade.

The Pro Model Stan's Spin now available also has a metal blade to go along with its Mylar blade You still have the easy-turning Mylar blade at the back but now you also have the whump and thump vibration of the Colorado style metal blade up ahead of it.

There are a number of ways to fish these dandy spinnerbaits. In my next column I'll get into some procedures I've used with it, those techniques have accounted for lots of fish, including the second biggest largemouth I've ever boated.

You'll find my next column right here beginning Dec. 1.

-To Be Continued-

November 14, 2011

Often Color is The Key - Part 2

by Stan Fagerstrom

There's simply no question that color often plays a tremendously important role in consistently putting fish in the boat or on the bank.
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