ICAST 2012: Rick Clunn Hard at Work at ICAST

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Rick ClunnRick Clunn, one of the greatest tournament anglers of all time, has been hard at work the past two years producing many components of the system and tools that have kept him at the top the past 30 years, including glass rods for power cranking, jerkbaits and topwater, the matching reel and bringing back the classics in crankbaits and jerkbaits. Add his Lobina Lures Rico topwater, and you are fishing with the finest tools that Rick Clunn’s ever fished!

 At ICAST 2012, Rick Clunn expanded his series of Classics crankbaits with the introduction of a large, deep-diving squarebill called The Freak that’s also available in a smaller size called the UltraLite Freak. A medim size Freak is also planned but not shown at ICAST.

“The Freak is the only deep-diving squarebill that’s out there, and it’s one I wanted to make for a long time,” says bass fishing legend Rick Clunn. “Everyone likes shallow-diving squarebills so I always felt a deep-diving squarebill like the Freak would perform just as well – and it does.”

“The depth it reaches falls within the mid to high teen range but there is really no definitive depth because so much is determined by how skilled the angler, the line diameter and other variables. If you can throw it 75 yards, you may get it down to 18 feet deep, but another angler or under breezy conditions when you can only throw it 45 yards, you’re not going to achieve that same depth. and really, a deep-diver will only be at its maximum depth for a short part of the retrieve. The first third of the retrieve, the lure is diving, the last third of the retrieve, the lure is climbing and it’s only that middle third that a deep-diving crankbait is going to max out and stay there a short while,” explains Rick.

The Freak

New! Luck-E-Strike Rick Clunn Deep-Diving Squarebill. Named “The Freak” because this is no ordinary squarebill. The bill’s huge and shovel- or scoop-shaped.

UltraLite Freak

New! Luck-E-Strike Rick Clunn UltraLite Freak. An ultra-lite, ultra deep diving squarebill in the new Rick Clunn Classics crankbait series. A medium size is also planned.

Clunn will also be coming out with other crankbait models in the Classic series – but right now, the popularity of the current line-up has been so high that they’re just trying to increase our production capabilities to be able to meet demand for those.  “Once we do that, I’ve got other designs I’ve been working on,” says Clunn. Readers can look forward to some flat-sided crankbaits from him at some indefinite time in the future.

“My goal, for anything that has my name on it, is to be the best tool in that style of bait that’s ever been made, and all of these crankbaits came of he finest hand-carved cranks that I ever fished. That’s why we reproduced them as Classics. You are fishing with the finest baits that Rick Clunn’s ever fished.”

 Luck-E-Strike Rick Clunn STX2 Jerkbait

New! Luck-E-Strike Rick Clunn STX2 Jerkbait. The company describes this as the shortest, suspending, weight-transfer system jerkbait. It’s part of the new Rick Clunn Classics hardbait series. “The #2 is just a downsized version of the original we intorduced last year,” says Clunn. “We now have a floater model too in the original, larger size.  Suspending baits have gotten so popular that you can’t hardly find a floating one any more – and yet all the original ones were floating ones.  Reel it under, pause and it floats right back to the surface. The hits come when the bait starts back up toward the surface. A lot of times you can watch the bait coming up, and all of a sudden a bass will materialize out of nowhere. It’s almost like they can’t resist it heading back toward the surface. You’ll be amazed how many strikes occur the instant it breaks the surface, or if it hits the surface and the fish starts to turn away, just twitch it and then it’s just an explosion,” exclaims Rick.

ICAST 2011: A Tale of Two Squarebills

One year earlier, at ICAST 2011, Rick Clunn kicked off his Classics crankbait series with the introduction of the RC2 shallow squarebill. There was some confusion at the time because Clunn had originally designed the squarebills that Lucky Craft has had over the years.

“A lot of people are under the misconception that I am basically recreating the same bait – but I am not,” clarifies Rick Clunn. “What I developed with Lucky Craft was a hard plastic version of one of my favorite wood baits that I used in clear to semi-clear water and it has a thinner body and a tighter vibration. In clear water, that is what I prefer.”

Rick Clunn RC2 SquarebillThe Luck-E-Strike RC2 squarebill is actually a different squarebill. It is a fatter one, has a wider wobble, is better in off-color water and works through wood without getting hung up as much,” explains Rick Clunn.

“The Luck-E-Strike squarebills are fatter and that means more buoyant. So if you are working heavy cover like wood, around boat docks, around logs, around brush piles, buoyancy means you don’t get hung up as much. The minute you hit something (for an angler who’s expecting this) and it deflects off, the buoyancy allows the bait to get away quicker from the wood or cover. A good example to explain this action is, if a fish tries to fin you, you pull your hand away quick. If you don’t pull it away quick, you’re going to get finned. Well, buoyancy gives you that quickness to get away from that wood quicker and bounce off it and pop up without getting stuck. Even if you do get hung, you can use the “bow and arrow” line pop technique and the buoyancy allows the bait to back up and pop off from it; so you don’t have to move the boat to retrieve it. It’s just much more efficient around wood, in simple terms.”

“Also, the new Luck E Strike squarebills are designed to have a wider wobble which translates into better off-color water fishing. In off-color water, the sense that becomes most dominate in bass is the lateral line, which simply picks up water displacement. So the new RC2 is more effective in off-color water because it produces more water displacement versus the Lucky Craft crank I designed that is more effective in clear to semi-clear water,” Rick Clunn tells readers.

“Some people ask where do you fish a squarebill? You fish it shallow and around cover and due to that, a squarebill (unlike most other crankbaits) is a nine month of the year bait. If you are fishing any water that has resident shallow water fish, you better have a squarebill tied on,” advise Rick Clunn. “You’re going to get hung up a lot and many people are afraid of getting hung up. When I won the Bassmaster Classic in 1990, I had a writer with me on the final day who was taking notes on how many casts I made each hour and also, how many times I was hung up (using a squarebill). I was hung up 43 times that day. The writer said I only had to move the boat 12 of those 43 times to get the lure back and I never lost a bait all day. I was popping them loose using the bow and arrow technique and the stretch in monofilament is what will allow you to do that. That’s why monofilament is the only line I recommend for fishing both my Luck E Strike and Lucky Craft squarebill designs. I highly recommend monofilament over any other line since it has a little more stretch. Just stretching it and letting it loose, the bait will back up a little bit and pop off. That day I was hung up 43 times, I was the world champion that day. So do not be afraid to get hung up or you’ll be too skittish to cast to the places you really need to fish most,” says legendary angler Rick Clunn.

New! Rick Clunn Casting Reel

Rick Clunn Casting ReelAt ICAST 2012, Wright & McGill proudly introduced a new Rick Clunn casting reel that looks as good as it performs with its custom turquoise crackle finish that complements the successful Rick Clunn Crankin’ rods that were introduced last year.

Key Features:

• 10 stainless steel ball bearings – 9 + 1 design
• Powerful, smooth graphite drag system
• 6.3:1 gear ratio
• Weighs 6.9 oz
• Line retrieve per crank – 23 inches
• Line capacity – 120 yds of 12 lb.
• Nylon & glass frame for durability and weight reduction.
• Quick access side plate & removable aluminum spool
• Magnetic anti-backlash braking system
• Precision cut brass gears
• Aluminum handle and lightweight EVA paddle
• Available in right & left hand retrieve

ICAST 2011: Rick Clunn’s Signature Rods for Power Baits

Rick Clunn's signature rod series

Rick Clunn’s signature rod series has a beautiful turquoise color and crackle finish. Photo: Bill Bjork.

“Well, I thought I would never see them again,” reminisces bass fishing legend Rick Clunn speaking of the glass rods he had used most of his life for his powerbaits such as crankbaits and jerkbaits. “We forced the high-tech rod materials like graphite and composites to be adequate, but when it comes to powerbaits, high-tech will never be as good as glass. Over time, I have learned that only glass performs correctly for the way I fish with powerbaits,” explains Rick Clunn.

So you might imagine Rick’s delight when Wright & McGill, who’s probably been in the glass rod business for over seventy-five years told Clunn they’d make his favorite old rods for him.

“So I immediately agreed to bring back my glass rods, and I gathered up the ones I still happened to have, and that’s basically what we modeled my new Wright & McGill Signature S-Curve and S-Glass rod series off of – my old glass rods,” says Rick

The Rick Clunn Signature Series offers technique specific rod models for squarebills, lipless crankbaits, deep-diving crankbaits and jerkbaits. Those are all power techniques where Clunn feels glass is superior for those those techniques. There are six different rods in all, although some are just different lengths – for people who are more comfortable using longer or shorter rod lengths.

Clunn's Peak Performance Guide

Clunn’s rods come with a multi-page Peak Performance guide covering his entire system for each rod’s use. Photo: Bill Bjork.

“In addition to knowing what technique the rod is best used for, I have added some information that comes with each rod – my Peak Performance Guide. The rod is only one part of your system to achieve peak performance. For instance, if you’re fishing a squarebill, you need a good squarebill, and it needs to have good hooks. You need to have a certain type and pound test of line, and I even put in the Peak Performance guide how to fight the fish. That’s really critical because so many fish are lost because of the angler being too timid. So all of this is a system I have developed over thirty years. Just for me to hand you this glass rod – and not give you the rest of the information about the system – it’s partial information. So I’m just trying to give you a short cut here. That’s kind of the background behind how Wright & McGill and I did all this together.”

“We have a long deep-diving crankbait rod for making those marathon casts. It’s 7’8″ and it works with swimbaits as well, because in clear water, you have to cast those swimbaits quite far. We also have a lipless crankbait rod, and no one has ever really designed a rod for that specific bait. The lipless crankbait is fished throughout the country, and what makes a good lipless rod is a little different than a good squarebill rod. Squarebills are mostly effective in off-colored water which allows you to fish heavier line and allows you to fish a bigger squarebill which means you need a more powerful rod to set the hook. On the other hand, lipless crankbaits are fished a lot in clear water, often over vegetation, and the clear water forces you to use lighter line and the fact that you may be fishing 10-12 pound test fluorocarbon with less stretch, it means you need a lighter rod. So again, what makes things work is the whole system,” explains Clunn.

“My system for a jerkbait includes a rod that’s a little shorter only because you’re working it all day, and you don’t want the rod tip to hit the water, plus a longer rod is going to wear you out. The same rod performance for jerkbaits applies to working topwaters too,” concludes Rick Clunn about Wright & McGill’s new Rick Clunn Signature S-Curve and S-Glass rod series for powerbaits.

Russ Bassdozer

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