Swimbait Tournament Tips: Magdraft 8 and 10-inch

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With a typical line-through swimbait, the fishing line is threaded through the nose and exits the belly behind the gills or pectoral fins where you tie on a loose treble hook and insert one tine (point) into the plastic belly, leaving two exposed tines.

Megabass takes the line-through style of soft-bodied boot-tail swimbait one step further by having a fixed weight, sturdy wire harness inside the bait. The line is tied directly to a line-tie on the nose instead of threaded through the body. A hook hanger, heavy duty swivel and treble hook are complemented by a molded opening into a little recess in the Magdraft belly where one of the treble hook tines fits snugly inside the belly.

Magnetic Hold

Swimbait Tournament Tips: Magdraft 8 and 10-inch

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“The real beauty of the Magdraft is the harness houses a powerful magnet that holds the belly treble hook firmly in place using magnetism. Where this really shines is when you’re making a real long cast and of course this is a heavy bait weighing 3+ ounces (8 inch) to 6+ ounces (10 inch), and when it hits the water, all that energy of the impact, the treble hook in other swimbaits will fly out but with the strong magnetic hold of the Magdraft, it helps keep that hook in there quite nicely,” exclaims Megabass pro-staffer Chris Zaldain, a top US tournament pro from San Jose, California.

Hook Pocket

“In conjunction with the magnet, also stick the tine that’s inside the belly into the side of the plastic to give it a little extra hold there because you’re dealing with a heavy bait, heavy line, big bass and all the bites on this bait are really vicious, so you want that treble to stay inside the body as firmly as possible, so stick that one point in the plastic past the barb. After you catch a few fish on it, switch the sides. Stick the hook in the right side of the belly and after a few fish, move the hook over to the left side, so that way you keep the plastic fresh. By the end of the swimbait’s life, the eyeballs will be beaten off of it, there may be teeth marks all down the sides and the belly suffers the most damage simply because that hook is entering and exiting that body slot so much, so the magnet really, really helps here,” explains Zaldain.

“Inevitably you will make a long cast and the hook will happen to come out…but don’t reel it in unceremoniously to do it over. You may still catch fish with the treble dangling down unsecured, although you just don’t get as many bites, plus it tends to snag blades of grass and debris because you have several inches of dangling hardware and hook that throws the balance off, takes away from the action and detracts from the profile; it just does not look natural like that. However, you may still get crushed on it or a bass may come out, follow it and give up its position so you can throw back on it with a different bait or tuck that hook back in and keep chucking the Magdraft.”

Match the Hatch

“Both the 8- and 10-inch Magdraft imitate the bigger forage fish in a lake. Such big baits will not work as well on lakes with nothing but threadfin shad or tiny baitfish like pin minnows, silversides and stuff like that. You could go a long time between bites – and odds are it would seldom pay off in tournament competition on waters lacking big bait species. Obviously, you want to throw the 8- and 10-inch Magdraft where you know 5+ pounders live, where you know there are giant bluegills, gizzard shad and where the forage runs big, you have a much better chance of catching big bass on these big swimbaits.”

When to choose the 8- or 10-inch

“Choosing between the 8- and 10-inch is simple. Overall, the 8-inch is a potent tournament bait on many of the USA’s top bass fisheries whereas the 10-inch is more of a trophy-hunter’s swimbait. In terms of profile and especially body mass, a huge difference exists between the two sizes. The 10-inch is almost double the weight and body mass, and its profile and presence dwarfs the 8-inch in the water. Whenever tournaments are held on lakes where 30+ to 40 pound daily bags are needed to win a tournament, that’s when to use the 10-inch as it’s more appealing to those 6 to 10 pounders. Fisheries like Lake Fork or Toledo Bend are typically known to have big, giant bass and the 10-inch Magdraft is going to be the deal…you may not get but 3 bites a day on the 10-inch but if you do, it’s going to be a really good day because they’re all going to be 6 to 10 pounders.”

“On the vast majority of tournament waters however, anything over 8-inches isn’t really a practical tournament lure but more of a trophy hunter’s bait. On the other hand, the 8-inch is a tournament-sized swimbait meaning you can use the 8-inch Magdraft, you can go out in an event and use the 8-inch Magdraft to get 5 to 7 bites a day, and if you land every one, you’re going to get your 30 pound limit that you’re after.”

“So…use the 10-inch on lakes where and when 40 pounds is the goal you need to win. Use the 8-inch where 30 pounds is the daily goal for those lakes,” advises Megabass pro-staffer Chris Zaldain.

Best water clarity

Swimbait Tournament Tips: Magdraft 8 and 10-inch

Ayu is Zaldain’s all-around favorite color.

“Optimal water clarity is going to be 4 foot visibility or greater. Big soft swimbaits in general don’t typically work as well when it’s muddy or stained water. Bass need to see this bait, perceive the profile and shape, validate the realistic features of the fins and eyeballs and that’s what gets them to commit. So 4 feet or greater visibility is optimal.”

Best colors

“Of course, any of the trout color patterns when you are fishing any of the trout lakes. Otherwise, Ayu is probably my all-around favorite color because it can imitate a baby bass, a gizzard shad, and even on some lakes where the trout are really silver, Ayu will imitate those silver trout. Ayu has considerable silver glitter, a greenish-goldish back and a chartreuse gill flap spot. My second favorites are the whites – both White Back Shad and Albino for the more stained waters because these whites reflect more light and almost glow a little more in 3-4 foot visibility, and just stand out a little better in 2-3 foot visibility. You’ll definitely get more bites on the whites in stained water, but when you get into the 6 foot visibility zone, I’m going to want to throw that Ayu color instead because it has a little transparency to it as well as a nice, bedazzling flash which is perfect for clear water.”

Line Size

“Don’t throw anything under 20 lb test, and often I’ll use 25 pound test especially in and around cover or with the 10-inch. The 8-inch is great on 20 lb test like Seaguar Invisx fluorocarbon. Tie direct with the Magdraft because it’s not a bait that needs a split ring or snap for side to side action.”

Rod Selection

“Rod selection is real simple – an 8’0” heavy swimbait action rod. I prefer the Megabass Orochi XX Leviathan for both the Magdraft 8- and 10-inch because it has a nice bend to it. You don’t want a broomstick, you want something that bends a little bit because we’re dealing with a treble hook here and you don’t want a real stiff rod where you may be able to rip that treble out of the fish’s mouth. Whenever we’re dealing with a single (as opposed to treble hook), it’s great to have a broomstick-style rod, but not with treble-hooked swimbaits.”

Best Hooksets

When retrieving, have the rod around the 7:30 to 8 o’clock position, pointed toward the bait but also pointed down toward the water, making just a nice slow wind and when you feel one bite, there’s no question about it. They thump it good. On the hookset, because it is a treble hook on the belly, you don’t want to set the hook in an upward position like a jig hook. Very important…you don’t want to rip it out of their mouth in an upward fashion; make a nice, hard side sweep to the left or to right 100% of the time. Rotate your hips, rotate your shoulders and that 8’ rod will bury that hook solidly every single time…and then just wind and grind it all the way back to the boat. You’ve got 20-25 lb test…whether it’s a two-pounder or a ten-pounder, just keep winding and grinding, keep that tension there and you’ll catch that fish. This applies to both the 8- and 10-inch. “

Stinger Hook Option

“The Magdraft as it is rigged right out of the package is how I fish it 80-85% of the time because the name of the game with the Magdraft is being able to cover as much water from as many different retrieve angles as possible, and if that means bumping it into cover, steering it into dock pilings and making contact with stuff like that, then I think I am better off without an added stinger hook that can foul or snag,” reasons Zaldain.

“I’m going to open that package, tie on a Magdraft, and if one hammers it, that’s typical. They’re typically going to pummel it hard and get hooked solidly on the original stock treble. If not, that’s fine too because as a tournament angler, I am really using the Magdraft more as a search tool most of the time. If I get a bite or a follower and don’t hook up, mission accomplished, especially on practice days. I will punch in a waypoint and will know that giant fish lives there and come back later or the next day, rig up a stinger hook or throw something else that I know will catch that fish on a competition day when I need it.”

“I’ve always got an attachable stinger hook harness with me that’s quick and easy to rig, and I may use it 15-20% of the time. The only time I rig it up and put it on is when I know they’re short-striking at the tail and I see teeth marks down the tail – and I am not hooking up during live competition; that’s when I’ll rig that stinger hook on there.”

“Many times, when you do hook a fish on just the stinger hook, I don’t know exactly why, but it’s very, very hard to land them…perhaps because you are dealing with a smaller treble hook and you’ve just made the harness about 4-5 inches long overall, which gives a fish more leverage to throw it, so I don’t like putting myself in that position. Fighting and dumping a fish lowers my chances of getting it to bite again after that. That’s why I prefer just the stock treble as that hooks them very well.”

How to make a Stinger Harness

Swimbait Tournament Tips: Magdraft 8 and 10-inch

Megabass took the line-through style swimbait one step further by having a fixed, sturdy wire harness inside the bait.

Chris takes some of the flexible wire cable that’s used for leaders for toothy saltwater fish, real thin wire, and he trims it down to about an inch and a half long, crimps a small loop on each end and attaches a split ring and #1 treble on one end. He threads the other end of the wire cable onto the swimbait’s stock hook, over the top tine that’s embedded into the body, and then embeds one tine of the stinger hook through the anal fin. Again, it won’t be until live tournament competition which is when it really counts that he’ll even consider that stinger hook option.

Replacing the Stock Hook

“The only time I’ll change the stock hook out on is if I snag into a rock or something concrete and roll a point. I am always checking my hook points after every snag or fish is landed, and if I roll a hook point, I’ll just use that tine as the one to embed into the body that holds the hook in place along with the magnet. That still leaves two exposed sharp points and as long as you have that, it’s all you need.”

Skipping Docks

“How I prefer to fish the Magdraft and where it really shines is skipping it around docks. Most anglers think of skipping docks with jigs and shakey heads and stuff like that, but one of the best ways I catch them around docks is with a big, giant swimbait and the Magdraft is absolutely my favorite to skip because when it tumbles and skitters across the surface, that magnet helps keep the treble hook in place and keeps it from flying out so it doesn’t foul up the bait. The 8-inch skips nicely but the 10-inch actually skips the best. That’s by far my favorite way to use it. Not a lot of guys do this, but once you get the technique down, those big bass underneath those docks, underneath overhanging trees, under walkways or wherever you can skip beneath anything, the bass never ever see baits this big presented like that, and it’s very, very appealing to them. I promise you, they will swim a long way to get it! Skipping these big swimbaits is probably the best way of all to fish them,” reveals Zaldain.

Swimbait Life Extension

“The thing about the Magdraft or any soft plastic swimbait is of course it is not going to last forever. Once you catch a couple and it starts to get torn up, it’s not going to swim correctly. It always needs to be aligned as straight as possible to attract strikes. Look at it face to face, and you always want everything to be as symmetrical as possible…so whether you have to bend the harness a little to re-straighten it because sometimes you may cast it into a dock or a rock and the nose kind of bends to the side a little bit, so you just want to bend it right back so everything is symmetrical and straight again.”

“When they ship them, they’re shipped in great packaging, all the fins line up perfectly and everything is symmetrical and straight, just do what you can to keep it that way. There’s no reason to ever take one out of the packaging until you’re on the spot, ready to throw it. Even try to keep the original packaging and put it back in there once you’re done with it and its’ dried off, because that will really go far in keeping your bait straight after you’ve owned it for a week or two. Just chucking it into your tackle box with your other swimbaits can bend up the body, tail and fins. You have to preserve your swimbaits so the fins and tails don’t get jacked up and there’s no better way than using the original packaging to do that.”

“When they pour these things they’re as straight as possible for starters and you always want to look at that; you always want to make sure the tail is in line with the dorsal fin is in line with the nose is in line with the line-tie, is in line with the hook…so everything has to be in a straight line. If you catch a couple of fish on it, and it starts to get a little loose on the inside so that the harness starts separating from the plastic, just do whatever you have to do to keep that thing straight whether you have to break out a little bit of glue, maybe glue the nose, glue where the harness comes out on the belly, just ensuring everything is straight. Again, it’s not going to last forever, but if you can keep it in fishable shape long enough to catch four or five 6-7 pounders on it, many anglers feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth. Just do whatever you can every time you catch a fish or cast it into something or get snagged, make sure everything is symmetrically sound. That’s so important if you want to get strikes.”

Best Glue for Maintenance

“Any type of fast-drying super glue gel seems to be the best, not the thin, runny kind. I don’t use the overnight-drying type glue either because I am usually making repairs on the spot. My favorite is the Gorilla glue because it holds very well. Barely a thin, thin layer of glue will bond that plastic and harness just right. It’s not the bigger the gob the better the job. Less is more and just a real thin layer is all. Say the belly has split open after you’ve caught a big one. First, make sure it is completely dry, use a towel or the corner of your t-shirt to make sure the swimbait is completely dry inside, spread it apart as much as possible to put a very thin layer in between and just pinch it to clamp it back together for 5 to 10 seconds, then let it set while you make a few casts with another rod. It’ll be good to go after 2-3 minutes. This type glue dries hard (not soft) and seals it quite nicely provided you made sure the surfaces were dry and clean before gluing them. You will be able to smell the fresh glue on it, but that hardly matters. The most important factor is making sure that thing swims back straight. If you take care of it and keep it straight, the Magdraft or any soft swimbait will typically last for 4 or 5 big fish on average.”

Slow Constant Retrieve is best

Swimbait Tournament Tips: Magdraft 8 and 10-inch

The 10-inch is almost double the weight and body mass of the 8-inch.

“With a slow, constant retrieve, you will often get followers, but there’s no better retrieve than just nice and slow and steady, just to where that tail is moving. If you get a noncommittal follower, don’t stop, don’t pause, don’t jerk or twitch it. Just keep it coming on a slow, steady retrieve and that consistency will get them to completely kill it…or if they don’t, then the fish will have exposed itself and you will know where that fish lives and you may be able to back it up with a worm or even an I-Slide jointed swimbait or something like that where the action is a little more erratic.”

Exposing Big Bass

“For a tournament angler, the Magdraft is a really good search tool because you are constantly winding it, covering water – and finding big bass with it. Just keep reeling it and you’ll get a lot of followers to come out after it. So it is a very good search tool that really exposes the position of where those bigger fish dwell, and you may be able to catch them on other lures once you’ve found their locations.”

Where and when to best use

“By far the best season to fish this bait is springtime when the bass are up shallow on flats, and where the predominant forage is going to be your bigger bluegill and gizzard shad all across the country, your trout where they’re stocked or naturally-sustaining, your hitch on Clear Lake…all examples of bigger preyfish preferred by big bass – and the Magdraft 8- and 10-inch come into play then.”

“Just slow, steady winding around real obvious pieces of cover along flats, that’s where the Magdraft works the best. The ultimate scenario would be a dock that comes out 10-12 feet deep on the end, maybe 2-4 feet deep on the shallow side. Position your boat on the shallow side and skip that Magdraft out toward, under and around the 10-12 foot end, letting it fall down about halfway, and then slowly winding it back. The bites are just super-vicious. You know when a fish bites this bait because they absolutely crush it.”

“Wherever you have flats areas where they can spawn and some vertical cover like dock pilings or stickups, trees, stuff like that, the more isolated, the better. Just swim the Magdraft down the edges of those isolated clumps of grass, isolated docks, stuff like that. Just a very steady, slow to medium retrieve lets that Magdraft tail move a lot of water and it thumps real hard, so the fish feel it and they see it from a long way off, and they come a long way to get that thing.”

55 To 70 Degree Water Temperature

“The 55 degree mark is going to be your prespawn as well as your late fall outlier. When you hit your sixties, it’s probably going to be most optimal for the Magdraft where the fish are shallow, their metabolisms are high, they’re on the prowl, looking to chase prey all the time. Once you get into the seventies, the fish really start moving out deeper and they’re not relating to that shallow cover where the Magdraft works so well. So, the window of opportunity is from 55 to 70 degrees with the best chances being prespawn to spawn in and around isolated targets, and then again in autumn on the fall flats when the fish are chasing big gizzard shad or big trout when the water starts to cool off on your big open water flats. In fall, the Magdraft works very well around thick grass that’s had time to grow all summer. So from 55, optimally 60 to 70, primarily in the spring, secondarily in the fall and every so often very early in the morning in the summertime around isolated cover on shallow flats is the best time for you to give the Magdraft 8- and 10-inch swimbaits a try,” recommends Megabass pro-staffer Chris Zaldain.

Russ Bassdozer

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