Many anglers shy away from spinning tackle unless they have to. Finesse fishing has a stigma among some anglers who would much rather use heavy line, big rods and power fishing techniques. Bassmaster Elite Series pro and finesse fanatic Justin Lucas has no problem with either type of gear and sometimes, he says spinning is the only way to go.
Light Line Origins
Lucas grew up fishing in California, a state known for finesse fishing. Couple that with the fact that he began his fishing career as a co-angler and it makes sense that he is such a big fan of spinning gear.
“I learned to finesse fish first and now I can always fall back it on when things get tough. I’m comfortable with light line and have tons of confidence with it,” he says.
Fishing Rod Power
The medium-heavy of one brand may vary greatly compared to another. Anglers notice this and it has resulted in a wide gap between a set standard. Abu Garcia has a reputation among some anglers as having slightly heavier rated rods. Justin Lucas feels that Abu Garcia rods are true to what it should be.
“The rods I grew up fishing were all rated this way and I have seen a trend of weaker and weaker rods. Some brands out there are rated as a heavy but are more like a true medium heavy and cannot handle heavier baits,” he says.
With that being said, Lucas also prefers a heavier rod than most do for spinning gear. “I want that rod to be able to drive the hook home. After that the line and drag of your reel do all of the work.” While some anglers like a medium light for drop-shot fishing, Lucas goes heavier.
What Makes a Good Spinning Rod?
Besides the action a good spinning rod should be sensitive, well-balanced and comfortable to fish says Justin Lucas. The reel seat locks up towards the reel meaning there are no exposed threads.
“The Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier are awesome rods and very sensitive. The reel seat and fore grip are really comfortable,” he says.
The dropshot is king among finesse techniques and Lucas is a believer in the technique. There are two ways that he rigs his dropshot baits and each is dependent on the cover he is fishing around and the species he is targeting.
“For smallmouth and spotted bass, I am usually fishing with nose-hooked bait and for largemouth, it is usually Texas-rigged,” he begins. He will rig up small finesse baits like a Berkley Gulp Minnow or PowerBait Twitchtail Minnow on a size 2 Berkley Fusion19 dropshot hook. For largemouth with a Texas-rig, it will be straight tail worm like a Havoc Bottom Hopper rigged on a 1/0 or 2/0 straight shank hook.
Besides the bait and hook he uses, he also uses a different rod based on the way he rigs his bait. A 7’ medium Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier is his choice for nose-hooked baits. He uses the same type of rod in a medium heavy for Texas-rig dropshotting. For both setups he prefers a size 30 Revo MGX spinning reel with 8-pound Berkley Fireline and either 6-,8- or 10-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon as a leader. He adjusts his leader based on the cover he is fishing around.
When asked about his reel size and line choices, he said it comes down to castability and performance on spinning reels.
“The Size 20 and 30 reels are basically the same weight so it makes sense to have the one with a bigger spool. The Fireline casts amazing and is really built for spinning gear,” he says and added he prefers it to a true braided line for that reason alone.
Shaky Head and Wacky-Rig
These two techniques can be done with the exact same setup as a drop-shot according to the Alabama pro. He opts for the 7’, medium-heavy Fantasista Premier with the same reel and line.
Joining Mainline to Fluoro
One of the biggest questions among anglers is which knot is best for combining mainline to a fluorocarbon leader. Lucas uses the Crazy Alberto and says it has never failed him.
“I learned that while working at a tackle store when I was about 18. Another guy who saltwater fished showed it to me and it has been the best knot I have ever used to combine lines.”
Finesse fishing is a way to catch fish when nothing else seems to work. For some anglers, like Justin Lucas, it is their first choice for getting their fifth keeper or for pressured fishing conditions. Having the right rod, reel, line and bait selection will ensure that you can catch fish in all situations.