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As I’m making plans for an upcoming trip to the California Delta, I’m mentally salivating over the notion of punching thick weed mats for big tidal bass. I’m also thinking about the various tackle anglers buy for this specific technique – and more importantly, a couple of nifty homemade options.
First, the disclaimer: No one’s bashing, downing, dissing, or otherwise being unkind to the many fine brands offering your punching items conveniently packaged on tackle store racks. It’s just that anglers inherently like to tinker, fiddle and experiment with stuff, which often yields some pretty cool innovations.
Here are a couple examples:
Terry Scroggins, the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Florida, knows the value of a stout flipping hook when yanking big bass out of the slop, so he makes his own with homemade bait keepers. Starting with a sturdy spinnerbait hook, Scroggins bends the end of a discarded spinnerbait wire at a 45-degree angle and cuts it off with a ¼-inch tag.
Scroggins then positions the wire’s tag end on the hook shank with sufficient space for his snell knot and fastens it with a ¼-inch piece of heat shrink tubing (the kind with interior glue). He slides the tubing over the bottom half of the keeper and heats it with a cigarette lighter.
For a do-it-yourself punch skirt, California pro Charlie Weyer fashions his own version by gathering a clump of jig skirt strands and tying them together with braided line. Flaring out the strands, he runs his hook through the center and slides the homemade skirt up the shank and over the eye, where it sits snug between his hook and a heavy tungsten weight.