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Lighten Up for Big Bass with ISH MONROE

Would you consider using 8-pound test or even 6-pound test line in your favorite fishing hole? You would if you knew you would get more bites! Most local anglers cringe at the thought of using line in the 6-8 pound test range, but today’s lines are stronger, more abrasion resistant, and have a thinner diameter. Fishing the western side of B.A.S.S. for the past 6 years, 28-year-old Team Skeeter/Yamaha pro Ish Monroe fished the Classic this year. The Californian attributes his pro standing to his confidence in using light line for all of his plastics techniques.

“Fishing out west has forced me to be versatile. Having to fish lakes with gin clear water and the stained water in the Delta gave me the ability and confidence to use light line. Sometimes fish won’t bite heavy line. “ Monroe lists many reasons to go to light line, line with smaller diameter.
Baits have more action and lighter baits can be cast further. Fish can’t see the line, they hold onto the bait longer because they can’t feel the line. Monroe says that lighter line allows him to feel bites better. Light line also sinks faster, saving time allowing for more casts.

Technology has added to Monroe’s confidence. Characteristics of fluorocarbon line: low stretch, invisibility in water, and fast sinking, fits into his light line strategy. He prefers Silver Thread’s new fluorocarbon 12-pound test. All of these factors allow him to fish deeper and farther as well.

You would think that he would throw the light stuff on spinning tackle. Not so, Monroe’s reels are the Team Diawa TDX and TDZ baitcasting reels even with 6-8 pound test.

For Texas rigs, he will peg a 1/4 oz Excalibur TG Tungsten weight that is smaller than lead, casts further with less wind resistance, and gives a better feel when contacting cover. When sight pitching around and in heavy cover where he does not want separation, he pegs his weights. He feels he gets better hook sets when pegging since there is no separation especially when fish are locked on beds. No toothpicks for Monroe, he feels it crimps the light line. Instead, he uses a rubber mojo peg or a rubber bobber stopper. He uses the lightest line that can handle the cover.

For split shot rigs he also uses the fluorocarbon line and his favorite bait is the Yum Wooly Hawg a 3 inch bait with a size 1 Gamakatsu EWG hook with a 1/4 ounce mojo weight with a rubber peg. He fishes this rig from one foot to 40 feet. Ninety percent of the time he uses a small bait, 3-4 inches, sticking to natural colors: watermelon, green pumpkin, shad in clear water.

Seeking longer casts and more control over the fish, his rod is the Lamiglass Titanium 7 foot rod (TBS 703). “I also think you break of less fish because of flexibility in the rod.” He drags the split shot like a Carolina rig, using a slow retrieve. ”I stop when I feel something then I hop it over the cover and let it drop…this is where the fish are and I want my bait to stay close to the fish. Other guys might work the bait too fast and miss the fish.”

Monroe has adapted the drop shot for stained water when he locates fish and especially when fish are pressured. He stresses that drop shots are not search baits. While he would still prefer to punch a Texas rig through flopped over milfoil, he pitches drop shots to these spots for fish suspended under canopies. Fish suspended under a dock present another target for drop shots. Working the bait with the rod in the 2-3 o’clock position, Monroe reels to load the rod to get to the backbone of the rod into the hookset. He adds that if you feel a “tick”, reel and shake until the fish loads the rod.

For those of us who use 15-20 pound test, making the switch to lighter line will take a lot of getting used to, but the rewards of more fish will be well worth the learning curve. You might want to start with spinning tackle before you make the switch, and once you get used to the lighter line, you might never go back to the heavy stuff.

This 2003 Classic in New Orleans was a disappointment for Monroe. He finished near the bottom of the pack, but was optimistic about returning next year. He has over $40,000 in B.A.S.S. winnings and has placed 4th twice in B.A.S.S. events.

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