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A New Favorite?

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A New Favorite?

By Scott Hammer

August 29, 2013
I’ve often wondered if there could be any other plastic bait to unseat the Senko as my “favorite”. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve come up with 78 ways to rig the Senko – I really like the Senko! I dropshot with the 5” Kut Tail, Shad Shaped Worm and Pro Senko, and I shaky head with the larger Kut Tail. I’ve dragged Yamamoto tubes, the Kreature, Twin Tailed Grubs and Craws, and I’ve used the Swim Senko and every other bait Yamamoto makes. To date, the Senko still ranks number one on the list.

Enter the challenger.
[Image: gyamamoto-d-shad.jpg]
The Yamamoto D-Shad. I’ll admit, I’m not much of a fluke style bait fan. They have always been too light for my style of fishing. I ordered a few bags in different colors to take on my annual trip to Lake St Clair for a test run. Ken Neeley owns KD Outdoors in Waterford, Michigan and is a fluke fanatic. He also stocks a wide variety of Yamamoto baits. I knew he would put the D-Shad through a tough test. He has about as many ways to rig fluke style bait as I do a Senko and it would be a challenge to get them to pass his test.

Depending on the weather, we sometimes find the smallmouth shallow and in crystal clear water: perfect conditions for the D-Shad. This year the lake dealt us a tough hand. We called it the year of 4’s: 40mph winds, 40 degree air temperatures and 4 foot waves. Fortunately we caught a lot of 4 pound smallmouth as well. The water was cloudy with stirred up sand and we only ventured shallow once.

Hefty, hefty hefty!
Let’s take a look at the D-Shad and determine what makes it special and sets it aside from the other manufacturer’s fluke style baits. The first thing I noticed when I took one out of the bag was its weight. It’s no lightweight! This was important to me. As I said, my biggest complaint has been that fluke baits are too light. There goes half of the competition. I’ve found a heftier weight gives you more options when fishing the bait. Lighter versions limit you to the very upper portion of the water column. I almost consider them a topwater bait that you twitch on, or near, the surface. The heavier weight of the D-Shad means you can work the whole water column.

That extra weight also assists in casting. I can throw the D-Shad a country mile and in clear water presentations, that is important. I’ll expand on fishing techniques in a bit.

Next, let’s look at the shape of the bait. It has a slim profile which matches a larger variety of the baitfish it is designed to imitate. Molded into the bottom of the D-Shad is an opening for tucking your hook away when rigged. This eliminates snags and weed hitchhikers. There is also plenty of material on the nose of the bait which helps in keeping it rigged properly after you have caught a few fish.

Out of the bag, the tail portion of the bait is solid plastic and it has a great action on its own, but here is where I do some “tinkering”. I take a knife or clippers and cut the mid-section of the tail away which creates two, separate sides and looks kind of like a tuna tail. Why do I do that? I guess it’s kind of a confidence thing. You can obviously fish it either way.

Finally, let’s look at rigging options. I am pretty traditional in rigging the bait. There are Double Fluke rigs, Split Shot rigs and other variations but I prefer a weightless presentation. I use a Gamakatsu EWG Offset Shank hook in 3.0, 4.0 or 5.0 sizes. I use the hook size to speed up or slow down the fall. The offset shank helps in rigging and the EWG (extra wide gap) gives more hook shank for increased hookups. When you get experienced in rigging, you can adjust the nose of the bait. Depending on where you insert the hook point, the D-Shad will dart side to side level, up or down.
[Image: d-shad-tail.jpg]
I throw the bait on a 7 foot medium action spinning rod spooled with 8 pound monofilament. The final result? OUTSTANDING! I was blown away with the numbers and quality of fish I caught with the D-Shad. The one time we were able to get shallow in a protected cove, I wrecked the largemouth that were schooled shallow getting ready to spawn, and as we moved deeper along structure (a submerged pipe), the back and forth darting action triggered vicious strikes from smallmouth. For the ultimate test (remember this was the trip of 4’s) we moved out to the deeper water (6 to 12 feet) and deployed driftsocks. Normally this is where I would rig a tube or my favorite Judy Wong rig (better search my articles if you don’t remember what that is!) and start dragging. Since I was putting the D-Shad to the test, I pitched it out and waited. I didn’t have to wait long. A healthy 3-pound smallmouth inhaled it before it had a chance to sink more than three feet.

So began the year of the D-Shad on Lake St Clair. We found that the bait could be twitched in the water column at any depth to trigger strikes and we found it was just as effective dead sticking, dragging it like a tube weightless. Needless to say, when I returned home and was transferring my travel baits back into my boat, I was surprisingly short on D-Shads. That’s a true sign of how a bait performed. I’ll wager a couple of bags of Senkos that if you stop by K&D Outdoors on your way to the lake, you’ll find a healthy supply of D-Shads waiting for you. You owe it to yourself to give them a try.
[Image: SignatureSmallBFSA_zps89bcf1e2.png]
I had massive success with this bait when all others fail. Unfortunately this also falls in the category of a 1 fish bait but come competition time you will see quite a few packets ready to be used.
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Can someone create a voting pole or whatever to see what brand members prever when it comes to fluke bases lures? Eg zoom,gary yamamoto etc.........
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