The world got to watch Buddy Gross in his element when he won the FLW Tour event at Lake Toho back in February. Gross spent that tournament working a ditch through an offshore grass bed with a 5- or 6-inch Scottsboro Tackle Co. Swimbait on an Owner Beast Flashy Swimmer hook or the 4-inch version of that same swimbait on a swim jig (click here for full bait details). He used a very similar tactic with the Beast Flashy Swimmer and a 5-inch Zoom Swimmer in offshore grass when he won the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Seminole back in 2017.
In other words, Gross is as comfortable as a pickerel when he’s hunting in deep grass, particularly with a swimbait.
In April, FLW Associate Editor Justin Onslow documented how Gross likes to cut the belly of his two favorite hollow swimbaits – the Scottsboro and the Swimmer – when rigging on a weedless hook to achieve a high hook-up ratio.
However, that article didn’t break down where and why Gross prefers to use the Beast Flashy Swimmer hook versus a standard weighted, weedless swimbait hook. So we reached out to Gross for more info.
Fact is, Gross has started throwing the Beast Flashy Swimmer (and sometimes the standard Flashy Swimmer) in a lot more situations than he used to because the extra flash of the belly blade greatly expands the situations where a swimbait could work.
“If there’s a shad spawn going on I really like the blade,” Gross says. “Or if there’s a potential time to have a shad spawn, it really dials ’em in. You’ll have 20 or 30 shad coming in with it, and they’ll all be bumping the blade.
“Another time is if there’s dirty water. If it’s really clean, crystal-clear water I try to steer away from it. But in the wind I like it in clearer water. It’s almost like a spinnerbait. On windy days and stuff like that I always break out the Flashy. Anymore, as long as it’s not real clear, I’ll throw it. I’ll throw it all the time.”
Late summer is another good scenario for adding a blade. Small young-of-the-year baitfish congregate in pods in grass and brush, so adding a small blade somewhat mimics those small forage fish. Gross wonders if bass mistake the combo for a predator fish trying to eat a small baitfish, but why they eat it isn’t as important as the fact that it gets their attention when there’s a lot of activity in the cover.
The Chickamauga, Ga., pro likes the 3/8-ounce, 8/0 Beast Flashy Swimmer with 5-inch and larger swimbaits and the 3/8-ounce, 6/0 standard Flashy Swimmer for 4-inch swimbaits (the Beast Flashy Swimmer doesn’t come in a 6/0 size). The same basic size combinations in the Owner Weighted Beast Hookapply when Gross doesn’t want the blade, but there are additional weight and hook combos available to dial in for specific circumstances.
Thanks to Gross’ frequent demands, Owner is also working on a 3/4-ounce, 8/0 Beast Flashy Swimmer for slow-rolling way down over grass, and he’ll likely win a bunch of money with it when it comes out.
The other variable is the blade size and shape. Owner offers a gold Colorado, which Gross throws in dirty water, and a silver willow, which is his go-to. The company doesn’t market blade size options; they’re pre-matched to the hook and weight size. That doesn’t stop Gross from doing some swapping, though.
“Sometimes, if I’m trying to get it to run deeper, I’ll put a smaller blade on it,” he says. “If I want it to run on top of the grass I’ll put a bigger blade on it.”
(To make it easier to swap out blades and/or replace a broken or bent wire, Owner sells a Flashy Swimmer Kit – requested by Gross – that comes with Coloradoor willowblades. Different sizes are available.)
Altogether, there are a lot of options in this swimbait hook family, and Gross has put a ton of hours into really getting dialed in. Marrying up the Beast hooks has allowed him to employ a wider range of swimbaits in weedless situations without sacrificing hooking percentages.
“The Beast weights actually do better about coming through the grass,” Gross adds. “It’s just preference. The baits are getting bigger, the plastic is getting bigger, so the Beast is great. A long time ago I never threw a big hook, but now I do all the time.”
You might want to stock up as well, and take Gross’ advice on what to throw, because there might not be anyone better at power-fishing offshore grass with a swimbait.