Against the grain - Major League Fishing

Against the grain

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Pro Ken Ellis likes to hunt bear on power-fishing paradises like Lake Guntersville with a pea shooter: a wacky-rigged Trick Worm. Photo by Rob Newell. Angler: Ken Ellis.
Going finesse on Guntersville
October 9, 2009 • Rob Newell • Toyota Series

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – If you were headed to Lake Guntersville in the next couple of days to wrangle with some quality bass, chances are you would be staging up some pretty hefty tackle for your trip: heavy braided line, big fluorocarbon line, floating frogs, bulky plastic flipping baits, large spinnerbaits and noisy topwaters.

This is why you might be in utter shock to see what South Carolina pro Ken Ellis is fishing with on Lake Guntersville this week. How about a wacky-rigged worm tied to 8-pound-test fluorocarbon? No joke, his fishing tackle looks more suitable for chasing spotted bass on Smith Lake.

Yet Mr. Ellis toted 20 pounds, 5 ounces to the scales yesterday to start the Stren Series event on Guntersville in fourth place.

What’s the old saying about bringing a knife to a gunfight, or the one about hunting bear with a pea shooter?

Well Ellis does just fine with his knives and pea shooters in a world of guns and bears.

“If there’s one thing I learned about tournament fishing long ago, it is that you have to be a total expert on at least one technique,” Ellis said before takeoff Friday morning. “Versatility is good for cashing checks, but you better have something that’s your element in order to win tournaments. Look at Denny Brauer or David Fritts.”

So when Ellis set out to perfect a technique, he studied on weightless wacky-worming with lighter lines as his forte. Granted, Brauer’s flipping and Fritts’ cranking are more power-driven techniques, but Ellis has the market cornered on wacky-rigging. It’s safe to say there are probably not too many pros wacky-rigging on Guntersville this week.

Ellis’ rig consists of a Zoom Trick worm bound to a special-order No. 2 Gamakatsu “Stinger” hook by a tiny rubber band. The 6-foot leader tied to the rig is 8-pound-test Trilene 100% fluorocarbon, which is then tied to 14-pound-test Fireline braid in a bright-yellow color.

He likes the bright-yellow line so he can monitor his lure as it sinks far up under dark boat docks, carefully watching for the slight twitch that signals a bass has just engulfed the worm.

This is roughly the same rig that has garnered Ellis two Stren wins at Santee Cooper and a host of other solid finishes on power-fishing paradises such as Okeechobee and Eufaula.

As for his catch yesterday, some of his better fish came from far under boat docks. But Ellis is a little concerned about that pattern today as the weather forecast is calling for clouds and 20-mph winds.

“The wind will really hurt me with this technique,” Ellis said. “That’s its biggest downfall: It’s hard to fish in the wind – it’s much better on those bright, calm, still days like we had yesterday.”A closer look at Ellis

The day-two weigh-in of the Stren Series event on Lake Guntersville begins Friday at 3 p.m. at Lake Guntersville State Park. If you are not in the area, be sure to catch it online with FLW Live.

Thursday’s conditions

Sunrise: 6:26 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 74 degrees

Expected high temperature: 87 degrees

Water temperature: 70-75 degrees

Wind: SSW at 20 to 25 mph

Day’s outlook: windy and stormy