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Ken Cook: Catch bass in winter by fishing slowly, using lighter tackle

Former Bassmaster Classic champion says his most trusted equipment is an Abu Garcia Revo 30 spinning reel and a 7-foot Fenwick medium action rod.
By Ken Cook, For The Oklahoman Published: January 5, 2013

Editor's Note: Ken Cook is a former Bassmaster Classic champion. He is now retired from professional bass fishing and lives on his Tarbone Ranch in Meers, but still goes bass fishing regularly.

I'm often asked how to catch bass in the heart of winter. Anglers are tired of hanging out in the garage playing with tackle, hunting seasons are at an end and the urge to get out on the lake is overwhelming.

My answer is basically very simple. I bundle up to brace against those biting winds and organize an ensemble of light tackle.

My most trusted equipment is an Abu Garcia Revo 30 spinning reel and a 7-foot Fenwick medium action rod. While this may seem too light of tackle for largemouth, I can assure you this is ideal for the line choices I make and the baits I will present.

The concept of slowing down presentations in the colder water is the common and accepted practice. It might take a bit more focus while shivering on the front deck but moving the baits too fast results in a nice chilly boat ride with no fish.

I often have a 5-inch PowerBait Shaky Worm or a 3-inch PowerBait Twitchtail Minnow rigged for my finesse needs. I can approach a wide range of water depths as I focus on finding submerged rock to hold the fish.

The spinning tackle matches perfectly to the 8-pound test Berkley Nanofil line. I choose this line because it is by far the smallest diameter line to use. I add a section of 8-pound test 100 percent Fluorocarbon line as my leader.

The past couple of years I have broadened my hard winter arsenal to include crankbaits. Depending on the situation I tie on either a Rapala square billed Shad Rap or a wide wobble Wiggle Wart.

Still using spinning tackle, I spool with 12-pound test 100 percent Fluorocarbon for added sensitivity. Again, submerged rock is my target.

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