Lake Fork Fishing Tips
From Lake Fork Guides
Fishing the Live Magic ShadArticle: March, 2008
Since Lake Fork Trophy Lures introduced the new Live Magic Shad, I’ve received more calls and e-mails about rigging it than on all other topics combined. This revolutionary lure is very effective as either or swimbait or as a soft plastic jerkbait, if rigged accordingly. After producing a number of double digit bass on Fork last year and a Stren Series victory in January on Falcon while teamed with a Chatterbait, it is clear that the Live Magic Shad works well in a variety of situations. In response to your questions, following is how I rig and fish the Live Magic Shad.
Most of the time, I fish the Live Magic Shad either as a swimbait or as a soft plastic jerkbait. Because of its thick body, you need to use a stout hook with an extra large gap. Additionally, because of the wild swimming motion, a slightly weighted hook will help keel the lure and make it run straight. Lake Fork Trophy Lures has now introduced a new line of weighted swimbait hooks, making rigging the Live Magic Shads very easy. The 3/0 hook perfectly fits the 3.5” bait, while the 5/0, 7/0 and 12/0 are matched to the 4.5”, 5.5”, and 8” Live Magic Shads, respectively. Each hook comes with a keeper that threads into the nose of the bait and holds it in place without tearing your lure. Plus, the weight on the shank of these hooks makes the lure run true and is placed far enough back on the hook so the lure will remain horizontal on the drop—giving it the look of a dying shad.
As for line, I prefer fluorocarbon line for the Live Magic Shad. I’ll use 10 to 15 lb test P-Line Fluorocarbon for the 3.5” bait, while 17 to 25 lb test works great for the 4.5” to 8” sizes. Smaller line sizes will give your bait more action and help it run deeper, while bigger line will help keep it up over thick grass and also allow you to pull big fish out of heavy cover.
I’ve found the Live Magic Shads will work well anytime bass are in shallow cover. On Fork, I fish them from mid-February until late November. My best luck with them has been in the spring—before, during and after the spawn—then again in the fall when bass move shallow and chase baitfish. The baits are very weedless and can be fished over the top of and through thick hydrilla, milfoil, and even lily pads, as well as swimming right through heavy timber.
Fishing the Live Magic Shad is pretty simple. I start off with a swimming retrieve, similar to the way you’d fish a spinnerbait or a swim bait. Cast it out and reel it back in at a medium pace, with the occasional stop and start of the reel or a rod twitch. When the fish are active, the swimming retrieve allows you to cover a lot of water and catch the aggressive fish. If the bass won’t hit on a swimming retrieve, I’ll progressively slow my retrieve until I find an action that they’ll respond to. Start by casting your bait out, let it sink to the bottom, then reel it up about 5 to 10 cranks of the reel handle and let it fall back to the bottom. Repeat this all the way back to the boat. If the bass are somewhat active, briefly letting it sit on the bottom is all you’ll need to do. If they are inactive or holding tight to cover, as is often the case in the spawn, you’ll need to let the bait sit on the bottom for 10 to 60 seconds at a time to trigger bites. Start with a quick retrieve, but be ready to slow down if the fish aren’t responding.
I start with the 4.5” size Live Magic Shad most the time and I use a simple rule of thumb for colors. When the bite is tough, I’ll go with the 3.5” lure, especially on cold front days that are sunny and calm. If the fish are active or when it’s windy and overcast, the 5.5” and 8” baits will often work better and also produce some lunker bass. As for colors, when I’m swimming the Live Magic Shad, shad colors like Magic Shad or Albino Shad work great. If you’re fishing it more like a soft plastic jerkbait and letting if sit on the bottom a lot, shades of Watermelon or Green Pumpkin tend to work best. My favorite colors are Watermelon Red Flake/Pearl Belly and Tilapia, since they are a combination of both color schemes and they seem to work well on any presentation.
Like any other soft plastic lure, you can rig the Live Magic Shad on a number of different ways and catch fish on it, depending on your situation. The 3.5” bait is great when nose hooked on a drop shot, while the 3.5” and 4.5” both work great on split shot rigs and Carolina rigs. When I want to produce a little more vibration and action, I’ll rig a 3.5” or 4.5” Live Magic Shad on a 3/8 to ˝ oz chatterbait. Simply remove the Chatterbait skirt and thread the Live Magic Shad on the hook like you would when adding a grub or trailer to a spinnerbait. This set up is awesome for monster bass, giving the fish a big target and an all new look. Or add extra sinkers to the shank of wide gap hook and you can use the Live Magic Shad as a medium or deep running swimbait. A few simple modifications to your rig will allow you to fish Live Magic Shads from shallow to deep and anywhere in between.
Hopefully this helps answer a few questions about rigging the Live Magic Shad. Give them a shot on your lake, river, or pond this year and I think you’ll like the results.
Fishing Tip by Lake Fork Pro Tom Redington