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“The Head” (aka Shaky Head)

Table Rock has long been known for its deep, clear water, and with that brings challenges. However, these depths also bring great opportunity. The shaky head (aka “The Head” on Table Rock) steps up to create that opportunity. To benefit from this opportunity requires several key and specific characteristics for fishing Table Rock: adaptability, understanding, and being open-minded. These characteristics might not be the top three to catch more fish on Table Rock, but continue reading and the pieces will fall into place. The Head will outfish a jig on Table Rock, which may be hard to believe, but outfishing a jig is not a pure numbers game. It’s about places it can be fished and ways it can be fished (remember to be open-minded).

The Set Up

Forget the spinning gear. A 6’6” to 7’6” medium-heavy rod with a fast tip is good, but if you can find a 6’10” length rod, that is ideal. There are a couple of options for line, but 10-pound fluorocarbon is most commonly used. Some anglers will use a 30-pound braid as a main line with a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader. The line type is a preference, but if The Head is fished at depths beyond 25-30 feet deep, using the braid can produce better hook-up rates and make it easier to detect bites. The finishing touch to the setup is the drag. Do not miss this step. The drag needs to be set to the degree that on a hook set, it does not slip. Do not set a quarter turn more (more on this later).

The Business End

Table Rock is a hard-bottom lake, so in most cases the shaky heads on the market don’t drag well across the bottom. Look for heads that are pill- or football-head shaped, as they will not hang in the rocks nearly as often. Many people will use incredibly light shaky heads. While they have a place in fishing, they are not The Head. The lightest head for Table Rock should be ¼-ounce; a 3/8-ounce  is a terrific option. The Head needs to get to the bottom and stay on the bottom. These heavier weights send the bait through the water column quickly and pin it to the bottom. No bottom equals no bites. This larger head allows for a larger hook, and this little difference changes the entire narrative (remember: Be open-minded). A heavier head and bigger hook opens the type of baits by a considerable margin.

Here are a couple of rod options for fishing The Head.

  • Falcon LowRider “Finesse Jig” LFC-610MH
  • Lew’s All-Purpose TLCPAPC

This list provides options for baits:

  • Yamamoto Cut Tail worm
  • Senko type bait
  • Reaction Innovation Sweet Beaver (smallie beaver)
  • Your choice of straight tail worm (more bulk is better)

 

The color choices are these:

  • Green pumpkin
  • Green pumpkin black flake
  • Green pumpkin green and/or purple flake

 

A Table Rock trade secret is chartreuse. Do not dip. Repeat: Do not dip. Use the chartreuse pen to add some color to the tail of the bait. A little goes a long way, so start with four or five strokes of color and then make subtle adjustments.

On Location

 

The Head can be used 365 days a year from dam to dam on Table Rock. Finding a place to use it is never a problem. In the winter months, find a channel swing or bluff and slowly crawl it down the steep banks. Having it sit in one spot for a long time and shaking the bait (but not the weight) gets bites when nothing else works. This process is slow and tedious and does not cover much water, but it will get bites. The Head turns on as the water warms. Fish channel swings and mixed rock banks, keeping the rod tip high much like fishing a jig. The Head can be used on bed fish, but going to a more compact bait helps for these situations. Once the post spawn begins, dragging season begins on the long gravel flats. Cast the bait and keep the rod tip low. Then make a long sweeping hook set. Having the drag set properly enables you to work a fish in what is essentially open water. There is no place for a fish to go, so apply good, steady pressure and remain calm. You will land 95% of the fish that bite. Do not get aggressive with these fish and try to prevent the fish from jumping. That maneuvering can be challenging, as the fish are notoriously “hot” this time of year. In the fall, The Head excels when the bite is tough. It requires the relentless, persistent mentality to keep your head down and grind to get bites. Keeping the bait wet and on the bottom allows you to get bites when others are scratching their head. Being able to cover deep water or shallow pockets during the course of a day will help find the fish.

 

Being open-minded with The Head puts no limits on what can be done. A wide array of baits can be used, so find those that fit how you like to fish. Focus on the right color and a bulky bait as a starting point. The right rod and reel with the proper drag tension will put the most fish in the boat, to maximize each bite. The Head is a great and different look to a jig and can provide the appearance that generates bites when fishing gets tough. Never be afraid to push the limits with The Head.

Jeff Kreit Fishing a Shaky Head at Table Rock (Courtesy of Tackle Warehouse)

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