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TackleTour Tournament Interview

TackleTour Tournament Interview : Mike Neal, FLW Pro


Date: 11/23/15
Interview: Mike Neal
Interviewer: Cal
Location of Interview: Lake Eufaula, GA

The Premise:
TackleTour is going to hold a bass fishing tournament, but in keeping with our tradition, the gear is going to play an active roll in how the tourney is structured. In the past, we've been known concentrate our review seasons around specific techniques or types of baits. We're going to run our tournament in the same manner. Four days, four different themes, and our interest is to see how the pros go about selecting the gear they'll need to fish this tournament.


In the Tackletour Touranment Interview Hotseat, Mike Neal, FLW Pro.


Hot Seat: In our continuing series of interviews, we're sitting down with different pros and going through their tackle selections for each day of our tourney, one at a time. Today, we sit down with Mike Neal, FLW Pro. Mike Neal's sponsors include Cashion rods, Hummingbird, Lew's, Big Bite Baits, Sunline, Gill, Duo Realis.


Mike fishes a variety of different cranks but prefers graphite rods to glass for all his moving baits.


Day One: We're going to give the pros a technique they can use to search out active fish. You know what that means? Yup, it's time to tie one on, toss it out, and crank it up! Cranking is the name of the game on Day One and we want to know what a pro looks for in a good cranking rod, cranking reel, and their preference in cranking line.


Mike's got one!


Mike Neal : I really like the Spro Little John in Rootbeer Chartruese for shallow cranking. For medium water depths, I like the Rapala DT10 in either hot mustard or their sexy shad pattern, and for deep diving cranks I like Strike King's 6XD in green gizzard or Tennessee shad.


I'm throwing the medium and deep divers on a Cashion 7'6" medium heavy with a moderate action paired with a 5:1 Lew's BB1 Pro spooled with 10lb Sunline Super Natural. I like the mono fishing deeper because you don't pull it away from them.


For the shallow cranks I'm using a 7'0" medium power Cashion rod with the same moderate action. With that shorter length, I can still pick apart targets with the shallow cranks. For a reel, I'm using a 6:1 Lew's Tournament Pro spooled with 15 - 20 pound fluorocarbon depending on the depth.


As we're chatting, Mike pulls up this Lake Eufaula bass on a chatterbait.


Day Two: Now that the pros know where the fish are, day two is going to be about working through those concentrated schools of fish on their way to a big limit. That's right, it's time to get a little wacky as we allow the pros to punch, drag, dissect, create and fish from top to bottom with craws, lizards, frogs, toads, spider jigs, swimbaits and any variety of other creatures on their way to a hefty limit because day two is all about the fever - Creature Fever. How do the pros approach fishing soft plastics?


Mike is sponsored by Cashion rods


Mike Neal : When it comes to soft plastics, I like a Texas rigged 10" worm on ledges or the Big Bite Baits Yo Momma up shallow. I also like throwing the Big Bite Baits Fighting Craw in Tilapia, rigged with a 4/0 EWG Gamakatsu Superline Hook Carolina Style. I use a 15lb Defier Armilo leader tied to a swivel, bead, and one ounce weight. My main line is 20lb Sunline Sniper. The leader is monofilament so the bait can float up a little bit off the bottom.


I fish over 90% of my soft plastics with a Cashion Rods 7'6" Flipping rod to help me drive that big hook home, but also it helps me get longer casts. For a reel, I always like to use a 7:1 reel with anything soft plastics because you don't always get a good hookset in them, so I want a high speed retrieve reel to catch up the slack and get the hook in them better.


A look at the unique grip material employed by Cashion on their sticks.


Day Three: They've found the fish, and have picked through the schools to fill their limits. The water has been pounded and the fish are feeling pressured. What in the world are the pros going to do on Day Three of our tourney? It's time to turn the "F" word. Downsizing baits and line, switching to light powered rods, slowing down that presentation, you know what all of that means. It's time to declare, "What the Finesse?!?!" Day three of our tourney is all about finesse.

Mike showing off his favorite finesse rig.

Mike Neal : My go to bait for finesse fishing is a shakey head. I like the shakey because I can fish it faster than a drop shot and catch just as many fish, plus, if I need to, I can put a bigger bait on a shakey head like an 8" Big Bite Finesse worm and catch big fish too. I'm still targeting big fish, but with a finesse bait.


My go to finesse rod is a 6'9" medium powered Cashion Rod. I can skip docks with this rod and still have enough length to fish it in open water. I'm using a Lew's Team Gold spinning reel and always use braid as a main line (12lb - 16lb Sunline SX1) and an 8-12lb Sunline Sniper leader.


It's a Cashion 6'9" medium powered Cashion stick matched with a Lew's Team Gold spinning reel spooled with 12lb Sunline SX1 braided line.

Day Four: It's the last day of the tourney and we're culling our field of pros to the top ten anglers. The lucky ones get to continue our wacky tourney and if they're not ready to protest our format yet, they just might after they learn what we're limiting them to now on day four. The number one question we continue to receive here on TackleTour is if you could just have one... You know the rest. Yes, that's right, we're enlisting the pros in our Search For One campaign and limiting them on the last day of the tourney to one rod, and one reel. What will their combo be? Let's find out.


And oh yeah, he caught one on that combo too!

Mike Neal : If I have only one rod and one reel to fish any number of baits with, I'm going to go with a Cashion 7'2" Medium Heavy rod. It's long enough to fish deep or flip with, but short enough to target stuff that's close by. I'll be using a 6:1 gear ratio reel with 20lb Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon. With that I can throw worms, jigs, flip, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, frogs across matts.

TackleTour would like to thank Mike Neal for giving us a little insight into his tackle selections in what would be a very different, tackle-centric tournament.









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