Fishing with Kenny: The Magic of the Rattlin’ Rogue
article by Kenny Covington
I can remember it like it was yesterday. The snowflakes were as big as silver dollars. The year was 1981, I was fishing with my dad in his monthly bass club tournament, and it was cold. Problem was this was in March, and for a few hours at least, the snow kept falling. But the Rogue kept catching.
Every now and then I would hear my dad say, “Here he comes; watch this.” I would turn around just in time to see a fish suck his Rogue off the top of the water. The sound the snow made as it hit the water was unmistakable, and I can still hear it to this day just as I remember the sound of those bass hitting a slowly twitched Rogue on top of the water that day.
The Rattlin’ Rogue made by Smithwick Lures has been around since the 1970s. If there’s a better springtime lure for catching bass in this part of the country, I am not sure what it is. In the hands of many older fishermen, this lure is deadly, for both numbers and for catching big bass.
With most fishing lures you take them out of the package, tie them on, throw it out and catch fish. A Rogue is no different. But to get the most out of this lure, you have to understand the presentation aspects of fishing it that many anglers often overlook. Being a long, slender lightweight lure, it has a very subtle appearance. Because of its appearance, the most effective presentation needs to mirror that image. There within lies the art of properly fishing a Rogue.
If I had to describe Rogue fishing in one word, that word would be “patience.” Since it is not very wind friendly, it can be difficult to throw at times, so it’s usually at its best in calmer, wind protected areas. It also tends to work better in clearer water situations, because the fish are able to see, detect and react to the subtle movements of the lure much better.
The key is to work the Rogue slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwly! The slower you can make yourself present it, the better the fish tend to hit it, and usually that is when the bigger fish strike it as well. In the words of my father, “You have to make it sweat.” When the fish are aggressive, the faster more erratic movements will draw strikes, but the power of the rogue is when you have to show that you have more patience as a fisherman than the fish you are trying to outsmart.
While a Rogue can catch fish just being randomly fished, its true calling is that it is a very good target bait. Cast it to cypress trees, stumps or any shallow area that has fish holding potential. Once it hits the water let it sit just for a few seconds. The first twitch should be no more than a gentle movement of the end of your rod. You don’t want to overpower the lure, because this isn’t a natural appearance to the bass. You want the rogue to stay in one place as long as possible while still giving it slight movements. Here is where patience becomes the key ingredient. You have to allow the fish enough time to find the lure but you also have to give yourself the mindset that allows you to work the lure slow enough for the fish to find it. It’s a simple game of cat and mouse, where patience is a virtue.
I have found the best combo for this technique is a 6’6 medium action rod teamed with a 6:3/1 gear ratio reel. I like using a heavier line in the 15 to 17 lb. test class, because the more the line floats, the easier it is to work the Rogue on top. While the hooks that come on a Rogue are pretty good, if I choose to use those I will take a sharpener and hone them up. If I do replace the hooks, I usually always go with Mustad or Eagle Claw #6 round bend trebles.
When it comes to picking a few productive Rogue colors, stay as basic as possible. For clearer water lakes white bellied colored rouges seem to do better than the orange bellied ones. I prefer the orange bellied Rogues in the more cypress tree dominated lakes or lakes with stained water. Remember, in fishing, nothing is set in stone. Find a few colors that you have confidence in and half of your battle is won.
I have caught bedding fish by twitching a Rogue above their heads and watch them turn up and swim like a torpedo to come snatch it from the surface. To me that is a lot more fun than trying to catch them “sight fishing.” Simply put, nothing compares to spring time Rogue fishing. Give it a try, and I am sure you will feel the same way!
Be careful on the water, and be sure to catch one for me! See you next month!