Top Line Choices for the Upper MS River with Pat Schlapper and Dan Mohn
The Upper Mississippi River is such a diverse fishery as there is a wide variety of techniques that can be utilized to catch bass, but there are a few certain ones that have consistently been used to win tournaments.
We talked with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Pat Schlapper and local tournament angler Dan Mohn about some techniques that have brought them great success on such a famous fishery! As many people know, frogging is one of the hottest techniques for the Upper Mississippi River. Pat Schlapper says, “Whether it’s fishing over matted vegetation, casting around cut-bank, or working around wood, I always fish a hollow body frog on 60-pound Sunline FX2 Braid. Zero stretch and extreme strength is critical when fishing this technique, and FX2 delivers that. It is also very manageable and easy to cast”.
Dan Mohn says he uses both FX2 and Xplasma Asegai Braid in 50 or 60 pound test. Xplasma Asegai is 370% slicker, 260% smoother, and 117% more abrasion resistant than our conventional PE braided lines. The plasma coating also makes it more water repellent, resulting in greater casting distance.
Another popular technique for the Upper Mississippi River is covering water with a swim jig. A swim jig is very versatile and performs well around all types of structure. Dan Mohn states, “Sunline Assassin FC and Super FC Sniper both work great for casting swim jigs or bladed jigs around grass, wood, or rock. The Assassin FC is an excellent casting line that provides superior abrasion resistance”. This line features Plasma Ion technology which increases abrasion resistance and durability by 30% and slickness by 40%. Mohn adds, “Super FC Sniper is the do-it-all line that can cover a wide range of techniques and will give you confidence to boat fish for all of them. I prefer 14–18-pound test for casting swim jigs”. On the other hand, Pat Schlapper has two main setups for swimming a jig on the Upper Mississippi River. For open water/sparse vegetation situations, he will use 16 pound Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon. Schlapper says, “I like to use fluorocarbon because I will typically be using a swim jig with a lighter weed guard and lighter wire hook. Shooter has unbelievable abrasion resistance and is by far the strongest fluorocarbon I have ever used, but it still has some stretch compared to braid which is good”. Schlapper’s other swim jig setup is used on 30-pound Sunline SX1 Braid. Schlapper adds, “I like to have a swim jig on braid for situations where I am fishing around lily pads, wild rice, and other vegetation. I like the 30-pound SX1 because it has a very thin diameter and zero stretch which really helps cut through vegetation”.
One of the most exciting ways to catch fish is on a topwater bait, and Pat Schlapper says it’s one of his favorite techniques on the Upper Mississippi. Schlapper uses a spook style bait on either 20 or 30-pound SX1 Braid with a short 16 or 20-pound Shooter Fluorocarbon leader. Schlapper says, “The short fluorocarbon leader is for a couple of reasons: to help keep the braid from getting hung up on the front hook of the bait, and to pull the nose of the lure down slightly due to the fluorocarbon’s sinking characteristics which allows me to work the bait faster. I will typically use a 12-18 inch leader connected to the SX1 with an FG Knot”.
Lastly, Dan Mohn claims that cranking can be a very effective technique on the Mississippi River in the spring and fall. Mohn states, “Whether it’s cranking main channel rock or ripping lipless baits through our vast eelgrass, I turn to both Sunline Crank FC and/or Super FC Sniper. Crank FC has just a bit more stretch which helps keep fish pegged on treble hook baits. Super FC Sniper is an all-around workhorse that provides great abrasion resistance. I like 12-16-pound line for casting cranks on the Upper Mississippi River”.