The Secret's Out on the Triple Trout

By Terry Battisti

Published February/March 2006 in Bass West USA (Reprinted with permission from Bass West)

Win a tournament on a new lure and the talk starts. Win a couple of tournaments on a new lure and people begin asking what it is. Win over $20,000 in local team tournaments in one year and what is generated is all-out bedlam -- a stampede to the local tackle shop to bid on a bait that is proven. That's pretty much the situation in southern California right now with the Triple Trout -- a lure developed by Scott Whitmer, owner of the 22nd Century Swimbait Company in Long Beach, California.

In the year that saw the Huddleston Deluxe move into the spotlight, Joe Uribe Sr. and Jr., Rick and Kyle Grover and Steve Brackmann were deviating from that norm and winning tournament after tournament on lakes like Diamond Valley Reservoir and Perris. So tough were these anglers that when they showed up to fish the weekend tournaments, the other anglers essentially knew they were fishing for second place. One can't knock the success of these anglers and "blame" it solely on the lure they were throwing. But, each one of these anglers gives credit to the 22nd Century Triple Trout for their prolonged winnings.

In late December 2005, I had the chance to sit with Joe Uribe Jr. and talk about the Triple Trout. In the paragraphs below, Joe Jr. explains "why" this bait is so good and how it helped his father and himself win almost $20,000 in the last year. So, sit back and read about the making of a new bait.

Proven Winner

"My dad and I got the baits about a year ago," Uribe said. "When we got those first prototypes, we had a feeling they were going to work. At that time, there was only one size -- the 8-inch bait. We took it out to Diamond Valley Reservoir to try out and it couldn't believe the success we had.

"The bait cast well and was easy to work in the water," he said. "Not only that, it made noise.

" Uribe also pointed out that you could do more "retrieve-wise" with this bait than any other on the market.

"The thing about fishing swimbaits in southern California now is everyone is throwing the same bait," he said. "These swimbaits all produce fish but each one seems to have a specific retrieve that works best for it.

"The Triple Trout, on the other hand, can be retrieved in more ways than any other swimbait on the market. You can slow-roll it, burn it or retrieve it anywhere in between. You can also walk the bait under the water just by changing up your reel cadence. It really is the most versatile swimbait I have ever used."

Tactics

"The bait has worked for us so many ways," Uribe said. "First off, it's a great bait to work uphill. My dad and I will pull in silently to a point and cast out deep, let the bait sink and then start a medium to fast retrieve uphill. This is not a bait that you can bottom-bounce like others. You have to reel it.

"Another way we like to fish the bait is to parallel the shore with it," he said. "Sometimes the fish will cruise the banks looking for trout. When this happens, I'll place the boat a little ways out from the bank and cast parallel along it.

" His retrieve cadence also plays a major role in how he works the bait. "Because the bait was designed so well, it's hard to make the bait not run true. You can put a lot of action into this bait that would make other baits roll or come out of the water. For example, you can make the bait walk under the water by quickly turning the reel handle. A fast half turn of the handle will make the bait walk to one side. A pause in between and you can walk it like a spook under water.

"On the other hand, if you make a quick full turn with the reel handle and then pause it, the bait will make an 'S',"he said.

"It's these unnatural retrieves that I find actually can make a noncommittal fish eat the bait. Something you can't do with any other swimbait effectively.

"Another killer retrieve is to burn the bait on the surface and stop it," he said. "The bait will almost make a full circle in the water. At this point, you can twitch it and then start burning it back to the boat. The bait will always run true."

He also uses the bait to locate fish. "Because the bait can be worked so fast, it makes a great tool in prefish to find fish. I used the 6-incher to help me find fish this summer before the U.S. Open in fact. You can cover a ton of water and due to the size and weight of the bait, you can fish it all day long without getting tired."

Uribe also believes in a stealthy approach. "One thing I am a firm believer in is not to give the fish too many chances to see the bait. We'll pull up onto a spot we know holds fish and we'll make only two or three casts on it. If it is a good area, maybe we'll make 5 to 10 casts. If we don't get bit, we'll head to the next spot or area.

"If the fish are there and are willing to eat, you don't need to make more casts than that," he said. "The biggest mistake anglers make is to sit on a spot and throw the bait for 30 minutes. All that does is make the fish wary and less apt to eat then next time you come by."

Construction

"First and foremost, what makes this bait is the fact that Scott really tested it before he went to market with it, Uribe said. "So many manufacturers go to market with a bait that still needs refining yet Scott's bait works right out of the package.

"I don't just mean it catches fish though. It doesn't need any tinkering after you get it home - it's pretty much perfect," he said. "He uses swivels that are imbedded into the bait that he attaches the hooks to. This alleviates the need to put multiple split rings on the lure. This is really important when fishing a heavy lure like a swimbait because the fish can easily torque the hook out of its mouth. With the Triple Trout, though, you don't have to worry about this. The swivels allow the hooks to move with the fish.

"Other attributes I like about the bait are it makes noise, casts like a dream, it doesn't have a bill, has the best paint of all the hardbaits and is has a screw-on tail. For example, Scott's bait is made out of a hard urethane. Because it is jointed, it makes noise when you bring it through the water. This noise attracts fish from the depths unlike a silent plastic bait. This, in my opinion, is why it is so effective in the clear water lakes we have here. The other thing is that urethane will not absorb water if the paints chips or cracks. This means its action will stay the same no matter how many fish you catch on the bait or how bad the paint gets.

"Another crucial aspect about the bait it that it has no bill," he said. "The fact it has no bill means that more fish can get hooked. I don't know how many fish I have hooked over the years with swimbaits that have eaten the bait at the head. The bill, on many occasions, has hindered me from being able to get a hook in the fish. Scott's bait doesn't have this problem. In fact, recently at Lake Casitas I caught three fish that all had eaten the bait at the head and I know I wouldn't have gotten all of them if I had been using a billed bait.

"The last thing I think adds value to the triple Trout is its screw-on tail," he said. "Unlike all of the other baits out there that have a slot for a tail held in place by toothpicks, Scott designed his lure with a spring in the tail that allows you to screw the tail on. With this setup, I have yet to lose a tail to a fish and if I want to change the tail out, it's easy and fast."

Styles and Colors

The Triple Trout comes in 4 sizes, three colors and two styles," Uribe said. "The baits range in size from 6-inches to 10-inches long. At Diamond Valley Reservoir, the fish seem to prefer the 7- to 8-inch baits due to the fact the lake is stocking smaller trout. At Casitas, where they stock bigger trout, though, we prefer the 8- to 10-inch baits.

"I don't think color makes much of a difference, but he does paint three different trout colors, which are his standard," he said. "They are Light and Dark Trout and Perris Special. He has also made some custom colors like Hitch and Lavender Shad in the past and will probably add those to his standard color list. "The baits also come in two styles," he said.

The 8- and 10-inch baits come in a standard and heavy-weight configuration. The standard bait works great down to about 10 feet of water while the heavy can be fished effectively down to 30 feet. The 6- and 7-inch baits come only in the standard weight configuration, though. Scott's also working on floating versions for each size. We've been testing them out and so far, they're working very well."

The 6-inch standard model weighs in at 1.25-ounces, the 7-inch standard model weighs 2-ounces, the 8-inch models weigh 2.5-ounces (standard) and 2.75-ounces (heavy) and the 10-inch models weigh 4-ounces (standard) and 4.85-ounces (heavy).

Tackle

Uribe feels that tackle is the most crucial link to swimbait fishing. "So many guys spend top dollar on their other rods and reels yet they won't spend the money on good equipment for swimbaits. In my opinion, this is the biggest mistake anglers make. Heck, when you're throwing a swimbait, you are targeting a fish of a lifetime and second-grade tackle will not cut it.

"I fish only Performance Tackle custom swimbait rods," he said. "They are lighter than any other rod I have used yet they have the backbone to handle the big fish. And, although they come with the highest grade components, they are still a lot less than a top-dollar G. Loomis rod.

"For the 8- to 10-inch baits, I like the SBR80H," he said. "If I'm throwing mostly 7- to 8-inch baits, though, I will use the SBR80M. Both rods are 8 feet in length and are heavy and medium-heavy in action.

Reels are another important component in his swimbait fishing. "A lot of big fish have been lost over the years due to faulty drag systems. The new Shimano Calcutta TE series reels, though, can't be beat. In the old days when you got a big fish to the boat, you had to put the reel in freespool and thumb the spool to guarantee that the drag wouldn't bind on you if the fish surged. The drag system is so smooth on the TEs, though, that once you hook a big fish, you no longer have to worry about the drag. "He uses the 300 TE with the medium-heavy rod and the 400 TE with the heavy action rod.

He feels that any good heavy action pitching stick and a Chronarch SF will work fine with the 6-inch bait, though. "This bait will probably become the most versatile bait in the lineup," he said. "This bait can be fished on standard tackle and it catches fish all over. In fact, I have caught tons of fish at Havasu and Mead -- lakes not known as swimbait lakes. The guys up north fishing Shasta and Oroville are also killing the spots and smallies on it too.

"The line I have been using for the bigger baits is a new fluorocarbon coated line made by Cuda. It's a monofilament line that has great strength and low memory. It casts like a dream and is very abrasion resistant. I use 20- to 25-pound line for the bigger baits and I also spray some of the Kevin VanDam line conditioner on it for good measure.

"If I'm fishing the smaller lures, I stick with 12- to 15-pound braided line because that's what I have on most of my other rods," he said. "I do add a 30-foot section of 15-pound Cuda as a top-shot though."

Extras

"Don't give up on the bait after the morning bite," Uribe says. "Fish the bait all day long. This, in my opinion, is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make throwing swimbaits. They don't fish them hard all day.

"One specific trip on Casitas this past December was a great example of this," he said. "We had the perfect cloudy, drizzly morning bite when Marc Higashi, owner of Performance Tackle in Los Alamitos, California, got his big fish, but after that, the mid day turned bluebird and the wind kicked up.

"At this point in the day, the fish got up into the trees and were eating the Triple Trout off the surface. You just have to be willing to throw the bait at all times of the day - not just in the morning."

"Another cool thing about this bait is how you can draw deep fish up to it in clear water." he said. "A lot of anglers throw topwater over 30 feet of water and bring up the fish from the depths. You can do the same thing with this bait and it is something they haven't seen before."

He does change out the hooks on his baits though. "Earlier I said I don't do anything to the bait. This is pretty much right. The only thing I replace on the bait are the hooks. I prefer to use Gamakatsu 2-extra-heavy hooks on them. They have a little bigger barb and I do feel they hold the fish a little better."

Another tip for the large baits is he uses a special livebait handle on his Calcuttas. "My dad and I swap out the standard handle that comes on the reels for a Shimano livebait handle. This handle is counter-balanced and has a large knob on it. It gives us more cranking power and also gives us more handle to hold on to when it is cold outside.

Conclusion

"Successful swimbait fishing is all about confidence," Uribe said. "You have to commit to throwing the bait in order to catch fish on it. This bait can give the novice swimbait fisherman confidence. I don't know how many anglers I have turned on to this bait, who've never caught a swimbait fish before, and they've come back with positive results. It's that good.

Contacts

The 22nd Century Swimbait Company Triple Trout is available at: