Gearing up for Graveline

Eric Lucas and Eli Troutman dip the tail of their Matrix Shad baits in SPIKE-IT DIP-N-GLO to add not only color but garlic scent.

To find success on Graveline Bayou on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, Eric Lucas and Eli Troutman have favorite weapons.

Here’s their gear:

Lures: Matrix Shad plastics, Vudu Shrimp by Egret Baits, various MirrOlures and DOA’s.

Rods and reels: They prefer Falcon BuCoo rods for both spinning and bait casting, paired with Shimano reels — a Stradic 3000 for spinning and Curado for baitcasting.

“(The BuCoo) is actually a freshwater rod, but it works perfectly for trout and redfish,” Troutman said. “I like the action on it. I prefer a 7-foot because you can get further out there.”

Added Lucas: “It’s stiff enough to work a topwater but it’s sensitive enough to work a jig. You’ll feel it when you hit bottom.”

Lucas likes the size of the Stradic 3000.

“I prefer a Shimano Stradic 3000; the 4000 is too big,” Lucas said. “I like the smoothness of a Shimano reel and the smooth drag. The 3000 has about 20 to 25 pounds of drag.”

Troutman likes the strength of the Stradic 3000.

“It has backbone,” he said. “If you’re fishing for smaller fish you can actually feel the bite but if you’re fishing for bigger fish you have the help you need to reel that fish in. If you tie into a big bull red you’re not going to have trouble pulling him off the bottom. I also like them because they don’t break down much.”

Line: For their main line, both agree on 12- to 15-pound test braid, either Fins WindTamer or Spiderwire, and they use a fluorocarbon leader. Troutman suggested a 15-pound test leader initially but if the bite is slow, drop down to a 10-pound test leader.

“I use braid as my main line because it has less stretch,” Lucas said. “When your cork goes under you barely have to touch it; monofilament stretches.”

Accessories: Troutman and Lucas use a Cajun Thunder popping cork a lot, for both artificial and live bait.

Said Lucas: “The little metal beads on a Cajun Thunder popping cork sound like a school of bait …” Added Troutman: “… or the flicking of a shrimp’s tail if you’re using a DOA.”

When fishing live shrimp, they use at least a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader with a crimp-on weight about a third of the way above the bait. The weight keeps the shrimp from coming to the surface when a trout is near and will also allow enough wiggle room to swim around.

Jig head color is one of the only areas the two fishermen aren’t in complete agreement. They both go as light as conditions allow; starting with a 1/8-ounce up to a 3/8-ounce.

“I prefer Bomber jig heads because if you get a trout bite they have little grooves on them and your bait won’t come off easily,” Troutman said. “They stay on there longer so you can fish them longer. I actually try to match the jig head color to the tail color of my bait. If I’m fishing a jig I’ll have the same color tail as the jig head, I seem to catch more fish like that. If I have a red color tail I’ll have a red color jig head.”

Not Lucas, who is sold on one color.

“I like a chartreuse jig head,” he said. “If I’m not using a chartreuse head I’ll use plain.”