Prune Picker's Tips
Ron ďPrune PickerĒ Ludwig turned me on to Ďslabbingí many years ago. I had
always thought that those folks who were sitting in their boats with their
rod tips going up and down were either nervous or trying to make their dead
bait look alive! I had no idea what they were doing. Then, one day I
stopped in at the office of Willow Springs Marina and saw one of Ronís
slabs. Iíve been fishing them every since. And now, I have the honor of
making them! I make them exactly as Ron did before he retired. Same hooks,
same split rings, same paint and same coatings. Slabbing is a lot of fun
and produces some great fish! But how do you use them? Ron has graciously
consented for me to reproduce his instructions that he posts on
www.sixoldgeezers.com. I know youíll find them useful! Tight lines, be
blessed and slab away!!
In Ronís words: ďWe have been asked, what is the best way to use
slabs? That depends on the depth of water you are fishing in, and the
way fish are hitting at the time. Listed below are some
suggestions you might want to try.
First of all, and we canít stress this too much, keep your hooks sharp. We
even sharpen new hooks, and check our hooks all the time we are fishing for a
Carry a hook sharpener with you whenever you go fishing.
Be courteous, the golden rule applies on the water. Do unto others, as you
would have them do unto you. (Or something like that). (You will see people on
the water that believes just the opposite, like, do unto others before they have a chance
to do unto you). Don't get mad; just move away from them, you are out to have fun.
When you spot fish, donít run in on them (the fish or boats) and wake other
boats in the area. Leave casting distance between you and other boats nearby. Donít
leave your motor running, which will chase off the fish. Donít cut other people off
from their fish if they are casting out. If you canít get to the fish, watch which way they
are going and try to get in front of them and the other boats and wait for them to come
to you. You will catch more fish that way, as you can catch them as they are coming to you,
and going away from you, before you have to move again. Remember, ease up the where the
fish are, or else you will scatter them, and spoil your own fishing.
If you have a locator, find the fish using it. If not, watch for fish
surfacing on top (on a calm day you will be able to see their splashes quite a way of). If
the sea gulls are in, watch for them feeding on the shad the fish are chasing, and fish
below the gulls (donít look up with your mouth open). The most productive way of catching
the stripers is to find them on your locator, and a long way from other boats where you
have them to yourself, but that would be a rare occasion, as the other boats will see you sooner
If there are boats in the area that are down rigging, try to avoid them, as
their constant running back and forth will usually chase the schooling fish off, unless it
is a large school. We have downriggers, but do not use them often, only when we know that is
the only way to catch fish at certain times of the year. They do produce fish, but not a
fun way to catch them, just a last resort if you are out for fresh fish for dinner. It's
like pulling in dead weight, no sport to it as far as we are concerned. (But that's only
When you see them on your locator, in deep water, jig the slab up and down
at the depth the fish are in. If they do not hit, try dropping your slab below
them then burn your slab in. This will, on occasion, catch the fish if they are not
hitting by jigging the slab up and down. Quick tip here on using level wind reels and knowing how
deep you are fishing. Before you go fishing, take your rod with the slab (or any lure)
on. Place the lure on the floor; watch your level wind go across the reel. Determine how
much line goes out with each travel across the reel. Average for a full reel is about 7
feet. If you are marking fish around 35 feet deep, you can watch your reel
and let it go across the reel about 5 to 6 times, this will get you a little below the fish, and as
you jig, you will be coming up through the fish. This is a quick way to get your slab
down to the depth the fish are working, and where the best action will be. If there are fish
on top, and you are in front of them, cast you lure to the school and let it drop, then
reel, drop, reel, drop, until you get a strike or close to your boat, then let it drop and
burn it in. Same thing holds true when they are going away from you. This gives you a longer
time to fish a school that is on the move and will produce more fish.
If you are in shallow (15í-20í) water, try casting you slab out into, or
beyond the fish. Then work the bottom by reeling in and dropping back to the bottom as you
retrieve your line. The bigger fish are below the fish feeding on top, picking up stunned shad
as they fall. The only problem with this is, you will lose some slabs on the bottom if
you happen to be in a rocky or stumpy area, and cannot get your slab loose. Another thought
here, while on the subject of losing slabs. Check your line often for cuts by running your
thumbnail down the last couple feet of line. Stripers have sharp fins and they can nick
you line causing you to lose your lures (and fish), whether it be a slab or an expensive top
As the slab is dropping, keep a little tension on the line, as the fish
will hit the slab on the drop, and you need to feel them hit, and when they hit, set the
Use a medium action rod, not a stiff rod, to feel the hit. I am going to
add a personal note here. I used to (and I really don't like saying this) really out fish
George. One day while we were slabbing, he was watching me, and asked to borrow the rod I was fishing with.
I handed it to him; (I had two identical rod and reel set ups, so I just
grabbed the other one). Do you know he kept that rod for 6 weeks before he returned it to me?
He found out that the rod I was using was more sensitive then the rods he had, and
searched for a new rod for himself. He ended up buying 3 rods from Bass Pro, and gave both John
and myself each 1.
We have all switched to these new rods, George has a dozen of them now, I
have 8, and John has 8. We all catch fish about equal now; (I lost my edge on them). We all
have these rods set up for slabbing, top water, and bait fishing. If you don't believe me
about the importance of having a rod you can "feel" the fish just slightly touch your
lure, just ask George or John. It has really improved our total catch each time we go out fishing.
Here is another little tip that might sound just a bit crazy, but it does
work. If you are marking a few fish, take an old rod and beat the water. This will draw
the fish under you if they are in the area. You may have seen others doing this and
wondered what the heck they were doing, believe me, this does work.
And again, keep those hooks sharp
Best of fishing to you and enjoy your day on the lake, and if you have the
chance, take a youngster, teach them the sport. There is nothing like seeing a
youngster catching fish, it will bring back memories of your first fish.Ē
Thanks for the tips, Ron!!!