Although coptering a single
spin spinnerbait is by no means a new technique, I believe that my 'Copter' is
the first spinnerbait specifically designed for the task. The basic technique in
coptering is to allow a single spin spinnerbait to sink vertically to the bottom
of a pocket in a weedbed and when it hits the bottom the angler powers the bait
out at a very fast rate to contrast the slower drop. Over the years I have
caught a number of my biggest Muskies coptering. I believe it is a successful
technique because it incorporates a seldom used for Muskie vertical presentation
and a horizontal presentation in one technique. I like to say that the drop (coptering
down) mesmerizes the fish and the rake (powering off the bottom) turns their
little bait educated pea brains to mush.They can not seem to resist chasing much
like a cat that has stalked a bird and when the bird flushes the cat can't help
but instintively jump for it.
I have learned through trial and error over the years a number of tricks that
have made me a better 'Copter' pilot. haha Take what you think will help you
from these following suggestions.
First, I use only solid single strand leader material for spinnerbaits. I use
flexible leader material (fluorocarbon and seven strand) for different
applications but with spinnerbaits flexible leaders have the irritating tendency
to wrap around the upper arm on the cast which wastes your cast. Stiffer single
strand fouls much less. I only use Stay-Loc snaps on my leaders. I have also
learned to lightly thumb my spool immediately before the bait enters the water.
This in effect straightens out the leader, the blade or blades, and the hooks
for the drop or retrieve. It also shows you any problems that have occurred on
the cast BEFORE you begin your drop or retrieve. I actually do this with all
casts on all styles of baits.
The design of the 'Copter' is
different than a conventional single spin in that the upper arm is just long
enough to keep the blade directly above the head of the bait on the drop but not
to long as to make the bait roll over on the power rake. Also the length of the
positions the blade directly over the hooks on the rake which reduces the number
of blade hits on the rake, as blade hits are a huge problem with conventional
single spins used for coptering. If a Muskie hits the blade of a 'Copter' on the
rake, it is automatically HOOKED.
When targeting pockets in weedbeds in less than 10' of water, I use the 2 oz.
'Copter'. The 2 oz. has a drop rate of 1 1/2 feet per second. Perfect for
shallower water. I position the boat with the electric a short distance outside
the pocket. (this is not the time for the football field long cast) I cast to
the opposite side of the pocket from the boat. After I thumb the spool and the
bait hits the water I ENGAGE the reel. (allowing the bait to free-fall on an
open spool will cost you a fish sooner or later) Active Muskies readily will hit
on the drop so you also need to keep a tight line on the drop and follow the
bait down to the bottom with your rod tip. This puts you in an excellent
position to set on a strike. It is important to try to get as vertical a drop as
possible but keeping a tight line is more important. If you must reel ever so
slightly to keep a tight line, that is fine. When the bait hits the bottom your
line will go slack and then you power the bait out with the REEL, not the rod.
Raking with the rod will put you in an impossible situation as Muskie usually
hit from behind on the rake. If you have your rod up in the 10 to 12 oclock
position when the Muskie hits you are sunk. I use Abu Garcia 7000s fully spooled
for power raking. I suppose other quality high speed reels will work in a pinch
though. haha When the 'Copter' reaches near the surface on the rake,I stall out
the bait and let the silicone puff out. If nothing has happened I reel in and go
to the next pocket. Repeat casting weed pockets has not been productive for me
although a real big one that looks fishy may require another cast from a
different angle. Use your own discretion. The real beauty of coptering weed
pockets is that you not only target active fish but the technique also triggers
neutral fish instinctively.
Another coptering technique is coptering the outside weedline. Unless the water
is real dark and the weedline super shallow, I opt for the 3 oz. 'Copter' The 3
oz. has a drop rate of about 2 fps. This is when you macho guys can make your
football field long casts parallel to the outside edge of the weedline. The
technique is exactly the same as pocket coptering only continual. On the
rake,when I can see the blade I begin the process over again all the way back to
the boat. Coptering parallel to the weedline edge can be ultra productive. You
are targeting fish set up for ambush inside the weeds, fish on the bottom
outside the weeds and fish suspended outside the weeds. Strikes can come at any
point in the process so stay focused on where you are and what your doing.
As the majority of conventional Muskie baits are made to strain the top 12' of
the water column, the 4 oz. 'Copter' can be your ticket to virgin water. Sunken
islands, deep rock piles and deep isolated weedbeds can all be targeted with the
4 oz. This process is more like copter jigging than pocket coptering.The 4 oz.
has a drop rate of 2 1/2 fps.You don't need to bring the rake all the way to the
surface with this technique. I experiment with number of reels turns per rake or
length of bail movement across the spool. Somedays they want a lot of height on
the rake and somedays they don't.
Note: The 'Copter' is also an
excellent horizontal retrieved bait for reeds and bullrushes.