Carl Spande

Carl Spande is a lifelong fisherman and avid outdoorsman. He has been participating in local competitive bass tournaments for the past three years.

Rod Slicks: Start Using Your Rod Locker Again!

Posted by: Carl Spande under Fishing, Bass, Walleye Updated: August 27, 2012 - 8:42 PM



 For the past 2 years, my most under-utilized storage compartment on my boat had been my rod locker. There are two reasons for this: my rods always became tangled together and in the process of trying to pull them out, I had damaged a few eyelets on my poles. Using my rod locker was costing me time on the water and hurting my wallet having to repair broken poles. It was a hassle every time I used the locker, so I just decided to risk the road rash and store them on the bow during transportation.

Recently, I have had the privilege of testing some of Clam Outdoors products called Rod Slicks. Rod Slicks provide an excellent solution for a tangle and damage free use of your rod locker. The Rod Slick slides easily on a fishing rod, covering each eyelet and covering the entirety of the pole until it reaches your reel. Once your pole is covered, it slides effortlessly into your rod locker among other poles that have been outfitted with the Rod Slick.

Besides protecting and providing a tangle-free environment in your rod locker, you can purchase the Rod Slicks in a variety of colors. This is an excellent way to add organization to your rod locker. As a tournament fisherman, I am constantly organizing my crankbaits, terminal tackle and plastic lures. Now I can organize my rods to be even more efficient on tournament day. When I open my rod locker, I can easily identify my spinning rods from my crankbait rods and my crankbait rods from my flipping sticks. By opening up my rod locker, grabbing the tangle-free rod with the color coded Rod Slick, I am able to be one step ahead of my competitors by getting my line in the water first.

Rod Slicks are an extremely affordable way to protect your rods. I no longer worry about having to bring a broken rod into the shop to have it repaired because of damage caused during untangling or placing my rod in the locker. For $9.99 each, you get a quality product and peace-of-mind knowing that you will no longer have a tangled mess, broken eyelets or rod tips, and a great organization tool to make you more efficient angler on the water. Visit Clam Outdoors today and place an order, you won’t regret it! 

Golden Rod of Thumb

Posted by: Carl Spande under Fishing, Bass, Walleye Updated: April 27, 2012 - 11:18 AM


Mississippi River Smallmouth

Mississippi River Smallmouth


My passion for fishing isn’t all about catching fish…it’s a passion for the tackle, rods, reels, boats, and gear. As a bass tournament angler, I need to trust that the equipment I am using is reliable, tough, and versatile. As a father of two young children, I need to be responsible and buy affordable products that meet my criteria. Sometimes, my search for quality products leads me in an unexpected direction, an unexpected pleasant surprise that will enhance the quality of my fishing. Let’s just say it pays to stumble through the “walleye” section of your local sporting goods store in search of an elite bass fishing finesse rod.

 After my 2011 tournament season, I did an inventory assessment and realized that I needed another deep water spinning rod that would favor my finesse tactics I employ in highly pressured lakes. My search started with the popular names in bass fishing and I came to the conclusion that I would need to spend at least $100 to buy a new rod. Being the budget shopper that I am, I started to re-think my criteria for this particular rod. It needed to be light, durable, and have the ability to handle large fish on light line. In my opinion, this seems to be the exact criteria that walleye fisherman have for their rods, so I started to research local manufacturers that catered to our state fish. Fortunately, I came acrossJason Mitchell’s Elite Series spinning rods and for $79 I couldn’t be happier. Under the Clam Outdoors umbrella, I knew that this product was for a serious Minnesota sportsman.

 So why does Jason Mitchell’s Elite Series spinning rod, traditionally a walleye rod, adorn the front deck of my Ranger bass boat? Performance. I had the opportunity this past weekend to give it a thorough workout on the Mississippi River Pool 4 and I pleased to report that it exceeded my expectations. It is light enough to fish with for hours, yet strong enough to battle smallmouth bass in tough current. The Hyper Modulus Graphite Technology in the rod blank proved to be extremely sensitive and responsive to the 8 pound fluorocarbon line I was using. The cork grip was very comfortable and the locking graphite reel seat keeps my reel extremely secure and straight.

 One thing I have learned through competitive fishing is that it pays to be different. Thinking outside of the box is what separates tournament winners from the rest of the field. If I can spend less money for an equal, if not greater quality rod, then I will have additional dollars in my budget to buy extra bags of those darn plastic baits the bass love. All I am concerned about is performance; not titles, brands, or fancy colors. Don’t make the mistake of falling victim to species specific tools of the trade. If you want a rod that will handle big bass and earn you big checks, put a Jason Mitchell Elite Series rod in your hand today.


By: Carl Spande


A Wacky Cliche

Posted by: Carl Spande under Fishing, Bass Updated: February 21, 2012 - 12:41 PM

This past weekend I was fortunate to catch open water largemouth, a rarity during the winter months in Minnesota. I won't disclose the location, but you already new that. How often does a bass fisherman relinquish his favorite honey holes?What I can tell you is how I caught them. A wacky rigged Tonka Tackle Dead Stick.

The wacky rig is one of the most simplistic set ups in bass fishing. It is literally using a hook to bisect the middle of a plastic worm. One of the most effective ways to fish this bait is to just let the worm fall on slack line. The action is subtle and enticing. Typically, I use 6-8 lbs fluorocarbon line to make the presentation as natural as possible. This past weekend I bulked up to 15 lbs line, as the fish proved that my 6 lbs line was a bit skimpy.


This weekend brought up an interesting topic of conversation regarding fishing lures. Is there a bait or presentation out there that you will not use because you feel it is too cliche? As an example, my buddy Dan smirked when I mentioned that I was planning on throwing the wacky rig if the fishing got tough. In fact, I was confident that I would be making casts with this set up at some point, so I had a rod pre-rigged for just the right time. After prodding Dan a bit about his smirk, we came to the conclusion that some baits reek of simplicity and ease of use. This in turn leads some anglers to disregard certain presentations, in my opinion, because they don't want to seem elementary. Or, they want to be creative, innovative, and technical with their lure choices.


So how do we make a worm on a hook creative? How can we modify a spinnerbait to gain the extra edge? How can we feel comfortable as anglers and competitors casting the simple lures, when we are always trying to find the latest and greatest, new high-tech lure? I believe that all lures can be modified to create a unique presentation each day out on the water. For example, the placement of the hook on a wacky rig directly affects the direction and rate of fall of the worm. We can change the type of worm we use: floating, sinking, large, small. Colors, scents, and dyes can all play a very important role in finding the pattern that takes home the cash.


The bottom line--we always fish to catch big fish. Whether you catch them on an Alabama rig, swimbait, or Tonka Tackle Dead Stick, who cares. The only thing that matters is what you bring to the weigh in tent. Next time you rummage through your tackle box and are thinking of what bait to try next, pick the one that you have discarded as the inglorious fish catcher. The one you put away when you bought that $20 dog walking lure. The one that calls your name and catches your eye every time you glance past it, recalling that one big fish you will always remember. Pick that lure and hold on... I sure did. 



Winter Smallmouth Bass Fishing in MN

Posted by: Carl Spande under Fishing, Bait, Bass, Fishing Techniques Updated: January 27, 2012 - 3:33 PM


With borrowed waders snugly clamped to my legs, I trudged along into a strong head wind along the shores of the Mighty Mississippi. Early January in Minnesota is a great time to fish for smallmouth...right? Right.

Rocks. I slipped on rocks. I lost a newly purchased finesse jig on a rock. And I caught a few fearsome smallmouth bass off of these rocks. I love rocks.

I was very fortunate this day to get out with a friend and fellow BASS Member, Dan, for a morning of great bass fishing. I sought Dan's guidance, as he has spent much more time than me on this stretch of river. I stepped where he stepped, nearly made casts to where he cast, and tried to follow suit with the tackle I was using. My personal gear consisted of a 6'6" spinning rod and reel with 6 lb Seaguar fluorocarbon. As I mentioned, I was casting a 1/8th finesse jig with a round head with a 3" Strike King Rodent trailer. It seemed I was snagging less than Dan with a round jig versus his football head jig. After I lost this finesse jig to a hungry rock, I dabbled with a tube jig and I was snagged up almost every cast.


Our presentation was very basic. Cast and let the jig bounce along the rocks with the current. We had to constantly pop our jig while it was rolling along to hop, skip and jump between and off the rocks. The smallmouth bit very light on a few occasions, and I was fooled a few times thinking I caught a rock until it was trying to shake its way free.The fights were tough, a mix of smallie genetics and a constant current. Awesome.


My largest fish of the day was about 3.5 pounds on the smallmouth, thumpin' richter scale. Dan caught a nice 19" bass that we estimated to be around 4 pounds. It was great to catch bass with open water fishing tackle as floating chunks of ice cruised down the middle of the river and the shores were lined with a layer of snow. Just think, the week before I was fishing on 14" of ice on Lake of the Woods. Minnesota can be awesome. 

Great colors on Carl's Smallmouth Bass

Spawn Tactics

Posted by: Carl Spande under Recreation, Fishing, Bass, Fishing Techniques Updated: June 2, 2011 - 5:08 PM
June is a dynamic month for bass fishing in Minnesota, as the fish transition from laying eggs, to guarding fry, to moving on to their more permanent summer locations. Bass fishing commenced this Memorial Weekend and it was great to get out on the water and begin to figure out where the fish were with relation to their spawning cycle. In Central Minnesota, where I spent my extended weekend, I found the water temperature to be 59 degrees and the majority of the bass had not spawned yet. I found the bass on the edges of spawning grounds, seemingly waiting for the water to warm a few degrees. Here in the cities, I have spoken to a few people and they have found fish that have already spawned. My guess is that we will have a large spawning movement this first week of June as the air temperature is supposed to be steady and in the 80s. Below are some tips to help you catch bass during the spawn and immediately after.
*Note: There is some controversy regarding the ethics of catching bass while in the act of spawning. Typically, bass will be shallow and on their beds, thus easy to see and target. Some feel that catching bass while they are spawning hurts the survival rate of the eggs, thus resulting in a diminishing bass population. In my research, I haven’t found a study that clearly shows a negative correlation between catching spawning bass and their population. Bass populations are extremely large in lakes, and when their population decreases, it is typically a result of an invasive species, predator, or chemical (toxic) introduction. A good practice when catching a spawning fish is to immediately release the fish near where it was caught, with the hopes that it will return to the bed. Many times I have caught a spawner and she will race immediately back to the bed or nest.
1. One of my favorite lures during the spawn is a 6-8 inch soft plastic lizard rigged Texas style with a ¼ ounce tungsten bullet sinker. It is in a bass’ nature to hate lizards, so when you drag it across their bed or let it sit on or near the bed, the bass thinks a lizard is eating their eggs so they attack. My favorite color is black with red flake. I pitch these lizards using a 7’ baitcasting rod with 15 pound fluorocarbon line.
2. Another favorite lure is a straight tailed stick worm rigged with the hook placed right in the middle of the worm (wacky rigged). The slow fall of these worms entice the bass to strike. My favorite colors are pumpkinseed, green pumpkin, watermelon green with red flake, and black. I like to cast these worms with a spinning rod and reel using 6 pound fluorocarbon line.
3. Often after the eggs hatch, the females will stick around and guard the schools of fry, protecting them from other fish such as sunfish and perch. Now the bass are moving around a bit, aggressively attacking threats to their newborns. When this is the case, I like to cast spinnerbaits and swim jigs around the spawning areas. A swim jig is just like a spinnerbait but without the spinner, and I like to try both in order to determine if the bass are more likely to strike flashy baits or a more subtle one. Also during this time, I like to pitch a 3/8 ounce custom sunfish colored jig with a crawfish trailer. I can usually get a few really good reaction bites with this jig during this time period.
As the bass progress out of their spawning cycle, they start to transition to their summer homes. These areas could be shallow lily pads, shallow or deep weedlines, or deep rocks. I will discuss some of these areas in my tips for July. Tournament fishing has begun for me, so please visit to read how I do this season. If you are interested in a great deal on plastic lures, please visit
Good luck in June and keep your lines tight! See you on the water…


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