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from Hank Parker!

    Nobody gets more excited about new bass baits than I do. New lures not only give me more options for bass that see a lot of old standby lures, but they also add to the intrigue of fishing. When I get new lures, I put them through a variety of experiments to see how they perform in a variety of situations, and how they might add to my on-the-water repertoire. Here’s a look at three new baits from Mann’s that I believe will make me a better angler this year.

    Remember the shallow-running One-Minus crankbait? It’s one of Mann’s most innovative ideas because you can fish in less than a foot of water and run it through brush without hanging it up. The new Baby Four Minus is a deeper-running brother with many of the same attributes. The new bait dives to 3 to 4 feet and has a unique body action and square lip.

    You can run it through a stump field, over logs or above newly sprouted grass beds without it catching on the cover. There are times when a crankbait will catch more fish in clear water than a spinnerbait, so the Baby Four Minus makes a good substitute when fishing shallow cover.

    The new Dragin’ Super Finesse Worm is one of those lures you can’t judge by the way it looks in the package. The soft-plastic bait doesn’t have action-packed appendages or unique body features, but it comes to life when you put it in the water. The Super Finesse Worm is somewhat like a French fry. It looks like a worm, but has a bulky body and tapers similarly on both ends, much like a Yamamoto Senko. It comes in 4- and 5-inch sizes.

    One thing I like to do is put a bend in the head of the worm when I rig it. Putting the worm head in a bind causes the thick bait to swim erratically. I fish it weightless in shallow water, allowing it to slowly sink, periodically twitching it. If the water is deeper, or if I want to fish it faster, I add a split shot about 10 inches ahead of the worm. Or, if I need to fish it fast in deep water, I rig it on a Mustad Impact hook designed for these kinds of baits.

    The Impact hook has a weight on the bend of the hook and a small wire to make it more weedless. I use Berkley FireLine when fishing these baits weightless. FireLine not only gives me strength and casting distance, but the lack of stretch also improves my hook-ups. If the water is ultra-clear, I tie a 20-inch monofilament leader between the braid and the hook. That makes the line less visible, yet I retain the no-stretch benefit of the FireLine.

    Unlike the Dragin’ Super Finesse Worm, the Finesse Dragin’ Worm has a slender body and unique taper. The bait is offered in 4- and 6-inch versions, and is the best drop-shot worm I’ve ever used. I tie a small hook to my line and leave a 10-inch tag end for the weight. Don’t think of this technique as strictly a deep-water tactic.

    The drop shot is a more of a finesse presentation than the Carolina rig. It can be worked quickly, especially with a ¼-ounce weight. I’ve caught a lot of bass on Lake Norman by casting it onto points or clay banks that don’t have a lot of cover. This little worm has produced for me when fished on the drop-shot rig.