Like a mad scientist obsessed with creating the magic potion, Kevin VanDam’s mind doesn’t rest. According to Mark Copley, Strike King Lures Marketing Relationship Manager, the KVD 8.0 Magnum Square Bill was the result of VanDam’s vision, tinkering, and ability to convey exactly what he wanted while lure designer Phil Marks executed the plan.
“I wanted to build a bait that was considerably bigger than our KVD 2.5, but still fishable. When you think about what a bass eats every day, an 8.0 is a lot smaller than a 6-inch bluegill or a gizzard shad. As you retrieve it, the 8.0 has a much bigger sonic image and displaces a lot of water because of the width, weight, and its total bulk,” VanDam explained.
VanDam finds the bait quite versatile. He can scale down to 10-pound line and hit bottom in 10- feet of water while fishing a ledge, or bump up to 25-pound BPS XPS fluorocarbon and run the bait 5- feet beneath the surface above a grass bed. “I’ve probably had some of the best days I’ve ever had with it fishing it in milfoil and hydrilla. It clears itself from the grass so well and because the depth of it runs perfect for a lot of lakes that has grass because the grass runs out in that zone,” VanDam recalled.
He chooses line size based on the running depth and cover that he’s fishing—be it boat docks, bouncing the bait off cypress trees, or ripping it from the edges of grass beds. He dictates the running depth by carefully positioning the rod tip higher when the bait is needed to run shallower and lower when the bait needs to hit its maximum depth.
In the past, Kevin might have resorted to a Strike King 3XD crankbait that was built to dive quickly with a fairly subtle action. The exaggerated wobble of his newest creation not only displaces more water, also produces a whole lot of fish attracting noise and doesn’t run in a straight line. “The 8.0 hunts more than any other square bill in the lineup,” he said.
|The new KVD Rattling Square Bill 8.0 is avalaible at Bass Pro Shops. (Photo courtsey of Strike King Lure Company)|
“Fishing it, I’ve found it to be a lot more seasonal than I planned it would be from the beginning. It’s a great pre-spawn, spawn, summer, and fall bait,” VanDam explained.
When he’s targeting bigger fish on bodies of water like Falcon, Guntersville, Kentucky—or any number of lakes that have big bass populations—the 8.0 has become one of VanDam’s confidence baits for targeting bigger strikes. The time of year, the forage base, and water clarity all combine to dictate his color choices.
During the spawn, VanDam leans towards orange brim and bluegill baits, especially if water is clear. After the spawn, summer sexy shad is hard to beat.
This bait really excels in water with low visibility. Under those conditions, the aggressive hunting motion of the 8.0 combined with key colour choices like black back/chartreuse, regular sexy shad or powder blue chartreuse make the bait irresistible to even the most lethargic bass.
Execution is Key
Every ounce of research put towards creating this unique and resourceful bait can be thrown out the window by using the lure on the wrong tackle. VanDam favors a 7-0 medium-heavy action Quantum Tour KVD Cranking rod. The graphite composite allows the lure to work properly but also absorb the vicious strikes that the bait provokes.
If he’s fishing deep water and needs the bait to bang bottom, the Quantum Tour KVD Cranking reel with 5:3:1 gearing gets the nod. Especially in the spring, the slower retrieve brings out the erratic action of the 8.0 and draws the fish in. If shallower targets are on the menu or when fishing around grass, he’ll opt for the fast 6:6:1 gearing.
Kevin also upsizes his hooks to Mustad KVD TG76 Short Triple Grips in 2/0. He uses them for their holding power and because they do not flex.
Take a tip from KVD and tie on the new 8.0 the next time you are hunting the local lunker. Be sure to post a picture of your catch—and the tournament check—on our Braggin’ Board.