Chad Morgenthaler is best known for his prowess with an extra-extra-heavy flipping stick in his hand with a monster Reins Tungsten flipping weight attached to the end of his line. However, when there are no grass mats to flip he increasingly finds himself reaching for a rod with a Reins Sliding Football Head on it, leading the way for any one of a number of soft plastics on the back.
“I haven’t been using it all that long and I’m still experimenting with different retrieves but I haven’t found anything negative about it or any limitations at all on how you can fish it,” he said.
What makes it different from the many wobble head jigs that have flooded the market in recent years?
“I like the fact that you can choose the right hook for your particular bait,” he replied. “You’re not stuck with just an EWG. Most of the time I like a round bend or a straight shank. That makes it way more effective and efficient than the wobble head. Also, because the tungsten is more compact, there are no casting issues whatsoever.” In addition to the ability to cast it effortlessly, the sliding design benefits the angler on the back end of the cast, when a fish is attached, by sliding up the line, reducing the fish’s leverage and ability to throw the hook. Furthermore, the insert allows him supreme confidence that his line is safe from nicks and abrasion.
“With the tungsten, it provides an amplified feel, allowing you to tell the different bottom compositions, whether it’s shell beds, rock, mud or sand,” he added. “And whether it’s shallow or deep.”
While the Sliding Football Head is available in sizes from ¼ to 1 ounce, so far Morgenthaler has focused primarily on the ½ and ¾ ounce sizes. He fishes them both on 7’3” Lew’s Custom Lite baitcasting rods. The lighter head goes on the rod rated for ¼ to 5/8 ounce lures and the latter goes on the model rated for 5/8 to 1 ounce lures. The second rod is “a little bit faster and heavier,” he said, but the important thing is the “total matching of all of your equipment. He likes Gamma Fluorocarbon line in 16 to 20 pound test, which is ultra-abrasion resistant and adds to the sensitivity provided by the weight and the lightweight rod.
One rigging tip that he employs is to put a bobber stop on his line between the weight and the hook, which provides “a little more action while reeling it in.”
His three favorite soft plastics to use behind the Sliding Football Head are the Missile Baits D Stroyer and Baby D Stroyer, along with the Larew Biffle Bug. With the two different D Stroyers, he prefers a straight shank Gamakatsu Heavy Cover flipping hook in 5/0 and 3/0 sizes. With the Biffle Bug, he jumps back and forth between the straight shank and the round bend, but increasingly finds himself going with a round bend hook for maximum effectiveness.
So far, most of Morgenthaler’s experience with the Sliding Football Head has come in the pre-spawn and immediate post-spawn times, as well as the fall, when he uses it to cover water of flats and across tapering points, but he’s most excited to try it on the ledges of the TVA lakes during the summer months.
“It’s going to be a regular part of my arsenal all year long,” he concluded. “It’s just a matter of following the fish.”