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Aaron Martens
Fishing the Horsey Head with Aaron Martens

In bass fishing, there are times when an angler wins or finishes high in a tournament with a lure out of the norm. The first thoughts are, “Why didn’t I think of that”?

With the competition so stiff on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail, pro anglers have to take the attitude of, “Dare to be different”, in order to gain an edge over the competition. This is exactly what happened during the 2004 Bassmaster Classic, on Lake Wylie, in South Carolina.

Fans watched as Professional Angler Aaron Martens fished a bridge within site of the launch ramp, an area that other competitors had rode over multiple times, without another look. As obvious as the area was that Martens fished, his choice of baits was not so obvious. Martens described the bait as a horsey head jig with a spinner on the belly. The bait looks like an oversized Blakemore Road Runner. As a matter of fact, Blakemore now manufactures a bass size Road Runner called a Rollin Runner, which bears Martens’ name. When fishing the Rollin Runner, the large head keeps the bait running straight, allowing the blade to spin freely. There are others on the market as well, like the Daimon Lures Flutter Shad, and Reaction Innovation School Girl.

The 2004 Classic was not the first time Martens used the bait. He began fishing the horsey head in his native California lakes, like Castaic, Casitas and Pyramid served as testing grounds for this bait. As Martens’ career took him east fishing tournaments, he found out that this bait is effective everywhere, including lakes with smallmouth!
During one of the practice days on Lake Wylie, Martens found schools of bass busting shad on the surface. He threw several baits at them before tying on the horsey head, and immediately caught fish on it. His excitement grew because he knew this bait was different from what the other competitors were using.

Martens’ system for fishing the horsey head is rather simple. “The quarter ounce bait, paired with a Zoom Fluke Jr. is my favorite setup” said Martens. When using a quarter ounce bait or larger, he favors a six foot, ten inch medium/medium light Megabass Rod, paired with a Team Daiwa-Z reel, spooled with eight to twelve pound test Sunline Fluorocarbon. He prefers fluorocarbon line due to it’s characteristics of having little stretch and increased sensitivity, which are necessary when fishing this bait.

The Alabama pro points out that he will use a horsey head as heavy as one half ounce, when fishing deep water. How deep does he fish this bait, you might ask? He has caught fish in extremely shallow water, and as deep as 60 feet, on the horsey head!

Even though he prefers using a Zoom Fluke Jr. or a small Sluggo as a trailer, he cautions not to limit your selection to just those two baits. Just about any soft plastic bait can be used as a trailer. Experiment, keep an open mind, and see what works for you. Martens bases what color of bait to use on the predominant forage in the lake he is fishing.

The area Martens found on Lake Wylie was a perfect situation for the horsey head, since it was the same size as the baitfish that the bass were gorging on. In practice, he graphed the area and thought, “Whenever you find an area that gets funneled down by a bridge, it can be dynamite!”

Martens usually retrieves the bait slowly, letting it bump bottom. “A majority of the time, I fish the horsey head like a Carolina rig”, said Martens. He has also done well fishing it over vegetation, hopping it on the bottom, and bumping piers of docks.
Martens, like all anglers, will try different modifications to make the bait even better, like adding a wider blade or gluing feathers on as a trailer.

As you can see, the horsey head is an extremely versatile bait. This was definitely one of those times when thinking out of the box paid off. Martens rode the horsey head to a second place finish.