Iaconelli Wins with VMC, Local Knowledge on Delaware River

Talk about City Limits Fishing! With the City of Brotherly Love skyline and a raucous hometown crowd behind him, Philadelphia-born Michael “Ike” Iaconelli — onetime host of a TV show called “City Limits Fishing” — used local knowledge and VMC “Ike Approved” hooks and jigs to win the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament last week on the Delaware River.

Fishing urban, industrial rivers — especially where tides fluctuate water levels as much as seven feet — requires special tools and tactics. Ike had plenty of both in his tackle bag. “A key part” of two of his top bait presentations was VMC terminal tackle, said Ike, who has been fishing the Delaware River since he was a kid.

“VMC Ike Approved terminal tackle played a critical role for me in this win and in one presentation, it was a major role,” he said. VMC launched its “Ike Approved” product line after Iaconelli helped tweak several hook and jig designs, integrating tricks of a veteran tournament pro. VMC is one of many respected names in the Rapala family of brands.

Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook Holds Up

Among Ike’s most-productive tactic on the Delaware was flipping and pitching to “gnarly” wood, metal and cement cover with a flaked blue-green soft-plastic creature bait rigged on a 5-0 VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook, paired with a 3/8 oz. VMC Tungsten Worm Weight and pegged with a VMC Sinker Stop.

“A lot of the fish that I caught with that set-up came from inside some of the nastiest cover you can imagine,” Ike explained, naming big barges, storm drains and tidal-pond drains as his most productive targets.

“The key there is that you’ve got to get a good hook in these fish and then kind of wait ‘em out,” he explained. “A lot of these fish were on for two to five minutes before I landed them. You play them until you can get an angle to reach them. If they get stuck, it’s a waiting game to see if you can get your rod at an angle to get them unstuck.”

It was during that “waiting game” that Ike’s VMC Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook lived up to its name. “Without the strength of that hook, I don’t know that I would have landed some of those fish from out of that gnarly cover,” he explained. “That was just key. I can’t tell you how important that was.”

Because fish-holding cover in urban, industrial areas is excessively snaggy and sharp, Ike calls such areas “30-percent spots” — because anglers can usually expect to land only about 30 percent of the bass they hook out of such cover.

“But this week, I landed 90 percent of those fish,” he said. “I lost very few. That’s got to happen in a major tournament, to win. And I give all the credit to that hook and that set-up. That’s why I landed them.”

Strong enough for braided or heavy monofilament lines in the thickest of thick cover, VMC’s Ike Approved Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hooks come with a unique, dual-barbed bait-keeper that securely holds baits in place. Both the Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook and the lighter-wire Flippin’ Hook feature a 1/8-inch gap above the bait-keeper to allow room for a snell knot. However, you can tie them to your line with a Palomar or other knot as well.

Watch Ike discuss more features of the Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook in this video.

Rugby Head Survives Some Serious Scrums

When the bite “got tough” on the first and last day of the four-day tournament on Ike’s home water, he tempted up some fish with a fresh twist on the finesse tactic of shaky-heading. Targeting hard-bottom current breaks, he threw a flaked blue-black straight-tail soft-plastic worm rigged on a 3/16 oz. VMC Ike Approved Rugby Head.

“That Rugby Head is a special head on a shaky-head set-up, because it gets through tough cover easily,” Ike explained. “Your more-traditional shaky heads can really get snagged in the rocks. I don’t want to be battling that thing. I want it crawling over the rock. And I was able to do that on the river and have it account for a few of my keepers. And that was important.”

A cross between a traditional round-ball-head jig and a football-head jig, the Rugby Jig is “the most versatile jig out there,” Ike said. “And if you look at it, it does look like a rugby ball.” An extra-wide-gap hook with an offset just below the jig head secures Texas-rigged soft plastics on the Rugby Jig, creating a lifelike presentation even at rest.

On the Delaware, Ike threw a Rugby Head on “chunkier banks,” he said. “A lot of the river is mucky and silted in, but in a couple places, the river would turn and there’d be these little current breaks on these corners, and you’d have this fist-sized rock on them,” he explained. “And that was a very key bait on those areas.”

Among the Rugby Jig’s best features, Ike said, is a recessed line tie, which helps it come through cover much better than other jigs. “A major problem with normal jig heads is you’ve got a line tie that sticks out and catches weeds, and your knot’s not protected,” he explained.

Watch Ike discuss more features of VMC’s Rugby Jig in this video.

VMC terminal tackle is available online or at your favorite retail store.