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Pro Slings New Plastics to Tournament Success

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Recent exposure via tournament websites, social media, and TV has created a wildfire of interest in a brand-new line of walleye soft plastics from Northland Fishing Tackle. Aptly-named “Eye Candy™,” an extensive team of tournament pros, guides, influencers, and product designers put the paces through countless iterations of shapes and actions to provide walleye anglers with the best new soft plastics on the walleye scene.

Fact: Northland Tackle’s Eye Candy™ wasn’t intended to launch yet. However, given the success Northland team pros have been fishing the baits, the company decided to ramp up production to provide anglers of all walks with the winning walleye baits.

“We’ve been fishing the snot out of these plastics for over a year and feel super confident in the designs. Given what Tom Hunyh has been doing with them on the NWT and AIM trails and Jason Mitchell is doing via TV and social on the waters he visits, what Brad Hawthorne, Bro, and Nick Lindner are doing with them between Mille Lacs and the north, we knew we had to get them into the hands of walleye anglers everywhere now,” says Northland Fishing Tackle’s Marketing Director, Mike Anselmo.

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Huynh Dials In Winnebago NWT Bite with NEW Northland Eye Candy™

Case in point, top-placing NWT/AIM tournament and Northland Tackle walleye pro, Tom Huynh, has been using Eye Candy™ since the first NWT event on the Illinois River this past March. Since, he’s used the new soft plastics to top-finishing tournament success.

“The recent NWT tournament on Lake Winnebago was my first introduction to the lake. The day before I got there I looked at my maps and put a plan together, but my plan to fish the big lake soon changed. Our Airbnb was on one of the upper lakes and there was a little two-boat launch right across the street, so I used that during pre-fishing,” says Huynh.

“Rather than trek over to Winnebago, I got sidetracked in a shallow, tea-colored lake attached to Winnebago by a river—and decided to look around. I caught a few random fish here and there without a pattern until I found an old river channel that looked almost like a shell bed on my SideVu. I was marking fish like crazy: catfish, drum, white bass, walleyes, and sturgeon. With that many species, running LiveScope wasn’t easy. I had to cast at every single fish I saw to gauge their reaction and figure out what they were,” notes Huynh.

“After a couple of days, I learned to recognize the reactions of the white bass and drum. The two species that seemed to act about the same were catfish and walleyes. So, for every two or three 10-12 pound catfish I’d catch, I’d hook a 3-pound or better walleye. After I figured that out I was catching 5 or 6 walleyes a day during pre-fish without even entering the big lake. I knew the historical weights for Winnebago tournaments, and since what I was catching were good fish, we decided to stay there. On the Monday and Tuesday before the tournament we had between 13 and 15 pounds each day, so we figured if we could do that in the tournament we’d make the top 10,” adds Huynh.

Huynh says it took him until the last day of pre-fishing to really dial in his presentation.

“Basically, I used the same black Northland Eye Candy™ Grub I used on the Illinois River—actually still the same bag of baits—and threaded it on a 1/8-ounce black Northland Tungsten Jig. It just seemed to cast the right silhouette in the stained water to get bit,” divulges Huynh.

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This isn’t the first tournament that Tom has relied on black to either win or place in the Top 10.

“Every single fish I’ve caught in a tournament this year casting has been on a solid black Northland Tungsten Jig—either regular shank or short-shank. Not one fish has come on anything else. For Winnebago, I paired that Northland Eye Candy Grub in black with a black Northland Tungsten. I thought I had an extra bag of the plastics in my boat, but I left them in another tote at home, so I had to rely on the few baits I had. Luckily, they’re made of a super-tough and spongy TPE plastic that holds up to dozens of fish on just one plastic. You don’t burn through ‘em. So I had just enough to do the job. I also caught a couple fish on a minnow and Northland Tungsten, too,” laughs Huynh.

“However, if it hadn’t been for the Eye Candy™ plastics and their crazy ability to hold the scent I use, I don’t think I would have been able to dial in the first two good bites of the tournament that put us into 2nd place,” adds Huynh.

Huynh adds that the Winnebago NWT tournament May 17-18 was the first event this year where he and a partner were able to catch decent-size walleyes.

“I ended up catching two 4’s and a 5-pounder with my other fish. It all came down to the entire system—a black Northland Tungsten jighead, the new Northland Eye Candy™ Grub in black, 10-pound high-vis Daiwa J-Braid Grand X8 to 8-pound Daiwa fluorocarbon, and a Daiwa Kage 1000 spinning reel on a Rosemore rod. The 1000 size reel keeps me from horsing big walleyes in on small jigs and hooks.”

Huynh says he “couldn’t be happier” with the 2nd Place NWT finish that he ended up with, especially considering he figured out a system with no prior knowledge or experience on the Winnebago system coming into the event. Huynh cashed a $24,122 check plus a Garmin contingency award.

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Northland Short-Shank Tungstens Crack Leech Lake ‘Eyes

Following the Winnebago NWT, Huynh bee-lined to Leech Lake, Minnesota, to fish an AIM Tournament—and admits the timing was “completely out of his element” although he and co-angler Nate Wolske have a history of top finishes there.

“We’d never fished Leech that early in the season,” says Hunyh. “We’d won there in the summer and knew how to seasonally pattern those fish, but cold water was completely out of our wheelhouse.”

“The water was 48-49 degrees in the morning so I knew our chance of fishing plastics was fairly slim, but we did get a few bites on Eye Candy. So we switched to minnows tipped on 1/8-ounce Northland Short-Shank Jigs—again, in black,” says Huynh.

Huynh notes that partner Nate Wolske hadn’t fished black Short-Shank Tungsten Jigs to date and was mystified by what happened with a simple change in jig color.

“Nate turned to me and said, ‘I just don’t get it. They’ll hit these black jigs a lot quicker and way more often.’ So, we both used black Short-Shank Tungsten Jigs for every single cast of the Leech Lake Tournament—and it put us in 2nd place at the end of the event,” shares Huynh.

Northland Short Shank Tungsten

Hunyh says the difficulty was getting the big females to bite, which had been squirting eggs only a few days prior to the event.

“The big girls were in a funk,” says Huynh. “They don’t come off the spawn and just start eating. They’re exhausted. So they go and stage somewhere. If something comes right at them and it’s convenient, they’ll eat it, but they’re not going to chase anything down.”

Huynh explains: “So we had to slow our presentations way-way down. And the fish weren’t positioned on our electronics like they typically are. They were really close to the bottom making it hard to differentiate walleyes from rocks. Then you’d see a rock move on the screen and we’d get bit and set the hook, but a lot times the jig came back clean, no fish, even though we were fishing our typical routine. They were biting and eating so light that the dense Short-Shank Tungsten was absolutely critical, especially considering we were casting 40- to 50-feet out. With the tungsten you could actually feel the walleyes put the bait in their mouth, a sensation that would carry up through our fluoro leaders, braid, through our rods, into our reels, and up into our hands. With the tungsten—as well as the rest of our gear—we could feel those subtle bites 50 feet away,” concludes Hunyh.

Currently, Northland Pro Tom Huynh is pre-fishing in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, for the AIM National Championship Shootout to be held on Friday, June 2. You can bet Northland Tackle Eye Candy™ and Tungsten Jigs will be very much in play…

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ABOUT Northland® Fishing Tackle

In 1975, a young Northwoods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components, and most importantly, were catching fish when no other baits were working! Word spread like wildfire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand! For 40 years now, John and the Northland® team have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catch fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota’s finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country’s leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for crappies, bluegills, perch, walleyes, bass, trout, northern pike and muskies.

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