I warn you that taking a look at Morgan Cignini’s Instagram feed will make you want to go fish immediately no matter where you are or what you are doing. The guy catches trophy fish after trophy fish. From monster Ontario largemouth to world-class smallmouth bass to even his love of the saltwater snook, photo after photo shows the results of his years of experience on the water. So, I knew immediately I wanted to interview Morgan. But as I looked deeper, I noticed that his sponsor list includes some amazing fishing companies including Rapala, Legend, Mercury and WOO! Tungsten. So, I decided to focus the interview on these great companies. You will see that Morgan not only promotes these companies but also goes into detail about why he loves their products.
As a Rapala pro staff member, what are you top 3 Rapala baits that are always tied on or always ready to be tied on?
My top 3 go to baits that are always tied on have to be:
#1 Rapala Shadow Rap
#2 X-rap Prop
#3 Storm SX – Soft Bull Frog
What are the keys to fishing each of these baits?
Shadow Rap: When I’m searching for fish and need to cover water fast I always grab the shadow rap jerk bait. The shadow rap has an amazing side to side action that almost turns 180 degrees when you rip it on slack line. Its deadly in cold water when you rip the bait and just let it pause. As it rests it starts to shimmy side to side as it slowly sinks. Fish that are not in an aggressive mood will often follow below the bait and gently come up and mouth the bait when it begins to fall. With 15lb braid and a 10lb Sufix flourocarbon leader you can bury the sharp hooks on even the softest of bites.
X-rap prop: I love throwing this top water lure at any time of the day, not just low light. The double propeller’s call in fish from a long way, especially big smallmouth. It has a long slender body that imitates a bait fish a little better than rounder, shorter baits. The X-rap prop also has some killer finishes that match bait fish for almost all situations. I like to fish this bait with longer pauses than popping type baits. I feel like the fish need some time to hunt it down. I’ve watched bass on my pond just stare at it then eventually swirl on it the minute the tail flared.
It’s a great bait for largemouth. Believe it or not, tied up to 20lb Sufix mono and fished around small openings in pads takes some accuracy, but if you stick with it you’ll catch fish that have never seen that presentation before!
Storm SX – Soft Bull Frog: When fish are way back in the thick pads and flipping soft plastics wont work, I turn to the Storm SX Soft Bull Frog. It lands correctly more often than not, and if not, as soon as you twitch it will right itself.
The great thing about this frog, it won’t soak up water! I fish the frog on 65lb braid paired up with a Concept telescopic flipping stick. The longer rod helps fire the bait a mile. I generally will move the bait pretty quick at first to see what the mood of the fish is. If they are boiling and not taking it, I’ll slow my retrieve down. In some cases if I find the fish are in a negative mood I’ll try slipping a rattle from a jig inside the frog. Sometimes this can be the difference maker.
I have been fishing an original #7 in perch pattern for over 35 years. What classic Rapala baits still have a place in your box?
The classic Rapala bait that still has a place in my box is the Husky Jerk #14 in Tennessee shad. Before weight transfer systems of the new jerk baits came around, this bait was money for me. Its found its way back into the arsenal because it still has an action that other baits can’t match.
Cold water is where I find it still excels. It has a slow side to side action compared to the newer baits that make crazy turns with little line movement. When fish have slowed down it seems this is the perfect bait that doesn’t over do things. It has a natural movement and suspends as well as anything else. That foil flash also can’t be over looked as it reflects light like a mirror!
What is WOO! Tungsten and what do you like about being part of this team?
WOO! Tungsten is a great new little company that is offering tungsten flipping weights and drop shot weights at amazing prices. We all hate losing tungsten weights, but its part of fishing. The only good thing about loosing them is they are nontoxic to the fish and the ecosystem and Woo can get you back fishing without breaking the bank!
I’ve been running an Alpha 211 from Legend since 2009. Quite simply they are the best rough water bass boat on the market. I’ve found myself in some hairy conditions on the great lakes and the Legend not only gets me home safe, but it provides the smoothest ride on those nasty choppy days. I love telling people about this boat and the company because they a small company that takes pride in making a quality boat one at a time.
I’ve been running a Mercury motor since I started bass fishing and have been on their prostaff for over 4 years. When you own a bass boat there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Luckily my motor is one I never have to worry about. The 250 Pro XS is an incredibly durable and bullet proof motor and that gives me peace of mind each time I hit the water.
What are your favorite freshwater waters to fish?
I learned to bass fish in the Muskoka’s. I love all the lakes in that area because they have such beautiful clear water and the scenery is amazing. The fishing on places like Six Mile Lake, Lake Muskoka and Gloucester pool can be incredible. Though most of the Muskoka’s are known for their great smallmouth populations, there are some lakes with big largemouth too! A great body of water where you can do both and never get tired is Georgian Bay. It is probably one of the most scenic bodies of water in Canada and the big smallmouth and largemouth that live there are usually very cooperative!
You have such impressive multi-species photos on your Instagram. What is your favorite species to target if you could only go after one?
Bass is clearly my favourite freshwater species to fish for so I almost feel like I have to give you another one. If I couldn’t bass fish and could only chase one other fish it would have to be the salt water version of a bass, and to me that’s the snook. The great thing about snook is that if you know how to fish for bass, you’ve already got a good handle on where to find them! I love skipping docks for them, throwing top water out on the flats or head to the mangroves and fire soft plastics under the trees. The strikes are vicious and the fight of a salt water fish is unmatched!
What are your fishing goals for 2017?
As my girls get older I seems to have focused a little less on the tournament trails and spending more time with them. I love their enthusiasm all be it for a few hours at a time! I certainly want to take them out more and teach them how to figure out the bass puzzle with me. I’ll be doing a couple of the B1 tournaments so winning one of those wouldn’t be bad either!
After doing this interview, I know that we will try to get Morgan Cignini to do another interview and try to unlock some secrets of the Georgian Bay. Hopefully, he is up for that.
Morgan, thank you for the fantastic information. Your sponsors have a true pro representing them.
Follow Morgan Cignini on Instagram