As a Michigan native, Kevin VanDam grew up throwing a lot of spinnerbaits featuring painted blades for smallmouth. Some of the willowleaf blades were painted chartreuse, others were painted white, and when burned at a high retrieve speeds, smallies often crushed them in the typically clearer waters of the Great Lakes region.
But it was a trip south to Table Rock Lake, MO, for a media gathering in the late 1990s, where VanDam first discovered painted white blades paired with a unique skirt color named for a side dish he always thought was reserved only for fried fish.
“Stacey King is my buddy and a legendary pro, and he was the first one to show me this blade and skirt color they call “Coleslaw” that’s fairly popular with serious anglers around the Ozark reservoirs like Table Rock and Bull Shoals,” reflects the 7-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Champion.
Sure enough, while the skirt is primarily white like creamy mayonnaise covered cabbage, it has just a few strands of orange to look like the carrots that make the popular side dish complete. And while you’ll not find any chartreuse in a great dish of your momma’s slaw, there’s even a very slight hint of that too.
“It looks like skirt color you might use in dirty water. But to me it always performs best in really clear, or barely stained, water on a cloudy or rainy day with about a 15 mph wind blowing,” says VanDam.
“Those painted white blades and that peculiar skirt color, make an awesome silhouette, and while a plain white skirt under painted white blades might get the job done - “Coleslaw” sounds way better – and it dang sure taste better too - even to the bass,” he adds with a grin.
Kevin’s Coleslaw Equipment: VanDam uses at least a ½ ounce, and often times a heavy ¾ ounce, Strike King spinnerbait to create a larger profile like a big gizzard shad. He always ties it to a 20-pound fluorocarbon line on a large spooled Quantum Smoke HD reel for optimum casting distance. He favors at least a 6.6:1 gear ratio on the reel SHD200SPT, and uses a Quantum 7’ 4” heavy action TourKVD rod TKVDC747XFB to handle the heavier lure.
Kevin’s Favorite Meal Consisting of Coleslaw: “Oh hands down, it has to be deep fried yellow perch anywhere around the Great Lakes. That’s a staple dinner where I’m from, especially on Friday nights. And if you’re feeling just a little adventurous, you can even put your slaw on top of the fried perch on a fish sandwich and eat it that way – it doesn’t get any better than that,” smiles VanDam.