If you’re amped for this year’s Bassmaster Classic like we are, you’ll want to know the lures that will make or break contestants. Here are five surefire bets to make a run at the title in this year’s Classic.
The 45th Annual Geico Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina is coming fast, and with that comes a flood of anticipation from contestants, fishing fans, and industry leaders as everyone anxiously waits to see the who, what, when, where, and why of this year’s “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.”
While it would take a lot of extrapolating to predict all five of these “Ws,” we like to think that one of them should be a pretty safe bet: the Bassmaster Classic Winning baits. Read on to learn more.
Photo via: Bassfishin.com
When Alton Jones won the 2008 Bassmaster Classic (the last time the event was held at Lake Hartwell), the pro used a heavy football jig to mine his way to victory on deep, offshore structure. The fish were holding in deep standing timber, and the jig was the perfect tool to trigger the sluggish fish to bite.
At this year’s Classic, conditions are poised to be very reminiscent of the last competition at Hartwell. The water temperatures are cold, and fish are set up on mid-winter deep structure, making for a perfect football jig recipe. Look for the jig to play a key role in the winner’s efforts, along with several of the other top competitors.
Rapala Shad Rap
Photo via: Tech Outdoors
Another Hartwell favorite is the Rapala Shad Rap, and other lightweight, finesse crankbaits in its class. The reason why the shad rap is so productive is its realistic shad-like profile, along with a very tight wobbling action that closely resembles a shad in cold water.
Baits with too much action can turn lethargic winter bass away. The shad rap does just the opposite, and was a staple in the major final day comeback effort of young FLW Tour Pro (and recent qualifier for the Bassmaster Elite Series) Micah Frazier on Lake Hartwell in a regular season FLW Event in 2012.
Photo via: Amazon
Similarly to the football jig, the jigging spoon is a cold water, wintering bass application. It is also a technique that Alton Jones used to supplement his football jig clinic in the 2008 victory. The neat thing about a traditional jigging spoon is two fold. The first advantage to using these simple, hammered pieces of metal is the fact that they can be effectively fished straight up and down above hungry bass. This allows anglers to position their boats overtop of schools of bass that they found using high-tech electronics.
The second advantage is that the technique is quite underutilized, and misunderstood by some anglers. Those who have mastered the art of spooning deep winter bass could have a major leg up on the competition at this year’s Classic.
While history has shown that some of Hartwell’s top competitors have chosen alternatives to jerkbait fishing, it would still be hard to rule out a jerkbait as a big player at the 2015 Classic. Any time you mix deep, clear water with cold temperatures in late winter or early spring, you’re looking at prime jerkbait conditions. Expect several 2015 competitors to keep one of these suspending stick-baits tied on at all times throughout the event, and look for this to be a dark horse winner.
The last but certainly not least item you can expect to see Mark Zona and Tommy Sanders talking about on “Championship Sunday” is some variation of a small swimbait. Because swimbaits are generally thought to be very large profiled baits, I feel the need to elaborate on what constitutes a “small” swimbait. In this case, I would consider a small swimbait to be any bait smaller than about 5 inches. Those at 3.75-inch and 4-inch sizes are popular for winter/spring transition time periods, and can be deadly when fished on a light jig head for suspended bass. Heads sized at ¼ ounce on up to ¾ ounce could be used to cover a variety of different depths, depending on how the fish are positioned on structure.
No matter which of the above lures is the most productive at this year’s event, the 2015 Bassmaster Classic is sure to be filled with heart stopping moments that you won’t want to miss.
For more information about this year’s Classic, be sure to keep reading our coverage leading up to, during and after the event.