March 2021 Pro Series: Pick a Winner? This Time It's Guaranteed!
An Entire Box Containing Baits That Made History!
By Ken Duke
When you reach for your tackle box, you’re looking for one thing and one thing only: a winner! You want something with real bass appeal, an old favorite or one that promises to be a sure-enough fish catcher.
With this edition of the MONSTERBASS Regional (and National) Pro Series Box, we’ve taken all the trial-and-error, all the guesswork out of lure and terminal tackle selection. These offerings are proven winners on bass fishing’s biggest, brightest and most demanding stage — you know what we're talking about.
It's known as the the biggest stage in all of professional bass fishing for good reason, and to complete the analogy, these products were Super Bowl MVPs — most valuable players. They were key components in the biggest tournament wins in bass fishing history.
Let’s take a closer look!
Strike King KVD HC Crankbait 1.5
When Kevin VanDam won his third Bassmaster Classic title — the 2011 championship on the Louisiana Delta — he did it by picking apart pre-spawn bass around stumps and other shallow cover. The consensus greatest tournament angler of all-time not only knew that the squarebill crankbait was the perfect choice for generating a reaction strike as it bounced off wood cover, but he designed the bait, too!
VanDam used his electronics to spot key cover and then made precise casts and retrieves that made the KVD HC Crankbait 1.5 deflect off the cover, often into the mouth of a nearby bass. Bass are instinctual predators and the erratic action of a squarebill ricocheting off cover is too much to resist.
Berkley Trilene XT or XL
If you’re looking for the ultimate Classic “winner,” you’ve found it. Berkley Trilene has been the line of choice for 15 Classic champs through the years — more than any other product line in angling history. And five of those winners were fishing Trilene XT — the most popular of all the Trilene options in Classic competition.
To make this accomplishment even more impressive, you may be interested to know that there were years when Classic anglers were actually prohibited from using Berkley Trilene because another line company had purchased the rights to be the exclusive line of the tournament!
Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw
The Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw has caught millions of bass, but it first found the spotlight at the 2007 Bassmaster Classic on Alabama’s Lay Lake. That year, Boyd Duckett won the world championship catching good numbers of bass on a lipless crankbait. But it was a Texas-rigged Chigger Craw with 1-ounce pegged sinker and 5/0 hook that caught the bass that earned him the trophy. After Duckett would catch a quick limit on the lipless crank, he picked up his flipping outfit and went to heavy cover. That’s where he’d catch his daily “kickers,” including an 8-pound, 2-ounce bass that struck on the first day and was big fish of the entire tournament. He also used the Chigger Craw to catch the biggest bass of the final day (6 pounds, 9 ounces).
And that’s not the end of the Chigger Craw’s history at the Classic. In 2009 on the Red River, Skeet Reese Texas-rigged a later iteration — the Crazy Legs Chigger Craw — for part of his winning catch.
Gambler Baby Bacon Rind
In the late 1990s, creature baits weren’t exactly new, but they were mostly under the radar … until Davy Hite used a Texas-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind to win the 1999 Classic on the Louisiana Delta. He pitched and flipped the bait to shallow, floating vegetation, but rather than hop it up and down off the bottom, he swam the rig back to the boat.
The unorthodox presentation not only won the tournament with the heaviest weight ever posted to that time (55 pounds, 10 ounces), but it also gave him the tournament’s biggest bass, a 5-pound, 10-ounce largemouth that struck on Day 2.
Stanley Jig and Hale Craw Worm
The legendary Stanley Jig and Hale Craw Worm have a storied history in the Bassmaster Classic. They’ve been a big player in three wins. That’s hardly surprising. Jigs with craw-style trailers tend to catch larger than average bass, and the Stanley Jig and Hale Craw Worm have been the favorites of top pros for 40 years.
In 1988, Guido Hibdon — a giant in finesse jig fishing — used a 3/16-ounce Stanley Jig and craw-style trailer to win the Classic on Virginia’s James River. He fished the bait around shallow wood cover but needed a very quiet presentation to get his bites. To accomplish that, Hibdon made long casts onto the bank and dragged his lure into the water so that it wouldn’t crash down with a big splash.
Just a year later on the same waters, Hank Parker Texas-rigged a Hale Craw Worm to claim his second Classic championship. He flipped and pitched the bait to plain mud banks in the bends of a creek. He felt that such “nothing-looking” banks held fish but got little pressure. Obviously, he was right.
If Hibdon rode the Stanley Jig to victory, and Parker used the Hale Craw Worm to win, what would happen if an angler combined them, using the Craw Worm as a trailer on the jig? It didn’t take long to find out,
In 1992, Robert Hamilton Jr. used a 1/2-ounce Stanley Jig and Hale Craw Worm to not only win the Bassmaster Classic on Alabama’ Lake Logan Martin but also to catch the biggest bass of the event — a 6-pound, 14-ounce fish that struck on an offshore hump.
Obviously, shallow or deep, river or lake, together or separately, the Stanley Jig and Hale Craw Worm are winners.
Stanley’s Tapered Needle Point Hook
Lonnie Stanley’s legendary reputation as a tackle designer began with the Stanley Jig and continues with the Tapered Needle Point Hook. But you may not know that Stanley was also a fierce competitor on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail for many years, winning two events and qualifying for five Bassmaster Classics. Unfortunately for Lonnie, his designs usually fared better in the hands of other anglers — which bodes well for you!
A little-known story from the 1992 Classic will tell you all you need to know about Stanley and his penchant for bass gear. At the time, Classic rules restricted a competitor to no more lures than he could fit into his assigned Flambeau 2275 tackle box. Stanley’s box was so jam-packed that B.A.S.S. officials decided to see just how much it weighed.
It came in at 49 pounds — a Classic record that may never be broken.
LIMITED EDITION HAMMERHEAD 1.5 SILENT SQUARE
This bait may not have won the Classic (yet) but just you watch. Designed with the help of Alex Rudd and sporting limited edition paint by Messer Custom Baits, the silent squarebill is as deadly as it is beautiful. Perfect for banging off shallow cover, grinding gravelly flats and stump fields.