By David A. Brown
1. Claiming his first pro-am win, Logan McDaniel caught his biggest fish — a 12.86 — along with several other key fish on an A-rig with 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbaits on 1/32-ounce heads and a 1/8-ounce head with a 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in the center. He also caught keepers on a dropshot with a 3-inch Roboworm in baby bass and a float-n-fly with a custom fly called The Minnow, tied by Ryan Williams of North Valley Guide Service.
Difference Maker: McDaniel said his Phoenix PHX 21 and 250 Mercury Pro XS allowed him to efficiently navigate the rough water caused by strong winds.
2. Second-place pro J.R. Wright caught his fish on Keitech 2.8 and 3.3 Swing Impact Fat swimbaits, both rigged on 1/4-ounce Ladies Man ball heads.
Difference Maker: For the ideal presentation, Wright fished his baits on 7-pound Daiwa J-Fluoro, because the line sinks fast and gave his baits maximum motion.
3. APEX pro Nick Wood caught all of his fish on an umbrella rig fitted with 4-inch Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbaits in the Tennessee shad color.
Difference Maker: Wood lauded his Ranger 520 R for the cutting edge design features that provide him the comfortable, dependable platform from which to compete.
4. APEX pro Ryan Friend split his time between throwing a Float-n-Fly with a homemade fly (white and green versions) and a homemade A-rig with 3/16-ounce homemade jig heads holding 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fats.
Difference Maker: Friend trusted his 795 Powell rod and 20-pound Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon for the long casts and slow, deep presentations that delivered the bites.
5. Having placed second on Day 1 and third on Day 2, Ryan McIntosh kept himself near the top and finished fifth. He did his work with a 4-inch Keitech Swing Impact on 1/8- and 3/16-ounce ball heads, and a 1/8-ounce crappie hair jig tied by his father.
Difference Maker: McIntosh used Powell Rods and said his Buck ’N Bass bibs and jacket kept him warm in the cold, windy weather.
6. Cody Murray earned his bites with a 4-inch Keitech Easy Shiner on a 1/4-ounce Ladies Man ball head, a 3-inch Keitech Easy Shiner on a 1/8-ounce Ladies Man ball head, and a generic A-rig with 3-inch Keitech Easy Shiners on 1/8-ounce Ladies Man ball heads.
Difference Maker: Murray fished his A-rig on 20-pound Daiwa Samaurai fluorocarbon. He threw the Keitech Easy Shiners on 10- and 8-pound Daiwa Samaurai fluorocarbon. The thin diameter fluoro, he said, maximized his baits’ sink rate.
7. Seventh-place Aaron Britt caught his fish on a custom A-rig with 2.8 and 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbaits on 1/8-ounce Owner ball heads. He also used a float-n-fly rig with a 1/8-ounce SPRO Phat Fly in a blue/white pattern.
Difference Maker: Britt relied on Lowrance ActiveTarget to find his fish and sink his A-rig to the right depth. He threw his A-rig on a 7-9 iRod Jr. Swim rod with 20-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon. For the float-n-fly, Britt used his signature series 742 iRod Legit Finesse Swimmer rod with 20-pound braid and a 20-pound Seaguar Tatsu leader.
8. Finishing in eighth place, Joseph Orozco ended up catching his fish on a Bass Union 5-wire A-rig with 1/4-ounce Bass Union football jigs and 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fats (goby color) on the blade arms and 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fats on the dummies. For his non bladed A-rig, Orozco used 4-inch Keitech Easy Shiners in Arkansas shiner and 3-inch Keitech Easy Shiners on the dummies.
Difference Maker: Orozco threw his bladed A-rig on a Dobyns 795 Fury rod. For the lighter non-bladed A-rig, he used a Dobyns 784 Extreme.
9. Richard Dobyns caught his Day-1 fish on a nail-weighted 5-inch green pumpkin Yamamoto Senko. The next two days, he threw a homemade 5-wire A-rig with no blades and 3.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fats in smallmouth magic on 1/4-ounce Dobyns Swimbait heads.
Difference Maker: For his slow, methodical A-rig presentation, he used a Dobyns Champion 806 crankbait rod and 20-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon.
10. Glen Lockhart fished a variety of presentations including a float-n-fly, Keitech 2.8 and 3.3 Swing Impact Fats on 1/4-ounce hand-poured football heads, a nail-weighted 5-inch Yamamoto Senko, and a homemade A-rig with 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fats on the hooks and 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fats on the dummies.
Difference Maker: Noting that he caught his better fish on the A-rig, Lockhart threw his on a Dobyns 804C with 15-pound P-Line fluorocarbon.