1. Taking the lead on Day 2, APEX Pro Tour Angler Nick Wood closed the deal by temping chunky spotted bass with a 4-inch Keitech Fat Swing Impact in Tennessee shad on a custom dart head. When fish were suspended, he used a cast-and-retrieve presentation and when higher sun angles pushed the bait lower in the clear water, he switched to a slow-rolling technique.
Difference Maker: Focusing on a rocky bluff wall, Wood said he trusted his 10-pound Power Pro braid and 8-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader to provide the sensitivity and strength he needed for the habitat and his presentation.
Difference Maker: Essential to Meyer’s performance was a 7-foot Daiwa Tatula Elite spinning outfit with 12-pound Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai. Fishing with a lot of line out made it challenging to set the hook, but this gear allowed him to stick the fish and quickly get them to the boat.
3. In third place, APEX Pro Tour Angler Jeff Michels caught his fish on 4-inch Keitech Easy Shiner swimbaits in rainbow shad on a custom head and 5-inch Shasta Bass Bait swimbaits in a custom color rigged on a 3/4-ounce swimbait head.
Difference Maker: For the optimal blend of sensitivity and fish-fighting performance, Michels threw his baits on technique-specific Dobyns rods.
4. Mark Gomez fished a dropshot with a 1/4-ounce weight and alternated between a 4-inch Keeper Custom Baits straight tail worm and a 3.8 Keitech Fat Swing Impact in ghost.
Difference Maker: Gomez said the smooth drag of his Lew’s spinning reels plus the dependability of 8- to 10-pound P-Line fluorocarbon equipped him to make effective presentations. He also lauded his SpearPoint GP Finesse Hook as ideal for dropshotting, because the longer shank and the curved design holds the bait in optimal position.
5. Finishing fifth, Phillip Garcia caught his fish on 4.3 and 3.8 Keitech Fat Swing Impact swimbaits in sexy shad on 3/8-ounce ball heads.
Difference Maker: Garcia said he relied on 8-pound P-line fluorocarbon because it fell smoothly with the bait and allowed him to keep the bait on the bottom for the ideal presentation.
6. Keegan Graves found success with a 6-inch Zoom Finesse Worm on a 1/4-ounce shaky head and a 1/2-ounce white/chartreuse spinnerbait with willow-leaf blades and a 2/0 trailer hook.
Difference Maker: With his best bites coming in shallow water, Graves used 8-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon for his finesse baits and 15- to 17-pound Seaguar InvisX for the spinnerbait.
7. APEX Pro Tour Angler Luke Johns caught his fish on a neko-rigged 5-inch Yamamoto Senko in green pumpkin red flake and a Keitech 3.3 Fat Swing Impact in Tennessee shad and pro blue pearl on a 1/4-ounce football head and a float-and-fly rigged with a shad color Spro Phat Fly.
Difference Maker: Fishing the back of a creek channel that was packed and regularly reloading, Johns fished shallow in the morning and caught his limit on the Senko and Keitech. Then as the fish moved deeper, he switched to the float-and-fly to catch bigger fish. He filled in with the Senko throughout the day.
8. APEX Pro Tour Angler Joe Uribe Jr. threw his custom 7-inch swimbait in a trout color on main lake points with rock and stumps. He used shorter, precise casts to avoid big splashes and fared best with the morning bite when lower light and still conditions had the fish feeding aggressively.
9. APEX Pro Tour Angler Greg Gutierrez did most of his work with a 1/2-ounce shad color swim jig with homemade skirt and paired it with a disco blue Reaction Innovations Baby Skinny Dipper or a blueback 3.8 Keitech Fat Swing Impact.
He also caught fish on a Reaction Innovations Flirt Worm in green pumpkin magic fished on a 3/16-ounce Frenzy Baits Nail and a 3/16-ounce Dart head, along with a Carolina-rigged Zoom Baby Brush Hog in green pumpkin magic.
Difference Maker: Gutierrez used 6-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon for the Nail and dart head and 16-pound Gamma Edge for the swim jig and Carolina rig. He rigged the latter with a 10-pound Gamma Edge leader and found his 754 iRod offered the ideal casting and hook set dynamics.
10. Glen Lockhart caught his fish on a 3.8 Keitech Fat Swing Impact in light hitch. He used a 3/8-ounce football head over rocky bottom and a 3/8-ounce swimbait head in more open scenarios.
Difference Maker: Lockhart said his 14-pound Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai fluorocarbon allowed him optimal sensitivity and bite response.