By David A. Brown

  1. Breaking 20 pounds on the second and third days, Justin Campbell caught most of his fish on a wacky-rigged 5-inch Yamamoto Senko in green pumpkin. He also added key fish on a 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in flash minnow.


Difference Maker: Campbell rotated between an Alpha Angler Tach Mag rod and an Alpha Angler DSR rod. For optimal bite detection and fish-fighting power, he went with 10-pound Power Pro braid and 10-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon.


  1. Washington pro Ronald Mace, who led days 1 and 2, caught his fish on a 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat, a Texas-rigged 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat and a Texas-rigged 5-inch Yamamoto Senko.


Difference Maker: Catching most of his fish around weed edges, Mace relied on a 7-foot G. Loomis spinning rod with 15-pound Power Pro braid and 15-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon to be able to horse them out of the vegetation.


  1. Taking third place, Travis Whitney threw a 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in a baitfish color and a dropshot with a green pumpkin Strike King KVD Dream Shot.


Difference Maker: Precise presentations to key spots was an essential element of Whitney’s plan and he made those casts with a G. Loomis 852S with a Shimano Vanguard reel, 10-pound Power Pro braid and 10-pound Seaguar Inviz-X fluorocarbon leader.


  1. Fourth place Jake Boomer threw a broad spectrum of baits. His lineup included a Heddon Super Spook in Okie shad, a Texas-rigged Jaboom Baits Boom Bug, a 1/2-ounce War Eagle Screamin Eagle spinnerbait in the spot remover color with a No. 2 trailer hook, a wacky-rigged 5-inch Yamamoto Senko and a Ned rig with a 3/32-ounce head and a 3-inch Yamamoto Ned Senko.


Difference Maker: Boomer found that an Alpha Angler Spy Bait Rod and 10-pound P-Line camo braid and 6-pound P-Line fluorocarbon provided the requisite strength and sensitivity he needed for his finesse baits.


  1. Finishing fifth, Scott Gregory caught a lot of his earlier fish on a dropshot with a Roboworm in margarita mutilator, a Zoom Super Fluke in hambone and smoke and a 3.8-inchTrophy Lures swimbait rigged weedless on a 1/8-ounce belly weighted hook. Later in the event, Gregory was more successful with a Heddon Zara Spook and the Trophy Lures swimbait.


Difference Maker: Making precise follow-ups with the swimbait proved essential for Gregory. When a fish missed his Zoom Super Fluke or his Heddon Zara Spook, Gregory dropped that Trophy Lures swimbait on them often closed the deal.


  1. Dustin Maraviov caught several of the sixth-place fish on a dropshot with a Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm and threw a silver Lucky Craft Gunfish at schoolers.


Difference Maker: Maraviov said he spent a lot of time looking at his Garmin Panoptix — especially between schooling periods when he needed to relocate the fish.


  1. Colby Pearson committed to a pair of presentations and caught his fish on a Duo Spinbait 80 and a hand-tied hair jig in 1/8 and 3/32-ounce sizes, depending on current strength.


Difference Maker: Pearson fished his baits on a 1-power spinning rod with a Shimano Stradic Ci4 4000 reel spooled with 5-pound Cortland braid and 6-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon. Casting distance was the main goal, but the light rod distributed the tension for an efficient fight.


  1. For eighth-place Karl Okerman, the smallmouth liked a white 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat on a 1/4-ounce Decent Weights ball head jig, a 3/8-ounce Decent Weights tube head with either a 3.75 XZone X-Tube or a Lost Baits tube and a dropshot with 4 1/2-inch Roboworm straight tail in margarita mutilator.

Difference Maker: Spotting fish on his Garmin LiveScope Okerman’s main setup was an Alpha Angler spinning outfit with 15-pound Power Pro braid and 12-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon. For long-cast scenarios, he kept another another spinning outfit rigged with 10-pound fluorocarbon.


  1. Jason Hickey used a diverse lineup that included a Zoom Super Fluke in watermelon, a Heddon Super Spook in Tennessee shad and a green pumpkin tube on a 3/16-ounce EWG Owner Ned head.


Difference Maker: Hickey found that he needed to make long casts to reach smallmouth in gin clear water. His P-Line 100% Fluorocarbon enabled him to do just that. 


  1. Gene Batey did his work with a green pumpkin Yamamoto Tube on a 3/8-ounce jig and a 4-inch Keitech Easy Shiner in smallmouth magic.


Difference Maker: Batey needed to make sure he could get solid hook sets on long casts, so he relied on a 7-1 G. Loomis rod with 15-pound Power Pro braid and 12-pound Yamamoto Sugoi fluorocarbon leader.


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