By David A. Brown
- Tournament winner Alex Klein caught his fish on 3.3 and 3.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbaits in the gold flash minnow and smallmouth magic colors on ball heads. A dropshot rigged with a 4-inch Keitech Easy Shiner and a 1/4-ounce weight also produced keepers.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Klein fished all of his baits on 7-1 St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass spinning rods with Abu Garcia Revo reels carrying 15-pound Daiwa J-Braid with 8-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon leaders. Klein also credited his Buck N’ Bass Reservoir Rainsuit for keeping him comfortable in the Day-3 wind and allowing him to focus on fishing.
- Finishing second, Ryan Friend caught his fish on a 1/2-ounce white/chartreuse Mayhem Baits spinnerbait with tandem willow-leaf/Colorado blades. Occasionally, Friend would spot suspended fish on his Garmin Livescope and capitalize by throwing a float-n-fly rig with a 1/8-ounce Spro Fat Fly in the grey ghost color.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: – Friend relied on the sensitivity and strength of his 7 1/2-foot medium-light St. Croix rod, along with 6-pound Sunline fluorocarbon.
- Chad LeBlanc had some success with a 7-inch Osprey swimbait, but he ended up faring best with a 1/2-ounce chartreuse/white War Eagle spinnerbait with double willow-leaf blades.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: LeBlanc threw the swimbait on his Daiwa signature series swimbait rod and a 6.3:1 Daiwa Tatula 300 reel carrying 20-pound P-Line fluorocarbon. He fished the spinnerbait on a fiberglass Daiwa rod with 12-pound P-Line monofilament.
- Day-2 leader, John Maes started out with the same baits he used in the second round — a Z-Man FattyZ worm and a Z-Man Finesse TRD, both rigged on a 1/4-ounce Ned head. As the bite got tougher, he used a dropshot with a 4-inch Roboworm in the prism craw color and a 3/8-ounce tungsten weight.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Maes lauded the strength and sensitivity of the 6- and 8-pound P line Tactical fluorocarbon he used with all of his baits.
- Finishing fifth, Logan Huntze did his work with a 1/4-ounce Cool Baits Underspin with a Keitech Easy Shiner and a Z-Man FattyZ on a 1/4-ounce Z-Man ShroomZ head.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Huntze attributed his top-10 finish to locating a concentration of fish on his Garmin Panoptix and then using this technology to stay on them. He also relied on Suffix 832 Braid and 6-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon.
- Rich Craft found his sixth-place weight by dropshotting Shasta’s rocky bottom. He alternated between a Keitech Easy Shiner in pro blue and a Fisher Brothers DS Minnow in Kokanee.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Because spotted bass often short strike dropshots, Craft Texas-rigged his baits on a Size 1 Gamakatsu EWG hook. Moving the hook point farther back in the bait helped him achieve better hookups.
- William Hume needed only one bait the entire event — a 3/4-ounce white on white Dobyns D-Blade spinnerbait. Pairing this with a 3.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in chartreuse shad, Hume caught his fish by slow rolling the bait across the bottom.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Hume fished his bait on a Dobyns 736 Champion glass rod with a 6.3:1 Shimano Chronarch and 20-pound Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon.
- Daniel Eckhart caught several of his quality fish on a YUM Flash Mob Jr. umbrella rig with 3.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbaits on 1/8-ounce Picasso swimbait heads. On the final day, he did most of his work with a Z-Man Finesse TRD on 1/8- to 1/4-ounce Ned heads, depending on depth and wind.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Garmin Panoptix enabled Eckhart to see the fish and gauge their reactions to his baits. When he saw fish following the umbrella rig, that gave him confidence to keep throwing it.
- Ninth-place Randy Pierson fished a Neko-rigged Yamamoto Senko on a No. 1 Spearpoint GP Finesse hook, a 1/2-ounce Fish Head Spin with a 3.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in white and shad colors, and a Zoom Trick Worm Texas rigged on a 2/0 Spearpoint wide gap hook with a 1/8-ounce tungsten weight
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Pierson said the biggest element of his success was his iRod Quercus 753 RP Worm and Jig Rod. He found this 7-3 medium-heavy, fast tip rod was ideal for underspin use.
- Rounding out the top-10, Gary Baldwin tempted his fish with a combination of baits including a 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat in electric shad on a 1/2-ounce underspin, a Frenzy Nail with a Z-Man FattyZ, a Neko-rigged Yamamoto Senko and a 3/4-ounce Bass Union football jig with a Yamamoto Double Tail trailer.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Baldwin staked out a promising area and watched his Lowrance ActiveTarget for groups of fish moving into feeding positions.