Much gets said about the life-changing effect of being crowned Bassmaster Classic champion — and rightly so. A strong argument could be made that no single accomplishment has a larger impact on a pro angler's career. However, the big bass lure that gets used to notch that Classic win often travels a similar path, almost immediately falling into the iconic "best bass lures" category.
Most years, one or two baits legitimately earn the distinction of the Classic-winning lure or lures, and some lures legitimately are far more likely than others to be used by Classic competitors. The time of year, the Guntersville fishing report, and lures' reputations and track records all help us determine lures that are likely to play an important role during the Classic.
Just as pundits pick their winning pros, we've chosen 10 lures that you will want to watch for as the 2014 Bassmaster Classic unfolds.
Smithwick Suspending Rogue
Many modern jerkbaits look fancier and do more tricks, but no other lure matches the subtle roll of the original suspending jerkbait, and a Suspending Rattlin' Rogue remains the bait of choice for many anglers when pre-spawn bass suspend around schools of winter-slowed shad. If the weather is seriously cold, keep an eye on any competitor who has the patience and the confidence in his spots to fish a Rogue with painfully long pauses
Z-Man Original ChatterBait
Eight years ago, the ChatterBait stormed onto the bass scene, notching major wins in Florida and on other grass lakes, causing fans to ask, 'what is that? ' and creating whole new category of fishing lure. Though extensively imitated in many forms, the Original ChatterBait, with its hex blade and patented design, remains the bladed jig that many anglers turn to and clearly will be a lure to watch at Guntersville.
Strike King Red Eye Shad
Late February marks prime time to throw a lipless crankbait on Guntersville. A Strike King Red Eye Shad, which makes major noise with its free-floating rattles, is apt to make noise in a different way during this year's Classic. Need a really good reason to watch the Red Eye Shad vs. other lipless crankbaits? Consider will be throwing it. (We'll just leave it at that.)
Photo by Garrick Dixon
Berkley Havoc Grass Pig
Bobby Lane, like every Classic competitor, wants his name on the world championship trophy, but Lane also could put his mark on this year's Classic as designer of the sweet-swimming 5-inch Grass Pig and 3.5-inch Grass Pig Jr. Umbrella rigs can't be used in the Bassmaster Classic, but if the fish are relating heavily to shad, many Guntersville experts believe an individual swimbait could play and important part.
Pure Fishing Photo
Rapala Shad Rap
Virtually all bass fishermen have a few Shad Raps in simple silver or gold tucked away for cold front days when the bite gets tough, which could occur during this year's Classic. Various flat-sided crankbaits produce cold-weather fish, but in the minds of many veteran anglers, nothing quite rivals the tight subtle wiggle of this classic balsa wood lure from Rapala.
Megabass Vision Oneten
When pros talk about fishing eating 'the Megabass ' they're talking about the Megabass Vision Oneten, which has become the benchmark for modern jerkbaits. It's tough to pinpoint exactly what about the posture, profile, appearance or action sets this bait apart from so many that look similar. Something does, though, because it has earned the confidence of top tournament anglers everywhere. Also watch the Oneten Jr. and the rest of the 'Oneten family. '
Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Swim Jig
Most knowledgeable Guntersville anglers agree that a jig could factor heavily into this year's Classic. Less certain is whether that might be a flipping jig, swim jig or football jig dragged over offshore structure. We're going with a Swim Jig, and we've picked the one Greg Hackney designed for Strike King because it was created for grass and other cover and it has the kind of hook needed to handle Guntersville's big largemouths.
Strike King photo
XCalibur Xrk75 One Knocker
Guntersville bass see a gazillions of lipless crankbaits during late winter, and that trend won't change during Classic week. So what makes the Xrk75 stand out? For starters it's a ¾-ounce lure, meaning it offers a little larger profile than the ½-ounce lipless baits that most anglers throw. As importantly, it sounds off with a single Tungsten ball, instead of a bunch of BBs, which creates a distinctive knocking sound.
Berkley PowerBait Jumbo Chigger Craw
The same basic lure that played a critical role in Boyd Duckett's Alabama Classic win in 2007 could be important this year — except we're putting out money on the beefed up version, the Jumbo Chigger Craw, for Guntersville's heavyweight bass. Either Chigger Craw can be Texas rigged or fished in a jig and has flapping claws that come to live whenever the bait moves.
Gene Larew Salt Head Shaky Worm
Fans might prefer a Bassmaster Classic held at Lake Guntersville to not be won on a finesse worm. That notion acknowledged, fishing pressure and winter conditions could make things tough, and when bass get finicky, it's hard to top the fish-persuading power of a little worm on a jighead. The Salt Head Shaky Worm has a concave head to fit around a jighead, a salted head section and an ideal profile for jighead finesse presentations.
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