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Lures That Won the Last 10 Bassmaster Classics

With the 54th Classic set next week in Oklahoma, we take a look at the last 10 winning patterns.

Lures That Won the Last 10 Bassmaster Classics

What lures did Canadian angler Jeff Gustafson use to win the 2023 Bassmaster Classic? (Photo courtesy of B.A.S.S.)


As the 54th Bassmaster Classic gets underway in a few days for a March 22-24, 2024 run on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees near Tulsa, Okla., it’s easy to look back and reminisce about the past decade of Classics, often described as the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.”

After all, the previous 10 Classics have produced some history making heroics, amazing catches, glorious comebacks and thrilling wins, if not a few more exciting chapters in the bass fishing history books. And oftentimes, that winning performance—one guaranteed to change the trajectory of an angler’s life and career, in addition to potentially earning them financial security for a good while—often comes down to a single lure.

With that thought in mind, here’s a look back at the past decade of fishing action in the Bassmaster Classic along with a nod to who won and how they did so:

2023 Classic, Jeff Gustafson

Hoping to become the first Canadian angler to ever capture the Bassmaster Classic crown, Jeff Gustafson prowled about the Tennessee River in his Lund boat on Championship Sunday and sweated out whether or not he had already done enough to win and grab a wire-to-wire victory on the Tennessee River.

Normally, only two smallmouth bass weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces on the final day wouldn't be enough to get it done. But because of what he had already accomplished—18-08 on Day One and 17-03 on Day Two—Gussy's three-day total of 42 pounds, 7 ounces was enough to capture the Ray Scott Trophy and the $300,000 winner's check.

Anchoring his hopes in the familiar Tellico Lake area, Gussy relied on his Humminbird MEGA Live electronics and the "moping" technique to take the win. That technique centered around using a 3/8-ounce Smeltinator jighead with a 1/0 hook, along with a Z-Man Jerk ShadZ in smelt color, helping him seal the deal in a derby where electronics played a huge role.

If the nation's crowd of bass fishing fans didn't already know before last year’s Classic, Gustafson's win was not only historic for which side of the U.S./Canada border the winner hailed from, but also thanks to the fact that even in the Classic, the Forward Facing Sonar era is here to stay.

2022 Classic, Jason Christie

After watching his final day lead on his home water of Grand Lake give way to Edwin Evers ferocious comeback in the 2016 Classic, Jason Christie looked to shed the moniker of “Best to Never Win a Classic" at the 2022 Classic on Lake Hartwell in the event's third visit to the South Carolina/Georgia border lake in the past decade.

He would do just that, using a combination of baits including a protype YUM Forward Facing Sonar Minnow coupled with Garmin Live Scope that helped him work a key ditch in the lake. But late in the derby, Christie became a Classic king by relying on a 5/8-ounce War Eagle Jiu Jitsu Jig in green pumpkin/orange with a Yum Craw Chunk trailer in a green pumpkin/purple flake color.




Pitching those jigs in tight to docks, he was able to mine a final day limit of 17 pounds, 9 ounces, just good enough for a five-ounce victory and $300,000 payday thanks to a three-day total of 54 pounds even.

2021 Classic, Hank Cherry

Hank Cherry traveled to Fort Worth and won his second consecutive Classic, this time on North Texas’ Lake Ray Roberts.

While there was a bladed jig involved in the Cowtown Classic, and a Berkley Pit Boss as well, Cherry used the new Berkley Stunna jerkbait in a Stealth Shad color to do a lot of damage. That seems a bit surprising since the tournament—originally scheduled for March 2021 until a coronavirus surge forced postponement until June—came in the Texas heat on a lake known for a little vegetation and a lot of timber.

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Cherry also did some of his damage with that bait at the lengthy Ray Roberts dam, catching some key fish in the eight to 12 feet of water just off the rip-rap. In grabbing the win, Cherry joined Rick Clunn (1976-77), Kevin VanDam (2010-11), and Jordan Lee (2017-18) in the exclusive back-to-back Classic winner’s club.

2020 Classic, Hank Cherry

Only days before the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide shutdowns began, Cherry ignored the coming storm and put together a wire-to-wire Classic win on Alabama's Lake Guntersville, using a final day weight of 19 pounds, 8 ounces to anchor a three-day tally of 65 pounds, 5 ounces. That winning weight was enough for a $307,500 payday for Cherry.

How did he win the Classic? Early on, Cherry used a Z-Man Jack Hammer ChatterBait, opting for a green pumpkin Picasso Hank Cherry Signature Series jig and a matching Berkley MaxScent Chunk Trailer when that didn’t work. But it was a Megabass 110+1 jerkbait that worked a lot in the derby’s late going for the first-time Classic champ.

man holding trophy
Ott Defoe won the 2019 Classic on his home water, the Tennessee River. (Photo courtesy of BASS)

2019 Classic, Ott Defoe

Ott Defoe, a Knoxville native, won the 2019 Classic on his home water, the Tennessee River, in what would be his final B.A.S.S. derby as he had moved on to the new Bass Pro Tour for the 2019 season.

Using his knowledge of the hometown water, Defoe was able to catch a final day limit of 18 pounds, 14 ounces to cap a three-day total of 49 pounds, 3 ounces. With a rusty craw-colored Storm Arashi Vibe lipless crankbait and a Rapala DT4 crawdad colored crankbait on his front deck, it was a mystery unnamed bladed jig that did the most damage late in the event as Defoe lived out a dream he had had since he was a young boy fishing on the Tennessee River.

2018 Classic, Jordan Lee

Remember the 2017 Classic winner? Well, Jordan Lee went and did it again, capturing the 2018 Classic on Lake Hartwell to join Kevin VanDam and Rick Clunn as the only anglers at that time to win consecutive Classics.

This time, Lee alternated between a jerkbait, a homemade bladed jig, a Strike King Ocho,  Strike King Shimmy Stick and Strike King Rage Swimmer to grab the win. His final day five-bass limit of 16 pounds, 5 ounces gave him a three-day winning total of 47 pounds, 1 ounce. That was good enough for his second win and second $300,000 winner's check in as many years.

jordan-lee-wins-2017-bassmaster-classic-l
Jordan Lee won Classic titles in 2017 and 2018. (Photo courtesy of BASS)

2017 Classic, Jordan Lee

In the Classic's first visit to Texas since the 1979 event on Lake Texoma, Alabama resident and Auburn fishing legend Jordan Lee found out that everything really is bigger and better in the Lone Star State as he captured the 2017 Classic on Lake Conroe with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 10 ounces.

Despite an opening day three-fish tally for only 8 pounds, 6 ounces; only four bass for 21 pounds on Day 2, and final-day engine trouble, the young pro persevered on the Houston-area lake, using a combination of a Bullworm, a Strike King 5XD crankbait, and a Strike King J-Lee Comeback football jig on the final day.

When it mattered most, the football jig did the most damage on the final day as Lee coupled it with a Rage Craw and a Space Monkey trailer to claim his first Classic title with a final day limit of 27 pounds, 4 ounces.

2016 Classic, Edwin Evers

Edwin Evers once played college football at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla., but he moved on to a fishing career after honing his skills on nearby Lake Texoma. In 2016, the Oklahoma native captured the "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing" on Grand Lake O' the Cherokees after a final day for the ages on familiar water not far from his Talala, Okla. home.

Starting the day needing a miracle as he trailed second-round leader Jason Christie by a wide margin, Evers wife handed him a piece of paper with a Bible verse that read: "I can do all things through Christ."

Evers heeded that advice, headed for the upper lake's Elk River section, and then used an Andy's Custom Lure homemade finesse jig, coupled with a Zoom Critter Craw trailer, to see what would happen. And that was a miraculous final day bag limit of 29 pounds, 3 ounces, propelling him back against his good friend Christie as Evers won with a three day total of 14 bass weighing 60 pounds, 7 ounces.

man holding up fish
Edwin Evers won the 2016 Bassmaster Classic. (Photo courtesy of BASS)

2015 Classic, Casey Ashley

The 2015 Classic was on the South Carolina and Georgia border Lake Hartwell, but that didn’t stop Old Man Winter from impacting the southern U.S. event with severe freezing weather down to 10 degrees on the first morning, conditions that led to icy boat ramps and frozen backwaters, and temps struggling to get into the 20s on the event’s first day. Put simply, it was the coldest Classic in history.

But that didn’t stop South Carolinian Casey Ashley from hometown heroics, as he relied on a homemade underspin jig made by his dad, a simple pony-head contraption with a Sampo swivel, 4/0 Mustad hook, 3.5 willow blade, a Super Fluke Jr. trailer bait, and some powder paint to imitate the lake's supply of blueback herring.

Simple or not, it gave him what he needed with a final day limit of 20 pounds, 3 ounces with those deep water fish being enough to boost his three day total to 50 pounds, 1 ounce. That figure earned Ashley the Classic crown and its $300,000 winner's paycheck.

2014 Classic, Randy Howell

In a last day comeback for the ages, Alabama pro Randy Howell left the dock on Championship Sunday intending to go one direction. But when he heard an inner voice telling him to go the opposite direction on Lake Guntersville, the stage was set for an inspirational win. In an almost amphitheater like setting, Howell mined the waters around a key road bridge, using a Livingston crankbait now known as the Livingston Howeller Dream Master Classic (DMC) to weigh in a final day bag of 29 pounds., 2 ounces for a three day winning total of 67-8.

Right before the fish hit the scales for his dramatic win, Howell said on-stage: "I don't even know if I'm going to win, but it doesn't matter. It was the best day I've ever had in 21 years of professional bass fishing, a day of a lifetime."

One Classic win later, it was the day of a lifetime for Randy Howell indeed. And like many of the other anglers noted above, it was mostly because of one bait, a single bass fishing lure that changed an angler’s professional career and life forever.

Look for more of the same this week in Tulsa where another exciting chapter promises to get written in bass fishing’s history books.

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