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Pro Tactics: Gear, Lures Choices for 50th Bassmaster Classic

Berkley and Abu Garcia pros share their thoughts on what will work at Guntersville.

Pro Tactics: Gear, Lures Choices for 50th Bassmaster Classic

Hunter Shryock is looking to change up his treble hook selections to get more hook-ups in the 50th Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville, Ala. (Photo by James Overstreet/B.A.S.S.)

One thing is for sure about this weekend’s 50th Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville, Ala.

The world’s best bass anglers always use premium gear. The question is what will work best to win the long-standing big-money bass tournament.

But with high, dirty and cool water expected — the products of above-normal recent rainfall — it may be a challenge for pros to dial in on the lake’s famed largemouth bass this weekend.

With help from Classic qualifiers who represent Abu Garcia and Berkley, here’s a look at what the pros expect:

Bassmaster Classic Baits

John Cox: "Going to Guntersville that time of year, a lot is going to depend on the weather. Kind of cold, lots of rain — and a lot of the grass might be gone because of the current.”

Cox recently won at Sam Rayburn using the Berkley Frittside crankbait and expects to use it heavily on Lake Guntersville. If temperatures dip, he’ll go with a three-quarters-ounce Berkley Warpig lipless crankbait. "The Frittside on 15-pound-test Berkley 100-percent Fluorocarbon line is 100 percent going to be my main bait. It has the action of a balsa bait but so much more durability. These fish are likely to be slowed down some by the cooler water temperatures but the Frittside’s action is the bait to make them react.”

Hank Cherry: If he finds some clear water he expects a jerkbait bite, but the Berkley Squarebull may be his go-to Bassmaster Classic lure. If there’s a jig bite, he’ll likely go with the PowerBait MaxScent Power Chunk as a trailer. “It just makes them eat it better and it’s a great addition to a jig,” he said.

Shane Lehew: Berkley Frittside and Warpig, and possibly a 6-inch PowerBait Hollow Belly swimbait. “I definitely think the Warpig in Candy Apple Red Craw is going to be utilized around grass; if the water temperatures are cooler, a red craw pattern does really well. Plus the Warpig has great action at slower speeds. … One of my favorites, though, is the Frittside. It has a short, flat-sided wobble that goes over cover well. I expect to be using it around eel grass, hydrilla and also over rock — especially if the sun comes out and the fish start stacking up around spawning coves.”

Hunter Shryock: Berkley Frittside and Warpig. “One of the biggest players for me are going to be the Berkley Fusion19 treble hooks — I believe they are the best treble hooks I’ve ever fished. I’m going to experiment with the hooks when I get there. I’ll probably wind up with an EWG treble hook on the front and a round bend in back. This should lead to more hook-ups since there are going to be some sluggish bites if the weather doesn’t warm up between now and then.”

Mike Huff: He’ll throw a Squarebill on 8-pound flourocarbon, and possibly spinning gear for pressured bass in grass beds. “The General — I like to rig it weightless — is awesome for getting down through the grass to reach pressured fish. For the Classic, I think The General in Black Blue Fleck will be my go-to choice.”

Classic Pros

These pro bass anglers will represent Abu Garcia and/or Berkley in the 50th Bassmaster Classic. Bold-faced anglers represent both brands.

  • Brandon Card — Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Hank Cherry — Lincolnton, North Carolina
  • Brandon Cobb — Greenwood, South Carolina
  • John Cox — Debary, Florida
  • Micah Frazier — Newnan, Georgia
  • Mike Huff — Corbin, Kentucky
  • Shane Lehew — Catawba, North Carolina
  • Chad Pipkens — Lansing, Michigan
  • Hunter Shryock — New Comerstown, Ohio
  • Luke Palmer — Coalgate, Oklahoma
  • Jake Whitaker — Fairview, North Carolina
  • Jason Williamson — Wagener, South Carolina


Bassmaster Classic Gear

Cherry: If he goes with a jerkbait, he’ll throw it on a 6-10 medium Abu Garcia prototype Winch rod paired with an Abu Garcia STX baitcasting reel, which offers varying gear ratios (6.6:1 to 8.0:1). But given the predicted lake conditions, Cherry expects to spend a lot of time casting a Squarebull on a 7-0 medium-heavy Abu Garcia Veracity rod paired with an Abu Garcia STX reel.

Cox: His ultimate crankbait set-up is a 7-6 medium-heavy Abu Garcia Veritas rod paired with an Abu Garcia EXD (5.4:1) reel. “The Veritas rod can make the farthest casts I’ve ever made. The parabolic bend of the rod loads up just right and absolutely launches the bait, even the smaller Frittside crankbait."

Shryock: He’ll likely throw a Warpig, Berkley’s lipless crank, as well as the Frittside, on a 7-6 medium-heavy Veritas rod paired with an Abu Garcia EXD reel.

Abu Garcia pros feel the new Revo EXD would play a major role in their presentations during the Classic. The new reel is designed to deliver significant increases in casting distances, allowing pros to keep more distance between themselves and the fish. In addition to reducing the chances of spooking fish, which always plays in a role in the Bassmaster Classic, anglers throwing baits like crankbaits can cover more water per cast, with those longer casts leading the bait to spend more time at depths where it’s more likely to induce strikes.

Lehew said he will lean toward lower gear ratios on his reels in order to slow down in the expected cooler water. “If the water is cold like I expect it to be, you need a rod that allows a fish to get the bait in its mouth a little better,” said Lehew, who prefers the 7-6 medium-heavy Abu Garcia Veracity rod to cover lots of water.

Huff: Crankbaits on a Veracity rod, with the low-geared Abu Garcia Winch reel to a slightly faster Abu Garcia STX. For a weightless General,“I’ll use a 7-0 medium Abu Garcia Fantasista rod paired with a Revo Rocket spinning reel spooled with braid for the mainline and a fluorocarbon leader.”

Compiled from press-release info from Pure Fishing, Inc.

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