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Classic Notes: Borrowed Tackle, Rubber Skirts, and Boat Polish

Gerald Swindle

Amid the glamour and $500,0000 first place prize of bass fishing's biggest event is a strong dose of camaraderie, simplicity, and elbow grease.

You'd swear these anglers would sit separately, hiding secret lures from one another. Instead, Terry "Big Show" Scroggins was urging his Toyota teammate Gerald Swindle to root around in his Triton’s rear deck dry storage compartment to get whatever worm weights or jigs Gerald needed to be better ready for Day 1 of competition on Friday morning.

And speaking of lures, no, there's no Voodoo magic among the world’s best bass anglers. The notion that pros are privileged to use lures the weekend amateur angler can't get is a foolish one. In fact, Casey Ashley was taking a step back in time toward simplicity in the form of old skool spinnerbaits featuring rubber skirts with unpainted lead heads he makes in his garage.

"You don't need paint on your spinnerbait head to catch a bass," said Ashley, who's fishing his fourth Classic in just five years on tour. "I've just always fished with plain old living rubber skirts and unpainted heads; I guess it's a confidence thing," said Ashley, who like VanDam, and other Quantum pros, typically chooses a mid-range 6.6:1 reel to cast his spinnerbaits on.

Speaking of VanDam, with $5.6 million dollars in career prize winnings, and four Bassmaster Classic championships to his credit, in the final hours leading up to his hunt for Classic title number five, and $500,000 more, there he was sweating in Shreveport’s sunshine.

Fourteen hours before the first cast of his 22nd Classic, KVD was wiping on one last layer of boat wax in an effort to make his sponsor’s equipment look as good as possible, and to keep his professionalism at the pinnacle it constantly resides at, even on the eve of bass fishing's biggest event.