Bassmaster Classic 2010 Interview
with Jeff Kriet - Second Place Finisher
Classic 2010 Interview
Some call it the world championship. Others say it's the Super Bowl of bass
fishing. Bar none, it is the most prestigious and respected fishing title to
win. The 40th Bassmaster Classic tournament took place on Lay Lake in
Birmingham, Alabama over the weekend of February 19-21, 2010 with 51 of the
world's foremost anglers in contention.
Sebile pro-staffers Jeff
Kriet and Todd Faircloth, both using the Sebile Flatt Shad, were in the top
three for all three days, fighting fish-by-fish for the championship crown with
the #1 world-ranked Kevin VanDam. Adding to the suspense, all three anglers
staked out their turf, practically within shouting distance of each other for
the entire three days within Beeswax Creek, a side creek arm just a few minutes
from the tournament launch ramp.
This world championship
was filled with challenging fishing and a lot of suspense between the top three
players who distanced themselves from the rest of the Classic field right from
the start. The 2010 Classic proved to be largely a three man competition. The
duel between the three only served to make this Classic even more exciting than
many past ones. It's true there were other hopefuls like the indomitable Mike
Iaconelli and local expert Russ Lane hot on their heels, ready to overtake the
top three if any one of them stumbled, but Kriet, Faircloth and VanDam never
Jeff Kriet rolls in at the Classic
We talked to Jeff Kriet
from Ardmore, Oklahoma about his experience at the event. Jeff fought hard for
the crown, moving from third place on day one, taking over first place on day
two and ending in second place in the most important tournament of Kriet's
twelve plus years fishing as a Bassmaster pro, including 6 times qualifying for
the Classic. As the tournament commenced, most of the Classic field was aware
that successful fishing would require the use of lipless vibration baits as the
bass were pretty lethargic with the unseasonably cold weather in Alabama. Water
temps ranged from the low 40's at the start of the event and edged upward to the
high 40's in the late afternoon of the final day in Beeswax Creek. Mornings were
brutally cold, and many anglers started fishing with gloves on each morning.
“First of all congratulations for your strong showing at the event and thanks
for taking the time to talk about the experience. Let’s start with a little
background on yourself and your initial approach to the event.”
"I grew up fishing Toledo
and Rayburn in Texas and throwing loud rattling baits in the grass and that's
what I am used to doing," says Kriet who decided to start day one with what he's
had the most comfort throwing for so many years - a very loud, rattling lipless
crankbait. "One of the issues I faced, the color I felt that I needed to be
throwing was a specific red one, a color that I hand-paint myself. I call it
Rayburn Red and I have probably weighed in 400 pounds of bass on that color bait
in the last ten years," reveals Jeff.
"The first day of the
tournament I was throwing a rattling bait with a lot more rattles. As the water
cleared up and got clearer every day, it cleared enough that the fish got more
conditioned to the rattle. That's when the Sebile Flatt Shad really started to
shine. It is a more subtle bait, but it has probably more vibration than the
other one I was throwing. Starting on the second day of the Classic, I saw that
these fish were getting sick of that loud rattle in my hand-painted rattle
bait," observed Jeff who relied increasingly more on the subtle sound of the
Sebile Flatt Shad from that point onward.
"I think when a guy
absolutely needs to make sure he throws the Flatt Shad is on the second or third
day of a tournament or anytime that a bunch of other fishermen are throwing
rattling lipless crankbaits, that's when the Flatt Shad really, really shines,"
according to Jeff.
"As the water cleared up
some on day two, I caught some on the straight white Flatt Shad (Q2 White Lady).
I also threw the Holo Greenie (D9), one of my favorite Sebile colors. Late in
the final day three, the water got even clearer, and I put on the translucent
Blood Red Amber which emits a gold shad-like flash in stained water," says Jeff.
Jeff brings his fish up to weigh
"I was fishing the depth
contour lines, kind of the outside break line for a big flat with a couple of
ridges that ran out off the flat, and I was following the contour. I was trying
to keep my boat out in 5-1/2 to 6 foot, and most of the fish I was catching were
anywhere from probably three foot on out to the boat. I was always trying to
fish the Flatt Shad within coontail grass, and most of the better fish were on
the edge of the grass on the sides of those ridges where the depth broke. Some
of them were moving up onto the flat, but all the big ones seemed to be hanging
on the edges." The Flatt Shad model he chose for the shallow 3-6 foot depths
that Jeff fished during the Classic was the Flatt Shad 66 SK, half-ounce sinking
"The way I caught them, I
wasn't just throwing it out and reeling with it. I was throwing it out and
letting it sink to the bottom. Then I was fishing it almost like a jig. I was
trying to let the bait hang in the grass, and then I really didn't even want to
jerk it out of the grass. I just wanted to pull it out of the grass and let it
fall back in. That was the big deal to generate strikes," reveals Kriet.
"The way I was doing it is
probably different than most other guys. I was keeping my rod probably at ten
o'clock. If I was winding it in normally, I would have my rod almost pointed at
the water, but the way I was worming it, because the water was so cold, winding
wasn't the deal for me. So I would keep my rod up fairly high and at times raise
it to almost twelve o'clock and then I would lower the rod and let the bait
"The best is when you can
just ease it on through that grass and pull it through clean. When I got hung in
the grass, I can feel the Flatt Shad stop vibrating, and any time your bait
quits vibrating, you either have a fish or you've got grass hung on your bait.
If there's grass on the bait, no fish is going to hit it like that, so that's
when I snap my rod a couple times to try to tear the grass off the bait, and
then once I have snapped it and get that grass off it, I can immediately feel
the bait go back to emitting its normal, clean vibration again, and that's when
I immediately let the Flatt Shad fall right back down."
"When I feel that grass,
and it's bogging down and I know I am balling the grass, I'll put my rod in a
little lower position and put a little slack in my line and pop it real quick a
couple of times and generally, that will pop it free, and that is what you want,
when you tear it out of the grass, you want it to come clean. What you do not
want to do is just pull straight and steady. All that does, that just balls more
grass on it, but if you put a little slack in your line and pop it, and put a
little slack in your line immediately after that first pop, all that grass will
kind of fall off during that little slack moment, and the second pop gets it
clean again. That's when you get a lot of bites too."
"It's like when a car gets
stuck in the mud, and you put a tow rope on to help pull it out, you have to
kind of start out with a slack line, you pop it out and the line ends up slack
again. Now, don't go trying to jerk a stuck pick-up truck out of a ditch based
on that simple allegory, but do try it when your Flatt Shad hangs in grass. It
works! I was throwing the Flatt Shad on 15 lb test fluorocarbon line.
Fluorocarbon has a little less stretch, and I was throwing on a medium heavy rod
which helps pop it loose."
"The deal for me in the
Classic was that the bigger fish seemed like they bit it one of two ways. They
would either just slack line it. They'd just take it in and it'd throw slack in
your line when that happened - or I'd be pulling that bait and it would start to
load up just like it was in grass, and I'd lean back, not sure whether it was
grass or not, and then I'd actually have one. That was really how the bigger
fish came. Most of the smaller fish would thump it; I'd pull it out of the grass
and I'd feel them just thump it. Whenever I wasn't sure, I'd just lean into the
rod, just start reeling and lean back. Even the small ones that bit it good,
that's what I'd do, just reel hard and lean. If you get to jerking to make the
hookset with a bait like that, you'll miss a lot of hits, actually pull it away
from them if you jerk on them. The hooks are so good on the Flatt Shad, you
don't need to do that. It's best to just lean into them while cranking the reel
handle pretty hard."
"Especially early in the
morning, it was so cold, the fish were almost buried down in the mud and the
grass, they didn't want to bite at all. They were in a bad mood and it was a
very tough, grinding tournament. I had key angles on the sides of these ridges,
and I caught about 75% of my fish when I threw on these same angles. I would
make 70 or 80 throws on that same angle for every bite I got. One thing the
everyday angler doesn't realize is that the presentation angle always matters
whether deep or shallow, the angle you pull the bait past the fish does a lot to
determine whether it will bite. There is always a key angle to your cover or
structure. I never caught a fish in three days if I was off the angle nor did I
catch one in three days throwing on top of the ridge. I always caught them by
throwing across it from the side, whether I was coming from the deeper water up
on top or when it fell off, back down the edge."
A strong finish with fish taken on
the Sebile Flatt Shad
"The ridges I was
concentrating on were only about a 1/2 to a foot difference in depth on the
outside edges of these ridges, just a real subtle change, but on these ridges
there were some stumps and the grass on top of the ridge was sparser. There was
thicker coontail grass on the sides, but it seems like, for the fish I was
catching, that the best sections for me were the edges where you had scattered,
patchy grass seemed to be the deal."
"One reason I was working
the bait the way I was, worming it through the grass, was to make contact with
those stumps and when I'd hit a stump, I'd just raise the rod, and I would crawl
the bait over the stump and as soon as I got over the stump, I'd let the bait
fall back down in front of that stump. That's how a lot of the bites came."
“Is there anything else you would like to add about the baits you were using?”
"The thing about Sebile
baits that I like the most is that most of the lures have several different
applications, there are lots of different ways to fish them, and the Flatt Shad
proved very versatile to do everything I needed from it during the Classic."
“Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us about the event and the tactics
you employed and once again congratulations on your strong finish.”
Read about Pro Angler
Todd Faircloth's third place finish and his own experience with the Flatt Shad
Looking for the Sebile Flatt Shad? Try