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Event Article

2009 Bassmaster Classic Expo Coverage: Part 2

Date: 3/01/09
Location: Shreveport, Louisiana: Red River
Event: Bassmaster Classic 2009
Reviewer: Pete Robbins

Introduction: I arrived in Shreveport for the Bassmaster Classic expecting meager crowds and light spending, but had I not known anything about the state of the economy, I would have left Louisiana assuming that we were in the midst of a financial boom. Crowds lined up an hour before the show opened, and could be seen tailgating in the Coliseum parking lot across the river several hours before the beginning of the weigh-in. Perhaps more significantly, people were spending money.


In addition to the abundant freebies, there were far more booths selling tackle and accessories than there were last year in Greenville, South Carolina. At last year’s show, Tackle Warehouse had a major presence, as did Dick’s Sporting Goods. This year, Dick’s was there and Bass Tackle Depot had a booth comparable in size to TW’s 2008 booth, but additionally there were a wealth of smaller vendors, and fans could be seen leaving the convention center carrying rods, swimbaits, clothing and all other manners of fishing-related paraphernalia.


I came to the Classic from five days of fishing at Falcon Lake in South Texas, so I had big baits and heavy tackle in mind, and I wasn’t disappointed. Perhaps owing to the nature of the Red River and the other local fisheries, full-on “Bubba” gear was abundant. Certainly there were finesse-oriented items available, but they were far overshadowed by large plastics, some swimbaits and other power-fishing items.


There wasn’t necessarily anything new – after all, the fishing industry has never seen a wheel that it didn’t want to reinvent – but there was a focus on high-end equipment. That may be surprising, since money is tight in many quarters, but apparently people want to spend their hard-earned dollars on the best of the best.


The two trends which seemed most evident, and which were certainly not mutually exclusive, were (1) fans wanted the same equipment their idols use on the water; and (2) enthusiast-styled items have become more mainstream. With that in mind, the following summary details some of the more noteworthy items that I saw:


Classic Champion Skeet Reese’s booth sold Lucky Craft products in new colors attributed to Reese himself


Hard Baits, Swimbaits and Spinnerbaits: Perhaps the best example of pro-influenced gear was the fact that eventual winner Skeet Reese had his own booth at the Expo, in conjunction with Monster Fishing Tackle, where they sold Reese-endorsed products including the Lucky Craft Redemption spinnerbait that played a huge role in his victory. Additionally, he had new colors – Crack and Gun Metal Shad – for BDS series crankbaits. Along with the Gary Dobyns signature colors, this seemingly represents a break for Lucky Craft USA. In the past, the company had non-signature names and colors for their products, but after making the transition in naming baits (signature series lures for Marty Stone, Rick Clunn, Skeet Reese, Kelly Jordon and Gerald Swindle), now they’ve also crossed over in terms of colors. Their timing couldn’t have been any better – I’m guessing that anything with Reese’s name attached to it is going to sell like crazy in 2009.


The Strike King Sexy Swimmer is set for release later this spring


Strike King, a company which has substantially expanded their hard bait selection in the past few years, also had a large booth. Fans crowded around SK pros like Denny Brauer and Kevin VanDam to get autographs, including autographed Series 5 crankbaits in the color KVD made famous, Sexy Shad. Additionally, the company had the first half dozen or so production models of their Sexy Swimmer, a lure which resembles the Sebile Magic Swimmer. Most of the SK pros surveyed had not fished the lure and therefore declined to comment on it, but release to the general public is expected in the next few months, in time for the blueback bite on southeastern lakes.


Strike King pro James Niggemeyer gets his first look at the Sexy Swimmer.  SK’s Chris Brown brought the first six production models to the show


The company that may have made the biggest splash off the water was Shreveport’s own Laser Lure, which signed Boyd Duckett (day one leader) and Mike Iaconelli (eventual second place finisher) prior to the Classic. LL’s Mike Lopez demonstrated that the lure emits a bright intermittent light when both contacts on its belly hit the water, which he claimed triggers strikes. Iaconelli credited their crankbait with part of his Classic catch. The company also makes a topwater popper and a jerkbait.


Mike Lopez of Laser Lure was a busy man during Classic week and was represented by Mike Iaconelli and Boyd Duckett


A head-on shot of the Laser Lure crankbait


Jackall Lures had a booth of their own, in addition to a sizeable presence in the Bass Tackle Depot display. Their showpiece was the new Swimming Ninja swimbait, a prototype of which Kota Kiriyama used to make the final day cut at Amistad early last year. While a swimbait was not expected to play a major role in the tournament’s outcome, clearly their appeal has not died down in the middle of the country – various other companies introduced or displayed their own versions.


 Jackall’s Ty Ono with the new Swimming Ninja


Grant Olguin of Black Dog Custom Baits had a selection of both wood and injection-molded plastic Lunker Punkers, as well as Shellcrackers, with and without bills. But for this already high-end niche product, the biggest news was the announcement that they will be working with Japan’s Vagabond tackle company to produce a special series of Punkers. So in addition to Jeremy Anderson’s works of art, there will now be additional patterns to add to your arsenal.


The collaboration between Vagabond and Black Dog promises to produce limited-edition baits that will eventually become collector’s items.  Fish them if you dare

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