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One brand, three winners. How bait company cleaned up at top kayak tournament


The first and third placed anglers at the recent Hobie Tournament of Champions, plus the winner of the Angler of the Year title, all had one thing in common – they used the same brand of lure.

Winner, Ryan Lambert (above), threw Z-Man SlingBladeZ spinner baits and Ned-rigged Big TRDs to earn a $30k championship payday on the upper end of the Tennessee River at Knoxville.Kristine Fischer meanwhile slow-rolled a Z-Man MinnowZ, changing to Z-Man Shaky HeadZ and Turbo CrawZ baits when the bite slowed, to clinch third place.

“The SlingBladeZ is such a stable, balanced spinnerbait—ideal for strong flows,” said Lambert. “The tandem willow-Colorado blade was key in the stained water, providing extra flash and thump at the same time. And I’m a big fan of Z-Man’s Mag ShroomZ and a Big TRD. The Mag ShroomZ has a heavier duty hook, perfect for river Ned Rigging.”

And it was another Z-Man pro, Drew Gregory, who became Hobie Angler of the Year (AOY) when he used his ProjectZ Chatterbait and a SlingBladeZ spinnerbait. Gregory, who was seventh on the day, receives an automatic invitation to the Hobie Worlds.

“I can’t describe how winning the AOY feels because I still can’t believe it!” said Gregory (left). “I thought I’d have to win the TOC to also win AOY! Being consistent is every angler’s goal because we know it’s not realistic to win every tournament.

“So, for me to come into this trail with only three regular season events left and go 4th, 1st, 4th and then 7th to win AOY is the consistency that the award was meant for. I just can’t believe that I’m the one who did it!”

The tournament, part of the Hobie Bass open Series (BOS), is decided by total length of fish caught, with Lambert scoring 186.25 ins and Fischer amassing 172 ins.

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