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Tackle makers dreaming of Bassmaster Classic fame and fortune


The Bassmaster Classic gets underway today, with just about every major tackle manufacturer hoping that the eventual winner will have used their products to help land US fishing’s most sought-after prize.

An avalanche of media will follow this weekend’s huge event, much of it from manufacturers who know that success at the Classic can boost sales like nothing else.

Rods, reels, line and sonar equipment used by the champion will prompt a marketing frenzy, but it is probably the winning lure or lures that will send most consumers rushing to the tackle shops.

Older bass fans will recall how Jack Chancellor’s win in 1985 helped make the Carolina Rig one of the biggest selling lures in history.

So what type of lure is going to win the Classic? There’s not a definitive answer, because the venue, the conditions and the time of year all have a crucial part to play, but it’s interesting to note that of the previous 52 Classics, 24 have been won with diving crankbaits, 18 with plastic worms, 18 with spinners, 15 with jigs and trailers and six with soft plastics (note: some winners used more than one bait).

From a brand perspective, Strike King currently leads with nine wins, followed by Berkley six, Bagley five, Cotton Cordell five, Mann’s five, Zoom five, Bomber four and Luck ‘E’ Strike four.

Just outside of the top eight is the lesser known Ditto manufacturing company, whose Gator Tail Worm accounted for three wins in the Eighties.

Whichever lure ‘wins’ this year’s Classic on the Tennessee River, it’s a safe bet that many among the event’s huge audience will flock to the Classic Expo to buy one – or more –  of their own. The Expo has become a huge part of the Classic weekend in recent years and is now one of the biggest tackle shows in the industry.

This year’s Expo takes place in the Knoxville Convention Center and the World’s Fair Exhibition Centre where all available space is sold out. Companies and brands among the 200-plus exhibitors include Humminbird, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Academy Sport + Outdoors, AFTCO, Costa, Daiwa, Garmin, Johnson Outdoors, Lowrance, Mustad, Okuma, Rather Outdoors, Shimano, Simms, Sportsman’s Warehouse, SPRO, St. Croix and a raft of boat brands.

“This year’s Expo will be the biggest ever,” Bassmaster CEO Chase Anderson told Angling International this morning. “We had the fastest sign-ups ever as well.  The Expo is the biggest driver of attendance at the Bassmaster Classic. 

“We are working with the City of Knoxville and Visit Knoxville to break the previously set attendance record. We expect huge crowds this weekend and an outstanding event.”

The last Classic held at Knoxville in 2019 drew a then record crowd of 153,809, but that was eclipsed by last year’s event on Lake Hartwell, Greenville, South Carolina, which attracted an attendance of 154,932.

• Statistics and other information courtesy of Ken Duke, Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer

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