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Five Must-Have Bass Lures

Ever wonder if your tackle box has everything you need to catch bass? At times, we buy more and more and think we’re improving our arsenal, but more is not always better. We asked TFO’s Dakota Jones for his opinion on his top-five bass lures. Here’s what the accomplished guide had to say about his choice of go-to lures.

Stick Bait

Look in any bass angler’s tackle box, odds are you will find at least one bag of Senkos or similar brand of this popular soft plastic. A stick bait is simply a straight soft-plastic worm with a thick body. Most anglers rig this bait weightless or weedless, but it is commonly used on wacky rigs, Texas rigs and countless other tackle configurations that require a soft plastic bait. Simplicity and versatility make this bait such a bass-catching machine. Rigged weightless, wacky style or weedless, the stickbait is a go-to in shallow water around docks, stumps, grass edges and laydowns. The Temple Fork Outfitters GTS C 735-1 casting rod is ideal for soft plastics such as a stick bait in and around cover. The 7.3 Medium Heavy will cast a weightless plastic effortlessly and accurately, but still has the power to fight and land bass living in the thick stuff. If light line is a necessity, the Temple Fork Outfitters Pacemaker TPM SP 705-1 spinning rod is a great choice for wacky rigged stick baits.

Football Jig

When bass live in deep water, it can be hard to beat a football jig. This style jig has an oval-shaped head, resembling a football, hence the name. Not surprisingly, it can maneuver through heavy cover, especially rocks, without snagging. Size and weight may vary, but a common choice among deep-water bassers is a ¾-ounce Football Jig and soft plastic craw shape trailer. Most fish a football jig in deep-water around rock piles, ledges or brush. The Temple Fork Outfitters TFG PSC 706-1 is a perfect match for dragging these big jigs around deep structure. With a medium-fast action the Professional Series 7-0’ Heavy will sling a jig across the lake! In addition, the TFO Professional Series is an affordable option, retailing at $99.95.

Spinnerbait

One of the oldest lures still widely used by bass fishermen today, the spinnerbait is no doubt one of the best bass catchers. Made up of multiple blades spinning on a v-shaped wire with a silicone skirt, a spinnerbait can range in size, color and shape, depending on the conditions. Although the spinnerbait can be fished in any water column and around any sort of cover, most anglers prefer to use this bait in shallow water. The Temple Fork Outfitters Pacemaker TPM SB 705-1 and 726-1 were designed by 2013 Bassmaster Classic Champion, Cliff Pace, specifically for fishing Spinnerbaits. The 7-0 Medium Heavy rod is perfectly suited for casting a spinnerbait in tight quarters. The 7-2 Heavy Model was built with bigger baits in mind, even deep-water applications. Both rods are designed with a spinnerbait action that will cast with ease.

Square Bill Crankbait

The 4×4 of all bass baits, the Square Bill is a standby for every bass angler. Easy to recognize with its short square-shaped bill, most Square Bills have two treble hooks and are designed to plow through heavy cover —- shallow rocks, stumps or laydown trees. The square-shape design allows the crankbait to deflect off cover rather than roll over and snag like a bait with a round- shaped bill would. A Temple Fork Outfitters Pacemaker TPM CB 704-1 is the perfect match for fishing Square Bill cranks around shallow cover. Its long, slow action will increase your odds of hooking and landing bass in any situation.

The Whopper Plopper

This offering started a phenomenon in the bass fishing world almost overnight: Larry Dahlberg’s Whopper Plopper is now a must-have for any hardcore bass angler. This topwater–buzz bait/walking bait hybrid has been catching loads of big bass across the country the past two years. Fish it over grass, around boat docks, bluff walls or shallow points. The Whopper Plopper is an extremely versatile topwater bait that can cover water fast. The retrieve can be as simple as cast and reel it in or add some pauses to mix it up. The 130 size is most popular among bass anglers, but is also available in sizes 90 and 110. Monofilament or braided line is best. We recommend our Professional Series PSC 765-1 casting rod for the 130-size plopper. Rod length is the key to control at long distances. If you have yet to fish a Whopper Plopper, you may be missing out on the action! Larry, by the way, is a TFO advisory staffer.

Dahlberg Headed to IGFA Hall of Fame

Larry Dahlberg has caught more big fish than just about anyone in angling history. For nearly 25 years, the host of The Hunt for Big Fish has scoured the globe for everything from Nile River Perch to Suriname Catfish.

As it turns out, Dahlberg will need to take a break from his angling odyssey in a few weeks for a visit to Springfield, Mo., when he will be inducted into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame.

“I am,” said Dahlberg, “overwhelmed and humbled.”

Dahlberg received the news last spring by mail via a formal IGFA induction letter to his Taylors Falls, Minn. residence. The TFO national advisory staffer joins fellow inductees Rick Clunn (four-time Bassmaster Classic winner), Peter Fithian (Hawaiian Billfish Tournament founder), Mike Levitt (white marlin world-record holder) and Eric Prince (billfish biologist). All are part of the IGFA’s 19th hall-of-fame class, which will be officially introduced on Oct. 28.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a bunch of really good anglers,” Dahlberg said during a phone interview last week. “Some are well known and some are unknown. You pick up a little bit from each one of them. I was born in a tiny town of 931 people in a little backwater of Wisconsin. I never had any plans to leave the county. I had everything I needed 15 miles from where I was standing. Now it’s been 50, 60 years, and I’ve been to 87 countries and it’s been just a blur. I’m in disbelief of a whole lot of things, actually. How did I get so old? Where did all the time go?”

Equally adept with a baitcaster, fly rod or spinning reel, Dahlberg is best known for his TV show, The Hunt for Big Fish, which has been on the air since the early 1990s. He also has invented a number of lures and flies and is perhaps best known for designing the Dahlberg Diver.

“Larry’s lifelong commitment to growing the body of fishing knowledge and then sharing it, has significantly benefitted anglers and the growth of our sport globally,” Temple Fork CEO Frank-Paul King said.

Dahlberg is the fourth TFO staffer to receive IGFA Hall-of-Fame honors. The other three are Lefty Kreh (2003), Gary Loomis (2007) and Flip Pallot (2015).

“Larry rightly joins Lefty, Flip and Gary as IGFA Hall of Famers, not for what they’ve done, but for what they’ve shared,” King said of Dahlberg, who helped develop the series of TFO Big Fish rods. “For 22 years, TFO’s mission has been making more anglers good for the good of the sport and as a result, there’s a piece of each one of them in every rod we make. For this reason, we are extremely humbled and proud to call them our heroes, mentors and friends.”

The IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame recognizes significant achievements in recreational fishing around the world by anglers, captains, scientists, conservationists, writers and fishing-industry leaders. The first class, honoring 29 of the sport’s greats, was inducted in 1998. Since then, 81 anglers have been welcomed at the annual induction ceremony in October of each year.