Sometimes things happen that make you proud. The Bull Shoals event was one of them. I’m not happy that I didn’t make the final cut, or that I didn’t win. That kind of stuff never makes me happy. However, I am happy that two of the guys who did used my baits.
The second place finisher, Britt Myers, used a Rapala DT 10 in Disco Shad to catch his bass. The winner, Brandon Palaniuk, caught his on a DT 16 in Blueback Herring. I caught mine on a DT 6 and a DT 10 in Mardi Gras.
This is a big deal for me. We spent a lot of time developing those colors and matching them to the size, action and running depth of each bait. The idea was to make something new but, at the same time, make it natural. We thought we had it but you never know for sure until other guys fish them all over and under different conditions, and especially in different colored water.
It’s a success story for Rapala and for me. It’s one thing to make or develop something and then catch a few fish with it. It’s another thing to watch other guys catch fish with that same bait. It’s a kind of validation that you can’t get any other way.
This was not a scientific test. Nor was it a testimonial from an angler who says they work. This was a real-world fishing tournament on a lake that few of us knew anything about. The best of the best used them, and they worked. How cool is that?
It gives you a real sense of pride to be at a launch and have the guy who’s leading the tournament ask you if he can borrow a few of your baits. That’s the real thing. When Brandon did that, I was almost happier than if I’d been the one catching them and running away with the tournament.
It says something about color, too. A few weeks ago we talked about color and I got a lot of response to that column. It was mixed. I stand by what I said. I’ve been around long enough to say without hesitation that color matters, reaction strike or not. The effect is subtle sometimes, and we don’t always understand it but it’s there.
I say that knowing that all three of us used a different color. But here’s the thing — they were all new and they all look realistic. That’s the common factor. Bull Shoals is a fairly clear lake with a ton of fishing pressure, pressure from anglers who know how to bass fish.
The bass in that lake probably know lure colors better than any of us do. And that’s where it matters. Natural looking baits catch fish. Yes, color — really, it’s the lure’s finish — matters. Bull Shoals proved that.
Next week we’ll talk about blueback herring and why I think that color worked so well for Brandon Palaniuk. It’s a lesson we should all learn, and never forget.