From college to the Classic

For the second year, the College B.A.S.S. champion will be part of the Bassmaster Classic field. But this year, another 2013 Classic competitor can trace at least part of his success to College B.A.S.S.

Albert Collins won the Toyota Tundra Weekend Series Championship on Sam Rayburn Reservoir earlier this month to earn the 53rd and final spot in next year's Classic at Oklahoma's Grand Lake. One of the primary lures Collins used in catching his 86.56-pound four-day total was a 6th Sense Custom Lures Crush 300DD deep diving crankbait.

That lure can be traced to the 2005 SmashMouth College B.A.S.S. national championship, as it was called then. The winners were Casey Sobczak and Jonathan Garrie of Stephen F. Austin University. Their winnings included an airbrush and lure-painting kit.

"The (6th Sense) lure business started with that airbrush," said Scobczak, now 29. "The kit had it all. It was great. We didn't need to buy anything."

Before Scobczak and Garrie went back home to Texas after the win, Elite Series pro Scott Rook showed them how to use the lure-painting kit in an episode of the TV series BassTech.

Sobczak says he's always had interest in being an entrepreneur. Before graduating with a business and marketing degree from SFA in 2007, Sobczak earned spending money by buying and reselling various items on E-Bay.

"After awhile, I got good with that lure kit and started painting them for my buddies, the college B.A.S.S. club members and their dads," Sobczak said. "People were wanting to pay for them, so I decided to list one on E-Bay. It sold for 20-something dollars. That's when I knew there was some profit to be made in this.

"E-Bay really grew my business. I was selling three or four a week, then 20 a week, then 50 a week. By the time I graduated, it was a full-time business."

Garrie and Sobczak helped build the reputation of the 300DD crankbait with tournament winnings, mostly at Rayburn.

"I think it has probably won over $250,000 now," Sobczak said.The Crush 300DD

But as the business grew, Sobczak saw his fishing time shrink. While preparing for his first booth an the annual ICAST fishing tackle manufacturers trade show this year, Sobczak endured "a lot of 12-hour days," he said.

Sobczak recently had the concrete foundation slab poured for a new Sixth Sense Custom Lure Company 2,400-square-foot headquarters. It is located seven miles from Lake Conroe on Highway 45.

Sobczak and Collins, a 49-year-old plumber from Nacogdoches, Texas, were once members of the same local bass fishing club.

"When I heard that he'd won, I thought that no one deserves it more than Albert Collins," Sobczak said. "He's one of the greatest guys I've had the privilege to meet."

It appears the feeling is mutual.

"Casey has been a good friend," Collins said. "Like me, he's a working guy trying to get his feet on the ground in this bass fishing world. I love his crankbaits. He's real nitpicky about anything he does."

Collins used a handful of baits in winning the Weekend Series at Rayburn, including some big plastic worms. But the majority of his bass were caught on two deep-diving crankbaits - 6th Sense Crush 300DDs in a chartreuse threadfin pattern and Norman DD22s in Tennessee shad colors.

"I was rotating two crankbaits," said Collins. "I really think that made a difference. I was able to catch fish on both of them. But I caught a couple of extra fish in my primary areas on the 300DD, and they were some of my bigger fish.

"Usually, the first two or three you catch in one spot are your best fish. But the (300DD) seemed to make a difference after the fish had been pressured. I could usually catch a couple more fish on it.

"It makes a little different sound than any other crankbait I've got. It's not overwhelming."

Casey Sobczak shows off his company's lures at ICAST 2012While it was lure-painting that got Sobczak into this business, that wasn't where his attention to detail stopped. The faint sound made by the rattles in the Crush 300DD and Crush 50X square-bills is no accident.

"I think sound is everything in a lake like Rayburn, where the visibility might be two or three feet," Sobczak said. "I think too much spooks the school, especially if they've been pressured."

Sobczak has been working with overseas manufacturers as his business has grown to include swimbaits, jigheads, swivels and split rings – all the items associated with the Alabama Rig craze.

"I still do some painting," Sobczak said. "But now I'm concentrating on the big picture."

Like his friend Albert Collins, Sobczak plans to be at the Bassmaster Classic Feb. 22-24 in Tulsa.

"I've got three new (lure) models coming out at the Classic," Sobczak said.

 Undoubtedly, Collins will have a few of them in his tackle box when he makes his first appearance in bass fishing's biggest event.

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