ZAPATA, Texas — Among them, they've weighed-in more than a half-ton of bass over just three tournament days on Falcon Lake.
How did the final 12 anglers in the Lone Star Shootout, presented by Longhorn, smash so many bass this week? Here's what they revealed on the take-off dock before fishing the decisive Day Four:
Aaron Martens (First,109 pounds, 8 ounces)
In leading the first three days of the tournament, Martens has been Carolina-rigging several different soft plastics: the bigger the better. He's used 8-inch Zoom lizards, big Senkos, Aaron's Magic Robo worms and 10-inch Berkley Power Worms threaded on a 6/0 Gamakatsu wide-gap hook. Color doesn't seem to matter much, but motor oil, blue fleck and watermelon candy are the ones he's favored. His reel is spooled with 65-pound test braid, and he's using a 3/4-ounce sinker with a 2 1/2- to 3-foot leader of 22-pound test Sunline Shooter monofilament line.
Mark Davis (Second, 102-1)
Davis has targeted mixed rock and gravel in 10- to 15-feet of water in ditches, Carolina-rigging "a lot of lures" — lately a Zoom 8-inch watermelon seed lizard. He's also caught fish on a 7-inch Strike King Stir Stix in green pumpkin. "Any color will work," he said, "as long as it's green." His rod is a 7 1/2-foot All Star, and he's using 20-pound test Stren fluorocarbon, which serves as both his main line and a 2 1/2- to 3-foot leader. Davis is hooking his soft plastics on a 5/0 Gamakatsu extra-wide gap.
Byron Velvick (Third, 101-12)
In pounding submerged structures in 20 to 30 feet of water, Velvick has been drowning 10-inch watermelon- and motor oil-colored Berkley Power Worms, both Texas-style and on a Carolina rig, with 50-pound test Ultracast and 25-pound test fluorocarbon, both by Berkley. He said he planned to throw a River2Sea Bottom Walker swimbait in Sunday's overcast conditions.
Scott Rook (Fourth, 95-9)
Like many of the other finalists, Rook is Carolina-rigging quite a bit, but he's also throwing a 3/4-ounce football head jig with a Berkley Power Hawg trailer. On the Carolina rig, he's using 10-inch Berkley Power Worms and Berkley Power Hawgs, weighted with either a 1 1/4- or 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight, which is key. "You can feel the bottom 10 times better with tungsten than you can with lead," Rook said. "I can feel that hard bottom when it gets in that good, chunky rock. That's when I really slow down. That's where my bites are coming." For his line, Rook has used 20-pound test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. His Carolina rig leader is made from 2 1/2 feet of 15- or 20-pound test Berkley Big Game monofilament, "instead of fluorocarbon — because it doesn't sink."
Paul Elias (Fifth, 94-13)
The crankbait king is throwing — what else? — crankbaits: a Mann's 20-plus and a Luhr Jensen Hot Lips in greenback chartreuse and brownback chartreuse color patterns. Elias has also targeted bass that are busting shad on shallow points with a Mann's C4 crankbait. Like everyone else, he's also Carolina-rigging — with a Mann's Hardnose Mosquito Hawk, a 50-pound test braid main line, a 1-ounce sinker and a 20-pound test Berkley Big Game leader.
Mike Iaconelli (Sixth, 92-1)
Ike has deployed several baits: a 1-ounce Berkley Gripper Jig with a Twin Tail trailer and a Baby E-weighted swimbait, both tilapia-colored and on a 7-foot Team Daiwa rod; and dragging "just about everything" on a Carolina rig with a 1-ounce Tru-Tungsten weight on a 7-foot, 6-inch rod. He has been unspooling 20-pound Trilene fluorocarbon line in targeting drop-offs in 20 to 40 feet of water — "migrating stops," he said, for the fish, with some object such as a tree or a rock to "focus" the fish.
Rick Morris (Seventh, 91-2)
Morris began the week flipping bushes, but switched to Texas-rigging blue fleck- and motor oil-colored Berkley Power Worms to bushes and rocks in about 20 feet of water, using RPM rods and 25- and 20-pound Berkley fluorocarbon line.
Casey Ashley (Eighth, 90-7)
Ashley's Texas-rigging an 11-inch, strawberry-colored Mister Twister worm that's no longer in production — "I've got about 2,000 of them at home," he said — on 25-pound Trilene fluorocarbon, targeting scattered trees on points 12- to 14-feet deep. He's using a 7-foot, 6-inch Fenwick flipping stick, he said, because "you've got to have some backbone on these fish."
Scott Campbell (Ninth, 89-4)
Campbell has a half-dozen building foundations, from 15 to 28 feet deep, he's been dragging worms across with 25-pound Berkley fluorocarbon — heavy line, to protect against nicks when he lands, say, that 13-pounder he boated. His rod is a 7-foot, 6-inch Fenwick Elite Tech. He's Texas-rigging a 5-inch Senko worm and a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm: blue fleck when it's overcast, and green pumpkin in the sunshine.
Ben Matsubu (10th, 89-1)
On Day Three, Matsubu's co-angler boated a 40-pound bag — and had 32 pounds before Matsubu had even caught a fish. The pro noticed his co-angler was using big baits, so Matsubu went to a modified bait he and Takahiro Omori had prepared: two 7-inch Senko worms with their ends cut, then melted together end-to-end with a cigarette lighter. The resulting 13-or-so-inch worm, Carolina-rigged to drag over rockpiles and old buildings in 25 to 30 feet of water on 20-pound Sugoi fluorocarbon at the end of a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy Powell rod, helped Matsubu jump from 23rd to 10th on Day Three.
Jason Williamson (11th, 88-5)
Williamson is targeting timber on breaks 15 to 25 feet deep using 10 1/2-inch Zoom Old Monster worms, plum-colored, and an 8-inch Zoom lizard, both Texas-style and Carolina-rigged with 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ounce Kanji tungsten weights. He's using a 7-foot, 3-inch Castaway Skeleton rod and 25-pound Berkley fluorocarbon line.
Terry Scroggins (12th, 88-0)
Scroggins has been approximately 40 feet of water, throwing worms and jigs at sharp breaks starting at nearly 20 feet deep. He's using them on a 7-foot Castaway rod with 20-pound Gamma fluorocarbon, Texas-rigging a 10-inch plum YUM worm and Carolina-rigging an 8-inch green pumpkin YUM lizard.