Hamner’s win causes BaitFuel products to sell out; Classic Expo creates usual tackle rush

TULSA, Okla. — For more than a half century, there has been no better commercial for a fishing lure or accessory than an angler using it to win the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.

That’s certainly been the case for BaitFuel’s new Hardbait Stick since Alabama pro Justin Hamner used it last week to help him win the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

“We have completely sold out of the initial inventory of the BaitFuel Hardbait Stick and are going into accelerated manufacturing of the product ASAP,” said Matt Massey, chief marketing officer of American Baitworks, makers of BaitFuel. “Between Justin’s performance at Lake Fork a few weeks ago and his World Championship win at the Bassmaster Classic for the entire BaitFuel product line.”

The Hardbait Sticks, which provide a little extra burst of scent to jerkbait to entice finicky fish into biting, got the best publicity possible on Bassmaster LIVE during the Classic.

Time and again, Hamner would have multiple bass obviously following his jerkbait on forward-facing sonar without committing. But once he paused and used the BaitFuel Hardbait Stick to add scent, his next cast usually resulted in a bite.

“I was really hoping they got that on LIVE when it was happening,” said Hamner, who won the Classic after opening the Bassmaster Elite Series season with a 14th-place finish at Toledo Bend Reservoir and a third-place showing at Fork. He caught 124 pounds, 10 ounces at Fork, earning one of the coveted century belts awarded to anglers who catch at least 100 pounds of bass in a four-day event.

The Classic-driven rush on an item like the BaitFuel Hardbait Stick has been common through the years, happening with items like the “Do-Nothing Worm” used by Alabama’s Jack Chancellor to win the 1985 Classic on the Arkansas River and the Strike King “Wild Thang” soft plastic used by Kevin VanDam to win the 2001 event on the Louisiana Delta.

Besides the rush created by the Classic winner, manufacturers in recent years have seen an explosion in sales of baits featured at the annual Classic Outdoors Expo. This year, one of the hotter spots on the Expo floor was the Swimbait Universe booth operated by Wayne Campbell.

The Facebook-hosted group that now has 40,000 members sold every swimbait it brought to the Cox Business Convention Center in Tulsa — with lines waiting every day they opened.

“The first day of the event, there were literally grown men running to find where we were,” Campbell said. “From there, which item was hottest just kind of depended on the day. I guess two of the brands that sold the fast were LFOD out of New Hampshire — that’s an abbreviation that stands for their state motto, which is “Live Free or Die — and then Pizz Swimbaits, which are probably the most commercially known baits that we had at the booth.”