Inside Elite Boats

Inside Elite Boats: Dean Rojas

Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., had one of the better seasons of his professional bass fishing career in 2015, finishing third in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., had one of the better seasons of his professional bass fishing career in 2015, finishing third in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
Rojas had three Top 10 finishes in 2015, including a fourth-place showing at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on South Carolina's Lake Hartwell. He was the Day 1 leader of that event with 21 pounds, 2 ounces.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas had three Top 10 finishes in 2015, including a fourth-place showing at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on South Carolina's Lake Hartwell. He was the Day 1 leader of that event with 21 pounds, 2 ounces.
Rojas's stellar season took place in a Skeeter FX-20 powered by a Yamaha 250 SHO.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas's stellar season took place in a Skeeter FX-20 powered by a Yamaha 250 SHO.
His trolling motor of choice is a Motorguide 109. Rojas uses its for all the basic trolling purposes - and during the 1015 Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Guntersville, he used the motor to clear pollen from the water's surface so he could see spawning fish along the shoreline.
Photo: Seigo Saito - His trolling motor of choice is a Motorguide 109. Rojas uses its for all the basic trolling purposes - and during the 1015 Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Guntersville, he used the motor to clear pollen from the water's surface so he could see spawning fish along the shoreline.
On his front deck, Rojas uses a single Lowrance HDS-9 graph unit.
Photo: Seigo Saito - On his front deck, Rojas uses a single Lowrance HDS-9 graph unit.
On tournament day, Rojas says he carries no fewer than 15 rods in his left locker. The number is usually somewhere between 18 and 20.
Photo: Seigo Saito - On tournament day, Rojas says he carries no fewer than 15 rods in his left locker. The number is usually somewhere between 18 and 20.
Rojas is one of the top frog fishermen on the planet. So it should come as no surprise that his two favorite setups are frogging rods - a 7-foot, medium-heavy and a 7-foot, 4-inch heavy. Both rods are from the Terex line by Duckett Fishing.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas is one of the top frog fishermen on the planet. So it should come as no surprise that his two favorite setups are frogging rods - a 7-foot, medium-heavy and a 7-foot, 4-inch heavy. Both rods are from the Terex line by Duckett Fishing.
Rojas carries a tremendous arsenal of the frogs he designed for SPRO. He uses boxes made by Flambeau and Plano.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas carries a tremendous arsenal of the frogs he designed for SPRO. He uses boxes made by Flambeau and Plano.
The SPRO Poppin' Frog is one of Rojas's greatest creations.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The SPRO Poppin' Frog is one of Rojas's greatest creations.
So is the SPRO Bronzeye Frog.
Photo: Seigo Saito - So is the SPRO Bronzeye Frog.
Just because they're called
Photo: Seigo Saito - Just because they're called "frogs" doesn't mean they're colored to look like the old greenish-brown bullfrogs people are so used to seeing.
Name a color pattern, and Rojas has got it.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Name a color pattern, and Rojas has got it.
Rojas keeps all of his hooks and sinkers in a storage compartment near his console.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas keeps all of his hooks and sinkers in a storage compartment near his console.
He only uses Gamakatsu hooks.
Photo: Seigo Saito - He only uses Gamakatsu hooks.
The storage compartment near the console also holds some soft plastics, like these from Big Bite Baits.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The storage compartment near the console also holds some soft plastics, like these from Big Bite Baits.
More hooks and sinkers keep Rojas ready for any situation.
Photo: Seigo Saito - More hooks and sinkers keep Rojas ready for any situation.
A wide selection of colors helps Rojas pair the perfect trailer with any bait he's using.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A wide selection of colors helps Rojas pair the perfect trailer with any bait he's using.
The Fighting Frog from Big Bite Baits is one of Rojas's favorites.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The Fighting Frog from Big Bite Baits is one of Rojas's favorites.
Seriously, the big man likes frogs.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Seriously, the big man likes frogs.
In the right locker, Rojas carries life jackets and hats.
Photo: Seigo Saito - In the right locker, Rojas carries life jackets and hats. "I keep my hats in a box whenever possible to keep them nice and clean," he said. "I keep my life jackets in there, along with spare towels, a spare trolling motor, some hook boxes - any kind of terminal tackle I might need for any situation I’m faced with."
You'll always find a spinnerbait box or two in the right locker.
Photo: Seigo Saito - You'll always find a spinnerbait box or two in the right locker.
Like he said, as one of the best-dressed anglers on tour, Rojas's hats always stay nice and clean.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Like he said, as one of the best-dressed anglers on tour, Rojas's hats always stay nice and clean.
Since it's impossible to make a living without a trolling motor, Rojas carries a spare in the right locker. Sooner or later, every professional angler needs to change on the fly.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Since it's impossible to make a living without a trolling motor, Rojas carries a spare in the right locker. Sooner or later, every professional angler needs to change on the fly.
Rojas keeps the inside lids of his terminal tackle boxes marked for easy access.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas keeps the inside lids of his terminal tackle boxes marked for easy access. "This way, I can just look at the lid and know exactly what I'm reaching for," he said. "That makes it easier to do my job."
Rojas's day box usually holds a miscellaneous assortment of items he's not likely to use during the tournament. Much of it is equipment he's already used in practice.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas's day box usually holds a miscellaneous assortment of items he's not likely to use during the tournament. Much of it is equipment he's already used in practice.
In January 2001, Rojas set the all-time B.A.S.S. record for heaviest five-fish limit with five bass from Lake Toho that weighed 45 pounds, 2 ounces. He went on to win the tournament with 108-12. After that, a special measuring stick was made for him that now never leaves his boat.
Photo: Seigo Saito - In January 2001, Rojas set the all-time B.A.S.S. record for heaviest five-fish limit with five bass from Lake Toho that weighed 45 pounds, 2 ounces. He went on to win the tournament with 108-12. After that, a special measuring stick was made for him that now never leaves his boat. "It was custom made for me for the record weight," he said. "I know that the measuring stick is a little bigger. Its measurements are about a fifteenth of an inch bigger just to make sure that I cannot bring in a short fish. If it makes it on that board, I know I have a legal fish. It goes into every single new boat I have."
A successful career has helped Rojas build an impressive list of big-name sponsors, all of which are represented on the deck of his Skeeter.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A successful career has helped Rojas build an impressive list of big-name sponsors, all of which are represented on the deck of his Skeeter.
Rojas uses the small box in front of the passenger seat as his
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas uses the small box in front of the passenger seat as his "dry box." "That's where I keep my spare sunglasses, my phone, my wallet and my cleaner that cleans my Lowrance screens. It's also where I keep general information on my registration, my insurance - everything I would need to be legal on the water."
Rojas used his sharp ride to start 2015 with five straight finishes in the Top 20.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas used his sharp ride to start 2015 with five straight finishes in the Top 20.
Rojas runs a Lowrance HDS-12 on his console.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas runs a Lowrance HDS-12 on his console. "Obviously, I use that one a lot for navigation," he said. "Then I use the structure scan. I use that along with side imaging. I can use a split screen with as many as four screens at one time. If I’m gonna be fishing deep water on Kentucky Lake, like a ridge type thing, or fishing for smallmouth, it becomes very important. All of the tools of the HDS make it so much easier to do my job.
The typical cooler filled with drinks and snacks.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The typical cooler filled with drinks and snacks.
Behind his driver’s seat, Rojas keeps a helmet that was given to him by Skeeter boats.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Behind his driver’s seat, Rojas keeps a helmet that was given to him by Skeeter boats. "It was custom painted," he said. "It has my name on it. It's the helmet I received for qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic. It was a gift from Skeeter."
The box that houses the custom helmet also holds several pairs of Gill gloves - a heavy pair for mornings like Rojas endured during last year's frigid Bassmaster Classic and a light pair for weather that's less harsh. He also carries snacks, towels and an occasional hat in the box.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The box that houses the custom helmet also holds several pairs of Gill gloves - a heavy pair for mornings like Rojas endured during last year's frigid Bassmaster Classic and a light pair for weather that's less harsh. He also carries snacks, towels and an occasional hat in the box.
The box behind passenger seat stays mostly open for Rojas's marshals.
Photo: Seigo Saito - The box behind passenger seat stays mostly open for Rojas's marshals. "I only carry a tool box in that compartment, so I have plenty of room for my marshal," he said. "He can keep his rain suit and the bag he's gonna need for his day. "
A tool kit for any eventuality.
Photo: Seigo Saito - A tool kit for any eventuality.
In his battery box, you'll find a duck decoy that Rojas named
Photo: Seigo Saito - In his battery box, you'll find a duck decoy that Rojas named "Buckshot." "It's a duck decoy that I found at lake Toho in the tournament that I broke the record in," he said. "He goes with me every year. I've had that decoy for 15 years now, and he goes in every single boat I own."
Buckshot stays nestled safely between the batteries.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Buckshot stays nestled safely between the batteries.
Rojas runs two 8-foot Power Pole blades.
Photo: Seigo Saito - Rojas runs two 8-foot Power Pole blades. "They help me do my job every time out," he said.
Thanks for the tour, Dean. Good luck in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro!
Photo: Seigo Saito - Thanks for the tour, Dean. Good luck in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro!