Inside Elite Boats

Inside Elite Boats: Drew Benton

Come take a tour with the 2016 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Drew Benton and his Phoenix 721 with a 250 Mercury Pro XS.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Come take a tour with the 2016 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Drew Benton and his Phoenix 721 with a 250 Mercury Pro XS.
In his 2016 Phoenix 721 Benton notched an 11th place finish in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings and best the rest of the rookie class.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - In his 2016 Phoenix 721 Benton notched an 11th place finish in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings and best the rest of the rookie class.
At the driver side of Benton's boat he has his name placard with the appropriate BASS logos needed to identify his boat as Elite Series ready.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - At the driver side of Benton's boat he has his name placard with the appropriate BASS logos needed to identify his boat as Elite Series ready.
Benton has a Minn Kota Fortrex with 112 pounds of thrust on the bow of his boat.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Benton has a Minn Kota Fortrex with 112 pounds of thrust on the bow of his boat.
The big blade is perfect for chopping up grass that may get in his way and also for moving enough water to speed down the bank while fishing.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - The big blade is perfect for chopping up grass that may get in his way and also for moving enough water to speed down the bank while fishing.
His trolling motor comes equipped with a safety strap, which was useful for Benton during some of those long runs and rough water that the Elite Series traversed in 2016.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - His trolling motor comes equipped with a safety strap, which was useful for Benton during some of those long runs and rough water that the Elite Series traversed in 2016.
Benton's Phoenix is powered by a 250 horsepower Mercury Pro XS and he opts for twin 8-foot Power Pole Blades to anchor his boat.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Benton's Phoenix is powered by a 250 horsepower Mercury Pro XS and he opts for twin 8-foot Power Pole Blades to anchor his boat.
This year he sported a 25 pitch 3-bladed prop on his Mercury outboard. He likes a 3-bladed prop overall because he thinks it gives his boat the best possible performance.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - This year he sported a 25 pitch 3-bladed prop on his Mercury outboard. He likes a 3-bladed prop overall because he thinks it gives his boat the best possible performance.
Benton is a Florida angler and with that comes some extremely shallow water at times so he uses an Atlas hydraulic jackplate to lift his outboard a lot higher than he normally could so he doesn't hit anything while driving.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Benton is a Florida angler and with that comes some extremely shallow water at times so he uses an Atlas hydraulic jackplate to lift his outboard a lot higher than he normally could so he doesn't hit anything while driving.
When we hop aboard his boat he takes us to one of the middle boxes where he keeps tackle.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - When we hop aboard his boat he takes us to one of the middle boxes where he keeps tackle.
In this box he has lighter tackle like crankbaits and some limited soft plastics that he will use for that given day on the water. He also sports some line that is neatly organized for quick use.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - In this box he has lighter tackle like crankbaits and some limited soft plastics that he will use for that given day on the water. He also sports some line that is neatly organized for quick use.
He hops to the back box behind the driver seat to show off his safety parts like his lifejacket and throw cushions. He also had his rain gear stored there, which is one of the biggest necessities for as much as the Elite anglers fish.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He hops to the back box behind the driver seat to show off his safety parts like his lifejacket and throw cushions. He also had his rain gear stored there, which is one of the biggest necessities for as much as the Elite anglers fish.
After pulling out his rain gear he showed us his terminal tackle box, which he keeps in the back because it is so much heavier than any other box.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - After pulling out his rain gear he showed us his terminal tackle box, which he keeps in the back because it is so much heavier than any other box.
This has every hook and weight he will need. From punching thick grass to dropshotting for smallmouth.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - This has every hook and weight he will need. From punching thick grass to dropshotting for smallmouth.
He is stoked to have good rain gear in reaching distance as one of the days at the Angler of the Year Championship called for rain.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He is stoked to have good rain gear in reaching distance as one of the days at the Angler of the Year Championship called for rain.
Everything fits perfect behind the driver seat. Organization is so important for Elite anglers because their boat is their office and if anything is lost or out of place it could effect their efficiency.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Everything fits perfect behind the driver seat. Organization is so important for Elite anglers because their boat is their office and if anything is lost or out of place it could effect their efficiency.
Since he had crankbaits towards the front of the boat and terminal tackle in the back, it makes sense that he has bulk bags of soft plastics in the rear of the boat as well. Benton said he has his 721 Phoenix set up to be one of the fastest Elite Series boats.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Since he had crankbaits towards the front of the boat and terminal tackle in the back, it makes sense that he has bulk bags of soft plastics in the rear of the boat as well. Benton said he has his 721 Phoenix set up to be one of the fastest Elite Series boats.
This bag of goodies had some major players for Benton. The bag included some Tightlines UV Bill Lowen tubes, which are great for any kind of bass, but especially smallmouth.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - This bag of goodies had some major players for Benton. The bag included some Tightlines UV Bill Lowen tubes, which are great for any kind of bass, but especially smallmouth.
He said he couldn't wait to put these to work next year at the three smallmouth stops on the Elite schedule.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He said he couldn't wait to put these to work next year at the three smallmouth stops on the Elite schedule.
He also pulled out his favorite bait of the 2016 season. He said he used the Tightlines UV Hybrid Craw when he was primarily bed fishing, which was as much as he possibly could.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He also pulled out his favorite bait of the 2016 season. He said he used the Tightlines UV Hybrid Craw when he was primarily bed fishing, which was as much as he possibly could.
He cashed in a Top 12 at the St. Johns and at Cayuga sight fishing. He also utilized it when flipping to shallow cover.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He cashed in a Top 12 at the St. Johns and at Cayuga sight fishing. He also utilized it when flipping to shallow cover.
His rear passenger box wasn't as full to allow room for his marshals travel bag for everyday of competition.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - His rear passenger box wasn't as full to allow room for his marshals travel bag for everyday of competition.
He heads back to the crankbait compartment and goes for his favorite box.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He heads back to the crankbait compartment and goes for his favorite box.
He pulls out the box labeled
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He pulls out the box labeled "Sonny B's."
He loves the Bagley crankbaits as they give off a different sound and vibration. He has everything from shad patterns to bluegill and even red craw patterns all at the ready in this box.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He loves the Bagley crankbaits as they give off a different sound and vibration. He has everything from shad patterns to bluegill and even red craw patterns all at the ready in this box.
He has a stash of Seaguar line in the box ready to go if he needs leader material or he needs to spool up another reel.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He has a stash of Seaguar line in the box ready to go if he needs leader material or he needs to spool up another reel.
In his front compartment closest to the trolling motor he has one box and one only; his spin tail jerk baits.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - In his front compartment closest to the trolling motor he has one box and one only; his spin tail jerk baits.
He also carries a helmet in that front box and on those long runs or bad weather days he will suit up to drive as fast as possible while maintain good visibility and comfort with the helmet.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He also carries a helmet in that front box and on those long runs or bad weather days he will suit up to drive as fast as possible while maintain good visibility and comfort with the helmet.
Benton didn't have too many rods in his rod locker so he could maximize his speed. He can fit close to 30 rods in that box, but on certain fisheries he can narrow it down to much less.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Benton didn't have too many rods in his rod locker so he could maximize his speed. He can fit close to 30 rods in that box, but on certain fisheries he can narrow it down to much less.
You can see after a bumpy ride across Mille Lacs Lake a bait came loose and wrapped around another one of his Phenix rods.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - You can see after a bumpy ride across Mille Lacs Lake a bait came loose and wrapped around another one of his Phenix rods.
For those tournaments where he carries a full tournament load of tackle and equipment he will store his rods safely in his rod pods on top of his Toyota Tundra.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - For those tournaments where he carries a full tournament load of tackle and equipment he will store his rods safely in his rod pods on top of his Toyota Tundra.
In his right side rod locker he hauls his couple spinning setups as well as a couple spare rods just in case.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - In his right side rod locker he hauls his couple spinning setups as well as a couple spare rods just in case.
He put his spinning rods to work at the Angler of the Year Championship as he finished in 9th place in that event.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He put his spinning rods to work at the Angler of the Year Championship as he finished in 9th place in that event.
This was a moderate to fast Phenix spinning rod blank.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - This was a moderate to fast Phenix spinning rod blank.
He has a small box in the floorboard of his Phoenix 721 where he keeps some of the wounded baits and those that were productive that day. He can grab them in a split second.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He has a small box in the floorboard of his Phoenix 721 where he keeps some of the wounded baits and those that were productive that day. He can grab them in a split second.
He grabbed a Bagley prototype crankbait that he has been using. He was going to show the teeth marks from the fish he had caught on it, but he wanted to keep the bait hush-hush until the time was right. He thinks anglers will love this bait.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He grabbed a Bagley prototype crankbait that he has been using. He was going to show the teeth marks from the fish he had caught on it, but he wanted to keep the bait hush-hush until the time was right. He thinks anglers will love this bait.
His center box of his Phoenix has a ruler made into the box for quick access to measure any questionable fish.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - His center box of his Phoenix has a ruler made into the box for quick access to measure any questionable fish.
Thats a pretty nice place for a ruler so anglers don't have to dig through boxes during crunch time where time may be limited.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Thats a pretty nice place for a ruler so anglers don't have to dig through boxes during crunch time where time may be limited.
Just beside his driver console is a handy place for Benton to store his pliers and other tools.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Just beside his driver console is a handy place for Benton to store his pliers and other tools.
On the passenger side of the boat he has a push pole strapped in just in case. He is from Florida and loves shallow water so no matter where the Elites fish he may try and get as shallow as possible so he never wants to get stuck. With his push pole he can remain stealthy while also ensuring he has a way to push his boat out of a shallow area.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - On the passenger side of the boat he has a push pole strapped in just in case. He is from Florida and loves shallow water so no matter where the Elites fish he may try and get as shallow as possible so he never wants to get stuck. With his push pole he can remain stealthy while also ensuring he has a way to push his boat out of a shallow area.
Back in his battery box he has 2 Lithium 36 volt batteries for his trolling motor.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Back in his battery box he has 2 Lithium 36 volt batteries for his trolling motor.
As well as one 12-volt battery for cranking his boat and powering his graphs.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - As well as one 12-volt battery for cranking his boat and powering his graphs.
He was really excited to show off his pedestal seat that he has on his rig.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He was really excited to show off his pedestal seat that he has on his rig.
It is a reinforced seat that can be used in many ways. You can sit on it, lean against it and he said bow fishermen can straddle it to pivot in a 360-degree circle.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - It is a reinforced seat that can be used in many ways. You can sit on it, lean against it and he said bow fishermen can straddle it to pivot in a 360-degree circle.
It is made by Millennium Marine and another positive for Benton is when it rains the seat doesn't soak up water. It runs through the holes in the material.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - It is made by Millennium Marine and another positive for Benton is when it rains the seat doesn't soak up water. It runs through the holes in the material.
The only messy part about Benton's boat may be his storage box beside the driver seat.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - The only messy part about Benton's boat may be his storage box beside the driver seat.
He has everything small he may need in there. He also stores his keys, wallet and phone in there on tournament days. He also keeps his scale handy inside that box.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He has everything small he may need in there. He also stores his keys, wallet and phone in there on tournament days. He also keeps his scale handy inside that box.
His cull tags are ready there as well.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - His cull tags are ready there as well.
Benton started the year with zero facial hair, but since the season started it has grown out more and more. He isn't an angler that wears a buff or neck gator for sun protection, but rather he goes old school with sunscreen only.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Benton started the year with zero facial hair, but since the season started it has grown out more and more. He isn't an angler that wears a buff or neck gator for sun protection, but rather he goes old school with sunscreen only.
He also carries Dawn dish detergent with him in the boat for multiple reasons. If he is sight fishing he can refill his squirt gun and clear off any pollen or slight ripple that clouds his sight and the other reason is for any dirt or blood that can get on his carpet. He said if he squirts a little on the concerned area and fishes for the rest of the day there is bound to have some water that will mix with it and clean it right up.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He also carries Dawn dish detergent with him in the boat for multiple reasons. If he is sight fishing he can refill his squirt gun and clear off any pollen or slight ripple that clouds his sight and the other reason is for any dirt or blood that can get on his carpet. He said if he squirts a little on the concerned area and fishes for the rest of the day there is bound to have some water that will mix with it and clean it right up.
At his console he runs one unit, a Lowrance HDS 12 Gen3 unit. More and more anglers are using multiple units at the console, but Benton can split his HDS 12 into 4 screens and he believes he can see whatever he needs with just one unit. He didn't rule out adding another unit, especially if there are deeper lakes in the summer time next year where he may graph heavily.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - At his console he runs one unit, a Lowrance HDS 12 Gen3 unit. More and more anglers are using multiple units at the console, but Benton can split his HDS 12 into 4 screens and he believes he can see whatever he needs with just one unit. He didn't rule out adding another unit, especially if there are deeper lakes in the summer time next year where he may graph heavily.
He was sporting two stickers on his Phoenix console: one was an Autism awareness sticker named
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He was sporting two stickers on his Phoenix console: one was an Autism awareness sticker named "Fishin for a Mission" and the other was his 2016 Vessel safety inspection sticker.
Like at the console, Benton goes with only one HDS 12 Gen 3. He sports a bracket that keeps his unit raised at a good angle and is also straight in front of his foot pedal.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Like at the console, Benton goes with only one HDS 12 Gen 3. He sports a bracket that keeps his unit raised at a good angle and is also straight in front of his foot pedal.
He has two foot-controlled Power Pole buttons, one on each side of the trolling motor pedal, for easy access when he wants to anchor himself.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - He has two foot-controlled Power Pole buttons, one on each side of the trolling motor pedal, for easy access when he wants to anchor himself.
Below his console he utilizes a TH Marine Hot Foot, which allows him to control his speed with his foot like a car. He can also keep both hands on the wheel when he is running in the mid to high 70's in his boat.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Below his console he utilizes a TH Marine Hot Foot, which allows him to control his speed with his foot like a car. He can also keep both hands on the wheel when he is running in the mid to high 70's in his boat.
His boat wrap showcased some fishing related features like some fish markings...
Photo: Ronnie Moore - His boat wrap showcased some fishing related features like some fish markings...
As well as lake contour lines like you would see on a paper map or on his electronics. He was pleased with the local wrap company that hooked him up in Panama City.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - As well as lake contour lines like you would see on a paper map or on his electronics. He was pleased with the local wrap company that hooked him up in Panama City.
Thanks for the boat tour Drew! Be on the lookout for Benton as he hopes to improve on his 11th place finish in the 2016 Toyota Angler of the Year standings.
Photo: Ronnie Moore - Thanks for the boat tour Drew! Be on the lookout for Benton as he hopes to improve on his 11th place finish in the 2016 Toyota Angler of the Year standings.