Classics aren’t like they used to be

I headed out yesterday morning for the Classic. A 19 hour drive gives a man time to think. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is how the Classic has changed in recent years. I’m not so much talking about the publicity and hoopla that surrounds it, but rather about how the product manufacturers respond to it.

Up until the last five or six years the Classic was a fishing event. It determined who was going to be the champion of our sport for the next year. There was a product show, but it mostly showed products that were already on the market or in rare cases those that were still in the development stage.

The real product showcase was ICAST. That’s where the newest and hottest stuff was on display. That was where anybody who made anything worth making was seen and heard. The problem was that most of that new stuff wouldn’t be available to the consumer for months – at the earliest.

That’s changed in recent years. The Classic is now where a lot of products are released. In many cases those products aren’t immediately available to the public, but they will be right after the tournament. Just as important, they’re being used by some of the anglers fishing the Classic. Consumers can see how they perform under real fishing conditions.

What’s happening with me this year is an excellent example. I’ll be using the new Lowrance 3D technology on my electronics. All the advertising in the world, and all the angler endorsements in the world, won’t show an angler as much about that innovation as watching me fish an area using it.

The same thing is true of a new jig design that I worked on with John Crews of Missile Baits. I can tell you about it, but until you actually see me throw it and catch a big bass with it you won’t truly know why you should have a few of them in your jig box.

I can say the same thing about a new Rapala hard bait. I’m not allowed to say anything more than that about it, but I can say that it’s a bait that’s designed for conditions like we’re going to face on Grand Lake next week. I will fish with it.

Now, to be fair and honest, this trend is not limited to me and my sponsors or to any particular segment of the industry. All of the high-quality companies that make high-quality products – and there are a lot of them in this business – are doing the same things. A savvy angler will take advantage of that.

So, while you’re watching all the action and rooting for your favorite angler, take a minute to see what he’s using. Does it do what it’s supposed to do? Does it hold up under the use and abuse we put it through? Is it worth the money?

If you can answer those questions with a yes, maybe you should buy it. If the answer to those questions is a no, maybe you should look elsewhere.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.