Top lures at Santee Cooper Lakes 2022 Take a closer look at the lures the Top 10 used to land huge spawners in South Carolina. Posted on March 23, 2022 Photography by Andy Crawford Captions by Craig Lamb A full moon and warming temperatures. Both formed the storylines for the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes. A spawn was underway, and that meant a combination of sight fishing for bedding bass, and searching for those fish moving in. It was anyone’s game to win. All it took was a husky fish, like this 9-pound, 4-ounce Phoenix Big Bass of the tournament caught by Luke Palmer, to get into the championship round. Drew Cook fished flawlessly, living a dream of leading from start to finish, doing what he loves to do most, and using his favorite tackle setup to catch bass mostly sight fishing. The result was a winning weight of 105 pounds, 5 ounces, and with it, $100,000, the blue trophy and a coveted Bassmaster Century Club belt. The clutch fish, a largemouth weighing 7-12, came aboard with less than one hour of fishing remaining on the final day. As you will see in the lures used by the top finishers, it takes two types of baits to consistently catch spawning bass in shallow water. Those are reaction baits that move horizontally through the water column, which make the bass show themselves. When they do, it takes a finesse and stealth approach, using soft plastic rigs, to coax them off the beds. Find everything you need to make the most of the spawning cycle at basspro.com. Pat Schlapper (10th; 77-15)Pat Schlapper rotated between a frog and tube bait for his lure lineup. He chose a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog, rigged on a 4/0 Owner Jungle Flipping HD Hook, with a 5/16 Motley Fishing Tungsten Weight. Alternatively, he used a Big Bite Baits discontinued tube bait, rigged on a 4/0 custom homemade hook, with a 5/16 Motley Fishing Tungsten Weight. Drew Benton (9th; 78-13)Search baits and bedding bass rigs completed the lineup of Drew Benton. For bedding bass, he used a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog, 4- and 5-inch versions, rigged respectively on 4/0 and 5/0 Owner Jungle Flipping HD Hooks, with 1/2-ounce Elite Tungsten Worm Weights. When blind bed fishing, and for searching for spawning bass, he used a Bagley Pro Sunny B Twin Spin. Greg Hackney (8th; 82-1)Greg Hackney did what he does best, which was go to combat in heavy cover to catch bedding bass and those cruising the shallows. That took a heavy tackle approach, using his favorite jig and two Texas rigs. When sight fishing bedding bass, Hackney used a 4-inch Strike King Game Hawg, rigged on a 5/0 straight shank hook, with a 1/8-ounce weight. Hackney relied on a favorite setup, a Strike King Rage Bug, rigged on a 5/0 straight shank hook, with a 3/16-ounce weight. Another Hackney favorite was the Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Swim Jig, 3/8 size, with a Strike King Rage Lobster. John Cox (7th; 84-6)John Cox did more than cruise the shallows with hands in his pockets. In reality, he was searching for bass beds. When he found them, Cox used a lure lineup well-suited for coaxing the fish to bite. A key bait, rigged Texas, wacky and Neko style, was a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General, rigged on a 3/0 Berkley Fusion19 Heavy Cover Hook, with a 1/4-ounce weight when needed. Another key bait was the new Berkley PowerBait Shape 108, rigged on a 3/0 Berkley Fusion19 Heavy Cover Hook, with a 1/4-ounce weight. Using the same terminal tackle, Cox also used a Berkley PowerBait Power Jerk Shad. Brandon Cobb (6th; 85-6)Brandon Cobb used a search bait and bedding bass lure rig. Cobb’s choices included a Zoom Fluke Stick, rigged on a 2/0 Berkley Fusion19 Weedless Wide Gap Hook. Another setup was a Zoom Speed Craw, rigged on a 3/0 Berkley Fusion19 Berkley Fusion19 Heavy Cover Hook, with a 3/8-ounce Ark Fishing No Chip Tungsten Weight. Cory Johnston (5th; 88-9)Cory Johnston prowled the spawning areas, using a push pole for stealth, deployed his Power-Pole anchors when finding a bed, and setting up to coax the females to bite. Johnston used a combination of a search bait and bedding bass rigs. Johnston’s key blind bed and search bait was a Spro Bronzeye Poppin’ Frog 60. For hunting individual fish, he used a Zoom Speed Craw, rigged on a 3/0 Gamakatsu Aaron Martens G-Finesse Heavy Cover Hook, with a 5/16-ounce weight. Luke Palmer (4th; 95-7)Luke Palmer vaulted into Championship Monday on the strength of this 9-4 largemouth, also earning him Phoenix Big Bass honors. A flipping and pitching approach were the tactics of choice. Palmer’s key bait was a YUM Bad Mamma. Alternatively, he used a YUM Wooly Bug for a different look. Brandon Palaniuk (3rd; 98-9)Brandon Palaniuk used a push pole as part of his gear, when a stealth approach was needed for slipping up on bedding bass. Palaniuk alternated between coverage and bedding baits. A key rig was an X Zone Lures Adrenaine Craw, rigged on a 4/0 VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Wide Gap Hook, with 1/4-ounce weight. Alternatively, Palaniuk used a Rapala OG Slim 6. Caleb Kuphall (2nd; 103-1)Caleb Kuphall covered water with a spinnerbait, and slowed his presentation when encountering bedding bass. As a result, he too, earned a highly coveted Bassmaster Century Club belt. Kuphall used a 3/8-ounce War Eagle tandem willowleaf blade to cover water. Alternatively, he used a 3/8-ounce BOOYAH Covert Series Spinnerbait. For a slower approach, Kuphall used a 1/2-ounce homemade flipping jig, adding a 2.75-inch Salty Craw from LurePartsOnline. Drew Cook (1st; 105-5)Lures were more than part of Drew Cook’s gear. To gain a higher vantage point for seeing beds, he stood on top of his electronics mounts. The view was worthwhile, and so were the sometimes tedious waits for the bedding bass to take his baits. Cook chose a lineup of baits suited for coaxing bedding bass to bite, while covering water for blind bed fishing. Cook chose a 4-inch Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog, rigged on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Aaron Martens G-Finesse Heavy Cover Hook, with a 3/8-ounce weight. Alternatively, he used a 5-inch Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog, rigged on a 5/0 Gamakatsu G-Power Heavy Cover Flip and Punch Hook, with a 3/8-ounce weight. Cook made a wacky rig with a soft plastic stick bait, rigged on a No. 1 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Weedless Stinger Hook. The time is now to gear up and be ready for the spawning cycle, with the latest and newest baits and tackle you need for this specialized tactic that only comes around in spring. Stock up now at basspro.com.