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100 of the Top Pro Fishermen of All Time

Mottled pearl, by the way, is a real sleeper among spoon colors. When you find it, stock up. The SP Flashminnow in a "ghost minnow" finish is one of the most remarkable lures I've ever fished. It's a shallow-running, suspending jerkbait from Japan that runs and darts about 3 feet deep with hard, rod-tip twitches.

I recently spent three days test-fishing this lure against competitive versions of the same size and similar color for smallmouth bass in Canada. The action and look were so good that the Lucky Craft version out-caught the others by at least 3 to 1. I am still amazed, and no, they are not paying me to say this. For large brown and rainbow trout in bigger water, these are a hot ticket.

Very weighty relative to their overall size, they'll run deep in the kind of high-volume water that lunker trout prefer. Reel just fast enough to keep a tight line so the spinner sweeps the bottom. When the strike comes, it'll be violent.

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These spinners are also moderately heavy in proportion to their overall size. This combined with the spinning-blade angle allows them to run relatively deep-"which is often where you need to be when trout fishing. As with most trout spinners, fish upstream. The 7-inch, 1-ounce Smoky Joe-"color Red Fin is a striper killer in both fresh- and saltwater. Retrieved slowly, it runs a slow, wobbling surface crawl just like an injured baitfish.

Or you can trick it out: Drill a small hole in the top of the plug between the eyes. Inject 10 to 12 ccs of bunker oil or other liquid fish attractant. Seal the hole with epoxy. The now-weighted plug will cast farther, run deeper, and smell like bait. While the name might bring a smirk, the lure itself brings in lots of fish, especially perch and walleyes when it's jigged through the ice or in open water.

This adds considerable scent attraction to the lure. In larger sizes, Pimples are exceptional casting lures for nearshore false albacore and bonito.


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It's one of my favorite panfish jigs, although I've also taken stream trout and even anadromous American shad with the same lure. With flexible soft-plastic "fins" and a short marabou tail, the Foxee Jig has lots of wiggle in a small package. The short tail is significant because some panfish-"especially yellow perch-"tend to nip at rather than inhale a lure.


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  • Because the short tail is close to the hook point, you'll connect more often. The Pop-R has been the gold standard among freshwater bass poppers for the past 20 years, a shad-imitating plug that can be fished fast or slow according to need. Use a sharp knife or sandpaper to reduce the edge of the cupped, popping face. The plug will grab less water and be easier to skitter. I once watched awestruck as my friend Jim Ellett hooked three monster British Columbia steelhead during a single cast on one of these oddly shaped spoons.

    Each fish came wildly to the surface on the strike, throwing the spoon and thereby allowing the same cast and drift to continue. Let the spoon drift until you feel it ticking bottom, then tighten up on the line so the spoon slowly wobbles in a downstream swing, bouncing on gravel all the while. These lures might be the future of fishing. A minnow-imitating, soft jerkbait that leaves a great scent trail, it's rigged and fished similar to a Slug-Go.

    All FoodSource models are molded out of real fish food and-"unlike common soft plastics-"are fully biodegradable. Numerous angling cretins toss used soft-plastic lures in the shoreline weeds or water, where they become an environmental hazard because they don't decay or break down. FoodSource lures are environmentally friendly-"and they catch fish.

    Alewives in northern lakes and threadfin shad in southern lakes are both short, deep-bodied baitfish-"and big-time bass food-"that a Shad Rap imitates perfectly. There will be times when you see fish boiling in open water, but the bass ignore your plastic worms. A darting and twitching Shad Rap will nail them. This soft-plastic lure is quite different from all the rest and amazingly effective for large- and smallmouth bass.

    When it's rigged wacky-style, meaning hooked once through the center, a Senko sinks horizontally with both free ends quivering frantically. Cast it out and let it sink, watching the line carefully for signs of a strike. Twitch it a few feet back up, and let it sink again. A variety of colors and sizes work well; I like 5-inch Senkos in the peanut-butter-and-jelly shade. The densely compact Hopkins Shorty , technically not a spoon, casts like a bullet, but that same density makes it more widely used in freshwater as a jigging lure for deep bass. Jig the lure by abruptly raising and lowering your rod tip, and know that many bass will hit the lure as it drops.

    One of the all-time great trout spoons , Phoebes are just plain essential. Use the smallest of snaps-"a black one-"to attach lure to line, and know that this spoon is relatively shallow-running. That means it's perfect for pulling big browns that lie hidden along riverbank cover. Wade or boat the middle while casting to within inches of shoreline structure. The size of the trout that come to this spoon will shock you. Sometimes the least likely plug colors score big.

    This "archer bee" black-and-yellow prop lure has consistently taken bass for me when minnow-imitating hues have failed. The Splash-Tail's props have midget ball bearings and turn with the slightest twitch. A slow twitch-pause retrieve works the best for abundant action from both small- and largemouth bass. Readers of a certain age will now be smiling at the memory of an old-favorite trout spoon that hasn't gotten much press in recent years. It's still being made, though, and it's still one of the best brown-trout lures of all time.

    Cast up and across stream in turbulent deep runs, then retrieve with darting rod-tip sweeps to make the spoon alternately stutter and sink near the bottom. These are the disco queens of salmon and steelhead plugs, with tight, fast wiggles and hot colors that are irresistible to big fish. A skilled oarsman in a drift boat will slow and steer his drift to literally walk a wiggling Hot Shot across the noses of waiting chinooks. Shore-based casters add some leader weight and cast across stream to get a bottom-ticking swing for waiting steelhead.

    I've been carrying these Canadian trolling spoons around ever since a long-ago day when some northern lake trout would touch nothing else. The new W55 Lite model is thin in proportion to its surface area, giving a crisp wobble that's still a little wider and slower than competing versions, an action lake trout often prefer.

    The two-tone metal finish, meanwhile, does a great impersonation of the variable flashing of baitfish. My wife says I should be embarrassed, but I can't help it. These plugs are bass-pond classics, perfectly suited to lily pads. Pop once and sit still. Twitch very gently to wiggle the soft skirt. Wait a bit and do it again. It's a slow game of nerves between you and the bass.

    Be patient, and the bass will lose. I love fishing Jitterbugs for bass, maybe because it's slow and easy fishing. Gowdy has both passion for announcing and fishing. Taking the number five spot is the best-known angler throughout Europe, John Wilson. Wilson inspired many of his viewers and readers to start and to rekindle their long lost love for fishing. Mike Iaconelli was born in Philadelphia , is a professional Bass fisherman who won the Bassmaster Classic. He began fishing at a young age in the Pocono Mountains. In one of his tournaments, the Federation tournament, he broke a record of And it was at the Bassmaster Classic that he finished in on the sixth place, Iaconelli received his first major sponsors.

    He continued to bag his success and hauled in more than 4, pounds of bass , snagged five tournament wins and finished in the top ten for about 44 times! He is still on the top of his career, mastering the art and continuing his pursuit for the win. A one-time holder of over a dozen saltwater records, who is he?

    He is born on January 31, , author and known for his popular adventure novels The Last of the Plainsmen and Riders of the Purple Sage. Do you need more clues? How about the first fisherman to drag around kg Pacific Blue Marlin?

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    Zane Grey contributed and popularized big-game fishing. He was a writer at the Outdoor Life magazine. He mastered the methods to catch the elusive broadbill swordfish. With over six decades of fishing experience in the water, one of the most decorated and a celebrated fisherman in the history of bass fishing is Roland Martin. He is considered as one of the found fathers of modern bass fishing. Martin was one of the first anglers to introduce and popularized the idea of patterning fish. He has TV shows on NBC, sharing his tricks and tips to young, less experienced anglers and avid viewers.

    He also has his fair share of fishing success winning in tournaments, a 19 pro tournament wins, almost top 10 finishes and second place B. He was also entitled nine times as the B. Angler of the Year! Northern Michigan was his Eden. He found solace and serenity in the forest or in wading a stream. He was three when he started fishing and ventured into deep sea fishing in his early 30s.

    Too numerous to list, but consider: Kreh's fished in all 50 states and every province of Canada, plus numerous countries overseas. In the last decade, Kreh's suffered a stroke, two heart attacks, and hurt his knee in a fall. But even in his mids, he still gives fly fishing seminars, speaks out on fish conservation issues, and fishes as often as he can. Rick Clunn Speaking of longevity, don't forget Rick Clunn, a staple in the professional bass circuit for 38 years.

    His largest bass ever caught was just an ounce under 14 pounds; all told, he's hauled in more than 10, pounds of tournament bass. Roland Martin Consider Martin as one of the founding fathers of modern bass fishing. He's the host of Fishing with Roland Martin on the Versus network and was one of the first anglers to popularize the idea of patterning fish.

    In Martin's long career he's had his fair share of success: Angler-of-the-Year titles, almost top 10 finishes and 20 second place B. Gary Parsons A native of Glidden, Wisconsin, Parsons was a dentist for 15 years before he traded in his drills and his chair for a boat and a walleye rod--a career move that definitely worked out for him.

    One of the most accomplished anglers in professional walleye fishing, Gary Parsons is the only person to win Angler of the Year awards in all three professional walleye circuits. He's also nailed down 11 walleye tournament wins. Denny Grinold People who want to catch big trout and salmon on Lake Michigan inevitably find themselves hiring out charter boat Captain Denny Grinold pictured right. He's also a dedicated fishery conservationist, recently honored by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission for his work to protect and enhance Great Lakes fisheries.

    David Moore Fishing since childhood, native Oklahoman David Moore dedicated himself to carp angling two decades ago. Moore and his fishing partner took top honors at the Nature's Trophies Carp Challenge in Ogdensburg New York, in , landing a total weight of lbs. He was honored in by the Carp Anglers Group with a lifetime achievement award for his passionate promotion of American carp angling.

    Tony Bean In , Tony Bean's Smallmouth Guide was published, and it helped put smallmouth bass fishing, and Bean pictured right , very much on the angling map. With the book, he soon became a Diawa field staffer, and helped design Diawa's first smallmouth bass rod--a rod named after him.

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    An 8-pound, 7-ouncer he caught in at Woods Reservoir, in central Tennessee. When not guiding and fishing, Bean held fishing seminars and workshops, but dropped out of sight a few years back. He recently returned to the fishing scene with a new book, Smallmouth Secrets, filled with old school smallie advice from Bean's plus years of fishing.

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    David Pickering Retired school teacher David Pickering is considered by many to be Rhode Island's best striper fisherman. Not without reason--he's landed over 45, stripers, averaging over 2, striped bass a year from shore. He's been known to fish from boat and kayak, too.