By Chad LaChance

St Croix Rods Bass X series
I bet you didn’t know that competitive bass fishing is the fastest growing segment of the fishing demographic and it’s being driven by organized high school and collegiate fishing programs that feed the pro ranks. Skilled bassers know they need a wide range of rods to match different presentation scenarios, so the family owned company, St Croix Rods, launched Bass X; a line of high quality, technique specific rods affordable to many anglers. The series features 10 casting rods and four spinning rods to cover all the bassin’ bases and they’re built on St Croix’s proprietary SCii blanks. Hard aluminum-oxide guide train, Fuji reel seats, split grip design with cork handles finished in EVA trim and two coats of Flex Coat round out the eye-catching build. At about $100, these bass-centric rods are a great value.

Costa Sunrise Silver 580G Lens
“Costa” and “fishing glasses” have become almost synonymous terms in the last decade or so. It makes sense, after all Costa’s moto is born on the water and they’ve worked with most of the best anglers in the country to develop their lenses and frames. The company’s latest addition to their ample polarized sunglass lens lineup is designed to help anglers during what is commonly the best time to fish – low-light periods and overcast days. Called Sunrise Silver, this lens joins other favorites in their high performance 580G line of glass lenses, so called for the fact that they block harsh yellow light at 580nm wavelength. The 580G lenses are 20% thinner and 22% lighter than average glass lenses and are the clearest option available to anglers. The new Silver Sunrise color has encapsulated mirroring for glare reduction yet a very bright view perfect for early morning boat rides and cloudy day fishing. This lens immediately became one of my all-time favorites and it’s available in a range of frames to fit any face. About $229-249, depending on the frame style.

Berkley Powerbait MaxScent
Powerbait. The name itself is almost pop culture in angling, but also means different things to different anglers. Trout specialists think of dough bait jars, while walleye folks may be more familiar with Powerbait Grubs, while bassers gravitate to the ol’ 10” Power Worm. Why? Because they all work. Well, now the mad scientists at Berkley have conjured up supercharged Powerbait and they call it Powerbait MaxScent. MaxScent is more than just a new scent; it’s a whole new molding process that results in a very soft PVC plastic that has a matte finish and, more importantly, is somehow porous. That porosity allows the bait to hold a tremendous amount of fluid, reminiscent of Gulp! liquid. But, and it’s a big but, since the soft plastic lure is indeed plastic and not resin based, it will never dry out. Fresh out of the package, the bait feels and looks dry, until you squeeze it. Like your kitchen sponge, it holds a surprising amount of liquid. MaxScent comes in eight shapes, covering all the bassin’ bases. A couple of my favorites are the Meaty Chunk jig trailer, Creature Hawg and especially The General, a soft stick worm with great shimmy on top of the MaxScent flavor. Colors are steadfast and cover all the popular naturals ranging from greens and browns to blacks and purples.

Plano LBL Bottle
Being a professional angler means I get lots and lots of emailed questions and being a Gulp! Alive proponent means lots of those questions revolve around containing Gulp! liquid. It seems that Gulp! liquid is viscous yet slick enough to escape from dang near anything we attempt to contain it in and while it washes out easy enough, spillage is still no fun. The problem is compounded when a Gulp! junkie like myself travels with it in luggage. That very problem lead me to look for a better way to contain it and I found my solution in the Plano LBL (Liqua Bait Locker) Bottle. These plastic bottles will not leak, period. Not in your luggage, not in your boat, not in your garage. They will contain the super sneaky liquid and allow the baits to move around freely, preserving their shape. The containers come with a plastic grabber for retrieving individual baits from within and they are stackable as well. Did I mention they’ll contain Gulp! liquid? My boat does not leave the trailer without a Plano LBL full of Gulp! Minnows.

Abu Garcia Revo X
Abu Garcia’s Revo line of reels, encompassing both spinning and baitcast models, has been wildly popular and for good reason – they perform. We’ve been fishing and guiding with them for years and Revos have proven their worth. Now Abu Garcia has added a new member to the Revo family – enter Revo X spinning and baitcast reels. At first glance, Revo X is all black and all business. The X line of baitcasters is available in left- or right-hand retrieve and three different gear ratios (5.4:1, 6.6:1 and 7.3:1) allowing anglers to match the retrieve speed to the presentation. The spinning reel is available in four sizes and features a 6.2:1 gear ratio which equates to a blazing 40” of line recovery per handle turn in the largest model. Both styles utilize Abu Garcia’s Carbon Matrix drag system and X-craftic corrosion proof components. The spinning reel has a carbon rotor for lightweight, large EVA handles and their Rocket Line Management system and spool lip for better casting and line control. The casting reel is controlled by the DuraClutch and MagTrax magnetic braking system and has a bent handle for ergonomics.

Frabill 15’ Lure Retriever
Fact number 1: Lures are expensive. Fact number 2: bass like to live around cover and structure that will snag your lures. Fact number 3: very few retrieved lures (i.e., crankbaits and jerkbaits – you know, the really expensive ones) can reach beyond 15 feet deep. Add up the facts and you need Frabill’s 15’ Telescoping Lure Retriever in your boat. As a fishing guide, I’d go through huge numbers of crankbaits if it wasn’t for this tool and unlike the other style of plug retriever on a rope, this one allows you to reach up on the bank or trees to get a lure back, not that any of us would ever cast there of course! The retriever telescopes down to about 5-feet so it fits in many bass boat lockers and features a corkscrew head that you simply wind onto your line to follow it down to the plug. It’s even rigid enough to push rocks around to get wedged baits. The overall design and use are very simple and effective and this is literally one of the best fishing investments you’ll ever make if you fish hard lures much. I use mine almost daily and it has saved me thousands of dollars.

Berkley Fireline Ultra 8 Carrier
These days, more and more anglers are discovering the benefits of using some sort of “superline” in their angling. More than others, bass fishermen have really gravitated to it, probably due to the stress even casual anglers put on line while fishing great bass cover. Their line needs to be extremely strong, abrasion resistant, hold knots well and most importantly, needs to cast and handle well. Berkley’s original fused Fireline displays many of those traits, but the production process made it a bit stiffer than some anglers prefer. Well, now Fireline has a new family member – Ultra 8 Carrier. Rather than being multiple linear fibers fused to create a single strand of original Fireline, Ultra 8 is eight Dyneema fibers fused in a radial pattern. The result is a line that has many of the same properties of original Fireline, but that handles better and casts farther – 10% farther according to Berkley. I’ve been testing it for more than a year now and the abrasion resistance is fantastic, wind knots are reduced and it holds knots like a champ. Ultra 8 is available in 125, 300, 1500-yard spools and two colors; Smoke and Crystal.

Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon
Trilene is far and away the most popular line on the planet and has been for many years. So, when an iconic brand like Trilene decides to produce a new line with their name on it, it’s a safe bet they did their homework first. Enter Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon, available in regular and XL versions. Why fluorocarbon for bass fishing? It’s denser than water so it sinks, keeping a straighter line to your lure. That density transmits “feel” better and also helps with abrasion resistance, which is much improved over nylon monofilament. Also, much improved over mono is stretch; fluorocarbon is much lower in stretch. It’s also U/V stable and will not absorb water, so it lasts longer then mono. That fluorocarbon has the same light refraction as water allowing it to disappear under water is an added bonus. Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon XL is specifically formulated to handle better on spinning reels. The XL version is available in 200-yard spools in pound tests from 4-12, while regular Trilene 100% is available in 110, 200 and 2000 yard spools from 4-to 25-pound test in both clear and green tint.

Lowrance Hook Triple Shot
Modern bass fishing is at least partly a game of electronics. Even a cursory look at the boats at a pro event and even many club events, will reveal some crazy sonar/GPS set-ups, some costing nearly $15,000! But what I know after having taught on the water sonar/GPS classes for almost a decade is that a high percentage of bass anglers, even very skilled ones, are not very electronics savvy and just want simple, affordable performance. Lowrance has bridged the gap between performance and simplicity with the popular Hook series. Now they made it even more performance oriented with the Hook2 and Triple Shot transducer pack. This new Hook2, available in 4-12” screen sizes, includes auto-tuning sonar, super easy installation and has built-in C-MAP, plus options to upgrade to Navionics Chip or custom C-MAPS. The Triple Shot transducer provides traditional sonar, Down Scan and Side Scan options for the best possible fish finding combination for any scenario. Best of all, Hook2 with the Triple Shot transducer is still a very affordable option, even with all the great features and ease of use.

River 2 Sea Whopper Plopper
Ok, so it has a funny name; if you knew the guy that invented it, you’d know why. Larry Dahlberg is an eccentric guy that knows more about catching monster fish than I’ll ever hope to learn. He’s credited with a bunch of lure and fly innovations, but none are as influential on bass fishing as the Whopper Plopper. Available in four sizes and a bunch of colors, the ‘Plopper’ is a topwater lure that features an asymmetrical rotating blade on the back. It can be continuously retrieved, thus giving off a gurgling sound most akin to a buzzbait, only less metallic. Unlike the buzzbait, it floats so it can be paused in key areas or worked super slow. If you’re looking to add some pure fun to your bassin’, get yourself a Whopper Plopper.