Bemidji, MN – The 2023 Bassmaster Classic wasn’t the first time that Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson had stacked big weights and solid limits of smallmouth bass on the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, Tennessee. Back in March of 2021, Gussy first put the “moping” technique to use, sinking Kenora, Ontario-designed Smeltinator jigs to fill his ‘well for weigh-in at the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite. Over two years ago, Gussy went wire-to-wire for all four days of the event, weighing 63 pounds, besting second place by an impressive seven pounds. Gussy trailered home to the far north with over $100,000 in his pocket.
Word of the “moping” technique traveled quickly through social wires, sending serious bassers on the hunt for Gussy’s favored jig head—Bass Tactics’ Smeltinator Jig.
Two years later Gussy did it again ‘moping’ suspended smallmouths with the Smeltinator Jighead on forward facing, proving the money method for a Bassmaster Classic title, the $300K payout and honors as the top bass stick on the planet.
The Smeltinator is hardly new to the fishing scene. The jig and the moping technique has been dominating the Canadian tournament scene for a decade. Gussy, Northland Fishing Tackle founder John Peterson, Canadian professional angler Jamie Bruce, and Bryan Gustafson of Bass Tactics have won many tournaments and cashed big checks at events like the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship and the Kenora Bass Invitational using the Smeltinator Jig and the moping technique.
The “Moping” technique involves fishing a fluke or minnow style plastic on the Smeltinator Jig and the Smeltinator Underspin Jig over the top of deep suspending smallmouth bass. The design of the jig allows the bait to hang perfectly horizontal like a real shiner, smelt or minnow. These suspending smallmouths are “feeding up” on these schools of baitfish. Hanging the Smeltinator above actively feeding fish has proven to provide big bites and big tournament weights.
As in-the-know bassheads around the world will tell you, getting your hands on Bass Tactics Smeltinator jigs hasn’t been easy, with the small, Kenora, Ontario-based tackle company barely keeping up to product demand.
With a relationship that goes back 20 years, Gustafson’s sponsor Northland Fishing Tackle talked seriously with both Gussy and Bass Tactics founder, Bryan Gustafson (no relation), to join forces and push product development, production, marketing, and sales into a much bigger realm.
Thus, Northland Fishing Tackle is proud to announce that the company has a licensing agreement with Bryan Gustafson and Bass Tactics to produce, distribute and sell the Smeltinator and Smeltinator Underspin Jigs under the Northland Fishing Tackle brand name.
Northland Fishing Tackle Marketing Director, Mike Anselmo, notes: “I couldn’t be happier with the deal we worked out with Bryan Gustafson to take over the production, distribution, and sales of the Smeltinator Jig. The molds, manufacturing, and overall design will remain the same, but will now fall under the Northland Fishing Tackle banner. Bryan Gustafson has a winner on his hands with the Smeltinator. We will step in and make sure that the availability and supply will keep up with the growing demand. That said, in just a short time, anglers across the globe will have no issues getting their hands on these outstanding jigs.”
About Northland® Fishing Tackle
In 1975, a young Northwoods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components, and most importantly, were catching fish when no other baits were working! Word spread like wildfire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand! For 40 years now, John and the Northland® team have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catch fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota’s finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country’s leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for crappies, bluegills, perch, walleyes, bass, trout, northern pike and muskies.
About Bagley Bait Company
The personality of any company comes from its founder. Jim Bagley was an inventive, fun-loving, passionate fisherman who became one the most respected legends in the fishing tackle industry. In late 2010, Jarmo Rapala and a group of investors bought Bagley Bait Company. As an admirer of Jim Bagley for his attention to quality and of his product ingenuity and innovation, Jarmo initiated significant changes in operations, enhanced production processes and quality control. Now in 2020, Northland® Fishing Tackle, along with Jarmo as its Chief Lure Designer, maintain the legacy of creating premium balsa crankbaits and topwater lures, as well as jigs and spoons for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.