The 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series tracked its way across all phases of the spawning cycle, with some detours encountered along the trial. Those moments included postponed days due to flooding at two events, tournament leaders chasing bass 100 miles in opposite directions and sorting through changing conditions that required reinventing strategies.
There were notable angling lessons we all learned along the way. At Pickwick Lake, where the water quickly shot up from winter pool to flood stage practically overnight, Bill Lowen proved how a lighter weight jig can be productive in heavy current. He floated a 3/8-ounce swim jig through suspended fish in wood. A heavier jig would have quickly sunk and dropped through the strike zone. The tactic produced the 8-pound, 5-ounce clutch largemouth that won him the blue trophy.
Here are results of our annual audit that ranks the top lure categories based on their appearance in our popular top lures galleries. Some results are surprising, with the old school skirted jig used 27 times by the Top 10 anglers over the nine events. The subcategories include flipping and swim jigs for the sake of our audit. Wes Logan used a flipping jig to win at Neely Henry Lake, as did Caleb Kuphall by punching matted vegetation at Lake Guntersville.
Also tied at 27 appearances is variations of soft plastic straight-tail worms. Texas-rigged, wacky rigged or Carolina-rigged, the venerable worm proved itself from start to finish during the February through July season. Of those rigs, the wacky version emerged as a trending choice, from the gnarly cover of the Sabine River to the ultra-clear water of the St. Lawrence River, where Taku Ito used a Japanese worm, rigged wacky style, as part of his winning lure lineup.
Crankbaits, lipped or lipless, made it into the galleries 26 times during the season. Bryan New cranked a lipped bait over bars on the St. Johns River to score his win. Logan rotated between the jig and a squarebill maneuvered through laydowns on the Coosa River. Shallow to midrange depths produced best for transitional bass before and after the spawn.