It wasn’t too long ago that the Elite 8, the eight best college basketball teams in the country playing in the NCAA’s “Big Dance,” were thrilling fans and television audiences in a hopeful waltz to the Final Four and, ultimately, to the title game at the center of every bracket in the U.S.
A few months before then, another Elite 8 was showcased on a national stage when Smithwick introduced the Elite 8 Suspending Rogue, a 4 ½-inch long jerk bait that dives deeper than other jerk baits of similar size. Smithwick unveiled its second new Rogue in as many years at the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
The Elite 8 hit the market a year after Smithwick’s Perfect 10 Rogue was introduced at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
There was a good reason for making both new jerk baits, according to Lawrence Taylor, public relations manager for PRADCO Outdoor Brands in Fort Smith, Ark.
He focused on the newest creation when he said, “Smithwick Lures had long been a productive jerk bait, but we lacked color patterns that would produce in gin-clear water. In addition to creating more-realistic, translucent color patterns, we also needed to get that bait deeper, which involved creating a new lip.”
Artificial lure designers Jason Needham and Bill Jarboe got with B.A.S.S. pro Jason Christie of Parkhill, Okla., and a few other bass fishing pros to design the new Elite 8, just as they did the year before for the Perfect 10.
The Elite 8 has all the fish-catching attributes of a Rogue, Taylor said, but it has the capability of diving steeper and deeper — 8 feet deep on 10-pound-test line.
It also moves erratically when twitched, and still possesses the popular “Rogue roll” that produces baitfish flashes that drive bass crazy.
The Elite 8 was more than a year in the making, “which is pretty quick. Finding the right material for the translucent color patterns was likely the biggest challenge,” Taylor said.
Mission accomplished, Christie said before fishing an Elite series tournament on the St. John’s River in Florida.
“It’s awesome — just a smaller-profile bait that gets down there about 8 to 10 feet,” the 40-year-old B.A.S.S. veteran said. “It still has the Rogue characteristic action I call a dying shad action that a Rogue is famous for.”
Unfortunately, Christie said, he wasn’t able to put it to good use during the recent Bassmaster Classic in Alabama, which was won by Alabama pro Randy Howell.
Christie was concentrating on 5-foot depths and less on his way to finishing 18th with 13 bass weighing 51 pounds, 9 ounces.
“We were just fishing a lot shallower then,” he said. “An Elite 8, you want to fish 8 foot or deeper.”
So his Elite 8s still haven’t tasted major tournament pressure on the B.A.S.S. tour in 2014.
“Not yet,” Christie said. “I haven’t had a tournament that calls for the Rogue. It’s best in the prespawn, but it’s still a major player in the summer and fall.”
Asked about that statement, he emphasized the fact he believes the new jerk bait will trigger strikes throughout the year.
Christie was pleased with his role in the making of the Elite 8 and the Perfect 10, particularly the color combinations of the former.
“I had play in a few of them. Most of the colors I had were some of the Perfect 10 colors,” he said, adding his favorite color is chrome/blue.
Taylor said the most-popular clear-water colors are juice, AYU and lady, plus clown and chrome/blue/orange belly.
“They’ve got some pretty cool colors, unique colors,” Christie said.
There is more to the new Rogue than the colors, lip and quality hardware, from the hooks to the O-rings.
“One of the most important features is the single tungsten rattle. Other jerk baits used to have tungsten rattles but then cheapened up with lead, and anglers know that tungsten just produces a more fish-catching sound. We just wanted to make the most-effective jerk bait possible,” Taylor said.
For more information on the Smithwick Elite 8 Suspending Rogue and other Smithwick artificial lures, call 479-782-8971 or go to www.SmithwickLures.com.