Pity the bass on FLW Tour this year – not one, but two Forrest Wood Cup winners will be hot on their tails with VMC hooks and Trigger X soft baits. 2013 Cup champ Randall Tharp has joined 2012 winner Jacob Wheeler on the VMC and Trigger X pro-staffs.
“I talked with Jacob quite a bit about a lot of the hooks and baits,” Tharp says. “I’m very fortunate at this stage of my career that I can pretty much pick and choose the companies that I want to be involved with, and VMC and Trigger X were definitely at the top of my list. I’m excited about their product line-ups and by the opportunity I have with those companies.”
Not only will the bass in FLW fisheries have to be on the lookout for Tharp, but those in Bassmaster Elite Series waters as well. Tharp will fish both professional bass circuits in 2014. “I’m really excited about this season,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of challenges ahead of me and I’m excited about being teamed up with Trigger X and VMC.”
Likewise, Trigger X and VMC are excited to team with Tharp.
“Randall is a natural fit for our team and we couldn’t be happier to have him on board!” says Rapala Pro-Staff Manager Dan Quinn. Both Trigger X and VMC are in the Rapala family of brands.
“Rapala/VMC’s pro-staff program features the best of the best, so signing Randall for VMC and Trigger X was an easy decision,” Quinn says. “He really has it all – he has proven to the world that he is one of the very best anglers on the planet, he takes pride in his credibility and holds that very high, which enables him to support and promote the best companies in the world, without question.”
Big hooks & heavy cover at heart
Having made a name for himself cashing checks in tournaments on grass-rich lakes like Alabama’s Guntersville and Florida’s Okeechobee, Tharp is “really excited about” VMC’s Heavy Cover Flipping Hook. “I’m a pitcher and flipper at heart,” he says. “That’s without a doubt one of my favorite ways to catch a bass.”
He’ll be in his element on Guntersville in the Feb. 21-23 Bassmaster Classic. “I always try to fish to my strengths and flipping and pitching is among those strengths,” he says. “Guntersville’s a grass lake, so I’ll be able to utilize the VMC hooks as well as the Trigger X soft plastics without a doubt in the Bassmaster Classic. I’m excited about that opportunity.”
Of course, not every fishery on the Bassmaster and FLW schedules will be ripe for pitchin’ and flippin’. Tharp’s success will be tied to numerous hooks in VMC’s comprehensive catalog.
“The entire hook line-up is really strong, pretty impressive,” Tharp says. “Throughout my career, there’s never been one manufacturer that has made everything I need to do my job, and I’ve got that now with VMC. They’ve got some unique features on their hooks that are definitely going to be an asset for me next year, fishing 18 big tournaments like I’m going to.”
Pitchin’ plastics & buzzin’ worms
For pitchin’ and flippin’, Tharp will reach most often for Trigger X’s Goo Bug – his “favorite bait shape that they have.” He also likes the Flappin’ Bug, Flappin’ Craw, Flutter Worm, Buzz Tail Worm and Slop Hopper.
“Those are all baits that I plan on using to win tournaments next year,” he says. “The cool thing about Trigger X is that they offer everything that I need – from a 10-inch worm to a drop-shot bait. They’ve got a lot of new colors out this year and a complete line of plastics. They offer all the color and shapes I need to do my job.”
Both the Slop Hopper and the Buzz Tail Worm will likely be tied on as Tharp kicks off regular-season competition in Florida. He’s fishing an FLW Tour event Feb. 6-9 on Lake Okeechobee and a Bassmaster Elite Series event in March on the St. John’s River. “Those are some of the baits that I’ll utilize at those places just about the entire event,” he says.
Because the Florida fisheries feature a lot of shallow vegetation, Tharp likes his chances with a Trigger Buzz Tail Worm. “I’ve utilized that style of worm for a long time,” he says. “It’s just a staple in my arsenal of lures. I love fishing it in really shallow grass. Shallow-grass fishing is one of my strengths.”