Going Rogue

Photo by Garrick Dixon, courtesy of B.A.S.S.

Photo by Garrick Dixon, courtesy of B.A.S.S.

Jamie Hartman wasn’t the only top finisher who went old-school-new-school on us at Toledo Bend. Indeed, tournament winner John Murray did pretty much the same thing, crediting part of his catch to a discontinued Smithwick Rogue that he estimated to be at least as old as Jordan Lee. He started the tournament with five of ‘em, lost one, and left the big burgh of Many, Loo-zee-anna with just four in his possession, a fair trade for a six figure payday.

If the talk about the Rogue sounds familiar, it may be because last year’s Toledo Bend champ, one Kevin VanDam, won the 2005 Classic in Pittsburgh by throwing an out-of-production Rogue. Unlike Murray, who jerked the lure on 14 lb. line, KVD used 8. Then again, Murray was around bigger fish, as shown by the fact that his Day Three 7 pound 10 ounce kicker weighed more than half of KVD”s total 2005 Classic-winning weight. Notably, neither KVD nor Murray was sponsored by Smithwick at the time of his victory.

After VanDam won, Smithwick reintroduced the RB1200 model that he used, but it must not have been the same, or for some other reason it didn’t gain market traction, because here it is almost 12 years later and his colleagues are still toting around the antiques. I’ve often thought that their devotion to old school lures like the Rogue, the old Bagleys and the original Wiggle Warts was based more on superstition than fact, but increasingly I’m starting to believe that they’re onto something. These guys don’t play around when it comes to competition day.

Assuming that those old lures do offer up some material difference, why haven’t the manufacturers been able to crank out exact copies? Every few years someone introduces “an exact replica of the original Wart,” and it yet the eBay auctions for the old ones continue to flourish. The big box stores can precisely reverse-engineer every name brand plastic and Japanese crankbait and sell them for a fraction of the originals’ cost, so I’m baffled as to why they can’t do the same for these “better than the new ones” versions of old faithfuls.