Jeff Gustafson shares his Bassmaster Classic-winning secrets with his friend and mentor, Outdoor Canada’s Gord Pyzer

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Gustafson fights a fish during the Classic (Photo: Seigo Sait/B.A.S.S)

GORD: Earlier, you said you felt you had the jerk shad the fish wanted, as well as the moping technique, to win the Classic. So, what’s the key to moping?

JEFF: There are two things that are very important with this technique. You always want to keep the bait hanging above the fish. It’s tempting when you see them on your sonar to just drop your bait right in their face. But if you can keep it above them, make them look up, make them swim up and work for it, it seems to be a big trigger to make more of them bite.

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The other thing is that every time my bait comes out of the water, I’m looking to see where the knot is. I want that knot to be 90 degrees off the eye of the jig. That’s going to help it stay horizontal and natural-looking in the water.

I’ve used a lot of different jerk shads over the years—every jerk shad that’s out there—and I like the Z-Man baits with the buoyant ElaZtech material. I really think that helps keep the bait hanging horizontally in the water. It’s not sitting pointing up or down. Adding a dab of superglue on the bait is mandatory with any of the ElaZtech stuff. When you do that, unless a fish bites your line or you snag, you never lose a bait. I didn’t have to change my baits at all on the days of the tournament. I’d rig up five or six new ones every morning, just so they had a little bit of fresh scent on them. That material, for a lot of finesse tactics, is the best.

GORD: You’ve talked about how using the right rod, reel and line allows you to mope properly. Give us the details.

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JEFF: You want a medium-action spinning rod—something that’s not too stiff—because a lot of the bites happen fairly close to the boat. I use a 7’ 3” medium-action G. Loomis NRX+ 872. I’m spoiled because I get to use the best equipment you can for this technique. I’ve used a Shimano Stella reel and 10-pound Power Pro for years. It’s a bulletproof braided line. I was also using a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader. Shimano has some new fluorocarbon coming out this summer called Mastiff, and I got some samples at the start of the year. It’s been really good, passing all my tests.