As a veteran of 16 previous Bassmaster Classics, Tommy Biffle knows all about fishing's biggest stage. As a two-time runner-up, Biffle also knows about being so close to your dream that you can almost taste it.
So, as you might guess, he wants to leave absolutely nothing to chance at this year's championship on the Louisiana Delta. Rods are checked, reels are spooled, hooks are laser sharp, boat and motors are good to go and lure colors have been customized.
That's right … customized.
After checking out the Delta during early practice periods, Biffle observed that the crawfish there "have a lot of red in them." So, quite naturally, he went to one of his sponsors — Gene Larew Lures — and made a special request.
"I wanted a different color for my Biffle Bugs," he explained. "One that was different from everything else in our lineup and that would match up with the forage here on the Delta."
The result was a color that Biffle is tentatively calling "Delta Craw," and here's how he described the hues: "It's black neon on the back with a tomato red pepper orangish looking bottom. There's nothing else like it on the market."
Biffle plans to pitch and flip his new Biffle Bugs to the shallow vegetation that seems to hold most of the Delta bass. He thinks the next Classic champ will need something between 50 and 55 pounds to win and that his specially colored Biffle Bugs are just the ticket.
Since pitching and flipping have played major roles in top finishes here in the past and Biffle is known as one the best pitchers and flippers in the world, he's naturally a pre-tournament favorite. When asked about that and the pressures it might bring, he said, "I like the way they're thinking."
Biffle plans to rig his Biffle Bugs with a 5/16- to 1 1/2-ounce tungsten slip sinker (depending upon the thickness of the cover) and a 4/0 straight-shank wide gap hook. He'll fish it on 20- to 25-pound-test Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon line spooled on a Quantum Smoke baitcaster (6.2:1 or 7:1) clamped to one of his Quantum 7 1/2-foot heavy action flipping rods.
If he casts and swims the Biffle Bug, rather than pitching and flipping it, he may drop his line size to 12-pound-test and his rod choice to a 6-foot, 10-inch model better suited to that presentation.
We'll find out this weekend if the new color pays off. We already know that the Classic champ is usually the guy doing something a little bit different from the rest of the field. Maybe "Delta Craw" will be that critical difference for Tommy Biffle.