Slowing down and bulking up helped Dave Lefebre to a runner-up finish last week in the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Alabama’s Wheeler Lake, a Tennessee River reservoir. His top three baits were a Terminator Pro Series Jig, a Terminator® Super Stainless Buzzbait and a top secret Terminator® Popping Frog that won’t be available for public purchase until July.
“The jig, the frog, the buzzbait, everything was about trying to keep the bait as slow as possible,” says Lefebre, a Rapala® pro competing in his first season on the Elite Series after winning six tournaments and almost $2 million in 13 years on the FLW Tour.
As did most competitors, Lefebre reported having had a difficult practice and said he found only one area with the potential to produce enough big fish to win the tournament. “The first fish I caught in practice was a 7-pounder on the buzzbait,” he says. “That’s how I found that spot.”
Terminator Super Stainless Buzzbait
Lefebre’s buzzbait was a 1/2 oz. Terminator® Super Stainless with a gold blade, a white and red head, and the skirt removed and replaced with a long, black, soft-plastic frog on the hook. He threw it on 65-pound-test Sufix® 832 Advanced Superline® braid.
Designed to rip through vegetation and roll through wood without getting snagged, the Super Stainless Buzzbait’s frame is 30 percent more resistant to bending than lesser stainless-framed buzzbaits, making for a tougher, more maintenance-free bait. A unique beveled-edge blade design enhances flash and vibration and a premium VMC hook holds fish fast.
Lefebre’s favorite feature of the Super Stainless Buzzbait, however, is its flat head design, which allows it to plane on top of the water like a waterski and stay on the surface at a very slow retrieve speed. “Most of the other buzzbaits on the market aren’t like that,” he says. “It just makes it so I can fish it a lot slower. It stays up there better.”
LeFebre threw the Super Stainless every day of competition for the first hour.
“This type of place, this time of year, it’s a big-fish bait.” he explains. “A limit wasn’t going to be an issue any of the days — I was never fearful of that. It was just one of those deals where you want to try to get a big, bonus bite or two in the morning.”
Terminator Super Stainless Buzzbaits are available in Black/Blue, Bright White Shad and Chartreuse White Shad, and with black, gold or nickel blades.
Terminator Popping Frog
The other Terminator topwater bait key to LeFebre’s first top-10 finish on the Bassmaster Elite Series was top secret until photos and video of the Wheeler tournament hit the Internet. The Terminator Popping Frog is scheduled to be unveiled for the first time publicly in July at ICAST, the sportfishing industry’s biggest U.S. tradeshow. Only Lefebre and select other Rapala pros have them.
“I can’t say much about it yet, and I wish I didn’t ever have to say anything about it, actually!” Lefebre says, laughing. “I will say that it’s the best frog I’ve ever had on. It’s effortless to use — it’s so easy a caveman could do it.”
Like all the Terminator baits Lefebre used successfully on Wheeler, the Popping Frog was mostly black. On its back were red accents. He fished it slow, as he did his other baits.
“I was just popping it and leaving it sit,” he says. “I caught a bunch on it the first day, and the second day I weighed in one on it. It was very instrumental in my finish, for sure.”
Lefebre threw the Popping Frog on 65-pound-test Sufix 832 Advanced Superfine braid.
Terminator Pro Series Jig
Another top bait in Lefebre’s arsenal was a 3/8th oz. black and blue Terminator Pro Series Jig. Featuring a unique head design, the Pro Series Jig is much more versatile than most jigs. Custom jig-skirt colors, color-matched brush guards, a single rattle and a heavy VMC Black Nickel hook further differentiate it from other cookie-cutter jigs that all pretty much look the same.
Lefebre dressed his Pro Series Jig with a big black-with-blue-fleck chunk-style soft plastic trailer to “make it bigger, bulkier” and slow its fall. “I could see it sinking the first few inches, that’s how slow it fell,” he says. His bites came only after “multiple pitches to the same exact target,” he says. “With a trim, compact jig, it would have been a lot easier, but that’s how important I thought the big stuff was to catch the bigger fish.”
His prime targets were partially submerged trees surrounded by “millions of” lily pads. “I think the whole thing centered around those lily pads,” he says. “There were lily pads that went out about a quarter-mile from where I was. They were definitely a draw to the fish. Every piece of wood that I caught a big fish on was inside a lily pad area.”
To get bites, Lefebre pitched repeatedly to “little branches and stuff here and there, yo-yo-ing it in those V spots, which is really dangerous once you hook one,” he says. “But I had to get that thing straight and vertical — the line up and down — they were really tight underneath that stuff.”
Not all his bites came off the wood, but he never got a bite “just blindly flipping lily pads,” he says. “I caught some big ones within the lily pads themselves, but it had to be like a different type of looking clump of them — something a lot different to get a bite off them.”
Although many of the fish in his livewell were spitting up “Red Lobster-looking crayfish,” Lefebre bucked tradition and didn’t match the hatch, opting instead for a black-and-blue jig.
“We had some significant rainfall, so it got muddy the second day and the black and blue just became a no-brainer,” he explains. “I did start out with a green pumpkin jig too, but when you take off at 6:15 in the morning when it’s darker, and the water colors up, a darker color sometimes just works better. Three or four flips after I switched colors, I got a bite. They kept biting it, so I stuck with it.”
Lefebre threw his Terminator Pro Series Jig on 20-pound Sufix Invisiline 100% Fluorocarbon line.