Best in Show, Richmond Fishing Expo

by Chris McCotter

   Each year we scour the aisles at the Richmond Fishing Expo for new stuff to use during our New Product Showcase seminars on the bass tank as well as to recognize with our Best In Show awards. After a two-year hiatus, this year’s show had a bevy of new stuff from lures to boats and everything in between for showgoers to discover. Here are those we found to be the most intriguing heading into the new season.

Finesse Soft Plastic

  The Bizzbaits Baby Cutter Craw is a 3.25-inch soft plastic craw that can be fished Ned style, Texas-style, Carolina-rigged, as a jig or spinnerbait trailer. It comes in 10 colors including the Bourbon Blaze demonstrated on the Bass Tub. The white is great to use when sight fishing. Other colors include Green Pumpkin Magic, Green Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Alabama Craw, Black and Blue, Black and Blue Laminate, Junebug and Magic Craw. This bait is salt impregnated and scented with Jack’em Juice. 

Terminal Tackle

  The new True South Straight Up Ned jig head was demonstrated on the tank by W2’s own C.C. McCotter. Tipped with a Bizzbaits Mini Cutter Craw (see below), it was very appealing to the heavily-pressured fish in the Bass Tub of Oklahoma.

  This head features a unique tear drop bottom shape wedge and a flat bottom that greatly enhances stand up presentations of finesse type baits. They come four per pak and are available in 1/8, 3/16 and  -ounce versions.

Creature Bait

   The new BYO (Baits You Use) line comes out of the mind of Kevin McCall from down in Sutherland, Virginia. It’s a four-inch creature bait with four legs, two action claws and two antennae. You can pinch off as much or as little as you want to create your own bait. If you remove all the legs, it functions as a punch bait or trailer. Deftly pitch it to shallow shoreline grass or docks and it probably won’t hit the bottom seven times out of 10 this early spring. The colors are regionally hot and the baits are coated with crawfish oil to drive bass nuts.


  The 2023 Skeeter FXR21 in the Anna’s Marine Center booth display was drawing a lot of attention from attendees. The cement and red gel coat was stunning. The FXR21 is 21’4” long and an amazing 97” wide. The hull weigh 2,275 pounds, holds 48 gallons of fuel and up to 250 hp.


  Jeremy Reid and his trusty crew again brought a massive selection of J.B. Custom Rods to the show including the Wicked, ESP and Venom Series rods, the first of which makes our Best In Show list. The Wicked rods feature a striking red and black color scheme and the beautiful epoxy reel seat grips with EVA foam butts. The are built on ultra-sensitive and light Japanese blanks and retail for $220. A number of different actions and lengths are available for everything from drop shotting to swimbaits, topwaters to worms.


  The ABU Garcia Jordan Lee spinning reels in size 20 and 30 were flying out of the Oceans East 2 booth display. These reels were introduced last year but have maintained their popularity among area anglers looking for value in a spinning reel. Each features a composite body, metal spool, 6.2:1 gear ratio and six ball bearings for under $70.


   Tiger Crankbaits are a local company that specializes in creating custom-colored crankbaits. The new Hot Cherry Craw is custom-painted medium diving crankbait similar to a Bandit 100 that show goers snapped up like free beers at a football game. The result of a collaboration between Greg and Heidi Stinnett and long-time tournament angler Harvey Reece, Tiger Crankbaits are hot. Heidi is the creative force behind the popularity and until she’s totally overwhelmed with new bait production she’ll even repaint your favorite crankbait with a custom color.


  Donnie Bell of James River Tackle Co. did the unthinkable – he created a legitimate knock-off of the Klash 9 and Tiny Klash 6.6 glide bait everyone wants. The original is only available in Japan for $120+. Bell hand paints Klash blanks and sells them for $75. He also has a gizzard shad glide bait that features foil finishes for $75. Bell’s talent is evident from six feet away. These baits are going to account for a number of double digit mailboxes this season. Each is sold with an extra tail, which sits horizontally, not vertically on the bait. The Klash Klone is nine inches long. The Tiny Klash Klone is six inches long. 804/668-5866.


  Lin Bell of Fishing Pro Tech once again wow’d the crowd with his selection of Megabass baits, in fact, he had a Megabass rep in his booth that brought with him all kinds of goodies for Bell. The new IxI Shad TX Megabass is part of the growing jerkbait/crankbait trend. It looks like a crankbait but it suspends and you can twitch it in place. The Spawn Killer color drove those tank bass wild! The I’s in the name stand for Yuki Ito and Katsutaka Imae. These two Japanese bait designing geniouses aimed to pull out a target deeper than 12’ with a small shad body of only 2.25”.  The mounting position of the rare instantaneous center of gravity movement system «Micro LBO PAT» is positioned to create a super forward leaning posture that cannot be achieved with a normal ball center of gravity.
Ito designed the ultra-front mount, which allows the center of gravity head to approach the joint between the lip and body, and the shaft with a built-in bearing of the ultra-thin shaft. In the field test of the lab with six-pound fluorocarbon, the small bait was able to bring a masterpiece of ultra-long-distance flight and succeeded in generating an astonishing dive vector. In other words, you need one this late winter/early spring for fishing Smith Mountain Lake and Anna. 757/566-1278.


  The new MES Lures Root Frog nearly sold out at the show. Seal’s fertile lure designing mind has created a floating frog with two sets of legs imitated by silicone strands both fore and aft of a hollow body. The colors are insane, especially the one featuring day glow orange. There are  oz. hollow bodied versions as well as  -oz. versions you’ll want to try this season.

Best Booth

  With over 15 different fishing kayaks to puruse, the Appomattox River Co. display receives our Best In Show Best Display Award. Vince and his crew have to load in last and load out first since they are at one of the roll up doors and their massive display of boats takes a coordinated effort to set up and break down.

  There were boats from Hobie, Jackson, Native and other manufactures from this Farmville-based kayak supplier.

  Congratulations to all who displayed at the Richmond Fishing Expo for a great effort. We enjoyed seeing you all and appreciate you coming back. We’ll look forward to next year!

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