Alabama pro bass angler Randy Howell got what he wanted and more in 2014.
Of course, there was the Bassmaster Classic win in February. That was the crowning achievement so far in his 22-year pro bass fishing career.
Then a few months later, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits gave him a soft plastic that will add firepower to his arsenal of artificial lures for more tournaments on the Bassmaster Elite circuit in 2015.
The new 7 ¾-inch Kut Tail Worm will be available to the public this month.
“Yeah, I’ve been asking them for a bulky worm for a magnum football-shaped shaky head,” Howell said a few days before Thanksgiving. “It can be widely used all across the spectrum.”
For now, he’s satisfied with throwing it primarily on a shaky head of his own design and soon to be marketed as the Randy Howell Magnum Football Shaky Head by Lunker Lure Products.
He first got his hands on the new Kut Tail Worm in late summer, which was shaky head time, he said. But he can’t wait for late winter and spring to throw it on a Carolina rig.
Howell believes it’ll also be very productive Texas-rigged around brush piles, as well as in underwater vegetation. Heck, he said, it probably will trigger bites as a wacky worm.
“It’s an all-around, versatile worm. I’ll have it in my boat year-round,” he said.
The 41-year-old pro from Alabama was hopeful for another year like he had in 2014.
And what a year it was after that Classic victory on Lake Guntersville in Alabama, he said. He won the big one — the coveted title — with 67.8 pounds, to bring his career winning total to $1,584,000.
“Time’s been flying. It’s been awesome,” Howell said. “It’s been a big-time blessing. Everywhere I turn, it’s been a blessing, of course. It’s been a humbling experience all year.”
And he’s looking forward to tying on the Kut-Tail Worm at the 2015 Classic scheduled for next month on Lake Hartwell.
The lure’s shape appeals to him; it’s just what he wanted when he gave his input on the design.
“I like the way they started the worm out,” he said. “The nose is not so fat it can’t fit up against a football head or up against a bullet weight. It fattens up in the midsection, giving it a bulky look like a baby snake.
“Then it tapers down in the hook area.”
Fishing the plastic worm with that tapered-down hook area on a Randy Howell Magnum Football Shaky Head — 3/8-ounce football jig with a 7/0 hook or a ¾- or 1-ounce model with an 8/0 hook — increases the hook-catch ratio to 5 to 1, he said.
Gary Yamamoto, founder and owner of Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, was pleased with the newest artificial lure in his long, successful line of soft plastics. He said it is scheduled to be on fishing tackle racks and shelves in January.
It was time for the company to put something like this on the table, Yamamoto said.
“Tournament fishing for a living, I visit a lot of lakes — (and) more and more of these lakes are being managed by top-notch fisheries biologists, and they’re producing bigger and bigger fish. Those big fish are looking for big bait, which is why I’ve been redesigning some of my smaller, finesse-style baits to give them what they’re looking for.”
Howell’s reliance on the shaky head goes back several years to a Bassmaster tournament on Kentucky Lake. After the first day, he was in second place and returned with his co-angler, an elderly man, to the hump he was fishing that rose to within 10-feet of the surface. There was a sweet spot that he felt held fish.
Howell told his tournament partner he was catching bass on a certain plastic worm and color. The man showed up and started casting a 5 ½-foot-long pistol-grip fishing rod with a round leadhead used to with saltwater soft plastics on the business end.
“A big ol’ leadhead. I said ‘Do you need a bullet weight?’ He said ‘No,’ ” Howell recalled.
Right off the bat, the man jumped a 4 ½-pounder. Then he put two quality bass in the boat, all away from what Howell thought was the sweet spot.
“You can’t have any pride in a tournament. I said ‘Give me one of those hooks,’” Howell said with a chuckle.
He filled out his limit — a good bag — to stay in contention.
Howell went on to finish a strong fifth in that tournament.
Soon thereafter, he contacted Lunker Lure Products, and the company started hand-pouring him some special leadheads that he used for years before shaky heads actually hit the market.
Now he has a confidence bait to put on his own shaky head.
Call 800-645-2248 or go to www.baits.com for more information on the new 7 ¾-inch Kut-Tail Worm and other Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, like the similarly new 4 ¾-inch Heart-Tail, 5-inch California Roll (aka Spade-Tail Worm) and Yama-Frog.