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Alabama veteran angler Randy Howell won the 2014 Bassmaster Classic after surging back from eleventh place on the final day of the competition. He has fished competitively for almost two decades on the BASS and FLW circuits. This summer he recommends the crankbait that helped him claim the Bassmaster Classic title.

The Lure
Livingston Lures Howeller Dream Master Classic crankbait, which Howell uses for shallow to 10-foot presentations. Howell favors the Guntersville Craw (his Classic-winning color, above), Melon Shad (chartreuse-blue back) and Threadfin. The crankbait has a microchip inside that creates sounds like clicking crawfish or shad. The lure is available in 21 colors starting August 6.

The Tackle
Howell throws the crankbait on 14-pound test Gamma fluorocarbon line in shallow water. In deeper areas he downsizes to a 10-pound Gamma fluorocarbon. He uses a 7-foot medium-light Daiwa Tatula rod for shallow conditions and a 7-foot Tatula for deep water, both with a Tatula 100 reel with 6.3:1 ratio.

When to Fish It
“Crankbaits are my favorite things, definitely, in the late summer and early fall,” Howell said. “I’ve thrown them for years. In summer you can find fish shallow or deep, depending on where you are, so it’s a great bait to cover water and different conditions or depths. But I have a lot of confidence in crankbaits so I usually have at least one tied on almost year-round.”

Howell won the Classic in February and is accustomed to fishing in Alabama in late winter, when pre-spawn bass begin getting antsy and hungry. Square-bill and medium-diving crankbaits are deadly then, but still land big bass the rest of the year.

Where to Fish It
Use the Howeller around rocky points, riprap, docks, bridge pilings, discharges, and shoreline cover.

How to Fish It
In typical crankbait fashion, Howell bangs it off rocks, eases the bait through woody shoreline cover or stumps, and runs it down trees or beside docks and boathouses. The heavier fluorocarbon line helps the bait run higher in shallow water. Howell said the design of the lip deflects well and also helps prevent snags, especially in rocks. On ledges in deeper water, he runs it steadily or with a stop-and-go retrieve, depending on what the bass respond to better.

Why It Works
Howell favors shallow rocks because they hold crayfish, minnows, algae that smaller forage eats and often are near hard bottom. He sticks with basics like crayfish and shad colors, opting for specific colors depending on water clarity and the dominant forage species.

“I can take some bream, shad and different basic colors things like that and really cover water and catch them anywhere I go,” he said.