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Stan Fagerstrom

Stan Fagerstrom is a member of both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Stan is also known internationally for his casting skills. Stan welcomes your e-mail comments at [email protected]

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January 09, 2015

An Expert Picks His Products – Part 3

by Stan Fagerstrom

There's no mystery why one of the most knowledgeable "Behind the Scenes" bass fishermen I've ever met selects the lures he does whenever he climbs in his bass boat.

That man is the friend I've told you about in my past two columns. Allan Ranson is a top executive of the Strike King Lure Company. For years, he has helped develop and direct the activities of this record setting Tennessee based lure building operation.

I called Ranson a "Behind the Scenes" bass fishing expert because I like to think I know one when I see them. My qualifications? Well, for starters I began writing about bass fishing way back in 1946. I've covered professional fishing events all over the United States for decades.

You're looking at a man who has a whole lot to do with producing some of the lures you probably use in your own bass fishing. He's Allan Ranson, one of the top executives of Tennessee based Strike King Lures.

It all started when I covered the first bass Bassmasters Classic on Lake Mead in 1971. Among other things, I covered all but two of the first 30 Bassmasters Classics and for most of these events, I was actually in the boat with one of the Classic qualifiers as he did his best to walk away this most wanted to all bass tournament trophies.

I've also had the good fortune to witness the competitive events of other bass fishing organizations ranging from the former Red Man operation to Bassin' Gal and Lady Bass a number of others.

And finally, at the risk of being accused of thumping my own tub, you'll find I've been voted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. So I like to think I do know my bass from a hole in the ground and that I really know bassin' expertise when I see it.

Allan Ranson himself neatly sums up why I pin that knowledgeable expert label on his Strike King shirt. "I love to catch fish as much or more than the next guy," he says, "so I am always trying to increase the odds in my favor every way I can. Certain lures have a knack for catching more fish than others and those are the ones I like to be using.
Three of the lures Strike King makes are my favorites because they are unique and deadly at tricking fish into biting. Each of these three lures has proven over and over to me to be really special."

If you've read my last two columns, you're aware that I've managed to get my friend Allan to name the three Strike King Lures he'd select if they were the only baits he could use on his next three bass fishing trips. That's a darn tough question for someone in his position, but he has managed to do it.

The first of the three lures Allan named was the Strike King Super Finesse Worm. In my last column I detailed why he had made this choice. In this, the third column in this series, let's look closely at his second selection.

What three lures would Allan Ranson select if that's all he could use for his next few fishing trips? These Zero Worms would be one of them.

"The second of the three baits I'd pick," he says, "is the Strike King Zero. The Zero is a Senko style stick worm that is made out of our ElaZtech material. What makes these baits so good is that when they are falling to the bottom on a slack line they shimmy or shake along the way. Each end of the lure is wiggling back and forth as it falls.

"To make a plastic bait do this, they need to be really soft and contain lots of salt. The more salt you put into such baits the faster they sink. The problem with so many of these baits you see on the market is that they tear up so easily as a result of being so soft and having so much salt. The ElaZtech material of the Zero is certainly more durable."

Ranson will tell you he loves to fish this worm Texas Style. He fishes it weightless and gets the rate of fall he wants by changing the size of the hook he uses with it. The larger the hook, the faster the bait drops.

Allan Ranson has spent a whole lot of time in a bass boat himself. He has fished all over the place with a huge variety of lures.

He often uses a 6-foot, 9-inch fairly heavy action spinning rod with 20- to 30-pound braided line to skip cast the Zero up under bushes, piers and docks. "It's a ‘Killer Technique", he says. "If I'm fishing around grass, I'll rig it Wacky Style."

Ranson says Strike King considered calling this bait the "Census Taker" when they first introduced it. "It's one of those baits," he says, "that you feel like if a bass just sees it they're going to hit it."

"You'll find that the more you throw one of these Zeros," Allan says, "that it's going to eventually lose some of its salt. It's still not going to tear up on you, but you may want to change if it's not dropping as fast as you want."

Allan Ranson often fishes these Zero Worms Wacky Style. He also likes to cast them up under potential bass holding cover.

In one of my earlier columns, I mentioned that one of the lures Ranson had picked as one of his favorite three caused some action on my part and that you might feel the same way. Keep an eye out for my next column. I'll tell you what that third lure Allan Ranson named is and why I feel as I do about it.

It's something you might not be using in your own approach to bass fishing – and you're missing one heck of a great technique if you aren't. You'll find all the details right here beginning Feb. 1.

-To Be Continued-

October 31, 2014

An Expert Picks His Products — Part 1

by Stan Fagerstrom

I'm one of the luckiest old timers who ever picked a tangled backlash out of his level wind reel.

And when I mention luck, I'm not thinking of the wondrous opportunities I've had to fish from the Amazon to Alaska or the fish I've put in the boat from Nevada to New Zealand.
What's kicking around in my head as I sit down to do this column is just how fortunate I've been to get to know some of the guys you don't often read about in the fishing reports.

But the men I have in mind are every bit as important in the fishing world as those who do get the headlines — even more so. The men I'm thinking about are those who operate behind the scenes. They are the men who create and oversee the production of the lures you, me and those dudes who do get to walk away with the tournament trophies use to put fish in the boat.

When I mentioned my good fortune, I was thinking of a few such individuals I've been especially blessed to be able to call my friends. I want to tell you about just one of them in this and my next column.

Allan Ranson started out with the Strike King Lure Company, of Collierville, Tennessee, 18 years ago. For years he has helped guide the activities of this highly regarded producer of many of the nation's top fishing lures — especially those used to put bass in the boat.

The man I have in mind was still in the fingerling stage when he got his introduction to bass fishing. His dad used to take him along on his fishing adventures near the family home at Lake Hamilton down in Arkansas. By the time he was 12 years old, he was into tying his own flies and polishing the skills required to put fish in the boat.

Four years later when he was 16, he took Mark Davis — a winning bass tournament pro you have read about — for his first ride in a bass boat. Mark was 13 at the time. The man I'm writing about stayed associated with the tools required for bass fishing when he was out of school in the summertime by working at a local sporting goods store.

This kid was just as good with the figures and facts he encountered in school as he was with his bass baits. He graduated from Lake Side High School at Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1978, was in the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at the University of Arkansas and graduated in 1982 with a degree in accounting. He went on to become a CPA, a craft he was engaged in for the next 14 years.

Allan Ranson has spent has spent more time in a bass boat than some of the professional bass tournament winners you read so much about.

Fortunate indeed are those relatively few individuals who are able to merge their God given talents with the love they have for their favorite recreational interests. I make that comment in part based on my own good fortune to have done much the same thing.

That's exactly what the man I'm writing about has done. Today this man, Allan Ranson, has been with the Strike King Lure Company, headquartered at Collierville, Tennessee, for the past 18 years. Since 1997, he has been the company's chief operating officer. He became a minority owner in 2002 and today is in charge of all Strike King operations except sales.

Ask anyone who knows him as I do and they'll tell you — Allan is also one of the most respected and well liked individuals in his field of endeavor. In the beginning, I mentioned how fortunate I felt having had opportunity to get to know a few of the individuals who operate behind the scenes in the field of fishing lure production. Allan Ranson is the very first of these individuals who came to mind. I'm proud to call him my friend.

This executive of one of the nation's top lure marketing companies puts his faith and his family at the very top of his daily existence. He's also manages to share his knowledge and love of bass fishing with his family. He is pictured here with his son Alex after they had won a bass fishing contest.

I could probably devote the next three pages to detailing why I feel as I do about Allan, but I'm only going to get into one of the thoughts knowing him immediately brings to mind.

If you know a bass from a bullfrog, you're aware of the up front and center place the Strike King Lure Company plays in the role of fishing lure production. The company has provided more than its share of the tools that some of the nation's top bass anglers have used in their record-setting careers.

It was a question I once asked Allan that provided the primary basis for what you're reading right now, and the theme that will be continued in my next two columns. The question was simply this: "What three Strike King lures would you select, my friend, if that's all you could use on your next three bass fishing trips?"

Allan Ranson's wife will tell you she'll never be up to ears in bass fishing. Be that as it may, Rhonda Ranson does get her share of fish when she does choose to do it. This nice fish was just one of the many she boated when she accompanied her husband to Anglers Inn on Mexico's fabled Lake El Salto.

Just pretend, if you will, that you're standing in Allan's boots as you attempt to answer that question. Here you are, a much respected top executive at one of the country's top fishing lure producers. You could walk through the front door of the Strike King Lure Company today and walk out with all the lures you could carry with no questions asked.

But what would you select if you could only take away three? And why would you select them? The more experienced you are, the more difficult it would probably be to answer. That's because you know darn well what's really more important on any bass fishing trip is that it's what those fickle buggers with the big mouths want that really counts.

I posed that three lure question to Allan Ranson earlier this year. He took some time to answer. I could hardly wait to find out what his answers were going to be. That's partly because I'm fully familiar with his background. I knew just how broad is the base of experience and knowledge from which his selections were to be made.

Allan Ranson will tell you he always keeps one of his rods rigged with a certain Strike King lure lure every time he's on the water looking for bass. Watch for the details on what that lure is and how this internationally recognized expert uses it in the December issue of this column.

Allan, you see, besides being immersed daily with reams of intricate details regarding bass lures and an almost unlimited knowledge of the variety of techniques in which these lures are used, is just as deeply involved as a bass angler himself. He has spent darn near as much time in a bass boat as some of the pros. And some of the estimated 2,600 days he has spent in those bass boats has been in company with some of the bass fishing pros whose names you'd recognize in a heartbeat.

He fishes just as much as you and I do — maybe more. And as his father did when he was a kid, Allan does a lot of fishing, including several youth tournaments each year, with his two teenaged sons. Besides bass, he has fished for everything from peacock bass in the Amazon to trout and salmon in the Rockies and Alaska. He has caught tarpon in Florida and Costa Rica, bonefish in Mexico and the Bahamas as well as steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.

So what was Allan Ranson's answer to that question I posed? If you're a bassin' man yourself, you're probably as interested as I was in hearing what he has to say. Stay tuned. I'll provide the answers in next month's column.

Besides telling me what those three lure categories are, Allan also provided the reasons for his answers. I will share this much with you right now.

One of his answers will probably bring some immediate action on your part — I know it already has on mine.

-To Be Continued-
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