Charlie Ingram wins the 1982 Team Hydra-Sports TOC. Photo Jan/Feb 1983 issue of Rooster Tails magazine.

Anyone that’s bass fished since the 80s knows of Hydra-Sports boats.  They probably also know that Earl Bentz played a significant role not only in Hydra-Sports as a company but also in regards to bass boat performance development.  What I wonder, though, is how many of you knew Hydra-Sports also printed a magazine and ran a tournament circuit?  Maybe if you owned a “Sport” in the day but I’d bet a 4-pack of Scuppernong Jelly worms you had no clue.  Today in Rooster Tails: The Magazine of Hydra-Sports, we’re going to take a little dive into Joe Reeves’ magazine.

The magazine was first published in 1981.  The magazine itself was full color, averaged around 60 pages per issue, and was staple bound.  But the magazine wasn’t just a magazine talking about the latest and greatest from Hydra-Sports.

Rooster Tails was the flagship of Joe Reeves’ concept of putting the fun back into bass fishing.  He held inexpensive tournaments with entry fees set at $100.  For a membership fee, $15/year, you got the magazine and the opportunity to fish the tournaments, assuming you owned a Hydra-Sport, or were lucky enough to team with someone who did.  The whole concept he named Team Hydra-Sports.

A young Earl Bentz hands out trophies and checks in 1983.

With respect to the tournaments, there were two divisions, East and West, although the western division didn’t go further west than Texas.  Teams fished against each other in order to qualify for the Divisional Championship, and then a Tournament of Champions.  Only the boat owner would be allowed to fish these events.

The tournaments Reeves and Team Hydra-Sports held drew many of the top pros of the day including Guy Eaker, Glin Wells, Charlie Ingram, and Stan Sloan.  But, since they were sponsored by Hydra-Sports, I wonder if they were required to fish.

The 1983 Team Hydra-Sports tournament schedule.
Bobby Murray was a big part of Hydra-Sports during this era, even writing for Rooster Tails.

The lead-in image is the cover of the January/February 1983 Issue, Volume 3 Number 1.  On the cover Charlie Ingram and Reeves hold the bag of bass that won the 1982 Tournament of Champions.  Opening the magazine you’re greeted with a note from Reeves and a full breakdown of the finances associated with the tournament circuit, which cost Hydra-Sports $181,000 out of their own pocket.

If you look at the magazine in a critical fashion, it was printed well and on good paper, had a number of industry ads in it – unlike a lot of corporate magazines – and featured writers such as Bobby Murray, Steve Price, Don Wirth and Wade Bourne.  The articles are still good and even Wirth’s humor is still funny and relevant.  I wish I’d known about the magazine back when it started.

Unfortunately, the magazine went out of print in 1986 having only printed one issue in ’85 and ’86.  I’m not sure if the tournament circuit died at the same time but from the looks of the events in the magazines, their participation was a lot lower than the other circuits at the time.

Once I get a chance to go through these magazines more thoroughly, I’ll do a much deeper dive on them and provide the magazines for all to read.  It’s a cool concept that Reeves had and what I believe was the first of its kind.