Bobby Murray with his final-day string and Ray Scott presenting him with the $10,000 check for winning the first Bass Master Classic. Photo Bass Master Magazine Jan/Feb 1972.

Being somewhat of a tackle buff, I found it very intriguing when I read about the tackle that Bobby Murray used and swore by at the time of the 1971 Bass Master Classic. While doing my research for the 1971 Season at a Glance series, I was reading about that year’s Classic and Bob Cobb had actually pinned down Bobby Murray to ask him his tackle preferences. For those of you who started bass fishing post 2000 the tackle may seem odd and crazy. But for those of you who actually fished in this era, this review will bring back some memories – some good and others that’ll make you scratch your head in bewilderment, how did we get away with that gear?

So, without further ado, here’s what Murray considered his top gear of the time (1).

“To help catch fish after locating them I use a variety of different equipment, explains Murray. “People sometimes kid me about using light tackle, six-pound line and ultra-light rods, but last year in several tournaments this proved to be successful in catching bass.”

Six-pound line and ultra-light rods? Wait, I thought Bobby was from the south – not the finesse-west or Midwest? I grew up in the west and spent a long time making fun of southern anglers and their stereotypical rope-and-winch gear. I was always taught that finesse gear and techniques were developed way outside the south. Is it possible that the southern anglers were using it behind our backs?

Cobb continues describing Murray’s tackle.

“Generally the [p]ros carry four rods and reels to cover all fishing situations. Usually two 5 1/2-foot medium action casting rods with free spool (Ambassadeur) casting reels; one spooled with 20-pound mono, the other with 15-pound test. Also, a 6 1/2-foot spinning rod with open-face spinning reel with 10- to 12-pound line, and a 5-foot ultra-light outfit loaded with 4- or 6-pound line.

“The strongly-built 5-feet, 9-inch Murray says a special 4-foot 11-inch and 5-foot, 2-inch worm rods suit him best. These length rods fit his fishing style and the shorter rod lift keeps the lure like a jig and eel hopping, not jumping. He used a casting reel with 14-pound mono at Mead.”

Okay, when was the last time any of you had a 5 1/2-foot rod in your hand while bass fishing, let alone a 4’ 11” stick? The 5 1/2-foot rods were the standard of the day and actually worked dang well for certain techniques. Why the use of shorter rods today is shunned is beyond my comprehension. This past July, Z-Man introduced their “new” Drew’s Ultimate Ned Rig rods at ICAST.  They’re a little tall at 5-foot, 10-inches but are rigged with a Tennessee handle and are about the closest thing you can get to Murray’s 1971 tackle.   I just checked their website and the rods are sold out so maybe some of you are going back to the old ways.

(1) The quotes used in this article were taken from the 1972 Jan/Feb issue of Bass Master Magazine.