Congratulations to Paul Wallace for winning the Bass Fishing Archives Trivia Contest with his correct answer! Read below for the answer.
Paul Elias played a critical role in the development of the Mann’s Baby 1-Minus, the first crankbait that specifically aimed to stay shallow rather than reach new depths. After a near win at Lake Okeechobee, he came to Mann’s with the idea for the bait.
“I was on my way to Mann’s after a second-place finish on Lake Okeechobee thinking I could have won with a shallower runner,” he told Mike Pehanich of Bassmaster two decades later. “I thought, ‘We have the deepest running crankbait. How about making the shallowest?'”
The result was a lure that wouldn’t dive deeper than a foot, no matter how hard you cranked, thus the name. Elias proved to be his own best advocate when he won the 1988 Top 100 Super B.A.S.S. event on Okeechobee. The Baby 1-Minus, wasn’t his only tool in that event – he also used a Rat-L-Trap and a Mann’s Mannipulator worm to amass his winning catch of 53-06, but it played an important role in his victory.
In the intervening twenty plus years, the lure has undergone some changes, but it has remained a staple in the tackle boxes of most shallow water anglers. It is deadly wherever submerged aquatic vegetation comes close to the surface but doesn’t reach it, and it is a strong substitute for a spinnerbait or chatterbait when fish won’t react to those presentations. The bearded kneel-n-reeler wasn’t the last pro to win a tournament on it, though.
Do you remember the next major victory attributed to the Baby One-Minus after Paul’s win in 1988?
In 19 B.A.S.S. events prior to the 1996 Maryland Bassmaster Top 100 on the Potomac River, Kentucky pro Dan Morehead had not yet established himself as a star on the water. He had a pedigree – his father Charles “Doc” Morehead was a well-known regional stick who had competed in some Bassmaster tournaments – but while the 28 year old son had competed in the 1995 Bassmaster Classic, after earning checks in his first five tournaments, he then made the money cut in only two of the subsequent ten. Prior to the Potomac, he went on a small flurry, earning three checks in four tournaments. All three money finishes were 16th or better, including a then-best 7th place finish at Neely Henry in May of 1996.
At the Potomac, though, he broke through, beating out second place finisher David Fritts by over 6 pounds. He fished a difficult-to-access milfoil bed in the back of Broad Creek, keying on a ditch that positioned the fish on the falling tide.
It was a tough tournament for many. “The Potomac River is a fabulous fishery, but I don’t think we ever have hit it under such adverse conditions,” Denny Brauer told the Baltimore Sun. “it’s a muddy mess out there.”
Asked after the tournament whether he’d considered fishing Broad Creek, Brauer told the Sun: “Hell, I’m not sure I even know where it’s at.”
Morehead’s grassbed filtered out some of the sediment that plagued Brauer, who trailed him by 5 ounces heading into the last day. “When the tide was going out it cleared the water and I could see where the fish were – and where they were going….The first time I saw that it scared me to death.”
When the water started to clear, he could see the fish swimming over the top of the grass. He employed a one-two punch of a Stanley Vibrashaft spinnerbait and a chartreuse Baby 1-Minus to amass his winning catch. The latter bait, in particular, was a revelation for river rats who’d previously only used single-hooked lures around the thick grass. In the nearly 26 years since Morehead’s first victory, they have been a constant presence on tackle store shelves. Elias may have helped to engineer its birth, but Morehead pushed it over the top.
After his win on the Potomac, Morehead won one more B.A.S.S. event, the 1998 Bassmaster Invitational on Lake of the Ozarks. He last fished a B.A.S.S. tournament in November of 2002, preferring to spend his time on the FLW side of the ledger. On that circuit he’s had substantial success, and has fished 11 FLW championship tournaments. Along the way, he’s won two FLW Tour event s—a 1998 tournament on Kentucky Lake and a 2003 derby on Beaver Lake. He’s been even more successful in the EverStarts, with four wins.
His most recent EverStart victory came last fall on Kentucky Lake, when he rode an Alabama Rig to the winner’s circle. Once again, he was right on the heels of the bearded Mississippian – just as Elias introduced the 1-Minus prior to Morehead’s 1996 win, in this instance Elias had shown the world the power of the A-Rig by winning an FLW at Guntersville right before Morehead took the crown at Kentucky.