The Happiest 2nd Place Finisher

Park Falls, WI  – In the 2006 comedy Talladega Nights, the lovable and eccentric stockcar driver Ricky Bobby put being runner-up into perspective: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” The infinitely upbeat 2018 FLW Cup runner-up, James Niggemeyer, sees standing on the second highest platform through an entirely different lens, however…

“You’re talking to the happiest second place finisher in the world,” said Niggemeyer. “Clent Davis literally had a career day in the biggest FLW tournament you can fish. Kuddos to him. I wasn’t even close to first. The conditions were tough, and I did the best with what I had.”

“I wouldn’t change a single thing,” said Niggemeyer, arguably the noblest guy on the circuit.

Fishing southern reservoirs in August and September has its challenges. On Lake Ouachita, for example, you have a blend of surface temps that kiss the 90-degree mark and ozone clear water conditions. What makes for a beautiful beach and barbeque backdrop, however, urges bass anglers to fish with stealth and finesse, while continuously thumbing through their encyclopedia of tactical options.

And Niggemeyer did just that.

Image: FLW

In a tournament with a tough bite, having the right rod and reel combo is critically important. If Niggemeyer was going to weigh bag fish, he needed to buzz a lot of water, and make extra-long casts to skittish fish that were already stuffed with young-of-the-year shad. The 7’4” Legend Elite paired with a Cabela’s Arachnid reel was the ticket.

“The rod is so light,” said Niggemeyer. “I could make long casts repeatedly without feeling fatigued. The engineering built into this rod makes casting seem effortless. It’s literally so smooth I didn’t think about what I was doing—I was able to focus on getting bit and putting fish in the boat.”

He reached into his menagerie for very precise, technique-specific rods that matched each situation. But the bulk of his tournament-grade fish came buzzing by the surface, so the choice was easy: 7’4” heavy power, fast action, St. Croix Legend Elite casting rod (EC74HF).

Three 8 to 10-hour days of repetitively making 100’s of casts can completely wear an angler out. Niggemeyer credits the lean weights, handling comfort and peerless performance of his entire St. Croix collection to his overall success.

“Whether you are fishing in a tournament or fishing for fun, your goal is to land more fish. St. Croix builds quality equipment that makes you enjoy more success on the water with every cast.”


  • Integrated Poly Curve® (IPC®) tooling technology.
  • Advanced Reinforcing Technology™ (ART™).
  • Taper Enhancement Technology (TET) blank design provides curved patterns for improved action with increased sensitivity.
  • Super high-modulus SCVI graphite with FRS in lower section for maximum power and strength with reduced weight.
  • High-modulus/high-strain SCV graphite with FRS and carbon-matte scrim for unparalleled strength, durability and sensitivity.
  • Slim-profile ferrules.
  • Fuji® Torzite® tangle-free guides with titanium frames for unrivaled, 100% corrosion-proof performance.
  • Fuji® TVS blank-touch reel seat with built-in hood on spinning rods.
  • Fuji® PTS blank-touch reel seat with built-in hood on casting rods.
  • Anodized, machined-aluminum wind check.
  • Super-grade cork handle.
  • Kigan titanium hook-keeper.
  • Two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish.
  • Includes protective rod sack.
  • 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service.
  • Designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A.