At the 51st Bassmaster Classic, there are lots of questions. The sport’s grandest derby and biggest consumer show is in Fort Worth, Texas, this year, and the competition will take place on nearby Lake Ray Roberts, June 11-13.

The buzz is all about who will win (and the heat), but since we’re FTR, I was much more interested in what will win? What lure will lead an angler to the biggest victory of his life?

So, I asked the 54 competitors exactly that: What lure type is going to win this Bassmaster Classic?

The answers may or may not surprise you, but they’ll certainly tell you a lot about the conditions these anglers will face this week.

Before I share the responses, I should note that east Texas has had a lot of rain lately, and Ray Roberts is 3 or 4 feet higher than usual. Many of the boat docks (and there aren’t a lot of boat docks on this lake) that might have been targets of skipped worms, buzzbaits and jigs, are actually underwater. A lot of the competitors will be fishing with their boats atop the usual shoreline, casting (or more likely pitching) their lures on what’s usually dry ground.

The water is mostly dingy, but there’s clear water to be found if an angler wants it. And because the spawn is over, but the weather has not yet put the bass into their usual summertime patterns, the fish are reportedly scattered.

That said, 54% of the anglers predicted that a beaver- or creature-style bait will win the tournament. Another 17% picked a jig and chunk trailer or soft plastic craw.

That’s very telling. Seventy-one percent of the competitors are clearly of the opinion that the Classic will be won by someone pitching and flipping to shallow cover.

What’s more, they’re also saying (without quite saying it) that they personally will be fishing those baits in that manner when competition begins on Friday.

Of course, that leaves nearly 30% of the field saying it’ll be something else. Twenty-one percent picked a diving crankbait—anything from a square bill to a medium diver to a deep diver.

Four percent chose a bladed jig. Another four percent chose a swimbait, and a single angler chose a Neko rig (finesse plastic worm rig).

Photo courtesy of B.A.S.S.

Ordinarily, such a supermajority of the field doing one thing would indicate that it’s the “right” thing to do, but the Classic is different. It tends to favor risk takers and the unconventional The winner of this tournament will need to find something just a little bit different from the rest of the field to distinguish himself and his catch.

It might be a specific area (though the anglers tell me that Ray Roberts is fishing “small” and that key areas will be crowded). It might be a lure (perhaps a prototype that’s been specifically designed for these conditions). It might be a presentation (a lot of bass fishing methods have come to the fore as a result of Classic success; think of the Carolina rig after Jack Chancellor’s win in 1985).

Or it might be something as simple as an angler who goes three days without making a mistake or having misfortune take him down. Fishing “clean” and making the most of the opportunities that present themselves can go a long way over three short days in Texas.