Mark Menendez is at it again. First let’s cover two lures that he’s using that aren’t so old. The first is a 3/8-ounce Strike King Premier Spinnerbait. The consummate lure tinkerer is adding a less-than-an inch piece of chartreuse worm to make the lure stand out in the brackish water. He's also using a 4-inch Strike King Rage Tail Craw with 5/0 hook and 5/16-ounce sinker.
Those details I got from Menendez this morning. What’s peculiar though is he’s also using a homemade, custom spinnerbait. Ironically, Menendez followed this same throwback path last year at the Elite Series event on Lake Martin, where he went really retro with a spinnerbait. And nearly won that tournament.
Menendez first used the throwback at the 1997 B.A.S.S. MegaBucks tournament on Richland Chambers Reservoir in Texas. Using the lure he caught a largemouth weighing 13 pounds, 9 ounces, to become the heaviest bass ever caught in B.A.S.S. competition at the time. After weighing the epic catch he recalled what happened after leaving the weigh-in scales. None other than Rick Clunn recognized the spinnerbait’s peculiar skirt color as something special. Menendez described the skirt color as cantaloupe, including some red that he added for extra strike appeal in the dirty water.
Now, we don’t know if he’s using that color today, but it’s significant to this story that relates to Clunn, also fishing today.
“That’s an Elroy color,” proclaimed Clunn.
Menendez was clueless about the “Elroy” significance and even more curious of Clunn’s excitement. Then he received a history lesson from Clunn, who informed him Elroy Kreuger first used the skirt color in the 1970s. The four-time world champion then explained he regarded Krueger as the greatest spinnerbait fisherman of all time.
“He took me from being a chunk and wind spinnerbait angler to understanding the art and science of using the lure, including its versatility,” Clunn told Menendez.
Kreuger, a native Texan like Clunn, fished the 1974 and 1975 Bassmaster Classic. He mentored Clunn and even allowed the young pro to share a motel room at B.A.S.S. tournaments. Kreuger was highly regarded in Texas for his intuitive fishing skills, wisdom and experience until his death in 2015. Krueger taught Clunn about super-sizing willowleaf blades to create more torque, about increasing water displacement using large Indiana and Colorado blades for dirty water, and many more intricate details of using the lure.
“It was typical Clunn, deep diving into a topic beyond the surface of how a lure was designed to be used,” said Menendez. “That’s what made him one of the greatest anglers of all time.”
Whether or not this is among the same lineage of retro spinnerbaits being used today, you can bet that Menendez will share what he used with Clunn.