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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Diversity is key to any fishermen, but Tommy Skarlis is taking it to another level, adding 2013 Crappie Master National Champion to his resume. The Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters National Championship took place this past weekend Grenada Lake and featured two Iowa residents that claimed the title. Weighing in 27.83 pounds of crappie, Skarlis and teammate Kyle Steinfeldt took home the top honors, beating the nearest competitors by over two pounds.
Skarlis has been a staple on professional walleye circuits, most recently the National Walleye circuit. However, Skarlis believed in his capabilities as a crappie angler and made the decision to fish both circuits as a professional.
As impressive as the win is, the real story is how the team brought 27-plus pounds of crappie to the scales. Precision was key to the technique used by the team. Setting lines out at 77 feet, using Offshore Inline planer boards, the pair trolled at 2.5 mph and as low as one mph. Skarlis attributes much of the success to keeping his speed to the Evinrude ETec and Minn Kota EM trolling motors.
Skarlis and Steinfeldt won the event using a non-traditional trolling technique by trolling #5 and #6 Berkley Flicker Shads, using 10-pound Berkley Trilene XT, and Abu Garcia Line counter reels.
“Really the key was the Trilene XT and #6 Flicker Shads,” said Skarlis. “I think we were dialed into the bite pretty early in the tournament, which gave us plenty of confidence. Every piece of our gear played an important role, but the Flicker Shads made the biggest difference. I’ve dealt with Berkley Flicker Shads quite a bit in my walleye career, and they are just as effective on crappie as they are on walleye. To be honest, I hope no one in the south figures out how well these Flicker Shads work.”
The Berkley pros came away with two Z7 Nitro boats for their winning effort.
“I love everything about the Crappie Masters,” said Skarlis. “Since 2008, I figured if I wanted to stay in the game that I love I’d have to diversify. Crappie Masters allowed me to do that. It is a well-organized event and this just seemed to be our year. Berkley Fishing has been a huge help throughout the entire season and really, my whole career. Their support through my career is really important to the success I’ve found on the water.”