Three men who helped revolutionize bass-fishing equipment and techniques and a prolific writer who's also a casting wizard will be inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame tonight in Birmingham, Ala.
The class of 2007 includes equipment innovator, lure-designer and nine-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Basil Bacon; veteran fishing writer and trick-caster Stan Fagerstrom; legendary lure-maker Bill Norman; and Dee Thomas, "the father of flipping." They'll be enshrined during a ceremony in conjunction with this year's Classic at Lay Lake.
Here's a look at the contributions of each of the new Hall members.
Missouri's Basil Bacon won two BASS tournaments in the 1970s and was the circuit's Angler of the Year (AOY) on 1973-74. He also notched a tour-level victory as recently as 2002, when he won the Old Hickory FLW Tour.
He was also a pioneer of the flipping technique that was invented by fellow enshrinee Thomas. He was the first to design a flipping button for a baitcasting reel (a feature that's standard on most models of today) and developed the raised flipping deck and four-bladed prop now incorporated on bass boats.
He was the mind behind some of the most popular baits of his era, including the Bacon Rind and Bacon Strip soft-plastic lures and the Wakin' Bacon spinnerbait.
He made the Top 10 in more than 125 tournaments during his career, including more than 40 BASS events.
Stan Fagerstrom has achieved notoriety as both a writer and a trick-caster.
Washington resident Stan Fagerstrom has been writing about bass fishing in the West since he returned from a stint in the South Pacific during World War II. His work has appeared in Bassmaster, Bassin', Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and Sports Afield. He's written countless newspaper articles and is currently the author of four Internet columns.
His casting skills have been featured in outdoors shows since 1952, and he's given performances in such far-away locations as Japan and Brazil. He once gave a demonstration for Japan's Princess Nobuko while attending a major show in Tokyo.
He was the only writer from the Pacific Northwest invited to the first Bassmaster Classic at Nevada's Lake Mead. He covered more than 30 Classics for a variety of publications over ensuing years and also performed at many Classic Outdoors Shows.
He's won numerous awards for his writing, and his poetry about fishing has been widely published in both printed media and on the Internet. He's written three books on fishing and starred in two casting instructional videos.
The late Bill Norman of Arkansas was the inventor of some of the most famous lures the sport has ever known, including the Big N, Little N, Tiny N, N-Ticer and DD 22. As a pioneer in lure development, he was one of the first manufacturers to view major bass tournaments as vehicles to get his products in front of the fishing public.
Bill Norman was responsible for some of the most famous lures the sport has ever known.
His company was one of the first (if not the very first) to sponsor a team of professional anglers on the national circuits, and he was also a competitor in some early BASS events.
Before he started his own company, he worked for the Arkansas firm that eventually became PRADCO (Plastics Research and Development Company). His experience with assembly-line methods was combined with other employees' knowledge of plastics, and during that period the legendary Cotton Cordell Big O went from a lure that was carved from wood to one made of plastic.
Throughout his career, he demonstrated an uncanny ability to predict future developments in bass fishing – and to capitalize on them.
California's Dee Thomas won the 1975 Bull Shoals BASS Invitational with a technique he called flipping, and his specialized method of catching bass revolutionized the sport. He taught it to his friend Dave Gliebe, who used it to win two BASS Invitationals the following year.
Thomas worked closely with Dave Myers of Fenwick to perfect the first-ever flipping stick. Today, almost every major rod manufacturer offers an assortment of them, and not much of his original design has been changed.
Dee Thomas changed the face of tournament bass fishing when he won the 1975 Bull Shoals BASS Invitational with a technique he called flipping.
He opted to remain with his family and forego chasing fishing fame back East, and has been a dominant presence in Western events for decades. He won 13 times on the Western Bass circuit and garnered three AOYs.
Thomas didn't make the trip to Birmingham to receive the honor. Instead, it will be accepted for him by fellow California native Gary Klein.
"It's about time we see him inducted," Klein said. "He's very, very deserving. There's not many anglers in our sport who are truly responsible for creating a technique that changed manufacturers' thoughts. The flipping stick, flipping reel and raised casting deck are all because of Dee."
> The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame dropped the word "Professional" from its name. "I personally had people tell me they believed only professional anglers were able to be involved, which prevented them from getting involved," said Sammy Lee, president of the Hall's board of directors. "This new name more accurately defines our mission to honor those within the fishing industry who have contributed in great ways to the sport."