Pro bass fishing fans need to get comfortable saying the name Justin Lucas when it comes to discussing the truly exceptional anglers fishing on the Bassmaster Elite Series. In 2014, Lucas left the FLW Tour to chase his dreams of winning the Angler of the Year title and the Bassmaster Classic.
Lucas may only be in his second season with the Elites, but his impact has already been felt across the expanse that is pro fishing. Whether it's his consistently high placings, his win at the Sacramento River this year, or his knowledge and ability to work with the modern media, Lucas is an angler who is on the scene to stay.
Switching to the Elites in 2014.
"I fished as a pro on the FLW Tour from 2010 through 2013." Said Lucas. "I loved my time there. Before fishing as a pro, I was also a co-angler. I won 5 events as a co-angler.
"I decided to make the switch to the Elites when I qualified for the 2014 season. My reasoning was simple, I wanted to compete against the best anglers and be able to promote my sponsors like they want me to promote them without the restrictions imposed by the FLW Tour.
"The FLW has great anglers, but the Elites just has a higher concentration of the best. Look at guys like Powroznik, Tharp, Hite, Christie, all FLW anglers now fishing the Elites. And this year, Brent Ehrler. That guy scares me."
Lucas is not a fan of other anglers deciding your fate during a tournament.
"Besides the sponsorship issues at FLW, the co-angler situation is something I don't care for," said Lucas. "I was a co-angler there. The co-anglers are terrific, but I don't like that someone in the back of the boat can take fish off a spot you need.
"Especially if you draw a talented co-angler and the next guy gets someone who can't fish very well. That's happened to every pro and cost every pro one way or the other. At this level, it should just be a pro succeeding and failing on their own."
Winning isn't everything for Lucas.
"I realize I can't come into a season with the goal to win a specific event," said Lucas. "I won my first event this year in my sixth year as a pro. I believe Aaron Martens' win at Havasu was his first tournament win in 6 years.
"No matter how good you are, there are usually big gaps between wins. For me, my goal each season is to make it to the championship."
Tour schedule diversity allows Lucas to become a teacher and sponsor ambassador to more fans.
"I love the diversity of the Elite Series schedule," said Lucas. "Fishing the varied bodies of water at different times really allows me to be a professional, whether that is fishing or promoting my sponsors and teaching anglers how to use the products.
"I use all sorts of social media to get my brand message out. Fans should understand that I believe in the products I promote. Whether it is some Berkley bait or an Abu Garcia reel, I believe in it or I wouldn't use it.
"Getting out and fishing the tournament allows me to teach people how to fish the products and allows me a platform to promote. Plus, winning is pretty cool, too."