Academy Sports + Outdoors: Upping Their Game for Bass AnglersAcademy Sports + Outdoors: Upping Their Game for Bass Anglers A sneak peak into Academy Sports + Outdoors bass fishing products, and WOW, what a lineup!
By Glenn and Keri May
BassResource had the opportunity to visit Academy Sports + Outdoors Headquarters in Katy Texas during the 2017 Bassmaster Classic. We met with a number of senior managers who introduced us to plenty of gear the Bass Fishing community would be interested to learn about. They announced many new products, an expansion of their product offerings, and a surprise re-introduction of an old favorite. More on that in a little bit.
First up is the new TAC-40 Rod/Reel lineup that is designed with a feel that give us the confidence to use in tournament conditions. Academy Sports + Outdoors has worked hard on this combo and it shows. The rod has SIC guides, Helical Core construction, and a split-grip high-density EVA handle, all in a sleek, custom-build look for, get this, $120. Seriously? They’re definitely upping their game. It feels comfortable in the hand and is well-balanced; designed for a long tournament day.
The TAC-40 reel is well-designed with a price that won’t break the bank (under $100). The 7:3:1 reel features a shallow spool for casting lighter lures, carbon sideplates, carbon handle, and a smooth carbon fiber drag. It feels very comfortable in the hand. This is an impressive, lightweight reel (6.2 ozs) that we’d expect to see at higher price points.
Next up is the H2O Xpress Mettle HD baitcasting reel. It features 10 ball bearings, 7.1:1 gear ratio, one-piece machined aluminum frame, and an adjustable 6-pin centrifugal braking system. This reel is extremely hard to backlash, making it a great choice for beginners that need the most assistance with bait casters. That said, after fishing it for a few weeks, we feel it’s a solid reel that’s right for all of us out who want to get the most out of the day.
To pair with it, Academy Sports + Outdoors has the H2O Ethos Xpress line of fishing rods that feature IM8, 40-million modulus graphite blanks, which provide both strength and sensitivity. It has split-grip cork handles, Fuji ACS reel seats, and regular and semi-micro guides. This rod packs a lot of features for less than $100.
Academy Sports + Outdoors is also adding an arsenal of new baits to round out their already well-stocked shelves. Their expanded selection includes crankbaits and jigs from 6th Sense, Strike King’s swinging head swim jigs, the new Whopper Plopper 90 from River2Sea, Big Bite Baits’ Suicide Shad paddletail swimbaits, and their own H2O 5” Glide Bait. There’s even more, but you get the idea.
Finally, Academy Sports + Outdoors is bringing back the old design of their most popular All Star rods in an updated look. Those of you that hold on dearly to your older ASClassic All Star rod, will rejoice in the fact the “new” rod actually uses the same blank design as the original, including the 100% graphite construction, giving it that characteristic parabolic bend that “they don’t make these days”. The updated cosmetics give it a nod to the original design, ensuring you are getting the same throwback rod you loved a few decades ago, however it’s been upgraded with Fuji guides and a graphite reel seat.
We had the opportunity to fish this rod, and it's everything they said it would be. It fishes just like the original version. They listened to their customers, and they delivered. The design, build, and warranty will make you look at this closely. Academy Sports + Outdoors is offering a lifetime warranty. All you need to do is contact them and/or bring it in.
That brings up another point. One of the best things about Academy Sports + Outdoors products, is that they have a great return policy. They want happy customers, and take care of you if you’re not satisfied with any of their products.
During our visit, we were treated to a surprise visit by CEO, J.K. Symancyk. He made it clear that Academy Sports + Outdoors is re-doubling their efforts in the bass angling market, focusing on bringing top-end gear to the masses at reasonable prices. He mentioned this is the first wave of new products, and we should expect to see more innovations from his team in the coming years.
We want to thank Academy Sports + Outdoors for hosting us, and taking the time to show us their new products. Exciting things are happening right now at Academy Sports + Outdoors. We look forward to seeing what comes next.
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