Before last year, Pat Schlapper of Eleva, Wisconsin had a rewarding and stable career with a large sporting goods retailer. Early in 2020 – at the age of 37 – he walked away from that job to pursue his dream of fishing in the Bassmaster Elite Series, a move most would describe as risky, at best. But in nearly every aspect of life, few rewards come without risk. Schlapper believed he could mitigate the risks through preparation, ability and determination.

“The biggest thing is mindset,” he says. “It’s one of my edges when it comes to preparing to win a tournament.” Preparing being the key word. “A winning mindset is more than just hitting the water and believing you can win… it begins long before that,” Schlapper adds. “I won the 2020 Bass Nation Championship on Pickwick Lake, which qualified me for the 2021 Bassmaster Classic and the Bassmaster Elite Series. That didn’t happen because I simply willed it to. Believing helps, but I planned before I executed. You’ve got to have a diverse game plan, which takes preparation. That’s what inspires confidence and the proper mindset during competition.

Victory for me, personally, means getting the chance to fish professionally for a living, because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” continues Schlapper. “For me, the fact that I quit my job to chase the dream and then qualified two ways for the Bassmaster Elite Series – through the Bassmaster Opens and the Bass Nation Championship – was real affirmation. Achieving my goal through two different avenues in one year was definitely a big victory.”

Schlapper says having the right rods is important to maintaining a positive mindset and being able to execute a winning plan on the water. “I’m very impressed with the balance of the new Victory Series rods; it’s the first thing I noticed about them,” he says, adding that the series’ new SCIII+ blanks also contribute to Victory’s smooth, lightweight yet durable performance.

“They’re extremely sensitive. I’ve been throwing the 6’10” medium-light power, extra-fast action Victory LITE-WEIGHT model (VIS610MLXF) a lot this winter in finesse applications, and it’s truly surprising how much power it has. These are really impressive rods by virtue of their performance alone,” he adds. “Consider their favorable price and the fact that they’re handcrafted in Park Falls, Wisconsin, USA, and you’ve got a rod series that all manner of bass anglers are going to be reaching for.”

St. Croix’s all-new made-in-the-USA Victory Series rods were conceived and designed to deliver bass anglers more victories on the water – no matter how they’re defined. Featuring technique-specific lengths, powers and actions that yield lightweight performance with extreme sensitivity, durability and balance via an all-new SCIII+ material, eight new Victory rods will be available to anglers at select St. Croix dealers and online beginning this Friday, March 19. Angler-friendly retail prices for these new, American-crafted Victory rods range from $180 to $200.