Rapala, a legendary company already in possession of the industry’s most accomplished and diverse set of pro-staffers, announces the addition of Bass Pro Tour star Dustin Connell to their pro staff. He will represent Rapala hard baits and tools, Crush City Plastics and VMC Hooks, joining a team that includes perennial Major League Fishing superstars Ott DeFoe and Jacob Wheeler, the latter generally considered to be the hottest bass angler on the planet, as well as past Bassmaster Anglers of the Year including Davy Hite, Gerald Swindle, Kyle Welcher and Seth Feider.
“This is an incredible opportunity to join an iconic brand,” Connell said. “When I look back to my college fishing days and days of fishing local tournaments, I can think of several Coosa River tournaments that I won on a Rapala DT10 and I still have a ton of old Shad Raps that I relied upon during my Lake Martin team tournament days.
They’re the truest-running crankbaits ever made and I’m humbled to have this opportunity. I’m in it for the long haul.”
Connell has not yet turned 34, but already has a resume that would be the envy of many top bass pros. During his years with BASS, he won an Open on the Alabama River, and two years later he won at Elite Series tournament on Ross Barnett on his way to the 2017 Rookie of the Year title. Since moving to the Bass Pro Tour, he has made the Redcrest Cup every season, twice finishing in the top eight in AOY, and never below 15th. In 2021 he was crowned the Redcrest Champ at Alabama’s Lake Eufaula.
Notably, he is also exceptionally close to Wheeler. They talk every day and pick each other’s brains about fishing strategy and tackle tweaks. That tight friendship was another integral factor in the formation of this deal.
“It was the caliber of the entire pro staff and the product lineups that drew me in,” he explained. “Watching Jacob work to develop CrushCity helped me to understand how dedicated they are to getting every little detail right. They want to make products that are different, where every feature makes a difference. I look forward to working with my peers to validate the lure design ideas that I have in my head.”
“Dustin is like getting a first round pick in the NFL Draft with Hall of Fame potential,” said Rapala’s Field Promotions Director Dan Quinn. “Not only is Dustin a proven talent, with a long runway ahead of him in his career, but he fits in seamlessly with our existing team. We’re thrilled to continue to build with him to develop products that excel and produce whether you’re a weekend angler or competing to win the Redcrest.”