After a great start with the win at Hartwell, John Cox felt primed and prepared to tackle his biggest test, the Forrest Wood Cup. John has made multiple trips to the Cup before, but this time after building his own custom frog rod, Cox felt more confident than ever.
Top 3 Takeaways from John Cox
Catching bass with his techniques and on his terms, John Cox entered the Forrest Wood Cup ready to compete with his frog rod built for peak performance. Set against 49 of the best anglers in the world, John Cox was poised for the most prestigious title of his career.
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Here are the top 3 takeaways from the final segment of John Cox: Building a Champion:
1. John Talks Custom Rod Prep
Custom rod building is what you make it. Some rods are built quickly while other builds take longer to conceptualize and perfect before the rod performs optimally in its desired fishing application. John Cox knows this better than anyone as he spent over a year getting his frog rod just right for the Forrest Wood Cup.
Cox thought about what he wanted from his frog rod, then with this in mind began building. Starting with the rod blank, he was looking for something lightweight yet powerful and MHX knew exactly how to help. “The blank was perfect, it was a FP-885,” John says.
The FP-885 from MHX is designed for fast action and heavy power to work wonders in freshwater applications. In fact, the “FP” in the blank’s designation stands for flippin’ and pitchin’, which if you know John Cox, you know these techniques are the bread and butter of his fishing style.
Besides the boost in fishing performance, building a rod tailored to the way you fish is the biggest perk of a custom rod. But the process of rod building takes a lot of thought and determination. Cox explains, “all year I’ve been working on this frog rod,” he notes this wasn’t due to any difficulty, but rather he clarifies, “I’m going to figure out where I want the handle to be, and the guide spacing” to ensure the best performance.
After he chose the FP-885, Cox figured out the guide spacing and solved the handle assembly to build his dream frog rod to reality. “I finally feel like I got the handle right and perfect so I can roll cast up under trees, but I could also have the power to drill hooks into the fish,” he says describing his custom frog rod.
2. Crowd Chases Cox Up a Creek
With his dream frog rod built and ready to catch bass, John Cox set out to practice for the Forrest Wood Cup. Spending each day on the water before the Cup, Cox found the climate and long hours were tough, but he had to prepare to fish against the world’s best anglers. When asked about the conditions, he admits “it was miserable getting overheating,” he shakes his head recalling, “then I’d get sick, but I just stayed outside everyday up to that tournament so I could be mentally prepared for it.”
Originally from Debary, Florida, John Cox is no stranger to the heat, but the grueling days of practice did take their toll. Although he suffered physically, Cox knew he was mentally dialed in with his custom frog rod and hoped the preparation would ultimately pay off.
Once the Floridian John Cox arrives at Wheeler Lake in Alabama, he is thrilled to see some vegetation on the water. “As soon as I saw the duckweed I mean the light switch went on,” he says and eagerly explains, “We should go as far as we can off this lake.”
Cox goes on, “I picked a creek and its one of the creeks I’ve never even been in before, and I was like we’re going to run this thing as far as we can.” Far enough up the creek, he began flippin’ his way through duckweed with the FP-885 and frog lure finding major success.
After the sunset on day one of the Forrest Wood Cup, John found himself in the lead with a hefty five-bass limit weighing in at 16 pounds, 11 ounces. “Leading day 1 of the Forrest Wood Cup, I’ve always wondered if that was going to happen,” Cox jokes.
In the lead after the first day, he decided, “Day 2 we go back do the same thing.” This time though, the boat hit an obstacle or a log to be exact, “we about ripped the motor completely off,” he can’t help but laugh as he continues, “we hit it so hard, it knocked the motor out, and threw me forward into the steering wheel.” The collision was intense, but luckily Cox could recover quickly to keep fishing and keep the lead going into day 3.
By day 3 everyone at Wheeler Lake—cameramen and fans included—followed John Cox up the creek to witness the Floridian flip his way to securing the lead before Forrest Wood Cup’s final day. “We had a whole bunch of camera people,” and “they had it all blocked off behind me with camera boats, there was camera guys in the woods,” he says smiling.
John’s eyes light up as he recalls, “I had this crowd of people watching me fish, and every time I caught one, I feel like some of the people were more excited than I was.” All the attention and the excitement might bother some anglers, but it certainly didn’t bother Cox, “it really felt good and it was just awesome,” he remembers.
3. The Everyman’s Champion, John Cox
On the final day of fishing at Wheeler Lake, Cox couldn’t help but reflect on his past, “back in 2011, things were tough. I was struggling on tour,” and “everybody is like you need to get a real job, you need to just grow up and quit chasing this thing.” Now leading the Forrest Wood Cup on the final day, John gets chills just thinking about it.
Arriving up the same creek for the final day, he says, “I got back there and just put my head down.” John Cox kept up with his consistency from the previous days, catching another five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds and 8 ounces. The final day brought his total weight up to a whopping 54 pounds, 13 ounces. Cox caught 4 pounds and 3 ounces more than Michael Neal, who finished second, to defend the lead and take home the biggest championship of his career.
Winning the Forrest Wood Cup, John Cox now had the championship and the frog rod he always dreamed of. When asked about his choice fishing rod as the Forrest Wood Cup Champion, Cox doesn’t hesitate as he replies “I built an MHX rod, it was an FP-885 and I’ve tied a frog on it,” but “I threw it for the last four days and jacked ‘em.”