Dee Zee KBF The TEN has a new home on the calendar.

If you finish in the Top 10 of the Realtree Fishing KBF Trail Series powered by Dakota Lithium batteries, the wait to compete in Dee Zee KBF The TEN is shortened from months to one day. You won the TENvitational on Friday? Then you have a chance to win Dee Zee KBF the TEN on Saturday.

As a result, we have Dee Zee KBF the TEN 2.0 this season – a double dip, where the top anglers in the KBF Trail Series joined the AmBASSador Series Champion and Challenge Series Champion to fish Duck River Reservoir in Cullman, AL on Saturday, October 21.

The field of Dee Zee KBF The TEN 2023, 2.0.

A new format is never without its bugs. For one, the turnaround was quick – anglers had little to rest and rig. But the good outweighed the bad. As Old Town Pro Casey Reed told KBF: “The lake we fished was awesome. I really enjoyed fishing a body of water that nobody had practice on.”

Fellow competitor Mike Elsea of the Native Watercraft team agreed: “I thought the new format was pretty cool. It presented a new challenge that levelled the playing field. That particular lake was pretty cool to fish, too.”

This 2.0 edition of Dee Zee KBF the TEN in 2023 included two KBF National Champions and a host of other highly accomplished hammers. In the end, it came down to Reed and Elsea battling for the better part of the day, until Rus Snyders figured out a pattern and work it on his way to victory.

Event Recap

Native Watercraft pro Mike Elsea lost some big fish in the Realtree Fishing Trail Championship powered by Dakota Lithium batteries.  As a result, Elsea sounded like a man who had nothing to lose when he spoke with Kayak Bass Fishing before the TEN on Friday night. He was determined to shake it off and fish hard.

Casey Reed instead sounded confident. Reed even said Duck River Reservoir matched his style, where he excels in using electronics to catch fish from deeper water. As it turned out, both anglers were right, and they showed it by taking over the leaderboard on Saturday.

By contrast, Rus Snyders didn’t exactly sound confident on Friday. He had left his Live Scope rig at home, and the prospect of competing on clear, deep water did not exactly have him excited. “Resigned” may be the right word.

The lake surely matched Reed’s style. In the early going, it seemed that Reed would win the day, as he dominated the standings for the morning. And his numbers kept climbing as he culled fish. But as time wore on, Elsea began to break out from the pack and inch toward Reed’s total. They were neck and neck about two-thirds of the way through competition time, and then Elsea took the lead by a mere 1.25”.

As Elsea put it after the event:

“I caught fish early on a buzzbait. In fact, I had a limit of 83” on my first ten casts. The fish were all stacked in one corner. I moved away and fished around, and landed a 19” on a football jig. But I couldn’t get a bite that mattered after 10:30 a.m.”

It was still anyone’s day, but Elsea really was fishing like a man who had nothing to lose.

Rus Snyders started out slow and hung around the middle of the pack. And then something clicked. He changed course and went from resigned angler to resounding victory. What prompted the change? It was a matter of adjusting to what the lake gave him. As he explained to KBF:

“As I said [on Friday], I knew nothing about the lake. I glanced at the map and decided to start at the dam and fish my way around. I kept an eye on my side scan because I figured there would be a deeper bite later in the day. I saw some breaks, ledges and flats, but nothing to make me stop and cast. I marked way points and kept working down the bank.”

“I fished early with a buzzbait. I was moving at about 3-4 m.p.h. to cover water. My casts were at a 25 degree angle to the bank, so the bait would stay parallel for a bit and then have a good turn.”

“I caught maybe three that way, along some shady banks. Then I found some laydowns in a pocket around 10 a.m. That’s a good time for a flipping bite. So I flipped a three-eighths ounce Sweet Beaver and landed an 18”. I landed another there too.”

“There was some chop on the water, so I switched up and kept fishing down the bank. I came to another area with shade and wood. There I switched from a flipping jig to a regular one-half ounce jig with a Rage Craw. I went up and down that bank and caught my fish. One of them was an 18.50” Spotted Bass, which was very cool.”


In the final tally, all of Rus Snyders’ winning fish were in the 18” range. By switching to a focus fishing a jig around wood, Snyders figured out a pattern that brought him within striking distance, and then sealed the deal on that last bank. The total length of his five best bass was 91.75”, good enough to overtake Reed and Elsea for first place.

Rus Snyders at Ditto Landing for the KBF Awards ceremony, Oct 21, 2023.

By winning the eigth edition of the tournament, Snyders became the first ever two-time champion of Dee Zee KBF the TEN.

The Final Standings of Dee Zee KBF The TEN 2.0

Rus Snyders 91.75”

Mike Elsea 91”

Casey Reed 89.75”

Ryan Nye 87”

Eric Nelson 81.25”

Jordan Marshall 80.5”

Glenn Landstrom 79.5”

Justin Largen 75.75”

Garrett Wade 73”

Alex Miller 61”

Wyatt Hammond 58.25”

Jake Angulas 46.25”

For the Record

The history of DEE ZEE KBF THE TEN is a who’s who of our sport. To qualify for it shows you are one of the best, to repeatedly qualify demonstrates outstanding consistency, and to win the event engraves your name on an exclusive monument. Simply put, there is no single event that is more exclusive or prestigious in the entirety of kayak fishing.

Every year, a new champion is enshrined. From first to most recent, they are as follows:

In 2017, Ron Champion tied Cory Dreyer for first, followed by Jamie Denison, Jason Broach and AJ McWhorter.

In 2018, Jamie Denison won THE TEN, and Cory Dreyer was runner up. The top 5 was rounded out by Jody Queen, Brian Aliff and Ron Champion. And Cory Dreyer won the tiebreaker rematch with Ron Champion.

In 2019, Cody Milton won the title, followed by Eric Siddiqi, Jay Wallen, Matt Ball and Josh Stewart.

In 2020, THE TEN was won by Rus Snyders, followed by Ken Wood, Derek Brundle, Cody Milton and Brad Case.

In 2021, Jody Queen prevailed to win THE TEN, followed by Alex Miller, Jeremy Mitchell, Cory Dreyer and Adam Petrone.

In 2022, Cody Henley won the TEN, followed by Jimmy McClurkan, Josh Stewart and Brandon Bissell.

In February of 2023, Ryan Nye prevailed, followed by Glenn Landstrom, Derek Brundle, Rus Snyders and Anthony Winkleman.

In October of 2023, Rus Snyders won Dee Zee KBF the TEN, followed by Mike Elsea, Casey Reed, Ryan Nye and Eric Nelson.

Additional Info

Rus Snyders is sponsored by Irod Fishing, Dakota Lithium, YakAttack, Wilderness Systems, Music City Outdoors, Ketch Products and Torqeedo.

The KBF Trail Series Championship, TENvitational, and Challenge Series Championship awere hosted by Go2Hunstville, AL on October 19-20, 2023.

Dee Zee KBF The TEN was held on October 21, 2023.

For complete standings, click here:

About the KBF Trail: The Realtree Fishing KBF Trail powered by Dakota Lithium is a 5-fish, Catch-Photo-Release, members-only tournament series. Become a KBF member today and get ready for the 2024 season!

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First Published October 22, 2023. The author of this article was not assisted in any way by AI or machine learning in the composition of it.

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