Hughes knew the men most responsible for the lure’s rebirth and tremendous success. Without Zell Rowland, Rick Clunn and Tommy Martin winning tournaments on the bait and finally letting the cat out of the bag for the Bassmaster article, the Pop R would have remained destined to be a footnote in some antique lure catalog of the future. The three men made Rebel a lot of money. Hughes brought it up to his boss Bill Wilson, who suggested a piece of jewelry – a ring – with a bass and the words REBEL EXCELLENCE designed in gold and diamonds.

“The ring was designed and the mold was broken,” Rowland said. “I have a lot of jewelry, but that ring has never been worn. If I did, I’m afraid somebody would shoot me and steal it. It’s in a safety deposit box. It’s got 47 diamonds in the face and a gold bass on top with a greenish diamond as the eye.”

Hughes guessed the value of the ring in 1986 to be more than $6,000, but Rowland suggests it was worth far more.

Wilson inquired about his plans for publicity for delivering the rings – photographers, media coverage and such. Hughes determined that there would be one photo, simply to prove the ring was delivered, and nothing more. The photo was delivered to Rebel headquarters, and the matter never made the news. As a side note, however, Hughes said four rings were made and only three were given out. Rowland only remembered two rings. If there was indeed a lost fourth ring it remains as Rebel’s “Holy Grail.”

“There are certain things that people give you in life that you honor,” Rowland said. “I’ve never seen anyone in the industry treat anyone better than PRADCO and EBSCO and the Stephens family (owners of EBSCO Industries, PRADCO’s parent company) have treated me. I know that whatever I need, PRADCO would be there for me.

“I’ve had a tough three or four years, but it’s in my heart. It’s what I do. Promoting my sponsors is part of the business but when I get to a tournament it’s catching fish that’s the other half. What goes around comes around, and I know PRADCO is there for me.”

Rebel’s General Manager Bruce Stanton agrees.

“Zell is a legend and a friend,” he said. “He’s one of the best anglers in the world – he’s never had a job other than fishing in his whole life. But it’s not just that. Zell is a good man, and as long as he’s fishing we’ll support him.”