Fly fishing gear

How we would like to change professional fishing tournaments

Every professional bass angler, from Rick Clunn to Brandon Palaniuk, started out just like you and me: fishing from shore, a dock or a boat. These humble beginnings connect everyday anglers like you and me to the pros we admire and learn from. It’s just that they’ve taken it to the next level. From the first subscription I had to Bassmaster Magazine, I was hooked. There’s a lot at stake when professional bass anglers get into their boat during a tournament, and these suggestions are both ironic and serious. Bass pros already follow many rules, but it would be fun to see a few more that might freshen up the competition for us fans. As fans, we only want the best for bass fishing and the pros we follow. We want the chance to be part of the action.

1. “He’s a giant”

Getty Images: Iconic Sports Wire

This one’s a bit facetious, but the fact is that the pros can detect the presence of big bass on their line better than anyone. So often it’s a big bass, but not a “giant”. If it turns out that the fish does not weigh 10 pounds or moreand they use the term “giant” to describe it before landing it, they must release it without it counting towards their total.

2. The bounce of the boat

john crews

BASS/Seigo Saito

Things happen that sometimes are out of their control, but I can’t be the only one who doesn’t like seeing a caught fish bouncing off the bottom of the boat as it enters, especially when using the rod lift technique. to return it from the water in the boat. We are always taught to use a net and carefully collect the fish we catch. There should be regulations for avoiding the dreaded boat bounce.

3. The tenderloin and the thumb-lip

sight fishing bass

Craig Raleigh

So many times a tournament angler will descend into the water and cradle the bass on their hand and forearm, lifting them out of the water. A flop and it will fly to the bottom of the boat. Then you will have to go back to the previous rule. A fillet and the ever-popular thumb lip will prevent this, although it can technically damage a fish’s mouth. At least it leads to a better grip by the angler.

4. Ride a Fish

pond bass

I grew up saying that if you “rided” the fish, that meant you were pushing it so fast it skimmed the top of the water. We all know time is of the essence in a tournament, but a professional angler shouldn’t. A little patience can go a long way, although the pros know it’s a smaller fish that won’t make the tank.

5. Spit out the hook or broken line

Masayuki Matsushita

BASS/Seigo Saito

Even with today’s ultra-sharp hooks and ultra-strong lines, a break in bass fishing is a constant concern. But the fact remains that these pros can prevent that from happening better than anyone. I propose a sanction for either of these cases, but that would certainly add insult to injury. Not only would they lose the fish, but they would also see their chances of winning diminish.

6. Barbless hooks

lake champlain

Maybe for some tournaments, like those sponsored by a hook company, we could see the pros figuring out the fact that they’ll need every ounce of their bass fishing skills to land every fish without the luxury with a barbed hook. The pin hook idea I mentioned can be dropped for these events.

7. Bait Limits

bass fishing lures

Here’s the setup: Each pro will have a bait that they find as the tournament progresses. If they make the weekend cut, whichever lure they catch the most bass on, for the rest of the event they will have a limit on how many fish they can catch with it. The idea would be to force them to dive deeper into their gear bag and get creative with getting the job done.

8. Rod and reel specifications

lake champlain

We all agree that you can never have too much fishing gear, right? Bass pros are no different, which means that for this fit, each angler can only use a spinning combo the first day, a baitcaster the next day, and then a choice of setup for the final day(s). Since these guys are professional anglers, why not add a fly rod? Okay, that might change things too much, but you get the idea.

9. Bait trade

best baits for bass spawning


One of the main reasons we have multiple professional bass fishing leagues is because of sponsors. Every bass professional has more than one of these competing brands to ensure that every good product gets its market share. But if things were a little more open, I think it would be cool to see pros talking to each other at the end of each fishing day. Maybe one tournament angler does well with a specific soft plastic bait, while another destroys them with a stickbait. They might swap bait to see if they can outdo each other, and once the swap occurs, they can’t use the bait they swapped for the rest of the competition.

10. Bait theft


Major League Fishing: Garrick Dixon

This exciting idea could help anglers at the bottom of the leaderboard as the event draws to a close. Like a mulligan in golf, an angler low on the board could steal the most productive bait from one of the leaders to use for himself. It would only be available to the bottom five anglers to target the top five, with a limit of only one bait. The fisherman who loses the bait can no longer use it, but this has a price: a penalty of five pounds for the “thief”, these five pounds going to the “victim”.

The only way pro angling tournament coverage can grow is with more viewers, and I feel like all of those things would make pro angling better. What other rule changes or adjustments would you like to see?

Please see my book “The Hunter’s Way” by HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my web page or on Facebook and YouTube.


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