Bass pros: What's in a name?

You know Terry Scroggins as "Big Show," but do you know how he got the nickname?

About the author

Bernie Schultz

Bernie Schultz

Bernie Schultz is an eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, illustrator, writer and antique tackle collector. Follow his career on the Bassmaster Elite Series and get advice from this longtime pro here on Pro-spective.

OK, last time we discussed odd and unusual names for lures, and that went pretty well. So I thought — what the heck — why not push my luck and tap the nicknames given to some of the Bassmaster Elite Series pros.

Several will come to mind instantly, I'm sure. But have you ever wondered how they might have earned those nicknames? Or what about some of the lesser known anglers on tour? Some of them have pet names too.

So sit back and enjoy this friendly analysis on some of the nicknames given to pro anglers—you might be surprised how some were acquired.

Big Time Pros

Let's start with Kevin VanDam, or "KVD" as he's now more frequently referred to. Kevin earned his moniker simply through domination. When an angler performs like he does, the media captures every second of the action. And with that much exposure, your name is destined to become a household entity — at least in the fishing community.

As is often the case in other sports, the fans and media following your career decide your initials are a better form of I.D. Perhaps it somehow brings them closer to the individual. However it happened, KVD has utilized that favor to create an entire marketing brand, simply by using his initials.

Perhaps the biggest title should go to Terry "Big Show" Scroggins. Everything he does is on a grand scale. Big Show's one of those bigger-than-life types — everything he does seems to shine. He's charismatic, too. Even the guys he battles with love him like a brother.

Big Show got his nickname from a boat mechanic in his hometown. It came during an exchange with some young local anglers. The mechanic got tired of them bothering Terry and said something to the effect of, "You small time chumps leave 'Big Show' here alone!" The title quickly spread among his buddies and has since become his stage name and brand.

Speaking of big-time names, what about Fred "Boom Boom" Roumbanis? He was tagged by BassZone commentators Mark Jeffreys and Harold Allen during their coverage of the 2007 Bassmaster Major at High Rock Lake. He's used it to his advantage ever since.

Then there's "Ike," our so-called bad boy of the sport. Truth is, Mike Iaconelli is a good guy. His urban gangster look is more of a fashion statement than anything else. Yeah, he grew up in Jersey. But Ike spent his summers camping and fishing with his family in upstate New York, not hanging out in urban alleyways. In that regard, he's more backwoods than backstreet.

And if you're ever around Ike at a public function, you'll quickly notice how compassionate he is with his fans. As long as there's someone waiting for an autograph or photo, he'll oblige — even if it takes until midnight. I admire that about him.

Names of Distinction

About the time Ike came on the scene, another young radical angler showed up. Hailing from Lake Wylie in the Carolinas, Jason Quinn made a shocking statement with his southern rock star appearance.

Covered in bling from head to toe (literally) with long hair streaming from his ball cap, he garnered the title "Hardware." Jason has no less than three earrings per ear, three or four rings on each hand (thumbs included), same for the toes, and who knows how many bracelets and necklaces.

This guy's a walking pawn shop!

Kelly Jordan actually coined Quinn's nickname while speaking before the crowd at the 2004 Bassmaster Classic. The name stuck and has since helped Quinn market himself into a very successful career. With his unique look and nickname, Hardware has become a favorite among the fans and media. Sponsors love him, too. He's garnered support from some of the biggest non-endemics out there, including a major southern distillery. When Hardware shows up at a tournament in his fully wrapped Evan Williams 18-wheeler, you'd swear he missed a turn on his way to Bike Week at Daytona.

Then there's Jeff Kriet — "The Squirrel." Jeff's a high-strung individual, to say the least. And he'd tell you that himself, several ways. His nickname became famous during a Grand Lake Elite event where he and KVD battled for the win.

Going into the final round, Kevin managed to get inside Kriet's head (which Kevin is very good at, by the way). He referred to Kriet as "The Squirrel," and it apparently took a toll. Kriet pretty much folded under the pressure, and KVD went on to win the event.

But don’t feel sorry for Kriet. He may have the last laugh on the matter. His "Squirrel Tail" worm sells very well and better yet, he and KVD have since become business partners on the HydroWave, a sonic device for stimulating bass to feed.

Named By Mistake

Back in 2009, when the Bassmaster Classic was held on the Red River in Shreveport, Peter Thliveros and I were waiting on Kenyon Hill to arrive at our hotel. It was the night before the first official practice day, and we were outside in the parking lot prepping tackle.

Just as we were finishing up, Kenyon pulled in with his newly wrapped Triton bearing the Smith & Wesson logo. While admiring the stylish new graphics, I noticed a glaring mistake (something I'm good at). They somehow misspelled his name—they left an "n" out of Kenyon, and neither he nor the sign company noticed the misprint. When I pointed it out, Peter T broke out into his signature robust laughter. Ticked off, Kenyon immediately got on his cell phone to the sign maker.

Ever since, Pete and I refer to him as "Ke-yon".

Abbreviated Names

Takahiro Omori now answers to the shortened name, "T-O". He probably earned it simply because his full name is too confusing for most to remember. Being from Japan where nicknames are becoming more and more common, he seems to like the title.

Kelly Jordan is "KJ" to his friends, and Jason Williamson has followed with "J-Will" (sort of a play on KJ and J-Lo).

Gerald "G-Man" Swindle isn't to be left out either. Gerald loves a crowd, and God knows he can please them. So it's fitting he have a distinctive title. But rather than the "G" serving as an abbreviation of his first name, I like to think it stands for his humorous 'gift for gab'. Five minutes into a conversation with Swindle and you're likely to need a hernia operation from laughing so hard.

Name Disclaimer

Whatever you want to call these guys, they're all classic characters — and together they help make our sport what it is. Without their nicknames and unique personalities, competitive fishing would be about as exciting as watching paint peel.

And if it seems like we're just a bunch of school boys picking on each other, well, basically we are. In such a highly competitive sport with so much riding on it, it's nice to know there's that lighter side to bring us all together. And somehow, I think nicknames help do just that.

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