A question of style

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

A lot of people ask me about my fishing style. They wonder if I fish fast all the time. I realize that I have a reputation as a power fisherman, but I'm also willing to pick up a spinning rod with 6- or 8-pound-test line and go to a shaky head or drop shot rig if that's what it takes to catch fish.

It's important for every angler to develop his own fishing style, whether he's a power fisherman like I am, a finesse specialist or a flipper and pitcher. The key is to find a style you enjoy and that works for you more often than not. After that, you need to pick up a few other methods to make you more versatile. When you've done that, you'll be able to catch fish almost anywhere and almost anytime.

Most fishermen develop fishing styles that are heavily based on where they grew up or started fishing. In fact, I can usually tell where an angler is from just by knowing his fishing style. The guys from Florida are really good with soft plastics and pitching and flipping to mats. Anglers from the Carolinas are usually strong with crankbaits. Midwestern fishermen tend to be best with spinnerbaits.

Fishermen develop these styles because they work in the places they learned them. If they're good bass anglers, they become specialists with these techniques and have a lot of success with them.

But if they're great bass fishermen, they take these skills and expand upon them by learning new things and getting out of their comfort zone. That's the difference between the good fishermen and the great ones.

No one is more identified with a single lure or technique than Denny Brauer is identified with flipping and pitching a black and blue jig. There's no doubt that he's great at this — probably the best ever. But Denny doesn't hesitate to pick up a spinnerbait or crankbait if that's the best way to catch bass on any particular day. He's an extremely versatile fisherman who just happens to be a magician with a flipping stick.

When people talk about my fishing style, it's easy to see that I'm a power fisherman. But I can also be a finesse fisherman when I have to be, and that's critical in my business.

If you're ready to take the next step with your fishing, keep honing your own style, but be sure to pick up some other techniques along the way. There will be days when they make all the difference.

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