Taking pride in our equipment

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.

When Elite anglers are on the Tournament Trail, our minds are fixed on one thing: catching bass.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the fishing that we overlook a very important element of our sport – the dedicated people behind the scenes that design, build and provide us with the great equipment we have.

I was reminded of that this week when I was asked to make a presentation during a Mercury Outboards Summit for its vendors – the companies that produce some of the nut-and-bolt elements that go into construction of an outboard.

Last year I delivered a similar message to Mercury employees. And, like last year, I walked away with the same sense of pride and humility I gained after chatting with the people who build our motors.

The purpose of my talk was to explain to the folks working the front lines of manufacturing what we bass pros do and how we utilize the equipment they build.

Most of these vendors with whom I spoke had no idea what goes into a competition day, so I shared some stories with them and they asked a lot of questions. You could tell they wanted to learn more and utilize that knowledge in future product developments.

When you look at the bass fishing world’s boating and fishing equipment that all anglers use, you realize that what we have is better and more reliable than ever before.

We have boats and motors that run faster and are more environmentally friendly; we have lighter rods and reels that cast farther; baits that look realistic and go deeper; and electronics with mapping chips that reveal the hidden secrets of a lake like never before.

None of this happened by accident; a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into the products we use and we often take for granted.

Like the outboard. I couldn’t do my job without it and yet I never concern myself with whether I’ll make it back to the weigh-in, regardless of the lake conditions and weather we face at many tournaments.

And we abuse these motors – not because we are careless, but we demand our outboards to take us places and through stuff that the recreational angler would never consider.

But again, it’s our job.

The support we receive goes beyond the manufacturing end.

At BASSfest two weeks ago, we had a day off in the middle of the tournament, so I spent some time in the “service yard” where top mechanics from all of the major boat and equipment companies set up shop at each tournament.

They’re akin to a NASCAR pit crew – their jobs are to keep us on the water as much as possible and repair anything we might break. These guys are the unsung heroes of the tournaments, working side-by-side regardless of their brand affiliations and often into the late of night to keep fishermen competitive.

I stopped by to perform some routine maintenance that I had been neglecting, but it was good to hang with those dedicated guys. It didn’t matter if an Elite pro walked into their area or a recreational angler inquiring about how to use and maintain a piece of equipment, they are there to help.

There are a lot of good fishing gear companies out there and they’re all competing for our recreational dollars. That competition pushes everyone to get better and build an even better product, help us catch more fish, have more fun and spend more time on the water.

But like I said, none of this happens by accident. It’s not the bass pros who give you the reliable products you fish with – it’s the thousands of dedicated workers employed by those companies who make it happen.

You shouldn’t take it for granted. I can assure you, I don’t.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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