Clunn’s technology conundrum

One of the most cerebral anglers ever to fish professionally speaks on the subject of artificial intelligence vs. human instinct

“It is certainly ushering us into a whole new era of fishing, for better or for worse. We’ll see,” he says.

Sometimes technological advances would have changed the game in a negative way in earlier tournaments.

Take for example the 1983 U.S. Open, which Clunn won chiefly by fishing a Rebel Pop-R in a unique, lightning-fast fashion instead of the slow “chug-chug-sit” cadence most anglers used.

Soon after, the lure was discontinued and then renewed a few years later, but according to Clunn, something was different due to new manufacturing techniques and design.

“The lure just didn’t fish the right way for that technique anymore, so I could not have performed the same way in that tournament with the later models,” Clunn says.

Clunn notes that new manufacturing processes and different components that enable mass production often skimp on the details.

“And sometimes you actually improve overall quality, but with certain very specific techniques, those advances can have a negative impact.”

In the 1976 Classic, Clunn was in third place on Day 1 with only seven out of a 10-fish limit. He lost six fish that day.

“I didn’t lose six fish in a year, and here I was losing six in one day at the Classic. The next day I [took] the lead, but I lost seven fish that day.”

On the final day, something clicked after losing more fish.

“I was throwing a little square bill, and when the fourth fish of the day hit, I did something different,” Clunn says. “I stopped, pushed the rod toward the fish and set the hook, and after that every one of the fish had the lure in its throat.”

The problem was, he was using new graphite rods given to all of the Classic-qualifying anglers, and they were too sensitive.

“A bass ‘pushes’ a crankbait when it comes up behind it, and if you are a good angler you can feel that, and what happens is that you set the hook too early. The glass rods aren’t as sensitive, and when you feel the fish, it is actually on the lure, not behind it.”

Clunn has a line of rods called S-Glass by Wright & McGill that are affordable and hearken back to the glass rods of the past.

“They definitely make a positive difference in my crankbait fishing,” he says.

A more recent innovation that Clunn says would have been a game changer at any point in time is shallow-water anchoring systems such as the Power-Pole and Talon.

“If I would have had my Power-Poles from day one, I have no doubt that I would have won six to seven more tournaments,” he says.