Gary Klein - A class act

I've noticed a lot of stuff is being written by and about Gary Klein lately. It's well deserved, and I'm going to take this opportunity to contribute by two cents' worth. When I first made the grade and started fishing professional BASS events, Gary was one of the legends of this sports who took the time to talk to me.

He treated me like a serious competitor, not the young upstart that I was at the time. Not every angler did that. It mattered, to me anyway. As the years have gone by I've grown to respect him even more than I did back in the early days. Sometimes I think too much is made of the fact that he's never won a Classic. It's true that he lacks that title.

It's also true that he's accomplished some extraordinary things in his career. Here's a man who has qualified for a Bassmaster Classic in all five decades of its existence and will be fishing his 28th in a couple of weeks. That's an extraordinary accomplishment. I mean he's had 28 seasons where he's finished high enough on the tour to compete in the grandest event of them all. If you measure a man's success by consistency — and many people do — Gary Klein is one of the all-time greats of professional bass fishing. He's shown he can compete regardless of all the rule changes, venue changes and equipment changes. Most importantly, he's continued to be successful as the level of competition has increased. Life has not passed him by that's for sure.

I think one of the reasons for his success is his work ethic. No one out there works harder at having fun than Gary. And he's never been afraid of new things. I remember when the drop shot first came on the scene. Some of us — me included — were hesitant to add something else to our arsenals. After all, we had plenty of fish catching techniques to use. Not Gary. He was at the forefront of learning how to use it and when to use it. He was always messing around trying new line, new sinkers, new baits and new designs. He proved that old dogs can learn new tricks. (I say that with affection. I'm an old dog, too.) He's also a generous man.

I remember back when fluorocarbon was first introduced. The early stuff didn't perform like what's being produced nowadays. We were breaking off fish because of our poor knots. Gary took the time one morning while we were waiting to launch to show Paul Elias and me how to tie a secure knot in this new product. It was invaluable advice. I don't know if this is his year or not. We'll have to wait and see how things shake out. I can tell you, however, that if he does win it won't hurt my feelings one bit.

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