To lead or not to lead

At the first day weigh-in, Casey Ashley weighed in more than 20 pounds — good enough for fourth place — and said he didn't want to be leading the tournament after the first day. At the time, I thought it was a strange statement — still do.


Why not lead from the get-go? After all, every ounce you get in the first round is an ounce you won't have to catch later. And unless you're Kevin VanDam, Michael Iaconelli or some kind of local icon, spectator boats usually aren't a big issue.


Besides, the first-day leader goes on to win more than 28 percent of the time. Of course, the average finish for a Day One leader is seventh — exactly where Ashley is right now.


You might be interested to know that no first-round leader has ever fallen out of the first cut to 50 anglers, although Kevin Langill almost managed that on the Potomac River in 2006. After taking the lead on Day One, the wheels fell off on Day Two and he limped into the cut, finishing the tournament in 50th place. No one else has come close to that kind of collapse.


Anyone who doesn't want the lead on Day One probably doesn't want pocket aces in a game of Hold 'Em, but I'll take the lead (and the aces) every time.

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