Spying the end of the world


James Overstreet

Kevin VanDam used a spybait during his recent Bassmaster Elite Series win on the St. Lawrence River.

But surely you already knew that, considering the ruckus that was raised over it on the internet before the tournament was even done.

The reports were so dire that they should have come with directions to the nearest fallout shelter where you could hop in with your buddies to survive what sounded like the coming end of the pro bass fishing world.

Those who were prepared to riot in the middle of the Information Superhighway seemed to be separated into three distinct groups.

The first group was aghast that VanDam — the longtime face of Strike King Lure Company and designer of many of its most popular lures — would use a bait not produced by Strike King.

The second weren’t so bothered by the idea that he’d used the spybait, but more by the fact that he’d used it and wouldn’t say which company actually made it.

Then, the final — and perhaps most indignant — group all sang in unison, “You can expect to see Strike King put out a KVD spybait sometime soon.”

Let’s examine the groups in the order they were mentioned.

The idea that KVD would use a bait not produced by his biggest lure sponsor doesn’t bother me at all. The spybait wasn’t the only bait he used. It was part of an arsenal that included a Strike King Dream Shot, a pair of Strike King jerkbaits and a Strike King Half Shell.

That just seems like a good mixture of loyalty and common sense to me.

For example, I work for B.A.S.S. I wear shirts made by B.A.S.S., hats made by B.A.S.S., jackets made by B.A.S.S. and rain suits made by B.A.S.S.

But B.A.S.S. doesn’t currently make a brand of pants — and since I’m quite certain they want me to wear pants on a regular basis — I have several pairs made by other brands.

Trust me, Strike King wanted VanDam to get his B.A.S.S.-record 24th career victory. It only helped to expand the ever-growing presence of one of the greatest brands in fishing history — even if someone else’s spybait was part of the deal.

As for the second group — the ones who were upset over VanDam not doing an on-stage commercial for the brand of spybait he used.

Honestly, what do they expect?

If you go to a tournament weigh-in this weekend on your favorite lake — a smaller tournament where the anglers don’t have a long list of sponsors paying them to use their tackle — you won’t hear much at all about which lures the top guys used to catch their fish.

Oh, they might tell you something. But you’re believing it at your own risk.

The only reason professional anglers are often so forthcoming about the lures they use during major tournaments is because they’re being paid by that company to help sell those lures. Otherwise, guys like Greg Hackney, Skeet Reese, Ish Monroe and many others probably wouldn’t tell you anything voluntarily.

VanDam is paid heftily by Strike King, so the Dream Shot and the Half Shell were mentioned prominently. No one paid him to do commercials for the spybait, so he didn’t.

I think that should be the end of the discussion.

Now for the folks who seemed to be foaming at the mouth over the idea that Strike King might soon be marketing a KVD spybait.

Well ... duh!

I’m getting older, so I don’t know if people even use that phrase anymore.

But back when I was younger, that’s what we said when someone was making a statement that was so beyond obvious it caused both of your eyes to roll in different directions.

Strike King’s biggest pro-staffer just recorded his 24th career B.A.S.S. victory — more than any human who’s ever lived.

A spybait played a role in pushing his career winnings past $6.2 million.

And now you say the company he represents is probably going to come out with its own spybait?

For you younger folks, remember I explained the meaning of this phrase above.

Well … duh!