Bass fishing is changing at the speed of light, and it’s in large measure because of social media.
There was a time when you had to be a serious, dedicated fan to follow professional bass fishing. Some of us remember waiting for Bassmaster Magazine to arrive so we could find out who won a tournament and who was the Bassmaster Classic champion for the year. Now we know as it’s unfolding.
The information revolution started with the internet. We could check things out with the click of a mouse. But even that had its limits. In the early days video was crude, if it existed at all, and long emails were only a dream. But that was before the advent of the social media platforms.
Now you can receive information in seconds with professional quality video at your fingertips. This has changed our sport and the industry in three important ways.
The first one is the promotion of the professional side of bass fishing. Social media has made the pros better known than ever before. We all have our following. That creates increased interest in tournaments as fans root for their guys.
And, what about all the interest in Fantasy Fishing? That wouldn’t be remotely possible without social media.
Another thing is that all that interest trickles down to high school and college as well as the B.A.S.S. Nation. Thanks largely to the efforts of B.A.S.S. there are more and more guys and gals fishing at every level.
The second thing that social media has done is make information available to bass anglers everywhere. Tips and techniques no longer take months or years to filter down the ranks. They now filter down in a matter of a day, sometimes hours. There are no secrets anymore thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
The big four that I just mentioned are the ones I utilize. There is so much information to go through on those platforms that it is overwhelming at times. I try to post entertaining and educational items.
There are other pros with good content going out as well. Showing other anglers how to use products and why we choose to promote what we use and believe in has a big impact on buying decisions. A number of pros, including myself, shoot videos at Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments so there’s no hiding what we are really using.
What we don’t do is pump a product that doesn’t work or doesn’t hold up to the rigors of bass fishing. We don’t want to point our fellow anglers towards junk. That hurts the sport and, frankly, hurts our reputations.
The third thing I want to mention is that companies are also taking note of the social media trend. Better products are coming out because the word can spread so easily if any company or angler comes out with a subpar product. Word on social media travels fast. Reviews on e-commerce sites will rack up.
The opposite is also true. Good reviews and good products move just as fast as negative ones. The bottom line is that the consumer wins because he or she will get better products and more accurate feedback.
However, this column wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the bad side of the social media explosion. Every malcontent now has a platform to air his grievances. If he doesn’t catch a big bass, it’s the lure’s fault — or maybe the rod, the reel, the line, the electronics or something else. It’s never his fault. That much you can take to the bank.
And, it also gives some people anonymity when they make hateful, ugly and prejudicial — not to mention untrue — comments about anglers, products and places.
The only practical way I know of dealing with that is to ignore it. I often say that the internet corrects itself. If misinformation is out there, people will call it out and it usually ends up being deleted at some point. I make it a point to answer comments or questions as much as is possible. However, if someone is just hating on you, or something you are talking about, it is best to just ignore them and move on with your life.
So, here’s the bottom line: Social media is not perfect but it’s a big, positive step forward for all of us who love fishing and the outdoors. I’ve embraced it. I hope you do the same.