Originally published in 2018.
My flow has been the topic of a lot of discussion among fishing fans so I’m here to clear the air about its history, its personality and its meaning.
I didn’t always have long hair. A few of my school pictures from when I was a kid show me with a classic bowl cut. I guess I thought it was cool at the time, and lots of my friends had them, but looking back now I feel comfortable saying they were awful.
As I got into my teens and my 20s, I developed a ritual around the Minnesota fishing season, which runs from May until approximately October. Every year I’d buzz my head after the season and then avoid cutting my hair again until the following fall. After a couple of years of that it became obvious that I caught them better when I had a good flow going. It started to click for me.
When I joined the Bassmaster Elite Series a few of the old-timers might’ve looked at me a little funny. For a while I was probably recognized more for my hair than for my fishing, but at the end of the 2016 season I had that good run at La Crosse and Mille Lacs, and while my skills had something to do with it, it was the hair that carried me over the finish line. I’m 100% positive – the proof is in the pudding. I’ve played around with it a little since then, adding stripes for special occasions, but I haven’t messed with the length.
That’s not the end of it, though. This past June Mark Zona got ahold of me and butchered me on camera.
That wouldn’t have been so bad, and it’s hard to be pissed off at Zona, but he was savage. He missed spots and left random long hairs, so I had to do some serious cleanup after he was done. What used to be Classic Minnesota hockey hair become a full-on mullet. Even after that it remained a constant battle because there are always weird hairs in the zone between my temple and my ear that annoy me and get stuck in my sunglasses and need to be cut.
After Zona cut my hair Kelly Jordon reminded me of the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, and I started to worry that maybe I wouldn’t be able to catch them as well anymore. Next up was Oahe, where I really expected to do well. I ended up 37th, which got me a check, but it wasn’t nearly as good as I’d expected. I became even more convinced that quality long hair is the secret to fishing success. Think about Kevin VanDam: He won 25 tournaments. If he’d had decent flow he might’ve won a hundred. Rick Clunn has worn that pony tail for a long time, and he won an Elite Series tournament at 70! Do you need any more proof?
With great opportunity comes great responsibility. Keeping hair this good-looking is not an easy task. Let’s be honest, I’m not that pretty up close and personal. After a day of making long runs at 70 miles per hour, my hair gets wicked tangles. Pretty much every day I end up ripping a semi-dreadlock off the back of my head, but I’m willing to pay that price because I believe in the power of my hair. While the tangles can be a pain, I’m not the guy who uses a lot of products. It’s pretty much shampoo and conditioner, something simple like Pantene Pro-V or whatever, and I’m good to go.
I haven’t even talked about my mustache yet. Maybe I’ll save that for a column of its own, but it’s been an important ingredient in my success as well. I was never a big facial hair guy, but once I let it grow a bit my fishing improved. The bottom line is that as long as I’m fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series, the long hair and the mustache are here to stay. That doesn’t always make for a peaceful home life. My wife doesn’t necessarily like my hair. In fact, she’s constantly telling me to cut it, not necessarily short-short, but she wants me to at least clean it up a bit so I look semi-presentable. I’m going to resist anything beyond that for as long as I can. Our family’s financial future depends on it.
PRO TIP: Since you probably came to this website looking for fishing information and not hair care tips, I’m going to leave you with some critical knowledge. If you want to become a better smallmouth fisherman, grow your hair long. If you’ve never caught a 6-pound smallmouth, it’s because your hair is too short. I’m not 100% convinced on the green ones, but the brown ones dig it, no doubt about it.