For What It’s Worth: Versatility
I rant a lot. Maybe I’m getting old and cranky. Maybe I’ve always been this way. I’m really not sure.
What I know for certain is that something bothers me a lot about aspiring bass pros. As I’m trying to get to know them and get a feel for who they are as anglers, I often ask this:
“How would you describe yourself as an angler? What’s your greatest strength?”
Before you read any further, I want you to stop and answer that question as though I posed it to you.
What is your strength as an angler? What is your angling style? When are you a threat to win?
Got your answer? OK, if you’ve answered the question, you can keep reading.
If you’re like 99.9 percent of all aspiring professional bass anglers, you probably said something like this:
“My greatest strength is my versatility. I do a lot of things well, and I’m comfortable with any lure type and on any body of water.”
Did that sound familiar? Was it pretty close to the answer you gave in your head?
I hope not. It’s about the worst answer I can think of for a couple of reasons.
First, I don’t believe you’re really that versatile. Unless you’re Edwin Evers or Mark Davis, I don’t believe you. You just think you’re really versatile. Truth is, you’re probably not any more versatile than the average guy on your tournament trail. Sure, you can catch some fish on a crankbait or flipping a jig or drop shotting a finesse worm, but are you truly adept at all of those methods? If so, you’ve probably already won a bunch of Bassmaster Classics, Wood Cups, U.S. Opens and AOY titles.
Second, you are unintentionally telling me that you are not great at anything. You know the old saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” If you’re not a master of something, it’s tough for the media to use you. You won’t be top of mind. Also, we’re not going to think of you as a threat to win anywhere at all.
If there’s a tournament on the Kissimmee Chain, you expect an expert flipper and pitcher to do well. On Lake Erie, you look to the drop shotters. At Kentucky Lake, keep an eye on the deep crankers. But you probably never think of the guy who tells you he’s “versatile.” That’s useless to the media. We need specialists, and truth be told you’re probably a specialist of sorts. You might be borderline proficient at drop shotting in deep, clear water, but dynamite at punching matted vegetation. There’s no indignity in that!
Third — and this is the big one — by telling the media you’re versatile, you have all but guaranteed that you will never be my go-to call when I’m writing a technique story. In fact, I won’t even think of you. Instead, I’ll call the guy who said he’s a spinnerbait specialist or a flipper or whatever else I might need at the moment.
Can you imagine a topwater story without Zell Rowland or Dean Rojas as the expert? Can you imagine a flipping and pitching story without Denny Brauer or Greg Hackney? What about a finesse story without Aaron Martens or Mike Iaconelli? And what story on power fishing could be authoritative without Kevin VanDam? Can you even talk about sight fishing without mentioning Shaw Grigsby?
When media needs an expert, they go to the anglers who specialize, not to the generalists. So don’t tell me you’re versatile until you’ve won AOY or the Classic.
There’s a better answer.
Tags: Aaron Martens, AOY title, Bassmaster Classic, Dean Rojas, Denny Brauer, Edwin Evers, Greg Hackney, Kentucky Lake, Kevin VanDam, Kissimmee Chain, Lake Erie, Mark Davis, members, Mike Iaconelli, rant, Shaw Grigsby, U.S. Open, versatility, Wood Cup, Zell Rowland