The high price of secrets

This is part eight of a multi-part “More from media” series.

I have at least a dozen stories I’m ready to tell just as soon some guys win big tournaments. They have special techniques or unique bait modifications that would be great stories, but they’re not ready to tell them. They want to win a Bassmaster Classic or Forrest Wood Cup first. Then — they say — I’ll get the story.

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

I’ve been waiting on some of these stories for more than a decade. Things just haven’t worked out yet. The water temperature at the Classic was too low or someone beat them to a key spot at the Wood Cup, so they didn’t win and still aren’t ready to tell the story that could become their big break.

I call this the “Goldilocks moment.” You probably remember Goldilocks from the story about the three bears. She breaks into the home of a bear family and tries their food and their chairs and their beds. One is always too hot or too big or too soft, but eventually she finds one that’s “just right.” That’s the Goldilocks moment.

The problem with the Goldilocks moment is that it almost never happens. Only one angler wins the Bassmaster Classic each year, and for everything to fall into place just exactly right so that you win and do it with that special technique is beyond rare. It’s like winning the lottery while riding a unicorn through Santa Claus’ workshop.

And while you’re waiting for your Goldilocks moment, a lot of bad things can happen.

For one, someone might reveal your secret technique. After all, you’ve got friends and co-anglers who know your secret … or just enough about it to guess the rest. Maybe you didn’t develop it all on your own. Someone else might let the cat out of the bag. Are they going to give you credit for it, or will they try to take it? Either way, you won’t be alone in the spotlight.

For another, someone else might discover the secret on their own — independently of you. No one knows who developed most of the biggest techniques in the world of fishing.

Who was the angler who created the Texas rig?

Who created the Carolina rig?

No one knows.

But everyone knows that Dee Thomas invented flippin’ because he didn’t keep it a secret. He told everyone all about it even before he won a B.A.S.S. event in 1975. Thomas and flippin’ were well known out West long before he won anything in the East. He told everyone exactly what he was doing and how he was doing it, and he became famous for it. (Unfortunately, he didn’t become rich, but that’s another topic for another time.)

If you have a great story to tell, get started telling it and take control of it and your image. Most professional anglers are not very well known. They don’t have national identities. If you ask them about they’re fishing style, they’ll tell you, “I’m versatile.” If you ask a fan about them, they probably have no idea about the pro’s fishing style.

But what do you think about when you think of Denny Brauer? Flippin’ and pitching a jig, right?

What do you think about when you think about Zell Rowland? Topwater baits … especially the Rebel Pop-R or Zell Pop.

What do you think about when you think about Tommy Biffle? Pitching a jig or fishing the Biffle Bug and Hardhead.

Because these anglers broke their story first — and without waiting for the Goldilocks moment — they controlled their message and they got credit for it. Now, when an outdoors media person needs a story on pitching, topwater fishing or swinging jigheads, he has to go to Brauer, Rowland and Biffle, respectively. If he doesn’t, he’s leaving a big hole in the story, and his editor (and the audience) won’t like it.

Brauer, Rowland and Biffle have won a lot of tournaments and sold a lot of tackle. They understand the importance of media exposure, and they know they have to get it when they can rather than when everything’s “just right.”

There is no time like the present to tell a great story, announce a new technique or make your splash in the industry. If you have a great story, tell it now … while you still can.


  1. The best time to tell a good story is while it’s still relevant.
  2. Control the story and make it yours by telling it sooner rather than later.

Ken Duke is the managing editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer and the author of two books on bass fishing. He has 33 years of experience working in a multitude of media platforms, and he’s arguably the most knowledgeable stat guy in the sport.
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Author: Ken Duke

[author] [author_image timthumb='on'][/author_image] [author_info]Ken Duke is the managing editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer and the author of two books on bass fishing. He has 33 years of experience working in a multitude of media platforms, and he’s arguably the most knowledgeable stat guy in the sport.[/author_info] [/author]

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