In search of the perfect angler - Major League Fishing

In search of the perfect angler

Nation’s top bass pros weigh in on which Walmart FLW Tour anglers possess best overall skill sets
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FLW Outdoors
January 30, 2009 • Vince Meyer and Gary Mortenson • Uncategorized

In the real world, the perfect tournament angler doesn’t exist. However, that being said, some anglers are clearly more perfect than others. To underscore this point, simply take a look at the FLW Tour Angler of the Year race over the past several years or so. While you’ll see some different names atop the leaderboard from time to time, generally speaking, a handful of select anglers seem to rise above the competition year after year.

So what makes them stand out? What makes them special? And more importantly, what skill sets do they possess that really set them apart? In an effort to get to the bottom of these nagging questions, the staff at FLWOutdoors.com decided to contact some of the best anglers in the nation to get their first-hand opinions on the matter.

To lay the groundwork, FLWOutdoors.com identified a combination of skills and character traits that, if combined into one person, would make that angler the undisputed champion of tournament fishing on the FLW Tour. Once the parameters of the various skill sets were outlined, we asked 11 of the nation’s top bass anglers for their insights as to who embodies each particular skill or trait to the highest degree. The categories we chose to poll included: most mental toughness, most competitive, most versatile, best deep-water angler, best sight-fisherman, best finesse angler, best junk fisherman, best flipper/pitcher, best topwater angler and best crankbait angler.

Pros’ picks

So, without further ado, here is how our panel of anglers voted.

Larry NixonLarry Nixon

Most mental toughness – Luke Clausen; Most competitive – Scott Martin; Most versatile – Tommy Martin; Best deep-water angler – David Fritts; Best sight fisherman – Guido Hibdon; Best finesse angler – Michael Bennett; Best junk fisherman – Luke Clausen; Best pitcher/flipper – Andy Morgan; Best topwater angler – Craig Powers; Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

Brent EhrlerBrent Ehrler

Most mental toughness – David Dudley; Most competitive – David Dudley; Most versatile – Jay Yelas; Best deep-water angler – Shinichi Fukae; Best sight-fisherman – Andre Moore; Best finesse angler – (no vote); Best junk fisherman – Clark Wendlandt; Best flipper/pitcher – J.T. Kenney; Best topwater angler – Craig Powers; Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

David WalkerDavid Walker

Most mental toughness – (no vote); Most competitive – Dave Lefebre; Most versatile – Larry Nixon; Best deep-water angler – David Fritts; Best sight-fisherman – Clark Wendlandt; Best finesse angler – Aaron Martens; Best junk fisherman – David Dudley; Best flipper/pitcher – Andy Morgan; Best topwater angler – Zell Rowland; Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

Dion HibdonDion Hibdon

Most mental toughness -Guido Hibdon; Most competitive – David Dudley; Most versatile – Randy Blaukat; Best deep-water angler – Aaron Martens; Best sight-fisherman – Guido Hibdon; Best finesse angler – Luke Clausen; Best junk fisherman – Andy Morgan; Best flipper/pitcher – Tommy Biffle; Best topwater angler – Koby Kreiger; Best crankbait angler- David Fritts.

David DudleyDavid Dudley

Most mental toughness — David Dudley; Most competitive – David Dudley; Most versatile – Brent Ehrler; Best deep-water angler – Larry Nixon; Best sight fisherman – Clark Wendlandt; Best finesse angler – Shinichi Fukae; Best junk fisherman — Luke Clausen; Best flipper/pitcher — Andy Morgan; Best topwater angler – Craig Powers; Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

Terry BoltonTerry Bolton

Most mental toughness – David Dudley; Most competitive – David Dudley; Most versatile – Mark Rose; Best deep-water angler – David Fritts; Best sight fisherman – Koby Krieger; Best finesse angler – Shinichi Fukae; Best junk fisherman – George Cochran; Best flipper/pitcher – Andy Morgan; Best topwater angler – Craig Powers; Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

Clark WendlandtClark Wendlandt

Most mental toughness – Jay Yelas; Most competitive – Clark Wendlandt; Most versatile – Andy Morgan; Best deep-water angler – Larry Nixon; Best sight-fisherman – Clark Wendlandt; Best finesse angler – Luke Clausen; Best junk fisherman – George Cochran; Best flipper/pitcher – Tommy Biffle; Best topwater angler – (no vote); Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

Craig PowersCraig Powers

Most mental toughness – David Dudley; Most competitive – David Dudley; Most versatile – Jay Yelas; Best deep-water angler – David Fritts; Best sight-fisherman — Koby Kreiger; Best finesse angler – Shinichi Fukae; Best junk fisherman — Wesley Strader; Best flipper/pitcher – Andy Morgan; Best topwater angler – Koby Kreiger; Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

Wesley StraderWesley Strader

Most mental toughness – Clark Wendlandt; Most competitive – Andy Morgan; Most versatile – Luke Clausen; Best deep-water angler – David Fritts; Best sight fisherman – Clark Wendlandt; Best finesse angler – Luke Clausen; Best junk fisherman – (no vote); Best flipper/pitcher – Andy Morgan; Best topwater angler – Craig Powers; Best crankbait angler – Craig Powers.

Mike SurmanMike Surman

Most mental toughness – Clark Wendlandt; Most competitive – Jim Moynagh; Most versatile – David Dudley; Best deep-water angler – David Fritts; Best sight fisherman – Clark Wendlandt; Best finesse angler – Michael Bennett; Best junk fisherman – David Dudley; Best flipper/pitcher – Andy Morgan; Best topwater angler – Craig Powers; Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

Dan MoreheadDan Morehead

Most mental toughness – Jay Yelas; Most competitive – David Walker; Most versatile – Jay Yelas; Best deep-water angler – David Fritts; Best sight fisherman – Koby Kreiger; Best finesse angler – Luke Clausen; Best junk fisherman – David Dudley; Best flipper/pitcher – Andy Morgan; Best topwater angler – Craig Powers; Best crankbait angler – David Fritts.

The votes are in

After more than two weeks of interviewing anglers and recording their vote totals, here are the final results:

Most mental toughness: David Dudley, 4, Jay Yelas, 2, Clark Wendlandt, 2, Luke Clausen, 1, Guido Hibdon, 1.

Comment: “Dudley’s whole life depends on fishing. Every penny he makes, he makes from fishing, not from endorsements, but from catching bass. I can’t think of anything more mentally challenging than feeding your family by catching fish.” – Craig Powers

Most competitive: David Dudley, 5, Clark Wendlandt, 1, David Walker, 1, Dave Lefebre, 1, Scott Martin , 1, Jim Moynagh, 1, Andy Morgan, 1.

Comment: “Dudley would fish just as hard for one dollar as he would for $100,000.” – Terry Bolton

Most versatile: Jay Yelas, 3, Andy Morgan, 1, Brent Ehrler, 1, Larry Nixon, 1, Randy Blaukat, 1, Tommy Martin, 1, David Dudley, 1, Mark Rose, 1, Luke Clausen, 1.

Comment: “I’ve known (Yelas) for 14 years, and he’s going to have a 10- to 12-pound bag every day no matter what the bite is.” – Dan Morehead

Best deep-water angler: David Fritts, 7, Shinichi Fukae, 1, Larry Nixon, 2, Aaron Martens , 1.

Comment: “(Fritts) likes to fish where he can’t see and he finds those little sweet spots away from everybody else.” – Larry Nixon

Best sight-fisherman: Clark Wendlandt, 5, Koby Kreiger, 3, Guido Hibdon, 2, Andre Moore, 1.

Comment: “If (Wendlandt) is determined that the tournament can be won sight-fishing, he’ll do nothing else for four days. He won’t even try another pattern. He’s good at making them bite when he finds them.” – Mike Surman

Best finesse angler: Luke Clausen, 4, Shinichi Fukae, 3, Michael Bennett, 2, Aaron Martens, 1.

Comment: “If it’s a style of tournament where we’re flipping and throwing big baits (Clausen) won’t do as well. But if it’s a tough bite that requires spinning rods and small, light tackle, he’ll excel.” – Dan Morehead

Best junk fisherman: David Dudley, 3, George Cochran, 2, Luke Clausen, 2, Clark Wendlandt , 1, Wesley Strader, 1, Andy Morgan, 1.

Comment: “Lots of times (Dudley) just flies by the seat of his pants, and that’s what it takes to be a good junk fisherman.” – Mike Surman

Best flipper/pitcher : Andy Morgan, 8, J.T. Kinney, 2, Tommy Biffle, 1.

Comment: “(Morgan) is ambidextrous and very efficient. He never misses a target. And he’s tall, which helps.” – Terry Bolton

Best topwater angler: Craig Powers, 7, Koby Kreiger, 2, Zell Rowland, 1.

Comment: “(Powers) is a good caster and puts baits with treble hooks into places where others can’t. That’s his game.” – Mike Surman

Best with crankbaits: David Fritts, 10, Craig Powers, 1.

Comment: “(Fritts) really knows how to fish the deep stuff with a crankbait. I don’t know anybody else who can do it for three or four days solid.” – Larry Nixon

And the perfect angler is …

According to our pros, the perfect FLW Tour angler would possess the mental toughness and competiveness of David Dudley, the versatility of Jay Yelas, the deep-water angling ability of David Fritts, the sight-fishing ability of Clark Wendlandt, the finesse-fishing acumen of Luke Clausen, the junk-fishing awareness of David Dudley, the pitching and flipping ability of Andy Morgan, the topwater fishing savvy of Craig Powers and the crankbait fishing expertise of David Fritts.

However, despite the final results of the poll, the staff at FLWOutdoors.com is well aware that the debate over the perfect angler is, well, far from perfect. So, what do our readers think? If you’d like to share your opinion with us, feel free to drop us a line at [email protected].

If we get enough responses, we’ll put together a follow-up article posting our reader responses. However, until then, enjoy the debate.