provided by John Phillips
Mossy Oak Fishing Pro 52-year-old Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of the most successful bass fishermen in the nation (the winner of 5 Bassmaster Classics and the Angler-of- the-Year title 8 times), is a rapid-fire caster, consistent winner, innovative lure designer, family man, friend of the press and master of new technology and electronics. But who is Kevin VanDam really? We wanted to share his backstory with you to help you understand why he was the first professional bass fisherman selected for Mossy Oak’s Fishing Team. To learn more, visit his Facebook Page.
I started creating lures early in my bass fishing career. I think all bass fishermen tinker with lures to try to get a competitive advantage over other bass anglers. So, when Strike King became one of my sponsors, I began to immediately start working with one of their lure designers on how to build a better spinner bait. I tested painted blades and different finishes on spinner baits, skirt color designs and trailers. I also tested crankbait colors and learned how to paint them to look more natural like the forage that bass fed on in different lakes.
Lures are like tools in a carpenter’s work kit. When a carpenter is building a house, he chooses the best tool to help him build each part of the house. Just like carpenters, fishermen try to pick the best lure to catch bass. So, I’ve worked with Strike King to develop lures that will dive to different depths because bass are located in different places at each lake throughout the year. Anglers also need crankbaits with different actions, depending on where the bass are on their seasonal migration patterns, the type of cover or structure that they’re fishing around, and the time of the year and the depth of water they’re fishing. For instance, a crankbait that’s designed to fish ledges needs to be different from a crankbait that you’re using to fish laydowns. The bill needs to be different to reach various depths of water to either plow the bottom, suspend at different depths or bounce off cover. Early on, I began to realize that a carpenter wouldn’t use a screwdriver to pound a nail into wood, and as a bass fisherman, I needed the right type of crankbait for the depths I was fishing with different actions, colors and sizes. I began to work with the lure designers at Strike King to create the most efficient crankbaits in various fishing conditions.
I’ve helped Strike King design hundreds of lures, if you consider the different color patterns that I’ve helped develop, maybe even more than hundreds. I’m usually involved with the majority of new product introductions that Strike King makes and work side by side with Strike King’s lure-design team and engineering team to test many of the prototype lures before they are sold in stores. Many of the lures that I directly work with come out of my Kevin VanDam (KVD) product line. Working with other lure designers and engineers at Strike King enables me to become a more efficient bass fisherman and reassures me that the new products we introduce to the market all will have good quality.
I believe that the emphasis on the fish-catching ability of lures is more important now than it ever has been. In recent years, designing bass fishing lures has expanded as pro fishermen have become more involved in lure and product designing. Rapid prototype designing is possible through computers with applications that allows engineers to understand how the angle of the bill on a crankbait can change the action that a lure may have. The lures that fishermen have today are light years ahead of any of the lures that we fished even several years ago.
So, when someone asks, “Do you still use any of the old lures that you once fished with 20 years ago?” I tell them, ‘No, I don’t.” The new lures we have today are much better than the old lures that we once fished with because they are designed with better materials and have better color patterns. Don’t get me wrong, old-style baits still work, but in most cases today, there's a more effective, much better lure than those to fish.
I’m lucky to work with companies like Humminbird and Strike King, which are both on the cutting edge of new bass fishing technology. I’m also excited to be working with Mossy Oak, a company that’s developing new types of clothing and patterns for anglers to wear - even when they’re not fishing. With Mossy Oak products, any family will be more prepared to not only enjoy fishing and hunting, but also other outdoor activities.