What makes Kevin VanDam so good? The dude doesn't just win; he wins a lot, freakishly often. How in the world does he do it?
Unwavering focus, insane dedication, genetics and intelligence are all at play. But for the purpose of this story, we'll highlight his savvy in choosing tools for the job at hand. In particular, the selections that helped him hammer home a win at the 2010 Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake, Alabama.
First, the reel: "99-percent of the time, I throw crankbaits with a KVD150PPT reel. That reel is faster than people perceive it to be. Sure, it has a relatively slower 5.3:1 gear ratio, but it has a new 150-sized spool. So in reality, I'm retrieving nearly as fast as I would with an older smaller spooled 6.3:1 reel, yet still, I'm moving slower in that cold 42-51 degree water than a high speed burner reel would."
Then the rod: "I used the TKVD705M rod that I helped Quantum design. It has the perfect handle length. It's comfortable, and it's a composite rod. So it has the sensitivity of graphite to allow me to feel a sprig of vegetation on my lure's treble hooks at the end of a 50-yard cast, yet it's still forgiving enough to keep fish hooked. A lot of people don't realize it, but a lot of the fish I caught were barely hooked – they didn't really want to bite in that cold water – so the forgiveness of that TKVD705M rod really saved me – honestly that rod was a huge in helping me win the Classic."
The line: "I used 17-pound fluorocarbon, it's strong, and it's thick enough to help keep the lure above the shallow vegetation, rather than sinking fast and bogging down in it."
The hooks: "I replaced the factory hooks with No. 2 Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip Hooks. It's a hook I bugged Mustad to make me for me. It's got a short shank so they don't get tangled, and it's a strong hook, so there's no flex."
The man: Incomparably good.