BASS, FLW and the Outlier Called KVD

It’s been asked lots of times before. Who has the more competitive field? BASS or FLW? Invariably, the response I hear to that question from the average ESPN-watching, club-tourney fishing, bass-fishing-website-perusing angler dude is: “C’mon, that ain’t no contest. BASS has KVD, man.”

Okay, I get it. KVD is a bad@$$. He rules. He built the pyramids. He knows every number of pi. And if you give a horse a handful of water from KVD’s livewell it’ll turn into a unicorn and shoot cancer-curing rainbows out of it’s rump.

But you know what, average bass fan dude? That answer’s not good enough for me. You see, KVD is what them there smart fellers at the fancy universities call an “outlier.”

An outlying observation, or outlier, is one that appears to deviate markedly from other members of the sample in which it occurs.

Do you know what statisticians do with outliers like Mr. VanDam? They throw them out so they don’t muck up what is otherwise a pretty evenly distributed and well-rounded data set. So say goodbye to the kid from Kalamazoo. He doesn’t exist. So I ask again: Is BASS still head and shoulders above FLW? I know, most of you will still say yes. “What about Skeet, and Ike, and Martens and…”

I say phooey to that. I counter your Skeet with my Ehrler. And I’ve got Dudley, Yelas, Thrift and Fukae still waiting in my back pocket. Go ahead. Pull out your Ike, and Martens and Hackney. I think we can go toe-to-toe for a while. A lot of you are probably rolling your eyes right now. “Gimme’ a break,” you say. “Yelas? Dudley? Those guys are lame.” I didn’t ask you if these guys were “cool,” or if you could recognize their faces or knew what kind of boat wrap they had—I asked about how well you thought they could catch bass. As someone who’s been fortunate enough to cover both tours and attend events on both sides of the tracks, I’m here to tell you, those FLW guys are darn good at catching ’em, too.

Am I saying FLW is the superior league? Hells-to-the-no. I’m just saying that I don’t think the boys of BASS blow away Wal-Mart’s wonder kids the way a lot of fans seem to think they do.

There’s a mixed bag of stellar sticks from both leagues duking it out right now just north of Houston, Texas. Anybody want to come out and say which league will have the higher average finish? If you use the BassFan world rankings as a baseline, the BASS guys should win that war handily, as the field is top-heavy with pros from the made-for-TV tour. But I don’t think that’s how it’s going to play out. I guess we’ll know in a few days.

I know you’ve got an opinion on this, and I want to hear it in the comments section. But remember, the outlier known as KVD has been thrown out of the equation, so you can’t use him in your retort.

The Outlier… come to think of it, that’s a pretty sweet nickname for a bass fisherman. Hey Zona, feel free to use that.



  1. Bo

    October 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    If memory serves the top of the standings at the TTBC last year was heavily weighted towards FLW. Hmmm…will have to check that.

  2. Brian

    October 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I’ve never been happy with the BassFan ranking system, so I developed my own and kept track this year. Even keeping “The Outlier” in the rankings, since he was 2nd most all of the year to Skeet in my system, looking at the Top-10 breaks down to 6 FLW anglers and 4 Elites. If you move down and pick up the next ten ranked (Top-20), you get a split of 9 & 9 since two of the Top-20 in my system were two-circuit pros (Evers, Kennedy). If you start going beyond the Top-20, then the Elite guys start to outweigh the FLW sticks by a wider margin.

    Don’t know what any of it means, and it would really depend on how far down each circuit you went and how you chose to weight or average the scoring to compare strength across field.

  3. Jason

    October 1, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Of course, as soon as I open my big yap and go to the plate for the FLW crew they go off and haul a bunch of water at Conroe.

    Hey Brian—do you care to share your rankings format? Sounds interesting.

  4. Brian

    October 2, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Hey Jason,

    My rankings system is based upon results from all FLW Tour, Bass Elite and PAA/TTBC events. This also includes events like the FLW Cup, the BASS Classic and the Elite Series post season events. You must have a minimum of 1 full years worth of events to get ranked, and then all second year events are also added into the calculations as the pros fish them. No rolling averages. At the end of the season the 2 year old events drop off completely and you start the new year based upon the most previous years events and scoring.

    All tourney fields (sizes) are standardized to be equal and comparable, so you are credited for higher finishes in larger fields, or penalized for poor peformances in smaller fields. This even includes all smaller field events like Classic/Cups and even the 12 man Elite post season.

    Certain field finishes are weighted in the calculations to credit strong performances. Wins in any event are weighted highest, followed by a Top-10 finish and then a Top-50 finish (typical last $$ spot). All other finishes below that are non-weighted.

    Since all events are counted, the more post season events you qualify for, the greater the bar gets set for all other anglers. This is especially the case with two tour anglers, who basically fish the most events and therefore subject themselves to the most risk of poor performance. The angler with the highest number of rankable events sets the bar for everyone else, whose scores are then adjusted (down) accordingly based on the number of events they’ve fished relative to the most active pros.

    All these individual components are then plugged into a series of formulas that calculate a score where the higher the score, the better your ranking. As an example, just because I have it handy, a typical ranking from earlier in the season this year looked like this:

    1. REESE, S – 11.07
    2. VANDAM, K – 8.75
    3. THRIFT, B – 6.98
    4. EHRLER, B – 6.66
    5. BIFFLE, T – 5.49

    The nice thing about this sytem is that it can be used for any level of competition, as I even applied it to state level events to rank all BFL and Federation anglers in their own ranking system utilizing the exact same criteria as the pros. If I chose to, I could also create a AAA ranking for Opens/Series events. Ultimately you would have an entire ranking system that covered amateur (state level), semi-pro (Open/Series) and pro level competiton, which could then be used to follow/rank any serious bass angler over an entire career and through any tourney level progression they would make.

    These could then be part of a larger system that angling fans could use for things like fantasy fishing fields, pre-season rankings (like college level sports), etc. All it takes is a lot of time to record and enter data for every angler, and a good bit of computing power 🙂

    • Bo

      October 3, 2010 at 4:43 pm

      Here is a site that ranks amateur golfers. You can view world rankings down to regional, state, local levels. I think it is fairly cool:

      I think it is so cool the way you similarly rank Indiana amateurs! Now if we can just find someone to write you a big check to deliver the system to other areas of the country…

  5. Mike Fillmer

    October 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I like them both…but am always pulling for the BASS guys because of my buddies: John Crews, Dean Rojas, Russ Lane, Jeff Kriet, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Martens and Mike McClelland. On the other side: am a big fan of Randy Tharp, Clark Wendlandt and Kelly Jordan. But Auburn is playing right and I’m kinda busy. War Eagle!

    • Bo

      October 3, 2010 at 4:44 pm

      Are my eyes deceiving me? Or is an SEC fan really bragging about beating La Monroe?

  6. Rich Lindgren

    October 4, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I think you can look at Ultimate Match Fishing as well, not for Joe Thomas, but FLW guys have been kind of dominate the last few years there as well. Just another indicator in head to head match-ups

  7. Dan Armbruster

    January 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    If you have to eliminate the best angler from BASS then you should take FLWs best away too. Not right to eliminate the best angler ever.

  8. paul zuest

    March 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    used to be two football leagues. maybe some day……

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