Bass Tournament industry to be covered by

We will be using this new category to cover bass tournament fishing from the aspect of safety methods, procedures, products, technologies, innovations and other topics relevant to boating safety and how things learned from this field might improve the safety of normal boaters. Somewhat like how race car safety has led to safety innovations in normal cars. As always, we will especially focus on new developments with the potential to improve boat propeller safety.

The tournament industry has exploded in popularity. New products of all types; fishing gear, boats, storage, fish finders, depth finders, lures, and some safety devices have come on the scene.

Some tournament organizations, such as Bassmaster, have put in place significant boating safety initiatives such as requiring the use of life jackets and kill switch lanyards when underway during tournaments. If an angler is caught not complying to those rules they are disqualified from the tournament.

The kill switch rule came about from the death of an Oklahoman (Vernon Fowlkes) during Bassmaster Classic II back in 1973. Ray Scott quickly installed the rule and it has remained in place since then. We salute them for doing so.

Almost all elite bass tournament anglers run Hot Foot or similar foot throttles. Foot throttles also serve as a backup for your kill switch. While they will not stop the boat, they will slow it to an idle if the operator is ejected.

Another example of safety coming from the bass tournament industry is foot throttles, especially the Hot Foot throttle. Foot throttles have become ubiquitous in bass boats as a result of their success in the bass tournament industry. As we earlier wrote, besides their convenience, the use of foot throttles provides a back up for your kill switch in case it fails or you forgot to attach it.

A September 2015 bass tournament at Wolf Creek Ramp, Grand Lake, Oklahoma

Weigh in at a September 2015 bass tournament. Wolf Creek Ramp, Grand Lake, Oklahoma

Back in the early 1990’s I studied how people sort through leisure alternatives and go through the process of becoming a participant, go through what researchers call recreational specialization, and some go on to become professionals. As a result of that work, I drew what we call the Funnel Chart.

Later, researchers began to notice as people became more specialized in their leisure activities businesses sprang up to produce new innovative products for those activities. Some of those businesses began using professionals and advanced amateurs to market their products.

In 1997, Daniel G. Yoder, a doctoral student, published portion of his dissertation as a well known article titled:

A Model for Commodity Intensive Serious Leisure.
Journal of Leisure Research.
Vol. 29 Pgs. 704-729.

Yoder focused on the bass tournament industry as his example. Yoder also examined the influence professional bass anglers have on others adopting fishing equipment and related products. I still remember the first time I saw that article back then. It was a great work. Yoder’s landmark article was followed by other studies of the relationship of commodity (equipment) manufacturers, professionals, and serious leisure in a variety of leisure activities. The topics Yoder discussed are still quite relevant in the bass tournament industry today. Commodity manufacturers now cover anglers with their logos and encourage them to stump for their products at every possibly opportunity.

While some may become bored from all the salesmanship, the market they create has drawn many innovative products that would otherwise have never existed. We look forward to more safety products being introduced to this market in the future. As we mentioned earlier, some of those products will trickle down to the general boat market and improve safety for all.

For those looking for some background on the industry itself, in 2014 and 2015 I read:

The Fish that Changed America
by Steve Price
published in 2014


Bass Madness: Bigmouths, Big Money, and Big Dreams at the Bassmaster Classic
by Ken Schultz
published in 2006

Both books provide an excellent introduction to the industry and people that led to the immensely popular events of today.

If you are interested further, join B.A.S.S. and gain access to the historical content of their magazine via Yes we know there are many competing tournament organizations, however we will primarily be focusing on safety products and their evolution. established this category for covering bass tournaments on 19 January 2016.

Leave a Reply