The idea of wearing a motorcycle helmet during a bass tournament is a topic that is argued effectively by both sides. On the one hand, it is known that helmets can reduce the seriousness of an injury during certain types of accidents. On the other hand, that same helmet can significantly increase the risk of serious injury during other types of accidents. While most anglers do not wear helmets to prevent injury in the event of an accident, the possibilities should be seriously considered.
As with most things in today's hi-tech world, bass boats are faster than ever. We now have the option of strapping a hulking 250+ horsepower outboard on the back of our boats. Speeds reaching the 70 and 80 M.P.H. range are about as typical as a Senko. With the increased speeds comes an increased opportunity for injury. Hitting a bird at wide-open throttle can cause injuries to the head and neck or, even worse, death to the angler.
A motorcycle helmet saved FLW Tour pro John Sappington's life. Had he not been wearing one when a cable spanning the entire width of the river struck him in the head, he surely would not be here today. In another case, a co-angler in a tournament in Florida was struck in the face by a piece of PVC pipe that shattered after being hit by the boat he was riding in. Had this angler been wearing a helmet, his injuries could have been reduced or possibly eliminated.
While it is true that helmets can reduce or prevent injuries, helmets can cause severe neck injuries in other cases. A few years ago, an amateur angler was pulled from a speeding bass boat in a professional event. It was not a person that had pulled him into the water. It was the helmet that he was wearing. When his pro partner made a hard turn, the helmet's weight caused the angler's head to drop down towards the water. After making contact with the water as it rushed past the boat, the angler was forcefully pulled out of the boat. Fortunately for everyone, this angler was not seriously injured. As you can see, it is a lot like the whole issue on seat belts. There are instances where they will help you, and others can hurt you.
Although the risk of injury is always present in everything we do, and it is slightly higher in activities such as tournament fishing, most anglers do not wear helmets as a means for protection from injury. Instead, they wear helmets for protection from the elements. Rain, hail, and even cold weather can hurt very badly at speeds over 70 M.P.H. Wearing a helmet can make your ride more enjoyable when Mother Nature is not very nice. I wear my helmet anytime it is cold or raining. Rain can feel like getting a million sticks from tiny needles, and for lack of a better word, IT SUCKS.
Whether you are wearing a helmet for safety or comfort, they can make your time on the water more enjoyable.
Until next time, Fish Hard and Fish Often.