KVD's System for Christmas?KVD's System for Christmas? Kevin VanDam has a system. A tenacious, seemingly magical means for catching them better than anybody else. The system works.
Systems win championships. Coaches Noll and Dungy had the Cover 2 defense. Racer Jimmy Johnson relies on crew chief Chad Knaus' short track and super speedway systems. Kevin VanDam has the rod, reel, treble hooks and square billed crankbait you see pictured here. A system. A system that wins championships. A system you might want to add to your holiday wish list.
The photo accompanying this article was taken on the front deck of VanDam's boat the evening of July 30, 2010 -- hours before he won his 6th Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year championship.
KVD has "it". Sure he does. A tenacious, seemingly magical means for catching them better than anybody else. But if you don't think there is a tangible mechanical recipe to compliment the "it" factor - think again. Better yet, ask him - and VanDam will rattle off product codes for every Quantum rod he designed for 'the system' like some sort of high modulus graphite obsessed product manager.
So what about the rods? "Down there in the intense heat on the Alabama River this summer, I was fishing primarily open water, toward the front of creeks, where river current was really the key factor. In a more open water situation like that, I throw my square bills on our 7' long TKVD705M (shown in the photo). A longer rod allows for longer casts. However, later this fall, when I am fishing further back into the creeks around thick logs and laydowns, I'll use a 6'6" (TKVD664M) or 6' 8" (TKVD685M) rod for really precise casts with a Strike King KVD 1.5 or 2.5 square bill. A shorter rod allows me to be more precise. I designed the Quantum TKVD664M and TKVD685M specifically for using square bills around thick cover."
The reel remains the same: During the 2010 season, KVD had an economic stimulus plan of his own- cashing fat checks totaling more than $900,000 - an all-time BASS single season record -- including victories at the Bassmaster Classic, Tennessee Triumph and Toyota Top 12 Angler of the Year event. He won all three with a Quantum TKVD150PPT reel. "Because of the spool size of that reel, it's really not what I consider a 'slow' reel, but it's not so fast that I lose control. It's really important to have control of your square bill when you're working it through heavy cover. The 5.3:1 ratio is ideal for crankbaits in my opinion, whether I'm deep cranking or working thick, shallow cover."
Line, Lure, Hooks: "I always crank with fluorocarbon line. In open water like the sand bars and shallow ledges at the Alabama River, I was using 12-pound test, but anytime I'm cranking thick cover, I'll use 17 or 20-pound test. The key to my new Strike King KVD 1.5 and 2.5 square bill crankbaits is that they run with an erratic, unstable, searching, hunting action that has great deflection qualities. That erratic action is what makes fish bite. As far as whether I choose the 1.5 or 2.5, I let the size of the baitfish and the water color dictate that equally as much as depth. If I'm in fairly dirty water, I'll throw the larger bodied 2.5 square bill. The hooks are critical to me too. I always replace factory hooks with Mustad's KVD Elite short shank treble hooks. I usually put a fresh set of those hooks on my crankbait several times a day - it pays off -- I never lost a fish during the Toyota Angler of the Year week in Montgomery."
The "it" factor: Confidence. Supreme Confidence. When asked why he most always chooses a square bill crankbait around heavy cover instead of a vertical falling bait like a jig or Texas-rigged soft plastic he said, "For me it's confidence. Cliff Pace fished slower with soft plastics in the same area as me in Montgomery, and he did really well, but I struggled to get a bite on soft plastics. I just always feel that if I can make them bite a square bill, that they'll likely be good-sized fish - and my chances of winning increase." The system works, and finding all, or a portion, of KVD's System under your Christmas tree would work pretty well too.
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