Bassin’ Blogosphere: To Co or Not To Co

Category: article

 Dec 16th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Dec 16th, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Years ago in the world of professional tournament angling when the legendary Ray Scot decided to have pro anglers go head-to-head in the same boat as a way of policing themselves and to preserve the integrity of the sport, many anglers didn’t like it, not at all. Not because they were nefarious folks who were up to no good. They just didn’t like having to share their water with another pro or fish another pro angler’s structure. Fortunately, that style of draw tournament has gone away.

2008 FLW Co-angler Champ David Hudson (Photo FLW Outdoors)

In came the concept of a co-angler. This is the back-seater who is competing in his/her own tournament against other co-anglers. They have no choice in where to fish; they don’t run the boat. They just fish from the back and try their best to whack-and-stack fish. The co-angler concept allowed the pro to fish wherever they wanted with no need to toss a coin to see where the two anglers would start or finish the day. This system also allowed for self-policing that helped to continue the legitimacy of the competition and helped to foster the grassroots growth of bass tournaments by an awful lot of word-of-mouth from the co-anglers back to their buddies and fishing clubs.

I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, a boater and a co-angler. Honestly, I don’t like being a co-angler. To me, making the decisions, using all of your accumulated knowledge and either succeeding or failing on your own merits is much more rewarding. With that said, I totally see why the co-angler spot is so cool for so many. A chance to fish a major event, a chance to potentially fish with a big name pro and a chance to see if you’ve got what it takes to hang with the big boys and girls.

As many of you know, BASS has eliminated the co-angler at the Elite level and gone with a Marshal program. This is a way for a person to be a back-seater but not fish. This still allows you to gain knowledge and observe, but not to compete. Many pros like it because one less angler is fishing the same water they’re fishing.

To me, spending a day on the water with a pro and not fishing is Snoresville, Boring Land, etc. I’ve been a press observer many times at major events and it is dull. For one day you may enjoy it, but after several days of it you go bonkers.

I totally get why the pros like not having co-anglers, but frankly, they where a tremendous resource for promoting the sport. Many of them are competitive anglers in other arenas like the BFLs or the BASS Opens. These anglers would see what the anglers were doing and share the information with friends or club members. This in turn would help promote and sell product. The FLW events still have the co-angler format. The FLW looks at the co as a super way to build potential customers for their various sponsors. Makes sense and it seems to be working. Heck, it even brings more locals to the weigh-ins as they cheer on their friends, family members and the local tackle store owner. Besides it being a great learning experience, it certainly can provide bragging rights for years to come.

The question of to co or not to co is really not one I can answer except from my personal experience. I don’t like being a back-seater, but if you want to march forward and delve into the possibility of being a boater in a BFL event or maybe even plunk down some bigger bucks for a Stren Series or BASS Open then by all means fish as a co-angler first. See who you may be up against and see if taking that step is what you really want to do.

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