Winning the Bassmaster Classic has a way of accelerating a pro’s career.
In the case of Chris Lane, he may not have needed the extra horsepower. His career was already speeding up in the right direction.
While few if any had Lane as a favorite heading down to the Classic at the Red River, according to the numbers, perhaps we all should have. After taking his lumps his first five years on the BASS Elite Series, Lane has emerged as one of the hottest pros in the sport, even before his Classic victory.
It’s time to take a look at the rise of Lane from punching bag to champion.
Lane’s Elite Series career kicked off in 2006, and had it not been for one top 10, it could have been his last. The pro had three finishes that first season in the 90s, and his 440.995 average had him as the 66th best angler on the tour that year (and 188th overall).
Things didn’t get much better the next four years, either. Between 2006 and 2010, Lane was the 319th best Major angler, with an average of 479.559. That not only had him low among the pros, but also lowest in the family. Brothers Bobby (564.942) and Arnie (498.983) were ranked 167th and 286th, respectively, with Bobby winning an Elite Series event in 2009.
Then, something happened (we will try to figure out what when we catch up with Chris in the near future).
Lane’s 2011 season started about like his others had, with a pair of top 30 Minor-level finishes, a terrible 118th finish at an FLW Tour Open on Lake Okeechobee and another mediocre Minor event.
Then, he got to the first Elite series event of the season at the Harris Chain. He placed seventh — his first top 10 since 2009. Three tournaments later, he made another top 10, this time a fourth-place showing at Toledo Bend. Two more after that and he made another final-day cut, finishing in 11th at Lake Murray.
If this was baseball, seeing these numbers would have instantly made Lane a suspect for using performance enhancers. Luckily, we are not baseball. Instead, we can simply be wowed by his improvements.
From start of the 2011 season, which includes his tanking at Okeechobee, till present day, Lane has been the 35th best Majors anglers. His 659.841 is an 18-percent improvement over the previous five years, which is incredible. To put it in perspective, brother Bobby has also shown improvement since 2011. His improvement: 0.5 percent.
Things only get better when you include Lane’s Minor events. In the last 12 months (so the FLW Tour Open at Okeechobee is dropped off), Lane has a 727. 201. That same time span puts him as the 26th-best Major angler with a 692.815.
While it’s not uncommon to see pros improve over time, Lane’s recent improvements speak volumes to having figured something out that has turned him for another face in the field to one of the top competitors on the Elite Series.
Now, he has a Bassmaster Classic to prove it.