Kings of the Hill


So, the season is over, which means Kevin VanDam, Ott Defoe and David Dudley will be the No. 1, 2 and 3 anglers in the world, respectively, for at least the next two months.

After a season that saw a dozen different changes at the No. 1 position, it got us thinking about how hard it is to be the No. 1 angler in the world. After all, Bass Rankings’ formula doesn’t involve bonus points, just straight averages. So a guy can’t make up a lot of ground by winning a tournament. A win just betters his average (example: if a guy finishes 40th, 38th, 44th and first, his average is still only a 30th, and since Bass Rankings uses a 10-tournament minimum criteria, a win has less of an effect, making consistency that much more important).

Let’s look at the current top three anglers to see just consistently great an angler has to be to even get in the top three, let alone the coveted No. 1 spot.


Kevin VanDam

Currently, VanDam has an 803. 965, which basically means he has beaten 80 percent of the field on average in any given tournament. So, in a 100-angler field, he averaged a 20th-place finish.

Think about that for a second. Over the last two years (19 tournaments), in any tournament he entered, KVD averaged making the top 20. Pretty impressive.

In those 19 events he had six top 10s (and four more top 20s) and one victory (the 2011 Bassmaster Classic). That makes his reign even more amazing, as he went all of 2012 without a win. The last time he did that was 2006.

While he didn’t get to hold many trophies the last two years, he didn’t miss any checks, either. His worst two finishes were a 45th at Bull Shoals and a 41st at Lake Douglas, which actually came back-to-back this spring. So he always finished in the top half of the standings — not a single miserable tournament. All told, more than half the time KVD fished an event the last two years he finished in the top 20, and more than 30 percent of the time he made the top 10.

That’s how you get to be No. 1 in the world.


Ott Defoe

Here’s a staggering stat: Defoe has never won a single major event. So how is he No. 2? Just call him Mr. Consistency.

In 20 Major events the last two years he has seven top 10s and another six top 20s. That’s 65 percent of his finishes in the top 20, which is 17 percent better than VanDam over the same time span.

However, he does have one tournament he probably wishes he had back — a 58th at the Arkansas River in 2011 — and another so-so event — 41st at the St. Johns River. Get rid of that one Arkansas River tournament and his average jumps from 798.564 to 818.574, and he’s your No. 1 angler in the world.


David Dudley

If you think Defoe had a bad tournament that cost him, check out David Dudley.

Coming off an Angler of the Year performance, Dudley was set to coast into the offseason with a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot. Then he went to the Detroit River and the PAA Toyota Texas Bass Classic. He finished 88th at the FLW Tour event and 39th (out of 49) at the PAA event, which wreaked havoc on his average.

And he’s STILL No. 3 in the world with those two awful finishes. That’s how good he has been.

He has eight top 10s (with two wins) and another five top 20s in 23 events. In 2011, his worst finish still had him beating 60 percent of the field, and in every other event he beat at least 70 percent of the field (and remember, FLW Tour fields are larger than BASS Elite Series fields). This season, he had a five-tournament stretch where he won two events, had two more top 5s and a 14th. That’s a career for many anglers. For Dudley, it was a hot streak.

So, to recap, the three anglers have combined for three wins, 21 top 10s, and 36 top 20s. That’s the kind of talent and consistency an angler has to have to crack the top three in the Majors World Ranking.



About Author

Sean cut his teeth in the journalist world as an award-winning sports reporter, editor and freelancer for various Chicagoland newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times and Daily Herald, eventually crossing over into editing and freelance writing in the Outdoor industry. In addition to his position as Editor for, he is also a freelance outdoor writer and lure designer. He resides in the Chicago suburb of Lockport. An avid Bass and Muskie fisherman, his fishing influence began on ponds and lakes in northeast Illinois and has since expanded to a multitude of species across North and Central America. His passion for the sport is rivaled only by his love for building fishing lures, with a number of his designs being used by top professional anglers and produced by various lure companies today. Google+

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