All-time FLW Outdoors money leader talks about adding yet another piece of hardware to his list of amazing accomplishments


FLW Outdoors recently caught up with FLW Tour pro David Dudley shortly after his dramatic come-from-behind victory in the 2008 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year race. After securing his first-ever AOY crown on the FLW Tour, Dudley took some time to answer a few questions about the momentous occasion at the Detroit River event.

After coming so close to winning an Land O’Lakes FLW Tour Angler of the Year title over the years (second place in 2003 and fourth place in 2007 to name a few), how does it feel to finally win one?

All I can say is that it feels good. I don’t think I ever doubted that I could do it. But to finally pull it off, it feels good. And I’ll tell you what, now that I’ve won an AOY title, I want more of them.

What was it like to win the AOY race by one point – the closest AOY race in the history of the FLW Tour?

I’ll put it to you this way. If you win a basketball game 84-83, you still get the “W.” It doesn’t matter if you win by 10 points, 1 point or half of a point. Sure, it made for an exciting show. But at the end of the day, as long as I got a “W,” that’s all that matters. Whether it was close or not, I can say that I was best angler over the course of an entire year. People always ask me, “Were you shooting for the angler of the year this year?” And I tell them honestly that you don’t start out the season trying to win AOY. I started the year trying to win the first tournament. And that’s it. Then I went to the next tournament looking for a win there as well. And that’s what I did all year long. I just tried to put myself in a position to excel all season. And when you do that, good things happen.

At what point in the tournament did you realize you had a chance to pull off your first AOY title?

About half way through weigh-in on the second day. Going into the tournament I knew a lot of people would have to stumble for me to have a chance. And that’s exactly what happened. After that first day where the leaders struggled, I realized the next biggest threat was Bryan Thrift. I think by that point (Thrift) had overtaken all of us in the AOY race. Thrift is a superb fisherman, but he’d never been in this position before. I was like if Thrift, who is basically a rookie, stumbles, I have an outside chance. And in the end, everything came together for me. But it wasn’t until that second day where I really thought I had a shot.

Since 1996, you’ve finished the AOY race three times in the top five, six times in the top 10 and nine times in the top 15. What does that say about your consistency over the years? And, in some ways, is that track record an even bigger accomplishment than winning the title outright this year?

I don’t ever go back and look at my track record. But recently, other people have brought up my consistency, talking about my accomplishments over the years on tour. Just the other day somebody wrote an article about me where they pointed out that my average finish on the FLW Tour over the course of my career has been 29th place. When people point those (statistics) out to me I just have to say, “Whoa.” Against a 200-boat field I’m averaging 29th place. That’s not bad. When you see yourself through other people’s eyes, it’s pretty amazing.

(Editor’s note: The following Reel Chat took place with FLW Tour pro David Dudley shortly after he captured the FLW Tour title on Fort Loudoun this past June)

Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we’re joined by FLW Tour pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va. With over $2.3 million in earnings over the course of his FLW Outdoors career, Dudley is one of the true giants of the FLW Tour. As the all-time leading money winner, the “Manteo Machine” boasts 25 top-10 finishes as well as five major victories (2008 FLW Tour at Fort Loudoun, 2007 FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee, 2003 FLW Tour event on the James River, 2003 Stren victory at Lake Vermillion and the 2002 Ranger M1 event at the Mobile Delta) at FLW Outdoors-related events.

Currently, Dudley is ranked fifth overall in the 2008 FLW Tour Angler of the Year race with just one regular-season Tour event remaining. Today, David Dudley is here to take questions from you, the fans. So, without further delay, let’s get started.

Q: How does your recent win feel, and what is your next goal?
— Montae (Lynchburg, S.C.)
A: Anytime you win, it feels good. My next goal would be to win the Bassmaster Classic because that would complete my grand-slam list – I’ve won a lot of different trails, but that’s the one major event I’ve never won.

Q: Do you think you or anyone else has a chance at catching Andy Morgan in the Angler of the Year race?
— Tony R. (Mooresville, N.C.)
A: I’m never going to count myself out, but the only person I think has a shot realistically is Glenn Browne. I’m not saying Andy isn’t going to catch them, but on those big bodies of water (like the upcoming event on lakes Erie and St. Clair via the Detroit River), you can have a lot of boat problems. If you miss one day of catching weight, it can really hurt you.

Q: David, who do you think are the top pros to watch at the Detroit River?
— Jason (Bowling Green, Ky.)
A: There are a lot of good locals who should be fishing Detroit. Steve Clapper is going to be someone to watch. Joe Balog, Kevin Long and me. Last year, I had the best practice I’ve ever had before a tournament. And I’ve been looking forward to this event all year long.

Q: I have just recently won my first BFL as a nonboater. I am very much hoping to keep up my streak. Can you give me any advice on what to do as a nonboater to fill my limit with any boater I might draw and be successful?
— Wilby (Hickory, Ky.)
A: You put a shaky head in your hand, and you’ll be able to catch fish consistently. It’s the best nonboater bait in the world. You can catch fish with a shaky head behind any pro and in any conditions. (Editor’s note: A shaky head is a specially designed jighead usually fished with a finesse worm.)

Q: David, if you had to pick one line and size to fish with, what would it be?
— Steve Meadows (Milton, Fla.)
A: That is a tough one. I’ll say this: I’d probably go with 10-pound line, because today, the way things are going, more fishing is done with finesse than power. I’d also use Berkley 100 % fluorocarbon line.

Q: What do you think of the 2009 FLW Tour schedule? Can you believe no Knoxville?
— Mike (Maryville, Tenn.)
A: We’re going to be able to use “manly” sticks instead of “sissy” sticks in many of the tournaments in 2009. What I mean by that is we’ll be able to use big, heavy bait-casting rods and reels instead of light tackle and little shaky heads.

Q: What was the hardest thing about becoming a pro?
— Jason (Ashlank, Ky.)
A: Probably money. In order to go play, you have to pay your entry fees. You can go to a farm pond and fish. But if you want to practice all the time, you need the resources. You need to have time off from work to be able to get enough practice time in. So, I’d say in the beginning, it was the money.

Q: How do you feel about bass pros that have a bad day and then say they are “swinging for the fences” the next day?
— Brett (Roseville, Minn. )
A: I think that’s a cop-out answer. They say that because they didn’t adjust properly. They’re basically saying that they went for a sacrifice bunt the first day instead of swinging for the fences. You should be swinging for the fences every day. It’s just an excuse.

Q: Do you think being an average racquetball player has helped you focus more on fishing tournaments? Do you think other pros would benefit psychologically if they had a second sport that was harder for them to achieve a level of prominence?
— Zam (Omaha, Neb.)
A: Anytime you compete, the better prepared you are for pressure situations. You really learn how to handle different situations, and that helps your fishing. When we get done with our jobs, racquetball really helps take our mind off of fishing for a while and relieve some of the pressure that comes with our sport.

Q: David, great job. On your main hole (at Loudoun-Tellico), was it directly across from a marina? And did current change the way you fished it? Thanks.
— Kevin Campbell (Knoxville, Tenn.)
A: No, it wasn’t across from a marina. Current didn’t affect the way I fished it, but it affected the layout of the hole. The reason that spot was so good was that the current cleaned off a certain spot on the ledge. But overall, they didn’t pull too much current throughout the tournament.

Q: Hey, David, with the dead of summer upon us in the South, what tips can you give on catching larger bass on lakes and reservoirs during the heat of the day? Thanks, and God bless.
— Trevor (Roanoke, Va.)
A: If you’re in areas with a lot of grass, you should go to the thickest grass you can find. If you’re in a lake that doesn’t have grass, go to the deepest water you can find.

Q: What is the most important tip for a beginning co-angler?
— Jeremy Robertson (Waycross, Ga.)
A: Pay attention to details. Don’t just go out on the water and go through the motions of fishing. Every bite should tell you a story. You should be able to write a one-page report on each bite. Every time you go out there, try to learn something.

Q: What is your favorite deep summertime crankbait? What colors?
— Jason (Bowling Green, Ky.)
A: Probably a Fat-Free Shad in a “sexy shad” color.

Q: How did you go about finding fish on Fort Loudoun Lake?
— Bo Cross (Knoxville, Tenn.)
A: I used my Lowrance system and studied maps. I was looking for areas where fish were migrating to. Deep-water fishing takes a lot of time and a lot of casts to find one hole. Even though you look on the map and think an area looks good, it still takes a lot of casts to cover that area you’re targeting.

Q: On average, how many hours a week do you spend on the water as you are preparing to fish for a tournament?
— Russ Nixon (Lynchburg, Va.)
A: It depends on whether it’s a shallow-water bite or a deep-water bite. If it’s a shallow-water bite, I don’t spend as much time practicing because you use your instincts a lot more. If I’m preparing for a deep-water tournament, it’s the opposite: I’ll stay out from morning to dark, because it takes a lot of time to find the areas that are holding fish. Put it this way, the last FLW Tour event, I was on the water at 6:30 a.m. every day and didn’t come in until 9 p.m. every night.

Q: Hello, David. I would like to know if gas prices affected your thoughts of making long runs during practice time or during tournaments. Also, have you tried using All Pro Rods?
— Scott Towry (Lawrenceburg, Tenn.)
A: Without a doubt, gas prices are in my mind. If I have to run to the back of a creek, I know it’s going to cost me $10 to check out that spot. But with the level of competition on the FLW Tour, I pretty much block it out, because you can’t let factors like that change your decision-making process.

Q: Do you think consistency counts? Some anglers that have been mentioned a lot for this upcoming event, I noticed they have not fished well in the last several tournaments. If you’re in a rut, is it hard to get out and start putting together better finishes?
— Jason (Bowling Green, Ky.)
A: In general, people who get in a rut are usually one-dimensional anglers. So, consistency does count. If you do get in a dry spell, the best way to get out of it is to keep fighting and learn from your mistakes. When you’re in a rut, it always helps to get back to the basics. Don’t overthink it.

Q: Is the Gulp goby that good of a bait on the Great Lakes, and why does it not work on Southern lakes?
— Kenneth Shaw (Caledonia, Miss.)
A: The Gulp bait is that good and represents a goby very well. But in the Southern lakes, there aren’t any gobies there, so it’s not as effective.

Q: I’m fishing the BFL tournaments, and I’m trying to become a pro. Can you give me some good advice?
— Montae (Lynchburg , S.C.)
A: BFL tournaments are the best training ground there is. So, you’re on the right path. As you progress as an angler, you can progress in the level of competitions you enter. After you master the BFL level, you can start to enter Stren Series events. Then when you get good enough, you can move up to the FLW Series and FLW Tour levels.

Q: What weight jig did you use to fish deep and what color?
— Chris (Meridian, Miss.)
A: I used a 3/8-ounce in a peanut butter-and-jelly color.

Bass-fishing fans, unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for David Dudley as of right now. We appreciate the tremendous volume of questions for David and wish there was time for him to answer them all. However, will continue to provide as many installments of the FLW Live Reel Chat series as possible as we head deeper into the 2008 season. Again, thanks to David Dudley for giving us his valuable time. And a very special thanks to all of the fans who participated in today’s Reel Chat program on