Before we answer this question, let’s first establish the criteria for how we want to break this topic down. Do we want to base this off of money won, tournaments won or most Angler of the Year titles? Could it be the person who has the longest running TV fishing show? Which if we go that direction, it will come down to Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Hank Parker or Jimmy Houston. Awarding someone with the title of “Greatest Angler of All Time,” is very subjective.
For this article, let’s use the “all-time money winners” as our standard for who’s the greatest. Now let’s look at 3 of the top 5 on the all-time money winners list starting with #5 Denny Brauer with over $2.5 million in earnings. Today’s top professional anglers can also make a lot of money with merchandise sales and Denny is the all-time leader in this category with over $550,000 in sales slightly ahead of Kevin Van Dam. Denny became the angler who many consider the best jig fisherman ever. If there was a jig bite taking place in any event, Denny was the favorite to win. I had the privilege and honor to talk with Denny on several occasions and he always took the time to visit and would talk bass fishing anytime. He is truly a legend of the sport and a great ambassador as well. Denny is also an avid deer hunter who enjoys dropping a big buck.
Aaron Martens comes in at #4 on the all-time money winnings list with over $2.7 million. No one in the sport of bass fishing is more meticulous or obsessed with his equipment than Aaron. No details are overlooked when it comes to organization and tournament preparation. He prides himself on being this way and apologizes to no one for it. Aaron just might be the best finesse fisherman on the pro tour. He can catch fish when other anglers are really struggling. If you ever get the chance to visit with Aaron about bass fishing, bring a pen and paper and be ready to take notes because no one gets more detailed on the subject of bass fishing than Aaron Martens. He’s literally an encyclopedia of information with a fishing IQ over 150.
At #3, Oklahoma native Edwin Evers has been very successful over the years and has accumulated over $2.9 million in winnings. Edwin is one of those anglers who seems to have the ability to find fish better than most. He’s also one of the most versatile and most consistent anglers on tour. He can throw a spinnerbait or a crankbait with the best of them, but he can also slow down and drag a jig or worm just as well. He’s one of those anglers like Kevin Van Dam that you don’t want chasing you on the final day of competition. Edwin is one of the most sought-after pros when it comes to sponsorship opportunities. He represents his sponsors and himself very well and has helped set the standard on what being a professional angler really is.
I want to make one thing clear; I understand that this topic is very subjective and is a matter of opinion but that’s why I’m using “money earned” as the measuring stick to determine who the top angler of all time is. Each of us has our own idea as to who we think the greatest angler of all time is. We all have a personal favorite, and this topic would not be complete without mentioning some of the older anglers who started back in the late 60’s when the money was not even close to what it is today. We’ll make sure to cover these guys in part 2 next week. Till then, don’t forget to set the hook! – Steve Graf
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