If you want to win tournaments, stop fishing for limits of keepers and instead focus on catching quality fish.
A five-fish limit is the first measure of success and job one in a tournament. But it’s how you see that quintet shaping up that sets the tone for your performance. Is it an open audition where anything that measures will do, or do you want five stars that’ll rock any stage?
David A. Brown
How to avoid that awkward feeling of your line going limp
How many good fish do you lose in a season of fishing, whether it’s in a tournament or just when you’re fishing for the fun of it? If it’s more than you can count on your fingers, perhaps it’s time for some constructive self-criticism. Are the fish at fault, or are you? In case it’s the latter, we offer the following advice, observations and tips from some top pros regarding how to put the odds of landing a fish successfully more in your favor.
Home in on winter bass by locating these surefire structures on a lake map
Two things stand out about winter bass fishing: The fish get a little bit pickier about where they want to be, and anglers don’t want to spend as much time running a bass boat around a frigid lake trying to find them.
Curtis Niedermier with map images courtesy of Navionics
Going on the record with your favorite fishing icons
I wouldn’t say it was a perfect season, but it sure worked out. I mean, it was a good year, but not a great year. I was surprised to even have a shot to win after Beaver Lake (he finished 68th). Honestly, it was never even on my mind until someone mentioned right before Chickamauga that I had a shot at winning it.
Treats to stock under an angler’s tree this Yuletide
Naughty? Nice? Who cares – Christmas isn’t far away, and any bad behavior can be overlooked for a while as we celebrate the season with presents for those nearest and dearest. As is our custom, we’ve appointed ourselves Santa’s helpers and came up with a few gift ideas. We’ve also selected goodies that cover a range of price options. Regardless of their cost, the following gear, gadgets and clothing would make any angler beam with joy.
Regular maintenance will keep your rig looking like new
If there is one thing I hate worse than seeing a nice bass boat with a filthy finish, it’s seeing one with dirty carpet. I like to keep my stuff clean, but not just because it looks good. A bass boat is a huge investment, and the more you can do to protect that investment the better the returns if you ever decide to sell or trade it.
Busting those winter-fishing myths
Not surprisingly, bass fishing has its own set of myths: Bass don’t eat topwaters when it’s sunny, big fish only eat big lures and so on. Winter fishing seems to take myths to a whole new level. Maybe the long hours in freezing cold numbs the mind as much as it does the hands, but one could write an article about how many myths there are regarding this chilly time of year – and whether or not they’re true.
FLW Tour pros weigh in optimal drag settings, the best hooks for braided line and how to decipher when grass mats are too thick for punching
If I use heavy-gauge hooks for flipping grass with braided line, why not use the same gauge hooks for fishing all soft plastics?
FLW Tour pros sound off on the effectiveness of rattling baits
Though some anglers contend that rattling baits don’t necessarily attract strikes, and might even deter them, the preponderance of evidence favors the rattle crowd. Virtually every hard lure made nowadays – crankbaits, jerkbaits, stick baits and so forth – can be had in rattling and silent versions.
Trebel hooks are not all created equal so here's what you need to know
As a general rule, the treble hooks on the lures of most tournament pros aren’t original equipment. Less-expensive stock trebles are usually replaced with ultra-sharp premium hooks of the angler’s choice.
Try this reaction tactic to fool dock-dwelling bass this fall
Well-honed casting skills are required to send a crankbait deep into the reaches of a dock. It can’t be skipped on the surface easily, but even an average caster can make a crankbait go where dock bass are likely to be if he employs a trick that Walmart FLW Tour pros Bryan Thrift and Wesley Strader call “driving,” or “steering.”
Curtis Niedermier; Illustrations by Ron Finger
Cool new products for the modern fisherman
The following products were originally featured in the 2013 August/September issue of Bass Fishing magazine.
When lake managers draw down reservoirs, fish behavior changes, and savvy anglers alter their strategies accordingly
As summer winds down, however, things can change quickly on a drawdown lake – a reservoir where lake managers reduce the water level in late summer and early fall. Come practice for the EverStart showdown, Dan Morehead’s fish were nowhere to be found. In fact, despite the amazing pre-practice, Morehead didn’t catch a fish during the first day and a half of practice. The dropping lake and progressing season had caused everything to change.
Jeff Samsel; Illustrations by Ron Finger
Four top Walmart FLW Tour pros weigh in on some of tournament fishing’s toughest on-the-water decisions
Tournament fishing isn’t just about catching fish. It’s about making sound decisions based on experience and applying the proper strategies to make good things happen when they count the most. Of course, sometimes it’s just about trusting your instincts.
Accuracy, repeatability are required to scrape bass from the abyss
Anyone who follows big-league bass fishing knows pro David Fritts is legendary for his ability to sniff out and catch bass on a crankbait. True, Fritts is handy with other styles of lures. But he is the iceman with a crankbait, particularly when the bass relate to cover or structure in deep water.
Matt Williams; Illustrations by Mike Mathison
How to outfit a jig for any situation
A jig trailer seems simple enough: a piece of molded soft plastic that dangles from a jig’s hook to add bulk, enhance action, temper the fall and suggest a crawfish or other food item. Those basic functions, though, are somewhat divergent and sometimes work against each other.
While there is more than one way to get to a fat bass that is buried up in the jungle, few methods are more effective than flipping or punching. Both are short-range techniques built around a hard-core fishing system that includes thick line and a stout rod, and any number of lures and rigs designed to slip in and out of thick cover with the skill of a grass snake.
Eventually, your rod collection will grow to the point where it’s cost-effective for you to acquire the tools and learn the skills to make slightly advanced repairs, such as replacing a broken line guide. The task does require some special equipment, but if it keeps your favorite rod in the game without having to wait a couple of weeks for a local shop to fix it, the cost is worth the investment. And a few tools still cost less than replacing one of today’s specialized high-end rods. You might also consider going together with a fishing buddy to split the cost.
How two of the best break down large expanses of vegetation
Lakes filled with matted grass produce some of the best bass fishing in the country, but can leave even professional anglers feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. If you understand why the bass use the grass, as well as the prime locations to begin your search, in what situations each species of grass is favorable to bass habitat and how to break down these large grass mats, you’ll unlock the best bass fishing of the summer.
Walker Smith (photo illustrations by Ron Finger)
Bulge the surface or slow-roll the depths with bass fishing’s classic bladed bait
What bass lure is more versatile than the spinnerbait? Not only will it work in water that is clear, stained or muddy, a spinnerbait will catch bass that are holding in shallow water or deep around all sorts of structure and cover such as grass beds, brush, laydowns, rocks, ledges, docks and stumps. Adding to the versatility of the trusty lure, it can be adapted to situations when the fish want something moving quickly, slowly or at a retrieve speed somewhere in between.
Striking it rich in untapped wetlands
Call it a bayou, bog or pond. Call it a marsh, swamp or slough. No matter what you call it, there are thousands of acres of backwater wetlands connected to major lakes, rivers and reservoirs that hold shallow-water bass year-round.
How two Walmart FLW Tour pros prepare for intermittent current flow
Early in his career as a tournament angler, Evinrude pro Dan Morehead became convinced he’d found the winning spot for an upcoming weekend event on Kentucky Lake. His premonition proved to be correct, as his ledge eventually produced 31 pounds of hungry largemouths. But it didn’t happen the way he’d expected.
Mark Rose suggests fish location based on current
Predicting bass location on a ledge based on current is not a sure-fire science. Actually, it’s completely unpredictable most of the time. There are just too many variables.
Spawning baitfish create solid opportunities to target bass. Making the most of them begins with understanding the bait’s spawning behavior and whereabouts.
If you’ve ever toted a plate of cupcakes into a room filled with children, set the cupcakes down and watched what happened next, you can imagine what occurs when the forage species of bass spawn. The bass soon figure out that their favorite foods are congregated and captivated, and they show up for the feast.
Bulge shallow crankbaits at the surface for an explosive springtime bite
Just as the best bass pros are multidimensional, sometimes the best lures are too. Take shallow crankbaits for example. Not only can they dive and deflect off cover; many can also be made to wake the surface. Wakebaiting is a technique that lies somewhere between cranking and topwater fishing, but whatever the definition, it excels when other crankbait patterns flicker in effectiveness.