What Makes A Great Tournament Angler?

Why do I fish bass tournaments? This is a very good question that has a plethora of answers and for me, it’s not just one specific reason; it’s a little more complicated. Let’s dive into this a little deeper. First of all, it’s the high that I get from competition. All my life I have competed whether it’s been in baseball, football, track or a family game of Skip-Bo. I have played every level from high school to college to professional. The one thing that drives me, is the will to win, the will to be as good as I can be! I was born with this desire or instinct to be the best at whatever it is I’m doing. I truly believe that this competitive desire is something you’re born with and I don’t think it’s something that can necessarily be taught. But with this instinct or desire, it can also be a curse. When you strive to be the best and win, you put your heart and soul into it and dedicate yourself to the process with commitment. You’ll do whatever it takes to be or beat the best. You will also be disappointed from time to time with poor finishes. Tournament bass fishing is a sport that you will fail more than you will win.

What drives a bass angler? It’s the rush that any angler gets when he or she pulls their catch out of the live well and places them in their weigh-bag. It’s walking up to the stage with a really good sack of fish and placing them on the scales with all your peers watching as the scales tip in your favor and your weight is announced. It’s standing on a stage and being interviewed by the tournament director as to how you caught that good bag of fish. It’s other anglers coming up and congratulating you on a job well done. There’s a since of pride knowing that you figured out or found a group of fish that no one else did. It’s the feeling you get when they call your name to walk up on stage and receive your check.

Anglers are always looking for an edge, an advantage over their competition. Sometimes it might be a secret bait or maybe a spot they found pre-fishing. It might even be something a little different in their presentation, for example, instead of dipping the tail of their favorite worm in chartreuse dipping dye like everyone else is doing, they use red or blue or maybe even black. No one over thinks and over analyzes what they are doing more than bass anglers! We can over think or over complicate the process of catching a fish that has a brain the size of your fingernail.

But if you look at every top angler or anyone who has had success in the bass fishing world, there’s one common thread or attribute each possess. It’s something you can’t buy off the shelf at your local tackle shop and it’s not a special bait or technique either. It’s not what brand or how fast their boat is. It not the brand of rod and reel their using. You can sum it up in one word…. confidence! The best bass fishermen on the planet all have this one attribute no matter who they’re competing against. A confident angler thinks he’s the best to ever hold a rod. Even Kevin Van Dam was asked one time “What makes you the greatest angler of all time?” His response was….”Confidence.” He truly believes in himself and that every decision he makes on the water, is the right decision. Every professional angler I have ever asked this question has said that there’s no better tool in your tackle box than confidence. It’s not about what bait your throwing but more about the way you work it. There’s a big difference with an angler who fishes a certain bait with confidence than a bait he has no confidence in at all. If there’s one piece of advice I tell young anglers today, figure out what bait or technique you have the most confidence in and when the bite gets tough, go to what you believe in.

For me, it’s a Texas rigged straight tail worm (Zoom Trickworm or V&M Pork Pin) with a 3/16 tungsten weight with a 2/0 Gamakatsu hook. Anytime I’m struggling in practice or an event, I’ll pick up a straight tail worm and go to work. My confidence level when I have this bait in my hand is very high. I feel no matter what, I will catch fish with this rig. I can’t count how many times that this technique has filled my live well and got me a check at the end of the event. Why, because I believe in it and fish it with confidence! It’s my go to bait or technique when things get tough for me. For other anglers, it might be a spinnerbait or maybe a jig. This is something that can take years to figure out, but once you do, you’ll begin to think like a pro and hopefully put money in your pocket. Till next time, don’t forget to set the hook! For more great angling tips, tune in every Monday at 12:00 noon to Tackle Talk Live on Facebook or catch us on our You Tube channel.

Steve Graf
Co-host Tackle Talk Live


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