BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 73

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the confidence Factor

Confidence \Con”fi*dence\, noun- 1. Freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities 2. A state of confident hopefulness that events will be favorable.

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Bass fish- ermen are loaded with confidence as described above. They believe in themselves, their abilities, without doubt and that belief translates into success. But where does that confidence come from? A simple answer is from many other successful fishing experiences. When you first begin bass fishing, your experiences will be lim- ited, thus your confidence. But, let’s say the few bass that you have caught have been on a spinnerbait then when you throw a spinner- bait, you will start fishing with the confidence that you can catch a bass. Next, say tie on a crankbait and catch a few. Now, understanding that both are reaction baits, you have gained confidence in a very lim- ited pattern, fishing different types of reaction baits. As you continue, and you gain experience, you notice that cloudy days or days with moderate wind seem to garner the most bites on reaction baits. You are expanding your pattern, and your confidence. When these condi- tions occur, you will be confident that reaction baits will be effective. But what happens when the next time you go fishing it is calm and sunny? You might throw these same reaction baits initially with some confidence. But, after awhile with no bites, your confidence will wane. In this scenario, let’s say your partner is throwing a shaky head worm, and really catching ‘em. You will tie on the same worm, with confidence that you too will catch ‘em. So, confidence can also be borrowed, from someone else’s success. Understanding this idea let me try to help you develop confidence from my experience. It starts with my equipment. I am confident that any of my Dobyn’s rods will allow me to accurately present my bait, their sensi- tivity will allow me to detect even the most subtle of bites and their action will allow for a good solid hookset. My Gamma fluorocarbon line will conceal itself well and hold up through the abuse that line inevitably takes. If I am presenting a soft plastic bait, I am confident that any and all of the baits made by Yamamoto will entice the bass. I am constantly looking for something that is just a little bit different, and occasionally that little difference in baits makes a big difference in bites. Venom Lures Big Shot tubes fit this bill. And the baits by Secret Weapon Lures, in particular the Sidearm spinnerbait, and the Recoil rig are very innovative, fish catching ideas. If there is a swimbait bite, a Baitsmith swimbait will have the bass attacking it. For hooks, the Venom Lures Sickle hooks have my confidence. I know, from many, many hours of use that these products will get the job done, as good as it can possibly be done. In fishing Pro/Am draw type tournaments, one thing I have no- ticed about the best amateur partners that I have had in my boat is that they will catch fish with baits other than what I am throwing, and in other places than where I am throwing. They have confidence in their baits and their abilities to locate the bass that I didn’t locate. The less experienced amateurs will try to copy my baits, or throw to where I have already thrown. Another common thing about inexpe-


rienced anglers is constantly changing baits. This is time consuming and most likely happens because they lack confidence in the baits they are throwing. Now, that all seems like common sense, you might be thinking. That’s all great and fine, but I only have limited experi- ence, therefore limited confidence. So, what am I supposed to do? My answer and the whole point of this article: Come tourna- ment time, only throw baits that you do have confidence in. If your experience is limited to soft plastics, then there you are. But, each one that you tie on, including size and color, should only be put on for a very good reason. The reason should be that you have confi- dence in it. If you have caught numerous bass in similar conditions with a particular bait; if a close friend that you trust has caught nu- merous bass in practice with a particular bait, etc., etc. It doesn’t matter why, but from the time that you throw the bait; you have to believe that at any moment, a bass will bite it. Whether you try your best bait for 10 minutes or 2 hours, it doesn’t matter. But the moment that you no longer have confidence in it, change. Choose another that will hold your confidence then fish it with confidence. The best Pro Anglers have refined this to instinct. They may be throwing a spinnerbait, working down the bank. When they come to a stump in 2’ of water, they will instinctively pick up another bait, maybe a buzzbait or a jig, for just one or two casts. Then on down the bank with the spinnerbait they go. Their experience has given them so much confidence that they don’t even think about this change, it comes automatically, or instinctively. On day three of the FLW Series National Guard tournament at the Columbia River 2009, I was fishing a known spawning area. Most of the bass had finished spawning, and in this area locals had constantly beaten them up for nearly a month. The few still hanging around were tired of the same old baits. After about 20 minutes with my tube, and a couple of nips, but no hook ups, I looked at the rods on my deck, and a small ripbait on my Dobyns 704CB felt right. I hadn’t even thrown a ripbait the first two days but a trusted friend had told me the night before that he was get- ting some bites on it. I picked it up, and on the third cast caught my biggest fish of the day, a 3.78- lb smallie. It was part of my nearly 15-lb bag that moved me into the lead, which I managed to hold onto on day four, giving me my first FLW Series win. I had borrowed his confidence, and, although I could only retain confidence in that bait long enough to throw it off and on a half a doz- en more times during the tournament, it ended up being the deciding factor for my win. Lack of experience can be overcome if you keep this simple idea in mind. Many of your competitors may have more experience, but they can only fish one bait at a time. If you are throw- ing your bait with the highest level of confidence, then you are on an even playing field with them, and one up on the ones that are not. While you are out fishing for fun, this is the time to develop confidence in new baits, new ideas and new presentations. You will simply be expanding your arsenal and gaining your confidence. BW

January/February 2010