April 4, 2014 by Luke Clausen
Editor's Note: The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.
There is a famous quote that is true in most things, but especially in fishing: "Success breeds confidence, and confidence breeds success." You see it time and again when anglers will get in the groove and fish well for several events, a season or several seasons. It's often referred to as being "in the zone" or having momentum.
When any angler has this kind of momentum it becomes easy to make decisions on the water and not second-guess yourself. It gives you the confidence to believe in your instincts and make game-changing decisions without hesitation. Let's face it, fishing is very instinct-driven, and if you can trust those gut feelings and go with them, good things will happen. At the Classic this spring we heard Randy Howell talk about how he was headed for his planned starting spot, and on the ride there he changed his mind, made a U-turn and headed for the spot where he eventually won the event. He had an instinctive gut feeling, and it worked out. Decisions like the one Randy made are easier when you have momentum to give you the confidence to make them.
Last week when I pulled the Chevy and Ranger to Sam Rayburn for the third stop of the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour, I had gone through more than two full seasons of FLW Majors without missing a check. I didn't really think about it, but that is a streak I am proud of, and a lot of it was a result of momentum or being in the zone. I can look back across those 17 events and point out many decisions that I made that changed my outcome in the event. At Sam Rayburn, I was all set to continue the streak, but things didn't go very well this time. For the first time since mid-2011, I missed a check at a Walmart FLW Tour event. Did I lose the momentum? We'll see, but I'm hoping to keep the momentum alive heading into Beaver Lake next week where I can start a new streak, a streak I hope will include more wins.
As a competitor first and fisherman second, I want to win events. It's easier said than done, as the expertise of fishermen continues to curve upward. After all, there is only one winner per event and more than 150 non-winners. So the odds of winning aren't good, but I like the challenge and I am challenging myself right now to get more wins over the next three years.
Just how do I go about fishing to win more? That's the million-dollar question. Do I take more risks? Truth be told, I don't have a formula for how to win more. As I look back over my career and my two FLW victories, the Forrest Wood Cup win and the Bassmaster Classic victory, I don't think I fished any differently than I do now. In fact, I think I'm a better, more well-rounded angler today than when I won any of those events. Things just have to go exactly right for anyone to win.
One thing is for sure, though, it becomes easier to make winning decisions when you have the momentum to drive your confidence level up. With the confidence to make what are sometimes rash decisions based on gut feelings, intuition, instinct and knowledge, I can put myself in position to win more.
Chevy pro Luke Clausen