UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Working the System

(Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the 2015 December/January issue of FLW Bass Fishing magazine. To read more compelling articles from FLW Bass Fishing magazine each month, become an FLW subscriber member.)


For five seasons, Brad Knight struggled on the Walmart FLW Tour. From unexpected breakdowns to lost fish and missed chances, the part-time pharmacist from Lancing, Tenn., cracked the top 50 only once. That all changed with a 19th-place finish in the annual standings and a 20th-place showing in the Forrest Wood Cup in 2014. In 2015, his momentum continued to shift into high gear as he made it into a couple of semifinal rounds in regular-season events, then capped it all off with a dramatic Forrest Wood Cup win on Lake Ouachita.

“I’m a ‘scientific’ and ‘systematic’ guy,” reveals the laid-back east Tennessee pro. “It’s one of the things that really hurt me early in my career. I didn’t let my plan develop enough. I used to play the science of it to a fault. Instead of being able to jump around and see what was happening, I used to try and spend too much time doing what should be happening.”

On the water at the Forrest Wood Cup a few months go, Knight made a couple of calls that he otherwise might have missed early in his career. On the first day, after milking the back of Big Blakely Creek for all it was worth, Knight fished some sloping banks with a buzzbait and culled up to 14 pounds, 4 ounces, his biggest bag of the event.

The final day, after slinging a Lucky Craft square-bill around his nearly played-out creek to no effect, Knight opened one of his meticulously organized crankbait boxes and pulled out a homemade balsa plug that he thought might work. A few casts later he boxed his biggest fish of the day.

Systematic preparation and planning certainly continue to benefit Knight in his career, but there’s more to his recent success. His family, his focus and his life in general seem to be steamrolling toward even bigger things to come on the tournament trail.

 

The Preparation

Knight groups his crankbaits by color and type. He has personally made hundreds of shallow and medium divers.

“I try to maximize my efficiency on the water,” says Knight. “At the Cup, I put a box of crankbaits in my boat that I hadn’t used in five or six years. It just hit me on the final day that I needed that bait, and I had it in two seconds.

“I don’t really know why I need to be so organized; I’ve always been that way,” he adds. “If I go fishing tomorrow, I can’t just grab a couple rods and go and feel good about it. I need my whole system. My mom used to see it in my room. I only organized stuff I had passion about. As a kid, my baseball cards would be all organized and my toy cars would be perfect, but my room would be a mess. Nowadays they probably put kids on medicine for that kind of stuff.”

Knight might have been obsessive since childhood, but he wasn’t born being good at managing tackle.

“A lot has changed over the years,” Knight explains. “At one time, I had way too much stuff. I was like everyone else – I was a tackle junkie. I had a crazy number of homemade crankbaits, and I was bringing along three different baits that all did the same thing. It took me about two or three years where I was working to pare down to just ‘the juice.’”

Technology and modern convenience also helped him get his system in order. Where he used to buy a few hundred Senkos before heading down to Okeechobee, he can now just bring a small bin and know that the miracle of overnight shipping will save him in the worst case.

One of Knight's passions is swimbait fishing. Though he has gravitated to big glide baits in recent years, he still has dedicated storage for soft ones.

“There’s something new to add every year – big spoons or whatever else. Lately it’s been swimbaits for me,” says Knight, who has a high-dollar collection of glide baits and loves to fish for the fun of it with big swimbaits. “I’m always tweaking, but every winter I specifically go through my plastics and get rid of a lot of stuff. I’ve got a big container to keep everything I cull to give to kids or people starting out.

“For me, the hard work isn’t just being on the water really early. It’s having every hook right and every bait tuned right,” he continues. “For my crankbaits, I’ve got five of every color I need in the box. Two of them have hooks, and all of them are tuned. If that crankbait I picked up at the Cup had had rusty hooks, it might have cost me half a million dollars.

“Having everything where I wanted it helped me develop an identity. You’ve got to figure out what your thing is to catch them. Learning to go on the road and find fish fast is good, but even a three-day practice period usually only lets you plan part of the first day before you need to start fishing fresh again.”

 

Building Toward Success  

When Knight was awarded $500,000 and the Cup for his time in Arkansas, Tinsley was awarded a new (giant) bear.

For Knight, the last few years have been his best both on and off the water. Some of that is because he’s a better fisherman, but he credits a lot of it to finally having every aspect of his life pointed at tournament day. In particular, he’s quick to credit his wife, Becky, and their young daughter, Tinsley, for his success.

“Having my family on the road has helped a lot,” Knight details. “It’s part of the total system. I know I can delegate and things will get done. All I need to do is roll into town on Thursday, get the camper set up, spend Friday on my tackle and then by Sunday [the first day of practice] I have everything ready to go. My focus is 100 percent on catching a bass. I don’t need to think about being off the water before a restaurant closes or getting gas or whatever. I give Becky a call about a half-hour before I get off the water, and when I get back to the camper I have a meal ready when I step inside, I have some family time and then I go to bed. You’re always trying to perfect the system, but I’m pretty close to finding out what works for me.”

Evidenced by the $500,000 and Forrest Wood Cup trophy he won as a result of “the system,” it appears he is very close.

Tags: brad-knight  jody-white  pre-tournament  2016-08-04-forrest-wood-cup 

AOY Update: Lake Toho

AOY Update: Lake Toho

 With the first two events of the 2019 FLW Tour season in the books, it’s time to take a look at how the Angler of the Year race is shaping up. At Sam Rayburn and Lake Toho the pros were tested with very different conditions, and the standings include anglers different specialties and skill sets than at this time last year, when the Tour’s first two events were both held in Florida. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Toho

Top 10 Baits from Toho

The second stop of the 2019 FLW Tour landed right on the spawn on Lake Toho and the other lakes on the Kissimmee Chain. Top finishers caught bass in all phases of the spawn. Collectively, they used just about every bait you’ll ever need if you want to catch a bass this time of year in the Sunshine State. READ MORE »

Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Roaming Kissimmee with Douglas

Hailing from Minnesota, Josh Douglas is in his third year on the FLW Tour and looking for his first FLW Cup qualification. Were it not for a disqualification in the final event of the year at St. Clair in 2018, Douglas would have sailed into the Cup. After a tough start to the year at Rayburn, he’s planning to get back on track at the FLW Tour event presented by Ranger on Lake Toho. READ MORE »

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

FLW Tour rookie Miles “Sonar” Burghoff kicked off his freshman season with a strong performance on Sam Rayburn, where he just missed fishing the final day with a 12th-place finish. Now, the Tour is on a system he is more than familiar with, having spent countless hours on Lakes Toho and Kissimmee while attending college at the University of Central Florida. READ MORE »

A Look at Lake Toho

A Look at Lake Toho

Stop No. 2 of the 2019 FLW Tour takes us to Lake Toho and the several other lakes strung along the Kissimmee River. Presented by Ranger Boats, the tournament will take off from Big Toho Marina on the north end of the namesake lake, but competitors will be able to spread out down the Kissimmee River into Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch), Lake Kissimmee, and perhaps even Tiger Lake and Lake Rosalie if they’re feeling adventurous. READ MORE »

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Florida is a familiar place for FLW competition, and Lake Okeechobee is probably the best-known fishery the Sunshine State has to offer. So there shouldn’t be many surprises when the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division kicks off the season Jan. 31–Feb. 2 on the Big O with an event presented by Power-Pole. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Lake Toho

By the Numbers: Lake Toho

The FLW Tour season opener on Sam Rayburn was a slugfest for sure. Fortunately for fans and anglers alike, the second stop of the season could be just as good, as the Tour heads to Central Florida and Lake Toho and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Kissimmee, Fla., on February 7. READ MORE »

2019 Lake Toho Preview

2019 Lake Toho Preview

Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho for short) is the first of four lakes on the menu for pros in the second stop of the FLW Tour. At the south end of Toho, a lock and a series of canals leads to Cypress Lake, Lake Hatchineha (Hatch) and Lake Kissimmee, which are all fair game for the pros. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Fishing deep-diving crankbait, dragging Carolina rigs and working finesse baits such as drop-shots were the keys to success at the FLW Tour opener at Sam Rayburn. Here are the bass-fishing baits that the top pros used. READ MORE »

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Cecil’s Final Morning of Practice

Russell Cecil is one of a number of standout Texas anglers fishing the FLW Tour opener this week on Sam Rayburn. After a lackluster rookie campaign in 2018, fishing near home is a great opportunity for the Willis, Texas, pro to get the year started off strong. Though the conditions are far from normal, a few hours on the final day of practice reveal that Cecil certainly has a read on the bass. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

FLW Live Schedule for Sam Rayburn

The 2019 FLW Live seasons kicks off on the big bass factory of Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas. Watch your favorite stars such as Scott Martin and Bryan Thrift weigh-in at the FLW Tour season opener, and then follow the weekend action live with the top pros. READ MORE »

Figuring Out Rayburn with Powell

Figuring Out Rayburn with Powell

Hensley Powell has quickly and quietly amassed quite a record with FLW. In just three years fishing the Costa FLW Series, he’s earned over $90,000, and he got a win at Table Rock in the Central Division in 2018. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour

Sam Rayburn Lake Tour

This year, the FLW Tour kicks off in Texas with a showdown presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn. Big Sam hasn’t hosted too many FLW Tour events in the past, but it’s loaded with bass and bass fishing history. The lake is much higher than normal right now, which will no doubt produce different fishing than is typical for winter on Rayburn. READ MORE »

Practice Starts at Rayburn

Practice Starts at Rayburn

Day one of practice for the FLW Tour presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn started this morning. We hung around takeoff to see friends we haven't seen in months and to get the season underway.  READ MORE »

Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Jay Childs caught two giant largemouths on day one, along with a smaller keeper, to take the early lead at Lake Amistad. Then he survived today for the win with a pair of keepers that included one smallmouth. READ MORE »

High Water will Factor at Rayburn

High Water will Factor at Rayburn

Typical winter fishing on Sam Rayburn would call for a lot of lipless crankbaits, Carolina rigs and a focus on offshore structure and submerged grass. However, for the FLW Tour opener January 10-13 a lot of that may be out the window – or at least a lot different than many of the Rayburn sticks in the field are used to. Sam Rayburn has risen steadily since December 10th, and as of January 3, the lake is at 171.43 feet, which is 7 feet over full pool of 164.4 feet. READ MORE »

By the Numbers: Sam Rayburn

By the Numbers: Sam Rayburn

The 2019 FLW Tour takes to the waters of Sam Rayburn Reservoir Jan. 10-13 for the opening event of the new season. Rayburn can produce some absolute giants in January, and if the weather cooperates, there’s potential for an abundance of massive bags. READ MORE »

2019 Rookie Rundown

2019 Rookie Rundown

No matter how you get to the FLW Tour, you’re only a rookie once. This year, 34 pros are taking their talents on Tour for the first time. READ MORE »

Big Bass Expected at Opener on Amistad

Big Bass Expected at Opener on Amistad

Lake Amistad might not kick out quite as many massive stringers of largemouth bass as it used to, but the legendary south Texas border reservoir is still a factory for big fish. According to local guide and always tournament favorite Ray “Hanselmania” Hanselman, there are some real giants to be caught at Amistad, but they’ll be at a premium when the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division rolls into Del Rio to kick off the 2019 season on Jan. 3 READ MORE »

How to Catch Winter Spotted Bass

How to Catch Winter Spotted Bass

Some of the best fishing of the year in the South occurs on the reservoirs with spotted bass in Georgia and the Carolinas. As a guide on Lake Lanier, FLW Tour pro Rob Jordan is adept at staying on the spots all winter. He knows when to fish deep or go shallow, and how to apply a jigging spoon, jig, underspin and crankbait to take full advantage of the opportunities. READ MORE »