UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Do You Have The Four Cs?

Do You Have The Four Cs?
David Dudley

(Editor’s note: Greg Lahr is a retired Special Forces soldier who fishes Walmart Bass Fishing League events near his home in North Carolina. 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.)


What makes Greg Hackney so good? How can David Dudley be so consistent? How does Mark Rose keep sponsors happy for years? What does it really take to be a top-100 pro?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these types of questions, this article might shed some light on the subject, while at the same time giving us mere mortals some valuable tools to add to our mental tackle boxes.

Many of us would like to think that Hackney and his peers were born knowing how to flip and pitch, talk to sponsors, and handle the pressures of competitive bass fishing, but the truth is they weren’t. As with all sports, the true professionals had to dedicate themselves and master the basics before moving into the big leagues. But no matter how diligent Rose was, and how early Hackney hit the water, they were doomed to stay at the local level until they acquired what I call The Four Cs: Concentration, Consistency, Confidence and Character.

Allow me to talk a little about each of these and their dynamic interaction, and then you decide for yourself if there’s more to being a top-100 pro than luck, a hot lure or a cool boat wrap.

 

Concentration

The ability to truly concentrate is the cornerstone of The Four Cs. Once you hone your ability to concentrate, all of the other factors will follow suit. For an example of concentration, watch Hackney when he’s on the water, or a baseball pitcher in the groove after seven innings. Or look at the face of a cliff diver when he pushes off the Acapulco rocks. These professionals have the ability to wipe everything else from their minds except for the task at hand. That sounds like an easy thing to do, but it’s the greatest single factor that separates the pros from you and me.

The pros have bills, backaches and family problems just the same as we do, but the ones that are most successful have trained themselves to lock onto the task at hand and turn the other static off.

Before you can learn to concentrate you should be aware of what the main distracters to concentration are. The most common are:

  • Bills
  • Self-imposed pressure
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Too much time on the water
  • Boredom
  • Lack of Confidence    

The first step to improve your concentration is to identify your distracters and then deal with them before you get on the water. If that’s impossible then train yourself to separate or mentally put these issues on vacation while you’re on the water. Years ago when I was in the Army going through Special Forces training, a master sergeant told me that I needed to build a box in my brain and put my family and all problems in there, then close the box before I deployed … “And don’t open that box until you get back home,” he added. One or two lapses of concentration in our sport might not get you killed on the battlefield, but it will cost you that split-second reaction needed to set the hook.

So, if those are the distracters to concentration, what can be done to increase our ability to stay focused for eight hours on the water? The first thing you can do is get a good night’s sleep, which is sometimes difficult when you are up with the baby at 0230 and have to get up at 0330 to get to the ramp. Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be easy!

The next step is hydration. Most of us keep water on board because we know it’s important, but when we get to the ramp at the end of the day there are usually only one or two empty bottles to throw away, right? We get moving so fast and we’re so worried about getting to the next spot that we completely forget to drink water. I’ve never heard of a boxer or a marathon runner that didn’t need to hydrate before and during competition. Our sport is no different. There is a reason CamelBak hydration systems have sold millions of units in the past few years. Athletes and soldiers need water to perform at their optimal level. As important as water is for your body, it is even more important for your brain. Study after study has clearly demonstrated that as the body becomes dehydrated, mental acuity drops. You have to hydrate before, during and after every day on the water to maintain your edge.

You have to think of concentration like a muscle. The more you exercise it the larger it gets, or in this case the more acute it becomes. About the only time the average angler exercises his concentration muscle is the 10 minutes after he puts a fish in the boat. Think about it. After you catch a fish your adrenaline goes up, you get that little high and your next five casts are perfect. You can feel every pebble on the bottom, and the world is perfect. What you have to do is replicate that level of concentration even when you haven’t caught a fish. When you start out don’t try this technique for an entire day but rather for 10 minutes and then take a break. The more you do these drills the longer you’ll be able to maintain it, and you’ll also be able to turn it on and off at will.

I’ll bet most of you have had days on the water where you could say you were “in the zone” or had your “game face” on or that you were “dialed in,” right? Days like that usually equate to a lot of fish in the livewell and a good time. But what you didn’t realize was that you actually had a very good day of concentration, and if you can repeat that level of concentration you’ll begin to be more … consistent.

 

Consistency

Webster defines consistency as “reliability or uniformity of successive results or events.” Huh? We all know that when we go fishing we naturally do the same things many times, such as casting and retrieving our lures. What I want to talk about is being consistent at doing the critical tasks. These are things like concentrating, keeping the lure in the strike zone, having the right line for the conditions, always fishing into the wind, keeping a positive attitude. If you’re always consistent with the tried-and-true principles of fishing your percentage of hook-ups will drastically increase.

But how do you really know what these critical tasks are, especially since there are no absolutes in this business? The best way to determine your personal rights and wrongs is to analyze every fishing trip by getting into the practice of sitting down and replaying your day on the water. If you’re honest this will help you identify what went right and what went wrong. Professional football players review film of every game, prior to starting the next week’s practice. This technique can help you too. No, you don’t need to film yourself on the water. As you mentally review your performance that day, try to highlight one or two areas to either reinforce or improve. An example would be: “Every time I bumped my spinnerbait into the boat docks I increased my catch ratio.” Or: “I’m not waiting long enough before setting the hook on my topwater baits.”

You should also do the same personal analysis for each season and each year. I know many fishermen (myself included) that are very good at certain seasons, but they struggle in others. If you take the time to analyze the entire season you might uncover the one or two areas that are holding you back.

If you can become your own worst critic – in a positive manner – you’ll become a more consistent money winner, which will in turn boost your overall … confidence.

           

Confidence

This seems to be the one trait everybody wants, Yet, few of us know how to get it, how to keep it, and, most of all, how to get it back. You might think confidence would be easy in a sport where you’re pitting yourself against a fish with a brain the size of a dime, no thumbs and no computer skills.

So how does a grown adult build confidence in his abilities on the water? How do you convince yourself that every time you launch your boat you’re going to get a limit? There’s no easy answer for this one and certainly no shortcuts to get there.

Gaining knowledge about bass is an often overlooked aspect, but it plays a vital role in an angler’s confidence. Ken Cook was a fisheries biologist for more than 10 years before turning pro. This knowledge helped build his confidence, which has been a tremendous advantage for him over the average angler. I’m not advocating that every angler get that educated, but too many anglers skip this step because they’re in a hurry to get on the water. Every soldier knows that the more you know about your enemy the easier he’ll be to defeat. The same adage holds true for bass fishing. Take the time to do your research and it’ll pay big dividends.

But what happens if you zero in your next three tournaments and your confidence level goes south? How do you get it back? The best thing you can do, if possible, is to take a break from fishing. Clear your head. Take the time to put your desires and aspirations into focus and get back to square one. Stop listening to dock talk, and go fishing by yourself the way you like to fish on a body of water you know. It’ll come back when you make it easy again.  

 

Character

So now you have the concentration of a snake charmer and the consistency of the sun, you’ve read every book on bass habits and you’re chock-full of confidence. You’ve got it all, right? Wrong. Anybody can work hard, become a student of the sport and start winning, but if you want the full package you need true character to see you through the tough times as well as when you’re in the winner’s circle.

Our sport is growing faster than many ever expected, but if we’re not careful we could well end up with something we don’t recognize anymore. The only way we can keep this sport from becoming like “professional” basketball, where fights and thugs are all too common, is to reward bass fishing professionals who have character. Individual character is harder to build than confidence because it’s a way of life.

A fisherman with true character:

  • Promotes the sport
  • Teaches others to fish, especially the young anglers
  • Respects others anglers’ water
  • Understands what a no wake zone is
  • Knows what it means to be gracious in winning, as well as when bringing in an empty bag

Character is one of the main reasons sponsors hang onto the likes of Mark Rose for as long as they do. They want their products associated with a professional who exemplifies character.

So the next time you meet a pro and think, “Dang, he’s no different than me when it comes to fishing,” you’ll be wrong. That’s because most pros have a clear understanding of The Four Cs, and they know how to use them. If you take the time to study The Four Cs and try to inject them into your fishing strategy I think you’ll see strong results.

Tags: greg-lahr  blog 

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

One of the easiest and most controllable ways to save time and be efficient on the water is to keep tackle organized and accessible. Hard baits are easy to organize in Plano boxes, but soft plastics can sometimes cause a bit of a headache. Here are some tips for doing it based on how I go about tackling the issue.  READ MORE »

How to Land More Bass

How to Land More Bass

My technique for fighting a bass depends significantly on the equipment – my Dobyns rod, Ardent reel, Seaguar line and Cornerstone Baits – that I’m using at the time. READ MORE »

God, Grace, Grit

God, Grace, Grit

Life isn’t always easy, and we all find ourselves in situations that seem impossible to overcome. But with God, grace and grit we have not only persevered, we have risen. And we are continuing to rise together, and can commit to uplifting one another along the way. No matter what you are going through on or off the water, know that with God, grace and grit, but most of all God, anything is possible. READ MORE »

How to Prepare for Big Water 

How to Prepare for Big Water 

As many of you know, fishing big water for giant smallmouths is my favorite type of fishing. Competing on the Great Lakes, 1000 Islands, St. Clair, Champlain and other big Northern fisheries is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it gets rough, which is why it’s critical that you have the correct equipment and understand how to use it. READ MORE »

How to be a Pro Angler 

How to be a Pro Angler 

I get a lot of questions from young and old anglers alike about the steps to becoming a pro. I guess maybe sometimes I take it for granted. The process seems somewhat obvious to me. How to execute on it might not be simple, but the steps you need to take really are. There are only a couple of ways to get into this sport, and they all start at the grassroots level, in $200 and $300 tournaments.  READ MORE »

Introducing Myself

Introducing Myself

I want to start off by telling you a little bit about myself. I grew up in Pennsylvania about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. I grew up fishing for whatever would bite with my grandfather and in middle school I had a friend who started taking me with his dad down to the Chesapeake Bay. That was my first time ever on a bass boat, and I was immediately hooked! READ MORE »

Riding the Roller Coaster

Riding the Roller Coaster

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, although it seems like the last one was just yesterday. This season has flown by, and I finally have some down time before the last stop on the FLW Tour at Lake Champlain. This Tour season has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve learned a lot. READ MORE »

The History of the Drop-Shot

The History of the Drop-Shot

FLW Tour pro James Niggemeyer recalls his first introduction to the drop-shot, as well as what came before it and how he developed his tackle to have better success with this capable finesse bass bait. READ MORE »

From Dead Last to Making Money

From Dead Last to Making Money

If you were hanging out with me at the FLW Tour event on Seminole recently, you would have thought I won the tournament. I was congratulated by every pro I saw, and they were being genuine. READ MORE »

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Fishing the Worst Conditions

Watching giant bags of bass caught down in Texas and Florida on FLW Live during FLW Tour events has many anglers dying to get on the water. The only problem is that a lot of people are still facing some of the toughest conditions for catching a bass – cold, muddy, moving water.   READ MORE »

How to Deal with Dock Talk

How to Deal with Dock Talk

If you fish tournaments or follow tournament fishing, you know about dock talk. It’s the chatter that goes on among bass fishermen during and around tournaments on subjects such as how the fish are biting, what patterns are in play, the weather and just how much of a grind it’s been. Dock talk can be dangerous. It can lead you astray if you listen to the wrong person. It can hurt your confidence if you hear about someone else really catching ’em doing something different. It can distract you from your game plan and your goals. Dock talk rarely gives you the complete story. READ MORE »

Moving into My New Office

Moving into My New Office

The new year to many professional fishermen also means a new boat. Some people like the smell of a new car — who doesn’t, really? But the smell of new fiberglass is better than that. It’s better than the smell of warm apple pie to me. READ MORE »

How to Work in Fishing

How to Work in Fishing

There was a time when the only way to make money at fishing and to express your love for our sport was by fishing tournaments, but that’s just not true anymore. With the growth curve we’ve had, the economic muscle of the fishing industry has spawned some interesting opportunities that didn’t really exist years ago.  Now, there are many jobs in the fishing industry that allow someone with a creative mind to indulge in what they love to do. I get to be around a lot of pros, but my job has also brought me into contact with a lot of folks with other jobs in fishing. So, here are four people I think you should follow and study if you know you belong in the fishing industry, but you don’t know exactly where yet. READ MORE »

Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments

Why We Need More Winter Bass Tournaments

FLW Tour pro Brian Latimer explains why he loves winter bass fishing and tournaments. READ MORE »

Get More out of Guide Trips

Get More out of Guide Trips

Guide trips are great opportunities to learn about bass fishing and to have an enjoyable day on the water without the pressure of having to find fish and figure out patterns on your own. I highly recommend them, especially if you’re sitting around during the offseason with nothing much to do. READ MORE »

Martin’s Final Prep for the 2019 Tour

Martin’s Final Prep for the 2019 Tour

Getting mentally prepared is the biggest thing for me. There’s a process, and it has to be done. Everything has to be ready so when I roll into Texas to start practice for Sam Rayburn on Jan. 6 I know exactly where every piece of tackle is stowed and exactly how every piece of equipment works and exactly what I need to accomplish to support my sponsors and keep my own media  projects on schedule. Sometimes the preparation goes into panic mode, like I’m in hyperventilate mode or something, but that’s just part of it. READ MORE »

Life Between Seasons for a Pro Angler

Life Between Seasons for a Pro Angler

As busy as a Tour pro stays from August until December, getting things lined up for the following year, I still find time to relax a bit. Like most fishermen, I also enjoy passing time in the fall and winter by going hunting.   READ MORE »

Meet the Latimers

Meet the Latimers

I know everyone isn’t in the same situation, but personally, I wouldn’t want to try to be a pro angler and not have kids or a family. I got married in 2008, and I fished the EverStart FLW Series the first year I got married. READ MORE »

Create a Base List of Go-To Baits

Create a Base List of Go-To Baits

Every season, my garage goes from organized to absolute chaos as I come and go from one tournament to the next. By the time I empty out my boat in the fall to sell it, I wind up with a mountain of tackle that needs to be dealt with. It needs to be culled, cleaned up, organized, re-stocked or replaced so it can be packed into my new boat, organized in the garage or stowed in my truck bed camper, keeping in mind all the lakes and reservoirs the FLW Tour will be visiting from January through August. READ MORE »

A New Plan for 2019

A New Plan for 2019

If you haven’t been living under a rock this offseason then you know there are going to be some well-known faces missing from the FLW Tour next year. Over the years, my brother Jared and I have run a lot with the Johnston brothers, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson and Jeff Sprague, and now they’ve all switched to fishing other circuits. It’s like high school again. At least, that’s the best analogy I can find: You grew up with the same buddies, but after you graduate you go your separate ways. I’m really sad about it. READ MORE »