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Becoming Aware of Your Angler Strengths

Becoming Aware of Your Angler Strengths
Brian Latimer

 (Brian Latimer is a rookie on the Walmart FLW Tour. 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.)


Brian Latimer

The ongoing sentiment among fishermen is that versatility is the key to becoming a successful professional angler. While I’m certain that statement holds some weight, I think there is an alternate perspective that is worth entertaining.

I’ve closely observed some of the sport’s most successful anglers, both novice and veteran. Most of the industry’s best fishermen are totally aware of their strongest assets. Larry Nixon is one of the sport’s greatest soft plastics fishermen of all time. Most of the time when I’ve seen him in the top-10 cut he’s been fishing slowly and thoughtfully with a soft-plastic bait. If you’ve ever watched David Dudley with a spinning rod you’ll notice he’s usually glaring with confidence with any type of finesse presentation. Ish Monroe is called the “BBS” – big bass specialist – for a reason. He specializes in finding opportunities to catch bass with heavy equipment. It seems like most of the consistent anglers are really good at finding water that fits their angler strengths better than the competition.

During most events the biggest hurdle is simply getting bit – how to get five bites during an eight-hour period. Of course, there are events where this is an exception, but predominately we just need to get bites. When the bite is really tough, it’s super-important to fish techniques that you have a lot of confidence in, as confidence is the tool that feeds our ability to focus during the long periods of no action during the day.

Every angler, regardless of level of skill, should become aware of what skill he can focus on the best. If throwing crankbaits is a technique that you can do for hours on end and never lose focus, become great at it. If finesse tactics are what builds your confidence, become the best at it.

Many of my most successful events were the tournaments where my main focus was finding water that fits my favorite way to catch bass. In my case, I often lean on my fascination with shallow-cover bass in tough situations. I can make short casts or flips to docks, undercut banks and shore grass all day long and never lose my enthusiasm about the day. So when the going gets tough, I look for water that presents the most opportunities for bass to hide, regardless of whether I got bites during my practice period.

In many events, I initially lean on what the lake history says should be the most successful tactics. When that fails, I simply commit my efforts to what I have the most fun doing on the water. The end result typically is a solid finish, as was the case this past week at my first event of the season – the Costa FLW Series tournament on Lake Okeechobee. As usual, a brutal cold front landed on the Sunshine State for the entire week. Cold fronts in Florida adversely affect bass behavior more than anywhere else in the country. Practice rendered so few bites that I simply had to find water that presented the most targets for me to flip. Thankfully, that decision rendered just enough bites to land me a check.

The Okeechobee tournament is a perfect example of an angler choosing water that fits his or her personal preference and taking home the title. Jason Lambert ignored the usual sentiment that Florida bass bury themselves in deep cover and hide during a cold front. Lambert captured the victory by relying on his skill with moving baits.

Every fisherman needs a platform of confidence to pull from when things are going bad. My advice would be to carefully observe your trips on the water, whether it’s pre-practice for a club tournament or just a casual outing on the water. I would suggest that you become aware of what hikes your confidence level during the day and write it down. Remember those experiences, and lean on them when the bite gets tough.

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Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

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Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

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