UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

You’re Not Great at Everything

You’re Not Great at Everything
James Niggemeyer

When I started fishing at the tour level, I thought I was really good at everything. I thought I could win with any, or every, technique.

I’m older and smarter now, and I understand the reality of tournament bass fishing. I know there are very few guys that are good enough to pull off a top 10 or win doing something that’s outside their wheelhouse.

For me, it’s become more and more clear every season. I’m more comfortable with some things, and I don’t throw certain others.

I’m not the only pro who thinks this way. Bryan Thrift is probably one of the best ever, but I’ve heard him say, “I hate flipping.” How could that be? He’s caught them flipping before, so that’s not the issue. Rather, Thrift has a wheelhouse in which he absolutely excels, and he knows that he performs better when he doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and do things that aren’t in his wheelhouse – like flipping.

My wheelhouse is shallow power fishing, mainly with single hook-type baits such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, bladed jigs, jigs, soft plastics, and flipping and pitching baits. But I also really like topwater and shallow cranking, plus sight-fishing. That’s where I feel like I really excel.

Funny thing is, I grew up in southern California, fishing light-line finesse techniques, so I feel somewhat comfortable with that kind of stuff, but I’ve only had maybe one top 10 doing it in all my years of fishing. My record tells me the truth about what I’m good at, and light-line tactics don’t make the cut. Nor does Tennessee River ledge fishing.

I also know that, no matter how much time I’ve spent trying to get more comfortable with light-line tactics (and I’ve worked hard at it), I’ve always gravitated toward power-fishing tactics. Maybe it’s the way God wired me, but I could flip and pitch and throw topwater all day long and have a minimal amount of bites and still stay confident. I feel like I can go and make things happen. When I’m dragging around with light line, it’s like I’m waiting for something to happen.

This goes back to the mental side of fishing. If you believe what you’re doing is going to finally pay off at some point, it probably will. If you’re just hoping good things might happen, that’s not a good deal.

That’s why, when I’m preparing for a tournament, I look for opportunities to fish within my wheelhouse. At the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita this year, I devoted most of my practice to the shallow bite. The tournament was won by Clent Davis fishing deep brush, but I don’t think I could’ve won that way. Instead, I stayed shallow, made the top 10 and put myself in position to have a chance to win. I finished second.

Even on Kentucky Lake in the heart of ledge season, I don’t dedicate the entire tournament to dragging around out deep. I’ll go hunting for a small school on a shallow bar or transition area and look for something I’m more comfortable doing. Then I might split my time 50/50 out deep. Maybe I’m not going to win, but I’m more confident I’ll make a check, and that’s important too.

About the only time I can’t fight it is when we go smallmouth fishing or visit a deep, clear lake like Smith Lake. In that case I’m going to try to find something I’m comfortable with, that’s in my wheelhouse, but I’m going to give the finesse stuff a really hard look because historically those are the types of things that catch fish.

I want to stick with what I’m good at, but not to the point that I’m so hardheaded that I don’t take the easy fish. For instance, on the Great Lakes, I know I can catch quality bass with a jerkbait, but if I don’t take advantage of opportunities with a drop-shot, I’d be asking for the beat down of all time. It’s a balancing act, really.

For my particular wheelhouse, shallow power-fishing, a lot of what determines how far I can take it is seasonality and conditions. The Tour could go to a clear-water reservoir, and if the water is high like when we were at Smith Lake last spring, I know I can catch them power fishing. But in more typical conditions, I’d probably have to bend a little more.

I’m pretty stubborn about giving up my preferred tactics, too. I mean, if my practice has been dismal – the worst ever – and I have nothing to go to, then it’s a survival tournament and I might as well do as the Romans do and start finesse fishing or ledge fishing or doing whatever it is that’s “supposed” to be working at that fishery. To me, that takes a lot of guts, because it’s usually a recipe for a beat down.

However, if I’ve had a few bites on a square-bill or throwing a buzzbait or something that’s in my wheelhouse, I genuinely feel like there’s enough there to piece together the puzzle for two days.

I think it’s fair to point out that pretty much everyone at the FLW Tour level can do it all. It’s just a question of whether they can do it well enough to win. I know my limitations. I also believe that the quicker you can recognize what’s in your wheelhouse and what’s not, the sooner you can improve your performance overall.

After all, we all want to go into every tournament thinking we’re going to win, but the reality is wins just don’t happen very frequently. Sometimes you have to salvage a tournament and get a check. Other times, by following your gut and staying true to yourself, you can uncover great opportunities to go for it. In the long run, I think that’s the best recipe for success.

Follow James Niggemeyer’s career at JamesNiggemeyer.com.

 

Tags: james-niggemeyer  blog 

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

Following a great season in 2019, I just signed up for the FLW Pro Circuit for 2020. Foremost, I’m excited about the opportunities that are being provided by MLF and FLW. I see overall growth in the platform as we strive to be a bigger and better industry. READ MORE »

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

For the past several years, the FLW Foundation has been working diligently on a mission to introduce young people to their local natural resources. One strategy employed by the Foundation is to host free youth fishing derbies across the country. READ MORE »

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 »