UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

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 

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 »

Fishing for a Championship

Fishing for a Championship

Watching the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic as a kid was the source of, literally, my entire life’s motivation. I want to fish as a professional angler, and I love what I do every day, but the thought of fishing the Classic and the Forrest Wood Cup – that’s really what I want to do. I want to walk across that stage and be fishing against the top 50 guys in the world. For some guys the dream is Angler of the Year or finishing well in a Tour event or whatever, but mine has always been that big stage. READ MORE »

How to Fish Florida in the Fall

How to Fish Florida in the Fall

It’s been a while since my first blog, and with the season wrapping up around the rest of the country I figure it’s time to talk about Florida fishing. The big national tournaments don’t come down here this time of year, but the fishing is pretty good. It’s pretty simple this time of year, too. You just need a couple of rods. READ MORE »

How to Long-Line Pressured Smallies

How to Long-Line Pressured Smallies

So, up north, what we call “long-lining” has become a popular technique. It’s not done with a crankbait, like Southern ledge fishermen do, but it’s similar. You get your bait out a long way from the boat, and then drag it over key areas. It takes a long time to reel a fish in, but you get probably five times as many bites just by getting your bait that far away. READ MORE »

Jumpsuits, Patches and Bell-bottoms

Jumpsuits, Patches and Bell-bottoms

These days just about everybody puts something on every square inch of their shirts. There’s even a style of jersey with elastic armpits. It’s so you can cast easier, but there’s also a place there where you can put another sponsor’s logo that shows up when you hold up a fish or a trophy. Those guys back in the day were nowhere in the same league as far as showing off sponsors. READ MORE »

Why You Need to be Tying the FG Knot

Why You Need to be Tying the FG Knot

In my last couple years in Australia I learned the FG knot, which is a Japanese knot that originated from the guys fishing for giant trevally. They wanted to be able to use 100-pound-test braid with a 130-pound-test leader and be able to cast it through the guides. It’s the only knot I know that has 100 percent knot strength. The FG knot is actually stronger than the line, and it’s a plaited knot, which means the braid is woven around the fluorocarbon, so it’s super thin and there’s no curl in the fluorocarbon or anything. READ MORE »

My Favorite Stop of the Year

My Favorite Stop of the Year

We used to have an opening weekend tournament for maybe two years. That was when the fish were at the end of their spawn, and my brother Cory and I finished with maybe 2 ounces under 30 pounds and were in third place. Both years that tournament happened it took more than 30 pounds to win. READ MORE »

Dealing with Wear and Tear

Dealing with Wear and Tear

For a while earlier this spring it looked like shoulder surgery would be the next in a long line of repair jobs. It’s no secret that I’ve had a lot of problems with my hands, arms and shoulders over the years. I had surgery on my left hand last August, and it was supposed to fix a chronic problem that was affecting my grip. READ MORE »