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Learning the Four Bait Categories

May 21, 2014

Improving your fishing skills for tournament success

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a five-part series on improving your fishing skills. While they may not be published consecutively, each will be noted. The first edition, “Nine Reasons Why Bass Strike,” was published last week.

By Chris Erwin

When I got involved in competitive fishing back in the early 70s, it became very clear to me that the people who were winning these tournaments had focused on one type of fishing. What I mean is they were either a worm fisherman or a spinnerbait, crankbait and/or topwater specialist. If I had any chance of beating these people I was going to have to focus my efforts in learning all I could about what they had discovered about each bait.

My plan was to list each category. They were as follows: topwater, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and bottom Baits. (Some of them have changed a little over the years, and I will explain that more as we go along.) I spent one year learning each.

I started with topwater and spent one whole year only fishing topwater baits. I felt it would force me to learn everything possible about how to catch fish using them.

I then moved to spinnerbaits and so on. At the end of four years, after focusing on each category, I felt I had broadened my arsenal of knowledge so that I could compete with anyone.

These are an example of the four bait categories that will be covered in the ongoing series about improving your fishing skills. (Photo by Chris Erwin)

These are an example of the four bait categories that will be covered in the ongoing series about improving your fishing skills. (Photo by Chris Erwin)

There are three things you must learn to be a competitive tournament fisherman. No. 1: Learn to use all the categories of artificial baits. No. 2: Learn how to find fish. No. 3: You must develop the confidence to win.

The last is a lot more important than you might think. It includes how to develop tournament day strategies. In this series, I plan to address all of these topics. You are welcome to write me with questions and comments as we move along.

If you have the idea that it takes a $50,000 dollar bass rig to win, you’re wrong! Your boat, your rods and reels, your electronics and your tackle are just tools. It doesn’t hurt to have good tools, however, knowing how to use them to their full potential will make you a serious contender.

My tournament career spanned from 1970-1986 at which time I started guiding. During that time I won 48 tournaments out of the 210 tournaments I fished. I placed in the top ten 171 times over 16 years of competing. I qualified 16 times to fish the Kentucky State Tournament held by B.A.S.S.

No one wins all the time, but I felt I gave a good account of myself considering I was fishing against some of the best fishermen in the area. I enjoyed guiding because I love teaching and nothing I ever accomplished was more thrilling than watching someone else catch their first big fish.

I’ve had a dozen or so letters asking me to do this series. You don’t have to be an aspiring tournament fisherman to gain a better understanding of catching fish in tough conditions or how to use your equipment to have greater success.

The next edition in the series will be Topwater Tactics. This is one of the categories that has changed over the years. When I started tournament fishing topwater was 99 percent hard baits. Today that’s not the case.

Till next time keep a tight line and take a kid fishing.

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