How the “Average Fisherman” Benefits from Professional Bass Tournaments / Learn to Fish Largemouth Bass

How "Average Fishermen" Benefit from Professional Bass Tournaments

Some anglers look at tournament pros with pure disdain.

I could outfish that hack!”
They’re messing up the spawn and ruining our fishery!
Put summore patches on your jersy, you clown!
Must be nice to get your fishing boat and gear for free!
Great… camera crews… our lake is ruined…

Have you ever heard anything like this?

… have you ever said anything like this?

While there is definitely a time and place for open discussion regarding fishing during the spawn, catch & release vs. selective harvest, and lake publicity – there is also reason to be thankful for tournament fishing.

In years past, different lakes & reservoirs would have a few local celebrities. Guys that could catch fish on any day at any time in their local lake. Many lakes still have these hot-sticks, but tournaments started to give visibility to versatile anglers from across the country. Guys that could travel and fish different bodies of water well – maybe not perfectly like the locals, but still very effectively.

Someone would always catch fish no matter what the weather was doing, or the time of year. This reduced the amount of “luck” needed for the recreational angler; luck started to be replaced with scientific and environmental theories that were being proven and refined again and again on the pro circuit.

This also allowed for the testing of new techniques, the sharing of information, and an overall better understanding of how bass would behave from region to region. We’ve all heard the phrase: “a bass is a bass is a bass“, but behind the scenes professional anglers were sharing (some) information and learning new techniques, then scrutinizing them. As publicity increased, the amount of money to be made increased as well. Tackle manufacturers could develop new rod & reel models that were species or technique-specific, new baits, new line – you name it – based upon the success (or failure) of certain combinations in certain lakes – and with the chance of national publicity, the incentive to innovate became massive.

Berkley Cherrywood Rod Ad from the 1970s
Berkley Cherrywood Rod Ad from the 1970s

Capitalism on display. And who benefits from capitalism? Us. You and me. The consumer. The better a product and it’s reputation, the more it will sell. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

If a company ain’t innovating – we ain’t buying! If we ain’t buying – they ain’t a company!

Certain patterns emerged as the best, fresh data was analyzed and put to the test, allowing those of us with “day jobs” (and therefore lacking 12 hours to fish every day) a chance to stay current with modern trends and developments.

Flippin’ for Bass

A famous example of this came from a The Texas Invitational B.A.S.S. tournament held on Toldeo Bend in 1977. Water temps were in the high 40s, and many of the prespawn bass were shallow in the murky water. However, right before the event, a cold front came through that caused the temps to drop in the shallows as the water clarity increased – shutting down the bass.

A competitor from California named Dave Gliebe won the event with 20 bass and an average weight of more than 4 pounds. Others soon realized that Gliebe had extracted his bass from heavy cover in shallow areas with deep holes (about 8 feet). These areas were covered in thick grass and matted, weedy “umbrellas” and heavy timber. The method of extraction? “Lever-jigging.”

Dave Gliebe Flippin' for Largemouth Bass
Dave Gliebe Flippin’ for Largemouth Bass

Dave had learned “flipping” from his mentor, Dee Thomas, and had actually won two earlier tournaments using this technique and heavy jigs in timber. The “lever-jigging” variation was a 5/8 oz jig, flipped to penetrate the thick weeds, which was then allowed to fall to the bottom. The line from the mat to the jig was straight up and down, the line from the mat to Dave’s rod was angled. By pulling the line back and forth towards his location at that angle, the jig underneath the mat was allowed to raise and lower straight up and down. He would then work his jig for up to 5 minutes in a single location, waiting for a negative bass to strike.

The national press was impressed with how effective this method could be when other methods wouldn’t produce. Both flipping and “lever-jigging” had originated in Tule Lake (an intermittent lake covering an area of 13,000 acres) in California. Flipping presentations were known locally as “tule-dipping” or “doodle-socking”.

A handful of the other contestants were given a presentation on the technique after the tournament, including Al Linder, Ron Lindner and Roland Martin. These anglers soon spread the word, so much so that Roland Martin is more associated with the technique than Gliebe and Thomas. Ron predicted “there might be many other situations when this (basic) lure delivery system could be used.”

Strike King “Hack Attack” Heavy Cover Flippin’ Jig

If you’ve ever caught a bass flippin’ a jig… take a second and thank the tournament anglers of years gone by. Chances are without the sharing of information and the development of new techniques, many of us in the Midwest and elsewhere would be unaware of the myriad of presentations that can – and do – catch bass.

Drop-shotting… hair jigs… footballhead dragging… carolina-rigs…

These presentations have helped me put more bass in my boat… so I say to you all… thanks, guys!

Tight lines.

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