Growing up, your mother would've never let you leave the house for an overnight trip without packing for the unexpected. Bass fishermen should take note from Mom's advice, given that Murphy's Law dominates the outdoors. Most of us have learned the hard way that it's better to be prepared than to be caught short when Murphy pays a visit.
Elite Series pro James Niggemeyer, like any other bass fisherman, has too many stories of times he was ill-prepared for an inevitable dose of bad luck. These days, with his very livelihood on the line each time he launches his boat, he's packed a back-up for most anything imaginable.
"I carry spare rods, a spare prop for my outboard, several spare trolling motor props and pretty much anything else you can think of," he says. "I will also carry a spare hub assembly for my big motor, along with just about any kind of nut, washer or sheer pin that you could possibly need."
By carrying spare parts, the Texas pro has found that it actually allows him to fish more freely as his thoughts of "What if?" are replaced by "Why not?"
"I can think of an Open I fished on Sam Rayburn when I pulled into my first stop of the morning and my motor just started vibrating incredibly," he recalls. "I realized that I'd thrown an ear on my prop. But fortunately, I was prepared and was able to switch out the prop without losing much fishing time. Without a spare prop that day, I would've been so worried about how I'm going to get it fixed that my fishing would have taken a backseat."
Aside from major equipment and all the necessary trimmings, Niggemeyer's experiences have taught him to also pack identically rigged spare rods and reels. "I carry probably three or four medium-heavy rods that I can use for a variety of things," he explains.
"I'll just keep them in my rod box should anything happen. I also carry four or five flipping sticks and three or four spinning rods for the same reason. Having multiple setups with the same reels and same line means I don't have to miss a cast if something happens."
Niggemeyer points out that by keeping identically rigged rods ready to go, he's able to maintain his focus should the unthinkable occur. "If you lose a guide on your primary rod, without having an identically rigged setup ready, you're going to be forced to sit down and rig another one up," he says.
"This not only takes time away from your fishing, but it also causes you to lose your mental focus — not to mention your boat positioning and momentum. It's just really simple to prepare in advance, and it can save you a ton of frustration on the water."
The bottom line for Niggemeyer is that you just never know what's going to happen in a day of fishing, and it's far easier to be prepared. "I carry multiple sunglasses, multiple watches and multiple everything — you just never know," he says.
"For my own purposes, I try to limit my back-ups to a certain box or storage compartment to avoid clutter. You invest a lot of time and money to go out and fish; it's a shame to not have a back-up that could keep you out there fishing."