Like a toddler clutching a tattered piece of fabric, bass anglers have their own versions of security blankets. They're called "confidence baits." These go-to baits migrate toward the front of the tacklebox and find their way into the daily fishing arsenal time after time.
Elite Angler Boyd Duckett knows a thing or two about fishing confidence baits. Duckett's 2007 campaign kicked off with a victory at the Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake and culminated with another trip to the winner's circle at the Bassmaster Legends, the final Major of the 2007 season. En route to both victories, the Alabama pro relied heavily on confidence baits to amass over $750,000 in earnings for the season.
Duckett pulls no punches when discussing the impact confidence can play in having a successful day on the water. "Confidence is more important than anything else you can have in the boat with you," declares Duckett. "I've heard Kevin VanDam talk about how the No.1 lure in his boat is confidence. If you believe you can catch fish on something, you usually can.
That's why you'll see me throw so many of my confidence baits." The evolution of a lure from just another option to a true confidence bait is gradual. Duckett admits that winning a tournament on a specific lure obviously increases his opinion of that specific bait, but finding an offering that consistently catches fish in many different locations is even more critical.
The majority of lures he now counts as confidence baits were initially discovered on days outside of official tournament practice, when he was just fun fishing. "Even when I'm out fishing for fun, I am always practicing and learning," he relates. "I'll start catching fish and end up spending half of the day on the floor of my boat tying on different lures. I want to know everything the fish will eat and why they are eating it.
This process helps me build confidence in what baits the fish like best." Experimentation during productive outings increases Duckett's confidence level when he's casting for cash. "I sometimes get a feeling that I'm throwing the wrong bait, and I'll put it down immediately. I want to feel like I'm doing the right thing all the time. If I get that feeling during the first cast, that bait is gone and I move on. "I know from experience that when you reach the point where you feel like you don't have a shot, you're not going to catch them," Duckett advises.
The Classic champ points to the sixth stop on the 2008 Elite Series at Lake Murray, where the decision to return to a confidence bait paid off with a Top 20 finish. "In practice, I was throwing a new swimbait I had only used once before," he explains. "I had a bunch of fish following my bait, but I couldn't get them to commit. I started the tournament with that same bait. I hadn't made a dozen casts before I started questioning my decision. 'What if they just keep following it and don't eat it?' I thought. I knew then that I wouldn't be able to catch them on that lure. I picked up a Berkley Hollow Belly (soft swimbait), which I throw all the time and have a lot of confidence in.
I caught all my fish on that bait because that's what I felt I needed to be throwing." Duckett stresses the importance of keeping an open mind even after you've gained confidence in a reliable bait. "I never quit trying new products — otherwise, I wouldn't learn how to fish the new ones we hear about.
When new baits come out, I check them out. "I first started fishing the Chigger Craw four months before the 2007 Classic and had success flipping it in various lakes across Alabama. It was easy for me to go into the Classic and use that bait." Identifying confidence baits allows an angler to manage and best utilize the plethora of offerings available on today's tackle market. "I don't have to search anymore," Duckett explains. "I don't go down a bank second-guessing myself.
I know I have the right bait. I know I have a bait the fish will eat." According to Duckett, confidence leads to decisiveness, which is the ultimate key to success. "If you can catch fish on specific baits in a lot of different areas, it gives you more confidence in your abilities, especially on those mentally tough days when you go long periods without a bite. Indecision wrecks you; it steals your confidence."
(Provided by Z3 Media)