Queen’s gambit

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Cast. Catch. Checkmate. KJ Queen reveals his go-to moves for strategic tournament success

Focus. An intense gaze beaming from the eye of the competitor. Peer across the bass fishing landscape and you’ll see dozens of thousand-yard stares in each field every weekend. They’re the mark of the competitors who are locked in, the men and women playing a game beyond what they see on the water, those busy casting, catching and playing the game of chess going on beneath the waves.

Tournament fishing has often been likened to the game of chess, a battle dating back 1,500 years where the pieces on the surface rarely reveal what’s going on behind the scenes. As in fishing, the basic moves are simple: cast, retrieve, move up, move down. Pause the bait. Hasten the retrieve. The pieces move this way and that. But as in chess, the winning moves often go beyond the basics.

While each angler has his favorites, we tapped one of the brightest rising stars on the Elite Series to break down his top techniques for the more reliable lures in his arsenal. Here’s how KJ Queen sees those pieces fitting together on tournament days.