Six MLF Pros Share their 'Confidence Baits'
From drop shotting to flipping mats, you can count on seeing these lures and techniques at the MLF Bass Pro Tour in 2019
By Dave Landahl
December 10, 2018
Major League Fishing pros are confident individuals by nature. Anybody who decides to compete against other anglers for money has to be confident, especially when all 80 anglers fishing the MLF Bass Pro Tour believe they’re the best angler on the water.
You’ve heard the term “confidence bait”: the one technique or bait a pro can use in the right situation under the right conditions that gives them the most confidence to win a tournament. MLF had a little time to ask a handful of anglers about their confidence baits. Check out their responses and see if their baits and techniques match yours.
MLF pro Brent Ehrler
Photo: Garrick Dixon
“My confidence is fishing offshore. (Competing) in the MLF format, (my strength) was catching smallmouth on the drop shot using electronics. I have a lot of confidence and I know what I’m doing. I sure can compete more at that than punching a heavy weight, Florida style. Fishing off the bank is more my style.
“Also, actually seeing them on the graph: I have no problem not dropping a lure until I see one. When you drop on them, they bite. I’ve made a lot of money doing just that.”
“My strength technique is shallow crankbait fishing. It’s a versatile technique that fits well in tournaments, especially the MLF Bass Pro Tour format. Shallow cranking is a fast-paced numbers technique. You cover a lot of water, get lots of bites, catch big ones sometimes, but catch lots of small and average-sized fish, too.
“Anytime that technique is working, especially a dominant shallow or medium-depth crankbait, I feel I can be in the hunt for the win through the last day.”
“I’d like to have some shallow-water pattern, like frogging or pitching. The last five MLF events I fished, that pattern didn’t play out. I’m good at light-line techniques like drop shotting, but just not as great at it as some of the other guys. At lots of the lakes up north, the fisheries just haven’t gone my way.
“I’m more well-rounded now, but I haven’t got (drop shotting) down to where it’s clicking for me yet. If I get a shallow water pattern, look out."
“Flipping in matted grass. Especially in the fall, if I can find matted grass from New York, the Carolinas, or all the way south, I have an honest-to-God chance to win any event that I’m in.
“If I had to brush up on a technique to be better as an angler, it would be the swimbait. What weights to use? Should it be weightless? What colors and size? Then I’d learn how to catch those suspended fish. I’d love to be better at all of that. But if that flipping grass bite is on, I feel I can win.”
“I’m a shallow-water power guy, that’s how I grew up. I had a jonboat with a paddle until I was 14. I paddled everywhere, learned to fish the bank. No electronics. When I fished Lake Champlain, and I knew I was gonna catch them pitching docks. I just have so much confidence when I see that unfold.
“One technique I’d like to add (to my arsenal) would be the Neko Rig. I’ve played around with it a bit, but I just don’t know everything I need to about it. If I got that one down, I think I’d be even more competitive than I am.”
“I used to say ‘drop shot’ because nobody else did it. I’ve done really well with a good shallow drop shot bite (almost) like pitching and flipping it. Even though I don’t really like the drop shot technique, I’ve still done really well with it.
“I usually use light weights. In heavier cover, I’ll go up to 20-pound line, a flipping hook, and a 6-inch worm. In less cover, or dealing with more skittish fish, I fish a lot of the 12-pound braid, 10-pound leader, 1/0 hook, and 4-inch worm. (It) catches them quick, and it really works better than guys wacky-rigging and floating worms. It works fast.”