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How to Fish Bass Tournaments and Prepare Yourself Mentally...

01/27/2020 Comments (0) Adaptive Fishing, Bass Fishing, Fishing Advice, FIshing Tournaments, How-To

How to Fish Bass Tournaments and Prepare Yourself Mentally With Rick Clunn Day 1: Cranking to Win Bass Tournaments with Rick Clunn

Editor’s Note: With the Bassmaster Classic taking place on Lake Guntersville in northeast Alabama March 6-8, 2020, many anglers are dreaming of chasing bass to make dollars. I’ve interviewed my longtime friend of 40+ years Rick Clunn about how to fish bass tournaments.

Clunn of Ava, Missouri (, has won every major bass tournament in the nation in more than four decades of competitive bass fishing. He’s won four Bassmaster Classics besides numerous national and regional tournaments. Many have called Rick Clunn a fishing machine, however, those of us who know Rick realize that knowledge powers the Rick Clunn fishing machine. He’s the consummate student of bass fishing – reading, studying and researching to determine not only the best way to catch any bass but also the most-productive way to take big bass. Clunn believes three techniques will catch more big bass consistently in tournaments than any-other tactic you can use. “Basically three strategies produce wins in national bass-fishing tournaments,” Clunn says.  “They are crankbaiting, spinnerbaiting and flipping and pitching.” Clunn also emphasizes that a successful tournament bass fisherman must prepare himself mentally before the tournament.

I’m committed more to fishing the crankbait than most other anglers are. Most fishermen won’t cast the crankbait long enough to establish a pattern to catch fish on it. I believe you have to give the crankbait a fair chance to catch big bass whenever you go on the water. In one tournament I won, I fished a crankbait for 3 days before my perseverance paid off. I’d found big bass holding in a particular section of the lake in practice. Then each day I fished, I went to that spot and fished a crankbait. The first two days the bass didn’t show-up.  But on the third day when I arrived at the same spot where I hadn’t caught any bass with my crankbait before, not only did I find bass, I located bass big enough to win the tournament.

The crankbait is a very-versatile lure that you can change the depth of to fish either shallow or deep water. If you want to maximize the length of your cast to cover more water with your crankbait, then you can use 2-pound-test line, cast it a long way and cover a lot of water. If you want to get your crankbait down deeper, then fish a crankbait with a deep-diving bill, which will enable you to get that bait down to almost any depth. If you’ve ever thrown a big, deep-diving crankbait all day, then you know at the end of the day you’ll feel much like a man who has mined coal all day from sun-up to sundown with a pick, a shovel and a wheelbarrow. This type of fishing will exhaust you physically, and you may not catch many bass using this tactic.

But when I’m fishing, I’m not trying to see how-many bass I can catch but rather attempting to take the biggest bass I can. Fishing big, deep-diving crankbaits is one of the most-winning techniques and produces the most quality bass of any system of fishing on the professional-fishing circuits. Sure, I can catch more bass using easier methods and smaller baits, however catching more bass isn’t what I’m hoping to accomplish. I’m trying to take the biggest bass I possibly can catch in every tournament I fish. One of the best ways I know to accomplish that goal is to fish big crankbaits.

Fishing Big Crankbaits Shallow:    

Many anglers think you only can fish deep-diving crankbaits successfully in deep water. However, I remember two tournaments I won fishing big, deep-diving crankbaits in shallow water. I won a tournament on Lake Truman some years ago using a big crankbait in water only 2-4 feet deep. I bounced that crankbait on logs, drug it through brush and swam it around shallow-water cover where most anglers never would consider fishing a crankbait. I also won a tournament on Lake Livingston fishing a big Bill Norman crankbait

( in extremely-shallow water. Bass will take a large, deep-diving crankbait, because the lure is so big and not because of the depth of the water in which you’re fishing it. I’ve learned that big bass like big baits and particularly large crankbaits. If you’ll put that big crankbait in an area where big bass are holding, you’ll have a really-good chance of catching those big bass, regardless of whether they’re in very-deep or very-shallow water.

To learn more about bass fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Winning Strategies of the Bass Pros at, available in Kindle, print and Audible versions.

Tomorrow: Spinnerbaiting to Catch Big Bass with Rick Clunn

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