The sport of bass fishing is continually evolving, with more and more ways to catch a bass every year. The amount of information available to anglers helps them quickly identify and try the hottest trends on their home waters after watching or reading about the latest trends.
But at some point, the dizzying array of fishing methods can become a distraction, according to Pro Circuit angler Miles “Sonar” Burghoff.
Burghoff is a cerebral angler who’s always thinking of ways to maximize his efficiency and play to his fishing strengths. No matter which lake the Mercury Pro Team anglers is on, Burghoff keeps it simple and tries to fish his way at all times.
Professional anglers are so good because they can do everything well. They each have their strengths, but most are right at home with any technique. And Burghoff has the skills and knowledge to fish a plethora of techniques, but he consciously chooses to limit his focus.
“I’m a big believer in fishing my strengths,” Burghoff said. “You always hear that versatility is the key to success as a professional angler. But, instead of me trying to be a student of the sport and learn every technique possible, I like to master a handful of baits in different categories.”
An excellent example of this is the drop-shot, which is universally regarded as one of the best ways to catch bass. Burghoff avoids drop-shotting because it doesn’t fit his self-admitted strengths.
“I know the drop-shot excels in some situations, but I don’t feel I’m good at it and don’t want to fish that way if I can help it,” he said. “I’ll fish a Ned rig in the same light-line, finesse situations. (Ned-rigging) is something I feel much more confident doing.”
An example of this was last year’s Pro Circuit stop on Lake Erie, which also happened to be Burghoff’s first time fishing the Great Lakes. It was a summertime event in smallmouth country and set up perfectly for a drop-shot. Burghoff, however, stuck with the Ned rig to finish in 35th place.
Burghoff believes that learning your strengths as a tournament angler comes down to time of the water and figuring out what techniques you truly enjoy using. Confidence is also key.
“Your experience will play a role in how many techniques and baits are in your arsenal,” he said. “You might happen onto a bite or technique and have success and your confidence will go through the roof.”
When preparing for a tournament, Burghoff will try a small handful of techniques in each category.
“If I’m fishing out deep, it’s a Carolina rig, Texas rig or football head jig,” Burghoff said. “If I’m fishing light line, I’ll try the Ned rig, shaky head and a wacky rig. If none of those are working, I’m not going to be finesse fishing.”
Burghoff will expand his arsenal for shallow-water power fishing as he feels this offers the broadest range of techniques in his wheelhouse.
“The moral of the story is that it’s important to try it all, but take what you have the most confidence in and stick with that,” he said. “I think it is always good to be learning, but focus on what you like to do most. If techniques that are my strengths are working, I feel that I’ll do well.”