Because you are your bait, and your bait is you.
Award-winning angler and SA Co. videographer Brett Cannon thinks a lot about bait. He touches it, pulls it, runs his finger over the hooks and thinks long and hard about color, design and feel.
Before many of the big tournaments he competes in nearly every week, he likes to test a new design at some of his favorite (secret) fishing holes throughout south and central Florida, and off the coasts of the Sunshine State.
“You want to make sure all this stuff works before you put it into a tournament,” Cannon explains. “It’s a fun day. A confidence booster. You go to a lake where you know there are big ones and get tuned in with the bait, the new hooks you may have.”
On a recent weekend, Cannon and his team were testing some new baits by Reaction Innovations.
The particular bait he was testing on this trip was the “Sweet Beaver.” “It penetrates mats easy out on the water, soft bait, good color,” Cannon says. “These are baits that catch fish, that’s why I like them.”
What is Cannon looking for in baits, and what does he see on this particular bait as he fishes? “It’s something about the tail, the action. It’s the colors, the style. There’s just something about them that catch fish.”
“You can catch a bass on anything, honestly,” Cannon says. But in competition, “getting confidence in a bait is key. Knowing that you’re going to put this bait in, and if there fish are there, you’re going to catch fish — that’s key. A good, well-designed bait gives you that extra ability to keep it in the mat longer.”
Hooks are also important.
“There’s a reason why hook manufacturers do different things,” Cannon says. “There’s a million hooks out there. The sharpness. The offset. The gap. The size. The strength. We’re pulling on 70-pound braid. When you’re going through the bait, when you’re flipping, you want a hook that stays in the bait, that you know isn’t going to pull out of the bait. Then you’re going to get hung up everything time.
“How long it stays sharp. How long the points last. And everyone has their hooks. There are hooks that others like that I don’t like. It’s a confidence thing,” Cannon explains. “If I know I can put 10 times more on this hook without it penetrating the worm and getting hung up, that’s important to me.
“They’ll make a change in a hook and sometimes they’re making the hook a little softer. Then the hook breaks. You break a hook on a nine-pounder, that could cost you $5,000, $10,000, maybe even $100,000, depending on what tournament you’re fishing in.”
Out on the water, Cannon is honed into every aspect of the fishing, like a scientist or naturalist. If he’s testing a new braid, he’s listening for sound.
“Some of these braids make a noise, a whining noise when you’re casting, putting them in the water,” Cannon says. “Every sound in water is amplified. That sound may spook the fish. It could be the difference between a catch and coming away empty.
“It’s just not as simple in competition as putting a hook on and tossing it in the water.”