The Slump Buster

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Written by Jay Wallen

May 11, 2021

As an angler you can often find yourself in a slump. You never notice it at first, but eventually 1 bad tournament or outing turns into 3, then 4 or 5. Next thing you know you’re in a bonafide slump and can’t seem to do anything right. I’ve been told and I’ve passed along the advice to other anglers that when you are winning and riding the high, enjoy it! Because it comes and it goes. When it goes there are some things you can do to get it back!


People who don’t fish will never understand the mental side of the game, confidence is key. Confidence is what allows you to fish right, fishing right is slowing down and knowing that what you are doing is going to put fish in the boat.

Too many times when we feel in a slump or the pressure kicks in we tend to speed up, fish too fast and not really present our baits the right way. We get too caught up thinking about how someone else is fishing, or where they are fishing. I’m terribly guilty of this, when things start spinning out of control I speed up and want to start moving around too much, or fishing my lures way too fast. I’ve found they key to getting the confidence back and get your mind settled down

Putting this whole idea into practice at Lake Dardanelle helped me fish better, make better decisions and ultimately helped me cash a check and get some confidence back!

For me it has been to slow down my presentations and go back to finesse fishing. Instead of forcing a bite you want to be there, offer the bass something you know they will eat regardless of the conditions. My favorite finesse technique is the wacky rigged senko, I feel like I can get bit no matter the conditions. Whatever presentation it is is that you have confidence in for finesse fishing; dropshot, neko, wacky rigged senko, go to it and get the confidence back of getting bites and putting fish in the boat. You’ll also run into some of the right size fish and that can make all the difference in a tournament and having an okay day turn into a great day. It’s the same as it is for a basketball player to see the ball go through the hoop, or a baseball player getting solid contact and seeing the ball pop off the bat. Its all about the mental part of the game.

The wacky rigged senko is a staple for me that I lean on in times of panic. I only keep a few colors of Gary Yamamoto senko’s on hand, a green pumpkin and a junebug. I almost always go for the 5″, it just seems to be the right size and right sink rate for me to catch both numbers and good size with. My ideal rod is the G.Loomis NRX 852S Jig and Worm rod, this rod is 7’1″ -Medium- Extra Fast. This rod is perfect for throwing weightless plastics, the 7’1″ length lets you make long casts, but it also skips extremely well and is very accurate. The medium action allows you to set the hook on light tackle without breaking the line, and the extra fast tip gives you quick hooksets with minimal effort. Sensitivity of the NRX blank is absolutely unmatched, I can feel a tick of a bite even on slack line. I paired this up with a Shimano Stradic 3000 spooled with 20lb PowerPro Super 8 Slick Braid and about a 3′ 10lb Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon leader and a Gamakatsu Tournament Grade Wire weedless wacky rig hook in the 1/0 size.

This setup is what I have confidence in and when you’re in the valley of a slump it can be just the thing to bring you out! This will force you to slow down and pick apart every piece of cover in your surroundings. I like to put the senko where a sane person would never dream, drop it in holes around grass and debris, or right in an opening of a brush pile. I provide enough slack so that it falls free and watch my line for any sudden jerks or pops. Its not only a fun way to fish, but it forces you to slow down and I promise your bites will increase.

Find what you like, keep it handy, get a rod and reel setup specifically for it and always keep it tied on. You never know when the wheels start falling off in a tournament. When you recognize your spun out, pick it up, slow down and just get a bite to get your head back in the game. Too often we focus on patterns, spots and and everyone else, when really we need to slow down, keep it simple and use high percentage finesse tactics to get back on track! Try this the next time you find yourself struggling and dig yourself out of the slump!

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