From Co to Pro: Q&A with Clayton Batts

Clayton Batts fished on the FLW Tour as a Co Angler for two seasons (2012 & 2013) but recently made the switch to the Pro side for the 2014 season. We caught up with him to ask his advice for Co Anglers who someday want to fish as a Pro.

cbatts1FTB: When did you decide it was time to make the switch from Co to Pro?

CB: Throughout the couple years I spent on Tour as a Co Angler, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the big-name anglers’ boats. While fishing with some of the other guys and getting more experience, I started to feel more confident that I could compete. I also feel that if you want to make the switch, two or three years as a Co is about right, so I felt it was time.

FTB: What have been the biggest challenges in making the switch?

CB: As a Co, you don’t get to see just how much fishing pressure changes the fish throughout a tournament. It can get a lot tougher to draw a bite as the fish get pressured. A lot of anglers find the same fish as well, which only makes it harder. These guys are Pros for a reason, they know how to find the quality bass it takes to win a tournament. Lastly, I didn’t realize just how tight the weights usually are; one pound can make a huge difference.

FTB: How have you changed your fishing styles since going to the front deck?

CB: Obviously, I have cut back on my finesse fishing and started power fishing more. When I fished as a Co, my goal was to always get a limit. To do that, I liked to fish various different angles that my Pros didn’t hit. Now that I fish as a Pro, I always try to work on hitting my targets from different angles.

FTB: What did you learn from the back of the boat that has given you an advantage as a Pro?

CB: Like I mentioned, I now fish different angles which I feel helps me draw more strikes. Aside from this, as a Co, I got to see different baits and techniques that I am not used to throwing in my home lakes. It has helped my fishing skills grow. For example, I hadn’t fished the Ozark region much before fishing the Tour as a Co Angler, and I got to see techniques that were completely different than what I use, such as swimming a grub.

FTB: Why should fishermen start fishing tournaments as a Co?

CB: There is a huge learning curve to try fishing as a boater. Fishing as a Co Angler is a good stepping stone before you actually fish from your own boat. Being able to watch different anglers and the way they adjust to situations, pattern fish, prepare for events, and so on, will allow you to start forming your own style.

FTB: What general advice do you have for Co Anglers who aspire to someday fish as a Pro?

CB: First off, don’t be overly aggressive from the back of the boat. Your boater is paying more money to be on the front deck, and you need to respect that. Second, don’t ever stop working. There are a lot of great anglers, and if you want to compete with them, you have to make a serious committment. Third, be prepared to spend long periods of time away from friends and family. Life on the road isn’t easy. Lastly, throw something different as a Co. Unless the bass are keyed in on one bait, you will normally have more luck following up your boater with a different bait.

BIO:

Circuits fished: FLW Tour, Rayovac Series

Years co: 2

Favorite technique: Spro Aruku Shad or swimmin a Secret Lures jig

Hobbies aside from fishing: Fishing is pretty much it

Sponsors: Ardent, Spro, Big Bite Baits, Ranger Boats, Gamma Line, Gamakatsu, Plano, Denali Rods, Lowrance, Power-Pole, Grizzly Coolers, Battco Office Furniture, Fish Catchin Fool, Optima Batteries, Shred Monster, Chattahoochee Outfitters, Secret Lures, Stormr