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TFO Ambassador Tucker Smith Basking in the Glow of a Championship Run

TFO Ambassador Tucker Smith helped Briarwood Christian win the 2018 Mossy Oak Bassmaster High School National Championship this past summer. The Birmingham, Ala. resident joined with Briarwood Christian teammate Grayson Morris to prevail in the prestigious Paris, Tenn. event.

Smith chatted with TFO blog editor Mike Hodge about his championship run, his favorite tactics for bass, his mentor Joey Nania and his goals down the road among other things. Below are excerpts from last week’s interview.

TFO: How much did the national title mean to you?

TS: “That (win) meant everything, because the past year I’ve focused on fishing a lot. I quit all the (other) sports. Fishing’s my only thing right now. It means the world to me. I started fishing when I was … I’ve been fishing since as long as I can remember. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s my biggest passion.”

TFO: What was the key to victory for you in that tournament?

TS: “Staying in one spot, focusing in and being patient, waiting for those key bites. We knew we were around fish. We had to keep fishing and not give up, because we knew the fish were there. Basically, it was a matter of being patient.”

TFO: Do you have any tournaments coming up, any more events you’re looking forward to?

TS: “Our high school season just started. Bass Nation, all the tournaments are just starting up. I plan to fish around fifteen team tournaments this year, but with weekend tournaments maybe a little more than that.”

TFO: Do you have any short-term goals you want to accomplish in the next year or two?

TS: “Obviously a goal is to win the (national) championship again. A smaller goal is to qualify for it. Qualifying is hard. It’s a huge deal. Sometimes it’s harder to qualify than the actual tournament. We qualified at Toledo Bend. We had never been there before. It was tough, but we got third in that one, so. ..”

TFO: Any long-term goals, maybe to fish competitively in college?

TS: “I’ve been looking at Montevallo, Bethel and Auburn. When we won the championship, we got a scholarship to Bethel. I don’t know if I want go there or not.”

TFO: Anytime someone competes, they usually get something out of it, whether it’s basketball, baseball or football? What do you get out of fishing?

TS: “It’s my favorite thing to do. You can win money doing it. I think that’s really cool when you do something that you love and can get money out of it. That’s great, especially as a high school angler. I would never think that’s something you could do. That’s really cool.”

TFO: What appeals to you about bass fishing?

TS: “The camaraderie. I’ve gained so many friends from fishing. I know people from different schools that I fish with. All of my buddies. We all hang out on the lake and stuff. It’s good to get together with people and have fun.”

TFO: What’s your favorite way to catch bass? Your favorite tactic?

TS: “In the national championship, I was using a Chatterbait. That’s probably my favorite way to fish. I’m a power fisherman. I don’t like the finesse stuff as much. I’ll do it if I have to.”

TFO: Any advice you’d give to those who want to improve their fishing?

TS: “Time on the water is the most important thing. I fished ponds to start out and fished until I got those techniques down, then moved on to the lakes. Time on the water makes you better. You have to spend time on the water to find the fish.”

TFO: What do you think of TFO’s equipment, the rods?

TS: “I’m really good friends with (TFO Ambassador) Joey Nania. He’s been my fishing mentor. I grew up fishing with him. He introduced me to (TFO’s) rods. I’ve been fishing them ever since. I love them. They’re not too heavy and they’ve got great action. The 7-3 Heavy, you can throw so many things on that.”

TFO: What about the Pacemaker series? Do you like those rods?

TS: “I do. I just ordered eleven rods from (Bass Category Manager) Collins (Illich). I just got some Pacemakers. I haven’t fished with them a lot yet, but I like them so far.”

TFO: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from Joey?

TS: “How to locate fish. The best thing he taught me is finding fish deep. A lot of people can fish the bank, but not a lot of people can look at their graphs, find fish and catch them. I’m a shallow guy, but catching fish when it’s cold is a real big key.”

 

Be sure to follow Tucker, Joey, Cliff Pace and other TFO ambassadors/advisors on one of our social media channels.

Fifteen Minutes with TFO’s Cliff Pace (Part 2 of 2)

This the second part of our interview with TFO advisory staffer and pro bass fisherman Cliff Pace. You can find part one here. Enjoy.

TFO: Back to your favorite way to catch bass, can you elaborate a little bit more on that?

CP: “A lot of people say topwater, and that is a very exciting way to catch them. If I had my druthers, I really like to fish structure out deep. Just because when you’re fishing that way, there’s the potential to find big groups of fish at certain times of the year. I like the bite. It’s pretty fun to me when I can catch fish and know that I can go back out there and catch another one. And another one. And another one. And another one. To me that’s the most fun you can have fishing that there is. If I had to pick one way that is my preferred preference, that would be it.”

TFO I’m sure you fish with people who are not professional anglers — friends, relatives, etc. — if you have to give someone like that advice on catching more fish, what would it be?

CP: “To improve on anything, and it’s not just fishing, you’re going to have to work on where your weaknesses are. As I just said, my favorite way to catch a fish is on deep structure. That type of fishing doesn’t even exist here. When I started fishing tournaments, I would actually drive after getting off work on a Friday afternoon north of here four, five hours away to where (deep structure) did exist, so I could work on it, practice on it and learn how to be successful doing it. It’s the same way with any sport. It’s no different from golf. If you can hit an awesome tee shot, but if you can’t putt, then you’re going to have to work on your putting and not concentrate so much on your tee shot. It’s the same way with fishing. The only way to get better with anything is to practice. The best way to become a better fisherman is to fish more. At the same time, if you feel like you’re a very good flipper, don’t pick up your flipping stick every time when you go fishing. Try to work outside your comfort zone. The whole purpose of doing that is your comfort zone will grow.”

TFO: Talk about the Pacemaker series of rods with TFO. I’m not asking you to brag on yourself, but now that you have a finished product with your name on it, what are you most proud of? I know I would be.

CP: “I am, too. That’s the first series of rods I’ve done in my career. It was good working with TFO. They didn’t put any time restraints or number restraints on it. They turned me loose working with their builder. … We have a very comprehensive series of rods in the TFO bass series. I truly believe that anywhere in this country that you’re going to bass fish, or no matter what technique you intend to use, I believe that there is a rod in this line that will fit that need perfectly. We don’t have any missing links. We don’t have any gaps. It was a well-thought-out project, one that we spent a lot of time on. You see a lot of rod builders and companies in general, I think they rush their design phase just to get a product on the shelf and the product ends up not being what it should be. I know I never experienced that working with TFO. TFO, I truly believe, builds one of the best fishing rods that there is, from a durability and value standpoint and also from a customer-service standpoint. From a customer-service standpoint, nobody can touch them. From a durability standpoint, I’ve fished an entire season with my rod and never broke one. I can’t say that about any rod company that I’ve ever used. Am I saying that TFO rods are unbreakable? Absolutely not. Am I saying that they are more durable than other rods on the market? Yes I am. They are more forgiving. And they still perform. There are a lot of things about that line that I’m very proud of and very impressed with.”

 

Thanks for reading! Be sure to checkout our Cliff-designed series of bass rods, the Pacemaker!