HomeFeaturesJames Niggemeyer Talks Equipment For James Niggemeyer, Elite Series pro from Van, Tex., using the right equipment helps avoid lost opportunities. “My gear is vital to my success as a professional,” said the three-time BASS winner. “If my tackle is not properly tuned, I can’t capitalize on making the right decisions.” Known primarily as a shallow water expert, Niggemeyer started his career in California before moving to Texas, and guiding on the cover laden waters of Lake Fork. The area required extra heavy gear designed to withstand gigantic hooksets and huge bass. While penetrating the bony structure of a big largemouth could be achieved with the rigid tackle available at the time, it often resulted in other deficiencies. The stiff rods often created a situation where the trashing nature of hooked bass could build leverage and dislodge the hook. Niggemeyer said that technological advancements in equipment has allowed him to refine his approach and increased his hook to land ratio. “Today’s equipment is light years ahead of the stuff we used only ten years ago,” he said. “Fluorocarbon and braided lines, sharper hooks, and even new plastics have made penetration easier. Now, hooksets don’t have to be as big, and we can choose rods that absorb more of the pressure during the fight. We can even make longer casts and still set the hook.” Fluorocarbon lines have become a standard for most anglers on tour today, and Niggemeyer is no different, choosing the material nearly 60-percent of the time. “Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon has become my line for most applications,” he said. “I use it for reaction baits, deep structure and some flipping presentations.” The properties of braided line are well published; extremely low stretch, great durability around grass and it floats, which is a plus for some topwater applications. “TUF Line really gives me an advantage,” said Niggemeyer. “It allows me to place lures into cover and know I can get the fish out, or make extra long casts with a topwater bait and know that I can still set the hook effectively.” New technology with hook and plastic manufacturing has also made a difference. “Super sharp hooks, like the X-Point models I use penetrate faster, which is a distinct advantage,” he said. “Strike King’s Perfect Plastics are super soft; that feature, coupled with sharp hooks, makes penetration easier.” All of these advancements in tackle have allowed him to take advantage of rod and reel choices that give him advantages in casting distance, and more control over fish during a fight. “I started using St. Croix rods a few years ago, and found that their tapers had certain advantages,” said Niggemeyer. “Most companies build rods on blanks with fast tapers, creating stiff rods. St. Croix builds on moderate fast actions that allow the rod to have a more parabolic bend throughout the blank.” Niggemeyer believes that action equates to less pull back action in the rod when a fish is digging at the side of the boat in a last ditch effort to escape. “I am losing less fish than I did in the past, and I know St. Croix’s actions have a lot to do with it,” he said. “They give me a lot of confidence in fighting fish, and casting distance.” Along with the rod, Niggemeyer said that modern reels give him added distance in the cast. “I’ve been using Ardent reels for the last several years, and the combination of the rod taper, and the efficiency of the reels allow me to cover more water,” he said. “These properties make me more efficient as a whole.” He has made some adjustments, particularly regarding hookset, and drag settings. “In early experimentation with fluorocarbon I had a slight breakage issue, especially in short line applications,” he said. I learned to adjust my drag so that it slipped a little at the end of my hookset, and to use more of a sweep set, as opposed to the slack line version I did with monofilament.” For Niggemeyer, the combinations of technology and adaptation have given him an advantage where it matters most; in his livewell. “When I put all of the factors together, I can cast further, feel more, get solid hookups and land more fish; the combination has worked out well,” he said. “It all gives me a chance to put more fish in the boat, which is the difference between success and failure out here.” The brands mentioned here are products that Niggemeyer trusts with his career, and they are all excellent brands. When we examine the details of his product types, we can begin to incorporate some of the lessons learned into our own fishing.