South Carolina is blessed with a tremendous diversity of nutrient-rich largemouth bass lakes throughout the state. Twenty-nine year old Brandon Cobb has used those diverse systems as outdoor classrooms to accumulate extensive knowledge about the nature of bass and to jump start his tournament fishing career.
Since the age of 7, Cobb knew he wanted to become a professional fisherman, or at least be involved in the fishery sciences or the fishing industry. As he grew, so did his competitive fire and his dream of one-day walking across the winner’s stage at the Bassmaster Classic, the “Super Bowl” of fishing tournaments. Each morning, before his dad went to work, he first launched his 18-foot bass boat at the lake so Brandon could fish all day. At 16, Cobb entered weekend BFL tournaments in the FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) as a co-angler, gathering experience and growing his competitive drive to succeed at the highest level.
Tournament pros typically inherit, then develop and master, their preferred angling techniques. Focusing on soft plastics, Cobb likes fishing wacky rigs with Zoom sticks. His color selection process is simple: Instead of constantly swapping out colors to match water conditions, Cobb keeps it simple – he uses colors that represent the common forage base. “My favorite color is green pumpkin,” said Cobb. “I don’t go too crazy with colors. I use green pumpkin to mimic panfish and white to represent the presence of shad.”Cobb’s methodical approach to fine-tuned rigging and presentation is to use Zoom super flukes pinched at the tail and attached to a #1/0 or #2/0 wacky hook with a weed-guard attachment.
“I hook the soft plastic right in the middle,” said Cobb. “I don’t use an O-ring – you lose some baits, but I feel like you hook fish better without it.”Another alternative hot-plastic technique of Cobb’s is using a Zoom Trick Worm in a green-flake color combination on a one-eighth ounce greenfish clean-up shaky rig.
To effectively cast these soft plastic rigging systems, Cobb prefers a six-foot, 10-inch medium Ark Invoker Spinning Rod matched to an Abu Revo X Reel (30 size) spooled with 10-pound Yo-Zuri Superbraid. Main braid is connected to a 10-pound Yo-Zuri HD Fluorocarbon leader to ensure a stealthy presentation in clear water where bass are more intelligent and easily spooked.
With more tournament pros getting down to the nitty-gritty of the scientific world to understand the behavior of largemouth bass in lakes or river systems, Cobb employs a simple rather than analytical science-based approach in his pre-tournament fishing strategy. He relies on his gut instincts and uses a “go with the flow” mentality instead of over analyzing. That, combined with knowledge gained from experience, has delivered success over the years.
“Fishing is based on decision-making and confidence,” he said. “When you have a good couple tournaments in a row, it kind of sets the tone.” Upon asking Cobb if he had any mentors, he mentioned, "I read Mike Iaconelli’s book in high school. Also, Kevin Van Dam".
Seven or eight eutrophic and mesotrophic lakes within a three-hour drive of Cobb’s hometown of Greenwood, S.C., provide multiple challenges with varying environmental conditions. And each lake system fishes differently throughout the course of the season, said Cobb. Although Cobb is a die-hard tournament angler who spends a lot of time fishing his favorite watersheds near Greenwood, he also dreams of fishing multi-species destinations beyond South Carolina’s borders.
“Somewhere up north, I would love to fish the secluded northern pike and smallmouth bass lakes in Canada,” he said.
On the horizon: Cobb’s win at the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest with a four-day total of 114 pounds, secured his spot in the 2020 Bassmaster Classic! Twenty-eight Mercury Marine-powered anglers have won Bassmaster Classic championships. To learn more about the Mercury Pro Team application process please visit our landing page. The timeframe for submitting applications is September 5th to November 30th.