California pro Aaron Martens doesn't consider himself one of the great bass fishermen of all time. But like other younger anglers who excel at the sport, he is confident. And that's one key ingredient in becoming great, he says. "Confidence is very important," says 28-year-old Martens. "To win these tournaments, to win consistently and to keep on winning, a lot of it's in you."

All good fishermen know that past a certain level of technical expertise, the mental aspect of fishing is what separates the greats from the also-fished. But Martens also feels that confidence is only part of the "inside you" stuff that the greats share.

"The guys who win a lot -- Kevin VanDam, Gary Klein, Rick Clunn -- they're all in tune with nature," Martens says. "They're born with it. It's inside, an instinct.

"For really instinctive fishermen, they see things (on the water) and (the right moves) just come naturally," he explains.

These two factors -- confidence and instinct -- tie together, Martens says. "When you're on a roll, your confidence level is as high as it's going to get." At the same time, "when I'm on a roll I'll be fishing a spot and I'll think of something really weird -- and I'll just go with it and it works."

As an example, he tells of fishing a tournament on California's Lake Shasta. "I was fishing in 10 feet of water and then in an instant I just decided to run out to this spot in 55 feet of water. I found a school of bait, tied on a drop shot rig and caught a 3-pounder.

"That's what the great anglers have," Martens says. "They get a thought in their head and just do it. They don't second-guess it."

"I can do that on the West Coast, but not out east yet," he adds. "I have a lot to learn."

Martens feels that some of his confidence stems from dedication and preparation. And his instincts he feels come in part from being raised in an outdoors-oriented family.

Martens fishes on the Crown Royal team, and after the 2001 BASS Masters Classic is ranked No. 4 in the World.