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Becoming a Better Fisherman - Part I

By Rob BelloniAugust 19, 2003

This will be the first in a series of installments about how to become a better fisherman.

Why do people say that 10% of the fisherman catch 90% of the fish? I think it's because the 10% are fishing with an open mind, creating their own methodology while the 90% are trying to learn by observing, reading about the techniques, tackle, water etc that the 10% is fishing. SO there, I just slammed most everyone who reads my website. Am I insane? No, because my intention is, and always has been, to help people find their own success in fishing. Success is relative to your motivations and goals in going fishing, but no matter what you are fishing for, this installment is for the 90% because I think anyone can be in the 10% if they just get the right outlook going!

Simplify: How many times in my life have I gotten involved in some new lure or technique or rod or reel or line or theory or lake or whatever, only to find out that I was wasting my time. Everything new has a learning curve involved in it. The difference is that when I was 12 years old it took me a dozen break offs to realize I was using crappy line. It look me 3 years to figure out that a 6' rod really wasn't the best thing on a party boat. It took me a long time to figure out everything. If I could have jumped ahead to now, I would have realized that the right gear is simple. You just have to know what it is! So how do you figure out the right gear? How do you figure out the right combinations of rod, reel, line and lure? One way is to watch the best people in the business and see how they rig, but even BETTER, learn it yourself, learn it for the way you fish, not by paying more money for tackle but by paying ...

Attention to Detail! The first thing you have to realize is everything in fishing has a reason. You gotta look at every component in your setup and ask what makes it good? If it's not good, you need to stop doing it. The mechanics of fishing can be learned quickly by just paying attention the details of why things work and don't work. And if you have the mechanics down, that is when you are freed up to learn the hard reasons in fishing which are why do fish bite and when :) But I am jumping ahead!

Let me give some examples of the stuff that I do when I prep my gear to put it in perspective. These are basic attention to detail items that put me in a place where I am freed up to worry about catching the fish.

Before any serious trip I strip about 100 feet of line off each of my reels and reel it back through my thumb and pointer finger to check for frays, stretch, kinks or any weakness. If it's bad, I cut it there or respool. No EXCEPTIONS.

When I'm on the water I check for frays after any contact my line makes with cover while there is tension on the line. If there is any damage I retie. No EXCEPTIONS.

I check my drag and set it before every trip. I re-check it before the first cast in the morning. I re-check it any time I pick up a rod that was on the deck. Drags can adjust with temperature and humidity. If you always check, you never get burned.

I wet every knot when I tie it. If I don't like the knot I retie it. I visually inspect each knot every time, no E... you get it.

All of these things are easy to do. It just requires attention to detail. Not a little attention to detail, a LOT of attention to detail. I do a hundred other things throughout the day to ensure that my mechanics are good, my gear is good and the chance of a screw up is minimized. It took me a long long time to get where I am now in this regard, but the real hurdle that I crossed was the day when I decided that everything was important and nothing should be left to chance. When I had things happening to me that sucked in any way, I stopped accepting them and started trying to fix it.

Whenever you have an experience on the water good or bad, give it some thought. If you miss a fish, don't just chalk it up to a missed fish. Check your hook and see if it's sharp. Check your rigging and make sure your hook is in a position to hook the fish if you get a bite. Adjust the time you let the fish take the bait or lure on the next cast. What is the point in doing the same thing over if it isn't working? There is no point.

One last example: I grew up since age 4 fishing for trout in the sierras. Missed bites with trout were a normal, expected part of the deal when we fished for trout for as long as I can remember. Two years ago I went trout fishing and instead of buying the same old hooks I always bought, I bought pack of #14 gamakatsku red salmon egg hooks. All of a sudden I'm catching almost every single trout that bites my egg. I also increased the force of my hookset to snap the hook into their jaw, and I noticed that because the hook was sharper, the hook poked a smaller hole in the salmon egg so that the salmon egg didn't slide down the hook and expose the shank like the dull hooks did. The results were like night and day. We used to think that the trout were just good at stealing the bait. Now I realize that they had an easy time of it because my hooks were just flat out dull and my eggs were half way off the hook by the time they hit the water.

There is a reason for everything. Start asking yourself why things happen, good or bad. Don't just accept things as "just the way it is". If you are having gear problems, do whatever you can to change up your gear. There are better ways, you can figure them out. When you get your gear dialed by paying attention to detail, then you can get to the fun part which is figuring out how to make the fish bite.

Copyright © Robert Belloni 1997-2012. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without express written consent.
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