Ever notice how some folks catch fish more consistently than others? You know, the kind of anglers that seem to be able to catch them all the time and especially those that can manage that kind of performance while taking on different species. Well, what is it about them that makes their outings consistently successful? Is it their fishing rod? Doubtful. How about their boat? Not likely. Then it must be their flies or lures, right? Nope, not in my opinion. It’s none of those - and all of those, at the same time. And probably not exactly how you think.
When I say it’s all of those items, what I mean is that each of those items are part of the equation, but not the biggest part. The biggest part of angling success is, in my opinion, derived from confidence and confidence comes with experience - lots of experience. But notice I said the biggest part of success is confidence? Well then, where does the rest come from? It’s in the details!
Money can’t buy confidence and it can’t really buy experience either, at least not at a normal person’s economic level. I mean sure, there are folks that can take a year off and fish every day, thereby gaining a massive amount of experience in a short timeframe. There are others that will spend a bunch of money to fish with guides and/or take classes. These folks will for sure gain a ton of high quality experience and thus confidence, but we’re still out of the spending level of most anglers, even though I would suggest that this would, in fact, be money well spent, if you have it to spend. As a professional angler, I consider money I spend on guides as investing in myself; call it continuing education.
For most folks, it’s the details that are affordably manipulated within the constraints of our angling time that are best addressed. The million-dollar question becomes, which details do I adjust to up my success? To that, I offer that it’s the items that you have in play the most (think along the lines of your most used items) or even better, the ones you are most lacking in. Think technology.
The best anglers I know at least investigate new technology available to them on a regular basis. Sure, their favorite line has treated them well, but just maybe this new line, especially if it involves newer technology, will be better. Same goes for any other aspect of your tackle, boat or even clothing. I for one am constantly evaluating new technology in my angling and hunting for that matter. Ironically, this is the reason I sometimes get emails calling me out on some new product I recommend.
It typically goes something like, “Last year at the seminar you said Line X was your favorite for bass in ditches and now on TV that Line Y is your favorite for the same situation. What gives? Are you just trying to sell me something new?” No, what gives is that Line X was, at that time, my best option, but Tacklerama came out with a new line that performs better in my testing, thereby earning my trust and subsequent endorsement to you, dearest viewer/reader/listener. While that may be frustrating at times, would you rather get recommendations from anglers that completely stagnate in their technological use? The way I see it, a large part of my job involves evaluating new stuff and laying out the good, bad and best overall uses to folks that may fish a tiny fraction of the time I do. This way, if you take my recommendation on some tackle, you know it’s as current as I can provide and the product will perform well, at least for what I tested it to do.
So what areas do I see the most room for technological improvement in for Joe Angler? As I sort of joked about above, line is one of them. If you’re still using one type of line for all your angling (assuming you participate in different types of angling like, say trout and bass fishing), I promise you’ll catch more fish if you look into different types of line specific to each application. Top-shelf anglers these days use a wide range of different line types. Same goes with rods. Your short, old ultralight fiberglass rod might be fun and familiar, but a modern graphite rod will handle all aspects of casting, accuracy and line and fish control much better. Clothing is a huge one. The old brown cotton duck is fine, but not even in the same league as a modern fishing-specific parka and bib combo that will actually keep you dry and wind free. I could go on and on, but I think you see my point.
The very best anglers combine experience with technological improvement in a continuous, evolutionary process. Their experience level grows with time on the water, but their tackle only improves with a concerted effort to see if new technology actually helps. In some cases, it does and will improve their fishing. Some it will not. Regardless, the very process of evaluating the new stuff does indeed help them grow as anglers whether or not it is any good.
Without question, experience trumps tackle, but to reach the top of the game, you’ll need both.