Are Your Fishing Habits Good Or Bad?
By Stan Fagerstrom
Chances are you’ve undoubtedly read someplace or other about how human beings are creatures of habit. Are we ever!
Do you attend church regularly? If you do, note where most of the folks who are there each Sunday usually sit. Do they generally move around from one place to another? No way! They sit in exactly the same spot and now and then they are ticked off if someone else gets there first and takes their favorite seats.
As I pointed out in my last column, habits also have a way of creeping into the way most of us do our fishing. We often take the same lure or bait and present it to the same spots in the same way hour after hour even if the fish we are after aren’t paying the slightest attention.
We even let this habit thing play a major role in determining the tackle we employ. Just the other day I had a friend ask me what test line I used for my bass fishing. I told him it depended entirely on where the fish were located.
“That’s not what I do,” he said. “I fish strictly with 4-pound test monofilament. line. I use a long, flexible rod along with it. The rod is so flexible I can get by without breaking my line.”
Click pic to zoom
Hang a bass in heavy cover like that shown here and strong line on a level wind reel is the best way to go.
Now I’ve got nothing against 4-pound test line and long, flexible rods. I often use that same kind of gear when I’m after crappie or bluegill where there’s not a lot of cover involved. But this fellow was asking me about the lines I use for bass. Would I choose 4-pound test for that purpose? I might if I was fishing in somebody’s private swimming pool where the bass I hooked had no cover to get into. But for real bass fishing---no way!
The good kind of habit to develop in this regard is to learn to match your tackle to the problems you’re up against. Suppose, for example, you are planning a trip to Mexico’s Lake El Salto. You know that lake has some monstrous largemouth and you’ve decided that’s what you’ll go after when you get there.
I’ve a friend who has probably taken as many bass of 10-pounds or more than anybody who has fished Lake El Salto. Most of the time he does his fishing with braided lines testing 50-pounds or more and he doesn’t even mess with a leader.
This guy catches most of his fish on a jig and plastic trailer or a hollow bodied swimbait. Many of them come out of submerged trees and stumps. A 4-pound test line would last about as long there as a bluegill in a lake full of barracuda.
There’s another area where ever so many anglers develop a habit I’ve never been able to understand. What is it? It’s to simply not learn how to use all of the tools available to them.
Can you imagine a professional golfer ever learning to shoot par if he didn’t develop the habit of practicing with every club in his bag? Top golfers spend as much or more time in practice as they do when it counts. They learn to use all of their tools and then match them to the problems they are up against.
How many anglers do you know who refuse to use anything but spinning rods and reels? You won’t have to look far to find them. You’ll see some of them next time you’re on the water. As far as I’m concerned this is another common bad habit for anglers to develop.
I’m not putting down spinning gear. I use it often myself, but there are times---depending on the problems you’re up against---when a level wind reel and a casting rod is a far better choice.
I attended all but two of the first 33 Bassmasters Classics, an event often called the “World Series of Bass Fishing.” The first Classic took place in 1971. More than one angler in that first event used only spinning gear.
Others didn’t even carry a spinning rod and fished only with level wind rigs.
You won’t find this among Classic contenders today. Now, just like a professional golfer, they carry all of the tools available to them. They select the tools---and they might be either casting outfits or spinning rigs---that best enable them to solve the problems they’re facing. They’ve developed, you see, the good habits that quickly became essential if they want to be able to attain the ranking they seek among professional anglers.
Many smallmouth bass hot spots on the Columbia River are relatively snag free. Spinning gear works great in such areas. That's what my friend Bruce Holt used to catch this one.
As I’ve said before, habits in the field of fishing can be either good or bad. Many of the bad ones are things we can do something about. Getting rid of them is a big step to putting more fish in your boat.