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Room for improvement

Room for improvement

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions but not so stubborn to realize there are parts of my fishing that need improvement.

As anglers, we all have to be honest with ourselves and assess things we need to do to fish better and be more proficient in the future.

That includes fully assessing new lures, trends and techniques; having a more open mind about the mental approach to tournaments; and maximizing all the tools we have in the boat.

I sometimes get hard-headed and form preconceived notions about things that come back to bite me. For example, years ago I laughed at the SlugGo when it was introduced and thought it was the most ridiculous lure I’d seen. Well, it became one of the hottest fish catchers, and many of today’s best soft jerkbaits were spawned from that concept. I learned that one should never sneer at a new concept without breaking it down and learning how it might make you a better fisherman.

This year, I also plan to use more braid with fluorocarbon line. I’ve struggled over the years with the idea of fishing braid in clear water – it’s just my nature as a northern angler – but I’ve seen the merits of fishing small diameter braid with a fluorocarbon leader on spinning tackle. And, looking back, I’ve seen situations where I lost fish that I might have landed had I adopted the braid/flouro concept. So I can assure you I will embrace that this year, learn as much as I can about it, get comfortable with the knot connecting the two lines, and that will improve my hooking/landing ratio.

Elite pros’ hooking/landing ratio is becoming more critical than ever. The competition gets tougher every year as more of the best anglers migrate from other circuits to Bassmaster events.

A 2-pound improvement in your weigh-in bag can move you up 20 spots at a tournament. That can make the difference in qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic.

Every Elite angler can look back at the previous year and say, “I wish I had back this moment in time,” and in many cases, it involved a lost fish.

You simply can’t afford to lose quality fish. I will be replaying those moments and ask myself, “What could I have differently?”

Was it my hookset? Concentration? Line, hook, sinker or rod choice? You have to be brutally honest with yourself and take steps to control what you can in the future.

Admittedly, some things you can’t control, like fishing pressure, weather and other environmental variables. But I will be nitpicking the variables I can control and do a better job.

Another huge area I need to improve is keeping an open mind during practice. Because of my years of experience on our tournament lakes, I get caught up in history and forget the importance of assessing the conditions I’m faced with at every given moment. All veteran anglers have to learn to guard against that.

And finally, I plan to utilize my Humminbird electronics even more than I have in the past. I consider myself very proficient with both the Onix and Helix units (I have two on my bow and two on my console), but I plan to spend more time with the Down Imaging (DI) feature. While at the bow, I will run a split screen on one unit with DI and 2D sonar simultaneously. The 2D does a great job when you’re covering water, but the DI will allow me to get an even better look at a bottom area that looks interesting on 2D.

Today’s electronics provide far more value to anglers than what most of us realize. Spending time learning all of their capabilities will undoubtedly make us better fishermen.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!