Let me begin by fully admitting that I don’t “know it all” when it comes to anything in life, angling included. I’m like most others in that I’ve had days on the water that I walk away from with a ton of confidence, and also plenty of days that have left me severely humbled. But over decades of observation, I’ve noticed some commonalities amongst those 10% of anglers that catch 90% of the fish…. Here they are:
Attention to Detail – This one is obvious, but exactly what an angler pays attention to is important. A great angler notices both long and short term factors that might effect their performance including but not limited to: environmental factors, the state of their tackle, the actions of anglers around them, and all the details that are taking place inside their boat and/or on their rod. And most importantly, when a great angler notices a detail that warrants action, they address it quickly and effectively every time!
Efficiency – It’s common to assume that time-commitment on it’s own is important to become a great angler, and while time is certainly an important factor, it’s how you spend that time that really matters. Are you using your time wisely, or passively watching your rod and hoping for a bite? Great anglers make the most of their time on the water, which can look like making more casts per minute, having your line in the water as much as possible, staying in the strike-zone, freshening bait or checking for flaws regularly, and soaking up information and learning the whole way through.
Innovation – Great anglers are willing to try new things, and they know when to do so. Trying a new lure, bait, fly, or presentation out of desperation isn’t typically how effective innovations are discovered. Difference-making innovations are normally created after many hours of observation, and the innovation has a purpose and intent to take advantage of a tendency that the fish have shown during a given scenario. Don’t be afraid to innovate, but be smart about it!
Adaptability – Great anglers often have a “go-to” technique, location, or bait that does the heavy lifting for them, but a truly great angler can also react effectively to the different factors that each day/hour/minute brings. Sometimes this means changing techniques or presentations, sometimes it means changing locations, and sometimes it means staying put and being confident that the fish will begin to bite soon. A great angler needs a bag of tricks, and they need to know when and how to use them.
Record Keeping – This doesn’t have to be an official journal, but having a way to recall previous fishing trips, what worked, what didn’t work, what unique factors were present that day, etc. will help any angler make wise decisions on future fishing trips. Smartphones are great for this!
Passion – Every single great angler that I’ve ever met is deeply passionate about the fish that they pursue. They think about it day & night, they can’t get enough of it, and they are absolutely obsessed with it…. and most importantly they HAVE FUN on every single outing!
As it turns out, many of the traits that create successful ANGLERS are the same traits that create successful PEOPLE!!! This list is certainly not an exclusive one, it’s just a small collection of my general observations over the years on the water… So, what other traits do you notice about great anglers?