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Fishing Fundamentals

Rather than cast blindly, I have learned over the years to apply a few fishing fundamentals in order to catch a few fish almost every time out. Some simple some developed after some long days and observation of what never works and what works often. *NOTE not always. Varying factors like weather and water conditions play a role in success as does experience and sometimes just plain old luck.


  • Common errors are “tackle overload”..the idea that the one with the most baits, rods and reels will catch the fish. Actually, experience will teach you what bait will work most of the time. The goal for me is to minimize what I carry. Realistically I already know what I’m going to use and then I carry what is essentially my backup plan. For many people we have a favorite bait, technique or style of fishing. The challenge is to occasionally “expand our playground”. I apply my “one-year rule”, if after a year I have a bait (s) in the box that doesn’t get tied on, doesn’t get wet or doesn’t catch a fish it comes out. You end up with a box of baits that you know will work, have a bunch of confidence in and are battle proven to catch fish. Here area few of my own self-imposed guidelines:
  • Go often and under many different kinds of conditions. I hate fishing in the wind but it’s a natural influence and requires a few adjustments. Because jigs, plastic worms and soft plastics are regularly tied to my rods I force myself to go with heavier baits for ease of casting and the ability to keep constant contact with my feel type baits. Also, if you lower your rod tip the effect of the wind on your line is minimized. (otherwise the wind creates a bow in you line and takes away the feel of what the bait is doing) Cold water usually is accompanied by clear water, this also makes for tough fishing. The answer for me is lighter colored baits and smaller, lightweight lures. Couple with a slow retrieve this commonly results in a few fish.
  • Start shallow. Most fish go shallow to feed. Providing there are baitfish, insects, frogs, crawfish or other major food sources generally there will be few fish present. Shallow fish are most often easier to catch. Deep water suspended fish are likely inactive and the most difficult to catch. There are exceptions most notably summer when bass gang up on deep water structure, ledges or creek channels. I start shallow and move progressively deeper.

  • Use the quietest lures first. Because bass and other gamefish are keenly aware of unnatural sounds they can be spooked easily. Silent lures and quiet lure entry into the water does greatly improve your chance of catching fish and in my opinion BIG fish. The loudest lures will send wary fish scurrying for deep water and heavy cover. Going quiet and progressively louder (and brighter colors) pays off on most days. Pre-spawn and spawning fish and fall fish are the exceptions. These are time when they feed ravenously and will attack a properly presented bait. My normal line up: plastic worms, jigs (no rattle) spinnerbaits, crankbaits and various topwaters.
  • Establish a pattern. In communicating this fishing factor, I describe it like this: The first fish is luck, the second fish we call a clue and the third is a pattern. Note every possible detail to make your catches repeatable. Depth, structure, water clarity, retrieve speed and details can be critical but can also change as the day and weather conditions emerge. Making a mental note and actually journaling your day makes for a bass fishing bible assisting you in seasons to come.

  • Details that pay off in fish. Learn to tie a good knot. The most dependable and easiest to learn and tie is the Palomar knot. Proven to deliver 95% knot strength I use it exclusively. If your line is rate at ten-pound test this knot delivers 9 ½ pounds of strength. If your drag is set properly, the line is fresh, and you have a good hook set you will rarely lose a fish. Keep you hook points sharp. A little touch up to your hook point with a diamond file will keep your hooks “sticky” sharp. For crankbaits I replace the front hooks with the red Daiichi trebles. Red is a triggering color for predatory creatures fish being in that group. The red hook is most often the one the fish hits. Try it you’ll become a believer.

  • Understanding your baits. Often people are influenced by the YouTube guy, TV personality or “local legend”, nothing inherently wrong with that but experimenting and understanding the performance of your baits is critical to deciding which to use and when. One of the more misunderstood bass baits is the spinnerbait. First misconception is you cast it out and just crank it back. You can do this and occasionally catch fish but you can cast, crank and kill it (let it drop), you can bump cover and get a deflection bite and you can slow roll one on the bottom and draw deep strikes. When the discussion of spinners comes up invariably someone talks about the blade vibration. The blade DOES NOT vibrate, the spinnerbait arm does. The blade, it’s size and shape determine the amount of water it DISPLACES. The round blade, the Colorado displaces the most amount of water, the Willowleaf blade displaces the least amount of water and provides the most amount of visible flash. This makes the willow the best choice for muddy water. The Indiana blade is a combination of both the others and is good for waters that receive a lot of fishing pressure.

Just a few lessons learned over the years, safe and successful fishing to you!