Fishing protocol: It’s all about the details
It usually takes a mistake for you to realize you failed to follow your protocol. If a golfer lifts his head too soon to look at the ball’s flight, expect a bad shot. If a shooter flinches instead of squeezing the trigger, he’ll miss the target. And, if an angler fails to retie after fighting a fish that frays the line, the next one he hooks will be the biggest fish on the line that day and will bust off before the angler can even see the fish.
There are many slight details that can create havoc in an angler’s program. Not checking the hook for sharpness. Failure to check the reel’s drag before making that first cast. Allowing a crankbait to run out of tune. Being too lazy to check the lure after feeling it run through some vegetation because you thought the weeds worked themselves loose. The list is long.
It was Mr. Walleye, Gary Roach, a Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer, who drove home the importance of monitoring the details to me. After weighing the biggest basket of walleyes up to that point at a tournament on Lake Erie, he described how the bigger fish were spread out very high in the water column compared to the smaller fish that were schooled deeper. Few anglers were even targeting these fish.
Roach had to run very long lines behind his in-line trolling boards, and if he was even a few feet short of what those walleyes wanted, they wouldn’t bite. The crankbaits had to be the long-bodied lures in a silver body, black back. You could not use a clip on the line to secure the lure; it had to be tied directly to the line. His attention to detail won him a substantial amount of money.
The rigid routine that many competitive anglers use to win tournaments might be the difference in tens of thousands of dollars won or lost, while to the average angler it’s just a lost fish. But, the average angler can benefit greatly in a higher catch ratio and bigger fish if they just follow a few of the simple rules.
- Never go long without retying the lure. Knots are the link between the line and the hook, and you should redo them often to ensure a solid hold.
- Pay attention to the retrieve speed. Fish tend to react to lures at differing speeds so it’s important, whether casting or trolling, to know lure speed to trigger a strike.
- Always keep your gear in perfect working order. Replace line frequently. Keep the drag loose when storing the reel. Never use lures not running to their optimum performance.
- Always use lively live bait. This is a rule rarely followed by the average angler but the pros are incredibly conscious of the difference lively bait has and can greatly affect success.
There are many more details to discover. Just realize that staying focused and paying attention to even the smallest detail will result in success where others fail.