How To Improve Your FishingHow To Improve Your Fishing If you want to improve your fishing, you may try to increase the time you spend fishing doing this.
By Drew Abbate
Lure selection can be exciting and exhausting. I developed a technique that has guided my tackle shopping behaviors. Although I have fished many lures in creeks and rivers, I eventually fell into a habit of exclusively fishing one lure. The lure was a 3/8-ounce floating Rat-L-Trap. I fished Rat-L-Traps before, with less than stellar results. They sink and easily become snagged, and when I would snag them it was usually in deep water and the lure was gone for good.
As a kid I had fished streams and creeks, for bass and pan fish, mostly bluegill. I fished an array of lures in those days: grubs, hair jigs, beetlespin lures and small tube baits. The one lure that immediately stood out was the Rebel CrickHopper. As I recall those early years I can clearly see a connection between the potent CrickHopper and the floating Rat-L-Trap. They both float; this is good for top water popping in shallows near shore and around structure, especially structure protruding from the surface like stumps, logs, rocks and fence posts. The floating trap I use is chrome with a blue back, and this works great for causing top water disturbances and sending rays of sunlight flittering about much like a silver Colorado blade, willowblade, or spoon. Yet, it has the ability to do this while remaining stationary for the most part, allowing the angler to keep the lure in the intended strike zone for longer.
The lure also dives and rattles when cranked, so it retains the fishability of a standard rattletrap. It floats and dives and rattles and is lipless and it reflects light like a spinnerbait yet you can fish it slow on top, you can pop it with much success. With the proper technique the lure can mimic a wounded shad. You can wake it just beneath the surface in clear water gleaming in the sunlight. You can fish it fast, you can dive it deep and let it float back to the surface to dive again. You can fish it like a jerk, and you can do all that with a varying degree of intensity, rattling just a bit, or with a zeal and fervor so immense that you can, with your own ear, hear the rattle as the bait charges through the depths.
I have caught crappie, largemouth, smallmouth, pike, bluegill, white bass, striper, and carp. I have fished dams, brooks, shallows, deeps, ledges, logs and grass; creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes, and I found that with this one lure, I could fish anywhere, anytime of day, any day of the year, and I could produce fairly decent results.
Later years have found me with a new selection of tackle. I decided to expand my arsenal to include the world of plastic worm fishing. Now, I should mention that my dad has been a worm fisherman for as long as I can remember. Worm fishermen are a weird lot. I can recall trudging down to the water, schlepping my three-tier, fold-out tacklebox filled with all the different wooden and plastic and metal contraptions; my lightweight spinning rod, an ultra lightweight spinning rod, casting rod, and all the other paraphernalia. Meanwhile dear ol’ dad walked casually out in front me with only a fishing rod and bag containing a few assorted plastic worms. For years I just refused to understand.
Forward in years, when I decided to investigate worms on my own, I was lucky enough to pick up some expert advice. At the time of my departure from the floating trap, he was primarily fishing weightless Yamamoto Senko worms on a two or three aught wide gap, and as usual, having more luck than me. Despite wanting to retreat to my floating lure I unlocked the power of soft plastics. However, I occasionally returned home with no fish. And that is a true bummer. But over time, I did learn. I began to take only my worms to fish with. I was crude, and often angry, but before long I was making good casts and was catching fish!
Taking time to truly develop a new technique is quite interesting in that I’m left to question the rest of my tacklebox items. How about that elaborate plastic frog? I never caught anything with it, yet there it remains in my box. What about all those old spinnerbaits that are not in any shape to use? Maybe it’s best to scrap them and chalk it up to a lesson learned.
For some anglers, its fine to simply stick with what works, and that is especially true in competition, when the time for practice is over. But it’s important to remember that if you want to improve your fishing, you may try to increase the time you spend fishing in a practice mode. Accept that it is acceptable to go home skunked. It is okay to try new methods, and new techniques, and it’s easy to start by looking at old baits, the ones that you keep in your box, the ones you always tie on a last ditch whim, only to untie after a short period of not getting a bite.
Pick one lure and give it some thought. What type of bait is it? Do you know the idea behind its design? Try to figure out all that is going on with that bait, become an expert if you can. I think that you may find yourself revisiting and revitalizing your tackle selection based on new information as opposed to impulse buying. Everyone enjoys those crazy impulse purchases. Alas, that may be the subject of another post.
Drew Abbate resides in Richmond, Va. He fishes mostly James River, Buggs Island, and various small ponds. His interests include fishing, vintage motorcycles, and adventure bicycling.
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