“Confidence in your abilities to locate and catch fish is by far the greatest lure in you tackle box” – Bill Dance
I have been watching Bill Dance on TV for as long as I can remember, and with the introduction of DVR I record his show every week and still watch him. Recently he had an episode about confidence and what it means to an angler. I wanted to write about the thoughts that I had about this but after my participation in the NTKT Grapevine tournament I experienced an “Ah-hah” moment that I really wanted to add to this.
One of the aspects that I love about bass fishing is that it is never one dimensional and always keeps you thinking about your next move. I frequently relate it to playing chess; you have to know what the bass are going to do before they do it and plan your attack accordingly. There are so many elements that go into bass fishing, that it’s very hard to have confidence in your abilities in all of these areas. First of all I think confidence in locating fish is very important, because if you truly don’t believe that there are fish in the areas that your casting then how do you expect to be anything but lucky when and if you hook into one. Secondly, lure selection. For a long time I believed myself to be a one trick pony because I could not catch a fish with anything except a Texas rigged soft plastic. I have made it my mission to practice and experiment with many other lures and ask questions to veteran anglers about tactics and methods. Over the last year I have greatly expanded my lure pool and I have greater confidence in more than just one type of bait now.
After doing a little research from different sports psychologists, I have found that performance is directly linked to confidence, no matter the sport. Confidence doesn’t grow or manifest overnight but it can be learned through repetitive practice and trial and error. For example, If you have very little experience with crankbaits and do not understand them, then chances are you will not fish them they way that they are intended to be fished. Every lure has an intended purpose and situation to be fished. This is something that I was aware of in theory but truly began to realistically understand this recently. I have never had much luck with squarebill crankbaits. I had my first big strike on one at my recent tournament when I ran it up the shoreline in about a foot and a half of water, and I could feel my lure repeatedly hitting the rocks on the bottom. After about three casts I had my first fish of the day with many more strikes to follow. This is when I put theory to practice and I understood how this lure was intended to be fished. As the day went on my casts and retrieves became more and more effective. That day gained confidence in my squarebill crankbait and I feel like I added another weapon to my arsenal for the next trip.
I continue to practice with lures that I feel that I am weak with, I continue to study and understand what my electronics are telling me, and I feel like my instincts and abilities grow stronger with each trip. I feel confident in the fact that confidence can be learned through practice, experimentation, and seeking knowledge. There is no substitute for hard work, and that is even true in bass fishing. I intend to increase my skills and abilities in this sport and that can only be done through hard work and honing skills that are necessary for catching big fish.