25 Things to Make You a Better Angler – F&S

Field and Stream  and Kirk Deeter had a piece recently on 25 things to make you a better angler.  A good read with lots of suggestions.

Things like…

1. Do it all. Bait fish, spin fish, fly fish… The more you are on the water, the smarter you get for all types of fishing.

2. Find the exotic, wherever you go. You don’t have to go to the end of the world to find adventure. Make something exciting happen on local water.

3. Keep everything in perspective. Fly fishing is only an “extreme” sport on television shows. It’s really a tradition. Respect that tradition.

The list is hit and miss with me.  I do some of it, I don’t others.  I haven’t really done spin fishing for ages.  I don’t use bait and I can see how that could hurt me understanding some species of fish. I still have trouble feeding big fish the fly. Ya know… I’m not perfect (by any stretch).

I have a few things to add to the list though.  So, here are 7 tips from BOTB for becoming a better angler:

  1. Learn more knots. Not every situation calls for a clinch knot. Knowing those other knots helps when you run into something “different.”
  2. Learn to Double-Haul. You don’t need it most of the time while trout fishing, but you need it almost every cast for flats fishing and once you know how to do it, it becomes just a part of your casting stroke.
  3. Learn to Spey-Cast. While most people think of spey-casting 14 foot long rods for steelhead, you can also single hand spey a 9 foot rod for trout and that skill can REALLY help you out.  Your traditional rollcast will go out the window.  It is a really, really good skill to have on pretty much any river or stream… even the little ones.
  4. Fish with people who are better than you and watch them fish, be open to advice. Fishing with my friends Shane and Drew have proven critical to my development as an angler. Playing with people above your level can be really helpful, if you aren’t busy trying to impress them.
  5. Share information when it won’t screw up something environmentally sensitive. Some streams or flats can’t handle the pressure, but most can.  If you share, others will share with you. Don’t give away a buddy’s secret place, but when you can help someone out, do so.
  6. Learn to tie.  Tying flies teaches you a lot about materials and fly mechanics and makes you a more rounded angler.
  7. When you can, get a guide and listen to them. Kind of like fishing with your buddies, sometimes guys want to impress the guide.  Don’t. Be humble and ask for advice and help where you need it. Guides know a lot and can shave years off your development as an angler, if you are able to take the lessons.

Those are a few keys I have tucked away in the back of my mind.  Do you have any keys you’d be willing to share?

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11 comments

  1. Nevah going over to the dark side – nevah! Nevah fish with incompetents, they distract you from the fishing and their whining spoils the day.

  2. Take time to breath in the natural beauty of the environment you are fishing in. Volunteer or give to some organization that protects water. It’s a way to give back and protect what you love to do.

  3. David de Luca

    look after your gear

  4. I don’t have the budget to hire guides all the time, but I’m a huge believer in learning from them. With the good ones, how can you not pick up something new from someone on the water 200-300 days a year?
    I try to hire guides locally when I can, not to steal their spots but to pick up on new trends or patterns in the fishery that I might miss left to my own devices and falling back on my own routines and habits.

  5. Keep an eye on atmospheric conditions , reading change is paramount to being a good fisherman , fish react to change in weather . Change your kit and presentation accordingly . Bright flies bright day etc etc .
    Take time to read your water before fishing , time in reconaissance is time well spent .
    Match the hatch – have a look at what your quarry has been eating .
    Change your fly reguarly – on a hooked fish that has dropped off or a fish that shows no apparent interest on initial offerings or just if you seem to be having a slow day , its amazing how many times this can trigger a reaction .
    Always check your leader/cast once in a while , remove any wind knots and keep it straight ,apply a good lick of spit to it and pull it taught after removing any kinks , if in doubt tie on a new one and always make thgem a bit longer than you initially think they should be .
    Be Quiet on approach and yes this means on the bank , fish hear vibrations .
    You dont need too many false casts it may look attractive but its not necessary to throw a good line , casting is more about balance than power , casting is also not about the ariel work its all about the end result the presentation of the fly to the water , know this .

    If you take your river gear into saltwater conditions , wash it thoroughly in clean water before packing it away , this should include flies , clippers etc etc . Saltwater wrecks gear .

    Careful of gearing up in hotel rooms with overhead fans ….. learnt this one the hard way after bringing a rod 2000 miles across the world to see the tip get snapped of when i was running the line through in prep for a speedy get away in the morning .

    Always respect your quarry .

    Never drop in below another fisherman close on a river , always come in above them and fish behind and the same goes on the flats , leave a respectful amount of space .

  6. Capt Mike Bartlett

    I like your list. After 13 years of fishing and guiding in Key West, I make it a point to try to learn something new on the water as often as possible. Doesn’t really matter what that something is or how big. Just to keep learning and making myself better for my clients. I love exploring and learning new areas as well, saved my ass big big time about a month ago two days after a cold front and 62 degree water. I was able to find a pile of redfish for my client who wanted to fly fish the flats.

  7. bonefishbjorn

    Ah, see, the dropping in depends on what you are fishing for. On small, free-stone rivers in this part of the world you fish upstream, not down. So if you drop in above me, you have just screwed up my run. However, steelheaders fish downstream as you may do on other types of rivers, so dropping in above is good etiquette. Each place seems to have its own rules, so it makes sense to ask if you are unsure.

  8. Good stuff, Bjorn… as always.

    Lessee here, 1st, clinch knots suck. You want a tight connection to the hook (can’t imagine why) use a King’s Bend. 100% and easier to tie.

    2nd, I like your list better, mainly because it doesn’t advise me to spin fish. I suck at spin fishing, therefore I don’t like it. I’ve nothing against it, mind; the rest of the world can go on doing it for all I care. I’ll not look down on them or anything. No worries. However, I feel like (with a few exceptions) I’d be better fishing with a technique that I’m actually ok at then one I suck at… plus I just don’t like it… too much machinery. So I guess this boils down to “Fish the way you’re most comfortable.”

    3rd, SOOO glad you put that knot thing #1 on your list. Knots can make or break a day of fishing. Literally. I remember my first FL Keys bone. I estimate it at roughly 12-pounds, but I’ll never know for sure since it spooled me (thoroughly) and easily popped off my little 8-pound tippet. Here’s the thing, 8-pound was bad enough, but with the knot I was tying my tippet tested under 6-pounds. That means my knot was less than 75%. Very poor. Now I use a Ligature knot for all my line-to-line joints for trophy fish, and the Non-Slip Loop for all tippet-to-fly connections. The first is above 100% (meaning the line will break first) and the second is damn near 100. Bottom line, I can actually pull on a fish with confidence now. So, yeah, “learn good knots.” (and test them).

  9. I can’t find any information on a King’s Bend Knot. Can someone refer me to some info?
    Thanks!

  10. Thanks all for the comments. That was a good post!

  11. http://myweb.cableone.net/stairway/Eugene%20Bend%20Knot.jpg — apparently also called teh Eugene Bend Knot… rates pretty damn close to 100%

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