By Darl Black
Moderately-priced quality fishing equipment should fill your basic needs.
Dull hooks, mismatched equipment, and worn-out line might be obvious mistakes. You might be less likely to think about the following four mistakes, but they’re not less likely to be made.
4. “Cross His Eyes” Hook Sets
The old adage of “cross their eyes” with a powerful hookset is responsible for many missed bass. Utilizing a flipping jig on heavy line for thick cover is one instance where a power-set may be the best hookset. But fishing relatively open water with lighter line and smaller hooks requires an appropriate reduction in force; attempting to “cross their eyes” may snap the line.
Furthermore, certain presentations like drop-shotting or constant-motion baits like crankbaits are best served with a slow sweep rather than a snap-set. Adjust your hookset to the situation and you’ll connect with more bass.
5. Improper Use
of A Landing Net
I have witnessed numerous bass lost beside the boat because of poor netting technique. First, for reasons of safety, I elect to net any bass with multi-hook bait hanging from its mouth. It’s a matter of respecting those trebles – it only takes one head shake from a bass or slip of the hand as you attempt to grab it from the water to ruin your day.
I use a rubber mesh landing net which eliminates hook entanglement as well as reduces the chance of injury to fish which may occur when using abrasive knotted nylon bag nets. Granted, rubber mesh nets are slow-moving in the water, but that does not matter because the first two rules of netting are: (1) don’t chase the bass with a net; (2) don’t jab and swoop.
Proper netting involves first gaining control of the bass on the line beside the boat. Have your boat partner position the landing net at a 45-degree angle with about three-quarters of the bag below the surface. Lead the bass into the net, head first, and then your partner lifts the net.
6. Being Oblivious To Your Surroundings
Failure to recognize what is going on around you can cost you fish. Often, it’s noticing the little things which will steer you to active feeding fish. Everyone’s head turns when they hear a big splash, imagining it’s a bass jumping; but the odds favor a carp breaking the surface.
On the other hand, a minnow skipping on the surface with a barely noticeable wake following is an indication of a predator – cast several feet in front of the wake. Watch for gulls hovering and diving into the water; this is a sign baitfish have been forced to the surface – perhaps by a wolfpack of bass.
Also, tune in to minor weather changes, such a pause in wind from one direction with the breeze shifting to a new direction. If bass have been closed mouth up to this point, a wind shift is not the time to quit. Rather it may be time to head to one of your prime bass-holding locations because the change could trigger bass into feeding.
7. Letting Technology Control You
Technology has overrun the simple sport of fishing with products ranging from high-definition imaging sonar scans and underwater cameras to electronic feeding simulators installed on high-speed bass boats, along with this or that piece of electronics for a tech-crazed society. Granted, these items may be useful products, but they are not required to catch bass. As a kayak-fishing buddy reminds me constantly, “You can’t catch a bass going 50 mph down the lake.”
I recommend obtaining moderately-priced quality fishing equipment to fill your basic needs, thereby enabling you to fish and have a great time without incurring a huge debt. Your biggest asset to successful angling rests on top of your shoulders – use it. Don’t let machines be the sole decision makers as to where and when you cast a lure. Instead, rely more on your gut and less on the gizmos.
If you’re wondering what you can do differently, I hope you’ve found some answers. I can tell you from experience, when you avoid these seven mistakes you’ll put more bass in your boat.
About Darl Black
A lifelong freshwater angler and veteran writer/photographer, Darl tackles a wide variety of fishing related stories for print publications and websites. Of all fishing, angling for smallmouth bass is his favorite pastime. He may be reached for assignment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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