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#12829319 - 07/15/18 04:31 PM How To Become A Better Angler
Thad Rains Online   content
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 10/09/01
Posts: 3195
Loc: Lubbock, Texas.
By, Thad Rains

Many anglers wonder how they can get better. Seems like ALL anglers want to get better, so they try a lot of different techniques and ways to improve their skills. CONFIDENCE is the key to becoming better. Most anglers have confidence in baits or techniques, but to TRULY GET BETTER, you need to develop CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF!!!!!!!!! It is not EASY to get this confidence, there is no magic pill to take to make it so. The ABILITY to figure out a situation, so you can put bass in the boat. HARD to come by, but once you get it, you are a MUCH better angler than you were before. There is only one way to get the CONFIDENCE that I am aware of. It is called TIME ON THE WATER (TOW), being successful. Time spent failing doesn’t help nearly as much. That is the determining factor on how much better you will get. The more TOW you have, the better you become, the more confidence you get. In this article we will discuss HOW to get better at fishing and becoming a better angler. These are not the only ways to become a better fisherman, but this is a start and will lay out a game plan to follow, if you wish.

One of the BEST ways to become better is to fish with better fishermen. That sounds obvious, but it is not easy. Sometimes, they are reluctant to share information, so you have to ask and OBSERVE what they are doing. The more fishermen you get to fish with, the better you will become. You will learn something from everyone you fish with, be it WHAT to do or WHAT NOT to do. But this is a learning curve that can be quite steep or quite flat, determining HOW to fish better. The better the fishermen you get to fish with, the better you can become by just observing. You do not even HAVE to fish, but learn to OBSERVE EVERYTHING they do.

One way of fishing with more fishermen is to fish in TEAM TOURNAMENTS, every chance you get. Not only the local, but area wide tournaments, as well. Try to choose a fisherman that is better and try to agree on fishing a team tournament or two with him/her. You DO NOT need to fish in the tournament to learn something from him or her, but PREFISHING is a GREAT way to learn some of their tricks and procedures. The more you fish with this person and OBSERVE, the better you will become. FUN fishing is a great way to learn, but when the money is not on the line, I have learned that some people do not pull out all of their little tricks, but that is up to you to determine. Some tricks are SPECIAL and need to be asked to learn, as observation may not be possible if their back is turned towards you. For instance, I was fishing an open team tournament with one of my good fishing buddies and he was spanking me. I had to ASK what he was doing, because it was VERY FRUSTRATING, him catching fish after fish to my ZEROS. He finally admitted that he had tuned his spinner bait a little differently. He had bent the bottom willow blade by about 1 /4”, towards the end of the blade. When I did this, I started catching fish as well. We did not win the tournament, but it was a GREAT LEARNING day for me.

Same situation as above, we were fishing out of my boat and he was spanking me from the back. I finally had to ask what he was doing differently, because we were basically throwing the same bait. He said he had tuned his bait just a little differently so it was running INTO the brush and not coming straight back to the boat. OH, and he had added addressed feather treble hook to the back hook and thus was waylaying the fish while I was batting ZERO. By the way, his name is Triton Mike Bucca and we started making and selling DOODADS, what he called them to enhance more anglers for being more successful. He is the one that owns/runs Triton Mike Bucca’s BULL SHAD NOW. Another way of thinking outside of the box. Fishing with a partner is not a MUST to become better. Many lessons can be learned by fishing alone.

HOW do you become more productive by yourself? Think outside the box. You do NOT have to fish with better fishermen to get better. Remember the TOW phrase above. A LOT of times, go fishing, even if it is for a few hours, GO FISHING!!!!!!! The MORE you fish and the more successful you become, the more your CONFIDENCE rises. HOW do you become more productive? Think outside the box, AGAIN. When fish are not biting, try to think about what you are using and how to CHANAGE the appearance, action or strategy of your fishing. You may assume that there are not a lot of variables to change, but you would be OH SO WRONG!!!!!!!!!! Some things to MODIFY your baits can include some of the following: CB fishing; change line size, change hook size, add suspend dots or strips, tie a different knot (loop knot), add a feathered trailer, tune it so it goes right back to the boat or off to one side or the other, use indelible ink pens to change the coloration of your bait, add/subtract split rings to the front of even the hooks. Etc. etc. etc. As you can see, there are TONS of ways to think outside of the box. Normally, these ideas occur when the fish aren’t biting, but what you learn from this is that the changes you make often make a difference when the fish are biting well, as well. FISHING ALONE ONLY GIVES YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME BETTER, ALL BY YOURSELF, unfortunately, it may solidify errors in thinking and muscle memory if you are doing things wrongly.

If you want some SB modifications, here are a few. Add a feathered trailer hook, twist the R bend into a loop (better to buy a looped bait to begin with), add split shot to the weight, add a sinker ahead of the bait on your line, the aforementioned bend the blades one way or another or in opposite directions, if 2, change the blade configuration (top bottom, have more blades with you), tie a different knot, add a trailer (see worm/fluke/swim bait, etc), add another skirt, thin the skirt that is on there, etc, change line size or lines completely, etc, etc. Another thing to change can be as simple as changing your retrieval speed. Stop go, reel fast, reel slow, reel moderately with pauses, etc.

As you can see, there are normally ALWAYS ways to change the NORMAL way of fishing. Thinking outside the box just gives you more options for getting fish to bite. Thinking outside the box has made me a MUCH better fisherman, than I would have been w/o thinking of the new presentations. Just something to think about the next time you go fishing. Other ways to increase your learning curve, fish some pro-ams as a co-angler, or go WATCH the pros fish as a Marshall. Keep a fishing log and add every fish you catch to it, including weather conditions, water conditions, bait and type of cover or structure you were successful on. These, in turn, will be able to help you pattern a body of water or even fishing seasons. Again, these are not the ONLY ways of becoming a better fisherman, but it can be a start to helping you attain your goal.

There is something to be said for GUT INSTINCT or INSTINCTS or whatever you want to call them. These normally work when you pay attention to them. Even the pros have these “gut instincts” and say, “It just doesn’t feel right” or something like that. When you listen to them, you normally are becoming a better fisherman and if you listen to them enough, you will catch more fish. What am I talking about??? Here are a few instances where GUT INSTINCT helped me catch more fish. And YES, they involve crank bait fishing, go ahead and laugh, I do. The first was helping a friend prefish for an upcoming tournament. He wanted me to show him around a little bit and give him some ideas of how the lake fished. This is a small lake, Amon Carter, and it was TOUGH fishing that day. Only one bite in the morning.
High bluebird sky day and a light ripple on the water. The wind picked up a little bit after noon and I was scratching my head trying to figure something out. I had worked on crank bait for a while and decided to finish it off, making a T with the bill so the cross section of the T faced the line tie. Got it balanced, put it on and then promptly caught 2 fish, a 3-6 and a 1-10; off the same tank dam we were fishing for the past 2 hours. OH, I also added a dressed treble hooked called the Thad Special, made out of flashabou/mylar in iridescent color. Did they just turn on at that time, or did me switching to something they haven’t seen before help? We will never know that, but the small club tournament weighed in and 6.18 was winning it, so I would have had 2nd place if we and been a member of that club.

Second instance, prefishing with the same friend on my home lake. I was showing him some spots that normally held fish, but they were lacking that day. So, at lunch, I sat down and developed a crank bait that did not exist until that moment. I removed the split ring up front on the line tie, added a Thad Special to the tail and changed the front hook out to a bigger one. Only modest modifications, but, oh, did it pay off. I told my friend “In the next 100 yards is normally where we catch the bigger fish.”. About 80 yards into the drift (the wind was HOWLING that day), he sat down to retie his jig and I threw In front of him. The line felt heavy so I set the hook and all chaos broke loose. A BIG fish was on the end of the line and it ended up being my4th biggest fish of my career, SO FAR (CONFIDENCE THING HERE). It put on a heck of a fight, going under the boat and jumping on the back side from where I was fishing. Pulling drag all the way and shaking her head like mad. BUT, because I had UPSIZED the front hook, she didn’t get away. She was stuck pretty solid with that bigger hook firmly planted in her jaw. The back Thad Special was also impaled in her jaw as well. She weighed 9-3 on scales we had in the boat. Not a GREAT fish, but, very GOOD FISH OUT OF LAKE LEWISVILLE. We continued fishing and it struck again with a 4-10, so my gut instinct was right on for that day. The Bass Century club was fishing a tournament that day and 12 some odd pounds won it. Fishing our same pattern, we had over 20 pounds in the boat, so a good stringer throughout the day. So, THIS was not a timing issue, but a WHERE, WHAT and HOW issue.

Last but not least, I will relay a story of my fishing to show you how CONFIDENCE helps. The past 4 seasons, I have run a Working Man’s Tournament on Lake Alan Henry. I do not have an operational boat, so I ask to fish with anglers that do not have partners. Sometimes, there are no vacant back seats, so I fish from shore. I know, MOST FISHERMEN would go set at the café and not waste their money. NOT ME, I have a TON OF CONFIDENCE. This last year, 2016, I won 3 tournaments from shore and placed second, twice. SURE, I know the lake very well, but I had a TON of CONFIDENCE that I could compete. I more than broke even by fishing from shore. Most anglers I talked to said they would not fish at all if they didn’t have a boat, but I guess that goes to show you how I THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX WITH A TON OF CONFIDENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! . Tthese are just illustrations of what it means to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX and TOW These are just a few instances of when things turned out right for me/us and it is not a comprehensive list. There are many more that were successful, but not as successful as these mentioned. Getting better is the GOAL OF EVERY FISHERMAN and FISHERWOMAN. I hope this article helps.
I hope this goes to show some ways you can improve your fishing ability. Tight lines, keep safe and good luck.


Thad Rains

Edited by Thad Rains (07/15/18 04:35 PM)
Tight lines, keep safe and good luck.

Thad Rains

#12829337 - 07/15/18 04:58 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
sprigsss Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 02/11/11
Posts: 663
Loc: Snyder, TX
Good read Thad.

I have confidence that sooner or later on any lake I will figure out a way to catch fish, well unless I’m fishing Alan Henry. That lake just fishes different than any other place I’ve fished.

I’ve probably fished Alan Henry a couple dozen times this year. I have caught 1 fish right at 4#s and a handful over 3.

I’ve fished Hubbard Creek once and caught a 7+, Ivie once and caught a 8+, 6+, and several 3-4s, and J.B. Thomas a handful of timesand can’t count how many I’ve caught between 4 and 5 lbs.

The only pattern I can get on consistently on Alan Henry is a 20’ bite on T-rigs on the edge of ledges for about 2 weeks in June every year.

#12829387 - 07/15/18 05:57 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
Donald Harper Online   happy
TFF Guru

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 15010
Loc: Justin, TX.
Excellent read Mr. Rains. Thanks for sharing. I spent my first 20 years fishing with what I call the Old Masters. These were fisherman that fished for food. They did not fish tournaments; but could have won any tournament on their lake very easily. If they did not catch bass during rain or shine their family did not eat. The confidence they had, the patience and the old school methods played a great part in making me a better fisherman.

One day that stands out fishing with an older gentleman on a rainy morning and we were throwing Buzz Baits. I was using a Billy Phillips GoGo Girl as close as I could match to his Go Devil. I am up front with the rain coming down and hood up on the old yellow rain suit; so couldn't hear much of any thing. Mr. Gatewood is pulling in 3 and 4 lb. fish one after the other. I am not getting bit. I clip up to a Cypress knee so we can fan fish through all the surrounding cover and start watching. He is slow rolling that Go Devil along the bottom like a spinner bait. Everything on that bait was Lime Green right down to the blade he had painted. He had dyed a white Pork Ell for a trailer with food coloring. Very simple change and a quick give me one of those pork's for my catching to begin.
Each person you work with holds some promise to your future success. - Staying Hydrated - Booking Mexico Trips
20 Hot Spot Mapping - GPS Contour Chips - Custom Spinner Baits - Jigs -Spooks
Pure Extracts - Minnow-Night Crawler-Crayfish-Craylic

#12829421 - 07/15/18 06:28 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
Patrnflyr Offline

Registered: 07/30/17
Posts: 215
Loc: Lubbock, Texas
I had a 20 year hiatus from bass fishing and got back into it last year. You mentioned a log of successful fishing and I’ve found a simple way to do that.
—my iPhone and short video clips. There, I list the date and what’s biting and what working. I can go back and look at the pics of the fish and remember baits, the bite and see the weather conditions.

Edited by Patrnflyr (07/15/18 06:45 PM)

#12829509 - 07/15/18 07:38 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
rscustomrods Offline

Registered: 06/30/07
Posts: 151
Mr. Rains I am no where near Lubbock but I will always have a back seat open for you if you are ever around east Texas or Arizona. Thanks for sharing your stories and knowledge

#12829552 - 07/15/18 08:21 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
Thad Rains Online   content
TFF Team Angler

Registered: 10/09/01
Posts: 3195
Loc: Lubbock, Texas.
THANKS everyone. Just something I put together early last year and it seems to make sense every day. rscustomrods, THANKS for letting me know. I actually have a good friend that lives on Bob Sandlin and I go fish with him sometimes. Not as often as either one of us would like, but a few times over the past several years. Beautfiul country out there and some good fishing, too. Hope everyone is doing well tonight. Tight lines, keep safe and good luck.

Thad Rains
Tight lines, keep safe and good luck.

Thad Rains

#12829614 - 07/15/18 09:35 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
Ken A. Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 10/02/06
Posts: 10208
Loc: Trophy Club, TX
Good stuff

#12829719 - 07/15/18 11:19 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
herbsteiner Online   content

Registered: 04/26/14
Posts: 66
Loc: Spicewood, TX
Well thought out, important information, and generously given. Thanks mucho.

#12830086 - 07/16/18 10:53 AM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
Reel Addict Offline

Registered: 04/18/17
Posts: 123
Loc: Tx.
Well thought out information...Thanks for all the help you provide
1999 Skeeter ZX 202c
1999 Yamaha 200 VMax
2017 Toyota Tundra 4x4 5.7 litre

#12830480 - 07/16/18 04:37 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
Bruce Allen Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 06/11/06
Posts: 2318
Loc: Lake Fork, Texas
One of the reasons I started the Lake Fork Anglers 4 1/2 years ago was to get knowing anglers to share their knowledge with anglers who know less.

And for all the time up until now that is what is still happening. We have some members who never bass fished in their life who are now excellent anglers. Sharing the knowledge that we all strive to know brings personal satisfaction.

Not every member who has joined has found this to be their cup of tea and some have passed on to others clubs. But we believe that sharing info makes all better anglers.

Edited by Bruce Allen (07/16/18 04:40 PM)
Lake Fork Anglers
Faze 4 Bass Anglers: Team Competition
Hard Core..Major League Fishing format

Lake Fork Sportsman's Association

We are VERY PROUD to Annouce our Induction into the
Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

Contact me to schedule the LFSA Live Release Boat for your Lake Fork tournaments.

#12830945 - 07/16/18 10:07 PM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
bradnitro175 Offline
TFF Celebrity

Registered: 07/11/08
Posts: 5053
Loc: Dallas,tx
clapnever tried a feather on a sb..
Originally Posted By: John175®
your bait sux,and your boat is ugly.

#12831076 - 07/17/18 06:40 AM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
Mayo Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 08/13/08
Posts: 589
Great read and thanks for sharing. I recently went through the "gut feeling scenario". Won't make that mistake again I hope. thumb

#12831098 - 07/17/18 07:08 AM Re: How To Become A Better Angler [Re: Thad Rains]
bassmanrudy Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 01/30/15
Posts: 969
Loc: Bossier City, LA
good stuff! confidence is HUGE! and that little voice in your head can sure be "right" when it counts.
"I'd Rather Be Fishing" smile


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