How to create advantage

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Courtesy of Andrew Upshaw

Advantage: A condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position.

As a competitor, we look for advantages over our competition. The degree of advantage doesn’t matter, as long as it gives us an overwhelming sense of confidence. It could be a pick-up game of basketball with a player that is really tall or maybe a waypoint from your best friend where he once caught 20 pounds.

But, what if you don’t have that advantage? Are you out of it? The short answer is, “No”. If you want the long answer, read on.

Recently, I saw a post about how electronics, or the abundance of electronics, is killing the sport. I respectfully disagree with that. I think innovation, regardless of where it lies, is extremely important to the health and growth of the sport we love. If that were the case, we should also stop using innovative rods, reels, baits, etc. I personally don’t want to give up using my Lew’s reels for instance. They are comfortable, lightweight and cast extremely well. Innovation creates competition, more competition drives down prices, creating products that are more affordable. If working in this industry has taught me anything, it’s that the more we come together and work towards a common goal of innovation, we will be successful. 

Now, with that being said, should you go spend $20,000 on electronics? Or buy 25 Lew’s rod-and-reel combos? If you can afford it without becoming bankrupt, great. But everyone isn’t in that position. Some fishermen fish out of a kayak, own one rod-and-reel combo, and a small tacklebox. I was once that guy. So, how can a fisherman create advantage on the water without spending a ton of money?

To me, there are three ways to create advantage on the water.

1) Study the fishery

Use the best resource that is literally at 90% of household’s fingertips: the internet. The internet can be your best friend. Before every event that I fish, I research every single piece of information that I can think of, and then some. I look up tournament results so I can gauge what size fish I’m dealing with. I look up what type of forage is on the lake/river that I’m visiting so that I know exactly what color crankbaits/plastics that I will need. I look up Bassmaster Magazine articles on that particular fishery to get an idea of what has been successful on that lake/river before. One little trick is to find an Elite Series pro from that area, follow their social media, and see what they are up to. Most of the time, said angler will post pictures, videos and general fishing information about the place you are visiting.

2) YouTube

The second advantage is one of the best. I would put this section in internet, but to me it’s completely different. YouTube offers one of the best resources there is available for fishing information. Just look at my travel partners for the Opens. Scott Martin posts practice/tournament videos for every venue, spilling the beans on everything we do. Todd Castledine and Bradley Hallman post tournament recaps and even GoPro footage of them catching a ton of bass at every venue as well. For me personally, I learn a ton from those. I just like to sit and watch how they fish. I use it kind of like watching film in football. I could anticipate what a cornerback would do when they lined up across from me just by how they would position. The more you watch, the more you will learn. It’s that simple. I take my videos a step further and post things that I’ve learned throughout my travels, from hot baits and colors, to techniques that we tend to forget about.

3) Perfect a technique

The last advantage is active, I promise. Truly perfect the technique. Be the very best fisherman you can be with one rod in hand. If that technique is flipping, then sell out to it. There might be a portion of the year that you don’t catch them as good, but I can tell you this, when those fish move up and eat a flipping bait, you’re going to smoke them. If you want to be the best squarebill crankbait fisherman, throw it all the time, no matter where you go. I think one disadvantage of the vast access we have to information is it makes everyone extremely versatile. Now, some of you might argue that versatility is a key to success. It is, to some. However, versatility can be a curse too. A versatile angler always has something else on his or her mind, a new way to catch them and tend to fish too fast past a pattern or forget a technique that could potentially load the boat. I’ve been that guy way too many times. 

To me, advantage is a confidence we have in ourselves, and it’s reflected by the hard work and dedication that we put into our craft. You can create your advantage by outworking everyone around you and being the most prepared. There is advantage around every corner, you just have to know what to look for.