Tanner and the Magic Lure

I have a longtime friend named David Tanner. He’s a great guy. He was there when I fished my first club tournament, back in the 1970s.

In a lot of ways, Tanner is your average red-blooded American bass fisherman. He’s a former high school football coach and college player. He’s seen his share of success, both on and off the field … and on the water, too.

He’s also a former Marine. Occasionally, you’ll hear him blurt out the words “Semper fi!”

Among the many characteristics I like most about Tanner is his unique sense of humor. He can make light of even the most complicated or controversial subjects, and he’s the only man I know who can communicate almost exclusively in sound effects. Sort of like Curly from “The Three Stooges,” he has a complete vocabulary that works without any actuals words.

Tanner also has some other peculiarities.

In The Early Days

When I fished my first organized bass tournament, I was a student at the University of Florida. I wasn’t part of any college fishing team. Those didn’t exist back then. I was fishing with the Bassmasters of Gator Country — one of the state’s most competitive clubs.

David Tanner was a prominent figure in that club, and he was one of my first draws in a local event.

Tanner had a really fast boat — a17-foot Tide Craft with a 200hp Mercury. Back then, that was an absolute monster of a motor!

I remember racing across the lake, watching pliers and other heavy objects tumble off the deck as we approached top speed. The man was a maniac for speed, and for him bass tournaments seemed more about boat racing than catching fish … at least during blast-off.

No matter where we fished, he found a way to burn more gas than any three other competitors combined. He loved driving his boat!

Dirty Tourney Tactics

Another peculiar aspect to Tanner was how he was always in pursuit of “The Magic Lure.”

No matter what lake or river we fished, Tanner believed there was a mystical lure that could unlock its secrets … and he had to have that lure. It was an obsession, and it frequently got the best of him. Even when he was on a rock-solid pattern and sure to do well, his fixation on the magic lure would inevitably send him in the wrong direction.

I recall many nights prior to competition when our crew would tease him about it. Over dinner or during a parking lot discussion, we knew if we subtly mentioned some obscure pattern or technique — something we knew Tanner hadn’t thought to try — we could throw him off his game plan. It was almost laughable.

It may sound mean, taking advantage of this tendency, but we always came clean. It was just a part of our gamesmanship — watching him get all riled up. And no man was ever more theatrical than David Tanner. None!

Poof! It’s gone

Instead of remaining confident in what he had established in practice, Tanner would somehow succumb to this odd insecurity. It was simultaneously funny and a little sad that such a talented angler and competitor could be so easily derailed

Truth is, I suspect there’s a little Tanner in all of us — especially when it comes to fisheries we don’t know very well. I can tell you that I have a garage full of “magic lures” — impulse purchases made specifically for some lake or river I wasn’t sure about.

Looking back, I can count on one hand the number of times those “magic lures” worked.

Maybe you, too, suffer from this same malady. Magic Lure Syndrome is bad for your fishing, bad for your mental health and bad for your wallet. The truth is, the real magic lure is the one that’s working at the time.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Now take the lures you have confidence in and go catch some fish!

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