Change for the good

Last week I discussed expanding your comfort zone on the water. This week I want to talk about something similar.

For those of us who have been fishing for 20, 30 or even more years, we've developed some comfort zones and favorites that have worked for us. A great example is some old baits that have caught fish for us in the past.

In fact, we’ve created comfort zones in everything that involves fishing — products we use, technology we use and more. We have our system and our favorites, and changing from them is not easy. It can be important, though.

Recently I've added a few things to my fishing equipment that were well out of my comfort zone, and I think each of them helps me.

Let’s start with the most recent addition, Livingston Baits and their electronic baitfish sounds. Adding electronics to bait styles that have worked for me for decades was a tough adjustment. Why fix what wasn't broken? And, to be honest, it might have been too much of a stretch for me if it hadn’t been for some other, similar changes that paid off — UV-enhanced soft plastic baits and the Hydrowave.

A few years ago I started using Tightlines UV plastics — soft plastic baits enhanced with UV light. Like the electronic baitfish sounds in my baits, getting away from baits that worked for years wasn’t an easy switch, but I'm glad I did it. I'm convinced — sponsor or not — that over the course of the year I catch more fish with UV-enhanced plastics. More importantly, I think they catch more fish when I need them most — under tough conditions.

Want proof? How about this — in 2009, 2010 and 2011 I had three total top 12 finishes in the Bassmaster Elite Series. Prior to 2012, I committed to the UV plastics, and in the two years since I have eight top 10 finishes and two wins.

Of course, that improvement wasn’t only the plastics, but they were a big part of it.

The one change almost every pro has made recently is adding a Hydrowave unit to his boat. Ever since I was a kid, silence was believed to be better for fishing. I think every five-year-old is told to be quiet if he or she wants to catch fish. Changing that attitude to the extent that we actually program sounds to play in the water wasn't easy. But after some tournament successes and word of mouth among the pros, you'd have a hard time finding a pro without one on his boat.

This brings me back to the electronic baitfish sounds in a Livingston bait. Five years ago, if you'd shown me this bait I would have laughed all the way home. But that would have been a huge mistake. It took gradual steps through some different technologies for me to get there and realize the potential.

Do the changes improve my fishing? I feel certain they do.

Will they improve your fishing? I think so, but to answer that question you need to tie on one of these baits and see what happens.

Give change a chance. I'm glad I did.

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