The journey toward getting better and moving up

The journey toward getting better and moving up is really a three-step process. First you need physical skills, then you need lure and technique knowledge, and finally you need your head to be in the right place.

But understand something about what I’m going to say over the next two weeks. I’m not talking about becoming a top professional bass angler. It’s about becoming a better bass angler regardless of your endgame.

Physical skills are a necessity but they’re also something you can develop rather quickly. Practice casting in your backyard. Do it until you can hit a target no bigger than a coffee cup every time and don’t just do it in good weather, either. Go out when the wind is blowing and it’s raining or snowing.

You can stand on a bucket and get pretty good at flipping and pitching, too. Hitting a small opening is critical to catching fish when they’re buried in grass or twisted wood. And, believe it or not, you can learn to skip on a parking lot. Use an old lure and old line so you don’t tear up your good stuff.

Learning techniques is a little more complicated. There’s no end to the lures that are available to bass anglers. I’d recommend you start with a few main groups of baits. Start with anything you want but make sure you learn topwater fishing, crankbait fishing, spinnerbait fishing, jigs, plastics and a number of finesse baits and rigs. If possible, add swimbaits, vibrating jigs and anything else you can think of.

One way to approach this is through the Internet. There’s a wealth of knowledge on this site and plenty of others. Watch videos, read articles and practice at your local dock.

A great place to start right now is by watching Going Ike! Our first episode will air on Friday, Jan. 15. We’re going to fish the Delaware River and show you what spinnerbaits are capable of doing under the right conditions. You might also want to consider attending The Bass University. Classes start this weekend and go all the way through the Classic.

Regardless of where you get your information, however, it’s critical you understand that gaining lure and technique knowledge is a continuing process. Lawyers go to seminars every year, so do teachers, doctors and accounts. They have to stay up on current developments. Anglers are no different. Don’t let yourself get stuck in the past.

Once you have decent physical skills and a solid working knowledge of lures and techniques it’ll be time to attack the most important thing of all – your head. The one thing that separates the average from the good and the good from the great is the decisions they make on the water.

There’s no way to overemphasize what I just said, and for the most part there’s no way to get really good at it unless you spend a lot of time on the water. Next week we’re going to talk about how to prepare for that time on the water. You can do it from your home or your office if you’re willing to put in the time and the effort.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.