The journey toward getting better and moving up, continued


Gary Tramontina

<p>18. What question do you get asked most by your fans, and how do you answer it?</p>
<p>The question is &quot;What makes the Elite anglers so good?&quot; and I tell them that bass fishing is like a puzzle. The Elite anglers are the best in the world at figuring out that puzzle. When they catch a bass, they ask why and come up with the answers so they can catch more.</p>

One of the ways to prepare and learn to make on the water decisions is to talk to other anglers. See what they did under certain circumstances and why they did it. Don’t just use any angler, though. Pick one that catches more bass than you do and who does it on a regular basis. Learn from the best, not the worst.

Again, I’ll mention The Bass University. You can talk one-on-one and face-to-face with some of the best professional bass anglers out there. They are amazingly candid when they do this. They’ll freely tell you when they got it right and when they got it wrong, and why.

If you can’t make it to one of our classes contact someone in your club or someone you see around the dock who catches them. Ask for help – most of the time you’ll get it.

You can also check out videos on the Internet or watch TV. There’s a ton of footage from B.A.S.S. events that’ll help you.

One of the great advantages to doing this before you hit the water is that you have the benefit of hindsight. You know whether or not something worked as you’re watching it unfold. If what they did didn’t work, or even if it did, develop alternative strategies and theories as you watch. And do an honest appraisal of what you would have done. See if that might have been successful.

Most of what you see will be tournament related, but that doesn’t make any difference even if you don’t fish tournaments. It doesn’t matter if an angler was trying to win a tournament or just catch a few when he or she decided to go upriver or downriver. The why is what you should be looking at and learning from.

As you do this, though, it’s important that you spend time on the water. There is no way that you will ever move up if you don’t experience fishing in the real world, under real conditions. It’s easy to be good from the peanut gallery. It’s not so easy when you’re the one who bears the consequences of your decisions.

A final thought about what you should be doing is learning to think positive. Positive thinking builds on itself and negative thinking does the same thing. I don’t know any successful professional angler who doesn’t think he’s going to win as he sits in his boat waiting for his start time. And, I don’t know any professional angler who makes a cast he doesn’t think will get him a keeper bite.

I want to stick one extra thing in here because it has an effect on your head: Learn to tie a good knot and practice until you can do it quickly and efficiently. I see anglers all the time who can’t do that. They lose fish they should have caught. As a result they start to think negative, and it all goes downhill from there. That’s a trap that’s easy to avoid.

If you want to get better at this fishing thing, develop a plan. Very few of us get better at anything by accident.

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