G-Man: Strengthening Your Weakest Link

In fishing, as in life, a positive attitude can make all the difference. "What I see in a lot of anglers is the psychological part of fishing gets them down," says popular Alabama pro Gerald Swindle. "They're beat before it starts, before they even get out on the water.

I have that problem, too. "One of the things I do to overcome that tendency is to constantly remind myself that the fish always biting somewhere, because they are. You never want to let things get you down. Tell yourself that the fish are biting, and that you're somehow going to catch them." That's easy to say, but what about when you're headed to a lake you don't know well, or when you know that the dominant pattern is one you haven't mastered.

Swindle says that you can't give up, nor can you just hope things will turn around. "Some people just sit around and wait for breaks, while others make their own breaks. That's what you have to do," he explains. The remedy may involve learning a new technique or one that you've previously shied away from. Put another way, you might need to work on your weaknesses.

This isn't as hard as it seems. "If you have time and you're going fishing around home, take everything else out of your boat except the bait you need to master, and force yourself to learn how to fish it. Don't offer yourself an excuse not to fish it," he says. Sometimes, a tournament angler like Swindle has no choice but to employ a new or different technique in the midst of competition.

For example, this year at the Elite Series event on Lake Murray, S.C., Swindle tied on the Sebile Magic Swimmer for the very first time. He knew the jointed plug was working for others, and his own approaches weren't working. He tried it and found it to be the ticket to several of his better fish. At the same time, he also missed some fish on it that he might have caught had he been more experienced with the lure.

Obviously, he'd rather such miscues happen when there's no money on the line. "When the swimbait technique came out, I wasn't that familiar with it; I actually got my first experience with it during a tournament," he remembers. "But when I got home I was dying to go to the lake and I spent several hours rigging different hooks, experimenting with them. "When a new technique comes out, I'll go to a lake and spend hours learning how to rig it and how to make it run better.

I'll tweak it every way I can. I'll throw it around different pieces of cover, and I'll make myself learn that bait better before the next time I go to a tournament." With all the information available through Bassmaster Magazine, Bassmaster.com and other media, there is no excuse to be unfamiliar with the latest tactics. And, while old standbys may continue to work, Swindle advises everyone to become "a student of the game. You have to keep learning; otherwise, you'll get beaten.

There's so much new stuff coming out all the time — you have to keep learning. You can't ever get to the point where you think you know enough, and you can't afford to put off learning until later. Later never comes." And once you've gained mastery of those new techniques, or at least a reasonable amount of familiarity with them, you'll have no reason to doubt yourself when headed to an unfamiliar lake or fishing situation.

Instead, Swindle says, you'll be able to say to yourself — and really believe it — "I'm going to make it happen."

(Provided by Z3 Media)


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