As a fishing writer, I’ve been fortunate to cast along with many great anglers. While everyone has their own tips and tricks, the one common trait I notice among the best fishermen and fisherwomen—from the bass lakes, to the trout rivers, to the saltwater flats—is that none of them ever fish like they’re in a hurry.
Even B.A.S.S. pro Mike Iaconelli, who seems driven by frenetic energy, and in tournaments is often literally racing against the clock, works with deliberate purpose when he’s in the money chase.
There are some very practical reasons for slowing things down when you fish. I spend a lot of time scuba diving with fish (bass, pike, trout, etc.) and watching how they behave when people are casting to them. What’s the number one factor that spooks a fish? Shadows and/or sudden motions from above. They tell fish a predator is nearby, and send them swimming for cover. Another factor that puts fish off is sound, which travels quickly through water. Boots scraping along a rocky river bottom, loud clunks from an aluminum fishing boat, and so forth, only hurt your chances.
Which brings us back to the point of slowing things down. Shadows, sudden movements, and loud noises are often the result of an angler being in a hurry. Rushing also depletes the angler’s abilities make precise casts and enticing presentations—whether they’re fly fishing, casting live baits, or throwing lures.
The next time you see a fish in the water… as much as you might want to rush right in and try a cast, do yourself a favor, and slow down. Count to “Five-Mississippi,” hum “America the Beautiful” to yourself, whatever… just do something to put the mental brakes on. Then survey the situation. Factor in the sun’s position (where will the shadows fall?). Look for any obstacles (like deadfall, rocks, dock pilings) that might factor into the cast and fight. Then make your cast.
If that fish is moving in a way that makes you feel rushed to make a cast, odds are there’s nothing you can do to make that fish eat anyway. You control the tempo. So move slowly, more deliberately, and with more poise and purpose, and you will catch many.
Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Angling Trade. He is the co-author of four books, most recently the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing.