Practice makes perfect
Practice, practice, we’re talking about practice? Yes, practice. The saying goes practice makes perfect and it’s true, things become easier the more time you do them. In this blog, we’re not talking about the time you spend on the water directly before the tournament. This is not that kind of practice. This is the practice you can and should do before you every hit the water.
From an early age I was obsessed with bass fishing. So much so by my 8th or 9th birthday I went around telling everyone that’s what I was going to do for a living. I had made up my mind I wanted to spend every day I could on the water. I remember fishing with my grandfather when it would be cold and windy out and I’d be freezing. He would say boy, if you’re going to be a professional fisherman you better get used to this. But he was right and it fueled me, if I was going to be good at this game let along aspire to make a career out of it, there were going to be a lot of things to put out of mind and focus on fishing.
Part of that is making a lot of motions and physical efforts we do every time we go fishing so automatic and second nature it does not require thought. So from the time I was young I kept a rod and reel in out house and would practice casting. When I first learned of the pitching technique, that’s what I really started honing in on. I’d put a coffee cup or bowl in the floor of our living room and pitch and pitch and pitch a jig into until my arm was worn out. Usually I’d shoot a pitch over behind my mom when she wasn’t looking. When she turned around I’d move it quickly across the floor making her thing it was some creature she about stepped on. That will probably come back to haunt me some day. But days and days and days I would practice knowing in my mind if could master this in my living room it would be easy on the water.
I heard Denny Brauer speak on this very subject several years later that he did this very thing when he got serious with his fishing career. He would pitch a jig into a coffee cup and knew he was doing it right when he could no longer hear it go “tink” as it landed in the cup. So not only was he practicing locating his bait, but mastering speed control so the bait entered the water without any commotion. I can’t stress enough how invaluable being able to do this is.
Not only is accuracy and power two important elements to practice but so is form and fundamentals. I always do my practicing in a stance similar to what I would have in a boat, or standing on the bank. Or you can sit down and practice as if in a kayak. Tommy Biffle used to teach learning to pitch with a newspaper rolled up and stuck under your armpit forcing your arm to tuck to your side. Not only does this save wear and tear on your shoulder but it reduces fatigue. The main thing is perfecting situational applications and form so that when you are on the water the actions are second nature and your focus is on finding fish.
I thought it was important to write this blog because I see a lot of fisherman today hung up on the tools of the trade and not on how to use them. It doesn’t matter how great the bait is, or how sensitive the rod is if you don’t know how to use it. So before you head to your favorite pond or lake, spend some time in your backyard casting at targets until you can do so quickly and efficiently. It will save you time at the water and you will catch more fish.