Learning to embrace change

Being a veteran angler is beneficial most of the time, but it can also be a curse.

Older, experienced guys like me tend to get set in our ways. We know we’ve caught bass on this bait in this situation or in this area and often block out any new concept or idea that might allow us to catch them even better.

Modern day electronics are a good example. One thing that really helped me last year is I fully embraced the new technology, and the results were remarkable.

A lot of the young guys coming into the sport grew up with computerized electronics, so the learning curve with fishing electronics has been instant, and they are using them to their maximum capabilities. They’re not intimidated in the least and understand how to tweak the settings and use the equipment to find fish and potential hot spots quickly.

That’s one reason why they are succeeding quickly and with far less experience.

I was somewhat resistant to adapt, but my mother-in-law proved to be a great example for me. As computers and new technology came on the scene, she was determined to keep up. She was not going to be left behind. Her attitude and determination really inspired me to do the same. And I am convinced that mindset helped me win Bassmaster Angler of the Year.

If you’re going to remain relevant in competitive fishing, you also have to be open-mined to everything new in fishing tackle.

That includes everything from new baits, to line, lures, terminal tackle and even techniques.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re 40 or 70 years old, if you invest the time in learning new products, you’re going to remain competitive. You can’t get by in this game when you’re stuck with old standbys; you need to use what is the best for that moment.

For that reason, I’m constantly buying new baits, hooks and other tackle. I spend time on the water away from tournaments testing them to see if they will add to my existing arsenal. It’s important to learn their intricacies, know how they fit your fishing style and build confidence in those that do.

It can lead to carrying around too much stuff in my boat, so I have to also constantly purge baits and other tackle that I no longer use. If I’m not going to use it; I need to get it out. We all have those nostalgic attachments, but we have to ask ourselves, will keeping them in the boat make me any better?

There will be more new gear coming out at this year’s Bassmaster Classic and the ICAST tackle show in July. It behooves you to keep an open mind, examine each item closely and put it to the test.

Our fishing tackle and technology is evolving rapidly, and we all need to be willing to embrace new ideas and change if we want to continue to improve as competitive anglers.