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There’s no denying we’d all like to catch more fish, but just how do you become a better angler? With so many skilled anglers in one place at the one time, tournaments are a great place to learn new fishing skills and techniques.


I don’t think I’ve met a single angler who wouldn’t like to catch more fish. After all, that’s the main reason we go fishing in the first place. Sure, some of us just like to relax or get away from it all by spending a day on the water but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that even those fishos who’ll often tell you that ‘a fish is a bonus’ would secretly like to be just that little bit more successful. The question is, however, just how do you improve?


I’m an educator by profession and I can tell you the main thing you need is the drive to be successful. Trust me, if you’re not going to make a concerted attempt it won’t simply won’t happen. In my day to day work, I constantly speak to people who put little effort in and then wonder why they don’t get the same results as the people who do. There’s no shortcuts and no magic baits or lures and just buying better gear won’t do it for you either. While that might sound a bit off-putting, it’s actually good news because that means you don’t need a natural ability and almost anyone can do it with a bit of effort.

I also do a bit of tournament angling and I can assure you the top performers in our sport only get there through hard work and dedication. You have to want it and be prepared to work at it! At the very top level there’s actually very little in terms of ability separating the very best anglers, and often victory comes down to whoever puts the most work into preparing or pre-fishing for the tournament.

The fact that you are here, reading this article is a good indication that you’re the sort of person who’s willing to make an effort to improve. That’s a really good thing. Look around on this site and you will find a myriad of tips and tricks that you can put into practice on your local fishing grounds. Of course, there’s a multitude of fishing related websites out there on the wider internet to look over, so instead of wasting your time watching funny videos (or whatever else it is that you watch), why not use your time to your advantage by seeking out information which can raise your fishing IQ.


Of course, good old-fashioned books and magazines shouldn’t be overlooked as a source of knowledge. Going back through older reading materials can often turn up answers to things that have been holding you back. Fishing trends tend to be cyclic and it is possible to find some hidden little gems of knowledge buried away in even the oldest of publications. After all, there’s no point reinventing the wheel if someone came up with the answer years ago now is there?


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Want to learn new skills, like fishing weedless frogs in the lilies for Bass? Join a club or try the tournament scene.



I’d also suggest that one of the best first steps you could take would be to specialize. Pick a species you’d like to catch and target them like a sniper, rather than relying on a shotgun approach of hoping to catch whatever comes along. By focusing on one particular species, you can learn about their particular habits and preferences. Then, by fishing specifically at those preferred times and in the preferred places, you’ll get less bycatch but you should hopefully catch a whole lot more of what you’re after.

Another way to specialize is to choose a particular fishing method and learn all you can about that. It might be live baiting, using lures or trolling, it doesn’t really matter as long as you concentrate on that approach and stick with it.

Now, this might see a little bit of a drop off in your catch rate when you first try it, but if you stay true to your method, things should even back up again in the long term when you become more proficient at it.


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Andrew Ready (of Red’s Lures fame) not only makes and paints some of the best bass lures on the planet, he’s also a wizard at pulling wild river bass on surface lures. Fishing with experienced angers like Andy can lift your fishing skills to a whole ‘nother level.



Even with all the information which is available these days, I’d still rate practical experience as the best teacher. If you are able to, there’s no better way to fast track your improvement than to fish with someone who is better at it than yourself. Having someone on hand, to answer your questions, look at where you are casting, how you are rigging, the way you are retrieving or helping you to understand what your sounder is showing you is invaluable. Experience really is the best teacher.

Of course, not everyone has access to a knowledgeable fishing partner. The best way around this is to join a fishing club. While the club scene is not as strong as it was back in ANSA’s heydey, there are still a lot of local (and online) groups out there which you can get involved with. Most clubs are keen to promote and develop their sport and will often go out of their way to help younger anglers become more proficient, so that means they are very likely to help you improve.

Of course, you can also take this approach to the next level by entering in fishing tournaments. I know the thought of competing against top-level anglers may be a bit daunting at first, but you will find the vast majority of them are only too willing to help beginners and show them the ropes. As long as you don’t pester anyone and keep your eyes and ears open you will learn more in one day at a tournament than you would in a year fishing on your own.

I know my own results when chasing impoundment Bass went through the roof after spending a couple of seasons fishing on the kayak Bass circuit. While you may not want to catch Bass, the vast majority of the skills you learn will be transferable to other fishing situations so it’s all good experience.


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If you can afford it, hiring a reputable fishing guide to take you fishing is yet another way to fast track your fishing development.



My final bit of advice is to keep an open mind. As long as you stay open to ideas, you can learn something from just about anyone. I’d also encourage you to give back to the sport by sharing your knowledge. No matter how inexperienced you might feel, remember there will always be people who are just starting out who could benefit from your help. So, while you are looking to improve, don’t forget to help others out by sharing what you have learned along the way.


Is there anything you would like to add to this article from Dave. Share your experience through the comments section below.

Dave Magner

Dave is a keen and experienced lure and fly angler who has travelled and fished right across Australia and New Zealand. He particularly enjoys tournament bass fishing, chasing freshwater species from his kayak and bluewater pelagics from his boat.