Fishing is mostly about knowledge and instinct. Unlike many other sports, it doesn’t take exceptional physical ability. There is no need to be bigger, faster, or stronger in order to be a better fisherman. There are a few exceptions, however, like casting skills. Casting skills like skipping docks or precision flipping will help, but the number one skill you can improve on to become a better angler is feel. Improve your feel and you’ll catch more fish.
You only have to drop an underwater camera down next to your bait a few times before you realize how much you could be missing. It’s very possible to have a fish fully engulf your bait and never feel it. Every time that happens that’s one less fish you’ll catch.
Feel goes beyond missing bites. Feel will also allow you to know the difference between rock, hard-pan, and sandy bottoms. It’ll also give you a better idea of the structure your bait is making contact with. Is that a tree, a rock, or a bite? With better feel, you’ll know.
How do you improve your feel? Like any other athletic skill, experience and practice plays a big part. However, you can make some changes to your equipment and improve your feel instantly. Using quality fishing line is the first step. Fluorocarbon and braid offer better feel than monofilament or nylon lines. Fluorocarbon is the option where line visibility is a factor. I use fluorocarbon line from Gamma fishing and it is very abrasion-resistant and has excellent low-stretch properties, which improves feel. Where line visibility isn’t an issue, braid offers the best feel possible. I use Tuf-Line XP braided line.
Along with switching to a better fishing line, you can improve your fishing rods, but that can get expensive. I use Megabass Orochi XX rods, they have incredible feel and worth every penny of their retail price point in the mid-$200s.
I understand that not everyone can afford to buy new rods, but there is another option. It’ll cost less, and improve not only your feel, but the durability and overall weight of your rods as well. Change out your rod guides to RECOIL guides by REC Components.
RECOIL guides are made from an extremely hard but flexible nickel titanium alloy that allows the guide to return to its original shape after repeated deformations. Most importantly, RECOIL offers a no-insert loop guide. That’s right, I said no-insert. I am not sure what the fascination in our sport is with guide inserts. The inserts are generally added to keep the line from wearing the guides down. That’s a falsity, maybe in the past that was a problem, but RECOIL guides are just as resistant to line wear as any other guide on the market. What you don’t think about is how that ceramic-based insert affects the feel. RECOIL guides are without question the most sensitive guides on the market because they use superior material, nickel and titanium instead of ceramic.
Ceramic as a material is an insulator and has a vibration eliminating property. Why would we want to eliminate vibration from our fishing rod? After all, it’s vibration that we feel when we get a bite, or bounce the bait over a rock or log. We want all the vibration we can get, in its natural form.
By adding RECOIL guides to your rod you eliminate the ceramic that removes the vibration from your fishing line and increases the strike transmission. Here’s an example: if you’ve ever fished with a RECOIL-guide-equipped rod, or near someone with one, you’ll hear it whistle when you cast. This whistle sound comes from the vibration of the line whizzing through the guides during the cast. This doesn’t happen on ceramic insert guides, because they are eliminating the vibration from the line before it ever gets to the rod blank, which is what you are feeling.
Changing out the guides isn’t easy, but it’s not hard either. Just about anyone can do it with a few simple tools and some patience. There are great instruction guides in video and written form online to guide you through the process. I always replace my tip-top guide, and for key rods like a jig, dropshot, or shaky head rods I replace all of the guides. With my Megabass Orochi rods, I generally only do my tip-top guide throughout my entire rod lineup.
A great side effect of getting the more sensitive RECOIL guides is the improved durability. RECOIL guides can bend and twist without breaking. We all know how much chaos happens on a boat during the heat of a big fish fight and stepping on a rod happens. Plus, pushing and pulling rods into and out of a rod tube in a boat storage locker is brutal on guides as well. Lastly, for fisherman who are carrying their rods up and down the shore and into and out of vehicles, guides are generally the first thing to go. Using RECOIL guides virtually eliminates all guide breakage. They are simply the most durable guide ever built.
If you are serious about becoming a better fisherman you won’t need to go out and run mountains like Walter Payton, orlift weights like LeBron James. The best way to become a better angler is spend time on the water to improve your knowledge and instincts, and improve your feel. Experience the advantages RECOIL guides offer to your feel, and you’ll catch more fish.
Image courtesy Luke Clausen