This is a question that needs to really be looked at in two parts. Therefore, because we want to start on a positive note, we will deal with what makes a good fisherman first.
The Good Fisherman
1. A fisherman’s character
A good fisherman does not give up just because things have not been going their way. Go in with the mantra that you are always one cast away from your prize. Always believe that your patience and perseverance will be handsomely rewarded.
b) Do not be over serious
This does not mean that you should not take fishing seriously. Of course, if you want to be successful you need to have a serious head on. Fishing is not easy. But you also need to be able to see the lighter side of things. When something unexpected and slightly slapstick happens, it is okay to raise a smile and have a good laugh about it.
c) Have a sense of adventure
Read up on different fishing methods. Find out the different type of fish you can catch and where they can be found. Do not just stick everything on repeat and have the same experience over and over again like it’s Groundhog Day.
d) Keep up to date
The world moves at a fast pace, and in almost every walk of life, there are advances and improvements in technology. This isn’t us saying that you should ignore the rules and etiquettes of something like fly fishing, but you can certainly use the internet and YouTube to find out more about the science of fishing, fish behaviour, and how to utilise the equipment you have.
e) Be honest
Those who fish are part of a community. Do not lie about your catches, and do not try to cheat by using methods that go against the spirit of fishing. If you want to be a good fisherman, you need to be on good terms with the community. Honesty is always the best policy.
2. A fisherman’s skills
a) Learn to tie knots
Do you know how to tie a Palomar knot? A Hangman’s knot? Or what about Surgeon’s, Trilene, and Berkley Braid knots?
If all these terms sound like gobbledygook to you right now then you need to find out about these knots, how to tie them correctly and when each type of knot should be used.
Tying a fishing knot is essential if you want to be a good fisherman.
b) Learn how to cast accurately
If you really want to be a successful fisherman, then practicing casting until you can repeatedly hit the same spot most of the time is high up on your list of priorities.
The best fishermen know where they want to land and are consistently accurate with their casts. It is one of those areas where persistence to get something right is really going to pay dividends.
c) Learn to read the water
Once you have learned to read the water, you will be able to understand the places where fish are most likely to be lurking.
Good fishermen know that fish are looking for food, cover, and the margins in the water.
Cover offers fish the chance to hide from predators. They will be looking for food such as bait fish or insects. And they will be residing in the margins between deep and shallow water, or faster and slower currents.
Your approach to fishing will depend on how you are able to understand these aspects of fish behaviour.
d) Learn how to select hooks and lures
Do not fall into the trap of using big hooks because you are looking for big fish. Instead, learn how hook size and the bait you are using correlate with each other.
Equally, do not get attracted to brightly colored lures just because they look cool and stand out. Find out which type of lure works best in a specific type of water. Usually, the best lure is going to be one that matches the color of the water you will be fishing in.
e) Learn to gather information
Do your research before going on a fishing trip. Do not think you can just turn up at a body of water and find what you are looking for if you haven’t looked at the vast amount of data available to you first.
The Bad Fisherman
a) Being polite
People are fishing for enjoyment. The bad fisherman is only concerned about themselves and not the other people around them. Ensure you allow those around you to have a good experience by being friendly, giving them some space, and not being a noise pest.
b) Paying attention to other’s casts
Try to leave a good space between yourself and those fishing around you. A distance of 8 to 10 feet should be enough.
Avoid tangling up with someone else’s line by checking where those nearby are casting and taking precautions with your own cast or fish retrieval.
c) Respect the fish
Whether taking a fish home, or catching and releasing, always treat the fish with the respect that all forms of life deserve. If catching and releasing, learn how to release a fish. They need time to recover and there is a technique to help them. And if taking home, do not allow the fish to suffer in pain. Be firm, be quick, and ensure it is stunned and not gasping its way to a slow death.
2. Bad Habits
a) Failing to look for patterns
Hotspots are not an ideal place to consistently go and fish. Looking for them rather than taking the time to find consistent patterns could leave you disappointed.
b) Failing to look after equipment
Always check that your lines aren’t wearing out, otherwise they will fail at the most inopportune times. Additionally, sharpen those hooks whenever you get the chance so that they are in optimum condition. Bad fishermen, and lazy fishermen, become complacent and lose out.
Now you know some of the key differences between good and bad fishermen it is time to put these things into practice and enjoy some great fishing!