Faith and Fish

Every fisherman knows someone who blindly favors one particular lure, some more logical than others. I’ve met a man who fishes buzzbaits chronically, even in the dead of winter, and does well with it. The secret here is not revolutionary mechanics, but confidence. Like religion, confidence lures are powerful only through the faith put into them, which translates to more time on the end of your line, and, naturally, more fish caught on it. This confidence gives men of confidence a mental edge, and more success.

As a young and impressionable victim of the fishing industry, the majority of my fishing took place on my grandparents’ dock on a 36-acre lake filled with sunken timber and the traditional southern mix of largemouth bass, sunfish, and crappie.

At that time, I was particularly fond of the cool, fishy-looking lures with big treble hooks. I never landed any of Old Creek Lake’s monster bass, because my gear could never budge them from their home rooted on the lake-bottom; but they always had a soft spot for those lures, and their strikes were halting and fierce.

Later, Chris McCotter, a local guide, introduced me to a cool little lure called a swimbait. It too looked like a fish, but lacked the tactical appeal lent by many sinister hooks. However, what the lure lacked in pointiness it made up for in fish, and I didn’t leave as many on the lake bottom, even in the woody lakes. I began catching fish of all species with the lure, and it became one of my go-to's.

Now, a little more informed, and a devoted to the sport of fishing, Berkley’s Rippleshad is a staple in my tackle box. In introducing my brother, Phillip, to fishing, I forced him to purchase a few packs under my self-proclaimed truth that they were good “all-around” plastics.

He fished the lure on occasion, but never very successfully. He was a non-believer, and I aimed to convert him.

On a recent fishing trip together at a familiar farm pond, I tied on a Rippleshad initially, casually throwing around pet names like “pearl gold” and “fish crack” in order to start a bit of a friendly competition as Phillip tied on a spinnerbait.

This is one competition that you make start confidently, but go into with a severe sense of focus and desire not to fail. Fishing bets are among the most painful to lose, not because they make you go bankrupt or give up a finger, but because you’ll never hear the end of it. But I knew I was right.

My first cast was short-struck, and a second with a slower retrieve produced the first fish—a small 10-inch bass.

Several more fish came—many pickerel, a few crappie, but mostly bass. My brother was falling behind.

Eventually I won. My friendly opponent switched permanently to my side and took to examining my retrieve. I was happy to help.

With this, he began catching fish, including his first pickerel. Soon he was snagging the monsters rooted in their dwellings, and likewise depleting my supply.

As dusk approached, we were making our last casts. My tackle box’s Rippleshad population was suffering at the hands of my brother when I hooked one of the monsters—but this time, it moved.

A long tense fight followed, as a powerful fish rolled and jumped at the surface. Finally, with shaking hands, I landed a thumb in the mouth of the year’s first eight-plus-pound largemouth.

Needless to say, my fish- crazed brother was a man of strong faith by then. Later that night, I received a call asking for my opinion on colors—he ordered six bags.

A confidence lure becomes a strength only in practice. One fish caught will make the lure a more appealing tool on later trips, and every additional fish serves as a refinement to your technique—a constructive critic. Everyone’s will be different, so this spring, fish yourconfidence lure, and enjoy the results.

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