I’ve always found September to be a blah fishing month. In the Northeast, where I live, it’s like purgatory: The bite’s not dead, nor is it on fire for any species. So, as a bit of a cathartic exercise, I’ve decided September should become a month devoted to fixing my various fishing shortcomings. With that said: These are a few things I suck at and vow to master (with a little help from some pros).
1. Pitch (Not) Perfect
I can send a Spook flying and walk it like Hank Parker, but if the game calls for pitching or close-quarters flipping to tight cover, I fold. These techniques are about coordination, accuracy, and knowing how to detect subtle bites. I’ve fished with many great bass anglers, and try as I might to mimic their smooth entries and quick reflexes when they get hit on the fall, I just can’t do it.
Pro Tip: “Learn to pitch with your non–reeling arm. That way you don’t have to switch hands to engage the reel, so you stay more on top of the bait.” —Dave Wolak, bass pro and F&S fishing blogger
2. Spey No More
The best students of Spey casting are people who have no prior experience with a -single-handed fly rod. I don’t fit that bill. To become skilled with a Spey rod, I have to put aside everything I know about fly casting and retrain my muscle memory to cast with two hands from the waist instead of over the shoulder. I’ve tried to teach myself by watching videos, and even got some lessons on the Deschutes River with Spey master Don Roberts. Under his guidance, one in 10 casts at least went in the right direction. The rest were not casts—just piles of line.
Pro Tip: “Having been through the gamut of trial and error with driving a two-handed rod, I’m convinced that using a Scandi line, which casts well with or without a sink tip, as opposed to Skagit, will cut the beginner’s learning curve in half.” —Don Roberts, steelhead guide and expert Spey caster
3. Backed Up
When backing in a trailer, real pros only use their side-view mirrors and never turn their heads. Maybe I’m stubborn, but I just can’t get used to doing it that way. My neck is always twisted around to look behind me, or craned out the driver’s window. When a boat is on the trailer, I’m pretty good. When I have to back an empty trailer down a ramp, at least five bouts of straightening are inevitable. If others are watching and waiting to use the ramp, it could be 10.
Pro Tip: “Most guys only practice at the ramp in pressured situations. Take the trailer to an empty lot and take your time learning to put it between the lines.” —Mark Davis, host of BigWater Adventures
This piece first ran in the Sept. 2014 issue of Field & Stream_._