Learning new tactics to catch fish is a great way to keep angling fresh and exciting. Something I've learned is that it's important to set yourself up for success when trying a new bait. One way to do this is testing tackle when fish are active. A friend, Paul Shibata, so aptly says, "It's always best to try new material with a captive audience."
Doing the opposite and trying a new tactic on inactive fish can be as challenging as flying a kite on a windless afternoon. It's possible for things to go poorly as you may not have had the opportunity to master the method's finer details, even if you read articles and watched videos on the subject. Plus, if fish are in a funk they likely want little to do with most baits. The issue this creates is that there's no reference point for when the tactic worked and did well — and when something new strikes out it can be tough to want to try it again any time soon.
Recently I wrote an article on sport psychology. Researching it I spoke with sport psychologist Jay T. McNamara, Ph.D., author of "The Psychology of Exceptional Fishing." I asked McNamara what, from a sport psychology perspective, anglers should consider when a day's going well and the fish are biting. He said the following:
When fish are chomping, it's one of the best times to experiment and try new things. There are two main reasons to do this. First, it builds confidence in other baits and tactics. Second, it helps you refine your options. Sometimes the variance between a 1/2- and a 1/4-ounce jig, or a few feet of a minnowbait's running depth, makes all the difference. If you learn to challenge yourself to think this way, it makes thinking about sport that much more complex. It broadens your repertoire and gives you more confidence, so next time you go fishing, you have more options.
Learning new fishing skills fun, but do yourself a favor and try the latest tactics when the conditions are right. This ups the odds of a successful maiden voyage with a new lure and builds confidence. Lastly, McNamara's book is a great read and can be ordered by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org.