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The Element of Luck

By Nathan Coker
In Fishing with Kenny
Sep 1st, 2021

article by Kenny Covington

I’m sure you have heard the saying, “I would rather be lucky than good.” No matter if you are talking ping-pong, horseshoes or bass fishing, a lot of people not only believe in “luck” but they depend on it for their successes and blame a lack of it on their failures. I am not one of those people. 

I have always believed that fishing, like any other sport, can be studied, learned and executed at a high level. You can learn techniques, casting abilities, how to read the water, deal with weather and attempt to master the mental aspect of a sport that is equivalent to trying to hit a major league fastball. There are too many variables, controlled and uncontrolled, that come into play when measuring success on the water and luck is usually at the bottom of the list. 

Luck is a two-headed monster. The people I know who have bad luck usually have this happen to them consistently. I also find it interesting the anglers who live by the “good luck factor” are productive anglers. This is not a coincidence and it happens for a reason. Good luck is usually a product of preparation and bad luck, a lack thereof. 

Early on, I took pride in my preparation for a tournament or a day on the water. I would change line, sharpen hooks, or whatever else I had to do to make sure I put the odds of doing well in my favor. My father thought I would go overboard sometimes with my attention to detail but over time I found him asking me why I did this or why did I do that more than he would ridicule me for doing it. When I would study my angling heroes such as Rick Clunn, Larry Nixon and Gary Klein, they always seemed like they were a step ahead of their competition due to their attention to detail. It was Clunn who intrigued me the most because he was the first angler I ever heard put the element of luck at the bottom of the list when it came to being a successful angler. Clunn said, “If you are ever going to get into bass fishing seriously you have to forget one thing, and that is luck which has very little, if anything to do with it.” His words have stayed with me ever since. 

Now, let’s look at some aspects of fishing that often go overlooked by all anglers, beginners and tournament fishermen alike. I have always believed the more prepared I am, the better my chances at being successful. I am not saying my way of doing things is what works best, I am simply saying this is what works for me. Here are a few things I believe will help you create more good luck while on the water:

Match your technique to the rod/reel you are using.  Just like a golfer who has a complete set of clubs, it is important that an angler has enough rod/reel combinations to effectively fish a variety of techniques.  After fishing a tournament, while standing around the weigh-in, I often hear the stories of lost fish or the lunker that got away. Many times these fish are lost due to fisherman error. The following is an example of what I am talking about:   

“The fish exploded on the topwater lure right at the end of a long cast.  The hooks were the ones that were put on by the factory, and the line was 12 lb. monofilament. I got him half way to the boat and he just comes off.” There are three things in this scenario that can be fixed. First, if you are throwing a topwater lure long distances, using a longer rod with braided line, due to its lack of stretch, is an important detail. Also, unless you hand sharpened the factory hooks, often times they aren’t going to penetrate no matter what type of equipment you are using.  Bad luck? Some would say so. To me, the bad luck was created due to not paying attention to detail.

Make sure your choice of hook matches your technique. When I purchase a topwater lure or a crankbait the first thing I look at are the hooks. Some I will sharpen on my own, most I will change out. I also look to see if it is possible to put a bigger hook on the lure without changing the action of it. This simple change can make all the difference in the world in your hook-up to catch ratio. 

When changing out hooks, one lure that comes to mind and that is the popular Whopper Plopper. The larger versions have a #2 treble hooks and they are about as sharp as a factory installed treble hook can be.  However, through trial and error, I have upgraded my hooks to a 1/0 treble.  The bait still runs fine and the bigger hooks have allowed me to have more success landing larger bass the lure is known for attracting. 

Line type and size can mean all the difference in the world. Personally, I do not use fluorocarbon line. I know a lot of people use it and that’s fine but I have heard more horror stories about line breakage due to the use of fluorocarbon than I have any other line style. It’s going to break your heart, especially if you fish competitively.

I use P-line CXX, Berkley Big Game monofilaments and various braided lines. The monofilaments are used when flipping/pitching or any other soft plastic techniques.  I also use it on some of my topwaters such as a Pop-R, for spinnerbaits and crankbaits. If I could only choose one size line it would be 15 lb. in both P-line CXX and Big Game and 90% of my fishing would be covered. 

I use 50 lb. braided line on my frogs, buzzbaits, and larger moving topwaters such as a Spook or a Whopper Plopper.  In all of the instances I just spoke of, it is very important to match the rod you are using with the line style and technique.    

Does color really matter?  Someone once said the best lure you have in your tackle box can be found sitting between your ears.  Confidence is that all important variable that plays a significant role in an angler’s success. Your choice of lures, colors, areas to fish and decisions you make on the water, based on self created confidence will make you a better angler.  There are no magic colors, lures or secret spots. With confidence you will be able to find each of your own. 

Figure out and then understand why you weren’t successful. I have never fished a tournament or spent a day on the water when someone didn’t catch fish. Someone always catches them. On the days when I am not successful, I take an honest assessment of what I did even though what I did obviously didn’t work. Did I fish too fast? Did I choose the wrong area of the lake?  There will be a lot of questions and there are no easy answers but with practice and preparation the least of your factors in your fishing decisions will be luck.

Well it looks like we have run out of space and time again for another month. I sure hope we were able to share some information with you that will make your next fishing trip a bit better.  One last thing to keep in mind, in fishing there are no absolutes.  Experiment and never ever stop learning! Catch one for me! See you next month