Thanks good to hear the opinions from a specialist and fly anglerFor me it is about incremental improvement as time goes by.
Like ‘northants lad‘ says it is about effort and reward. I keep records of every trip and also relevant trips and fish caught by others on the same waters. If I’m not catching as quickly or quicker than others then I want to know why....it could be lots of reasons. I just have to work out what is making THE difference.
These days I think more and actually fish less than I used to. A lot of that is down to the record keeping and over time working out when to go fishing and when to stay at home. But you need data to work out those trends.
Modern tackle and bait helps - but even with good bait you still have to cast it in the right place ( and at the right time) and use a decent rig. With tackle, the only bits that really matter are the line, hook and bait. The rest is fairly irrelevant as long as the bait is presented in the right way. My 25 year old reels don’t stop me catching fish.
Not losing fish is a big thing for me. Being a specialist angler most of the time I can get away with using reasonably heavy gear. That provides some insurance when that big fish comes along. I’m also a knot geek. But once I hook a fish I do tend to land it (famous last words!).
In terms of actually technique I want to keep improving all the time. some things just require practice - there is no other way.
As an example, with saltwater fly fishing it is all about accurate casting and then watching the body language of the fish. If the cast is rubbish the fish doesn’t see the fly - game over. Once the fish does see the fly you have to move the fly so that it is attractive rather than threatening to the fish. If you do it wrong the fish won’t eat the fly. Simple as... So you have the opportunity to learn quickly because you can actually see what is going on. When my pal and I are permit fishing we score every cast out of 10. We rarely hook fish on casts that score less than a 9. A score of 7 or below and you can forget it.
Chucking a boilie into a murky gravel pit is a bit different. You don’t know how many times a fish has looked at/tried your bait and not given you a bite; you only know you are doing it right when you actually hook something. So the onus is on using the best available bait/rig to covert those ‘enquiries‘ into proper hittable bites.
One key thing I’ve learnt (from one mate specifically) is the need to experiment. Most specialist anglers are set in their way eg 3 rods with the same rig on each all the time. He does the opposite- as soon as he gets a bite he then changes something (and records it). That way he is trying new things when he knows the fish are biting. If you try a different rig after 5 hours catching nothing and still catch nothing, what have you learnt. Answer nothing.
Another way to learn quickly is to fish with anglers who are better than you. I’m lucky enough to fish with some top quality anglers (both specialist and fly) and some of their knowledge, skill and advice rubs off on me.