I want to thank FLW for asking me to make a monthly contribution as a guest blogger. I look forward to it, and hopefully will tackle some topics that deal with what makes our sport so great. My first subject is one of my favorite topics. Actually it’s one of the things that make our sport so difficult, awesome, challenging, different – the list could go on and on. Logical thought vs. intuitive thought. Intuitive thinking is what separates a great fisherman from a good one.
First of all, let me define each, at least to a tournament bass fisherman. Thinking logically would be every thought you have about a certain body of water like where fish would be, how you would catch them, how the weather would affect them, what the water conditions are, where to start, what is the dominant cover and a whole bunch more. To me, it’s the place to start and every fisherman must think this way. Actually, all of the best fishermen do this really well.
Intuitive thought, simply put, is throwing many of your logical thoughts in the garbage and going in a totally different direction. It can be as simple as a bait change or as radical as scrapping everything you did in practice and running 60 miles to a spot you’ve never fished. The top anglers in our sport – David Dudley, Kevin Van Dam, Randall Tharp, Andy Morgan, Brent Ehrler – all make intuitive decisions on the water every day. In fact, they make a bunch of them every day. Practice has to be used as a guide, but tournament day is about making intuitive decisions in the moment. When those little ideas come into your mind during your tournament day, you just have to follow them. It’s what separates the best.
The thing that gets in our way of following these intuitive thoughts is fear. Truly, it’s the simple fear of failure. Thoughts like, “I caught them really good here in practice” or “last week I had 30 bites on this spot,” or “they have to be on these ledges” are all poison to intuitive thought. It’s hard, even for the most dominant pros.
A great example of this is tournament practice. In practice you are free. There is no weigh-in at the end of the day. There is no pressure at all. You are just looking for clues about how to catch fish in the event. I follow my intuition very well these days and often get a tremendous number of bites because of it. When you are fishing intuitively, that extra 5-pounder that you need so badly will just happen. There is no explanation as to why. You just changed something, and bam, there she is!
What happens to us many times though, is we get bogged down with what we did in practice and we have a difficult time changing quickly. To be really great, you have to follow those little voices that say, “move” or “change now.” You have to follow your intuition wherever it leads you, even if it leads you away from what seems logical. There can be some tough tournaments because of it, but overall, the results will not disappoint.