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Focusing versus diversifying: understand and progress

There’re so many ways to learn and become better in pretty everything in life. Amongst all of them, there’s two popular ways and I want to focus on them in this article. Let’s start off by understanding what I mean by the two terms: focusing and diversifying. By focusing I mean an angler that will focus his time on one type or one body of water or environment. He will also focus his time on a narrowed down set of baits and techniques and all oriented on what he learned on past experiences. By diversifying I imply an angler that focuses his time out on multiple types and bodies of water (lakes, rivers, reservoirs etc.), he also searches for all kind of conditions and situations. He will test patterns also driven by past experiences.

Putting it in focus. Most will go through this step either naturally or by choice. In a way this approach does give a few advantages. It will help you better understand and lean a body of water and that is regardless conditions and still being able to succeed after all. It will also help you push some techniques further in what we could almost qualify a controlled environment up to certain point. I followed this approach for a good while on the Ottawa River to good avail learn and push some techniques and refine them over time. It is also relevant for learning new techniques because we know where high percentage areas are and get the most out of them. I like that way because I will get you to “cut your teeth” while minimizing the risks of the unknown. Let’s talk about that unknown factor, if one downside is linked to that practice it is just that, the unknown. Let me explain, our comfort zone is linked to our past experiences and knowledge we acquired. If all of our experiences and knowledge is linked to a small, restricted base of information, it can quickly put us in a situation of instability and disarray simply because our background does now provide us with what could be needed to adapt quickly to the encountered conditions in an unknown environment and scenario that differs from our comfort zone. Can you still pull yourself together and prevail? Absolutely but it will most likely require time and the learning curve will be way steeper in that case.

Let’s put that in a concrete example, say all you knew was a single type of body of water or lake and you fished say a wacky rig, a crankbait and maybe a spinnerbait. You find yourself somewhere completely different, under different conditions than what you may have experienced and the current scenario puts you facing conditions that requires you to slow down and fish finesse techniques to pull out something that works. Your knowledge with a wacky rig can and will help you up to a certain point but the power fishing techniques like the crankbait and spinnerbait won’t be of much help and maybe pull in a few really active fish or trigger a reaction bite on some “lucky” occasions.

Now comes diversifying. You spend the vast majority of your time hopping from places to places, experiencing as many bodies of water and types as you can as long as you can experience something new. Rain or shine, all through the season you set yourself on a mission to keep yourself as much as possible in the unknown and use your knowledge and experiences to pull yourself out of any hole you could find yourself in. Many anglers will go through this phase as part of their natural progression and will to go further and better themselves. Any seasoned angler will tell you to travel and experience as much as you can if you want to progress as an angler. They’re not wrong but there is an important factor that is not to be neglected. Wanted to learn to run before knowing to walk will become detrimental if you try to do it correctly. As much as experimenting will help, having a solid base is paramount to have a good comprehension of what is going on in any given scenario.

You are heading out on a new body of water and that morning the conditions dictate a certain approach. You follow your “personal guide” did you developed over time but regardless of the efforts you put out, something just isn’t working out… You turn to some confidence technique that helped you many times before without too much problem. You carry on with you day but in the back your mind you still have doubts and questions on what you could do better since you’re pulling some fish out but not as much as you thought you would.

At this point, you probably know where I’m going with this, you experienced both scenarios and you’re probably already thinking the same thing as me. You’re not mistaken for thinking that a heathy balance of both approaches will guide you better than one or the other. It goes without saying that finding that balance can be hard but I would say that the best indicator to go from focus to diversity will come when you feel relatively confident in your local environment. There’s no magic recipe but following something like this will put you on a path that can show you the way to success if you put in time, passion and effort.

On this, I wish you all tight lines,

Pascal Rainville

Bearded Bass Projekt

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