Monday, May 20, 2013

The Confidence Lure

I had only an hour or so to get on the water, so I grabbed some stuff quickly and headed out. I noticed that my favorite lure wasn't in the box but I thought I must be missing it since I always have a small Rebel floating minnow with me. It's a strange lure that's presumably on its way out. It's similar to the standard Rapala, but no one's ever given it respect. Even so, it's been my confidence lure for nearly two decades now. I've caught about as many species of fish as I've fished for on it, often pulling in more and bigger fish than I'd have expected. As long as I have it with me, I feel like I'll have some success.

So when I get lakeside and it's not there, I'm not sure what to do. It's my default lure for this situation, trying to catch small bass, bream, and crappies over and between some vegetation, near a fallen log that's eaten more than a few hooks. I suddenly feel that, despite the nice weather, my time would have been better spent tying flies or taken a nap. It's a silly proposition, of course – that only one lure will catch fish – but it's one anglers often face. We all have our go-to flies, baits, and lures. Sometimes something will work its way into or out of this category, but it takes time. And lots of fish.

Years of experience, countless books read, obscure resources consulted, etc. And here I am, convinced of failure and unable to pick out even one of the 20 or so little lures on me that I think will work. Even fishing for 'gills. I make a careful selection. A few casts later, a swirl. A few casts after that, a bass. That's all it takes, and I've got a new back-up lure in the arsenal. The rest of the day doesn't go so well, but I'm not surprised. Leaving, though, I don't have to blame it on the missing lure, but on the weather, the early season, the choppy waters, the preponderance of disc golfers, and the like.

It's that simple to becomes satisfied with a new lure, though, because we want to scam ourselves. We want to attribute both more and less to our lure selection than necessary. Less, in thinking that our magic gimmick will work, and more, by thinking that there's something more elevated to the whole process than simply matching a lure to prey and conditions.

In buying into this system, though, we eliminate the rewards of experimentation. When we fish a bit and catch 10 fish on a lure, we stick with it, never knowing what we'd have caught had we switched lures early on. Could we have caught a dozen? Bigger fish? A different species. We don't know because we like to keep our assurance of success during that outing, even at the cost of discovery. We want to feel right about thing. Lure selection, after all, is largely a confidence game.

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