Confidence: The Everyday X-Factor

Confidence in your knots is a must when fighting big fish around big structure.

This snook was taken from the deep water near a southeast Florida bridge.

It’s not about honey holes or magic baits.

Whether you fish inshore or offshore, freshwater or salt, there is a secret to catching fish and it has nothing to do with honey holes or magic baits. It isn’t something you can buy online, and you won’t find it on the shelves of any sporting goods stores, but anglers with this in their possession are poised to catch more fish than the best-equipped angler on the planet.

Confidence is the most important factor in fishing. It is the difference between a focused effort that is likely to produce fish and a session of blindly casting lures around. Confidence in your gear, in your knots, and in your own ability to find and catch fish is paramount to success.

When I accepted the role of confidence in fishing, it was confidence that prompted me to pare down my tackle collection and reach only for those lures that I trusted to yield fish. I had a handful of techniques that I believed in, and almost everything else suddenly became unnecessary. I never lost my spirit of inventiveness or my willingness to experiment, but, when it came down to it, only what I considered the tried and true would be called upon to get the job done.

The results of having a little confidence have been amazing.

The results have been wonderful. When I go out fishing, it is virtually guaranteed that I will be carrying a smaller selection of lures than anyone I encounter. Only a handful of rod and reel outfits cover all of my fishing, and I tie only one knot that sees the water. This is the way I want it to be: the tools and techniques I trust will get used, and everything else stays home. Above all, I have found confidence in my intuition. I leave the house expecting to catch fish, and I ditch hope and luck at the door.

The problem is that most fishermen tend to lose confidence in what they are doing if they don’t get bit within their first few casts. This is because confidence is a product of experience. It starts with paying attention while you’re on the water. Feel a tap on your line? Remember where your last cast landed and place the next one in exactly the same spot. Does your favorite beach never give up a fish on a southerly wind? Are the baitfish you expected nowhere to be found? Always have a backup plan so that your trip can still be fruitful in the event conditions are not what you anticipated.

The real magic in fishing comes when you know that what you are doing will produce fish. When a situation seems like déjà vu—when you know how to adjust to what the water is telling you—you can take pride in the experience you have earned and in the confidence that comes with it.

By John Saporito

John Saporito is a lifelong fisherman and student of the seas. For deeper insight into the world of gamefish, visit him online at


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