Introducing: Sound Operating Principles

Introducing: Sound Operating Principles

A short time ago, I generated a list of operating principles I use on a daily basis in my life as a fishing guide targeting speckled trout with artificial lures. Partly, I wanted to create the document because I spend so much time explaining the edicts to the customers who fish with me. I also knew the clients in my Lucky Sevens Club and those on Inshore Angler's Personal Trainer Plans would benefit from studying the concepts.

Predictably, after I composed the list, I found myself adding to it. Now, my catalog of sound operating principles includes dozens of truths, procedures and strategies, related to various aspects of the sport, everything from navigation skills, equipment, timing and location, lure choice, presentation styles and observation of signs on the water which might indicate the presence of fish.

Using this comprehensive, evolving inventory as an outline, I recently finished a new book, titled Sound Operating Principles, in which I elaborated on the listed concepts to clarify and refine them significantly. I did include the condensed list at the end of the piece, which comprised about 35,000 words when complete.

I find explaining the essence of dependable operational edicts meaningful because many of the skills and strategies useful in the sport of fishing apparently dwell in a dark room, behind a mystery door, hidden from novice anglers. This book attempts to bring them into plain view, into the light.

"Few absolute truths exist in any aspect of the world in which we live. The domain of fishing carries no exemption from the preceding statement. Though few absolutes govern the activities, many general truths regularly and profoundly affect the outcomes of all angling efforts. Consistently successful captains understand these truths and how they dictate and affect elements of strategy."

Conversely, many novice anglers fail to recognize these truths, causing them to regularly make and repeat mistakes.

I offer this new book in the hope it will allow readers to refine their methods and strategies in order to enhance productivity. I tried to articulate the concepts thoroughly and clearly, in an entertaining way. To address those goals, I ended each chapter with a thought-provoking statement, some of which I invented, some of which are famous, and a couple I quoted from anglers I know and respect.

All the provocative pearls of wisdom relate to truths illuminated by sound operating principles. The first one boils the main theme of the book down to its very essence. "Luck happens where preparation meets opportunity." The core concept of the book eloquently states the importance of basing all decisions on sound principles to reduce the impact of chance in angling endeavors.

"Productive anglers expect to catch fish and plan all their actions accordingly." Preparedness and properly-adjusted expectations allow them to remain ready to seize upon opportunities which present themselves moment by moment. These factors strongly affect their perceptions about what decisions matter most at a given time. Rarely do these anglers place the color of the lure at the top of the list.

"Throw any color worm you want, as long as it's plum," my old partner Ari Schwartz asserted, after layin' a whoopin' on me one cold December day on which I committed most of my time to fishing with a twitchbait. I now realize his lure choice and presentation style held more importance than the color of his worm, but the comment reinforces an important fact most expert anglers use fewer lures in fewer colors than lesser anglers. They place emphasis on more important things, like locating plenty of fish.

"When searching for fish, I look for nothing in particular, but I see everything that's there," said Captain Billy Sandifer, in a piece published some years ago, in this magazine. I admire the succinct wisdom of his words, which describe the artful way adept fish-locators operate, relying on their natural ability to draw accurate inferences, without seeking out specific things. They develop this abstract power through meaningful experience, which cleanses their doors of perception, so they can read the water confidently.

"Confidence can provide either a foundation for potential angling success or a catalyst for certain failure." All successful angling efforts made with artificial lures result from some level of faith in the lure, presentation and/or location. But misguided confidence in lures and strategies used in places without enough fish causes consistently poor productivity.

We must find fish in order to catch fish. "90% of the fish swim in 10% of the water, and 100% of the fish we catch swim within our reach." The profound influence of fish-location skills on the rate of consistency of production cannot be overstated. No amount of creativity or persistence will allow anyone to catch a fish swimming beyond their reach. Top anglers do exhibit creativity, particularly in their ability to adjust the subtleties of presentations to match perceived needs dictated by the conditions in play at the moment.

Elite anglers recognize the mighty impact slight variations in the movement pattern of a lure can have on the number of strikes earned. They know, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." When attempting to figure out which presentation style best suits the needs of the moment, they rely first on sound principles, but also demonstrate a willingness to subtly tweak their style to maximize productivity.

All the concepts in my new book circle back around toward a central theme. Basing decisions on sound operating principles enhances the productivity of angling efforts. In order to use sound principles, one must first recognize and accept those principles. The entire process seeks to hedge the bets favorably, to minimize the effects of Lady Luck. She plays a part in fishing in the short term, but in the end, serendipity plays only a cameo role in the saga of consistent productivity.

"In order to maximize consistency, anglers must operate in locations which offer ripe opportunity, at times which provide high potential productivity. They must carry and use well-designed, efficiently-rigged equipment and must make reasoned decisions related to lure choice and presentation style, using observations of the world around them to tweak those choices appropriately. Proficient anglers who do all these things acknowledge the need for relying on sound operating principles which concurrently establish and govern truths related to the endeavors."

"I created this book to help people who possess a genuine desire to become better anglers streamline their processes and eliminate some common mistakes....I stand behind the veracity and efficacy of these principles because I've spent so much time deploying and testing them."

Sound Operating Principles
, a 134-page, 5.5" x 8.5" book, can be ordered electronically through and, or purchased directly at Fishing Tackle Unlimited stores in the Houston, Texas area.