If you're not catching...

I love coarse fishing. Float fishing on rivers in particular. Contrary to popular opinion we coarse fishers (and there are an awful lot of us - it's the most popular pastime in the UK by a long way) do not, repeat not, kill the fish we catch. We treat them with care and respect and return them to the water a little bit startled perhaps, but also a little bit fatter. Lots of us follow Uncle Bob's boy scout rule - we collect litter from around the spot where we're fishing. In fact, in a fishing competition you'll be disqualified if there's litter in your fishing spot - regardless of "whose litter it is".

I don't think you'll be too surprised to read that part of the pleasure in coarse fishing is catching fish. And yet, if you actually watch someone fishing, you're quite likely to see them repeating the following actions over and over and over again. For hours.
  • cast out (to the same spot as last time)
  • don't get a bite (the same as they didn't last time)
  • reel the float back in
Contrary to popular opinion, the best fishermen are not patient. If a good fisherman is not catching they don't keep on doing the same thing. They know that if they keep doing the same thing they'll almost certainly keep getting the same outcome. So they change something. They might try:
  • changing the depth; a bit deeper or a bit shallower - fish like to stay where they like to stay
  • changing the cast; a bit closer in or a bit further out - fish like to stay where they like to stay
  • changing the bait - fish have preferences just like people
  • changing the bait - a big bait won't even fit inside a small fish's mouth. And bigger fish are often attracted by smaller fish feeding
  • changing the weights - to change the way the bait behaves in the current
  • changing the line - the thinner the line the less chance the fish will see it, and the more naturally the bait will behave in the current. I once set up my rod with lines of varying strengths and tied the end of the line to the bike shed. It is utterly astonishing how hard you have to pull to snap line with a diameter of 0.10mm. You won't believe it unless you try it for yourself.
  • changing the hook - the smaller the hook the less chance the fish will see it, and the less it will weigh, so the more naturally the bait will behave in the current. I regularly use a size 22 hook. It's about half the size of my little fingernail. Again it is far far stronger than you'd imagine. There is even a trick to make a maggot swallow air to counteract the weight of the hook!
  • changing where you hook - throw a maggot into the water and watch carefully how it sinks. It always sinks lying horizontally. If you hook the maggot in the middle you can mimic this.
  • loose feed - if you're fishing with maggots then throw a dozen loose maggots at the float every cast. Every cast. Every single cast. If you can't throw them far enough then buy a fishing catapult. The best way to catch a fish on a maggot is to catch a fish that's already eaten lots of maggots. This is the most important rule.
There's definitely a skill in knowing what to change, but you've got to walk before you can run. The most important thing is to change something.

If you're part of a team painfully producing poor quality software then I humbly suggest you consider changing something. If you don't it's a fair bet you'll continue not catching.

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