Bassin’ geometry: The Triangle of Fishing

If I’ve learned anything from covering tournaments and interviewing the elite fishermen of the day (and those of days past) it is that expert bass anglers not only have a high level of technical expertise, but they also have at their disposal, an internal vault filled with situational experience.

In other words, armed always with the right gear, rigs and understanding of various waters and nuances of bass behavior, they confidently ply their efforts. That’s why it’s more than a little surprising when one of them has a bad day or a bad finish. Of course, bass fishing is not geo-caching, so a certain part of a bad finish might be attributed to fish not landed. Obviously, in a result-oriented sport, you can’t just find them; you have to bring them in.

For all other sub-par (shouldn’t the expression really be “above par?”) performances, and really, for unsuccessful trips for any level of angler, the likely problem is a break in the chain of the necessary steps that lead to success. If you miss a step with fishing fundamentals, just like any other sport, you usually don’t make the headlines.

With the state ablaze with so many brush fires, it’s ironic that there is now a fishing approach that parallels the concept of the “Fire Triangle.” A fire requires oxygen, heat and fuel to burn. Remove any one of those component points and the fire is dead.

So it is with the recently trademarked “Triangle of Fishing,” which specifies these three components: Lure, Location and Presentation. Take out one of these elements and you usually won’t catch ‘em. You certainly won’t “get ‘em good.”

Unfortunately, many of the experts are so good at what they do they don’t always tell us all of what we really need to know. In seminars, they don’t consciously omit points of the Triangle, but they usually just end up on one vertex and we only get that part of the formula.

In this commercial age we live in, “the Lure” gets an awful lot of attention. They are the most fun to talk about, and there are always new ones coming out. For instance, Basstrix is very hot right now all across the country, but if you don’t present them correctly in an area that holds fish, you’ll be very disappointed in the product.

Buck Perry, the man who introduced Spoonplugs and the one considered the Father of Structure Fishing saw “the Presentation” as critical. His various sized trolling spoons were made to maintain contact with each bottom contour. Likewise, in the early days of In-Fisherman magazine, we were taught that presentation, which includes both speed control and depth control, was essential to get strikes.

Over the years, I’ve become a bandwagoner for “the Location.” At more than a few tournaments, I’ve looked into the half-empty sack of one of the pros and suggested, “Why don’t you fish where the fish are?” I can get away with saying that, and not lose any teeth, because these anglers almost always know the right lures and the right presentations. They know I’m right.

So sure, there could be volumes written on any one of these Triangle points--and I’m sure there will be. An infinite number of lure variations including many that tie closely to their specific presentations give us plenty to consider. And location is also a transient issue as water types, temperature, forage, depth and the time of year will all eventually come into play.

But what a great tool for assessing how you are progressing in the game if you are a developing angler. And likewise, for the veteran, the Triangle offers a means of tracking and analyzing an individual or series of tournament performances.

And just three points can do all that.