This is a big one that I feel a lot of anglers overlook but it’s super important. One lost fish early on can put a real sour taste in your mouth for a bait that might have actually had a lot of potential. Controlling all the variables you can control will give the bait its best chance to shine. Say you want to try out a new crankbait; don’t just tie it on some random rod while your old faithful crankbait occupies your dialed-in cranking setup that’s stored away in the rod locker. Give that new bait the preferential treatment and put it on your best cranking setup.
If you pull the bait out of the pack and you’re not all that impressed with the hooks, change them out immediately. Don’t wait until you lose a fish, get frustrated, cut the bait off and never tie it on again. Use the rod, reel, line, hooks and the rest in which you already have confidence and that will isolate the new bait as the only variable. Then you’ll get a true gauge of how good the bait actually is.