I was extremely fortunate to be born into the family I have. My parents are fantastic in a lot of ways but as it relates to fishing, I was fortunate to learn a lot from my dad. Not all anglers have that head start but over time, several of us find friends and mentors who are better at certain things than we are. Some of those friends actually enjoy imparting their wisdom on you. I had one such experience with a buddy of mine named Rich Howes.
Punching thick vegetation was something in which I had zero confidence, though I had tried to build my confidence in it through these other methods over the years. I was fishing a lot of tournaments in Florida at the time and getting my teeth kicked in by a flipping stick. So I asked Rich to teach me how to punch and he did. We went out on a loaded hidey-hole down in Florida that has sense been ravished by the likes of every snowbird and local angler it seems. At the time, however, the place was loaded with big ones and they were eager to thump a punch bait.
Watching a great flipper work in such close proximity revealed things he didn’t even think to tell me. I could see how he held his rod throughout the pitch, being sure to keep the tip high to let the bait fall through without the line dragging across the top of the mat and slowing it down. When I would see him do something, I would ask why and he would explain. Then I would copy that and since we were on a good fishery with a lot of fish, I was able to get bit duplicating the technique. I could have spent months trying to learn how to punch alone and not gained as much confidence as I did that day fishing with a friend who really knew what he was doing.