When booking a trip with a new client over the phone, I try to cover every aspect of the trip from “What do you hope to catch and how do you best like to catch them” to “why we can’t we keep more fish if we have a Louisiana license,” but more often than not, at least some of the responses are a tad misleading!

If you want to target big trout only, you need to make that clear with the guide so that he can plan accordingly.

If you don’t care what you catch, just as long as you catch lots of them, he needs to know that as well.

The one thing you should never tell him, however, is that catching any fish at all is a bonus as it is just nice to be out of the office and on the water. If I am spending five to six hundred dollars for a guide I expect a helluva lot more than riding around talking about the good old days while eating cold kolaches and watching the sun rise!

I cannot tell you how many times over the years the supposed hard core angler says he will grind all day for one or two shots at a trophy trout only to suggest that we chase the gulls within the first hour.

The more truthful answer would have been, “I’d like to fish a pattern that gives us a chance to catch a lot of fish and maybe a shot at a good one in the process.”

There are very few clients (most of them are young and still mad at the fish) willing to stand in chest deep water casting into a frigid wind for seven or eight hours.

A week ago, however, I fished with a middle aged father and his son that assured me that he had wade fished for years and would stay the course for a shot at a trout over 28-inches.

I pointed out that the odds of that happening would be more in his favor after the first of the year, but a friend of his had already caught two trout nearly that long drifting a flat on the south end of the lake and he had no intention of waiting.

I was pleased that his son did catch one trout in the six pound class and that we caught and released six or seven more very solid fish, but while he was actually better than advertised in describing his skill level and persistence, he later admitted to overlooking a small detail that cost him two very nice fish.

Unlike folks that readily say they prefer casting gear only to beg for a spinning rig following the first backlash, both his casting expertise and pricey casting gear were off the chart.

The problem was that in spite of his obvious skill and the $1100 invested in the rod and guide fee, he still broke those fish off due to something as basic as two poorly tied knots.

The first was a loop knot that he tied improperly that was going to slip sooner or later and the second was the knot joining his leader to his main line. He said that he had been fishing two days prior and because he still had three feet of leader that he never even thought about re-tying.

Regardless of angling expertise, it’s usually a poorly tied or damaged knot that results in the loss of more bragging size trout than other angler error.

With the arrival of each new cold front we grow ever closer to targeting big sow trout that have tired of chasing shrimp and are now in favor of expending far less energy for one big meal that could sustain them for a couple of days.

Because they do most of their ambushing on shallow flats bordering deeper water, their range is significantly restricted making them easier to locate for the patient angler willing to freeze his or her rear end off for a shot at that trout of a lifetime.

Since mullet quickly become the entre’ of choice, suspending mullet imitations like Corkies, Maniac Mullets, Catch V’s and MirrOdines get a lot of playing time and a well tied loop knot or Tony’s Clip brings them alive when fished on a slow darting retrieve, thus, the reason for learning to correctly tie the loop knot and checking it often!

Not that many years ago I used the loop knot only on topwater lures in order to make the “walking the dog” retrieve much easier to execute.

Shortly thereafter, a very good crappie guide proved to me that the loop knot was the only knot he fished his small jigs on and the ensuing demonstration eliminated all doubt.

I now fish everything from Swim Baits to jigs on a loop knot or the more user-friendly Tony’s clip when wading.

While hiring a guide is certainly optional, failing to pay attention to the seemingly smallest of details is not.

A five to six hundred rod and reel is only as effective a tool as that ten cent length of leader material attached to your lure.

Take the extra few seconds required to tie it correctly, check it often and your loop knot will be an invaluable asset rather than a liability!