If you’re a recreational or club angler, you better read this. It’s going to help when you face the pros in the Bassmaster Elite Series.

The Bassmaster Elite Series has revealed their top anglers for 2017, and in a very interesting piece accompanying the announcement, columnist Greg Hackney offers up his thoughts on why anglers from the clubs and recreational circuit ranks tend to flame out when facing those with FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) professional level experience.

It boils down to the fact that the “playing field” – the lake used in elite competition – is off-limits for a month before the official practice starts. At best, a contestant gets only two and a half days at the most in preparation for the elite competition. (And if you want to know how elite competitors prepare for fishing tournaments, check out SA Co’s award-winning angler Brett Cannon here.)

Why is that important? There simply is no time to trace out your territory and experiment with baits. This is the big leagues, after all.

“You have to find them fast and figure out how to make them bite even faster,” Hackney writes. “It’s much more intense.

“That difference gets a lot of guys in trouble. They don’t realize how fast the practice time goes by and how much of an advantage the long practice time creates. In the Elites, we basically find areas and then fish them as the bite develops over four days.”

Hackney has also noticed a “lack of intensity” in club anglers.

“It was like they were taking their time making casts and tying knots,” he writes. “But if you want to be a full-time pro you’d better learn to be intense and not waste time. An extra 15 or 20 casts a day mounts up over the course of a season… Careers are made up from points — checks, Classic berths, Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. Points are made up from fish. Fish are made from time.”