By Dave Mercer
No matter where in the world I am fishing, or what species I am fishing for, I still always have the same question in my mind. This very same question started years and years ago on what was most likely my first fishing trip. I am not a mind reader but I can almost guarantee that you too have heard or said this statement yourself countless times. Every angler on earth has said it – “I think I got a bite”. 
Now don’t get me wrong.  Saying those six little words is not a bad thing.  It can actually be a very good thing. Sure, those six words don’t mean you will catch a fish for sure, but they do mean you are at least getting some action around your bait. No matter what way you look at it, the fact that something under the water is messing with your bait or lure is a good thing.  However there is one word in that statement that I don’t like and that word is THINK!
I know, I know, thinking is always a good thing. I learned early on that thinking was something I needed to do more and was reminded of that in every one of my grade school report cards that would always have a bright red comment from the teacher saying, “Dave needs to THINK more”.  However, this is the one part of life where my grade school teachers were totally wrong.  In fishing you will do a lot of thinking but the one thing that you don’t want to THINK about is if you have a bite.  I want to KNOW I have a bite. Way too many anglers don’t know what a bite really feels like. But that’s not really that shocking since there is no set way a fish hits. They all hit totally different. There is not one thing that you are always looking for when it comes to a hit. 
Okay, I know what you are thinking. If this guy can’t tell me what a hit feels like how is he going to help me KNOW I have a hit? Easy. I am going to have you focus on what it feels like when you are not getting a hit. I want you to feel nothing. That’s right, I said I want you to know what no action feels like and that will help you know what a hit feels like.  One of the first things a really good angler will do is learn what a bait or lure feels like on the retrieve. They will know everything about each bait -how it rolls, how it wobbles, even how it feels when it hits a rock or weed. Once you know how all of that feels you will be much more in tune with what a hit feels like. You may not know exactly what each individual hit actually feels like but you will know what everything else feels like. Once you know what everything else feels like chances are, anything else you feel is a bite.  Pretty simple really when you THINK about it – see, there is that word again. 
Another easy trick is to learn to watch your line. Try using a bright braided line like the high-vis yellow Power Pro braid. This line has zero stretch so it is going to be more sensitive but almost more importantly it’s also high-vis yellow so you can see it better. By watching your line you can detect some hits that you can’t feel. Just pay attention to the area that your line enters the water. A slight twitch or jump of your line usually means it’s time to set the hook.  Trust me, with a little practice these quick tips will result in less THINKING you have a bite and more KNOWING.