I have done some shockingly stupid things in my life: self-surgery on a wart, draining the oil from my wife’s car and then walking away without warning her, and yes, launching my boat without the drain plug. And I’ve also done plenty of stupid things while fishing. What’s really interesting is, I’ve seen many anglers make the same stupid mistakes. There must be some sort of fishing brain-block that kicks in when there’s a hot bite, when things are so slow you’re bored to death, and at any time in-between. Here are three that stand out – and hopefully, these are mistakes you will never make.

fish hook in skin

Ummm... ouch?

1. Leaving a treble hook exposed, anywhere, at any time. We can usually chalk this one up to either laziness, or a mad rush to put a fish in the box so you can get in another cast before the frenzy ends. In any case, each and every time you have a treble hook out it needs to be attended to. These things are dangerous—period.

2. Cranking a crankbait at high speed until it breaks the water—and the tension on your line causes it to sling-shot directly at your face, at approximately 100 miles per hour. Yeah, I’ll bet you've seen this happen once or twice even if you weren't the guilty party. The solution? Simply pay attention, and slow down as the crankbait nears the boat.

3. Failing to check a knot before taking the first cast, after tying on a new lure or hook. Even if you’ve tied a million and one knots in your time, you never know when that line will cinch down wrong or a weak spot will be in the wrap. Each and every time you finish a knot, give it a good hard tug before putting it into service.

Okay, so maybe none of these errors are nearly as bad as the time I backed over my neighbor’s mailbox. Or the time I slammed the car door on four rods at once, breaking them all. But all of these mistakes will prevent you from catching fish. And that, my friend, is the stupidest thing of all.