You know the bloke I mean. The one who turns up for an hour or two, knocks out more fish than you've had in a week and then buggers off! Every venue has one and they can be very annoying, particularly if they are cocky with it!

Most of the time though there is no secret to why they are catching more than you, it is simply that they are more in-tune with the fishing than you are. The Americans have a term for this, they call it being 'in the zone', put simply it is the, unfortunately rare, times in your life when you just know what the fish are up to and how to catch them. How can you achieve this higher state of being? Is there a secret mantra which is known to only a few? I'm afraid not (or at least not that any one has told me about!). The simple fact is that, as with anything in life, you should get better the more you do something. I say should, because sometimes we are just too bone-headed to see the obvious facts staring us in the face. Still, if you want to become more than just average you will have to think about your fishing and do it a lot!

Every so often I meet up with pro-fishing guides from the States to discuss the development of new products for the Sufix lines stable. Now these guys make a living from their fishing and I would bet my bottom dollar that they could catch a fish in just about any conditions. Not only do they fish upwards of 200 days each year, but they have learnt how to approach their target species and to get the most out of it.

I first became aware of the zone many years ago when I spent every Sunday fishing matches. Although I used to do quite well, it wasn't until I was able to fish more than once a week that my fishing moved up to the next level. I had a favourite backwater on the Thames at the time where you could catch quality roach and chub by fishing a waggler within inches of the overhanging far bank bushes. At first I would over cook the odd cast and end up in the trees, or have to break the cast and land heavily short of the target. The more I fished the backwater though, the less bad casts I made, until I could eventually cast to the far bank with my eyes closed, every time.

Whilst my waggler fishing may have regressed backwards from those dizzy heights, I still aspire to reaching the zone on every water I fish. Everything from being able to cast exactly right more times than not, to being able to subdue fish on light tackle, to being able to bait up accurately, all come with practice. Don't be mistaken into thinking that I am just talking about the mechanical aspects of fishing though. Whether you realise it or not, the more you go fishing the more you learn about your quarry.

Visualise if you will your favourite fishery. What are the best conditions to fish it, the best method, the best bait, the best time of day? All of this information you have stored away, the secret is to be aware of it and use it. This might mean keeping a diary AND analysing the results, or it could just mean being aware of what is going on around you. Either way, by fishing regularly and analysing your results you will see your fishing improve in leaps and bounds.

Today, you can buy yourself some of the knowledge and improve your skills much quicker than if you were to fish on your own. Guiding and tuition is now an established part of the British fishing scene, and a good move it is too. Believe me, you can never know enough and all of us benefit from tuition from experts. Last summer, for example, I spent an afternoon receiving some coaching on long range fishing from two friends who are members of the United Kingdom Surf Casting Federation. Now, I don't particularly like long range fishing, and I am no beach fisherman, but I now have more confidence in my ability to fish at range and, with a little bit of practice, I can get myself into the zone.

The message is simple. We all have the capacity to improve if we so wish. Be critical of your results and look for improvement, you will know when you have reached the higher ground.