A guy would be hard pressed to have more than half a dozen boats around him where I fish, so I agree completely on tight conditions. I know some people may not be able to fish so freely. A few old timers here (who outfish everyone) go back as far as 100 feet. One guy I always saw in an older bright green aluminun boat, ( I called him the green apple for 2 years before I ever had the chance to talk to him) would always, always outfish everyone. If it was mid summer and slow as heck, he'd catch 2. If it was hot and everyone was catching 2-3 he'd catch 5. I was tired of wathcing the hogs he'd bring in on a regular basis. He always snipped his presentation off before he came in. I am amazed at how eager some older fellows are to "pass on" the things they learned over time that I would have spent a lifetime to learn myself. Sometimes helping a guy load his boat or anything small can go a long way, even friendly conversation. I learned a lot from this guy and have increased my catch numbers at least 100% with a few tips from him.
As far as plugs go, we cut our steel wire line loops and drill a hole 1/8" further back in the nose to make the plug dive deeper and swim with more action. A lo of guys use elastics but the angle of the hole is most important. We fish at 180-200 feet here and the plug is never more than 25 feet above the release clip. I was skeptical about this but I watched the action of one on a downrigger camera during an early spring fish when the water was clear and since then have become a believer, and have had great success. Besides, it's not fun if a guy isn't learning and experimenting to better his "attack" and knowledge of these chrome beauties we spend so much time (and money!) pursuing.