Fishing, like many sports can be fine tuned and become a very personalized sport. This blog is my interpretation of what might be the differences between a casual angler and someone who takes the sport more seriously. I will go through a number of presentations and give you simple examples where you and I might differ. No one has the perfect plan to ensure success but hopefully you will have the opportunity to build your perfect plan.
Rods, reels and line
I have been to a lot of outlets that handle fishing gear, vendor shows and seminars and have engaged a lot of anglers and discussed their choices in the above three topics.
Many customers go shopping by word of mouth and really don’t know what type of fishing rod, reel and line they need. They will find a no name product or go to a specific brand and make a purchase. These choices are often driven by the time they spend fishing, product knowledge, their budget or what they perceive as suitable. And nine times out of ten, the reel is way too large and bulky, the line is an unnecessary braid and they have no idea why they bought the rod they did. Average consumers do not know what “fit for purpose” fishing equipment really means. Here is a simple example. You do not expect a rambunctious six year old to take the care necessary to look after a $400.00 rod and reel combination.
In my case I put a lot of extra effort into examining my fishing habits, my target specie and the conditions or techniques I will be fishing. For me, it is not about having the best of the best. My “best” will require the rod, reel and line to work together that fits my angling criteria and not fail and this usually means a larger selection of “fit for purpose” equipment and not as many multi purpose outfits.
Many of my peers fish only the best high carbon graphite rods and reels. If you come in my boat, you will find fibreglass rods, fibreglass and carbon graphite combinations as well as the top of the line carbon graphite rods and reels. Is isn’t about price that puts these items in my boat. The combinations are the best suited for the type of fishing I am going to do.
Listening to the consumer as they go through a jig selection is often entertaining. In a lot of cases, it will be a favourite colour that brings on a sale. Colour is one, very small detail when it comes to jig choices. I will always refer to my rods, reel and line selection as the example to follow.
Jigs come in a myriad of shapes, weights and actions. There is so much more to a jig choice and it goes back to target specie, depth fished, current, ground speed and bait choices. I know if an angler from southern Alberta went to the Winnipeg River to fish walleye, their jigs are generally too light, gaps too narrow and the quantity would be insufficient to master the current and the snags. Average consumers look at a handful of jigs and think that they have enough but just the cut offs from Northern Pike could end a perfectly good day. A seasoned angler will have a full tray of mixed jigs to enable him to fish the conditions effectively, thus reducing the fishing to catching. There are many ways to fish a jig and many consumers are not well versed in this approach when shopping for jigs.
Hard baits / Crankbaits
In a lot of cases, hard baits are a tough sell to an average consumer and this is driven by price. However, should a consumer buy hard baits they will usually fish them right out of the box.
When I choose hard baits, I look for specifics like dive curve, lure action and shape. Most consumers look at the hard bait and think color or brand name. Others believe trolling a longer length of line will send the lure deeper so they pay little attention to the dive curve. Most consumers don’t understand the finer points of design depth and the effect of line diameter and length affecting diving ability. The only hard baits that will allow this consumer to troll the depths will be lures that sink.
There are many lures that work great but do not have good hooks. I will purchase lures based on the characteristics I need to fish effectively. If I notice the hooks are less than optimum I will change them out. Most consumers would fish the lure as is and not notice fish breaking off during the fight. And yes, I will purchase multiple hard baits so my friends can enjoy the success rate of a particular lure. Hard baits may require tuning. An average Joe will open the box, tie the lure on and let line out.
I always check my hard baits beside the boat at the speed I plan to fish. A want my baits to track straight behind the tip of the rod. Many lures out of the box will blow out to one side or another at trolling speed which gives them a totally unnatural action. A simple tweaking of the lure eye will solve these problems.
The consumer looks at his expensive purchase and will often have a wire leader between his hook and main line. This is not a bad thing, but the type of connection to the hard bait is important. Many wire leaders come with a kinked clasp versus a rounded one. The kinked clasp puts the eye of the hard bait in the corner of the bend, This affects the side to side motion designed into the lure and should be avoided. For this type of clasp I suggest looking for Duolock style versus a cross lock design.
Bouncer rigs and variations
Anytime you put a lure or bait behind a weight, you have created a rig. Some are as plain as a Lindy rig with a shoe sinker , a leader and a single baited hook while others get far more elaborate with the addition of beads, floats and blades.
Many consumers purchase pre-built packaged units. This is just fine but it takes a lot away from fine tuning your rig. One of the alterations available to the angler with a prebuilt packaged rig comes with leader length. A consumer may not know the benefits of shortening the leader if the bite is hot or if the bait is dragging and fouling.
Some rigs come with the interchangeable clevis where the blade is secured. If a consumer purchases a rig with the ability to change blades, they have one of the most important alterations available with this style of rig. If the bite is slow, changing out to a smaller blade may bring on a steadier bite and changing to larger blades can alter the action of the bait and attract large fish. Baits running behind a willow leaf blade remains a follower with little side to side action but excels at speed. The Indiana blade puts the side to side action to the bait , especially if using artificial plastic baits and a Colorado style of the same size will add more side to side and a bit more lift. This is the type of rig you need if your desire is to experiment with colour as well as action.
So here we are. I just touched on a few finer points that consumers and anglers can think about or apply to improve their equipment choices and catch. There are many topics on this subject that can be dissected into far more detail.
Last I want to touch on tools. Weekend warriors and new anglers are usually short on tools. Just the simplest of tools will make the day go by so much better. I believe you should have a small knife with a sharp blade, a pair 6″ minimum needle nose pliers, a toenail clipper, a good hook file and a rubberized mesh landing net included with your tackle bag. These are small add ons that are often overlooked but necessary for a multiple of uses.
I am not a fan of the rubber basket landing nets found in stores especially if you don’t want a fish to jump out or get their head stuck in the stretchy webbing.