After last week’s column, I thought it would be nice to go down a list of things I use on a daily basis in my boat. I am not what you might call a “brand loyalist” by any means. If I can catch fish with it, chances are I’ll use it. There’s also a few websites that I check in with regularly. They provide tips, videos and some answers to general questions I may have — or haven’t thought about. There are times when I get home after a tough day and think, “I should have tried this,” or “if I had gone here.”
And, like everyone else, I start to formulate a plan. If I have a bad day on the water I usually chalk it up to “operator error.” But, with a bit of reasoning and research I can often go back a day or two later and figure something out.
Never, ever underestimate the power of deductive reasoning — and research.
I just want to be clear, I get nothing from mentioning any tackle, lure, website or fishing manufacturer. Nothing. I don’t mind a few freebies here and there, but most of the time they’re from friends willing to share. If something works well for me, I want to share that with someone else. Sometimes it takes a few tries with certain things. Then there are the lures that get what they deserve.
I had one guy send me some of his lures once, hoping I’d write something great about them. I couldn’t. He was upset. I was honest. They kinda’ stunk. After a long conversation and a few emails I figured out that he wasn’t really a fisherman. He just wanted to make a few quick bucks. I think he sells toasters now. I still have some of his lures. They’re sitting in my basement under a few boxes and Christmas decorations, where they belong. They’ll make neat, little key chains some day.
This might be my favorite website to check out. These guys do everything from gear and tackle to techniques and how-to. They tell you what terminal tackle to try, expose new, fancy lures to the market and even provide boating and trailering tips. They also do a lot with professional bass anglers at the top of their game.
I am a visual learner. I like to see how things are done and then I can replicate it. When it comes to trying new things, I’m often a bit behind the curve. This “lure,” or that “technique” is often pushed aside until I have the time or the wherewithal to concentrate on it. The Wired2Fish guys have their fingers on the pulse of just about everything and their short videos can essentially lead a horse to water and make ‘em drink.
Everyone, I mean EVERYONE has one of these lures tucked away somewhere. The Original Floating Rapala was the first lure I was ever allowed to use. My father used it extensively. He would go to the AAFES Base Exchange on Westover Air Force Base in the town I lived in and clean out their supply at the end of the year when everything was marked down. Since then, they’ve added a bunch of new lures in addition to the original and I tend to use them a lot. Shad Raps, DT’s, X-Raps — you name it, I have good selection of them. I like the price and I like the performance. They hit a value point for me. If I had a nickel for every $20 lure someone in my boat tied on and lost because of a bad knot I’d be able to buy a new boat. They’re ubiquitous, and can be found across the country and they don’t cost an arm and a leg. One of those nice Japanese lures can cost north of $20 and they just don’t fit my style or wallet. I tried them. I can get three Rapala lures for the price of one of those.
When it comes to introducing soft plastics to someone, these baits are hard to pass up. The Zoom Fluke works independently, on a double or “donkey-rig” and as a trailer for many other baits. “Fluke” fishing is great for teaching younger fishermen (and women!) how to fish both fast and slow. Dead-sticked and flicked, worked fast over weeds or dragged through lily pads, they’re just a great all around bait to throw. And, they’re relatively inexpensive. The Zoom company got a couple things right when designing their lures: offer a wide variety of baits in multiple colors and shapes and keep them cost efficient. They don’t really throw a whole lot of gimmicks at you. I use their lizards, speed worms and craws as well as their drop shot and creature baits. And, I can find them in any box store across the state. I can fill a tackle bag with their stuff for about $25 and it will last all year.
Where do you go when you want to learn how to change the brakes and rotors on a 1986 Dodge Omni hatchback? Yep, again, I’m a visual learner and if there’s a subject you want to know more about, you can’t do much better than YouTube. The ads get a bit annoying after a while.
Try typing in “Montana fly-fishing” or “Bass fishing East Texas” or “smallmouth Lake Champlain.” You’ll have to scroll through a bunch of videos, but the subject matter is out there in all its visual glory. You can also find tackle and gear reviews, technique-specific tips and an absolute ton of DIY hacks. I have a bucket list of places I’d like to fish before I die (none of them include grizzly bears, crocodiles or Great White sharks) based on many of the videos I’ve watched. For you high school bass wannabe’s, this is a good place to start watching if you want to get up to speed and compete next year.
Start slow, build a foundation and add slowly each year. Most importantly, get out on the water in some way, shape or form and catch a few fish.