It’s the Little Things

It’s the Little Things

Being a busy fishing guide lets you see all sorts of stuff on the water. What I get to see quite often though, is who typically catches fish, who doesn't, and perhaps some about why. Even with the abundance of fish we have right now, some will always catch more than others and some always seem to struggle. Here are a few little things I can't help but notice, and for the newer fisherman, might be big in changing their day.

Fishing with lures says "he who casts farthest wins" - especially when blind casting. One of the biggest distance robbers is a reel not spooled to full capacity. Even veteran fishermen might show up with a $300 dollar reel only half full of line. It involves simple physics. Think about how many more times a short spool will have to revolve to spit out the same amount of line. If you have upgraded to braid (which I highly recommend), you can fill your reel all the way to the top with little problem as braid absorbs little water and won't swell like mono. Also, braid is much smaller in diameter so you get even more distance by default. I'm thinking one reason many show up with under filled spools is because they buy 150 yard spools of braid and don't use backing. If your reel has a 150 yard capacity of 12 pound line, 150 yards of either a 6 pound or 8 pound equivalent braid won't even come close to what you need, so be sure to fill about a quarter of the spool with mono first.

Another major odds buster is trying to depend on an outdated rod. Lure fishing absolutely demands a good stick; for casting, proper lure presentation, and the artful playing of a fish. Too wimpy, too stiff, or what I call a "dead" rod is a serious disability. By dead I mean no feel for the lure or the bite, especially when using monofilament. Many top of the line rods of ten years ago are now best suited for spark plug weighted bottom fishing, or perhaps a good dog switch. There are many good rods out there, so make sure yours is too; highly sensitive and matched to what you normally throw. I'm using a 6'6" rod, as with modern lines, reels and lubrication, we just don't need those old blunderbuss 7- foot popping rods anymore for distance. My choice is FTU's All Pro "Green Rod" with recoil guides for many unsung reasons.

For starters, many folks don't know that from butt to tip they are made of the highest quality materials that exist on the planet. Even the high-end custom rod builders can't find better materials, and that translates not only into a more responsive tool but greater reliability in the field, and you certainly can't beat the warranty. Five different actions means we can dial in our preferences, but as much as I love this stick, I can't wait for the next generation. Every one gets better as technology improves. It's going to be an even lighter split grip version (2.8 oz) with some other useful changes as well - such as foam mixed into the cork for a better textured grip. It's going to be called the "McFast" and should be on the racks by summer. If y'all think I'm wearing lipstick I'm not as I have done my research and testing, but whatever you choose, make darn sure your primary tool is well-made, well-matched, and that you believe in it.

Speaking of rods, yet another fish loosing issue I see is people not letting them do their job. Some freak out when they hook a fish and panic, cranking like a crazy person trying to get it in as fast as possible before they loose it. Pull back, reel down pull back, reel down. Take your time and let the rod play the fish or risk another fumble.

Another little thing I notice is simply not keeping that lure in the water. Many reasons, but let's look at some of the more evident. Switching lures every five minutes isn't productive, and you spend more time messing around than trying to be a fisherman. Mostly it's the man and the plan and not the plastic, but the type of plastic you use can certainly make a difference. Some soft baits are good for about one fish. Plastic work, especially during the summer, will be a go-to method, so a tougher bait will help keep you fishing instead of rigging. For me, Texas Tackle Factory TTK II baits can be worth twenty or more fish, especially with screw lock jigheads. So can Kelly Wigglers. In addition, those old-fashioned prong-lock heads simply cannot compete with a screw lock for keeping that bait swimming. However, no matter what you use, put that lure on straight so it does not spin and works as intended. The total lack of linear understanding literally amazes me sometimes.

Presentation time can also be maximized by eliminating many easily fixed time-wasters. A strong bite is often short-lived, so the guys who can fish it instead of fight it will do best. Practical gear can help keep your lure wet and working. Taking twenty minutes to unhook a fish simply due to rusty non-working pliers, treble hooked plugs hopelessly tangled in landing nets, fighting wimpy stringer tangles and backlashes, and whatever else holds you back are examples. Good pliers, such as FTU's aluminum models, are dependable. And if you have to use a net, use a good one that won't eat your topwater time and opportunity. Foreverlast's new braid cutter pliers are great as well, and their rubber coated G2 Pro net will stop a lot of that hook fouling and get you back to casting. Good line will decrease a lot of that backlash picking time, and what we have found is that unless it's just stupidly horrible, Sufix Performance Braid comes out amazingly easy. It stays round under tension, unlike a lot of other braids which go oval and dig into your spool like a knife. We are also looking at Fins Wind Tamer, and so far great results there as well.

We could go on and on about small things which can make big differences, but space is short so we'll just hit one more. A good hookset is truly an art, and incredibly important whenever you actually want to land what you worked to fool. Another learning curve exists with braided lines. With mono, the fish almost has to commit suicide before you feel it, but the communication with braid is so instant that it is easy to set the hook too early. We need to wait until the fish turns on the lure so we can pull it into a solid purchase rather than right out of its mouth. What helps me is keeping the rod tip very high, and when you feel that little 'tic', reel down parallel and then ease back. It's sort of a forced delay, and it works quite well to gain a solid hookup. With topwaters, be sure to wait for the weight before raring back. I can't tell you how many fish are lost before they are even hooked.

Fishing time is precious so consider those small moves for bigger results. As said many times "It's the little things that matter." See you there.