Practical Views of Tackle and Gear

Practical Views of Tackle and Gear

As a young kid growing up, my ranch-raised mother encouraged me to read sensible things in order that I might become a practical type of person. One of the early favorite reads was the old How and Why Wonder Book Series. It was a collection of science-based books written for young people during the 1960s and early 70s. They explained in wonderfully illustrated terms how things worked and why they needed to. Young lessons sometimes take root and I recently found myself wondering about the "How and Why" of some of the fishing gear we carry. Why do they work? Are they practical? The most common question we get in the boat is, "Why do you use that?" Perhaps it's time to try and answer a few of those for the good of the tackle shop browser, especially the newer guy looking for worthy equipment. There are a lot of good products out there but it's the small things that can make our fishing time more productive and fun. Please remember this is all personal opinion earned through experience, but let's start with rods.

There are many good rods on the market today. Everybody has their favorite and we even see silly "Rod War" discussions erupting on internet fishing message boards. We (Capt. Tricia and I) use Fishing Tackle Unlimited rods for some solid reasons that many shoppers may not understand. On the FTU All Pro Series Titanium Green Rod, the recoil guides (formed from solid nickel-titanium memory alloy capable of recoiling to original shape after repeated deformations) are clearly a foot above the competition. Each guide is double-footed and wrapped front and rear all the way to the tip and is of sufficient wire gauge and diameter to make them very battle worthy. In many so-called high-quality rods, the top five or even six guides are single-footed, smaller in diameter, and formed of lighter gage wire. Thus, they more subject to failure in serious service. The extra wrappings and titanium do make for a tad more weight but that old "lighter is better" adage is not always best for all things. As far as rods go, it really has more to do with balance than the saving of micro-ounces anyway. Back in the day, we were taught to unscrew the end cap of the rod handle and insert 25-cent coins to change the balance point. When the mass of the rod was centered correctly on the reel it suddenly felt much lighter.

The latest rod tip component on the Green Rod is also very practical. Besides having a ferrule tang that is wrapped to the blank to help hold it in place, (as opposed to simply being hot-glued to the blank,) the swept shape of the guide braces helps eliminate the line wrapping around the tip. Braided line has the darndest ability to fashion itself into a half hitch around the rod tip, especially right as a big red slams your topwater. There's nothing you can do but try to grow longer arms and unhitch it before you hear that dreaded snap of the rod tip. This new tip component, thankfully, stops a lot of that stuff. Unsurpassed warranty is only one of the reasons this rod excels, and never mind that it is several Jacksons less than other rods in its class. Personally, I think it is the nicest and most practical stick out there.

Speaking of braided fishing line, all have near zero stretch and amazing strength but all are not created equal. We use Sufix Braid for practical reasons as well. Besides the extreme sensitivity advantage over monofilament, it doesn't dig into your spools and create those impossible backlashes like some braids we have tried and this can be huge. With some braids, if you blow it, the reel is done until you can take a hatchet to it and re-spool. Sufix backlashes are actually quite easy to clear. Don't be afraid to simply pull on it, but don't try that with all brands.

We might think a jighead is a jighead, but not all jigheads are created equal either. There are many styles out there and we see some wacky stuff come onto our boats. We prefer Hogie's jigheads with the spring locks, size 3/0 in black nickel. Why? For openers, the spring lock feature holds soft plastic like a vise so your lures last longer, and, you can simply unscrew the lure if you want to change without damage as the prong-style locks of other designs are almost certain to inflict. Another great feature is that the eye of the hook is located in the nose of the lead especially important in shallow water applications. Eyes located along the upper surface of the lead tend to make the lure run deeper and creates a grass magnet. We also find the shape of Hogie's jigs very practical in the way the base of the lead snugs up to so many lure types. Some jigs just don't mate well with soft plastic baits and the result can be deformed lures that twirl rather than swim and dart. This one chucks up cleanly to nearly every brand and style of plastic we have tried. Back to that 3/0 hook size hookup ratios with soft plastics seem to increase as hook size decreases. That little 3/0 Gamakatsu black nickel jewel has to be the stickiest hook in the world. You can keep your 4/0 and 5/0 sizesmake mine 3/0. The actual weight of a jighead is another matter and, again, not all are equal. We have found that Hogie's 1/8 ounce 3/0 jig head works best in our shallow water world while the 1/8 in other brands is too heavy.

As far as treble hooks go, Gamakatsu black nickels are tops with us. They are ridiculously sharp, hold up well, and the wire gauge is just right. We also look to Gamkatsu for weedless rigging of soft plastics. Our favorite is their Superline Spring-Lock in 3/0 size. They just seem to fit better and hold a weedless lure where it is supposed to be until it gets hit. There's nothing worse than chunking your plastic off the hook during the cast, especially when the target is a big fish wallowing in the shallows.

Yes, we use Boga Grips. Some may think they are mostly for fashion statement or merely a catch-release-weigh tool but there is a more practical application and that would be safety. For wading anglers, landing a mean fish pushing a head full of treble hooks can have serious consequences. For whatever reason the human body doesn't take well to piercing with fish hooks and I've seen many a fully-growed man go to his knees when hook met flesh. It just makes sense to use a Boga Grip.

One of the most important tools on the water is our eyewear. The bottom line is that you get what you pay for and Costa Del Mar rocks in that category. The Costa 580 lenses have superior clarity and definition, plus they are so tough you can rub a buffalo nickel across the lenses and not scratch them. Unfortunately the 580s are not yet available in prescription but the 400 series lenses are. High contrast is critical for more effective fishing and amber is what you want inshore. Another good reason to wear Costa is because the designers are fishermen and actually care about us. Like they say though, don't just wear them... use them.

There are many other products worthy of mention but space is short here. Take a look at some of your stuff and see if what you are using matches the intensity of your intent. Fishing time is just too precious to waste wondering why.