Pro Tips

Pro Tips

High Falling Water

A tremendous amount of rain can result in extremely high water conditions in our lakes and rivers.  The situation of rising and falling waters can create unique fishing challenges for anglers. 

The newly submerged foliage is a bait fish magnate, especially for crawdads.  Bait fish love the nutrients and the protection that it provides.  They will locate and live in these areas as long as the water stays high, which means the bass will follow.  Make sure to locate and target areas of submerged new growth and cover. 

When the water is high the shad will move into newly flooded areas and spawn around the newly submerged foliage.   This is the same foliage that the baitfish and crawdads are using, so during the shad spawn the concentration of bass will be even greater. 

I really like to target these areas with top water baits such as Pop-R , small buzz bait  or even a Hawg Caller spinner bait with double willow leaf blades in shad pattern. 

The water will eventually start to recede and when it does the fish will move out of these areas.  When they start to move try to locate little drains, ditches and deeper spots within the same location.

These types of composition will offer several things.  It provides the bass a path back out of the area, and creates a situation where the fish have a little bit deeper water so they feel safer.  In some circumstances, depending upon the layout, it could also offer current.

At this point I usually back off and throw a light Carolina rig, or even a Texas rigged worm is a great choice.  In some instances I’ll even tie on deeper diving crank bait. 

Springtime Favorites

During the springtime I like to use white and chartreuse spinnerbaits with gold Indiana and silver Colorado blades, especially when I’m targeting vegetation.  If the water is clear then I’ll change up by using both willow leaf blades.  Hawg Caller has a great selection of spinnerbaits which will allow you to choose the one you have the most confidence in.

I always like to keep a Lunker Lure buzzbait handy.  They are great search baits and big fish catching machines. Vary the retrieve of the bait until you determine what works best for that particular day.  I normally use 3/8-ounce baits in either black or white.   If you get a few short strikes add a trailer hook and allow the hook to swing freely.

Modifying the Lunker Lure Gillraker

In the fall, just as many bass can be found shallow as deep. They relate to different types of structure, but they have the same thing in mind – feed up for the winter months.

Unfortunately, fishing the umbrella rig in and around shallow water structure can create a lot of difficulties and frustration, which has brought about the need for serious bait modification.

In my experience, compact rigs work best with all 5-wires shortened by approximately 2-inches.  I still utilize 1 blade per wire, but I increase to number 3½ willow blades for shallow water rather than number 3 typically used in deeper water. The larger blades allow for additional lift making the bait more effective in this situation. The main objective is to lighten the rig by replacing several components.

To target shallow water bass, I file the head of the Gillraker decreasing the lead as much as possible without compromising the rig’s integrity.  I then add 3 swim baits on 1/8-ounce weighted hooks and 2 Vibratron spinner blades on the top 2-wires.

I also changeup my swim bait combination by using 4.5 inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT for the center wire. For the bottom two wires, I prefer Zoom Swimmin Fluke Jr. The baits are smaller but will still trigger the same bite and the decreased resistance when retrieving the rig, makes it easier to fish.

When fishing shallow with few obstructions, I utilize Lunker Lures 1/8-ounce ball swim bait heads.  This model has a spring molded around the hook shank that allows for secure swim bait placement, which will increase the bite to catch ratio.

Attaching Strip Cuts

I attach a strip cuts just like I do any other lake by locating structure.  On first glance it might appear that there is very little structure.  But once a productive piece is found the largest concentration of fish will be there, and it will prove to be the most productive area.

An important aspect about fishing strip cuts to keep in mind is bass like to school in sizes during the summer and into the fall.  If catching a lot of smaller fish move on and try to locate a school holding larger fish.

If the fish are relating to standing timber I like to first target with top water baits.  I’ll then use a more subtle technique by pitching jigs alongside the timber allowing the bait to free fall.

My Favorite Jig Trailers

I prefer to use Zoom Super Chunk Junior for finesse jigs, and Zoom Super Chunk Senior when fishing full sized jigs always matching the trailer size to the jig size.  As a rule of thumb, keep dark colored jigs with darker trailers, and lighter jigs with lighter trailers.

Color and style selection will vary depending upon water clarity and fall rate.  In this situation I choose to use Zoom Critter Craw, or Paca Chunk.  The three colors I can not live without are black, sapphire blue and green pumpkin.

When flipping and pitching jigs I really prefer the Super Chunk trailer because of its ability to penetrate cover without getting hung-up.  It also works well around buck brush and docks.

It’s all in the cast….

Being able to master several different types of casting methods requires a lot of practice to perfect.    The key factor is being able to place the bait exactly where you want it to go.

The overhand cast is by far the most commonly used and the easiest to master.   I use this method when making long casts, or when targeting structure in open water.

With this type of cast hold the rod with the tip in the 9-O’clock position.

Bring the rod straight back over your shoulder to the 3-O’clock position then add speed to it on the forward swing bringing it back and releasing the bait at about the 9-O’clock position.  Creating pressure at the handle of the rod will cause the rod to bend or load resulting in longer casts.

Once you start to feel comfortable with this method, control will become your ultimate goal.

High Falling Water

The newly submerged foliage is a bait fish magnate, especially for crawdads. Bait fish love the nutrients and the protection that it provides. They will locate and live in these areas as long as the water stays high, which means the bass will follow. Make sure to locate and target areas of submerged new growth and cover.
During the spring and early summer the shad spawn takes place. When the water is high the shad will move into newly flooded areas and spawn around the newly submerged foliage. This is the same foliage that the baitfish and crawdads are using, so during the shad spawn the concentration of bass will be even greater.

Cold Weather, Hot Fishing

Winter is typically the time of year when most anglers put their boats in storage, stow away their tackle, and wait until springtime temperatures call them back to the lake. Dedicated diehard anglers already know that not only do the winter months offer great fishing, but there’s also very little boat traffic as well.

There are several lakes in Southern Illinois that I really like to fish during the dead of winter. These lakes have one common factor, they are power plant lakes. The power plant provides the lake with a warm water discharge keeping at least the upper part of the lake from freezing. Although the lake isn’t frozen, anglers do have to watch out for varying water temperatures. I’ve found there is a tremendous difference in water temperature from one area of the lake to the next.

When I fish my favorite power plant lakes in the winter, I recommend using jerk baits, lipless crank baits, or Lunker Lure Finesse jigs when the bite gets tough. Try using jerk baits on a 6 to 7-foot medium action rod and 100% fluorocarbon line. I prefer Megabass 110 jerk baits in shad or clown colors, and Cumberland Craw for my finesse jigs.

To retrieve jerk baits start off with a twitch-twitch-pause movement. If this seems a little too quick, or if the water temperature is in the 30˚–40˚ range, anglers may have to pause the bait longer. As always, vary the retrieve until a productive method is found. Expect to change retrieval methods with the time of day, weather conditions and of course, water temperature.

Spinner Bait Tweaks

One of the simplest tweaks and often overlooked is to make sure baits are in tune. This means that the blades and the hook lineup perfectly so the bait does not list or roll in the water. Grasp the bait by the hook and bend it slightly to one side or the other until the fine wire is directly in line with the hook. Everything should be perfectly straight.

Throughout the day take a few moments to examine your bait. Catching fish will also cause the bait to twist and not run correctly, which decreases effectiveness. Take the time to bend it back into shape.

If I’m fishing a spinner bait “insight” by waking it or reeling really fast I prefer to use a 3/8 or 1/2-ounce. With this size I can control my cast placement and I can slow the bait down by bending the blades upward creating an L-shape. This tweak causes the blades to have more resistance and allows the bait to run higher in the water column.

On the flip side, and a testimate to the versatility of using spinner baits, if I chose to fish deep grass edges or off shore structure I simple bend the blades toward the main wire creating a V- shape. This causes less friction and allows the bait to run a little bit faster and at deeper depths.

Irregular Features

An irregular feature could be classified as grass, milfoil, or hydrilla. It could also be a change in the bottom composition, structure, or even creek channel bends. I always look for these types of features when I’m scouting a new lake.

For example, when trolling down a bank line and the grass comes to a point by turning to the inside, or the outside, this is an irregular feature and possibly a very productive spot. If I receive a bite in this area I know that I’m well on my way to establishing a pattern.

Irregular features create ambush points and safe havens for fish. When multiple bites are generated and a pattern begins to appear it can usually be repeated in similar areas throughout the lake when the same irregular feature is present.

Irregular features change and vary from lake to lake, and also from season to season. Pay close attention to every detail no matter how small. Every bite that you get will provide another piece of the puzzle.

So pay attention to where the bite comes from, what type of structure you are around or targeting, and the irregular feature that is located within.

Land Monster Bass using Monster Jigs

Jigs are very versatile and by far are my favorite bait to fish. They are very affective in heavy dense cover and sparse vegetation. In my opinion nothing works better in these applications than a Triple Rattleback Monster Grass Jig made by Lunker Lure.

On cloudy days I’ll pitch and flip the jig making very short accurate casts. I don’t allow the jig to sit for very long, only 2 to 3 seconds before giving it a couple of shakes then reeling it back to the boat. On sunny days I’ll make longer pitches. I’ll allow the bait to sink to the bottom then work it in a “yo yo” pattern, very similar to a soft plastic worm. On days when the bass are aggressive, I target the back side of week edges and isolated pieces of vegetation swimming the jig just underneath the surface back to the boat.

I like to keep my color selections very simple. I use black and blue jigs with a blue sapphire trailer on cloudy days, and a green with green pumpkin trailer on sunny days. In the spring and late fall I prefer a brown jig with a light orange tint and a crawdad trailer in green pumpkin. When swimming a jig for aggressive fish, I prefer a white jig with a white swimming trailer, or a black jig with a black blue swimming trailer. I choose my jig weight based upon the density of vegetation that I’m targeting. For sparse situations I like to stay around ½ oz. This size has a quiet presentation and a slower fall. For heavier cover I’ll use 1 to 1 ¼ oz jigs, which allows the bait to reach hard to fish areas that are usually passed-up by other anglers. If you haven’t tried fishing a jig, check out Lunker Lure products at www.lunkerlure.com.

Springtime Jerk Bait “Tweaks”

Jerk baits are typically productive baits for early spring weather. Before ever tying one on I inspect it right out of the package, making sure the hooks are light wire and very sharp. If not, I change them. If the split ring isn’t oval, I replace it, or if I don’t have one handy I’ll tie the bait with a King Sling loop knot. The oval split ring or King Sling loop knot will allow the bait to swing freely from side to side allowing it to track correctly and remove any inconsistencies in the bait. Bending the eye to the left or right will also help tune the bait.

This time of year I really like to use suspending or slightly sinking jerk baits, like the MegaBass 110. Depending on water temperature, the bait could need a little attention. Typically the factory hooks are ok, but I like to adjust the size of the treble hooks – front or rear so the bait will suspend and set in the water correctly. If the water is cooler, I need the bait to set with the nose pointed down at a 45 degree angle. Usually switching out the front #6 hook with #4 will get the job done. If not, I carry a small quaintly of very thin lead core wire. I wrap it around the shank of the hook to add a little weight so the bait’s nose tips down.

Winter Fishing – Slow and Steady

No doubt about it, when the water temperature drops below 40 degrees changes must be made in order to remain effective throughout the winter months. The fish slow down, become lethargic, and will stop chasing baits. The fish also have a real bad habit of suspending under schools of baitfish which can make them even harder to pattern and catch.

It doesn’t matter the season, bass are still predators and need to eat during the winter. Because of their seasonal pattern and the water temperature, bait selection becomes fairly easy. I prefer suspended jerk baits such as Megabass’ 110 for the non aggressive fish, or even a Lunker Lure jig if the fish are inactive. As the water starts to warm, or when vegetation is in play, a heavy spinnerbait or a Rat-L-Trap in shad or crawfish patterns will work best. If you like to chase suspended fish try spoons in various sizes with a vertical presentation

Slow retrieves are important this time of year. However reaction bites still occur at times when ripping the bait, or slamming it off of structure. Remain open minded and try a little bit of everything, including retrieval methods.

When is it Time to Replace Line

Take a few moments to check your line before each outing by stripping a few feet off of the reel. If it coils up or is very stiff, it needs to be replaced. Take your thumb and index finger and pinch the line between your fingers, running your fingers down the line several feet. If the line leaves a chalky residue, or you feel nicks or rough spots, replace the line.

It’s not always necessary or practical to replace all of the line on your reel. Start by striping half the line off the reel then using a uni knot or a blood knot to tie the two lines together.

Then make sure the line is spooled onto the reel in the correct manner. For baitcasting reels, the line must come off of the top of the filler spool and wind onto the reel in the same manner. Spinning reels are a little different. Position the filler spool in a manner that the line comes off counter clockwise. Wind onto the spinning reel in the same manner. This will help insure that the line does not get twisted, which could cause problems later on.

As a rule of thumb, the heavier the line, the more often it will have to be replaced. Heavier line retains “memory” that causes a coiling effect. To help extend the life of the line, try stretching it by attaching the end to a stationary object, then back off the distance of a cast. Hold the line tight for a few seconds, then reel back. Do this a few times and you’ll see the coil relax. I also use Kevin VanDam’s Line and Lure conditioner, which relaxes the line and helps prevent the coiling effect.

Time Saving Tips for Pan Fishing

My secret weapon is an inexpensive pool noodle cut into 12-inch sections. I start with a spool of line, and my baits, and pre rig between 15 and 20 leaders. Hook the jig or bait into the foam and wrap the line around the noodle. Tie a split ring onto the tag end and secure it to the noodle with a tooth pick. Ten to 12 pre rigged leaders will fit nicely on one section of noodle. The best part is it fits easily into any boat compartment and the leaders won’t get tangled up.

With the split ring tied onto the leader I prepare my rod and reel the night before for quick replacement or repair of my leader line. On my spinning rod and reel I like to use a real light Trilene 4 to 6-pound test braided line. Braided line is sensitive, doesn’t hold memory and is stronger than monofilament or fluorocarbon. Once my line is spooled I take a regular snap swivel and tie it onto my braided line. Take the split ring and attach it to the snap swivel. Now I’ve created a situation where I have the best of both worlds. A rig with braided line for increased sensitivity and strength, paired with a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader to keep the fish from becoming line wary.

Try this quick inexpensive pre rig and storage method and increase your time spent on the water.

Great Fall Time Search Baits

Regardless of what type of baits you use, the important factor is finding the productive areas of the lake and where the fish are positioned.

In the early hours before the sun is high, or on days with a lot of cloud cover, the bass tend to roam in shallow water. That’s when I’ll start looking for bites by tying on buzz baits. I particularly like the Lunker Lure Sexy Shad in 3/8- or 1/2 ounce. This bait allows for accurate casts and the ability to cover a lot of different types of structure such as vegetation, stumps, and rock piles.

As the day warms and the sun moves higher in the sky, the buzz bait bite usually starts to fade. To continue my search, I’ll switch to Hawg Caller spinner baits in the same size range. I’ve found a combination of a No. 4 silver willow and a No. 3 gold Colorado blade offers a lot of vibration and flash. It also works really well in a variety of water clarity situations. I use the sexy shad color, but any shad imitating color such as white, white and chartreuse, or black and silver will work as well.

When fishing spinner baits, remember to vary the retrieval speed. By causing the bait to flutter with variable speeds you can determine the mood and entice a few more bites.

Don’t be afraid to continue changing up as the day progresses and remember to cover water and maximize the good times with your search baits.

Why Bass Love Grass

Just like bass, I love grass, or I guess I should say I love to fish grass. It’s the first thing that I look for when approaching a new lake. I fine tune my strategy by closely analyzing the type, location, and depth.

As anglers we tend to lump all lake vegetation into one category, grass. Depending upon the region this characterization could include hydrilla, primrose, sawgrass, milfoil, elodea, pepper grass, cattails and water lilies.

Bass love grass for a variety of reasons but one of the main reasons is it provides much needed cover. It allows the fish to seek shade from the sun, while providing cover from other predators, particularly bass anglers. The grass also provides bass with much needed oxygen and nutrients. Bait fish also like grass for all of the same reasons as the bass do, but unfortunately for the bait fish, it provides bass with ambush points in order to hunt their prey. Bass especially like to hangout around the outer areas of grass that’s located in creek channels, or sharp drop-off points.

In order to have a great day fishing it is important to understand grass and how fish relate to it. Start the day with an open mind and several different baits to determine where the fish are located and what will trigger the bite.

This time of year in the Midwest some of my favorite baits to use when targeting grass include Lunker Lure’s Grass Monster Jig, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and the weedless Swamp Donkey. I also use Wally “G” series Balsa crank baits.

Going Junking

I’m just as guilty as the next angler at getting too wrapped up in establishing a pattern and forget to just go fishing. It’s easy to approach a lake with preconceived expectations because of the way past tournaments were won, or patterns that are prevalent during a particular time of year. In some areas of the nation, and on some bodies of water, this information cannot be ignored, and it is how the tournaments are won, or how you’ll catch the majority of your fish.

Nowadays with lakes and water systems receiving so much increased pressure the fish are starting to react differently and establish new patterns to survive. There have been quite a few times during a tournament that I have not had a very good practice and the first day of competition decided to keep an open mind about lures, presentation and areas of the lake until something finally develops. Technically, this is Junk fishing.

The neatest thing that I have found about Junk fishing, or simply going fishing, is often I will catch fish that other anglers have failed to realize can be productive. I may catch one fish off of a laydown. Fish ten more laydowns and not get another bite. I’ll move on to docks and catch a good fish. Fish ten more docks and not get another bite. Then move to a lily pad field or a vegetation patch of some kind and catch one or two fish. Ultimately at the end of the day the result will be the same, and I’ll have a good stringer of fish.

Springtime Strategies

Springtime has finally arrived so it’s time to dust off the boat, restring your rods and go fishing. This time of year the bass are ready to spawn. They are waiting for the right conditions to rollup before moving out of their staging areas and onto the ir beds.

During this time of year I always like to keep a Lunker Lure buzzbait handy. I use this bait to comb the shorelines looking for areas where the big girls moved. If this approach fails, I’ll usually change game plans and go to a ½-ounce Hawg Caller Spinner bait in white and chartreuse. I target deeper water, spawning coves, and points that the fish use for staging areas.

If these two approaches lack the quality fish I’m trying to target, then I’ll tie on a bottom bait such as the Lunker Lure Ball Headed Jig. This bait allows me to target even deeper water and slow my presentation trying to trigger the pre spawn females into biting. I’ll also fish back over the two previous areas and start working my way further out into the main lake checking to see if the fish have left their winter haunts.

Once I get a few bites I immediately start targeting other areas of the same depth trying to locate unique features on that particular structure. It’s important to remember that the further and deeper into the main lake you fish, you will probably be dealing with schools of fish rather than individual fish that you’re likely to encounter in the shallow water.

Approaching Structure

While in the boat I always try to remain as quiet as possible and create very little noise. This means no slamming storage boxes, or dropping the trolling motor in a lazy manner. When using electronics also be cautious of the sonar ping. Bass have lateral lines and can feel the vibration. Anything unusual in or around their environment can cause the bass to spook, or not to bite.

When conditions allow use the elements to your advantage by approaching targets and structure upwind. This assures that mud or debris stirred up by the trolling motor will blow away from the structure, and it guarantees that you will not accidentally float over the area and spook the fish. The fish also use the wind or current to their advantage, and will most likely be facing upwind waiting for an easy meal to pass by.

To remain productive approach structure cautiously and fish the area in a very methodical manner. Start with the outer edges and ends of the structure before moving toward the middle. By using this method you can determine the mood of the fish by catching the aggressive fish located on the outsides edges of the structure first. By landing these bass you’re less apt to spook the rest of the school located deep in the structure. If you inadvertently spook the fish it’s best to layoff of the area and allow the school a chance to return and become active again.

Taking Care of Your Bass

Whether you’re a tournament angler, or a weekend novice, protecting our fisheries is one priority that all anglers should have in common. There are a few simple tips that I’ve learned over the years that will help anglers maintain healthy bass for years to come.

First and foremost, I cannot stress enough how important it is to practice a catch and release program. During tournament time the bass have a secondary home in our livewells, and it is very important to keep them healthy. Understanding that water temperature is critical for maintaining healthy bass is a key component of the equation.

The water temperature inside the livewell needs to remain within 10 degrees of the body of water you’re fishing, unless the water is cooler than 70 degrees. Maintaining proper water temperature is most important during the summertime in post-spawn conditions when water temperature is above 70 degrees.

When I place fish in my livewells I add the correct amount of Rejuvenade to my tanks and turn the mode to recirculation. Once it’s full, I let it run continuously all day, and periodically check the water temperature. If the livewell water becomes too warm, I add ice to cool the water down. To experience fewer problems a good rule of thumb is to try and keep the livewell water temperature around 70 degrees.

I take extra precaution by adding a couple of teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide to my livewell water. Hydrogen peroxide helps the water hold a higher oxygen level.

Use these tips and you’ll be able to release your bass healthy, or healthier, than they were at the time you caught them.

Fine Tuning Crank Baits

I love to use crank baits year round when fishing for bass, so I have a few tips that definitely help with my bite to catch ratio.

I always use a light wire hook. Hooks that are extremely light will penetrate with the slightest amount of pressure. When possible, I rotate the hooks with a pair of pliers about 30 degrees (all in the same direction). This exposes the super-sharp point and will help land the fish that swat or swing on the bait rather than inhales it.

Try these simple tips and I’m sure you’ll land more fish.

Small Crankbaits for Fall Fishing

In the fall I try to keep bait selection really simple. I use baits that closely mimic the size of the bait fish I’m following around. If the bait fish are a couple of inches long, and they usually are, this is a great time for small crankbaits.

In clear shallow water situations I use a Wally “G” crankbait in the Mouse or Wally Jr. series. When fishing deeper water I’ll opt to through a C Flash crankbait in the 22 caliber series.

The above baits displace a lot of water with their wide wobble. The displaced water helps the bass locate the bait easier. They also have a really unique action, which allows anglers to throw the bait right into and around heavy cover such as lay-downs and stump areas.

Remember during the fall large fish stage in heavy cover in order to ambush their prey.

Tips for Tough Bites

One thing is for sure, when the bite gets tough it really causes anglers to bear down and sharpen their mental skills and think outside the box. Under tough conditions anglers receive fewer bites, so refining techniques and equipment is an absolute must.

When I fish in tough conditions I become a perfectionist at what I’m doing. It’s absolute essential that the right line is matched with the correct rod and that the right hooks are used for the job. So many bites are missed, or fish are not landed, do to anglers not pairing the correct equipment together. It’s vital in tough conditions to always evaluate your equipment and make sure everything is operating in top notch condition.

Slowing down and scaling down is also very beneficial when the bite gets tough. Whether fishing a finesse worm on a Shaky Head with 6-lb line, or flipping a finesse jig into heavy cover with 100% fluorocarbon line, have everything dialed-in. Make sure that if given the opportunity fish are not lost. Instead, be prepared and capitalize on the situation.

It takes practice to slowdown and scale down, but it’s worth the rewards.

Baits Colors for Water Clarity

There are so many colors and color combinations on the market today that it’s hard to choose the right one for every water clarity situation.

Try to remember to buy baits that the fish will be able to detect. In clear water situations I use softer more natural tones such as watermelon, watermelon red, shad and green pumpkin. These colors look very natural, and they will not spook the fish like a bright color might.

In stained water I try several different colors, but I usually start by using green pumpkin. I also experiment with white and chartreuse when throwing spinner baits and crank baits.

In muddy water situations I move directly to white, chartreuse, red, red-orange and black blue colors. I also increase the size of my bait so I have more water displacement. This allows the fish to locate the bait by using its lateral lines and its sight.

Remember to use these basic guidelines for selecting bait color, but pay close attention when a strike occurs so that you can duplicate the area and the presentation

Confidence Baits

The most popular question that I get asked is, what is your favorite bait or technique? Over the years my answer has changed because I’ve come to realize that my favorite bait is the one that is working best for me on that particular day. The bait that is working best for me could be completely different for other anglers on the lake.

This has become my newfound philosophy because it is extremely important to fish confidence baits, and to be comfortable in the presentation and manner in which the bait is fished. All anglers have their favorite lures or go to baits as well as their favorite ways to present them. I’m not saying don’t experiment with new baits or techniques, but there is a time and place for fishing what you’re confident in.

A lot of factors play into confidence baits such as skill level and tackle assortment. The one thing that most successful anglers have in common is their proficiency with one or two particular baits because they enjoy fishing them, and have confidence in their effectiveness. For me it would have to be a Lunker Lure Triple Rattleback Jig.

So when an opportunity arises to spend the day fishing, and things aren’t going your way, don’t get all tied up or confused with baits and presentations, tie on your confidence bait and just go fishing.

Sometimes it’s best to prop your feet up, drag out your favorite lure and make the best of the day. It will help keep the stress level low, which is what the outdoor experience is intended to do.

Save a few dollars and practice line management.

With the price of line continuing to raise it’s critical to practice line management. The first thing I do after spooling fresh line is to document the pound test by adding a small piece of tape to the rod link. Carrying several different rods it’s easy to get confused and lose track of what is spooled on. This will help eliminate the problem of second guessing and unnecessary line waste.

To make your line last longer I highly recommend investing in line conditioner. While spooling fresh line add a little to the reel and continue to add it periodically while it’s on. Kevin VanDam’s line conditioner is awesome and it doesn’t compromise the line, but it does relax the line allowing for longer casts and longer usage.

Another little trick I use to help manage my line is to stretch it in the mornings before fishing. I hook the lure to my truck or boat cleat then back off about two cast distances. By applying straight line pressure and holding it for a few seconds the majority of kinks and coils will start to disappear. I repeat the process of reeling up and walking back at least three or four times. I know it takes time, but it will definitely help in the long run with casting accurately and line management in general.

Remember it is always important to practice conservation and not throw old line into the water, or leave it where wildlife can become tangled and possibly suffer and die. Be pro active and recycle line by finding a recycling center in your community, or sending it to Berkley Recycling Collection Center, 1900 18th Street, Spirit Lake, IA 51360-1099

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