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25 Tips for Tackle

Socks for your reel, bells for your rod, and safety pins for everything else.

Get Glue
Here's the single best trick I've learned in 50 years of fly tying, which also applies to making hair jigs for bass. Instead of struggling with complicated thread knots to finish the fly or lure's head, use superglue. Dab a very small drop of glue on the outstretched thread just before you finish winding it.

What Colors and Styles to Use
What styles and colors of spinnerbaits should you use? In clear water, use silver-bladed baits with white skirts. In stained water, use gold blades with yellow or chartreuse skirts. Round Colorado blades work best with slow retrieves when fishing deep. Narrow, willowleaf styles work best for faster retrieves near the surface.

Worms Gone Too Soft?
If largemouths start refusing your soft-plastic worms, here's a trick that will add action and turn them on. Before rigging a worm, twist it hard several times around your fingers. The resulting bend in the worm body will cause the worm to twist and spiral wildly in the water when twitched.

When There Is Wind
When the wind is tearing up your favorite bass lake, you may have to change lures. Cupped-face surface poppers, for example, dig and hold better on the choppy surface than walk-the-dog-type surface baits and will help reduce the amount of wind-blown slack line during a retrieve. The substantial line tension created by a deeply fished, heavy spinnerbait solves the problem in a similar way when high winds make slowly fishing a lightly weighted plastic worm impossible.

For Ultralong Casts
If you routinely need to make ultralong casts with spinning tackle -- in big Southern tailwaters, for example, or shore-casting for Great Lakes salmon -- a long, heavy leader ahead of a light spinning line will allow more casting force and distance. For example, try a 14-pound-test monofilament leader 3 feet longer than your rod, attached to your main 8-pound-test line with a blood knot. That means there will be about three wraps of heavy line on your spool to better absorb severe force when you cast.

Two Flies are Often Better
When fishing nymphs deep in lakes or rivers for trout, two flies are often better than one. Tie one nymph as you normally would to the end of your leader. Tie an 18-inch section of fine leader material (using an improved clinch knot) to the hook bend of your first nymph. Then tie a second small fly to the end of the second leader section. This tangles less often in casting than more conventional dropper rigs.

Quick Measuring Device
Everybody needs a quick measung device for checking things like fish length or leader specs. The handiest such device is your own hand. Measure -- and memorize -- the number of inches spanned by your widespread fingers and thumb, for example, and then use that dimension to accurately estimate length.

Ultralight Spinning
If you're new at ultralight spinning, use 4-pound-test mono. Most 6-pound-test lines are too stiff and large in diameter to cast well with midget spinning reels. Two-pound-test twists easily and can be hard to handle.

Small Split Shot
Use two (or more, as needed) small split shot instead of a single large one for added weight when you need to spincast with light lures or bait. Spacing the smaller shot about a foot apart above your lure will nearly eliminate casting tangles. A single large shot, on the other hand, will whirl around your lure when you cast, tying knots in your line.

All Black Spinnerbaits
All-black spinnerbaits -- including black blades -- are hard to find in most stores and catalogs, apparently because most anglers think bright blades are essential. But that's not true. Take a black-skirted spinnerbait and paint the blades flat black. They will still make the bait vibrate when retrieved, but the flash will be gone. Sometimes that's the answer for fussy fish.

When Done Fishing
When done fishing, don't hook your lure into one of the lower guides on your rod. The hooks damage and displace the rod guide's smooth inner ring, especially when the rigged rod is bounced around in transport. Hook your lure into the guide's external metal frame instead, and you'll do much less damage.

Safety Pins
Combining low cost and high utility, safety pins could be the world's best fishing tools. Use the point to untangle knots or backlashes, or clear the paint-clogged eyes of jigs. In a pinch, use pliers and tape to turn the pin's wire into an emergency rod guide. Fasten pins to your fishing vest or tackle bag so you'll always have one when you need it.

Hook More Perch
Yellow perch tend to peck quickly at a lure instead of just making a grab. You'll hook more perch by selecting perch jigs with short, rather than long, tails. Jigs with tails that end near the hook bend will take more of these short-striking fish.

Royal Wulff Dries
Royal Wulff dries are perennial bestsellers among the world's trout fishermen. They don't imitate anything in particular but look sufficiently buggy to often interest trout. Most important are the fly's large white wings that make it so easy to see on the water. Keep a range of sizes in your vest, and fish them to rest your eyes and catch some trout at the same time.

Versatile Tube Lure
Make a soft-plastic tube lure more versatile by stuffing bits of dense foam packing material into the lure's body cavity, making it float upward when fished deep on a Carolina rig. Or try adding bits of scent-soaked sponge inside the lure.

Give Your Trailer More Action
Pork frogs (frog-shaped, brine-cured pork rind) are commonly used as trailers on bass jigs. Give your trailer more action by slicing away some of the thick, fatty portion with a knife. While you're at it, score the trailing legs as shown below. The added wiggle will put more bass in your live well.

Tying a Small Bell
The Christmas inventory of most department stores offers catfishermen an important accessory: small bells. Tying a small bell to your rod tip when you set out baits at night allows you to kick back in a lawn chair, knowing you'll hear a biting fish when the rod wiggles.

Replacing Treble Hooks
Replacing treble hooks with singles on some lures will allow you to release fish more easily without dropping your hooking percentage. A Siwash single hook on the back of a spoon is a classic example. You can also make some (but not all) crankbaits dig deeper by replacing the rear treble with a lighter single hook, causing the plug to tip a little farther forward when retrieved.

Soft Plastic Worm Colors
There are literally hundreds of soft-plastic worm colors available to bass fishermen, but you don't need them all. Black and purple (grape) are two all-time standards. Beyond those basics, try translucent colors like smoke or pale blue in clear water. Use darker, more opaque colors like junebug or motor oil in murky or muddy water. For floating worms at the surface, don't forget to try shockingly bright colors like bubblegum.

Royal Wulff Driesat make it so easy to see on the water. Keep a range of sizes in your vest, and fish them to rest your eyes and catch some trout at the same time.

Versatile Tube Lure
Make a soft-plastic tube lure more versatile by stuffing bits of dense foam packing material into the lure's body cavity, making it float upward when fished deep on a Carolina rig. Or try adding bits of scent-soaked sponge inside the lure.

Give Your Trailer More Action
Pork frogs (frog-shaped, brine-cured pork rind) are commonly used as trailers on bass jigs. Give your trailer more action by slicing away some of the thick, fatty portion with a knife. While you're at it, score the trailing legs as shown below. The added wiggle will put more bass in your live well.

Tying a Small Bell
The Christmas inventory of most department stores offers catfishermen an important accessory: small bells. Tying a small bell to your rod tip when you set out baits at night allows you to kick back in a lawn chair, knowing you'll hear a biting fish when the rod wiggles.

Replacing Treble Hooks
Replacing treble hooks with singles on some lures will allow you to release fish more easily without dropping your hooking percentage. A Siwash single hook on the back of a spoon is a classic example. You can also make some (but not all) crankbaits dig deeper by replacing the rear treble with a lighter single hook, causing the plug to tip a little farther forward when retrieved.

Soft Plastic Worm Colors
There are literally hundreds of soft-plastic worm colors available to bass fishermen, but you don't need them all. Black and purple (grape) are two all-time standards. Beyond those basics, try translucent colors like smoke or pale blue in clear water. Use darker, more opaque colors like junebug or motor oil in murky or muddy water. For floating worms at the surface, don't forget to try shockingly bright colors like bubblegum.

Royal Wulff Dries

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