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The Golden Rules of Buying Bass Lures

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April 29, 2013

The Golden Rules of Buying Bass Lures

By Dave Wolak

It’s usually around early May that I see bass fishermen (at least the ones that procrastinate) make a dash to the tackle shop to load up on new baits as the season really begins to heat up. There was a time when, like many guys, I was easily sucked in by “bargain bins” and the latest and greatest lures on shelves. But over the years I’ve managed to refine my lure-buying methodology, not just to save money, but because I just don’t need lures that I won’t use or that don’t work taking up precious tackle box space. Whenever I pick up a lure, I pose one of these two important questions: Does it fill a functional void? Or, does it open up new and valid possibilities?

In terms of that functional void, every lure in my tackle box has a purpose. For example, my hard topwater box includes popping baits, walking baits, and prop baits. Before buying any more of those lures, I take a detailed inventory of the box and make a mental checklist that spans everything from quantity to construction. Do I have enough prop baits? If so, do I have all the right sizes for fishing where I plan to fish? I look at each lure and make sure it has premium hooks. Then I look at overall quality of construction and decide whether or not the models or brands that I have are going to do the best possible job at my next fishing location. If I do decide to pick up new lures to fill a void, the lowest priority for the purchase, believe it or not, is color. Too many buyers prioritize color too highly, and that’s why you’ll see a red sports car with a bad oil leak parked at Johnny's Used Car Lot. It sure looks sexy, but it’s a functional nightmare.

If I pick up a new bait that I know isn’t filling a void, I then decide if I feel this lure or the surrounding concept can legitimately increase my catch rates or size of my catch. The decision to buy should be based first and foremost on where and how you fish most often. This, of course, is where decisions can become really ambiguous, because potential cannot always be measured. Impulse buys happen in fishing probably more than in any other sport. That’s because anglers are driven to find the easiest possible way to catch the biggest and most fish in a short period of time. If you notice, very few baits you lean on heavily because you know they produce feature gimmicky slogans or marketing hype. They don’t need to because their reputations make them sell. You will never see me buy the Double-Popping-Flapper-Crawler because there’s a cardboard cut-out of a half-naked model on the display next to one of those tiny flat-screen TVs blaring metal music while some guy catches big bass on the Double-Popping-Flapper-Crawler.

Comments (8)

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from badsmerf wrote 50 weeks 6 days ago

Dave, what are your categories of baits? I have mine sectioned off to keep some kind of organization. I have topwater, spinners, soft plastics, jigs, trailers, cranks. I'm sure your organization is more thorough since you make a living fishing.

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from David Wolak wrote 50 weeks 6 days ago

My tackle is probably sectioned off too much because I have fished such a diverse array of fisheries. For instance, jig trailers I have sectioned by color, size...and if they are pitching style or swimming style. That's just one example. Over time I require owning more things because I have seen them work here and there, but at the same time I am learning to simplify. I carry a lot of tackle in both the truck and the boat, and then I store on board the boat what I most likely will be throwing that day. As long as you know where to get it quickly in your personal storage, then you are doing a decent job. thanks

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from fliphuntr14 wrote 50 weeks 6 days ago

i like to analyze "what fish see" in depth, clarity and then where the fish will relate during the year. Its worked well for me to decide on baits. also allowed me to buy more simple or cheaper baits. I like going to the store and seeing a cart full of baits that are gray to fish underwater in all but clear water and in anything that runs at deeper than a 12ft be almost invisible to the fish. The book "What fish see" taught me a large amount of what i know about this and i try to take into account the pictures i take on my phone many times bait in the picture or allowing me to recall what i used. 1st rule of bait making you don't need to fool the fish just the fisherman, thus why rapala comes out with different colors from time to time taking others away.

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from rjw wrote 50 weeks 6 days ago

Dave, if color is low on your priority, what is it that you are looking for in a new bait? Once you do try a new bait and you decide to keep it in your arsenal does color come in to play then?

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from David Wolak wrote 50 weeks 5 days ago

good question. I am looking for that new bait to do something functional that other lures I already own do not, or do a better job than existing ones. And yes, if I buy something new and unique that I decide is a keeper, then I maybe get a few colors appropriate to the forage where I may be fishing. thanks

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 50 weeks 5 days ago

Another good post, Dave. Bill Dance told me that the greatest lure you can have in your tacklebox is confidence. When the catching is tough, what is your #1 "go to" bait?

One winter project has been to re-organize and inventory my tackle boxes. I've now gone from 15 boxes to one for bass, one for crappie and bluegill, and one for catfish. Each year I'll re-examine my "starters" and adjust accordingly. These days my fishing is centered on farm ponds and lakes as well as community lakes up to 100 acres, a far cry from the times of fishing big waters all across the country. Another question is what to do with all the culls? So many spinnerbaits from the 60's need painting and skirts. How do you clean up old hardbaits?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 50 weeks 4 days ago

Tom-Tom - Thanks. I will tackle those questions you asked in an upcoming blog. Stay tuned

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tleichty1989 wrote 47 weeks 1 day ago

I too have gotten caught in the trap of buying the biggest and greatest thing on the market. But here recently I have settled down and gotten more excited about getting catches on a certain product or a certain lure. The nostalgia increases with both the lures and the reel with each thing I catch. You can't get that if your always replacing the old with new.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from David Wolak wrote 50 weeks 6 days ago

My tackle is probably sectioned off too much because I have fished such a diverse array of fisheries. For instance, jig trailers I have sectioned by color, size...and if they are pitching style or swimming style. That's just one example. Over time I require owning more things because I have seen them work here and there, but at the same time I am learning to simplify. I carry a lot of tackle in both the truck and the boat, and then I store on board the boat what I most likely will be throwing that day. As long as you know where to get it quickly in your personal storage, then you are doing a decent job. thanks

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 50 weeks 5 days ago

Another good post, Dave. Bill Dance told me that the greatest lure you can have in your tacklebox is confidence. When the catching is tough, what is your #1 "go to" bait?

One winter project has been to re-organize and inventory my tackle boxes. I've now gone from 15 boxes to one for bass, one for crappie and bluegill, and one for catfish. Each year I'll re-examine my "starters" and adjust accordingly. These days my fishing is centered on farm ponds and lakes as well as community lakes up to 100 acres, a far cry from the times of fishing big waters all across the country. Another question is what to do with all the culls? So many spinnerbaits from the 60's need painting and skirts. How do you clean up old hardbaits?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 50 weeks 6 days ago

Dave, what are your categories of baits? I have mine sectioned off to keep some kind of organization. I have topwater, spinners, soft plastics, jigs, trailers, cranks. I'm sure your organization is more thorough since you make a living fishing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fliphuntr14 wrote 50 weeks 6 days ago

i like to analyze "what fish see" in depth, clarity and then where the fish will relate during the year. Its worked well for me to decide on baits. also allowed me to buy more simple or cheaper baits. I like going to the store and seeing a cart full of baits that are gray to fish underwater in all but clear water and in anything that runs at deeper than a 12ft be almost invisible to the fish. The book "What fish see" taught me a large amount of what i know about this and i try to take into account the pictures i take on my phone many times bait in the picture or allowing me to recall what i used. 1st rule of bait making you don't need to fool the fish just the fisherman, thus why rapala comes out with different colors from time to time taking others away.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rjw wrote 50 weeks 6 days ago

Dave, if color is low on your priority, what is it that you are looking for in a new bait? Once you do try a new bait and you decide to keep it in your arsenal does color come in to play then?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 50 weeks 5 days ago

good question. I am looking for that new bait to do something functional that other lures I already own do not, or do a better job than existing ones. And yes, if I buy something new and unique that I decide is a keeper, then I maybe get a few colors appropriate to the forage where I may be fishing. thanks

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Wolak wrote 50 weeks 4 days ago

Tom-Tom - Thanks. I will tackle those questions you asked in an upcoming blog. Stay tuned

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tleichty1989 wrote 47 weeks 1 day ago

I too have gotten caught in the trap of buying the biggest and greatest thing on the market. But here recently I have settled down and gotten more excited about getting catches on a certain product or a certain lure. The nostalgia increases with both the lures and the reel with each thing I catch. You can't get that if your always replacing the old with new.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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