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.