14 Tackle Tips
by Lou Elkes
Just about all my fishing partners are better anglers than I am. Each specializes in
catching certain kinds of fish, so each trip I take with them is a learning experience.
These experts have several things in common. No matter what they're after, they all use
the same smart ideas on tying knots, making rigs, using hooks and lures, playing fish and caring for their
tackle. These ideas aren't complicated, and none of them requires great expense.
Here are some of those secrets.
- Tie several knots well. Learn to tie four or five knots well and you would know enough to handle
just about any fishing situation expertly.
- Know when to use each knot.
- Moisten monofilament line before packing down a knot. Tightening a wet knot makes a stronger,
smoother connection than tightening a dry one.
- When a knot doesn't turn out right, cut the line and start again.
- Practice knot-tying. Start with clothesline for the more challenging knots. Then work your way to
80-pound mono before you try tying the knot in 6-pound test in a bouncing boat.
- Change leader material frequently. After catching fish, look at your line or leader material and
feel it. If it's frayed, cut off that part until you get to fresher line.
- Tie rigs with as little hardware as possible. Choose first to make rigs only with hooks, sinkers,
mono line and good knots before you opt for brass and wire additions.
- Check your rod guides regularly, especially the tiptop. Nicks and scratches in the guides can cause
break-offs at the worst moments. Replace guides and the tiptop when necessary.
- Sharpen hooks often. Until you acquire the habit of sharpening hooks, you'll never know what greatly
increasing your hook-up rate is like.
- Adjust your reel drag properly. To adjust a spinning reel's drag, gather about two feet or so of
line directly in front of the reel and wrap it around your hand. Jerk the line forcefully off the spool with the
bail closed. This simulates a big fish's sudden strike or powerful run. Tighten or loosen the drag setting so that a
quick, strong tug just barely takes line off the reel. On a baitcasting outfit, gather two feet or so of line
directly in front of the reel and tug it quickly and strongly. Adjust the drag so that tugging gives line but does
not allow extra line to peel off the reel or gather loosely around the spool.
- Clean and lube your reels every season. Replace the drag washers if necessary.
- Make sure your lures are tuned properly. Check whether they run straight in the water. If they
don't, bend the screw eye in the plug's lip one way or the other until the plug runs straight.
- In difficult casting situations a straight retrieve might not bring the lure close enough to a
target. Bend a plug's screw eye to let the detuned plug run itself into an area without initially casting the
- Inspect your lures regularly for damage. Rusted, bent or broken hooks, loose screws and damaged
swivels could contribute to losing nice fish. Salvage plugs worth saving and replace hopeless cases.
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September/October 2000 Angler & Boater
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