It's the early morning hours (5:30) and the temperature with wind chill (minimal wind) is 5°F, with tons of snow mounds everywhere, but my thoughts turn to the coming fishing season; at least for those that do not ice fish. Soon, hopefully, the ice will retreat and May will come soon enough when the Bassmaster Tournament begin the annual ritual here on Lake Michigan, as well as various spots across the nation. The temperatures will begin to average in the lower thirties during the day, but dropping into the teens at night. My what a change for me when I moved from Georgia, where I mustered out into retirement from the US Army!
Choosing rod, reel, and line combinations can be perplexing – as it is to decide what brand, for there is a myriad of combinations to be considered among several quality brand names. That makes rod-and-reel brands into the category of preference, like what autos people like to own, as well as how much an angler is willing to spend. Therefore, any mention of tackle brand names here is my personal preference.
While I sometimes relay my personal experiences, I rely heavily on what the pros are using and what they are doing with the various combinations. If you keep up with the pros in the Bassmaster magazines and periodicals or the North American Fishing Club (NFC) magazine, you can glean information of what techniques and tackle has proved successful for the top tournament winners.
|Kevin Vandam - Most Consecutive Champion Winner|
The top tournament winner of all-time is, of course, Kevin Vandam, so I read mostly what he uses and tips he relays to the angler journalists; but that does not mean that I do not pay attention to other pros. Vandam was raised in the Great Lake region, where he began his movement toward professional angling to become the most consistent winner in the history of tournament fishing. The following tips and information was also gleaned from pros like Skeet Reese, Bill Lowen, Dean Rojas, David Walker, John Murray, Zell Rowland, Terry Scroggins, and Jason Christie. All of them fish in different lakes across the United States in different climate regions, and for the small- and large-mouth bass. I have included here tackle advise for Great Lakes fishing that include salmon and trout that enhances the dinner table meals of avid anglers; as well as large sporting fish like Northern Pike, using frog bait for example.
Last year was a bad year for me as far as time taken to fish, but looking forward for this year to be different. Categories are set up by type of bait with rod, reel, and line recommendations and information. Most of the time brands and brand combinations are recommended by or used by pros because they are sponsored by that company; however, this does not mean that their success if from brand choosing, but by types of rod-reel combinations that help them win tournaments. For the rest of the anglers, depending upon finances, having a rod set up for a particular type of casting and fishing for particular species makes perfect sense. Avid anglers have more than one or two rods set up for particular conditions and what they are fishing for, like the pros do. As far as line choices beyond using certain strengths and material for certain conditions and species, whatever brand you prefer, remember you pay for what you get. Purchasing bulk cheap line may help finances, but a great disappointment when your line breaks and you wondering if that fish lost could have been the one to put you in the record book. Most often, but not necessarily a given, rods and reels are combined with brands. However, if you like the feel and performance of a Quantum, Abu Garcia, or Shimano you do not have to match brand with rod-n-reel. For example, my Quantum baitcaster is mounted on a Berkley crank rod. However, whether I use a Shimano, Daiwa, or Quantum baitcast reel, my first preference is the St. Crois rod, graphite blank with Poly Curve©. That, of course is my most expensive combination that I received as an award as life member of NAFC. I have one Shimano rod with a Shimano spinning reel that is one of my favorites for fishing the local smallmouth bass in the big lake.
All my baitcasting reels that haven't worn out are Quantum, although there are other quality reels out there with a variation of gears and gizmos. I even have one spinning reel made by Quantum with a trigger-release, which they no longer make. I reverted back to the original, “old-fashioned” finger line-release method; but Quantum was the only brand I know that didn't have problems with the trigger-release system produced by a couple of brand name reels. Anyway, here are some suggestions of tackle combinations by rod length, reel gear ratio, and line weight in monofilament or flourocarbon, or braided lines. ...
|Tube: Imitation of Crayfish|
TUBES (and Shaky Worms)
ROD: 7-0 medium graphite (Falcon Squirrel Tail Series, G. Loomis, St. Crois, Shimano.
REEL: Spinning reel, size 20 like Abu Garcia, Shimano, or Quantum.
LINE: 6 – 8 lb, flourocarbon.
NOTE: Soft tip rod improves casting distance, helps when skipping under docks, as well as absorbing shock of big fish on light line. Jeff Krief uses a 7-0 Falcon Squirrel Tail Series rod in this combination.
DROP SHOT and FINESSE PLASTICS
ROD: 7-0 medium to medium-heavy graphite. Use medium for lighter lines.
REEL: Spinning reel with large spool.
LINE: 5 – 7 lb, flourocarbon.
ROD: 6-6 graphite medium with parabolic action.
REEL: 7.1:1 baitcaster.
LINE: 12 – 17 lb, monofilament.
NOTE: 12 lb line puts more action on bait and used in clear water. 17 lb line slows action. The fast reel allows line to take up more quickly. Pros recommend the Castaway Skeleton topwater rod.
|Scroggins Flipping Tube Jig|
FLIPPING and PITCHING
ROD: 7 – 8 foot extra heavy casting for braided line and 7 – 9 medium-heavy for flourocarbon.
REEL: 6.4:1 baitcaster (Quantum matched rod) with wide spool.
LINE: 65 lb braid or 20 – 30 lb flourocarbon.
NOTE: Use strong hooks, especially when in thick grass. When purchasing a flipping rod used with braided line, ensure it has parabolic bend to absorb the shock. Gear speed recommended ensures power and retrieving speed.
ROD: 6-6 medium, fast-action (like a Berkeley, Abu Garcia, or St. Crois) that bends two-thirds down the blank.
REEL: 6.4:1 baitcaster.
LINE: 12 lb, flourocarbon.
NOTE: I don't use the Jerkbait locally much, sometimes for Northern Pike. But, the rod should match the angler's height, according to the pros, shorter anglers would use 6-0 medium, fast-action soft rod because of the downward action in presentation and allows side-to-side movement – slow for cold water and faster in warm and clear water.
ROD: 7 ft (or longer), medium to medium-heavy composite with one-third bend like the Quantum KVD Tour crank rod.
REEL: 5.3:1 baitcast (Quantum if you want to match with rod) with a wide spool.
LINE: 12 – 17 lb, flourocarbon; depending upon depth.
NOTE: The 5:1 ratio wide spool provides greater distance and power than a 6:1 reel with a smaller spool.
DEEP CRANK, SWIMBAIT, and UMBRELLA RIG
ROD: 7 – 8 ft heavy action (large baits) or 7-6 medium with fast-action for smaller baits. Recommend G. Loomis GLX 7-11 graphite crank rod with two-hand handle or, if you can afford it – St. Crois in same configuration.
REEL: Baitcaster with large capacity in 5:1 gear ratio or 6.2:1 gear ratio.
LINE: 65 lb braided or 15 – 20 lb flourocarbon for smaller umbrella rigs. I like Spiderwire, recently tried Berkeley braided line new version and liked it. Maybe it is psychological, but the Berkeley braided line doesn't seem to want to tangle like Spiderwire.
NOTE: This tackle combination is great for deep fishing for salmon or walleye and similar setup I used when offshore, surf-fishing on the Pacific Coast and Mediterranean Sea. I still have that heavy 8 foot rod in good condition, but need to get a new matched reel for it. Most likely I will get a baitcast reel with line gauge.
|Realistic Variety of Frog Lures|
ROD: 7-2 medium-heavy with fast tip in the first 10 inches.
REEL: 7.3:1 baitcaster.
LINE: 80 lb braid.
NOTE: This is a great tackle combination for Northern Pike or Musky, as well as largemouth bass; especially useful in dense cover. The tip section (fast tip) flexes enough for skipping and working the frogs naturally. The braided line (no stretch) absorbs the shock of large fish. The fast gear ratio helps to take up line quickly when twitching and useful for playing the frog and when hooked fish swim towards the angler. Braid line cuts through grass like butter and provides more power in a small diameter in presentation.(Frog lures are popular in United Kingdom)
|Spinnerbait, small - catches Smallmouth Bass|
ROD: 7 ft medium-heavy for spinnerbaits and bladed jigs. 6-10 medium-heavy for buzzbaits. Good crank rods can be found in several brands, personal preference is the key here (and amount one can afford).
REEL: 6.4:1 baitcaster.
LINE: 15 – 17 lb, flourocarbon for spinnerbait and jigs with blades. Buzzbaits, I used 20 – 30 lb braided because its heavier and better in dense cover area. Even though I presented buzzbait lures at the edge of dense cover, sometimes bass would get into cover when hooked, so the braid line helped in getting it out of cover.
NOTE: Some flex-tip rods allow for roll cast lures, which also helps with moving bass away from cover when hooked. For buzzbaits, the pros like a shorter rod, which prevents jerking the bait away from fish during presentation/retrieve. I no longer use buzzbaits in this location, and the couple gathering dust in my large storage tackle box hasn't been used since I fished for largemouth in Georgia. Not mentioned in this section is the Rat-L-Trap, where the spinnerbait methods and tackle are recommended.
Local fisherman, for the most part, seem to stick to traditional lures and methods. So it is no wonder that they are surprised (and some obstinately disbelieve) that smallmouth bass can be caught with spinnerbait. For those that do not believe me, I just refer to Kevin Vandam who grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. One of his favorite lures (and successful with them) is the spinnerbait using a spinning reel. That is something else you do not find in use much except for deep trolling for salmon, lake trout, and walleye – the baitcaster reel. For sport fish, you will usually see local anglers with medium to large spinning reels. It is my favorite and have more spinners than baitcaster reels. Maybe it is because I am a “klutz” when it comes to baitcasting.
I get jealous when I see Kevin Vandam make a powerful long overhead cast with a baitcaster. When I use a baitcaster it is for flipping, close topwater and using the side cast. It makes for less line tangle frustrations and that is where braided out performs monofilament and fluorocarbon. However, constantly reading about new products and techniques, there are companies that have invented and produce some pretty tangle free (and costly) monofilament and flourocarbon lines that have no line memory and fairly smooth, tangle-free casting. In light, try Berkley Fireline. Important if an angler wants to “reach out” with baitcaster reels.
For those of you who are used to seeing my fishing articles and reports at Lighthouse Journal, it is because I am spending more time with this blog and will include topics like music on occasion and certainly about history and historical figures along with firearms, the main them of this blog. The Journal is mostly political commentary and encouraging this generation to fix what my generation screwed up when it comes to returning to a constitutional republic before it is too late. It also advocates that the US stop fighting other nation's wars; especially when the enemy has deeply embedded itself within the continental United States. How totally inept of leadership who send troops and naval flotilla to a foreign region when the enemy is silently gaining ground on the soil that those troops are sworn to protect, along with the Constitution of the United States?
As far as Old Glory Gunsmith Shoppe is concerned, the political concerns will be posted when it is something that will effect the Second Amendment and in supporting constitutional law enforcement entities, and notifications of crimes (like FBI Most Wanted) and something that corporate media ignores: true stories of citizens saving lives by exercising their Second Amendment rights. In light of current concerns of patriot Americans, I also will write about Prepping and Preppers, culling the morons from the sensible and providing links for information about that, as well as any good products or deals I find concerning that topic. The military trains us to be prepared for various scenarios, as well as how to survive in different climates and terrain. It wouldn't hurt to know something about prepping and surviving. Our society has become soft, not because of our technological advancement – because that has helped us in many facets of our life; but younger generations know everything about software, computers, and wrapped up in the world of socializing in the cold world of cyberspace – but know nothing of what to do if technology suddenly ceased and be forced to live like 19th century society. No cell phones, no electricity (unless you were smart enough to have generators or alternate energy equipment), et cetera.
|Alpine Butterfly Knot|
At my age, this may or may not come into use; however, it is my responsibility, as all parents and older generations, to pass down useful and important traditions and methods like surviving – going back to the basics. This can be accomplished by just taking the family camping, and I do not mean in a trailer or motor-home – but basic camping where one sleeps in a tent and living outdoors enacting situations that people would be forced into because of natural or human-created disaster. Fishing certainly would be an excellent means to supplement emergency rations and canned food from the garden.
There is a wealth of information on the Internet as well as reference books to keep in your library. For example, the Patriot Nurse, who is a certified and registered nurse and knows the value of knowing how to survive without a microwave; and at the same time provides important and professional advice concerning health and medical treatment if civilization shuts down. It is the same principle of owning at least one firearm with ample ammunition: better to have one and not need it than need one and not have it. For those who would rather not have a firearm, consider archery – like compound bow and/or crossbow.
Well, enuff said about those topics …
For those who want to take up angling or beginners that want to brush up with information from professionals OR those anglers who want to inspire youth to take interest in angling (fishing) to teach them more than just fishing; improving the chance of that youth from becoming a part of society we read in the news - CLICK HERE.