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Tinkering With Tackle

Cold, rainy, dark, nothing to do? Time to tinker with your tackle. I pick those times when there’s nothing else you can do to prep for the next season or the next trip on the water. There are some basic bass bait tricks that can help you catch a few more fish or maybe the trophy that eluded you last year. My plan starts with going through my tackle with a goal of inventory then what needs attention. Multiple tackle boxes are stacked in a safe place away from children, pets and non-fishing people (I know right).

I start the year with boxes in categories (they don’t stay that way long). There are crankbait boxes containing favorite models and colors that have proven themselves and “earn” their way into the box. I have species specific tackle in smaller containers, topwater boxes, jig and worm separate tackle holders and then accessory or random tackle boxes. From this group I will have seasonal selections, but we fish all year. The only obstacles are extreme weather or water conditions.

Prior to selecting who (the lures) is going with me I do an inspection of water ready baits, setting aside those that don’t make the cut or need attention and then it begins.

  • Change Your Skirt – the skirts that come on spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, chatter type baits and even jigs are of a much higher quality that those of years ago. Vinyl and old-style plastic didn’t last long and rotted in the tackle box trays. Heat and use caused them to disintegrate quickly. Todays skirts are of a much higher quality but use and those repeated hits can rough them up. The solution is just a change out not discarding the bait. No one wants to do this when the bass bite is happening. I carry replacement skirts but would much rather tend to this pre-trip. Another suggestion is the use of a spinnerbait skirt as a replacement on your jigs. The “perfect skirt” from Strike King adds bulk to a jig, creates more visual appeal and because of its mass, slows the fall of the bait keeping your jig in the strike zone longer. (14 colors, two in a package)

Tinkering With Tackle | Kayak Bass Fishing

  • Looking Sharp – During inspection I test the hooks on each bait for sharpness. They should be “sticky” sharp. Some will have bent or broken hook points. Fixed hooks lures (spinners, buzzers, jigs) must be taken out of rotation. If hooks are dull this easily remedied with the use of a small diamond file. With a little work a hook can be brought back to like new sharpness. I avoid traditional files. If you use the standard file, make sure you work in one direction and be aware that you are removing a lot of material and could render the bait useless with too much filing. A back and forth motion will sharpen then dull the point, go in single direction with a regular file. A small pocket size diamond file will be available from most good tackle dealers and will last you forever. CAUTION: resist the temptation to tell your lady fishing partner you bought her a diamond!

Tinkering With Tackle | Kayak Bass Fishing

  • Trouble With Trebles – For all the crankbait fans a simple change of hooks can save you the heartache of losing cranking fish. Equipped with two treble hooks (some minnow baits and jerkbaits have three) with damaged hooks, hooks of questionable quality or those that have been worn down, just remove and replace. Most of my crankbaits get a new look with the swap of hooks. I replace the original hook with a Daiichi red treble www.daiichi of the same size. Keeping the same size replacement hook will not alter the action. A split ring pliers is invaluable for this chore. Use the pliers to open the ring and start the replacement hook, continue to follow the ring and the old hook comes off as the new becomes affixed. The reasoning behind the color change is simple. Most predatory fish get just a glimpse of the red as the bait is being retrieved and red is a triggering color for the fish categorized as predators. For this reason, I use the red hook on the front of the bait. I save the original hook if it’s new and use it as a replacement for the rear hooks on other lures.

Tinkering With Tackle | Kayak Bass Fishing

  • A New Spin On Spinners – a different look on spinnerbaits for waters that receive an abundance of fishing pressure can pay off big time. A blade change not only offers a different visual but changes the overall performance of the bait. The round blade aka Colorado gives of more vibration, not as much shiny flash, the willowleaf produces the most amount of flash and least amount of water displacement (formerly known as vibration). There are a few other blades worth of mention, the Indiana blade appears almost as a tear drop shape and is a blend of the Colorado and willow. Another version is the turtle shell blade. This one isn’t very common and seldom seen by the fishermen…..and the fish. Sizes, colors and other qualities make this a guessing game of what blade to use. To change out blades (I only do the rear blade) the split ring pliers is again your friend. In blade changes the same size blade or a bit bigger doesn’t change the tracking of the spinner but it will change the performance. A bigger blade will give you a retrieve feel of more resistance and also alter the visual of the lure. Most of spinnerbaits are 3/8ths ounce and a few rattling around my boxes are ½ ounce, I rarely throw anything different. A few recommendations: In clear cold water the Colorado bladed baits do well, in stained water a willow / Colorado combination is good and in muddy water the double willowleaf will deliver maximum flash and fish. I’ve had great success when the bass are chasing shad with a double willowleaf spinner that I converted to a single bladed will by just clipping off the front blade. * see the photo

These are just a few of the changes you can make. You’ll discover more as you tinker with tackle.