While rods, reels, lures, and any other piece of tackle we take to the water are designed to perform and suit our needs under grueling conditions, we sometimes need to modify such items to suit our individual tastes and habits. This can mean something as small as clipping a hook barb to something more substantial, such as adding or removing components to a tackle box. Here are some tips and tweaks I’ve picked up on over the years that may help you get a little more from your tackle.
Rod handles are designed to be easily held during a number of situations, even when wet. However, some of us still want a little more grip for an added peace of mind. A few friends of mine had this same need and satisfied it by wrapping their rod grips in hockey tape. Available for a few bucks at any sports retailer, hockey tape is a great way to ensure that, no matter what, your hands won’t slip when fishing.
Skirted lures, while great at enticing strikes, can be a little much in the water. Many of the skirts that outfit our favorite lures are, in my opinion, too long, and can lead to more strikes than hook-ups. To fix this, I simply cut off a length of skirt material. For spinnerbaits, I remove the skirt up to the hook bend. For topwater frogs, I remove over an inch of skirt, or tie each “leg” in a knot at the half-way mark. If the skirt material is too long, many times a fish will bite the skirt and not the lure. Trimming a bit off will solve this problem and will allow you to pull more fish to the boat.
To add a little more erratic action to your soft plastics, dig through your tool box to find what you need. In the past, several customers I’ve spoken with have sworn by inserting nails into their plastic baits. For example, adding a small nail to one end of a plastic worm will add more action to the bait, especially a Senko worm. Also, a nail in the back of a swimbait, just above the tail, will cause the bait to move backwards slightly when paused, which creates an action many fish may not be used to seeing.
One last little alteration comes from a buddy of mine who loves bluegill fishing, but for the longest time had trouble casting his lighter tackle. To solve this, he decided to fasten an ultra-light spinning reel to a fly rod using tape to secure the reel to the rod handle. Now he barely has to try to cast small panfish lures longer distances, and the fight is more exciting than ever.
Of course, there are several other ways to modify your tackle than the ones I’ve listed. These are just a few that I’ve used or been told about over the years that have truly made a difference. As different situations present themselves on the water, we all are forced to alter our tactics—or tackle—and that’s what truly makes our tackle unique to our techniques and personalities. Sure, fishing tackle is produced to make things easier, but surely there’s nothing wrong with making a few tweaks here and there, is there?