Tackle-Limitations and Preparations by Destin DeMarion

Day 3 SlobWe all see the big bass being held up on stage and the cheers of the fans, but do we all know what truly goes on behind the scenes to make that happen?  There are hours upon hours of preparation, tournament study, and careful planning.  As bass fishermen, we are inherently “tackle junkies.”  We are always buying new lures and trying to emulate the fantastic results we have seen on TV or in person while fishing with other anglers.  The truth is, as a co angler, at the end of the day we do not have the luxury of bringing our whole tackle collection with us in the boat every day.  Instead, we must prepare according to conditions and condense our plethora of lures and tackle into one tackle bag.

As the days pass and tournament day get’s closer and closer, we all begin the stages of preparation.  For me, it starts with hours of online research.  I will study past tournament results, narrowing it down into seasonal results, as well as strategies that were successful.  From there, all the pertinent information about the body of water I will be fishing is divided up into a series of notes.  I have a wide variety of notes for all of the bodies of water I have and will be fishing.  They range from a page or two, all the way up to about twenty pages.  It all depends on the amount of information available and the variations of techniques (i.e. Lake Erie is pretty standard, while many Southern waters are all across the board).  Local fishing reports and blogs are also very useful as is talking with local fisherman if you know any.  All of this will build you a knowledge base to go off of once you begin to actually prepare your tackle for the tournament.

Tackle preparation is the most important part of the whole process so you will want to pay attention.  With the base of information I have collected, I then proceed to selecting what soft baits, lures, and terminal tackle to bring on my trip.  This is going to make selecting colors and styles of soft and hard baits much easier.  I always like to cover all the bases: flipping baits, drop shot baits, etc.  If it is a Great Lakes tournament, you probably don’t need too much flipping equipment, but it is always good to have it just in case.  As co anglers, we could have a boater who doesn’t want to brave the weather and stay in protected bays to fish for largemouth; we must be ready for that.  When selecting colors you always want to carry your basics: green pumpkin, watermelon, black and blue, and junebug in soft plastics, and in hard baits, you always want to bring colors that imitate the forage present.  Every body of water has some specific colors that can really make a difference.  Try and find out those local secrets and it can help you catch a lot more fish.  For instance, knowing the seasonal crawfish coloration and carrying imitations of them.  It is better to bring too much tackle than not enough when you are leaving.  Once you figure out what your boater is doing is when you can condense, but the worst thing that can happen is thinking about needed this color or lure and not having it with you.  Terminal tackle and line are other things I really take very seriously.

Hooks and line are the connection between you and the fish.  Being careless with either of those will cost you a lot of fish catches throughout the year, and a lot of money because of it.  It’s happened to me and I’ve adjusted accordingly.  I always make sure I protect my line from direct sunlight, as it will weaken it.  I usually put it in boxes when I travel and try to keep it out of extreme temperature conditions.  Using a line conditioner also helps me prolong the life of my line and makes it flow off the spool more smoothly.  I use KVD Line and Lure Conditioner every night and morning of a tournament and also before I spool new line on a reel. That is my conditioner of choice, but there are many others on the market that will do the job well.  I always bring a wide variety of line sizes, just in case I need to respool during the tournament.

When selecting hooks, weights, swivels, jigheads, and other terminal tackle, I want to bring enough of each that may play a part and only a few of each that would be a long shot.  I also want to take into account the cover I will be fishing.  If I’m fishing a lot of brush or rocks I’ll definitely want to bring more of everything because I know I will be breaking some off.  If I will be punching thick hyacinth mats in Florida, I will want to make sure I bring weights that are heavy enough to do the job.  In most cases, anything less than an ounce just won’t cut it.  Once it’s time to actually rig up for the tournament I will be a stickler for checking knots and retying if I don’t feel comfortable with them.  I’ll also take a file and sharpen all the hooks I have tied on.  I want to do everything in my power to capitalize on every single bite.

Once I get to the tournament and figure out how I will be fishing, the condensing of tackle begins.  I’ll start eliminating a lot of colors and bait/lure styles based on my boater’s game plan.  I will usually keep a few emergency baits in case.  These will usually be based on just getting bites.  A drop shot or shaky head would be good examples of those.   You want to keep in mind now that the space your tackle took up in your truck or car is about to get shrunken down to the size of tackle bag.  I’ll usually condense my hardbaits into only one or two plastic storage containers.  Usually, I feel it is more important to have space for your plastics, extra reels, and line.  If you cover the bases with topwaters, cranks, and jigs, most of the time one or two boxes is more than enough.  I will want to make sure I have room for tools, scents, cull clips, and any other pertinent accessories in the side pockets.  I always condense all of my terminal tackle into one small plastic storage container, but pack it full of everything I need or could possibly need.

Another thing you want to take into account is how many rods and reels you will need to take.  Some circuits limit how many a co-angler can take, which I am strongly opposed to.  But, if that is the case, you will need to adhere to the rules and narrow down your rod selection to five or however many the maximum is.  This is only for certain circuits and I will proceed as if we are talking about a tournament that does not have a cap for how many rods you can use.  I want to make sure I don’t crowd the boat with my rods and tackle.  It is very disrespectful to your boater and I always try to eliminate that from happening.  However, you are fishing with a lot on the line and will want to bring enough that you can feel comfortable.  It’s hard at first to find your balance, but just try to see it from your boater’s perspective and it should help.  I always want to bring at least one spinning rod.  If the conditions are tough and you have to go to finesse tactics, I am at least always prepared.  With casting rods I always want to bring the staples, like a flipping stick, and will bring other rods that can serve as multi-purpose.  I usually end up with around 5-7 rods, but I’ve taken a few more before when the bite is all over the place.

Find what works for you and build upon it.  Preparation is no less important for a co-angler than it is for a boater.  Always be ready for whatever the fishery or mother nature throws at you!

Bio:

Circuits Fished: Bassmaster Northern and Southern Opens, Everstarts, BFL Northeast, and Bassmaster Weekend Series

Years Co: 2.5

Favorite Technique: Power fishing with a Frog, Chatterbait, or Swimbait

Hobbies aside from Fishing: Running and Hunting

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