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Harker Heights Evening Star
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Bass fishing’s tools of the trade

Bass fishing’s tools of the trade

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by: Jasper Johnson

Today I want us to discuss the tools of the trade for Bass Fishing, whether in a tournament setting or not.

Oh yes I know your thinking about the Big Things, The multitude of Rods and Reels combinations or the many Boats, motors and trailer rigs on the market. Or the many and wide varieties of depth-finders, or even the multitude of Trolling motors available. No, not even the myriad of baits, both hard and soft plastics. But that’s not what I want us to discuss. I want us to go into those little things that are needed to be successful when you begin the Bass fishing or tournament challenge and why they are so important.

First set up a bait maintenance tool box containing the following and put it in your boat:

One set of good splitting pliers- Don’t go cheap on these because they can be a life saver when you really need them.

Assorted sizes Split Rings so you can change out the split-rings on your baits when they get weathered or worn out. It’s far cheaper to replace split rings than it is baits. Don’t forget to stock it with the elongated split ring that go on the nose of the baits as well.

Assorted sizes of treble hooks, both short and long shanks. Make them good quality hooks because that’s what comes between you catching and solidly hooking the fish or loosing it because it wasn’t hooked well.

Assorted sizes swivels to use to keep the twist out of you line. These come in multiple sizes and multiple quality levels also. AGAIN- don’t go cheep. Buy good quality ball bearing swivels.

Assorted sizes of snaps for those baits that tend to run better with snaps then snap swivels. Make sure it’s a snap that has the lock back turn vs the straight. You get a hog on and the straight will pull out. Yes, that experience talking.

Assorted sizes of the H&H Jig/Swimbait snap on spinners. Sometimes the bass need the action of a small spinner on the swimjig or Swimbait to give it more flash and noise to get the reaction bite.

I cannot tell you how many tournaments I have been in that I had to change out broken or bent hooks and pulled out split rings. It always occurs when you get down to the last bait you have in that color or style and it’s the only crankbait and color that’s catching fish.

Second make sure you have the following tools for fishing in your boat:

A good quality set of surgical scissors. Surgical scissors will cleanly cut any type of line, even braid without leaving a frayed end.

Next, a set of stainless or rust resistant, Needle Nose pliers that are at least 4-5 inches long. This will aid tremendously in hook removal when it deep in the fishes mouth.

A good set of stainless or rust resistant bent nose pliers in a small size. These really assist in jaw hook removal and lesson the tearing of the skin on the Bass because you can easily turn the hook with the bent nose vs pulling or pushing to get it released.

A good quality Telescoping Lure Retriever should be out where either you or your partner can get to it when you get hung up. Its better on your pocketbook and the Lake to retrieve the bait vs just breaking it off. I can’t tell you how many of my lures are ones that I have recovered by spending the couple of minutes to retrieve out of trees and on logs in the water. By the way, thank you if one of them was yours!!

Measuring Board is a must. It’s the quickest and easiest way to make sure a fish is the right legal length. Again spend the time when you get home to check the measuring board markings to make sure they are right. I have a Golden Rule that is ¼” short on all measurements. I had to modify the markings to make sure I didn’t put illegal fish in the boat or take them to the scales. Another first-hand experience!!!

Good quality Landing Net, either fixed or telescoping, should be readily available to land that lunker. Yes, another personal experience of trying to swing the fish on board vs netting it. Broke off and got away also cost me the tournament win.

Make sure all of the above is placed somewhere in the boat that is easy for both you and your partner to get to.

3rd let discuss the nice to have, but also important, items that should be in your boat.

Rain Gear is a must unless you really like to be miserable and cold in the blowing rain. This can get expensive but doesn’t have to. I have the Frogg Toggs Pro Lite Suit and it has served me very well. One thing that I have done to mine is spray it with “KIWI” water repellent each year to enhance its wind and water repellent ability. I often wear it just to cut the cold wind in early spring and late fall. I keep mine in the Boat just for this purpose.

Spot markers are essential for marking that hump that covered with fish your just located on the depth finder. I generally drop one in the center of the hump then back off and fish it. If that doesn’t work the I pull right up to it and fish up the sides of the hump.

A culling system is essential to tournament fishing. Look back at my previous article and you can see how I modified mine to make it safer and healthier for the fish.

A Digital scale is next. When you get ready to cull your sixth fish you want to make sure that you are putting the Bass with the least weight back in the water. The Bassmaster Classic has been won with only ounces separating the Pros.

A good quality Weigh-in Bag. I have seen tournaments lost by using cheap bags and the bag bursting as your taking the fish out of the boat to head to the scales.

Last, but not least, is something that can really help your odds when summer tournament fishing. That is a “Marine Metal Power Bubbles Aerator System”. In summer, the oxygen levels in your livewell goes down quickly. Running your livewell aerator continuously will drain the batteries significantly and may impede your ability to start the big motor when it’s time to head for weigh-in. This system has a very low drain on your battery and is much more efficient than those on your boat.

I hope this article helps you prepare for joining that Bass Club and fishing those tournaments or for fishing the several Tournament circuit’s here in Central Texas.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Don’t forget to send me your questions and topics to I’ll answer them in future articles.

“Catch a Bigun”!!!


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