I know it may not be the most exciting subject in the angling world, but to enable peace of mind, prevent a litany of future headaches, and to simply get yourself properly readied for the upcoming open-water season, you can perform proper tackle care, maintenance and organization.
No savvy angler need be reminded of the sheer importance of having properly prepared and organized gear. And I’m not just referencing a daily or short-term concern here. Many of us have been taken by surprise by a late-summer or early-spring warm spell that had all our friends and local sticks hitting the lake and catching some fish. We’ll rush out to that favorite fishin’ hole after getting our newly prepped boat back from our favorite marine service folks, thinking this alone “readies” us for that initial outing. Think again. Setting aside the time to organize and catalog tackle and gear is not all that difficult. When you’ve sat aside some TV time for some basketball, favorite fishing show or that Andy Griffith Show marathon, bring along a tackle box or two each time to organize and update them.
I always have at hand a good hook file or two, cotton swabs (for checking rod eyes for cracks, other potential abrasiveness), an emery board or two, and a bottle of Tarn-X or other metal polish and restorer. I’ll make sure that every hook in the box is checked for sharpness and a new point is honed on just to make sure whether they’re attached to lures or not. It’s amazing, and a bit alarming, just how many of last year’s lures upon inspection have a hook point that is bent entirely back. This is especially critical when it comes to single-hook lures like jigs or spinnerbaits.
Speaking of jigs and spinnerbaits, skirts need to be inspected for their integrity, color and wear. Having an ongoing surplus handy is essential to any serious bass angler or tournament fisherman. Lean toward especially bright or dark skirt colors when in doubt, and trim skirts that seem excessively long.
Today’s anglers rely on soft-sided tackle organizers that hold numbers of stackable plastic tackle containers. You can can slide in containers holding the right gear for each outing, making the system versatile.When it comes to crankbaits I’m not one who regularly takes advantage of custom lure painters when a few nicks appear on my favorite plugs. I do, however, have on hand some Sharpies of varying colors for less extravagant touch-ups. The buzzbaits should spin totally free.
For specific storage “homes” for these different bait types, I use larger soft-pack main bases and have the hard boxes that go into these base soft tackle storage units under the clearly marked designations of “Worms,” “Creatures,” “Rattle Baits,” “Crankbaits,” “Small Crankbaits,” “Jerkbaits,” “Topwater Baits,” “Tubes,” etc. Some fishermen use an extra box or two just for terminal tackle like swivels, weights, bobbers and such. I find it better for my uses to provide each individual box listed above with an amount of the terminal tackle specifically appropriate for this type of bait. I make it a point to learn and memorize just where each specific box is and ensure it is readily accessible. Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits stay in their own, specially designed boxes.
Once readied, I keep all tackle on my two boats: one small, one a larger Deep-V. The rods and reels I’ll keep in my truck for appropriate uses at different times and locations. The one wildcard that goes with me back and forth between boats, the truck and at home is my personal equipment bag. In this, at any given time I can find a good flashlight, my electronics, a small cooler for snacks and beverages, extra batteries, a portable ship-to-shore radio, TP, a towel or two, weigh scale and my cellphone and portable radio. In a sealed side pocket, I’ll put my up-to-date boat titles, licenses and sonar and marine manuals.
Finally, for every year and new open-water season, every reel I own gets tuned and loaded with appropriate line by a professional at a real full-service bait and tackle shop that I trust.
Now that you’re organized and have performed maintenance on your tackle and gear, you can go have another memorable fishing year.