50 tried-and-true techniques for guaranteed catches
Tip # 31#31 Trolling crankbaits is a killer tactic for many fish species, but getting to the desired depth can be a limiting factor. I solve that problem by using the 50-50 snap-weight method—I let out 50 feet of line, clip on a weight, then let out 50 more feet. That way, I can get the crankbait down to where I need it to be.
#32 Almost every store-bought muskie or pike leader terminates with a snap that weakens after several lure changes. To avoid that, I make my own leaders using welded steel rings and split rings instead of snaps, and I’ve never had a failure.
#33 Barrel swivels have a fatal flaw—they don’t spin under pressure. As a result, your line will twist when you’re fighting a fish or retrieving a heavy spinner. Ball-bearing swivels are more expensive, but they’re only way to go.
#34 To shoot a jig under a dock or tree limb, grab your shortest panfish rod—5½ feet is perfect—and hold the jig carefully between your fingers. Point the rod tip toward your target, draw the line back tightly to form an underhand bow, then let the jig fly.
#35 I time my fishing for apex predators to coincide with peaks on solunar tables, but when those same charts or apps predict a sluggish predator day, I go after crappies, perch and bluegills instead. It’s amazing how those small fish seem to know they’re safe, making them more active.
#36 To tie a drop-shot rig correctly, always pass the tag end of your Palomar knot back through the eye of your hook and pull it snug so the hook kicks out at 90 degrees. Bonus tip: carefully open up the gap of your hook by five per cent. You’ll never miss another fish.
#37 Using braided line will up your odds when fishing for bass and walleye in the weeds. The thin-diameter line lets you cast more accurately, and it slices through grass like a knife. Braid is also super-sensitive, and it doesn’t stretch.
#38 Matching the hatch only goes so far. Smallmouth bass eat more crayfish than anything else, but they prefer smelts, shiners and ciscoes. Muskies relish whitefish, but they rarely get the chance to eat them. That’s why I select lures that mimic preferred foods, not the most abundant meals.
#39 I rarely fish walleye on big, easy-to-find structures. Tiny, isolated rock piles and minuscule weed clumps are much better. They’re hard to locate, but they hold bigger fish. After 46 years on my home waters, I still dedicate a portion of every fishing trip to finding new spots like those.
#40 If I miss fish when I’m trolling because they’re hitting short, I put my rod in a holder. Graphite rods and braided lines are so sensitive, we often react too quickly. When you put your rod in a holder, the fish will hook themselves.