Equipment preparation versus being lucky, which is better. My grandfather once told me, “To be a successful bass angler you have to understand bass and be lucky”. He went on to describe luck as the point when preparation and opportunity collided. If an angler prepared properly and the opportunity to catch a bass presented itself, the angler would likely come out on top. I have learned preparation is an area where many anglers fail. The biggest factor leading to this failure is time. We get excited and rush to make a cast, forgetting about the little things connecting us to a catch of a lifetime.
To catch bass, anglers need a rod, reel, line, and a hook (lure with a hook(s)). If any of these four items fail during a battle, the bass wins and swims free. If all four do their job, we as an angler will hoist our quarry in victory.
Equipment Preparation Versus Being Lucky – Equipment Prep Rods
I prepare for each outing, whether fun fishing or tournament bass fishing, by verifying my gear. Based on the time of year, I lay out the rods and reel combinations I expect to use the next day. Next, one by one, I inspect each rod for line problems in the eyelets. A damaged eyelet can damage line quickly and has been the culprit of many giant bass never making it to the scales. Most of us will notice a defective eyelet on previous trips and hopefully repaired it right away. However, bouncing around while in transit to and from waterways can cause issues, and it’s best to find them before the first cast of the morning.
Equipment Preparation Versus Being Lucky – Equipment Prep Reels
I’m a reel snob, and my reels get a lot of attention. Any noise, funny vibrations or bearing squalls are fixed immediately on the water. If it’s during a tournament, I swap the reel out with a spare and wait until I get home to do necessary repairs. So my reels are generally ready for the water at any given time. However, before each fishing trip, I will wipe them down, tighten my drags (because I loosened them before putting them away on the previous trip), and inspect the worm gear and line guides for damage or debris.
Equipment Preparation Versus Being Lucky – Equipment Prep Line
The line is usually the weakest link between and angler and a bass. If a bass can break the line, it swims free; if it doesn’t, we’re back to victory lane. I have learned through my career bass can be landed on amazingly small diameter line. However, only if the line is in good condition and there is a quality knot connecting the line to the lure. I don’t recommend trying to set any line class records, but rather to emphasize line condition and knot strength are vital. Most of us have a favorite line and knot. The key is to make sure line and knots are fresh. All line breaks down over time. Old line with a lot of memory is difficult to manage and prevents properly working baits. Knots get weak. After catching a couple of bass, or surviving a couple of hang-ups, retie knots. Old line and old knots cause failures and bass win. Also, inspect the line above the lure every few casts. Check for abrasions, nicks or damage which weakens its overall strength.
Equipment Preparation Versus Being Lucky – Equipment Prep Hooks
Hooks are the final piece of the puzzle. With the best rod, reel, line and no hook, an angler is just whipping in the wind. If a lure has dull or bent hooks, the angler may as well be whipping in the wind; it would be a lot less heartbreaking. Inspect hooks for rust; rusty hooks do not penetrate flesh as quickly. Think of it as wrapping a piece of sandpaper around a knife and then trying to cut a tomato, it’s just not going to happen. The same thing occurs when a hook is rusty, the rust creates drag and prevents penetration. I also verify all my hooks will stick in my finger nail without effort. The lures weight should be enough to cause a hook to hang on a fingernail; if it doesn’t, a quick swipe or two with a hook hone usually fixes it. Lastly and most obvious, look for bent or broken hooks. I’ve seen anglers casting crankbaits with broken hooks, never realizing until it was pointed out. A treble hook has three hooks, take advantage of all three.
As an angler, the best we can do is ensure our equipment is ready for the task at hand. Even when everything is tested, checked and rechecked, on occasion the bass still wins. It’s the bass’s turn to get lucky. These lucky bass are what keeps most anglers coming back for more!
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Just like work, you prepare the night before not in the morning.