Getting Ready for Open Water

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This time of year is always exciting for anglers in our part of the World.  The end of winter is in sight and another season of awesome open water fishing is coming down the pipe.  If you’re like me you probably spend some time thinking about the upcoming season over the winter and have ideas about where you’re going to catch more and bigger fish.

It takes a combination of time on the water along with utilizing new equipment and techniques to put more fish in the boat, regardless of the species that you target.  Here are a few of my tips to help you catch more fish this season.

blankPick up a Baitcasting Combo

Over the years I have had literally hundreds of different people in the boat with me – through all of my guide trips and fishing adventures.  One thing that amazes me is how many competent anglers refuse to use baitcasting outfits for fear of “backlashing” the reel.

Ask anyone who fishes a lot if they have ever had a backlash and they will all tell they’ve probably had dozens.  Heck, I use the best Shimano reels on the market and still get dozens of them a year!  The reality is, todays casting reels are much better than models that were available only a few years back and they are designed to cast.  Usually, it takes me less than 15 seconds to fix a backlash that I might get from trying to cast a light lure into the wind.  You should not be afraid of these reels.

Flippin’ Technique

While spinning reels certainly hold the advantage anytime you are using light line (under 10 lb test) or any kind of finesse technique, there are many advantages to using a baitcasting reel as well.
Anytime you are fishing with heavier line and lures, baitcasting equipment is a much more efficient.  Baitcasting rods are a better choice for precision casting and “flipping”, a technique we use often for bass fishing, because we can thumb the reel to control where our bait is going.  I used to stand on the picnic table in my parents back yard when I was in high school and practice flipping a jig into a plastic cup.  Today, I make my living as a professional bass tournament angler and this is a skill that I need.  Most of the best tournament bass anglers in Manitoba and NW Ontario have mastered this technique (flipping) as well.

The way that the line comes on and off the spool makes casting reels much better for heavier lines that are much more prone to “explode” off of spinning reels.  I have used Shimano reels my whole life and would recommend the Citica reel for those looking to jump into the baitcaster game.  It is a higher end reel that is reasonably priced.  For those looking to get really serious, the new Curado K series is one of the best casting reels you will find.  You should not be scared to use these reels.  You may need to spend a little time on the dock to get everything dialed in but they are designed to cast and will help you catch more fish.

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Wear Good Sunglasses

Often an overlooked item for anglers are the sunglasses that they wear.  Walk into the fishing store and you can find glasses that range in price from $25 all the way up to $400.  Just like anything, you get what you pay for but you should consider a few things when you choosing your sunglasses.

Eye protection is important.  Not only from the UV rays of the sun but also from flying lures and hooks while you’re on the boat.  You will never see me in my boat without sunglasses on if anybody is fishing.  I question how protective the lenses are on a $30 pair of shades.  The comfort of quality glasses also make wearing them all day a pleasure.  That being said, you should always try on a few pairs to see what fits best and what frames work the best with the type of hat that you like to wear.

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As far as lens colour goes, I have started wearing Costa sunglasses this year and have been so impressed with their new Silver Sunrise Mirror lenses.  They light up a dark day and are the best lenses I have ever seen for low light conditions.  For general fishing, I have worn Green Mirror lenses for many years and they are excellent for all purpose use.

Good glasses allow you to see so much more in the water, from fish, to weeds to a boulder that could be holding a big fish, in addition to all of the protection that they give your eyes. All of the new fishing equipment, boats, motors and electronics cost money, I understand that.  Do you need to have the fastest boat, four GPS machines on your rig or 30 rod and reel combos to catch fish?  Absolutely not.  A lot of this new equipment will help you to catch a few more fish on your outings however and make fishing fun.  Pick away at what you can afford and get out there and have some fun this season!

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