|Let's face it: fishing can be a tough game to figure out sometimes. With so many
variables that can alter your success rate, be it weather, lure selection, fish activity,
(or lack thereof) and mechanical failure, anything that can put the odds in your favour
should never be overlooked. I don't profess to having any knowledge of a "magic
lure", but there are a number of items that I always have in the boat that have
helped me become a better and more proficient angler, and have made my time on the water
much more enjoyable and productive. Stock-up the boat this year with the following gear
and gadgets and rest assured that you'll rein champion supreme over our finny friends this
Polarizing Fishing Glasses
Polarized glasses are one item that I never hit the water without as their benefits are
clearly two-fold: better underwater sight and safety. Polarized glasses are specially made
with a coating on the lenses that cuts down the glare on the water and allows the angler
to see more clearly into the water. This is particularly helpful when searching for
structure, sight fishing, or to see follows or how your lure is reacting to your rod
manipulations. They also block out harmful U V rays that can have a serious effect upon
your eyesight. Whether you fish for bass, trout or musky, the increased vision and better
reaction time to strikes will upgrade your fishing to the next level.
Lets face it - it has happened to all of us before. We catch a big fish, fail to find any
scales in the boat, thus making up a story about how much it weighed based on size, but
most importantly, ego. Digital scales are a wonderful tool to keep in the boat in order to
accurately measure the exact weight of a fish, without causing any harm in the process.
These tools are quite inexpensive and will last for many years with little or no care
involved. A key to remember when choosing a set of scales is deciding on your primary
species target. If bass are your most sought-after, choose a scale that reads up to 20
pounds in order to register most accurately. Musky fisherman would be best to choose a
scale reading up to 50 pounds. (If this bottoms out then I'm afraid you'll have to fend
for yourself with that giant!)
Topo maps have become my best friend while out in the boat, as they will help you learn
the lake much faster than without, and put you on productive areas that hold fish. Topo
maps show in detail lake depths, structure and bottom contours that can help anglers fish
areas of the lake that provide the best benefits to the resident fish. My charts have
enabled me to discover underwater humps and drop-offs that may have taken me many years
through trial and error or by using only a sonar unit.
My recommendation is to purchase a map each time you launch at a new lake, and try to
assemble a library of maps for all of the lakes you fish. Unearthing hidden spots and
finding exact depths will put the odds in your favour - even before you make that first
Weather conditions are a variable that all anglers must face and learn to fish through.
Whether it is sun, rain or cold, none strike as much fear or loathing into fishermen as
does a fierce wind. This is one element that we have no control over - that is until now.
The drift sock was designed to help anglers combat the problem of drifting too fast in
strong winds, and this gadget has saved many days of fishing for yours truly. The
invention is so simple, yet very effective. It consists of a large "sock" or
sack that is tethered to a rope, which is then attached to the boat. When the sock is
dropped over the side, it opens, thus proceeding to create drag, and causing the boat to
slow its drift rate.
This gadget is ingenious in that it helps you stay on productive spots longer, and slows
down your presentation for finicky fish. I have had great success using this tool while
fishing rocky shoals for walleye, as well as covering large flats for bass in gusty winds.
The cost of a sock pays for itself the first time you use it, especially when you smile
and chuckle to yourself as other boats around you head for cover when the wind starts to
Fishing was never meant to be an easy pastime, but you can up your odds by trying out
new gear and gadgets that are designed to improve and refine your angling skills. Never
leave the dock without the recommended tools I discussed, and start to watch in amazement
as your fishing productivity and enjoyment increases in leaps and bounds.