Adding New Fishing Techniques

boone bassFishing with soft plastics is probably the most widely used method for bass fishing. There are many different styles, colors and brands to choose from and multiple rigging options. This makes it very confusing and intimidating for the beginner fisherman, but adding soft plastics is imperative to catching more bass.

I grew up fishing rivers in Mid-Michigan armed with a bait-holder hook, split shot and a tub of night crawlers. When I was older and wanted to add more options the obvious and easiest was the crank bait or in-line spinner. These are easiest because the beginner can just cast it out and reel it in. There are many different techniques that can be added to this like reeling speed and jerking/twitching the lure, but it’s easy to cover a lot of water with them and start catching fish.

The thing is, a largemouth’s favorite food is night crawlers. Of course they eat minnows and flies and many other things, but they love a fat juicy crawler. So without using live bait the only option for me was to learn to fish with soft plastics. I had tried them many times, but had no luck catching fish. I quickly lost confidence in using them and once that happened I would quickly change back to a swim bait. Confidence in your presentation is probably the most important factor in catching fish. Without it you won’t allow enough time to catch fish.

So, to gain confidence, the first thing to do is go to a place you know how to catch fish. Go somewhere that you always catch fish. For me it was a line of docks along a weedy shore line. I knew whenever I trolled past the docks I could cast close to them and catch a bass or two every time. Next, I asked Google. There are so many different rigs to use, but the first I found and the easiest to start with is the Texas Rigged Senko. The Senko itself was so heavy that I didn’t need any weight for where I was fishing. What I learned first was how to be patient again. It’s not like casting a lure and reeling it in. I let it set almost like I would when I first started fishing. Then basically would twitch and retrieve the line to keep it tight. The first three docks were a success. Obviously, I still didn’t really know how to fish them perfectly, but I could at least catch fish when I knew there were fish there. That whole summer I alternated between places I hadn’t fished much and the line of docks. I’d try new rigs and different ways to fish them in my comfort zone at the docks and then take the same thing out to different places.

I’m still no expert on fishing plastics, but if you’re looking to expand your fishing experience to new levels with any kind of lure, you can use these tips. Remember that confidence in your presentation is key and always build that confidence where you know the fish are.

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Choosing The Best Fishing Line

fishing line

fishing tips and techniques

Fishing line is one of the most important tools for fishing any species, but unfortunately the most overlooked. You can see the importance in how many choices are on the shelf at your local bait shop. Companies are putting a lot of money these days into developing new and better lines and marketing all of the benefits to the angler.

When I was a younger fisherman, I went to the store and bought the cheapest line in whatever size I thought I needed to catch the fish I was targeting. Then one late night crammed into a dirty hotel room with 5 other fishing buddies, we tested all of our different lines. We took the end of the line and tied it to a fish scale. Whoever’s line made it to the highest weight before breaking (in the middle, not at the knot), won ten bucks. They were all close in the test strength, but none actually came close to the right amount. My cheap 12 lb. test monofilament broke at about 3 lbs. of steady pulling. After that weekend I decided to look into my fishing line a little more.

You should consider a lot more than just strength when choosing a new fishing line. Abrasion resisting, Stretch, Knot Strength, Weight, Visibility, and of course Price all play a role in choice. And, no fishing line is the best choice for all conditions, locations or species. Having said that, I will point out a few characteristics of the most common three fishing lines available, without naming brand names.

Monofilament Fishing Line

This is the most common line used by fisherman. It accounts for 2/3 of all fishing lines sold, but that is probably because of cost. It can be much cheaper than any other choice. It is also a very light line which makes it a great choice for top water presentations. That is about all I can say that is good about mono. It absorbs water, which loosens knots and reduces sensitivity. It stretches quite a bit. Just snag a tree or rock with it and pull. You’ll see how far you can pull your pole before it actually snaps. Mono also starts to degrade and become brittle when left in the sun. You should replace it often. After talking bad about it, I still use it. I spool all my reels with mono first and then tie on a different choice for about the last 50 yards. This saves money and helps keep other lines tight to the reel with no slippage. Like everything in life, remember that the cheap monofilament lines are far worse than the more expensive.

Braided Fishing Line

In the old days, this was the only thing available and they were highly abrasive and had low knot strength. Nowadays, Superlines or Microfilaments have progressed braids into a much more user friendly and popular option. The smaller diameter compared to other types makes it less visable and allows more line on the reel. It also has very little stretch, which gives the angler high sensitivity and more hook ups. It’s weight allows lures to dive quicker and deeper and provides longer casts. The biggest problem with Braid is a palomar knot is required. It’s not that big of a deal to some, but the novice angler can get discouraged by this. It also is highly abrasive. You will notice the frays in your line if fishing in thick cover or rocky rivers. Today’s Braided fishing lines have come a long way and will continue to improve. It is a very good one to pair with mono because of price and slippage on a reel.

Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Fluorocarbon is typically the most expensive of the three, but does have some great advantages. Number one is being nearly invisible. No matter the thickness fluorocarbon is much less visible than the same weight line of other types. It doesn’t deteriorate in the sun or with other chemicals and is very resistant to abrasions. It stretches less than mono, but a little more than braids. It does sink in water so it helps getting baits down quickly, but also can become stiff.

All these lines have advantages and disadvantages. After experimenting with many lines, you will find that you catch more fish with certain ones in certain situations. I’ve actually spooled all three on a reel at once. Mono first to add bulk to the reel, then braid for strength and sensitivity, then a fluorocarbon leader for really clear water. I typically only use fluorocarbon for leader because of my cheapness, but really like using braids for sensitivity. I’ve stood next to a friend fishing mono for bass while I had a superline spooled. He never even felt a bite while I reeled in fish after fish. He was using one of my poles though. (sucker)

Leave any comments on fishing line below. Let us know what you prefer. And as always, check out for local reports and conditions.



Spawning Bass-Michigan’s Forbidden Fish

Bass Fishing the spawn

Bass Fishing the spawn

For Michigan bass fishermen, spring time is unfair. Michigan is one of the best and most popular bass fishing destinations. Yet, it is one of the few states that doesn’t allow bass fishing during the spawn. All spring I watch videos and read fishing articles about the excitement of sight fishing monster bass on their beds and wonder why I can’t take part.

During spring, as the water temps reach 45 degrees, bass move into shallow structure preparing for the spawn. When temps reach 55 degrees they start making their beds. Bass spawning beds are typically 1-3 feet in diameter, in 1-5 feet of water and typically within 10 feet of shore. For a fish that is usually in heavy cover, this is a time when fisherman can troll or walk shoreline and locate them. But, as many anglers know, locating a bass and catching one are totally different stories. Bass are typically more actively feeding during pre and post spawn and don’t eat much while on their beds. Smaller males will be very aggressive, but the larger fish don’t strike. If a bedded fish is nervous enough about your presentation, they will suck it in and spit it out away from the bed. This is where the sight fishing comes in handy. Watch the bass and learn where you need to drag your soft plastic creature bait across the bed. If the bass feels the nest is threatened she will move the bait away. Set the hook!

So why can’t we fish during these times?

I don’t really know. Some believe catching bass during spawning will prevent it. Many studies across the nation have proven this isn’t true. Some fish have been collected from beds, driven 400 miles and transplanted and they still successfully spawned. If a bass is caught and released unharmed (which surveys show 92% of bass are), they will return to their original bed and spawn. Others say it will lower fish populations or populations of large fish. Again, this is easily disproved in the southern states where huge bass are produced year after year during the spawn.

Just one more point. How can we be worried about the population of a fish that is very rarely stocked in Michigan lakes. We stock almost every type of fish in our waters, yet the most fished species doesn’t require it. I think that alone explains what a strong and resilient species the bass is.

Michigan has changed their rules recently to have a catch-and-immediate release season starting April 27th in the Lower Peninsula and May 15th in the Upper, finally. It is a step in the right direction, but why not all year. Many fisherman are out fishing rivers and open water lakes before this. In 2012, with the early thaw, the DNR posted a newsletter warning people that they could not target bass. They had reported seeing a lot of anglers out targeting bass because of the warm weather. I say, with all this proof, Why not leave the possession season alone and have catch and release the rest of the year. Come on Michigan. Everyone else is doing it!

If you have any comments on Bass Fishing during the spawn, please leave them below. And as always check out the forums at for local fishing reports.

Finding time to go fishing

Not too long ago, I gave myself a swift kick in the ass. I just wasn’t fishing as much as I wanted to be. There are many indicators in my life that tell me to get out to the water. Spring time when the air is becoming warm, but there’s still a skim of ice on the lake or summer when the cool nights of northern Michigan just beg you to go drift the lake.

plenty more fish

How To Catch Fish

Fall when you’ve been on the pier every night just waiting for the water to cool off enough for the salmon run or even winter when you drill your first hole to test the ice thickness. Every season I love to fish and some years I just don’t think I have enough time. I  sit around thinking about it, but never go. Then I decided to just make time.

The easiest way to make time is to wake up earlier in the morning, stay up later at night or both. Everyone knows you catch more fish at these times, so even if you can’t stay out very long there is a high chance of catching fish. I found a couple spots close to home and will get up early, go fish for two hours and be back home before anybody else in the house is up. Or I will go after the kids are in bed at night. These aren’t the best fishing holes, but I can manage a couple smaller fish.

Another great way is to always have your poles and tackle in your vehicle. If I have to put something in the bed of my truck, the first thing is to move my poles to the front of my truck. You’d be surprised at the number of new spots you’ll find this way. Got fifteen minutes left on your lunch break, fish the river in town. We can be just heading home from a kids’ sporting event and stop off at a river or boat dock and take them fishing for an hour, but you wouldn’t even think it without the poles in the truck.

My other method is the swift kick in the ass I mentioned earlier. Sometimes I will get in a groove where I just don’t go because either I haven’t been catching a lot, or the weather has been kind of bad. I used to think that I didn’t know any good spots near home so it had to be some big event to go fishing.That’s when I remembered my old man’s saying, “You ain’t gonna catch any fish sitting at home.” This is the simplest, most obvious saying, but it’s also a fisherman’s way of thinking. There is always a chance of catching fish if your line is in the water and if it’s not, there is no chance at all.

Sure you can go on that fly-in trip to a remote lake or hire a charter on Lake Michigan, but in between trips get out and find some quick spots near home. I have a better day if I’ve fished in the morning or if I wake up tired because I was out late.

Feel free to leave a comment on more ways to get out fishing.

Fish Seeing Red

Blood red hooks have been around for a while and have supporters and haters. The two most popular arguments are:

1. Hook manufactures like to tell us that red (blood) shows an injured fish and triggers a bite.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               2. Scientists say that red is the first color to disappear under water, so it doesn’t appear any different than other hooks.

I’m not a scientist or a marketing expert, but I tried the hooks before researching both sides and neither argument changed my mind.

The whole red disappearing under water argument does make sense. Any scuba diver could tell you the same thing. They say it becomes black at a certain depth. The thing is, so do all colors. At what depth depends on how much sunlight is penetrating the water. So a cloudy day, choppy water surface and water clarity all have an effect. Obviously cloudy days and murky water stop more sunlight and the colors will disappear quicker. Choppy water actually causes the sunlight to penetrate in waves and flashes.

Other people like to call it a marketing ploy to make more money off stupid or gullible fishermen. This makes the most sense out of any argument. Large lure companies are the same as any other company. They are in business to make the most money they can and to develop products fishermen will buy.

The other side of this issue is blood. Fish are triggered to strike on a wounded fish. All lures are designed to mimic a distressed bait fish, so this should make them even more distressed, right? Well I would say so, as long as it’s able to be seen.

Another trigger for fish is gill flash. When a fish is feeding their gills puff out. The red of their gills signal to other fish that they are eating, which in turn triggers this fish to swim over and look for something to eat. So remember those choppy days with the sun penetrating through the water in flashes.

You can be for one argument or the other. Like I said, I was probably lured in by the marketing, but I kept fishing with red hooks because they work for me. This summer I have switched back and forth between ordinary and red hooks. A couple times I started off catching bass and lost the hook to a pike. Then I tied a regular hook on and didn’t catch near as many bass and no pike. This pike episode brings me to the only argument that I believe. One of the most popular lures ever is the red and white dare devil. Not a black and white, not a green and white, but a (blood) red and white dare devil. I don’t know if it’s because of blood or gill flash or because marketers told me it works, but I do know it works when fished in the right conditions and has for quite a few years.

Don’t worry about what other fishermen say about the blood hooks. Just try them out and see for yourself. I’ll keep using them because even if they turn black, they’re not going to make me catch less.


Topwater Explosions

Large  Mouth Bass

Fishing topwater

The only thing I don’t like about topwater fishing is that it doesn’t always work. If it did, I would never fish any other way. Topwater lures are the most exciting method to take bass or pike. When you’ve casted six or seven times with no success and you just start to let your guard down WHAM. A bass comes out of the water with an explosion and rips into your lure from the top side. If you’ve never tried it, you are missing out. When I was sixteen I bought my first Rapala Skitter Pop. I didn’t have a clue on how to fish it, but when I finally got my first strike, I fell in love. I can’t remember ever being that surprised while fishing.

There are many topwater lures out there and every version is fished differently. I typically use some version of a plug. When fishing with this, cast out and let it set. I like to wait for the ripples to disappear completely. Then give it a short jerk or two and let it set. When it’s sitting still, make sure there isn’t too much slack in the line because this is when the bass erupts out of the water. Keep this action up until it reaches you and then do it all over again.

With a buzz bait I like to keep it a pretty even retrieve. The propellers will make the splashes to draw attention from the fish. Just mix it up a little and give it a few pauses.

Topwater lures are best used in the spring time during spawning periods, but I use them all year. Shallow, calm water is definitely best. Whenever you see bass actively feeding on top of the water, tie one on. I like to fish these around docks and islands early morning or late evening when the water has calmed down. Sometimes you can draw a bass up in deep water, but it has to be pretty calm and nice clear water.

So next time you see a bass surface to eat a fly on the surface tie on a top water lure and let the fun begin. You won’t regret it.

If you have any tips or experiences with a top water lure feel free to leave a comment.