Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fishing Tackle and Equipment Care, Use, and Buying Tips

Follow this advice on tackle and equipment, choose what you will of it, reject the rest, and possibly reconsider some of what you toss overboard further down the river--it will float along beside you and you can scoop it.

Tackle and equipment represent the most practical aspect of angling. The more species and types of water you fish, the more opportunity to exercise practical ability. The value of success (always practical) is clear: when gear is orchestrated to achieve a result, satisfaction benefits you.

People all over the globe in Western and Westernized cultures are practical and interested in results. However, a desirous fascination with products--alluring lures, cozy boats such as my son's Intex 5-Man Inflatable (joke, but its cozy for sure), rods & reels, etc.--can verge away from use and respect for the tools they are to become idolatry. Impractical. It all depends. Some anglers are historians when it comes to fishing products, and the value they know in names and relics is much greater than a bogus dependency on surface appeal.  But if name is the main motive to buying tackle, it may be the sheen of basking under company prestige and surfacy aesthetics that feels attractive and oddly unattainalble (because it's an illusion) that matters more than real fishing success.

I value my equipment. In relation to personal memories, it has produced important meaning in my life. I respect manufacturers, but when I look at my salmon/steelhead/musky (I hope) net, which I covered over with nylon tarp yesterday to protect from UV, I feel the presence of outings it served fairly directly, and frankly don't even know the name of its manufacturer. That may be a fault: to know the name is better than not to. But to the know the name and have no substantial experience with it is worse.

Perhaps the most important regard for tackle & equipment is that although tools represent practicality, the exercise of practical fishing, preparations to fish, and tackle & equipment concerns is in the angler and not in the grab bag. As obvious as this sounds, the following vignette will help illustrate how reliance on tackle & equipment can be overdone.

Today I caught two largemouth and a smallmouth at Round Valley Reservoir. I had thought I would read on my lunch break in the unlikely event I didn't sleep instead, having been up to 2:00 last night. Turned out I made good time and wanted to fish. No camera, no tackle, but my three-ferruled rod & the reel lay behind the seat, my fishing license in the vehicle. Got there and remembered I snapped off the worm-hooked worm on a snag at Mount Hope yesterday, which says a little about making sure a barb stays embedded. Opened the glove compartment--aha! A large, white buzzbait.

Even with largemouths spawning 10 feet deep (not yet perhaps) and a heavy chop on gin clear water--what bass is in very shallow water at Round Valley? (well some are, and these I sought)--I caught three in 45 minutes, feeling free and successful with just a license on my security badge snap, and a rod & reel, one lure.

Considering that I got skunked on the reservoir twice last spring and once earlier this year using my plastic worm standbys, the buzzbait, as inappropriate as it seemed to use just at first, was a refreshing change. You might say that with just rod & reel, and especially just a buzzbait, I was impractical at Round Valley. But what success is impractical unless it really is just dumb luck? I sought out precisely two likely areas and scored.


1. Always consider crossover uses. It would usually seem very simple, but relationships are easy to miss. For example, the steelhead/salmon fly tackle I will buy for my son and I, will serve bay & surf blues & stripers. Such may seem so easy to recongnize, but even so, to have witnessed five anglers fly fishing blues together in Sandy Hook Bay Saturday drove the possibility home much better than plain recognition could have.

2. Save money. Why buy Senkos when Strike Kings of the same worm type may cost half the price?

3. Avoid buying name products for the sake of feeling part of an in-group, unless you really want to become identified on the grounds of real fishing success. That success, no matter how many pictures you post, should always be yours alone first. The illusory motives of substituting product and recognition for the personal value you take, which no one else knows but little about, will distract you from applying products properly. No instructions or fishing articles can ultimately tell you how to do this, since it always comes down to the fishing situation you confront. The in-group can catch zero fish for you.

4. Value every piece of tackle & equipment you own down to the single hook and BB split shot. "It doesn't matter" is an attitude which makes you and your endeavor null and void.

5. Tackle loss is inevitable of course. Respect wear as a sign of past enjoyment, and the possibility of future renewal. When you do lose a hook or BB split shot, then it matters to let them go! Even the loss of a prize rod won't hurt nearly so much than if the loss ended a pattern of carelessness.

6. Organizing tackle & equipment in ways that make access easy helps. The best way to do this is by personal use/value significance (chew on that) especially associated with pleasant memories and hopes. Such memory and ancillary expectation (they are connected) is more organized (organic) than your mess of a basement, car trunk, tackle box, and so on, may appear. Values are a system that requires conscious thought and effort driven by purpose, but values are internal within yourself and as natural as weather conditions, only particular in much more complex ways as befits the most complex known object in the universe--your brain.

7. Don't take my word for it. What you learn from others, make your own. Others will be remembered and honored for the significant thoughts they speak and write, if in aural and deeply meaningful ways, but such remembrances and guideposts are your own.

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