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So as I was prepping for fishing the other day, tying my jigheads on, threading my soft palstics on the hook, loading my boat with scents and hook sharpeners, I thought to myslelf, "How important is it that I do all of this?" I got to thinking about this today at work, while looking at Lake Washington and not doing what I was supposed to. It's these small things that make the difference, especially this time of year. From using quality rods, reels, line and hooks to making sure your bait is threaded on straight, hooking that dropshot up so it doesn't spin like a top when you reel it in, making sure the tag end on your knot isn't an inch long, checking your line every few casts, sharpening your hooks, scenting up your baits, I could go on forever.

Here are a few things that I really sweat the small stuff on and things I think make me a better fisherman when preparing for fishing this time of year.

-Most importantly, a good quality rod. I use G-Loomis GLX, but there are alot of other great rods out there as well. This is huge for light bites and tough conditions, so that you capitalize on every single bite.

-Braided line with a flourocarbon leader for deep water applications. Secured with a blood knot, or slim beauty knot, this combo will give you the ultimate sensitivity and hook sets in deep water applications. I run alot of 10 or 12lb fireline crystal to a 10-15ft section of 8 or 10lb flouro.

-Sharp hooks. You need to know that when you get bit, you are getting the penetration into the hard part of the fishes mouth.

-Scent. I love berkley gulp and smelly jelly this time of year. I am a big fan of the gulp spray, or the gulp alive products. Also, I believe the smelly jelly makes them hold onto the bait just a little bit longer.

-The business end of things. Make sure that grub, beaver, kreature, tube or whatever else you like to run in the winter is hooked on straight so it stands up, moves, or just overall looks good in the water. If you like it, chances are the fish will too!

-Always watch to see what the weather is doing. For example, I had a day this winter a couple of weeks ago on lake washington, where the football head/grub bite was not happening. Well, it was bluebird skys and calm as a plate of piss. So what did I do? Downsized to deadsticking a dropshot on deep water structure, where fish were holding tight to cover. And game on!

I am sure there are more I can't think of, but i hope this helps you in your winter outings. Feel free to add your feedback, or things you sweat the small stuff on.

See you on the water!

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Comment by Ronald Hobbs, Jr. on February 24, 2009 at 8:28pm
Comment by Marc Marcantonio on February 24, 2009 at 4:10pm
Wow Jr., you are making me blush! Ron's advice is worth its weight in gold. One reason I love fishing is that nobody can possibly learn all there is to learn about the details. I will say the more details you study and learn the more your fishing will improve.

Hook size and style is one of the most overlooked details in fishing. When I choose a hook, the first factor I consider is the pound test of my line. If I'm using 6lb test, I will use a small, thin wire hook. Light line offers you very little leverage to sink a hook deeply into flesh or bone. You will succeed if your hook wire is thin, and your barb is small and sharp. Why use anything stronger anyway since your line will be the weak link in your setup? If you are using heavy line, you need a heavy wire hook so you don't straighten it on the hookset, and since you will be winching fish out of cover the hook needs to be able to withstand the force.

The second consideration is the size of your lure and type of lure. If you are using a bulky soft plastic, then you want the big hook so your hook gap doesn't get jammed with plastic that prevents you from sinking the barb into the fish. If you are using a thin dropshot worm, you want a tiny hook so it doesn't kill the action of the worm. I have as many different sizes and styles of hooks as I have styles and sizes of baits and pound test of line. Ron's rod information about details is also important. Sure, Ron can catch more bass than most on a Snoopy pole, but you can bet he uses a specific model for a specific technique, lure weight and style, and even weather conditions. Besides, details make great excuses to fill the boat and garage with tons of rods and reels!

Another often overlooked detail is presenting your lure at the exact level of the bass, or slightly above. How often do we think about the relation of the bass in the water column? If we concentrated more on getting our lure at the optimal height in the water column, our catches would improve. You steelhead and river salmon guys know this; you catch more fish if you get your corky at exactly a foot above the depth of the steelhead or salmon.

Scents do make a difference on tough days, and subtle differences in lure action can make major differences in catch results.

How you play a bass is important; how you spool your line; what reels you pick; what line for each purpose; etc. etc. Even the style of the dropshot weight can make a huge difference (had to slip in a commercial for QuickDrops, Ha Ha).

How to network your electronics and interpret them; how to use your GPS...can you spot a bass or a rockpile on your sonar ten minutes after it occurred and not only replay it on your sonar, but then save its exact gps coordinates 10 minutes later? I can, and so can others. How about details such as casting skills? Ron can pitch a dropshot rig far up under a dock merely inches above the water line; far better than I ever can and when that pattern is on, that detail lets Ron kick my butt everytime!

If you are going to survive the tournament game, or chase record fish, you have to learn the details because the competition is too good. Treat every fishing trip like a scientific experiment and you will always learn something and improve your fishing skills on every trip out.

How about recording the details you learn? I log every single fishing trip in my TaySys FishNLog Professional Suite database on my computer. Just the act of filling out the details required in keeping a log teaches you more about fishing then you can imagine. Reading your trip reports from past years reveals details you would never have thought about after a single trip. Year after year of reporting and sooner or later you see patterns developing and important details that go unnoticed by those relying on their memory. Once you get older and lose your youthful athleticism like myself, you can make up for declining eyesight and endurance by making smarter decisions because you understand details.

OK, that is enough of a work break for now...NEXT!

Comment by Daniel on February 24, 2009 at 3:24pm
Here's a little tip about line twist with drop shot...

Well if you are using braid to fluoro then you probably aren't getting any line twist and in deep water its really the only way to go.
But if you still use 100% fluoro on your spool and your lures are twisting really bad on the way up try this.

When you are putting any type of worm on the hook don't do a traditional nose hook like this

Try to hook your worm up so the point of the hook comes out if the front of the worm not the top like this

When you reel your lure in with it hooked this way it runs completely straight back to the boat and doesn't spin like a helicopter.
Comment by Craig Bukowski on February 24, 2009 at 9:38am
Hey Jordan,

I noticed you commented on using scents like smelly jelly, Berkley Gulp, etc. I had a friend a while back who's friend owned Spike -it dips and dyes. If you haven't tried them yet, they are awesome. I would always use the red with garlic scent and dip the tail of whatever plastic I was using. Just be careful because it wil PERMANENTLY stain anything!!

Comment by Ronald Hobbs, Jr. on February 24, 2009 at 8:59am
Spot on Jordan, Marcantonio taught me "the small stuff" and how to think about it. He is the very best of deep thinkers how he can improve fish catches not by using secret lures but by making every bite count.
These days the small stuff I always sweat are my rod, reel, line hook setup. My question to myself before I go on the water do I have all the factors measured up and have the right setup?
For example there are many factors that play into role when I choose my rod the top 2 factors that I take into account are: water depth I am going to fish, which type of hook and lure combo. For deep water I like a longer rod in order to make up for line stretch, shallower water I can get away with a shorter rod. I then decide what kind of bait I am going to use.
For deeper water, if I use an exposed light wire hook and less than 1/2oz. I can get away with using a lighter action rod, usually my BCR852 GLX or BSR852 GLX. With Heavier wired hooks, which usually always have larger barbs, less than 3/4 oz. I will will have to step up my action of rods from a medium to medium heavy or heavy,My two choices for this are my BCR 893 GLX or a BCR853. If I decide the biggest and baddest hooks are what I am going to use and more that 3/4 oz. I will up my rods once again to a BCR855 or if it is truly necessary a BCFR894.
These rods I think will be able to sense the smallest of pressure bites and be able to get the hook barb buried into the fish. Most guys lose fish while fishing deep because they don't pick a heavy enough rod for the job.
After I pick which rods I am going to use, Then I decide which line size I use as well. I always say to use the heaviest line you can get away with, the heavier line makes up for my laziness, not checking my line for nicks and abrasions. During tournament situations, I will scale down a little than what I think I can get away with just so that maybe I can get an extra bite or two. With lighter rods you can get away with lighter line the 2 powers I will use 8-10lb. flourocarbon, for the 3 powers I will use 12-15lb. test and for the heavy rods I almost exclusively use 15lb. flourocarbon. I always worry about the size of line I can get away with on my heavier rods, I don't want to worry if I set the hook too hard or if the fish lunges at the last minute that I will break it off.

My post is getting to long but anyways this is the stuff that I sweat the most, having the right tools to take advantage of every opportunity. Less lost fish equal more fish in the boat.
Comment by Mark Maderos on February 24, 2009 at 8:55am
The old saying "that luck is preparation meeting opportunity". It's not luck that a few anglers catch the majority of fish. It's attention to detail. My dad was the best fish finder I have every seen. The guy had a nose for fish that I just don't have. But year after year, he wouldn't cash as many checks or win as many tournies as you should because he never sweated the small stuff. He would lose fish to broken line, dull or rusted hooks, drags not working properly. I learned a valuable lesson from him that he wasn't even try to teach. Take the time before and during the tourney to "sweat the small stuff". If all this extra attention to detail is worth just one more fish in the trip, then to me it's worth every second. That extra fish could be the kicker your bag needs. Also for me it's a confidence booster. This is another part of the game. Being more prepared than the other guy gives me confidence. Knowing that I can out grind other guys gives me confidence. Knowing that I have spent fun / prefishing time learning new techniques gives me confidence. This is all the small stuff that separates us from the rest of the crowd guys.
Love the fact that you are ADDICTED to bass fishing and that addiction serves us well.
Comment by Abbottola on February 24, 2009 at 12:02am
Absolutly Jordan, if your not catching fish theirs nothing to blame on your gear which cancels a lot of water. The most important thing I think about, is that bait presented correctly?
This might seem wasteful but if I have a dull hook, it gets tossed and a new one tied on. I'd rather place my confidence in machined sharpened hooks, than a cold numb hand trying to put a fine point on a hook.
Another hint would be scents, oil based vs. water based. Oil and water based scents work two different ways. A bass's olfactory glands in the nostrel can't smell oil based scents because the particles are two large. Although it does cover foreign scents to pass right over the glands. Water based are smaller which olfactory glands can detect, which actually work better but require much more application more often. Bottom line: Any scents is better than no scent. Either way both increase the time that bass will hold onto the bait (especially hard baits).
The last small thing, are their any nicks or abrasions on the last ten feet of my line. Many of you know and constantly check this, but for the newbies make this a constant. Any time you free a snag, catch a fish, drag on rocks, climb over wood, constantly check your line.
Comment by Marc Marcantonio on February 23, 2009 at 10:04pm
Spot on, Jordan. It is nice of you to share those tips, and people would be wise to consider them!

Attention to detail is a winning formula, and often is the difference between earning wood and finishing down in the pack.
Comment by Jordan Doucet on February 23, 2009 at 8:21pm
"By themselves they are "small", but that one thing can make or break a trip."

Exactly my point, I think its the little things that often get passed up that can make the difference.
Comment by Daniel Bavery on February 23, 2009 at 8:02pm
The 2 main things I check is me line and hooks. Basically thats it.

I have confidence in Sufix and P-line. If it isnt one of those 2, me no likey me odds.

The hooks have to be Owner, as well as the split rings. At least 2X if not 3X, and Hyper Wire split rings. There is no other in me eyes.

Other than that Im not too picky. It would seem the things you have listed are "small things", but really, arent they the most important? By themselves they are "small", but that one thing can make or break a trip.

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