Putting together a well-rounded and precision routine meant deconstructing the elements of fishing that have made anglers successful for hundreds of years. It wasn't a matter of simply combining the best practices of several tried and true practices and following Big Fish around during their annual spawning journeys (although that isn’t a bad idea).
The following process had everything to do with breaking down each element of each practice piece by piece and recreating each of those aspects block by mortar, by block all over again. Doing so, in what we feel is a much more surgical and finely tuned way than before. Finding the fish is half the battle, knowing what to throw at them and how to go about it is the other.
Join us in this four (4) part series: We’ll first be discussing Lure selection (I); then we’ll move onto Technique (II); followed by Leader talk (III); and finally Gill Cleats™ (IV), what the heck is a gill cleat you say? Scroll to the bottom to read ahead.
The Lure (Part I):
The most ubiquitous lure. What is it? I'm willing to wager, even if you haven't done the research, and even if you are new to the sport, you know what it is. It’s the Spoon. Simple and elegant, it comes in all shapes and sizes; in casting, jigging, in trolling, and in flutter; in every color and pattern you've ever seen or can imagine. When you open your Special Mate tackle box you know that it’s the spoon that’s the deadliest, most attractive, most alluring chunk of hardware you can toss in the water.
Why does the Spoon catch so many fish? Well, try throwing a 5/0 Gamakatsu on a bluegill on the warmest of summer days, or set up a series of treble hooks on pairs of sucker minnows while ice fishing tip-ups and you'll witness why spoons work so well. It’s what Lauri Rapala learned and mimicked by carving a chunk of balsa wood nearly 100 years ago. Predatory fish will always, and instinctively, prey upon wounded baitfish first. Take Pike for instance, they are master predators and always gorging; the tethered, 180° roll of a baitfish is therefore, always oh so compelling. Bass too, have you ever witnessed when a Bass tries to choke down a wounded pan fish even after their gut is already so full that tail fins are sticking out of their beaks from the last fish they ate. And yet still, they are compelled to strike their next victim. They can't resist the erratic flutter, the contrast of silver-scale to white-belly flipping to and fro again and again.
Like a peacock's features there's an allure so enticing and seductive about the flutter of a spoon that fish compulsively attack it. Fish on! If you tank test enough lures you start to witness differences in spoon action between manufacturer designs. These differences are not subtle and there's no wonder why some spoons are more effective than others. Lure color and the weight of your tackle (You may like, and we also love Rosco split rings and Gamakatsu [aka Gammie] hooks) matters too, and when combined with lure action, results in considerable differences in overall catch rates.
Without the perfect lure the quest to develop the ideal fishing program falls flat on its face. To make this work we had to put together something better than what was being offered from current production lines by importers and state-side manufacturers.
To that end, the Spoon was the first cog in our Swiss-army-made watch of a lure. Through rigorous design efforts, tooling and retooling; hours upon hours of testing and retesting; and through blood sweat and salty grit, what started as a concept became the central component of our program. We set out to design Spoons that were customizable, able to match any hatch and catch any species of fish and wound up creating a brand new Brand entirely. A lure that has outperformed anything we've ever bought on the open market or tied to a snap swivel on open waters.
What’s more, we developed a Custom Lure Shop that we call Lure Design Studio™. With Lure Design Studio you can design your own new and favorite lures. You design it and we’ll make it happen, make sure you send us pics of your latest catch!
It wasn’t enough to be competitive in and win fishing tournaments. Real pleasure comes from shared success. We can't wait to see what HangryBrand Spoons are able to drag in (pun intended) for you. Join us in the fun and start increasing your net’s worth today.
The Technique (Part II):
Any Angler who fly fishes will tell you how much enjoyment there is in slinging tippet upstream from an outside Riverbend full of Brown Trout. Likewise, when Walleye are running in the spring there's nothing better than slow-motoring against the current and jigging horizontal repetitions for spawning big game. There's also a group who love nothing more than to surf fish for Steelhead; or cast the shallow weed beds for Bass and Pike; or cast big lures on bigger bodies of water for the elusive fish of 1,000 casts, the Muskie. When it comes to increasing your odds, covering a lot of water, and bringing first timers out of their living rooms and away from their flat screen TVs, trolling is the only technique that gets it done quick, fast, and in a hurry.
Unless you own a Charter boat what's the likelihood that you own and maintain five (5) of the same rod and reel setups just in case you want to take three or four, green behind the gill/don't own their own/don’t own the correct rod and reel, friends out fishing? Unless you're utilizing a trolling program what's the chance you'll have three (3) lines in the water per person when the stars do align around soccer/T-ball/flag-football/dance/b-day party/weddings/etc. and you make it out on the water? Unless you're trolling, how else are you going to be able to cover 2-4 or even 6 miles of lake per hour fished? (Note: in one day we will regularly cover 12 to 18 miles of water).
You can troll for any species of fish. Repeating this for effect, you can troll for any species of fish. Trolling can be done on the open seas; on large bodies of freshwater; on smaller inland lakes; hell, you can even stern troll a good river with the right gear. We've even caught perch and panfish trolling. With the right setup it doesn't matter if its crappie, smallmouth, pike, lake trout, doesn't matter. It has everything to do with maximizing your effectiveness and increasing your odds. That's what trolling affords you.
It's no exaggeration when I tell you we comfortably run twelve (12) lines with four people. I'm not talking about a huge boat either. I'm talking an 18 footer with 6 lines Port and Starboard using TraxsTech gimbal mount tracks and Cisco Fishing System rod holders, with room to run three more lines (two Cannon downriggers and a stern planer board right down the shoot). When there's five us on the lake we run a total of 15 lines (12 of which are all boards, 2 of which are down riggers, and 1 stern board).
Is there any other way, on an 18' boat you would be able to pull off running 9, let alone 15 lines at one time without the use of planer boards? Interested now? Fish can be fickle and finicky creatures. Especially late morning; especially after a big mud, turbid stirring storm; and especially in an East wind or High pressure system. Having multiple lines in the water not only increases your odds, but allows you to eliminate both area and lure color in a hurry.
So, you get it, boards are great. They can seem daunting and complicated too, but they’re not. They are however, notoriously difficult to store and can require some finesse getting them off your line when retrieving your game after a fish strikes. Boards that offer a one-hand release solve one of these issues, but you’ll still need a storage option.
There are soft case bags and even aluminum racks on the market if you’re interested, otherwise leave a storage hatch cleaned out and you’ll do just fine. With planar boards literally and figuratively ‘in two,’ the ideal fishing program and the second functional cog in our ideal fishing program is complete.
The Leader (Part III):
Leaders, but first, Trolling Rod and Reel Combos. Trolling Rods (these are different than casting rods in that they are made to flex backwards away from the eyelets & reel instead of forward and in towards the eyelets & reel like a casting rod does) with a Medium to Heavy spine will keep your boards trolling uniformly (we predominantly use 8.5’ rods on boats under eighteen feet in length and and 9’ rods on boats over)
You’ll also need good Trolling Reels with a good set of bearings and a great drag system (Shimano, Penn, and Daiwa are solid all-around reels that come in different sizes and spool capacities for different game fish applications. The addition of carbon fiber gears make these setups nearly indestructible). If those are out of your price range that’s fine, don’t let cost ‘drag’ you down. There are plenty of other options that will get you started including pairs of Cabelas depthMaster series or Okuma rod and reel combos.
The Leader. Leaders are, if not somewhat overlooked, a critical component of any ideal fishing program. I’ve spoken with plenty of Fishermen over the years who insist on tying their mono (monofilament) or braid directly to the lure. This technique is fine in strictly limited applications. But, when you’re talking about trolling with multiple lines you’ll want a barrel swivel somewhere between the lure and the last 6ft of line to reduce line twists (and the reduction in line strength that comes with those twists).
With most pre-made leaders being very limited in length and/or overpriced for what you need, and plenty of manufacturers selling Fluoro (Fluorocarbon), it was the leader that was the latest edition to our custom program. Knotz Speed Leaders™ is what we came up with. Buy some Fluorocarbon leader material, make a bunch up and give them away to your friends. If they come back and offer to pay you to make some more for them and to make them for friends of friends of friends, that’s when you know you have something special.
Bottom line, if you’re tying a barrel swivel anyway, why not use a barrel snap swivel. We’ve had other, older-style models straighten out under the stresses of really big game. Adding a Duo-lock barrel snap swivel to the end of your primary line (directly before the leader) makes your program ideal for quick leader and lure change-outs. We also add a florescent bead in front of the snap swivel toward the rod to protect the rod tip; signal to the novice when to stop reeling; and to signal the person with the net in their hand that that we’re out of line (especially when there’s a trophy on). The primary line, optional bead, and duo-lock snap swivel you’ll need to set up yourself. When you do, it’ll be ready to receive a Knotz Speed Leader™
- Primary line > Bead > Snap swivel > Knotz Speed Leader.
Knotz Speed Leaders have a perfection loop on one end (the end that your main line and barrel snap swivel attaches to, and a Duo-lock Snap on the other end that attaches directly to the Lure (When you’re trolling with HangryBrand Spoons, or any of your old spoons you just can’t let go of, we do not recommend attaching a second split ring to the leader side of the lure.
Experimentation with and tank testing lures has shown that this additional weight on the leader end can reduce lure action (especially at slower speeds). You’ll still catch fish, but your live well or ‘SHITI’ cooler might not be as overflowing as it could be).
Along the same lines (yeah, another intended pun) you’ll want an appropriate weight Fluorocarbon leader. A heavier gage is not always better. There’s no doubt that a heavier gage leader is stronger; but, they’re more rigid and less free-flowing which directly impacts the presentation and action of your lure. Lastly, the size of your Duolock snap should match the weight of the Fluoro.
- Perfection Knot > Fluorocarbon Leader material > Duolock Snap > Lure.
The leader can be any length. We recommend as long of a leader as your fishing Rod & Reel combo can handle (e.g. longer rods can handle longer leaders). Meaning, when the leader is connected to the line you can still attach your lure to the hook keeper and take up all the slack by reeling the line all the way up without the snap swivel colliding with the end eyelet.
We also recommend Fluorocarbon leader material. Yes it’s more expensive. Yes it’s worth it. You’ll find about as many opinions about fishing techniques as you find people who fish; but good marketing aside, the fluorocarbon leader is one area where the vast majority of Fishermen agree. Fluoro is tough. Its abrasion resistance properties can handle getting twisted around the body of a fish and stand up to the sharpness of cascading gill plates. Having the same light refraction properties as water, it’s also virtually invisible underwater. The additional strength, and durability at lighter test weights do however, have a cost and not just in dollars. It’s true that Fluoro doesn’t stretch as well as Mono does, but the fact is it doesn’t need to.
When you use Braided backer (fill 1/3 to 1/2 of your reel with Braid first. It’s strong, lasts almost forever, and has a very small diameter just in case that trophy takes your line out over 100 or 200 yards you’ll have it). Then, fill your reel up with your Primary line (Between your rod tip and the stretch that the Mono provides it’s more than enough to land any fish. We’ve caught Muskies over 45” inches on 20lb Mono mainline and 15lb Fluoro leaders while trolling for Walleye) and either Copper or Leadcore (depending on what you’re fishing for and the time of year you may be running 30’ to 300’ feet). Last comes your Fluoro leader. Our leaders serve as a very important component, the invisible cog/ghost in the machine if you will. The leader won’t need as much stretch with the proper fishing rods and the main line doing the heavy lifting.
- Braid > Mono (mainline) > Copper/Leadcore (lure depth…and some argue copper line vibrates which further attracts the fishes) > Fluoro leader.
The Grappler (Part IV):
Tired of catch and release trophy’s thrashing around the net and twisting up both hooks and leaders. Tired of catch and grill fish getting the better of bare fingers and knuckles with razor sharp gills. Just tired of not having a better damn way to snap some pics without getting fish slime and gunk (that’s a technical term for smootz) everywhere. We designed the Gill Cleat.
For good measure and to round out an otherwise ideal fishing program we came up with the Anvil. This hand-held tool offers real safety. What better way to snap some pics and ensure the safety of yourself and your bounty.
Happy fishing and Tight lines. Welcome to the Evolution,
Article written by Mike Hiller