Tackle and Tactics
Anglers new to bass fishing still ask me about spinning gear so here's another general update. Two things you should know about me before you read this. Firstly I'm a tight Yorkshireman and I find it difficult to spend money on anything - including fishing tackle. Secondly, when I do buy something I want decent quality and when it comes to fishing gear this means it must be RELIABLE and EFFECTIVE.
So, let's consider what I'm talking about item by item. Rods are (perhaps surprisingly) fairly low down on my list of must haves. Most of those sold for bass spinning, and there are many, will do more or less what is required of them and the length is just a matter of personal preference (I like longish rods myself - they give me a bit more control and old habits die hard). Of course they vary a bit in the quality of the materials and particularly in the reel fittings and rings but other than this I see little point in spending a fortune on something that simply propels your lure out to sea and sets the hooks. When it comes to playing a hooked fish you can do that pretty effectively with a handline so the 'power' of the rod often quoted by salespeople is nonsense. So, as long as the rod is not too floppy or too rigid to do its jobs and not too tip-heavy to wield for an hour or two it will be fine.
Fixed spool reels are probably a bit more important. Basically you need something that's not too heavy, with a good line lay and a reliable clutch. I've used Shimanos in the 4000 size for years now without problems but my pal Alan Vaughan has four different Okumas, each costing a third to a quarter of the price of mine. He says they are excellent. Sadly there are also some crap reels on the market but I've not tested the whole range so I can't do a 'Which' type comparison.
These days lines have changed dramatically. Nylon monofilament is still OK of course and for bass spinning top quality 8-10lb BS will do a good job. However, modern braided lines have huge advantages in lack of stretch (very sensitive and set hooks well), diameter and strength (30lb braid is thin enough to cast well but will usually pull your lure out of kelp and wrack with ease). Although braid's expensive it can last for years so this is not much of a reason for sticking to nylon. Of course if you get a tangle it can be a bugger to unpick and the trauma of cutting off £5s worth of brand new line is not lost on me. Nevertheless, unlike nylon, your braid will probably cast well even when it's low on the spool. There are many brands of braid available. My first braided line experience was with Fireline and it is still an excellent introduction to the material. Fireline is easy to handle and reliable but it's a touch thicker and stiffer than many others. A few years back I switched to Whiplash, which is considerably thinner and softer. This stuff is more inclined to tangle, particularly if you are using a method that involves repeatedly slackening the tension (jigging or popping for example). There are many others with varying degrees of strength and usability but I stick to what I know. Again, I've not tested all the ones available so I can't comment on them.
Lures are probably the easiest way to empty your bank account. In particular, some fancy modern hard plastics can cost a fortune but if you just want to catch bass the old faithfull Rapalas are still extremely effective. Of course, if you want to, you can spend twenty pounds or more per lure but I doubt that you'll catch more bass and you may even fish less effectively knowing that there's a chance that the next cast could wedge the hooks of your luxury plug in a rock or a kelp stem. Incidentally, I notice that many of the newer plugs on the market seem to have three trebles fitted. In my view this is one too many when I'm trying to unhook a lively little bass. Nor does it do the fish any good if they are progged by the spare points. When it comes to bass lures, if you want to be prepared for anything you'll also need a popper and a weedless, Texas rigged, soft plastic too but these can be pretty cheap.
Having written this yesterday I went out this morning with my basic spinning kit to see whether I was practising what I was preaching. The rod was my old prototype Veal's Surespin , the reel was my seven year old Stradic 4000, the line was the usual Whiplash 30lb and the lures I used were a Rapala J11f and a 7" creamy coloured Slug-Go. The place where I started to fish appeared to be full of small schoolies and I landed six on the Rapala before moving on. A little further on I met another local angler who showed me the picture of a decent fish that he'd landed a little earlier on a nice, home made plug. I walked on 'til I got to the area that he'd been fishing and found that plugging was difficult because of drifting, fine, slimy, green weed that fouled the lure within seconds. I switched to the Texas rigged Slug-Go and promptly landed three decent bass. I finished off by losing a much better fish which grabbed the soft plastic and tore away, with the clutch singing, then it simply came unstuck while I was playing it (are the non-snag hooks on these softbaits too springy?). Nine fish in all, a very satisfactory test run.
If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - firstname.lastname@example.org