Fishing Tools | 5 Fishing Tools Every Angler Needs

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of fishing tools on the market now. Every company in the fishing space has slapped its logo on a set of pliers or scissors and flooded the market, so it’s hard to tell what’s a good buy and what’s not. Here are a few tools we’ve used and had good success with and one new one that has peaked our interest enough to add to the list of tools we will sample soon.

Fishing Tools | #1: Gamakatsu Micro Split Ring Pliers

Attempting to change out split rings with a set of needle-nose pliers is extremely frustrating, time-consuming, and dangerous. One slip while trying to swap out treble hooks with the wrong tool and you’ll drive a treble bend deep into your hand. Not a scenario you want to find yourself in. With the Gamakatsu Micro Split Ring Pliers, you won’t have to. The perfect tool for swapping out trebles and adding split rings to line ties, these pliers also have an awesome cutting edge on them for snipping the toughest braid in a snap. And at $7.79, they’re a steal!

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Fishing Tools | #2: Rapala Fisherman’s Pliers

All tools used in fishing seem to rust, eventually. It’s simply the nature of the beast with so much moisture around. You can pay $60 for a set of high-end needle nose pliers that will rust, or buy 10 pairs of the Rapala Fisherman’s Pliers for the same price. Easy call in our opinion considering the quality product you’re getting for the extremely affordable price tag. A solid tool with a firm grip, good cutter, and narrow tip for dislodging hooks and tinkering with tackle, the Rapala Fisherman’s Pliers are a solid buy. 

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Fishing Tools | #3: Rapala Super Line Scissors 

Another great tool, especially for the price point, the Rapala Super Line Scissors are a compact tool to add to anyone’s arsenal. We’re always looking for our scissors as anglers and sometimes when we finally find them they’re not in the best condition. Coming in at only $3.99, you can again pick up a few pairs if you’d like and have them stowed in multiple places instead of dropping $15 on a higher-end pair. And there’s no line in the realm of bass fishing these scissors can’t snip. 

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Fishing Tools | #4: Rapala Tool Holder Combo

Though we can understand how it would start to appear as though this article is sponsored by Rapala, we assure you it is not. These are just solid tools that we’ve had good luck with and this combo brings something new to the game in addition to the Fisherman’s Pliers and Line Scissors we already talked about. Adding a set of side cutters for biting through hooks and wires or opening up hook eyes, this combo comes with a tool for nearly anything you’ll need to do while fishing. And the magnetic tool holder rounds the whole set up into one convenient location. 

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Fishing Tools | #5: VMC Crossover Pliers

Here’s a tool that we haven’t had a chance to try yet but is worth noting as something unique. A new spin on the wacky rig tool, the VMC Crossover Pliers allow you to add an o-ring to your favorite worm without having to roll it up to your bait as you do with some other wacky tools which can cause light spots on the bait where the o-ring scuffs up the plastic. The o-rings that come with the Crossover Pliers are flat instead of round and have a hook hole so that you’ll lose fewer baits on the cast and the fight. A cool tool we’re looking forward to getting our hands-on.

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Soft Plastic Storage | Three Options for Storing Soft Plastics

Soft plastic storage can be a bit of a pain. They’re cumbersome and heavy compared to their life expectancy. If you get on a good flipping bite, you could go through 2 or 3 packs in a day. So the tendency is to keep a lot of soft plastics on hand. And doing so makes for a crowded boat or tackle bag. 

It’s also hard to keep soft plastics true to form. If you consolidate the contents of several smaller bags into one large ziplock for instance, then the baits have a tendency to get all jumbled up and develop memory that contorts their original shape. But if you keep the baits in their original packs, they again become pretty space consuming. 

The biggest key to storing soft plastics is to minimize what you have on hand in general. There are thousands of bait and color combinations out there. You can catch 99% of the bass you would catch otherwise using a handful of baits in just a few basic colors. So find a half dozen baits that you have a lot of confidence in, then grab a few packs of some variation of green pumpkin, black and blue and a couple more tried and true colors and now you’re ready to store them.

Soft Plastic Storage | Option #1: Bait Binders

A bait binder is basically a little tackle bag that holds multiple ziplocks, much the same way your binder holds sheets of paper, with the exception that these can usually be zipped up. Bait binders like the Berkley Soft Bait Binder 1490 are handy whether you’re in a big boat, fishing from the bank, from a kayak or as a co-angler. 

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You can group your baits into sub-categories like worms, trailers and craws and have a binder for each, or consolidate even further to have all your soft plastics in one binder if you’re just going on a day trip. You can also leave most baits in their original package this way, which I recommend with any type of soft bait storage. 

In the past, I tried to take soft plastics out of their original packaging and store them in trays. One issue with that, baits like boot tail swimbaits would lose their form without their rigid clamp-shell packaging. But the main issue, it’s not practical while fishing. It’s much easier to pull a pack out and keep it in your pocket so there’s another bait readily available. And if you leave the box on deck so you can grab a bait quickly, the sun makes them soft and you’ll go through several more baits than necessary. 

Soft Plastic Storage | Option #2: Big Bags

Another really popular way of storing soft plastics is in big ziplock bags. There are actually several companies in the fishing industry now making these oversized, thicker bags with a more durable zipper than what you might find in the grocery store — Bass Mafia Money Bags and Fitzgerald Fishing Ultimate Storage Bags just to name a couple. 

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These bags allow you to dump a pile of baits into one bag if you wish, but remember to ensure the baits aren’t the type that will easily lose their form and you’re giving up the ability to stash a pack of baits in your pocket on the water. Or you can use these to store several packs in their original packaging which I recommend. The benefit to these bags over the binders is that you can quickly identify what’s in each bag without opening anything or looking for labels.

Soft Plastic Storage | Option #3: Tackle Boxes

This is actually my preferred way of storing soft plastics. I like to keep a fair amount of soft plastics on hand while still keeping it pretty basic. I also fish primarily from a boat, and boxes like the ones I use stack and store well. You can also use these same size tackle boxes to efficiently store hollow body frogs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and other lures in their original bulky packaging. 

So what kind of box is best? I actually wrote a story a little while back for Anglr where I revamped my soft plastic storage in a budget conscious way. In that piece, I used some cheap plastic containers off the internet that packs of lures fit into perfectly, but over time the containers warped and I found the lack of a latch and hinge system became a bigger issue than I originally thought it would be. 

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I have since found the Flambeau 4510 Double Deep Half Tuff Tainer and have been really pleased with it. I use these boxes to store soft plastics as well as hollow body frogs in their original packaging without wasting much space. The boxes have a hinge, clasp and even a handle and they stack well. Each box also comes with three dividers in case you want to combine a few styles of soft plastics into one box. 

There are countless soft plastic combos out there now and dozens of ways to store them. These three work well depending on how you fish and the type angler you are. If you only have two or three baits you really like and you fish primarily from your own boat, the big bags may be the best bet. If you find yourself between the bank, the boat and a kayak, the bait binders will come in really handy to keep a little bit of everything on hand. 

If you’re like me and you like to keep not only your soft plastics but also several other baits in their original packaging, large tackle boxes like the Flambeau 4510 are ideal. However you fish, you should be able to at least use a variation of one of these methods to become more efficient in the soft plastic storage realm.

Jerkbait Storage | Storing Top 3 Storage Options for Jerkbaits

I love to mess with tackle, especially in the winter months when the conditions are less than ideal to fish at times. It seems like there’s some new tackle storage system coming out every week now, so there’s always something to try or look into. 

For all my treble hooked baits, I use a similar strategy. But there are a couple of different boxes I’ve had my eye on for jerkbait storage in particular. So in this piece, I’ll give you a breakdown of what I use and we’ll look at those new boxes that have caught my eye.

Jerkbait Storage Option #1: My Method

I like to keep a lot of baits on hand, so the traditional subdivided tackle tray never really did the trick for me. If I gave each bait its own section, there would be a lot of wasted space and I was only able to put a few baits in a box. If I piled multiple baits in each section, the hooks naturally got all tangled together and it was a mess when I would go to get a bait out. 

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Owner Treble Hook Safety Caps solved some of the issues. These caps cover the treble hooks and keep them from hooking each other, or me for that matter, when grabbing for a bait. Without the loose trebles, there was no need for the restrictive interior walls. Moving to an open 3700 style box, I was able to greatly increase the number of baits that would fit. 

To complete the setup, I’ll throw a Flambeau Zerust Plastabs Rust Inhibitor into the box to help prevent rust. I still don’t just cut a bait off and toss it straight from the lake into my box though. Instead, I’ll let the bait dry a bit and then return the hook caps and place the bait back in the box. But the rust inhibitors do a great job of preventing rust from inadvertent moisture that enters the box via precipitation, random spray or even humidity.  

Jerkbait Storage Option #2: Bass Mafia Double Barrel Jerkbait Coffin

This is one that’s been out for a while now, but I’ve never quite pulled the trigger on it for a few reasons. The main reasons being I don’t fish with jerkbaits a lot and I’m pleased with my current setup. In addition, the box is pretty pricey at $49.99 and it’s pretty big and oddly shaped so it’ll take up a good bit of space. 


If I did own a lot of jerkbaits, I would invest in this box. For starters, yes $49.99 is a nice chunk of change, but as any avid jerkbait angler knows, that’s the price of only 2 or 3 top tier jerkbaits. So a box capable of individually storing and protecting a collection of 20 jerkbaits worth $500 would be a worthwhile investment. 

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I believe you could also store at least 2 jerkbaits in each cylinder without running too much of a risk of the baits scuffing each other up or getting tangled. And, I believe the Jerkbait Coffin is capable of holding another pesky lure when it comes to tackle storage— the umbrella rig. So keeping a few of those rigs dry, orderly, and rust-free would be an added benefit.

And I do believe the Double Barrel Jerkbait Coffin would be a strong, durable, and effective box for the job. Because I did buy Bass Mafia’s Cranking Coffin four or five years ago and have been extremely pleased with it. Likewise, it is expensive and a little cumbersome. But, it’s able to hold and protect a lot of baits and I can easily remove a large segment of my tackle from the boat if I’m staying at a hotel and I’m worried about theft.

Jerkbait Storage Option #3: Plano Edge Professional 3700 Thin Box

This is another box that I’ve had my eye on. Though at first glance it seems to contradict some of the things I mentioned when going over my method for jerkbait storage, it actually solves some of those problems that occur with more traditional 3700 size boxes

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For starters, the new Edge series from Plano is pretty impressive in general. With metal hinges, built-in rust inhibitors, and strong latches, all these boxes are standouts. For jerkbait storage, the Edge 3700 Thin displays its particular problem-solving attribute in the name. This box is a good bit thinner than most 3700 style boxes, making it the perfect box for storing jerkbaits which are obviously slimmer than most other hard baits. 

And the Edge 3700 Thin has more options when it comes to segmenting the trays. Where some of the more standard 3700 style boxes have two or three fixed dividers or perhaps three or four locations for optional dividers, the Edge 3700 Thin has dozens of optional divider locations where you can really customize your box to your particular set of baits and pack several in while keeping them separate and rust-free. The dividers are even vented so that the rust inhibitor can work throughout the box. 

The price is still a little higher than most 3700 boxes at $24.99, but you’re getting a whole lot more than you do with those standard 3700 boxes. The Edge 3700 Thin could hold around 10 to 15 jerkbaits of varying sizes well, so the price-point and capabilities of this box make it a great option in my opinion for the angler looking to protect and store a handful of high-end jerkbaits.

Three Best Options for Storing Bass Fishing Weights

You either love to do tackle or you hate it. I personally really enjoy messing around with tackle when I’m not on the water. It’s my favorite way to kind of extend the experience where some anglers do the same thing through map study, reading fishing reports or studying their logbook

For those that don’t like messing with tackle, it’s usually out of frustration over the cost of the boxes and other organizational items, or they just can’t find a way to do things that suit them. But finding a way to safely and securely store several higher-end items when it comes to fishing is actually to the benefit of the budget-conscious angler. Tungsten weights definitely fall into that category. 

They’re pricey and notorious for chipping paint off one another if you just toss them into a pile. So here are three options for storing bass fishing weights that are a worthwhile investment for an angler on any budget.

Storing Bass Fishing Weights | Terminal Tackle Boxes

Many terminal tackle boxes now come with a foam section with several pre-cut locations to store weights. I can hear you already, “I thought you said we were going to be talking about affordable options?” And you’re right, some of these boxes are extremely expensive coming in upwards of $50. But…

I lucked out one day and found a box in Academy that I’ve been using for a couple months now and it’s awesome. I’ve been really pleased with it so far and would definitely recommend it. It has two secure latches, nice sturdy hinges, a seal and a good array of storage options inside for anything you might need when it comes to terminal tackle. And the best part, it’s only $14.99. 


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Checkout the H2O XPRESS Premium Terminal Tackle Utility Box if you’re in the market. 

Storing Bass Fishing Weights | Small Boxes & Original Packaging

I use VMC Tungsten Weights, and that is an important part of this next method of storing weights so it’s worth noting that this won’t work for everyone. And in regard to these weights, they’re a solid product and come in at a great price point compared to other tungsten so it might be worth swapping over if you like this next idea. 

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A while back, I found a bunch of little plastic boxes at Harbor Freight. The smallest containers in that set were perfect for holding two of the little plastic trays that VMC weights come with. And then three of those little plastic containers fit perfectly into the compartments of Flambeau’s IKE Quotient Tackle Storage Series 140-IQ. 

I used this setup for quite a while and liked it really well, only moving to the new H2O XPRESS box I use now because of the waterproof seal the Flambeau box lacked. That seal is important because I was using the box to store all my terminal tackle, not just my weights.

Storing Bass Fishing Weights | Tungsten Baggies

This next one works well for oversized weights, even if you buy one of these tackle boxes. Once you get over 3/4- ounce weights, most terminal tackle boxes don’t come with cutouts to fit anything else. So I’ll take a 1- and 1/2- ounce punching weight for instance and put it in the corner of a thin ziplock bag, then give that corner several twists. I’ll then tie that corner off, effectively shrink-wrapping the weight in its own little baggy. 

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Now you can place that weight and several others in the same compartment of your terminal tack box without having to worry about the weights beating and banging on each other as much. It’s rare that you’ll need a new one of these weights so there’s no real inconvenience in having to wrap and unwrap them and I haven’t had the paint chip on any weights I’ve stored this way in the 3- to 4- years I’ve been doing this. It’s a super cheap fix and your weights are right there when you need them ready to go. 

Storing Bass Fishing Weights | In Conclusion

Storing weights can be a little tricky and tungsten weights are expensive. But you have to have weights when it comes to bass fishing and, if you go with tungsten, you’re definitely going to want to protect the investment. 

Don’t get discouraged if the first box you see is comparable to your boat payment. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find there are a few budget-minded options out there that will save you time and money both on the front end and in the long run. Hopefully, these three methods will make your tackle organization a little easier in the future.

Match the Hatch With Your Bait Selection While Fall Bass Fishing

The fall is heavily upon us now and this is one of the most crucial times of year to match the hatch when it comes to bait selection. With an overabundance of shad flooding the shallows of many fisheries, typically you have to pick something very similar in size and color to get bit, only depending on the action of the bait to help it stand out from the crowd. 

There are rare cases where you’ll want to completely contradict this train of thought, but for the most part, this is what fall fishing is all about. So here are 5 baits to use this fall to match the hatch. 

Match the Hatch: Lipless Crankbait

A lipless crankbait is one of the best, if not the best, fall-time match-the-hatch baits out there. Built to fish at various depths and with color patterns all but identical to the forage in many fisheries, a lipless crankbait represents a perfect bait for fall fishing. 

Bass often push shad up onto flats in the fall as the baitfish make their way back into creeks, bays, and pockets. Since a lipless crankbait can be fished from just a few inches deep out to 10-feet or even more, it’s the ideal bait to throw up onto a flat and gradually fish deeper and deeper as you work your way back down the tapering bottom. 

Use your retrieve to help the bass zero in on your bait. Sometimes it works best to hold your rod tip high and use a slow and steady retrieve to bring the lure back to the boat. Other times, yo-yoing the bait is the best bet. With this style retrieve, you’ll want to stop reeling intermittently and drop your rod tip, allowing the bait to fall towards the bottom. Then start reeling again while raising your rod tip and the bait will rise back up quickly through the water column. 

Match the Hatch: Blade Bait

Very similar to a lipless crankbait, a blade bait makes another great fall fishing lure for matching the hatch. Though a blade bait has a similar profile to a lipless crankbait and can be fished in similar scenarios, there are a few key differences. 

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For starters, a blade bait is a solid piece of metal where a lipless is some sort of composite or plastic, typically with chambers for rattles. 

A blade bait also has multiple holes along its back where the line tie clip can be relocated to adjust the vibration of the bait. And the key difference as to how the two baits can be fished comes down to depth. 

Although a lipless crankbait can be fished deep as well, typically when trying to get a bait 10-feet or deeper, the blade bait is the better option of the two. It falls faster and can be reeled faster while still maintaining the same depth versus a lipless crankbait. Steady retrieves and yo-yoing are still great presentations with the blade bait as well. 

Match the Hatch: Spinnerbait

Another fall favorite, the spinnerbait is perhaps the most widely used of all fall baits. Though as previously stated, the lipless is likely the best at matching the hatch, the spinnerbait is more widely used due to its all-terrain capabilities. Whereas the lipless crankbait with its 6 sharp, dangling hooks has to be reserved for more open water scenarios. 

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Having a bait capable of matching the hatch well around cover is crucial. 

Bass will stage alongside trees, stumps, and other shallow cover in the fall and simply wait for bait to pass by. Insert a spinnerbait into that scenario and the fish can’t help but inhale it.  

Small blades are typically your friend in the fall unless you’re on a fishery with gizzard shad or some other larger baitfish. For most lakes and rivers with threadfin shad, small 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits with number 3 willow leaf blades do a good job of matching the size of the forage. Or you can use a large 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with 3 or even 4 small willow leaf blades along the arm like the Booyah Super Shad Spinnerbait.

Match the Hatch: Small Topwater

Before the water gets down into the low 50s, you can still catch fish on top in the fall using small poppers, walking-style topwaters, buzzbaits, or plopper-style baits. The fish again have so much bait to choose from in the fall, that it can be difficult to get a bass to break the surface and commit to a topwater bait. 

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But, making sure you pick something small will increase your odds of getting bit if you’re just going down the bank. And it’s certainly a good practice to keep a topwater on deck in the fall in case fish come up schooling near the boat. The tendency is to want something that can be thrown a long way for this, so anglers will often have a big topwater tied on.

That’s all well and good on herring lakes where the bait is bigger, but for lakes with threadfin or other smaller baitfish, look for baits that are more compact like the 13 Fishing Dual Pitch 94 that can still be thrown a long way and you’ll find yourself getting more bites. 

Match the Hatch: Shallow Diving Crankbait

Another great option for matching the hatch shallow around cover is a shallow diving crankbait. Anything from a traditional squarebill to a flat-sided bait like the SPRO Lil John 50 is ideal. Baits this size that dive in the 1- to 6- foot range are perfect for picking apart shallow cover in the fall. 

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These baits are perhaps the most effective for covering riprap. 

They also work well fishing open flats. Taking a bait like this and intentionally letting it eat up the bottom of an open water flat is at times very effective at drawing attention to a bait and triggering strikes. 

There are even times where you can fish a bait like the SPRO Lil John around balls of suspended bait in deeper water with no relation to cover or the bottom, much the same way you would a jerkbait with a similar action. 

Obviously there are dozens of other great baits to fish in the fall that we didn’t touch on, jerkbaits, Shad Raps and ChatterBaits just to name a few. But these 5 bait categories that we covered are some of the very best when it comes to matching the hatch, thus making them some of the most effective when it comes to fall fishing. So get out on the water and give these baits a try and see if your numbers don’t improve.

Five 13 Fishing Baits Built for Fall Bass Fishing

As the fall ramps up, the water temps are cooling down. Fish are spread out from 20-feet deep on structure to 6-inches deep chasing bait. Then there’s also a large portion of the population suspended over deep water chasing hoards of baitfish. You need to be versatile this time of year and keep the fish honest by checking all sorts of stuff. Here are 5 baits from 13 Fishing built for fall fishing that will help you do just that.

13 Fishing Troll Hunter 

With 4 sizes capable of max depths ranging from 8-feet to 18, there’s a Troll Hunter crankbait for all stages the fish might be in this fall. Early in the fall, when there’s still a few lunkers hanging on the ledges, tie on the deep-diver and dredge one up. When the fish move shallower and get on those 45-degree banks making their way back into creeks and sloughs, the 12- and 8-foot divers will shine. 

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Crankbaits are great in the fall for several reasons, the biggest being that they match the hatch well. But not just baitfish. You can also use crankbaits to imitate crawfish later in the fall and into the winter when the bass have gorged themselves on shad and there’s an overabundance. Often, switching to something different like a craw imitating crankbait will trigger more strikes. 

13 Fishing Gordito

Sticking with that same train of thought, and playing off the popularity of the old school Wiggle Wart, the Gordito is a great crankbait for that late fall bite. As the water temps really start to plummet, moving to a craw imitator and really slowing down your retrieve can be key. 

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The Gordito has a nice, wide wobble and aggressive side-to-side action that has been proven to work time and time again on cold-water bass. Finishing the bait off with a pair of ultra-sharp VMC treble hooks, 13 Fishing has put together quite the little powerhouse of a crankbait. Diving to 7-feet, this is one you’ll want to have tied on as the fall winds down and the fish start locking in on rock and wood for the winter. 

13 Fishing Navigator

Pulling back a little to earlier in the season, let’s talk about schoolers. Fish will be chasing bait from dirt shallow to 100-plus. Wherever you find bait in the fall, you’ll find bass. And a topwater is a great bait to chase them with. 

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The Navigator comes in two sizes, 108 and 94. The sizes are based on the length of the baits in millimeters. The larger Navigator will obviously help add a little distance to your casts, but there are times where the smaller of the duo will generate more bites. Matching the hatch is key during the fall and you’ll often find the baitfish are a little smaller this time of year. 

13 Fishing Warthog 

Moving to shallow cover, a squarebill is hard to beat in the fall, and the Warthog knows how to root around. With an extra-wide head, this bait will come through cover really well. The wider bait provides more area for the hooks to tuck in behind it as it makes its way through shallow rock and wood. 

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Offered in two sizes (60mm and 70mm), you have some options with the Warthog. Seemingly insignificant, the subtle change between these two baits can make a huge difference. The smaller of the two baits dives 2- to 4-feet, the larger 3 to 5. Picking the right bait so that you’re ticking the cover and not just dredging the bottom is extremely important, especially in the fall when dealing with typically picky bass. 

13 Fishing El Diablo

Probably the most synonymous bait with the fall for most anglers, the lipless crankbait has likely tricked a million-plus fish by now this time of year. And it seems like they just keep getting better. Adding to their already popular lipless lineup consisting of the Magic Man, 13 Fishing recently introduced the multi-rattle El Diablo in 1/2- and 3/4- ounce models. 

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Lipless crankbaits are so effective in the fall because they can be fished at a wide range of depths and speeds. With fish scattered throughout the water column and water temperatures changing daily at times, having a single bait that can be used to transition with the fish is extremely helpful. The bait will generate bites on a myriad of retrieves, but yo-yoing the bait seems to be the most effective when possible. 

Don’t Sleep on these Five 13 Fishing Baits for Fall Bass Fishing

As the fall bite heats up in your area, be sure to grab some or all of these baits before hitting the water. Remember, look for the bait, not the bass. When you find the one you’ll find the other. Pick baits that resemble the baitfish present in size and color, only breaking away from that theology later in the fall when the water temps really start to cool down and fish start to focus on bottom crawling baits. 

With these baits in your arsenal, the fall bite should be on fire!

Log your 13 Fishing Baits to Get Rewarded

Are you a 13 Fishing owner looking to unlock exclusive badges and rewards? Well, now you can! 

Download the ANGLR app and log your 13 Fishing gear for a customized experience built specifically for you. Privately track your fishing trips, log your catches and waypoints, and record specific stats to your 13 Fishing gear so you know which gear works best for you.

Why Balsa Crankbaits are so Effective in the Fall

My first experience with balsa crankbaits was a Bagley balsa crankbait from the ’70s. It was one of the things I pulled from the tacklebox my dad used for years. I am really not sure how long I had it (or he had it), no idea when I lost it, but I do remember the feel and action of that bait. It was an older fire tiger colored Bagley lure and it worked well.

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I was fishing from an old jon boat at Wells Creek in the fall, chunking the bait along a drop off that had a line of stumps. I really didn’t know much about crankbaits, but I felt that the fire tiger should work in the slightly stained water. I had watched enough fishing shows to believe that I should toss the bait past the targets, then run it into the stumps; after contact, to pause. Several casts into the morning, I felt the bait hit a stump – stopped the retrieve – and BAM; my first balsa crankbait fish.

Balsa Crankbaits | It’s All About Quality Material

I had no idea how they were made, nor did I think much about it. I was certain that the bait felt of a much higher quality than anything available at the time… and that was good. Add to the initial appeal of the vibrant colors, the action of the bait – the unique wobble and feel of balsa – and even my limited knowledge of the crankbait world knew it was special.  And that opinion has not changed after all of these years.  

When you bump a balsa lure against an object and pause it, the more natural action of the balsa just seems to trigger the fish to strike. The baits also (maybe just my perception) seem harder to shake. Those big heavy plastic baits are often tossed out of the mouth of a fighting bass, but the lighter natural consistency of the balsa just seems to make that more difficult for an angry fish to get loose.  

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Balsa’s secret may be in the natural buoyancy of the hardwood.  

It allows baits crafted from the wood to cast easily, but “floats” up faster than plastic baits with equal weight. This attribute makes it one of the most effective materials for creating lures that mimic a stunned baitfish. When you slam it into structure and stop, the bait will start drifting toward the surface; clearing the structure and driving predators crazy. This is what makes it the perfect fall crankbait!

Through the years, the lures are named a little differently… the process of manufacturing the baits has changed (in case you are interested click here)… and more options are available; but some things have not changed. The feel and action of these crankbaits are still the best on the market.  

They still can flat trigger strikes if fished in the right conditions.

Bagley makes lures for about every species, now including non-balsa offerings that are made with the same quality that has become a part of the brand. I suggest you pick one up and see for yourself. They are definitely worth a look, and would be a welcome addition to any angler’s gear.

Log your Bagley Baits Balsa Wake 1 to Get Rewarded

Are you a Bagley Baits owner looking to unlock exclusive badges and rewards? Well, now you can! 

Download the ANGLR app and log your Bagley Baits for a customized experience built specifically for you. Privately track your fishing trips, log your catches and waypoints, and record specific stats to your Bagley Baits so you know which gear works best for you.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | A Breakdown with Zach Soulliere

Zach Souilliere grew up around Port Huron where he went to Saginaw Valley College and played ice hockey. After college he started working for a healthcare company, recruiting nurses for in-home pediatric care. But since he no longer played hockey, Souilliere “didn’t really have a lot to do and found a lot of free time”.  

Zack is an angler who loves chasing smallmouth. He prefers to fish the smaller rivers near his home in Bay City, Michigan; but is no stranger to places like Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City or Lake St. Clair outside of Detroit (arguably, the best smallmouth lake in the states).  His passion for fishing really came through as he explained how he uses a “tube” to catch smallmouth and big largemouth.

When I first started, I fished spinnerbaits, frogs, and senkos. After I got into it a little more, I wanted to try other baits and found that a tube could replace a lot of other baits. I catch fish on senkos, but I catch more fish with tubes; I think I get better reactions – at least up here in Michigan. I learn toward tubes because of the way they move through the water, the different ways you can fish them and there are a lot of color variations you can use.

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Zach walked through some techniques he uses when fishing a tube.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | As a Pseudo Ned Rig

There are times of the year where they will eat anything… but early in the year, they will not.  That is the tough thing about St. Clair, I know a lot of guys don’t like ned rigs or finesse fishing, but Lake St. Clair is just one of those lakes. If the presentation isn’t exactly what they want, you are not going to catch fish.

Every year I have been there I have caught fish on tubes, running them different ways. I like to take a ned head and jam it up inside the tube to hide that hook then just bouncing it across the weed lines.  

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If it is a rocky bottom, I am going to work it like a crawfish. Bumping it across the bottom, jumping it every so often.

This rig can be virtually weedless, allows you to keep a small profile, and can be used for bedding fish – or for fish that are feeding.  

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | As a Swimbait

I fished the Border Classic a couple of years ago and on day one, threw a white tube with a red underskirt. I had rigged it with a weighted swimbait hook and bounced it over the weeds and put up 93-inches. Day two came and I couldn’t catch a single fish with that lure. Everyone around me was catching fish, but I couldn’t. I caught three largemouth.  I asked the guy fifty yards from me, who was catching fish all day what he was using.  He said “A tube, but it was sand-colored today.”  That’s how finicky those fish can be.

One of the things I have really worked on over the last couple of years is bait presentation and matching baitfish.

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I’d recommended the Trokar Weighted Swimbait hooks for this type of fishing. You can throw them on a weighted hook and keep them right down on the bottom; since you can make them weedless.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | As a Weightless Rig

With tubes, I fish a lot of rivers. Up by me, there is Saginaw bay… the closest inland lake to me is about thirty-five minutes away from me. But there are about eight rivers that are within fifteen to twenty minutes. In July, I will go out on the Rifle River that dumps into Saginaw Bay and take a 3/0 hook with no weight on it at all and just throw it under trees and let it sink. 

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The smallmouth just go crazy on the tubes up there. Especially on those rivers when you can find those deep drop areas with little current, they love ‘em. If there is a current, I will throw a weighted hook on, but if it is one of those pools where it is standing still, I will throw that tube under overhanging banks and trees and let it sink as slow as possible. I have watched fish come from five feet away and watch it falling for a minute, then take it. 

Last year my biggest river smallmouth came on the technique the first week of July; 21 and ¾ inches.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass |As a Topwater Bait

 Frogs just don’t work for me, I struggle with frogs. With that in mind, I found a way to make a tube work for me in areas most anglers would normally throw a frog.

I throw it weightless into lily pads and can work it on top, or let it fall between the pads. I like the four-inch tubes with extra appendages; I take one of those appendages and use it to make the hook weedless. 

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This allows you to let that tube drop just below the lily pad. These are heavier, and it will run just below those lily pads, so you don’t get hung up on top, but it causes enough commotion that you are going to pull fish from areas. 

It isn’t like a frog, so you get a better hook-up ratio… a lot of guys say “why not use a buzzbait or a frog” and I tell them I  can make that tube move very differently in the water. I can let it sink, then jerk it like a jerk bait for a second… once it gets to the top of the water… let it sink again… through the weeds and repeat all the way back to the kayak.

Tube Fishing for Fall Bass | Zach’s Expertise

This Michigan angler spent a lot of time learning and observing. Working on presentation. 

I’ve done well on everything from Yum Tubes to a guy doing custom colors and baits for me last year. It seems that presentation is really more critical. I like fishing them on rock pile areas or weed lines. As I said, I fish mostly rivers, but there are times during the year when they shut down the rivers for the walleye spawn to keep people from snagging them. During that time, and during the spawn, I fish lakes. Then I go back to rivers because the fish spawn later in the year.

So, if you have never fished with tubes or are just interested, give these techniques a try. I am not going to kid anyone, since the conversation, I have tried a couple of the techniques he told me about down here in Tennessee. My fishing buddies would look into my kayak; “is that a tube you have tied on!”…well, yes it was. And they work. Even here in the south too. I haven’t tried them on a drop shot rig (yet), but Zach tells me this can be productive also!

A Little More About Zach Soulliere 

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I had never fished growing up”, so he took some worms out to ponds and decided to teach himself. As he progressed, he could see fish jumping in the rivers, and soon found kayaking as a way to reach those fish. Then he got involved in tournaments. He and his wife Jenna, who works in Autism care, found that they enjoyed the sport as a couple.  

Zack is part of the team for Smisek’s Baits. He and his wife are both in Hobies; Zach also teaming up with Fireball Outdoor Products, Stretching Lines Apparel and Robohawk.

Why I Vibe | Vibe Anglers Bring More Than Fishing to Their Community

The kayak space has a different feel to it. There isn’t as much of the pushing and the shoving as there is in the big boat world. Anglers are still super competitive, but not at the cost of sportsmanship and camaraderie. It’s just a whole other vibe if you will allow the egregious pun. 

But Vibe Kayaks has its own subset of that. A community feel, where even executives of the company hop on Facebook message boards at all hours of the night to answer any question one of their customers might have, that is if another member of the community doesn’t beat them to it. 

Pair that sense of community with a lineup of well-crafted vessels and you start to see why so many anglers are now choosing Vibe Kayaks. We sat down with a few of those anglers to get their input on what sets Vibe apart.

Why I Vibe | Ben Adrian 

“I have been around the kayak industry for over ten years and have owned dozens of different kayaks. As I developed my own preferences, I began to find the paddleboard style kayaks more fitting. After using both traditional kayaks and fiberglass SUPs, I was in the market for a roto-molded SUP and that is when I came across the Maverick 120.”

Why I Vibe(1)

“Instantly, I knew this boat would fill all my needs and my particular style of fishing. Combining this kayak with the Vibe community and customer service made this an easy decision. The kayak community began as a close group of anglers and strayed as the sport grew. However, the community of Vibe anglers has brought the sport back to its roots.”

Why I Vibe | Jake Suvak

“For me, my first kayak was a Vibe. Ever since I first started using it, the customer service has been amazing. Having the Vibe Kayak community on Facebook really helped me learn all kinds of different ways to rig up my kayak. That’s been the biggest thing for me, how great the community is.”

Why I Vibe(2)

“The people that are high up in the company even come on and help out. Like Josh (Thomas) is always active in the groups and it’s not very often that you see the founder of a company come on and reach out to try to have a conversation with you.” 

“I also went to one Vibe only tournament and that was a lot of fun. It was actually the first time I had been saltwater fishing and a bunch of the guys there helped me learn some presentations and what to use. So that was pretty cool.”

Why I Vibe | William Strasburg

“I grew up as a canoe guy with my dad. My brother and I used to fish the boundary waters up in Canada and Minnesota. My dad would take us in the summer up to one of the access points to the boundary waters and he’d tell my brother and I, ‘Alright, I’ll see you boys back here in one week.’ And we’d go out and a week later we’d be back.” 

Why I Vibe(3)

“I’ve been in a kayak now for 20 years. After I retired from the Army I was looking for something better to fish from and found Vibe in 2015. The people were great, I bought one and I haven’t turned back since then. Vibe is something besides just a kayak. It’s the community and sharing, trying new things. It brings back that sense of adventure from when I was a kid. That’s why I Vibe.”

Why I Vibe | Jeff Jones

“Originally in 2016, I was searching for a kayak and I had a list of requirements. I wanted it to be 12 to 14 feet, the ability to be able to stand in it, I wanted it to have a framed seat and of course to be a sit on top. But the problem was every kayak I was finding was a little out of my price range. But I finally found Vibe on a Facebook ad.”

“So I got to looking at it and the Sea Ghost 130 was my first boat. Initially, I got into a Vibe for the affordability and what they offer at that price point. It came with a rudder and a paddle, which was pretty important at the time because I wanted something with a rudder and that was  an add-on with other companies.”

Why I Vibe(4)

“Then after that, I just really liked the community. The boats are great and still really well built and affordable. I’m running the Shearwater 125 now. But I love the motto, No Drama, Just Adventure. And that’s why I’m still with them. It’s just a great community.” 

Why I Vibe | Erica DeLana 

“For me, the reason for “Why I Vibe” extends beyond my feeling that they offer a great line of kayaks with great features at an affordable price point. I first learned about Vibe Kayaks roughly 5 years ago when my kayaking experience consisted mostly of river floats and paddling for shorter periods of time fishing our my local lake. My husband and I were big into fishing, but mostly from a boat and had dabbled at best with fishing from a kayak. I’d met a few Vibe field team members through a charity fishing tournament I was hosting, and they invited us to paddle with them and their families a few weeks after on a local river. We showed up with our very basic sit on top kayaks, and despite sticking out like a sore thumb, we were immediately welcomed into the group of about 20 people that were there that day… most were in Vibes. We were intrigued as we really didn’t know much about Vibe at all, except they were way fancier than what we were paddling and “fishing kayaks.” It wasn’t until the end of that trip that I learned we’d also been hanging out with two of the owners, Josh and Miriam, and one of their daughters. We had no idea because that’s how chill of an outing it was… and because those behind Vibe truly live the brand they’re promoting.”

Why I Vibe(5)

“The Vibe Kayaks community is one that truly emulates their motto, “No Drama. Just Adventure.” It doesn’t matter what kind of kayak you paddle (or pedal), whether you’ve got the latest and greatest gear, if you’re a seasoned pro that lives and breathes kayaking, or if you’re a newbie like we were. I can honestly say that a single trip changed how I viewed kayaking and kayak fishing. The guys and girls there were just out spending a day doing what they loved – happy to help answer any questions we had, freely offering tips and tricks fishing rivers, and never once made us feel like we didn’t belong. The kayaking community, by and large, is a more-the-merrier group where friends of friends quickly become your friends.”

 Why Should YOU Vibe?  

Simply put, community. That’s what you hear time and time again from anglers who run a Vibe Kayak. They’ll eventually get around to talking about their Shearwater, Sea Ghost, or particular model they have and all the ins and outs of the boat. But by and large, there’s just that different feel to Vibe. Less company, more companionship. 

In a world wrapped up in divisiveness and disdain for one another, it’s easy to see why anyone would Vibe once you find that community feel. And with a lineup of quality watercraft to choose from, Vibe makes it easy to slide into their community in style. So I guess the real question is, why don’t you Vibe yet?

Log Your Vibe Kayak to Unlock Exclusive Badges and Rewards in the ANGLR App

Are you a Vibe Kayaks owner looking to unlock exclusive badges and rewards? Well, now you can! 

Download the ANGLR app and log your Vibe Kayaks for a customized experience built specifically for you. Privately track your fishing trips, log your catches and waypoints, and record specific stats to your Vibe kayak.

Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Review(1)

What To Do If You Flip Your Kayak

It is fall and there are more and more kayaks on the water, but all are not created equal. It seems that many companies are recognizing the demand and offering all shapes and sizes in an effort to give consumers the most affordable options. This is great for people looking to get their feet wet, but it can also lead to your entire body immersed!  

Before I get assaulted, I am not saying that one kayak over the other is more likely to get you wet; I know guys who have flipped a Hobie PA14 (one of the more stable kayaks on the market) by getting too comfortable with its stability. It is just a fact that with this many kayaks on the water, there are going to be folks ending up in the water this fall.  The key – be prepared.

Wear Your PFD

First (and the most important), wear your lifejacket. Let me say that again… wear your lifejacket 

The only time I have gone over, or under water, I was on the ramp. The first was getting in a kayak, then recently I slipped on a ramp and slid under some kayaks – but had on my life jacket so made it back to shore with no issues.  

I pass a lot of people sitting on their life jackets or with them tied to the kayak. Once you flip, your stuff scatters creating a debris field and making it hard to get everything back… that life jacket goes with it if not attached to you. Please wear it.

Don’t have one? Check out these kayak fishing PFD options and do yourself a favor.

Here Are Some Other Tips For When You Flip Your Kayak  

1.  Don’t panic. It will be ok (since you have your lifejacket on!). Take a deep breath, assess where you are, then look for your boat. If it is a sit-on-top, it should be floating. If it is a sit-in-side, it may be filled with water, but the plastic will still keep it somewhat buoyant.  

2. If you are in shallow water – just stand up. You didn’t panic, so by now you know you can touch the bottom. If not, try to move your boat close to shore. 

Both of these may not be an option.  

There are times you will need to re-board the kayak to get back to shore. I am going to assume that like most, you haven’t thought about that as a task that may happen, so you didn’t practice it. So, the real tip #2; practice getting back in your kayak. Google videos on methods to gain entry to the kayak from the water; then try them. This is an excellent video by Jeff Little showing how to re-board.   

3. Consider what matters most to you. It sucks losing your stuff, it can be costly and painful to replace; but it is just stuff. Make the priority you. Once you have landed back in your kayak, you can track down the items you lost – or maybe not – but either way, you are safe. 

A side tip to this one – lanyards. Lanyards allow you to attach all items you brought with you to the kayak. So, when you get that back, your stuff is all connected. Dry bags will also help keep your phone and keys safe – if you use them. But again, you are what matters. Get to safety first, then worry about your stuff.

There is no good time to flip your kayak. But if there was, a day when you left the ramp in shorts and flip flops is much better than when you are bundled up during the winter months when the water temp is low. (please read this article too – cold weather kayaking). 

 If you are going out for the first time, try to do it when the weather is nice, the water temp is warm and the wind is laying down. Always watch the weather, always let someone know where you are going… and always wear the lifejacket. Getting your kayak and gear will go so much better for you with that PFD attached to your body (correctly) and not floating away with the wind or current.