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Micro Jig Fishing | Up Your Game With the MISSILE Micro Jig

As more and more anglers hit the water these days, we are constantly in pursuit of new ways to outsmart the ever evolving bass. Finesse tactics have long been the remedy and seem to still be the frontrunner in cracking the code when it comes to catching overly pressured fish. 

One finesse bait that has taken the bass fishing world by storm over the last few years is the Ned rig. 

A lightweight jig head rigged with 2 or 3-inches of soft plastic, the Ned rig is about as intimidating as a chihuahua and extremely effective. 

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But what if you wanted to dress it up just a bit? Enter, the MISSILE Jigs IKE Micro Jig

Micro Jig Fishing with John Crews

The Micro Jig is basically a Ned Rig with a skirt on it,” said John Crews, owner of MISSILE Baits and MISSILE Jigs. “It doesn’t replace the Ned rig, but it’s a good compliment to it.

The similarities in the head design of the Micro Jig and Ned rig are evident at first glance. The 90 degree eye of the jig and the overall compactness of the bait quickly place the two presentations in a similar category.

How Does Micro Jig Fishing Differ?

When you start fishing it slow and that little teeny skirt flairs out, there’s just nothing else artificial that small that has that flair to it. And that is exactly what a crawfish does when it feels threatened.

If you’ve ever seen a crawfish in a creek or tank or even on video, you’ve seen that moment Crews mentions here. The moment when running is no longer an option and the crawfish’s last resort is to try to look as big as possible. 

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“But a little 3-inch crawfish can only get so big. He can flare his claws out all he wants, but a 2-pounder is just going to wolf him down. I think that’s just a natural defensive motion that bass see a crawfish do all the time and that’s what makes it so effective.”

As is the case with most finesse techniques, where you gain in performance, you lose in efficiency. Though usually when it comes to finesse techniques and a tough bite the exchange is worthwhile.

Because of the compact size, it’s not the most efficient bait to cover water with by any means. But there are times it’ll out-fish a dropshot and a lot of other finesse techniques.

Crews recommends using whatever gear you usually throw a shaky head on for the Micro Jig. 

You’ve gotta be able to put a little wood to them on the hook set. So you can go too light on the rod if you’re not careful. And I put it on 12-pound Sunline Xplasma braid to an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader.

Micro Jig Fishing: Great in Challenging Conditions

Crews says the bait works really well around sparse cover. Isolated laydowns, stickups and short rocky bluffs all represent good targets for the Micro Jig.

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And it works really well in current. 

It’s really, really good in current. I’ve caught a ton of smallmouth in little streams around the house just letting it wash around in the current.

So if you find yourself faced with challenging conditions this winter due to overly pressured fish, cold water temps or whatever the case may be and you’re tired of all the same ole finesse techniques, give the Micro Jig a try. Fire it around isolated cover, fish it slow and don’t be afraid to lean into them a bit when setting the hook. Maybe you’ll find yourself a new clean-up bait to add to the arsenal.

Spring Walleye Fishing | Targeting Big Pre-Spawn Walleyes

One of the biggest events of the entire ice and open water season is the transitional movements of big pre-spawn walleyes. These fish are highly targeted by millions of anglers for their difficulty to catch, their fight, but most of all their table fare. 

Walleyes are one of the most sought-after fish in the country, for good reason. The pre-spawn period presents anglers with high quantities and quality of fish funneling through small areas. This time of year also presents anglers with the opportunity to catch their biggest fish of the entire year. The larger females move into shallower water and are full of energy and eggs. The bigger the female the more eggs she carries, which can create some absolute giant fish. 

However, it can also be a very stressful time of year if you don’t know the areas and the baits to use to target these fish. I will go into detail on the time of year to start looking for pre-spawn fish, where they are going to be moving and staging up, the baits to use to give you the best success, and how to avoid/work through the crowds of people.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Pre-Spawn Time of Year and Location

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Photo Credit: In-Fisherman

The term pre-spawn has been used to describe anytime in a fish’s life from the winter period, to when the fish actually spawn out. The time period in which these fish begin to transition from their deep winter haunts to beginning their annual journey to which they will propagate the next generation begins around early February. 

Walleyes will begin to journey from their traditional feeding areas and deep winter holes to where they will spawn. This begs the question, where do walleyes spawn? The answer to this question has two parts because not all of the fish spawn in the same areas. The majority of the fish will spawn in the larger rivers that lead into your body of water. While a smaller subset of the population will spawn on rocky shoals in shallower water in the lake. These fish need the proper gravel, depth, oxygenated water, and sunline on the eggs in order for them to be as successful as possible. So, the areas in which these fish spawn are going to be different for every body of water. You need to look at maps to find the areas which have everything these fish need and then scout them out. Not every creek and gravel shoal will have fish, so it’s important to put the time on the water to really find out the hot spots.

The issue is that most walleye seasons go out during the spawn. So, how are you supposed to find the areas in which these fish spawn? Great point, you need to fish the areas outside of these possible spawning locations to see if they gather here or not. There are going to be early fish to the spawning areas and late spawning fish, they don’t all come in one wave. This means you can catch fish moving to spawn before and after the season goes out. Another good trick to use, look for large numbers of fishermen around small areas. This can be a dead giveaway for spawning areas. The trick is to figure out how to beat the crowds at their own game.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Walleye Movements

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Photo Credit: Angling Buzz

So, how do these fish move from their wintering areas to where they are going to spawn? It is by no means a one-way hell-bent trip in which they don’t stop. These fish are going to move methodically from one ambush area to the next until they reach their staging area outside the creek or in the deep access water near the shoals they plan to spawn on. 

All you need to do to intercept them is find your favorite hot spots from early-mid ice season and then look at there they are going to go. It will become very easy to determine where they are going to stop on the way. Look for the same type of humps, drop-offs, points, bends in river channels, and rocky areas that they would normally use during their normal routine feeding. 

These are going to be the areas that these fish stop on to refuel while they are on their journey. Think of it like when you’re going on a road trip. You need to stop to get gas at certain periods in the trip, thus you go to gas stations. Ambush points act as gas stations for these fish and they need to feed up in order to make the journey and spawn. The entire act of spawning is a stressful point in a fish’s life; thus, they need to feed up in order to survive the ordeal. You just need to get your baits in the right areas in order to capitalize on this bite.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Baits

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Photo Credit: Angling Buzz

The biggest thing people get caught up in is what baits to throw. In all reality, if you plan everything else out to perfection it almost doesn’t matter as much what you throw as to just being in the right area. 

However, it can be the difference between an ok day to being a phenomenal day. 

It does depend on a few things though as to what baits you use. Factors such as weather conditions, time of day, fishing pressure, whether you’re on ice or fishing open water, and water conditions. These all play a big factor in what you’re going to throw in their faces.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Fishing on Late Ice

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Photo Credit: Outdoor News

If you are on the ice you are going to be stuck using vertical presentations, and there is nothing wrong with that. For pre-spawn though, I like to start off with more in your face and attraction baits such as a Rapala Rippin Raps

Why would you use finesse baits for fish that will come in and eat a bigger meal more readily?

 This way you can cover water faster and potentially put more fish on the ice in a faster fashion. I will also use VMC rattle spoons and Rapala Jigging Raps as well to try and drum up the more aggressive fish. It always a good idea to check to see how aggressive the fish are before you downsize and start finessing the fish. My thought process is Why use small baits when you don’t have to?

The next step is harder, however. When you draw fish in, and you will, now you have to try and read their level of interest and adjust baits accordingly. If the fish come in and stay low and don’t make any kind of run at the bait, then you are too aggressive and you need to switch to something that is a little less aggressive. I like to go to a Tingler spoon at that point, or a jigging rap or something with less sound. I will work all the way down to a jig and a minnow if I have to. 

The test being you have to read the fish. That is a huge key, reading the fish. If they make a run or follow it up at least once then you’re on the right track and now you have to play with size and color. Going to something in a duller or brighter color, depending on what you started with. It really depends on what baits you already have confidence in on the water. These are just baits that I have had and seen a lot of success with. There are thousands upon thousands of baits out there that no doubt all catch fish. So, it’s up to you to experiment with the companies you like and use the baits you like. The general guidelines for switching during these situations remain the same however. You need to just feel the mood of the fish and adjust accordingly. Always assume that there is always a better way to catch them then how you currently are. This will keep you always on your toes and always thinking about what to try.

Some of my other favorite in your face baits include a Rapala slab rap, a Rapala jigging shad rap, and a Silver Streak blade bait. These baits, including the other baits listed above, are going to be my go-to baits for when I first show up to a body of water. After I strike out with these baits then I am going to go to more of a finesse approach. That is when I will break out a VMC tumbler spoon and a VMC flash champ, along with the others listed above. These baits will be my staples when it gets technical and the fish are being finicky.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Open Water

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Photo Credit: My Outdoor TV

The beauty of open water is that you can cover a lot more water in a lot shorter amount of time. This will allow you to locate fish in a faster time frame, in general. When it comes to open water baits there are two approaches, you can either troll baits or you can cast and retrieve. It really depends on the size of the area you are targeting. 

Trolling is a way to cover vast amounts of water using a variety of different crankbaits, worm harnesses, spoons, etc. Trolling can also be used as a method to simply locate groups of fish and then you can go back through and work them over with casting baits. During the pre-spawn period, however, the water is still around that 40-degree Fahrenheit mark. This means the fish activity is still going slow, as far as their willingness to chase down baits. I generally prefer casting for these fish because you can present slower but reactive baits that trigger these fish into eating. However, a slow trolled bait can still produce good numbers of fish.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Casting

So, for casting baits I have a general few that I go off of. The categories that I like to throw include plastics, crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, blade baits, jerkbaits, hair jigs, swimbaits, and live bait. As you can see there is a large variety of different baits that you can throw. It really just comes down to the action that the fish prefer and what the body of water allows you to throw. 

I look at the area that I am fishing before I decide what I am going to throw. If it is full of brush and stumps then oftentimes, I will lean more toward a jig with a soft plastics trailer such as a worm, a swimbait, or a live minnow. Something that I can work slowly over and around the cover with lower risk of getting hung up. A slow retrieved crankbait or a jerkbait is also a good option to tick the tops of the wood or suspend just over the wood. I want something that I can pop off or deflect off the wood to trigger a reaction out of these fish. 

A few of my personal favorite casting crankbaits include an original floating Rapala, a BX minnow, and a shad rap, an x-rap, a shadow rap, Rapala flat rap, and a Rapala tail dancer. Those baits are going to cover every casting scenario that I am going to run into. These baits are also made of balsa which will allow you to get your bait unstick from rocks, brush, etc. easier.

The idea behind casting these baits is to cover water and imitate whatever baitfish the walleyes in your lake are feeding on. 

You can never go wrong with perch colored baits, or a generic shad colored bait. These forage species are going to be in almost every body of water you are going to come across. To retrieve these baits, you are going to start with a steady retrieve and see how the fish react to that and then depending on the results you are going to mix it up and start adding stops and pumps into the bait. This will act as a triggering method if any fish follow or track your bait as you are retrieving them.

If I am fishing something with a sandy and rocky bottom then I am going to lean more toward a blade bait, a lipless crankbait. I need to use the action of the bait in order to trigger these fish into eating. Since the bottom is fairly clean, I depend upon the bait to draw the fish in and close the deal. This is where I really play with the cadence I use when retrieving these baits. I use both blade baits and lipless crankbaits as a bait that I jig off the bottom. I will not steady retrieve these this time of year. I will simply hop them along the bottom, while varying the length of the hop and the speed of the hop. Generally, you will find a specific speed and type of hop that these fish key in on. My favorite go-to casting baits for this type of scenario are going to be a Rapala Rippin Rap, a Rapala Jigging Rap, and a Steel shad blade bait

As far as a swimbait, a hair jig, and a minnow on a jig head are concerned I really use these to cover water and try to locate groups of fish. All of your time on the water is precious, so using faster search baits to really try to locate fish and eliminate water can help you spend more time putting fish in the net.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Trolling

Trolling is going to be a different animal altogether when it comes to pre-spawn. Since the water temps are so cold, it is going to be hard to get these fish to chase a bait unless you put it right in their faces. It is also really going to depend on the bodies of water you are fishing. If you are fishing lakes such as Lake Erie, then trolling is going to be the most effective way to catch fish and cover water. 

This can also be an extremely effective tool in larger river systems, to cover break edges of the river channel. 

However, if you are fishing smaller bodies of water that have smaller populations of fish, then casting baits are going to be a better choice. Bait selection and trolling speed are going to be critical no matter whether you are in a river system or a large body of water. The fish are going to be up in shallower water, so your trolling gear is going to be relatively very simple. Longlining crankbaits and crawler harnesses are going to be the most efficient approach as far as covering water while being able to fish slow. Nightcrawler harnesses are always a good option because they can be fished as slow as the user wishes, which is ideal for targeting sluggish fish. The choice of crankbait is going to depend on the water depth you are trying to target. If you are on Lake Erie then you are going to be fishing deeper than if you are fishing a small local lake or a shallow river system. 

It is all about finding those travel routes that were discussed above and using your search baits to effectively and efficiently cover water.

There are thousands of different crankbaits on the market today and all of them will catch fish, given the right conditions. So what crankbaits are going to work best for the prespawn? 

I like crankbaits that have a tight action, this imitates that action of the baitfish during the colder months. I also like running baits that dive deeper than the water I am fishing, when fishing 15-feet or less. This will allow you to slow your presentation down and really get a reaction out of those fish. 

A few of my favorite baits to troll this time of year are going to be Rapala Tail dancer, Rapala Shad Rap, Bandit Generator Walleye Deep Diver, Strike King Walleye Elite Bonzai Shad, Storm Deep Thunderstick Madflash, Storm Thunderstick Madflash, Bandit Walleye Shallow Diver, Bandit Walleye Deep Diver. These are a few good starter baits that will also cover you as far as hard bait are concerned. 

For worm harnesses, I like a couple of different types. If the water has good visibility, 3 or 4 feet minimum, then I like a Dutch Fork Stainless Steel Willow Leaf Blade Harness. If the water has more stain to it then I’m going to go with a Dutch Fork Stainless Steel Colorado Blade Harness. The Colorado blade is going to provide more water displacement and more thump to attract these fish from more of a distance. I also really like the Mack’s Smile Blade Double Whammy Walleye Rig for doing more drift fishing or slower trolling. This bait has a better action at slower speeds.

As with anything, you’re going to need to experiment with baits, depths, the amount of line you have out, colors, etc. In order to figure out the best combo for the fish during the time of day you are fishing. You might run one of each of the baits listed or you may end up running all of the same lure. It is just going to depend on what you are getting bit on and what depths you are fishing.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Bait Color Choices for Trolling

There is no shortage of different color patterns on the market these days. You could literally spend thousands on one bait by getting every color they make it in. So, what colors are going to give you the best chances of success? As a general rule of thumb, you want to match the conditions outside to the color of your bait. So, on cloudy days you want to throw darker more drab colors and on bright sunny days you are going to want to throw brighter baits. This is going to match what the forage looks like during these different weather conditions.

Color choices are also going to vary depending on the depths of water you are fishing. In shallower water, the colors that are going to show up the best are going to be your pinks, oranges, and your yellows. As you get down deeper your colors are going to want to switch more toward your reds, chartreuse, blues, purples, and your blacks. These colors stand out better at deeper depths. As with anything else though I encourage you to play with different color combinations to see what works best for you. 

Spring Walleye Fishing: Dealing with Crowds

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Photo Credit

The worst part of pre-spawn walleye fishing is the crowds. There is a large number of anglers that will go out and simply look for crowds of people and go fit right in assuming they are on fish. I like to be that one guy way away from everyone that leaves everyone guessing if I’m catching fish or not.

The number one way to be able to beat crowds is to truly know the area you are fishing. I mean knowing all the contour changes, the bottom composition changes, little irregularities on flats, etc. This will ensure you are always on the primary “spot on the spot”. You will be that one guy smashing fish while everyone 20 yards from you is left without a bite. This requires time on the water though. Hours and hours of scouting go into having a really good idea of what the bottom looks like. If you are ice fishing that can mean using an underwater camera, visibility permitting, and using this to look for rock piles and distinct and subtle edges. When there is open water it can also mean using your graphs and side imaging to make laps around these areas in preparation for the long winter months. 

It all depends on the amount of time you are willing to put into the game, just like any other sport.

The next best way to outsmart the crowd is to be the guy who is not afraid to move and change things up. Most anglers have a bait tied on that will be tied on from the time they get there to the time they leave. They will work it the exact same way all day and night. You need to be willing to switch up how you are working your baits, what baits you are throwing, and where you are fishing. If you are fishing areas that have large flats that have big crowds of people, Lake Erie for example, then you can use this to your advantage and place yourself on the outside of the group. Moving slightly away from everyone will help you get on top of the fish that avoid all of the commotion brought on by the other anglers. Fish aren’t as dumb as we think they are, however they aren’t as smart either. They aren’t going to do some drastic moves, they are simply going to slide around all the noise and commotion. This will set you up nicely for all the fish moving through.  

As far as baits and how you work them, this goes back to what I talked about earlier in being able to read the fish’s level of interest. Most of the time in a crowd I like to go either really small and bland or really big and bright. This will make your bait stand out from the droves of other baits in the water. Experiment with the action, the color, and the size until you find something that seems to fit the bill.

Spring Walleye Fishing: Understanding Movements Related to Weather

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Photo Credit: Great Lake Snow

One of the biggest overlooked aspects of targeting specific species of fish during different times of the year is the weather patterns and how they affect the specific species that you are targeting. During the pre-spawn period, with any species of fish, the weather patterns can really control what the fish do in major ways. 

Some of you may say, but my fish are under ice, how is the weather above going to influence the fish? 

Even under feet of ice the fish can still see changes in light and adjust to the different light periods. This is why morning and evening bites are still hot. So, the first thing to look at is the weather pattern. On cloudy days, the primary bite window is going to be drawn out even longer than it normally would be due to the reduced light from the cloud cover. On clear sunny days, the primary bite windows are going to be the shortest due to the increased light. So, fish are going to be more active on days with a lot of cloud cover, meaning they will be moving in the shallow areas more. This is especially true for the pre-spawn period.

If you have open water situations, then the word everyone hates comes into play, wind. Personally, I love wind. It can create some of the greatest bites you’ll ever see, while also making you wish you never went fishing. 

So, what does the wind do? The wind breaks up the surface tension on the water and creates a scenario in which the fish cannot get a great look at your bait. It also moves the surface water around and creates current. This current moves the small micro-organisms around, which then get followed by the baitfish. This current also creates current breaks in which fish will stack up. Either way you look at it, it can create some great scenarios in which to load the boat fast. 

So, what do you need to know about wind for pre-spawn? 

Wind can push the warmest surface water away from where it is supposed to be. This will stack up warmer water in smaller coves or along windblown banks. It may only be two or three degrees but that two or three degrees will attract those fish like flies to a light. The first thing I look at when looking for prespawn walleyes, other than where they are going, is what way the wind is blowing. That will be the first area that I will check for signs of life.  

The next thing to look at is the different moon phases. The greater the light during the night period, the more active the fish are going to be. This means fish are going to have the most nocturnal activity during full moon phases. This creates large waves of fish that move up shallow during the pre-spawn period. 

So, if you have limited days to fish it can be important to look at this information in order to try and have the most success possible.

New Collaboration Delivers World’s-First Integrated Angling Experience With Connected Fishing Rods and Boat-Mounted Electronics

TULSA, Okla. — ANGLR, Lowrance® and Abu Garcia®, announce the successful collaboration between the three brands to blend their cutting-edge technologies to create a powerful new way to plan, record and relive fishing adventures all while using precise data to catch more fish. Giving anglers a previously unavailable level of control, the ANGLR app acts as a bridge between the new Abu Garcia Virtual™ Rod and compatible Lowrance chartplotters/fishfinders. This new functionality lets users privately capture key fishing data with a click of a button – without the need to stop fishing to access navigation displays, logbooks or mobile devices. This new functionality will be on display at both the Lowrance (#3200) and Abu Garcia (#2207) booths during the Bassmaster Classic Expo, which runs March 6-8 in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Abu Garcia Virtual Rod includes a Bluetooth device, powered by ANGLR, in the rod butt that fully integrates with the ANGLR smartphone app. One click from the rod marks catch locations along with coordinates, date, time, weather, water and other key details; two clicks marks a waypoint at the user’s current location; and a button press and hold automatically time stamps and records users’ gear changes. Recorded trips, weather and water trends, statistics, photos, coordinates and more are securely stored and accessed through the ANGLR user’s profile in their private logbook.

Building on this powerful functionality, the ANGLR app can simultaneously and seamlessly transfer waypoints bi-directionally onto compatible Lowrance multifunction displays. The wireless sync also allows data sharing from Lowrance sensors back to the app, providing greater precision by importing precise depth, water temperature, real-time GPS routes and other data to be added to the user’s logbook.

ANGLR CEO Henry Gnad said, “We are really excited about the strength of the ANGLR platform to be able to support this one-of-a-kind collaboration. For the first time the technology exists, both in Abu Garcia’s Virtual Fishing Rod and Lowrance’s premier fishfinders, that when connected with our app anglers can auto-record fishing trips, without missing a second of the action and save the entire story in the palm of their hand to retell for the rest of their lives.”

Navico CEO Knut Frostad said, “This innovative partnership is the perfect complement of three experts in our respective fields. Together, we are giving anglers the easiest and most streamlined way to drop waypoints on their charts and save vital details to be analyzed later.”

Abu Garcia Vice President of Marketing Jon Schlosser said, “We knew that adding integrated communication technology to a fishing rod was going to be a significant evolution within our sport. Now, with our partners at ANGLR and Lowrance, we are able to use this powerful functionality to help anglers maximize their time on the water with the most accurate data detailing how and where they fish.”

With a profile on the ANGLR app, users can better plan, record and improve their fishing. Redefining mobility and reliability, ANGLR removes the guesswork from a day on the water and provides data to help catch more fish for any level of angler. With a digital fishing log, users can quickly analyze trends and recognize patterns to improve their skills, plan how to approach upcoming fishing trips by exploring weather and water conditions, temperatures, GPS locations, moon phases, barometric pressure and more. The technology also allows anglers to replay and relive each memory with their closest friends. 

Compatible Lowrance fishfinders include the HDS Live and Elite Ti2, as well as legacy fishfinders like HDS Carbon, HDS Gen 3 and Elite Ti. This integration makes HDS Live the ultimate fishing system, a fully connected eco system for control of every system on the boat. The Elite Ti2 provides an affordable yet powerful option for standalone or dual display installations offering wireless networking capabilities. 

The Abu Garcia Virtual Rod series consists of 12 total conventional and spinning rods ranging from 6-foot, 6-inch Medium Fast spinning to 7-foot, 6-inch Heavy Fast conventional to cover most bass angling techniques. The rod’s replaceable battery does not require charging and delivers a 2-year battery life. It works regardless of cell service for off-the-grid fishing.

For more information visit www.anglr.com, www.lowrance.com or www.abugarcia.com.

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For imagery and other editorial requests, please contact:

Andrew Golden

Rushton Gregory Communications

617-413-6521

agolden@rushtongregory.com

 

About ANGLR:
ANGLR exists to empower fishing intelligence through measurement, learning and collaboration so that avid anglers can constantly improve and find more enjoyment in their sport. ANGLR is a fishing intelligence platform built for anglers excited to improve their craft of catching fish. ANGLR’s robust fishing logbook app syncs with optional tracking accessories and a private network of anglers who are passionate to learn from and relive their own fishing trips. ANGLR’s Private Fishing Logbook Platform provides robust capabilities for Planning, Recording and Reliving the entire journey of any fishing experience. www.ANGLR.com

About Lowrance:
The Lowrance® brand is wholly owned by Navico, Inc. A privately held, international corporation, Navico is currently the world’s largest marine electronics company, and is the parent company to leading marine electronics brands: Lowrance, Simrad Yachting, B&G and C-MAP. Navico has approximately 1,800 employees globally and distribution in more than 100 countries worldwide. www.navico.com

About Pure Fishing, Inc.:
Pure Fishing, Inc. is a leading global provider of fishing tackle, lures, rods and reels with a portfolio of brands that includes Abu Garcia®, All Star®, Berkley®, Fenwick®, Fin-Nor®, Greys®, Hardy®, Hodgman®, Johnson®, JRC®, Mitchell®, Penn®, Pflueger®, Sebile®, Shakespeare®, SpiderWire®, Stren®, Ugly Stik®, and Van Staal®.

How to Fish Professionally | What’s the Best Path?

How to fish professionally… that’s an interesting question.

And not to skirt the question, but it is one that has several different answers for different anglers. Furthermore, I’m not sure that I have the best track record for answering this question… I had the same question posed to me over the phone by a young angler during an interview regarding his recent BFL All-American win about 10 years ago.

He was a young guy and I had just wrapped up a pretty eventful college career. So when he asked me if he should fish the college trails or roll the dice and go straight to the FLW Tour, I told him he’d be crazy not to fish the college fishing circuit. It was way less expensive and by far the easiest route at the time to either the Bassmaster Classic or the Forrest Wood Cup. 

How to Fish Professionally

Well his name was Jacob Wheeler and his “crazy decision” to jump into the Tour resulted in him winning the Forrest Wood Cup the following year on Lake Lanier in 2011… so yeah, maybe I don’t know the best route to becoming a professional angler. 

How to Fish Professionally | Are You in High School? 

If you’re in high school and have the slightest interest in becoming a professional angler one day, get into the high school fishing scene. 

That wasn’t around when I was in school. I was lucky enough to have a dad who fished and was able to teach me a lot. But high school fishing is a great base for a young angler to grow competitively.

As long as you actually do try to grow and don’t rely solely on your boat captain to find fish for you and do everything but set the hook and reel them in.

That is not beneficial to your growth as an angler. It will ultimately result in you becoming dependent on information and you’ll burn out as an angler when that information dries up later in your career. 

How to Fish Professionally | Dive into the College Fishing Scene

If you are college aged, definitely get into the college fishing scene.

Sure, I shot and missed with Jacob Wheeler, but chances are you’re not Jacob Wheeler, sorry, those are just the odds. People like Jacob are few and far between to say the least. But I do know a guy who fished the college trail and went on to win two Bassmaster Classics — my former partner and Auburn Bass Club teammate Jordan Lee. He is pretty good too and college fishing was the right route for him. 

How to Fish Professionally(2)

If you can compete in the college fishing ranks, you can compete in the pros. 

That has been proven time and time again over the last decade. You can always dabble in other competitive circuits while you’re still in college as well. I did that with the BFL’s and then the Everstart (now Toyota) Series and had some success. (Look at what Cody Huff just did, winning the Toyota Series event on Toledo Bend while still finishing up his senior year of collegiate fishing.)

There are some sticks competing in the college ranks, more now than ever. So college fishing is a great route if you’re in that age group, but certainly no cake walk.

How to Fish Professionally | “You Have to Put in the Work”

And there is no cake walk to the pro level if that’s what you’re looking for. Sure you can still jump right into the FLW Pro Circuit if you have the money, but if your skill set doesn’t measure up, you’ll get your teeth kicked in.

You have to put in the work.

The Bass Federation, B.A.S.S. Nation, BFLs and ABAs are all great options locally, along with a whole host of others for an angler to see if he or she has what it takes to compete. If you can dominate locally, there’s a great chance you can at least compete and cash checks nationally. 

How to Fish Professionally | Try the Mid-Level Events

There’s the FLW Toyota Series and the Bassmaster Opens.

How to Fish Professionally(1)

You may find the same to be true that I saw with my fishing. I actually fish better on the road than I do locally. Around the house, I’ll get in a rut and find myself fishing old milk runs with FOMO should I run new water. But when I travel to lakes that I don’t know that well, I find myself competing better while in pursuit of what those fish are doing on that exact day. 

How to Fish Professionally | Best Route? It Depends

So the best route to becoming a professional angler really depends on the angler. And we should also take a look at what defines a “professional angler.

I recently wrote a piece discussing the overlooked “local pro” route for Wired2Fish documenting Alabama hammer Michael Smith. Smith has likely profited more by fishing around the house over the last few years than 60% of the touring national pros.

So what does professional mean to you? 

To me, it’s someone who can pay the bills with a rod and reel in their hand. And that is an extremely hard thing to do. If you want to do that, assess yourself. Look at your current skillset, what trails you are eligible for and make the decision for yourself. There’s no right or wrong decision really, just various paths to the top. If you’re good enough to compete at the top, you’ll be able to traverse any road.

But that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.

50th Bassmaster Classic | A Brutally Tough Lake Guntersville

It’s that time of year again. Time for the Bassmaster Classic. The 50th Bassmaster Classic to be exact. For half a century, this has been the event that we’ve looked to crown the king of the sport. But now, for the first time ever, a lot of the big names will be sitting it out. The defending champ Ott DeFoe won’t be defending. 

So will it be the same? 

The short answer, yes. Though I did have my doubts last year that it would. Most of us know by now that the majority of the core group of the 2018 Elite Series roster moved over to create the core group of the newly formed 2019 MLF Bass Pro Tour roster. Though that transition happened prior to last year’s Classic, those anglers were still allowed to fish the Classic since they had already qualified for it.

The Difference With Last Years Classic

I didn’t attend that Classic, though I have attended and worked several in the past. Most of you reading this know that I worked as a contractor for B.A.S.S. for several years. I always had an admiration for the organization growing up, and being out there on the road working closely with the anglers I naturally developed a lot of great friendships. The same can be said for the staff. 

So I was torn when the breakup happened. As an angler, I was very excited for my fellow anglers and friends who were making decisions and building something they truly believed would better their lives and careers. But I was also empathetic towards B.A.S.S. or more so towards the employees that make up B.A.S.S. since this move was viewed in a lot of ways as an attack on the organization and the livelihoods of people I had worked closely with and cared for. 

So as the Classic unfolded last year, there was palpable tension throughout. There were moments that were cathartic, between the staff and the anglers that were moving on but didn’t make their decisions out of spite. Then there were moments where had the cameras shutoff, I imagine there would have been some bloodshed. 

Now, on to the 50th Bassmaster Classic

But now here we are. Time for the Classic again. Without so many familiar faces, will this one be as big of a deal as the Classic should be? I do believe it will. During the 2019 Elite season, we saw several new Elite anglers like Brandon Cobb and Patrick Walters rise to the occasion and start developing their stardom. We saw familiar faces from the sport like Chris Zaldain, Scott Canterbury, and Carl Jocumsen all settle nicely into their roles in this new era of B.A.S.S.

The 50th Bassmaster Classic will happen. Someone will be crowned king. And for the 50th time, someone’s life will change forever. The sport is bigger and stronger now than ever before. And the giants of the sport today only appear as big as they do because they are standing on the shoulders of those individuals who got the ball rolling 5 decades ago. The Classic is still the Classic and will always be the Classic. The event we’ll see this week will prove that.

A Tough Lake Guntersville for the 50th Bassmaster Classic

Now let’s talk a little about the fishing. It is brutally tough on Lake Guntersville right now. Has been for a month or so due to seemingly constant rainfall and the swift, muddy waters that come with it. The anglers that win are still catching big bags typically, and the angler that wins the Classic will have at least one ‘wow’ bag too. But the Guntersville most of us think of isn’t there right now. 

The filler weights are way down — the weights behind 1st place. In the past, if it took 30-pounds to win there would also be a few bags in the mid-20s and a heap of bags from 18- to 22-pounds. The closest thing we’ve seen to historical Lake Guntersville numbers came a couple weeks ago in the Alabama Bass Trail event there. It took 30-pounds to win, and nearly 18-pounds to finish in the top 20. 

But that was out of 225 boats, with the best locals on the lake, a team event and the weather had actually slacked up slightly around that time. Several other individual weight events this winter have been won with around 20-pounds, very light winning weights for that pond. And now we have even more rain forecasted leading up to the start of the event. 

So the fishing will be a little tough. But the bites, when they come, will still be big. Someone will still catch a 25-plus bag and if that person can compliment that bag with a couple 16- to 18-pound days, I think they’ll take the trophy home. 

The fish will be all over. Some will catch them as shallow as 1- to 2-feet, some will catch them 25-plus and others in between. This will be a tough one, but a fun one to watch and one I’m looking forward to seeing unfold. I still have a lot friends fishing this thing and one of their lives is about to change forever. And that’s exciting. 

Some Final Thoughts Before the 50th Bassmaster Classic

To be honest, I’m glad the shakeup happened last year. The end result is that more anglers now have avenues to fish for a living at the lowest risk than ever before. Every market needs competition. 

Do I like how it all went down? No. 

But growth requires growing pains. I’m glad to see B.A.S.S. power through and I think the 50th Bassmaster Classic will meet and potentially even raise the bar because of the work that has gone into it. The appreciation the anglers participating have for it. The history behind it. 

The pervasive attitude towards what many of the fans viewed as an attack has rallied the fishing community to B.A.S.S.’s side in a lot of ways. And that will to not let something die that so many people care about has actually made it stronger. 

But, again in my personal opinion, it’s time to stop picking sides and thinking you have to hate one organization or group of anglers in order to love another. Just enjoy the sport at its peak. This is the best it’s ever been. 

So good luck to all the anglers. And good luck to everyone working the event this week. A lot goes into this thing from all sides. Good luck to the families who will be stressed to the max as they watch their loved ones vie for the title. And good luck to the fans that make the pilgrimage to see the Classic first hand. This is going to be a good one.

A Behind The Scenes Look at Brandon Palaniuk’s Decision to Return to B.A.S.S.

The shakeup in the professional bass fishing industry, which saw dozens of anglers leave organizations to join the newly formed Bass Pro Tour, has been widely talked about over the last year. 

In recent months, we actually saw a couple anglers retrace their steps and opt to leave the BPT and return to B.A.S.S. through their ‘legends exemption’ — which allows anglers to re-enter the Elite Series without going through the typical qualifying procedures established in B.A.S.S.’s feeder circuits. 

But in order to qualify for the legends exemption, you have to be a legit legend. 

The only anglers eligible for this exemption are those who have won a Bassmaster Classic or earned an Elite Series Angler of the Year title. The two anglers who chose to accept that invitation back to B.A.S.S. are Brandon Palaniuk and Gerald Swindle

We sat down with Palaniuk to discuss what went into all of the decisions he’s had to make over the last 18 months.

‘I Could Never Come To Terms With It’

“Where do I start? I think last year I was trying to make what I thought at the time was the smart business decision. I was so lost. I didn’t have the angst against bass that some anglers did. I hadn’t been through what some of those guys had been through. So I just felt lost and I tried to gather as many opinions as I could of what everyone thought of each organization and the people within them.” 

“I think through the process of doing that, I gathered a lot of good information but in the midst of all that I lost my own opinion. And when you do that, something starts to feel like it’s missing. When I made the decision, I was all in. I was all for it. And then I had a really hard time walking off the Classic stage thinking that was probably the last time I’d be walking across it. It just didn’t feel right. But I knew that was the decision I had made. So I continued to try to be okay with it.” 

“But I could never come to terms with it.” 

“As the year went on, I enjoyed the season. I had fun doing it. So it wasn’t about that. It was more about where I felt like I got the most joy and where I had had the most passion and the most drive. And I felt like I was losing that as the year went on.” 

Brandon Palaniuk(1)

“And the more I reflected on it and the more I thought about it, the B.A.S.S. brand was just a huge part of who I was and I wasn’t ready to let go of it yet.”

“I was curious, so I did the numbers on it. I had spent 72% of my life either fishing at or trying to fish at the highest level of B.A.S.S. Starting at 8 years old, my goal was always to fish the Elite Series and win a Classic. I was so passionate about it from such a young age and I was so fixated on one thing. And I just couldn’t get away from that. There was a part of me that just didn’t feel right.”

‘I Wanted To Avoid Losing My Passion’

“So I had to make the decision to return to B.A.S.S. And it was not easy. I was really blessed that all of my sponsors were very supportive through that transition either way. Last year and this year. They were like ‘whatever you need to do, do it. We’re going to support you either way.’” 

“I guess I’ve been blessed with a sense of knowing that I only have one life to live so I’m going to choose to live it the way that I’m going to enjoy the most. And that’s just what it came down to.” 

“Fishing becomes a grind without the passion and drive and I was losing that.”  

“I think the most special moment that happens in bass fishing is when there are two dudes standing on the stage, there’s that moment of suspense that builds up when a guy sets that bag on the scales. When that moment happens, when a kid sees that, that is what creates the dreams. In that moment, you see all of the struggles, all of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, all of the nights sleeping in the back of the truck, barely scraping by, all of that coming out of the guy’s eyeballs.” 

“That’s what I couldn’t let go of.”

How to Become a Better Angler in the Off-Season | Improve Your Skills

In the immortal words of Jon Snow, winter is here. 

There’s not much we can do about it. The fishing off-season means the bite has slowed to a grind. And for many of my northern brothers and sisters, the only option you have right now is to sit over a hole in the ice. 

So what can we do to get better without actually going fishing?

Well, we’ve already talked in depth about organizing your tackle with storage solutions for your hard baits, soft baits and terminal tackle.

But there are several other ways to better yourself as an angler while off the water so that you’re more successful on the water next season.

Here are Three Quick-and-Easy Ideas: 

      1. If you’re interested in learning new techniques, there are countless tutorial videos out there these days. 
      2. If you’re a tournament angler, you can do research on the fisheries that you’ll be visiting this season.
      3. And of course, there’s the Anglr app and digital logbook that’s extremely beneficial to look at in the off-season whether you’ve been using it all year or haven’t even downloaded it yet.

I was very fortunate to travel around the country for several years covering bass tournaments for a living. There’s no doubt that being in such close proximity to some of the world’s all-time best anglers vastly improved my fishing and made me much more versatile.

Being able to watch Kevin VanDam fish ledges and see the intricate details of his technique made it much easier for me to replicate on my home waters. 

Naturally, not many will have that intimate of an experience.

Watch Those Tutorials

But thanks to all the technology we have at our disposal today, there are thousands of hours of tutorials out there on every technique imaginable. If you’ve had a few heartbreaking near misses this season with a certain technique, watch an expert do it and see if you can identify what you’re doing wrong.

If you have absolutely no clue how to fish a spybait, Google it, sit back in the comfort of your warm home and learn. 

Tournament Reconnaissance

For the tournament angler, there are so many opportunities out there now to pre-practice. You can scan every detail of an entire lake in just a few hours at multiple water levels using Google Earth. You can research old tournament reports for the lake you’ll be fishing to get an idea of what the weights will look like and what the predominant patterns will likely be.

There’s an App for that

Then, of course, there’s the Anglr app.

It is a long standing and indisputable fact that keeping a logbook will make you a better angler. Having that baseline to reference and learn from is extremely important. But keeping a traditional logbook is tedious, time consuming and downright boring when you don’t catch much. 

The beauty of the Anglr app is that it does most of the work for you, even when you’re not catching fish. And often times the “why not” is just as important, if not more so, than the “why.” As long as you start the app at the beginning of a trip, your logbook writes itself throughout the day — keeping up with air temp, barometric pressure, windage and much more. 

So if you have been using the Anglr app this year, the off-season is a great time to go back in and do a deep dive through your logbook. Add a few notes while some things are still fresh on your mind, go through the more analytical data to identify deeper patterns between trips.

Now’s the Time

If you haven’t downloaded the Anglr app yet, the off-season is the perfect time to do so.

Familiarize yourself with the app and some of its more complex functions so you’re not wasting time on the water trying to dig deep into the app in the moment. Though if you do wait til you’re on the water, the Anglr app is pretty much a plug-and-play system and you can still gain a lot of insight with little input on the user’s end. 

If you have cabin fever this winter, try to escape — in spirit at least — and better yourself as an angler with one of these methods. 

The best anglers better themselves constantly.

Is Bass Fishing a Sport? | Competition, Physicality, and Mental Toughness

Is bass fishing a sport? 

This is a question that’s been kicked around for decades now, ever since Ray Scott brought a few guys together back in 1967 to add a little structure to competitive bass fishing. And since you’re reading this on a fishing website, chances are you’ll agree with my opinion, that yes, bass fishing is very much a sport. But the purpose of this article isn’t to convince you of that.

Is Bass Fishing a Sport?: “Don’t You Just Sit There?”

I was recently getting to know a young lady and the topic of tournament fishing came up. She was shocked when I told her that we could actually compete for money while fishing. I asked her what she thought of when she heard the word fishing and she delivers the same response I’ve gotten several times throughout the years, “Well you get your cooler with the beer, you put a worm on the hook and then you just have to sit there and wait.” And this was a girl from Alabama. 

I’m not writing this to convince you that fishing is a sport. I’m writing this to give you something to show people who just don’t get it because they’ve never experienced it. 

Is Bass Fishing a Sport?: Breaking Down Competitive Fishing

For starters, let’s take a brief look at what competitive fishing is versus what some people believe it to be. 

No, you’re not sitting on a bucket with a beer in hand, you’re screaming down the lake at 70-miles per hour being pelted in the face by sleet, rain, and snow, crashing into 3-foot tall waves that jar your whole body from toes to teeth. All the while keeping the pedal to the metal because you know a hundred and fifty other guys are doing the same thing. No, you’re not getting hit by a blitzing linebacker, but if we can all agree that badminton is a sport, I think we can quickly see that fishing is certainly physically demanding enough to qualify. 

It’s rare that a tournament is canceled or postponed due to weather. Basically there has to be an extremely imminent danger. Nothing short of 40-mile per hour winds or a near biblical flood will typically delay competition. In baseball, if a slight sprinkle starts coming down it’s time to cover the infield and wait it out. 

The ever-changing playing field of bass fishing is what makes it not only a sport but a sport far more challenging than most. Week to week to week, you go from fishing Lake Okeechobee to Lake Lanier to the Sabine River. For those who are unfamiliar with fishing, that’s about like playing regular soccer one week, then soccer on ice the next week, then soccer on the beach the next. 

Is bass fishing a sport? (1)

You have to be extremely versatile. 

These tournaments happen on public waters and the lake doesn’t just shut down. Which means there is a lot of non-competitor influence on the game. Imagine if Tom Brady dropped back to pass and a guy from the stands just ran out on the field and intercepted the ball. That’s exactly what happens in the sport of competitive fishing when an angler makes a 25-mile run, only to find someone not even in the tournament sitting on the place where he wanted to start. 

That’s one of the things that I think make it hard for people to see fishing as a sport. There are too many variables. Not enough of a controlled environment. 

That is honestly what makes fishing that much more complex and challenging. The mental dexterity and fortitude that it takes to process a situation like that, then turn around and go through plans B, C, D, and E before you finally figure out something and put a bag of fish together. That’s impressive. That’s difficult. Most of us just spin out. The good ones, they bare down and grind through.

Is Bass Fishing a Sport?: Physical & Mental Requirements

I will give the naysayers a little slack when it comes to the physical requirements that it takes to get in a boat and go fishing. We don’t really stack up specimen wise against the athletes you see on the basketball court or the baseball diamond. It’s a little difficult to use the term “athletes” when describing a lot of us, myself included. But I’ll take “fierce competitor” in it’s place and wear that badge with honor.

Truthfully, I think this is another place where people just get caught up in not knowing anything about the sport. I’m 33 and I just spent two days on the water. My dad and I drove 3-1/2 hours to Guntersville, spent about 8 hours on the water practicing one day, then fished 8 hours during the tournament the next and then drove back home. And I am absolutely exhausted… and again, I’m 33. Rick Clunn is 73 years old. 

Is bass fishing a sport? (2)

Last year at 72, he dominated a field of anglers ranging from their early 20’s and up. Photo Credit: Andy Crawford of Bassmaster

Clunn spent 7 days on the water, 3 practicing and 4 competing. Up each day around 4 AM, in bed by 10 PM if he was lucky. Grinding it out. That’s impressive and embodies what is so special about the sport of bass fishing. How the weight of knowledge and experience and grit stack up when placed on the scales alongside youth and energy and physical stamina. The younger, more athletic anglers have a physical edge for sure, but experience and metal fortitude are so valuable in this thinking man’s game. The field of competitors is as vast as the field of competition itself, so there are some great battles between psyche and physique. 

Is Bass Fishing a Sport?: Technological Gurus

Competitive anglers not only need to be strong mentally, but they also have to be smart. There is a lot of technology and science wrapped up in competitive fishing these days. There are electronics on our boats now with capabilities that would impress even Bill Gates himself. And bits and pieces of meteorology, anatomy, biology, geology, and other sciences all come into play when trying to catch a bass. 

The “Bubba” that a lot of people picture sitting on a bucket watching his cork is actually more often than not a fairly polished 40-year old using words like thermocline and lateral line. A few like MLF Bass Pro Tour pro-Greg Vinson even earned a degree in Marine Biology to have a better understanding of what’s happening below the water’s surface. 

So there’s a lot more to fishing than most people think, especially competitive fishing. It’s not a cork and a cooler. Though there’s nothing wrong with that, competitive fishing is so much more. It’s extremely demanding physically. It’s a mind game that will scramble a man between the ears in a hurry. It’s ups and downs and long days fishing in extreme heat and extreme cold. It’s picking ice out of your rods guides every 4 or 5 casts because they keep freezing up. It’s getting an IV after a tournament on Lake Havasu in the desert. It’s hours of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer insanity. 

Is bass fishing a sport? (3)

It’s fun. It’s challenging. And by all means, it’s definitely a sport. Don’t believe me? Bring your money down to the boat ramp and try playing it yourself sometime.

John Crews of MISSILE Baits Explains Making Soft Plastic Baits

There are a lot of them out there these days, but what actually goes into making soft plastic baits? 

We sat down to chat about this with John Crews, Bassmaster Elite Series angler and owner of MISSILE Baits. 

When your livelihood comes from being just a little better than the competition, attention to detail is key. For Crews, that means two things: edging out the competition on the water and in bait design.

“Everything has kind of spawned off of what I need on tour,” Crews said. “I’ll get out there and think ‘these are good baits but I wish I had one that would do this.’

Making Soft Plastic Baits: To the ‘Drawing Board’

Making Soft Plastic Baits(1)

After he identifies a need, Crews takes it to the drawing board — literally. 

“I draw the ideas for the bait out on graph paper like it’s a homework assignment. Then I send that drawing to the mold maker. They put it in 3D CAD software and make a single-shot, prototype mold.”

The prototype mold is then shipped to the manufacturer who hand shoots a dozen or so baits for Crews to test. Crews puts his desired modifications down on paper and sends his ideas back to the mold maker.

Making Soft Plastic Baits(3)

I’ll give them very, very precise measurements and adjustments to make. For example, let’s change this dimension to 6 mm instead of 4 mm. And then they’ll make those adjustments and we’ll go a couple rounds on the prototypes until they get it just like I want it.

Making Soft Plastic Baits: Where the Real Design Work Begins

Once Crews is satisfied with the final dimensions and design of the bait, he gives the mold maker the green light to create a production mold that typically costs between $5,000 and $10,000. Once the production mold is completed, it is sent to the manufacturer. That’s where the real design work begins.

I tell them the exact consistency I want. The salt content, exactly what color and size flake I want, whether I want a single- or two-color laminate, a two color swirl, a three color laminate, etc.

He even gives them instructions on packaging specifications so they keep their desired shape and create a good presentation for the consumer.

This level of attention to detail on the manufacturing side probably makes Crews a better angler on the water and helps him in tournaments, too.

He said that is definitely the case. But even more so, that attention to detail allows him to pass on his expertise to other anglers without them even knowing it. 

“I’ve said this from day one on the bait design side of things: If I figure out what makes a bait function and get a bite better or have a better hookup ratio, the customer doesn’t need to know why, they just need to know it works.”

Making Soft Plastic Baits: Taking Out the Guess-Work

Making Soft Plastic Baits(2)

By designing his own soft plastic bait, Crews basically takes the guess-work out for consumers. 

“That way they can just put a hook in the bait, throw it out, get bit and set the hook. If it hooks up good they’ll say ‘Yep, it works. I like it.’ I like to figure out all the little details on the back side and then they can just get to go out and enjoy it.”

Crews prides himself in that attention to detail and giving anglers better tools for the task at hand. It’s a never ending process.

And he’s probably sketching some idea down as we speak.

Hooked On Fly Fishing Tennessee | My Journey In The Mountains of Tennessee

A yearly goal of mine was to learn fly fishing better. Well, to put it mildly, fly fishing has set the hook in me and now I can’t put the buggy whip down. Recently my wife got the chance to go to a children’s ministry conference in the Tennessee mountains, and since I am self-employed, I took the time off and went with her. I didn’t plan on going anywhere near the conference but instead planned on staying knee-deep in cold mountain streams in pursuit of freshwater trout. 

To prepare for this trip, I took to the internet doing some research. I found plenty of info on some of the local forums, Facebook groups, and local fly shops. Through all my research, I narrowed down the equipment I needed to a  5’9” 3wt. fiberglass rod. I paired it with a 3/4wt reel, 20lb. Dacron backing line and 3wt floating weight forward line.

My First Day Fly Fishing Tennessee

Once I arrived at the destination in Tennessee, I went to some local fishing shops to stock up on the flys I needed and leader material. Due to the ultra-clear mountain water, I went with 6X leader material, a size 14 rubber legs fly, a size 18 zebra midge and suspended them under a small pinch-on indicator. 

This whole rig slightly reminded me of our gulf coast staple rig, the double popping cork rig. Oddly enough, it worked relatively the same way. 

I started my first morning driving around looking for decent access points to the creek I was trying to fish. That’s the point I learned that, due to winter conditions, higher elevation roads were all closed. Bummer. Complete change of plans now. As a last-ditch effort for the day, I found a creek close to the road, parked and headed to the water. The widest part of the creek may have been 8 feet wide. The depth never seemed to be more than 2 feet, but it looked ideal for trout. I started out by swinging the flys upstream and letting them drift naturally downstream. It didn’t take long to realize something wasn’t right. 

I started targeting the deeper water right below the small waterfalls and I started getting some takes. Finally, with about 10 minutes left before I had to leave, the small orange indicator shot underwater like a bullet, I snapped the rod back and immediately felt the tension of a fish. It swam downstream, through a small waterfall and into the pool below. I chased it down the small creek and finally brought it into my hand. A wild rainbow trout. Not a big one by any means, but it was definitely one of my most memorable catches to date. I took a few pics and watched it swim away into the strong current before heading back to the car.

My Second Day Fly Fishing Tennessee

Day 2 started in the worst way possible. Absolutely flooding. 

Knowing that the rain would muddy the water and raise the level, I headed out a few miles above the same area I fished the day before. This time the hike to the creek was about a mile, and it rained the whole time. Once I got to the creek, I could easily tell the water was already higher than the day before. Using the same technique of drifting the flys into the pools under waterfalls, and tailouts, I quickly watched the indicator shoot under the water. Too slow, I missed it.

A few casts later the fish hit again, but this time I struck back. After a very short fight, I had a brook trout nearly in hand. This one, unfortunately, got away before I could get any pictures, but I had another species checked off. The rain kept getting worse and the creek started getting muddy. Within an hour of getting there, the water had risen nearly 2 feet. Time to head out. This creek was completely blown out. 

All in all, this trip helped shape the rest of the year for me. I’m pretty much completely sold on fly fishing. I’ve been several times since being home and caught some pretty great species, but… that’s for another time. 

Good Vibes, Tight “Fly” Lines, and God Bless.