Kayak Tackle Management Strategies with Matt Ball

One ever-present challenge for the kayak angler is having to decide what stays and what goes. This is where kayak tackle management can be key. Take too much and you may as well be lugging an anvil around all day. Take too little and find yourself in desperate need on the water. We sat down with 2016 KBF National Champion Matt Ball to discuss how he builds his manifest each time he hits the water.

Kayak Tackle Management: Taking What You Need

Everybody thinks they have to pare everything down for kayak fishing. Well yeah, you do compared to a bass boat, but I still take a lot of stuff. I want to be prepared for just about any situation. If there’s nothing but a lot of shallow grass present, then yeah that narrows down what I need to take. But I fish a lot of deeper lakes where I may be fishing 30-feet of water. It’s all a process of elimination for me.

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You just have to narrow it down for the water you’re going to fish.

I have a couple boxes setup for river fishing. I know those are the type of baits that I’m going to use and that’s all I really need. If I’m fishing a lake, it’s the same kind of deal. I’ll leave the rest in my truck for pre-fishing.

The biggest thing for me is research on where I’m going to be fishing, looking at the conditions, and knowing what I should expect from the water before I get there. I do a lot of research before I go fishing. You can eliminate a lot of baits and weight out of your kayak that way. I’m not going to take a box of 10XDs to a shallow lake. That stays in the truck.

Kayak Tackle Management: Find Ways That Work for You

Terminal tackle is the one thing I use a lot of. I try to contain all of my terminal tackle to my Cal Coast Battle Box. It’s one of the best things that I have found so far for kayak fishing. It has a lot of little cylinders that you can put your weights and hooks in. The little pill bottle style deals. Say I’m throwing 1/4 ounce tungsten bullet weight and a 3/0 Extra Wide Gap hook, I’ll have those two things in my PFD and I never have to go in that box. That way I’m not constantly turning around looking for something if I break off.

I carry about 6 rods every time and that’s another thing that you’ve really got to watch. A place like Caddo where we fished the 2019 KBF National Championship, you can’t have those rods sticking up all behind you because they’re going to be snagged in those cypress trees all the time. You have to have your rods staged where they’re accessible but they’re not going to get in the way of your fishing.

Instead of taking a spinnerbait box and a buzzbait box and so on, I have a box that has 4 or 5 spinnerbaits of various colors and sizes. In that same box, I have my buzzbaits, a couple top toads, a couple of frogs.

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You’re throwing baits in categories instead of having the whole box full of just one presentation.

Your kayak crate is everything when it comes to your kayak tackle management. I use the Jackson JKrate. It’ll hold two Cal Coast Battle Boxes and 3 or 4 3700 Plano boxes. Then I have two soft plastic bags that I’ll keep under the seat. That’s where I have to do the most weeding down. One thing that’s really helped me in a kayak is that I’m a big user of the Z-Man plastics. By using those, you can take a whole lot less. There are certain situations where a Z-Man bait doesn’t work because I don’t want a buoyant bait. But for the most part I use a bunch of the Z-Man stuff because I know I can take one pack and it’s going to last me all day.

Kayak Tackle Management: Stick to the Basics

The other thing I’ve learned to do, I pretty much stick with 3 basic colors in my soft plastics. The black and blue, the natural colors and then the shad colors. You can do pretty much anything with those colors. There are so many color variances these days, but you don’t have the luxury that you have in a bass boat to have 6 different variances of pumpkin seed.

I’ll start out with a lot more tackle pre-fishing than I really need. But by the time the tournament comes and I have a pattern figured out, I can eliminate a lot of stuff out of there. That helps on loading and unloading the kayak too. There are some necessities like rain gear that you simply have to have. You can’t have a lot of stuff, but with necessities like that, I usually have them compressed down in a dry bag.

There are a lot of tournaments where we can launch from any public land. So, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and time if you’re packing light and can just dump the boat in off the side of the road instead of having to paddle 2 miles. The guys that can really pare it down have a huge advantage, especially on the bigger water without a lot of access points.

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You just learn and adjust over time as you figure out what works best for you.


Kayak Tackle Storage Options for the Avid Kayak Bass Fisherman

First of all, bass fishing is bass fishing. There seems to be some misconception that fishing from a kayak is dramatically different than fishing from a 20-foot fiberglass boat. Granted, we cannot run at 60 mph but since a fish isn’t racing around the water at that speed; do we need to?  Today’s kayaks are extremely lean and agile fishing machines. They can access places a larger bass boat can, and places they cannot. Properly equipped they are just as, if not more, effective. Especially when looking at all of the different kayak tackle storage options!

The real limitation to the kayak is space.  The average angling kayak ranges from 10.5-14 feet long by 32-42 inches wide with most of the space occupied by the angler.  Most do not allow for deep storage compartments, or have spare cargo area. This makes it difficult to carry a ton of gear, so kayak tackle storage can become an exercise in either minimalism or creativity.

Kayak Tackle Storage Options – The Minimalist Approach

I admire the minimalists on the water. They carry a handful of tackle, a couple of rods, and head out to fish. These guys usually have a milk crate with Plano waterproof boxes (waterproof just in case you roll) and a couple of bait binders filled with creature baits or jigs. They have a cup holder filled with lures they have cut off, or plan to use soon.

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They are better managers of tackle, time, and the space available.

Just like them, my cup holder (or the cover to my Lowrance) tells the story of the day. It doesn’t seem like it should be in a discussion about tackle storage, but when space is so limited you use what is available to you.  I can reach down while loading the kayak and use that pile of lures to record what did or didn’t work for me. Unfortunately, it is all too often an indicator of how bad the day went on the water.

Kayak Tackle Storage Options – The Creative Approach

Now, to the anglers like me, we carry more than we really need and require solutions that allow us to carry tackle “just in case”. I have an Engel Dry Box filled with waterproof Plano boxes; one of each for topwater, crankbaits, jigs and a mixed box full of stuff off the floor of the kayak. The space under the seat of the kayak holds more Plano boxes or soft binders filled with Senkos, worms, creatures, bugs and one dedicated to craws. I pedal a Hobie PA14 because it also has integrated storage in the deck where I store terminal tackle, and a hatch up front allowing access for the day on the water.

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You don’t have to worry, there is no need to get a PA14 to carry everything you think you might need because you don’t have under the deck storage.

There is also no need to leave rods back in the truck to create space on your kayak. Companies like Yak Attack, Plano, Hobie; even new players in the industry have recognized that the kayak fishing community is growing.

They are delivering products like the Engel box, BlackPak, the H-Crate and Plano’s V-Crate;  giving the angler some serious choices. Many even allow for vertical rod storage and can be modified with other accessories.  

Again, bass fishing is bass fishing. Anything that can be used on a 20-foot fiberglass rig to catch ‘em can be used in the kayak… you just have to be more creative about where to store it during your trip on the water.

Is That A Quality Fishing Rod? Tips for a Visual Inspection

Many anglers head over to their local tackle shop to buy fishing gear, including rods. The selection can be overwhelming, and at larger stores like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s you could be left wondering which are a quality fishing rod and which are junk.

To be fair, most rods are not junk, however, some are made with a little more TLC than others. And it could be hard to determine between the better-made rods and their lesser counterparts.

In a recent podcast episode, Chief Rod Geek, Bob Penicka, with the brand RodGeeks, gave me three questions to ask yourself to determine if the rod you have in hand is worth your hard-earned dollars.

Once you learn the answers you can easily tell if the rod is worth a longer look.

Quality Fishing Rod: Is The Rod Blank Straight?

This question may be a no brainer, but I want to ask you when was the last time you looked to see if your rods were straight?

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“It’s pretty easy to tell,” says Bob. “You hold it up. Look right down the rod. Make sure the rod is straight as you go from the handle section or the ‘butt’ to the tip.”

It seems like such a simple test that is essential to a quality rod. Once you conclude that the rod is indeed straight you should move to the second question.

Quality Fishing Rod: Are The Guides Aligned?

There are new products on the market like Erupt Fishing’s RTD that helps you thread your line onto your rod. But what good is it if your guides are not aligned?

I remember a few years back I received a rod from (brands name redacted) to review and the first thing I noticed were the guides. It was so noticeable that I thought it was a spiral wrapped rod. To my surprise, the rod was simply made wrong.

I decided to review the rod anyway and it unsurprisingly broke in half when I hooked into a fish.

Was it an error on my part? Maybe, but I believe it was not a good rod, to begin with.

Unaligned guides could lead to shorter casts and an overall lack of performance. Another simple test to do, hold up the rod and look down the guides from the butt of the rod and see if they’re straight! This test is well known, but when was the last time you actually did it?

Quality Fishing Rod: Is The Reel Seat Aligned With The Guides?

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“I’ve seen rods in retail where the blank is straight. The guides are nice and straight. And the reel seat is off by about 10%,” Bob tells me. “That rod is going to be pretty disappointing the first time someone puts their reel on and thread their line through it and realizes that the two are not aligned with each other.”

Over all, Bob looks for workmanship. He mentions a few more eye tests such as looking for glue smeared on the rod and any cosmetic flaws. If someone took the time to get all of these right, Bob is more confident the rod blank is right.

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“If I see workmanship flaws that are visual it makes me doubt the quality of the rod in general, and the blank is harder to tell what’s going on because the key parts of that are invisible to the eye.”

Don’t worry. Bob also lists some easy tests you can do to evaluate the blank. You can follow this link to listen to the podcast episode in full and learn what Bob knows about fishing rods. Trust me it’s a lot.

I hope this helps narrow down your search for your next fishing rod. Be sure to subscribe to my site, for more articles and to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or Anchor.

How the Bullseye Allows For Hands Free Fishing Trip Tracking

Fishermen love to figure out patterns. Well, maybe it’s not so much about the puzzle solving as it is about finding tricks that help you land more fish. 

Figuring out the puzzle requires collecting the pieces – the data – throughout your trips. But that’s not so easy with conventional methods. What if we told you that fishing trip tracking is easier than you’d ever imagine!

What if we told you the ANGLR Bullseye can allow for hands-free tracking of your trips, making putting the pieces together more fun – and prolific?!

Why Other Methods of Fishing Trip Tracking Fail

How many of you have started a journal at home? You know what we’re talking about. That one you planned to return to the moment you returned home from your trips. That logbook you had big plans for. The one you were going to journal every minute little detail about every single trip out on the water so that you could return to it later and discover patterns to your favorite haunts, figuring out the mastery to catching more fish, and bigger fish!

Yeah. That notebook that is still sitting on the shelf collecting dust with a few scribbles from one or two trips.

Not useful.

OK, so now how many of you anglers have tried to use a fishing app on your phone to track your trips? Much better than the old-fashioned method, right? You can click a few buttons, enter in some information manually on your phone. Touch a button on your screen when you make a cast, another time when you land a catch.

It’s way more efficient than trying to remember to write everything down when you get home. Many apps give you the ability to compare trips and data. But it’s still a bit of a PIA to snatch your phone every time you need to mark something. It can interrupt your experience on the water. Not to mention the nasty fishy film of slime left all over your investment.

So where do you go from there?

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Fishing Trip Tracking: As Hands-Free As You Can Get

Imagine if your favorite fishing app had a hands-free version. An exclusive option to pair a unique bluetooth device that allows you to easily and accurately log a mouthful of information with just a simple click of a button.

No mess. No hassle. The most powerful and effortless fishing intelligence in the world.

One weatherproof button that can easily attach anywhere, paired with your phone via bluetooth, is all you need to log waypoints that are editable, so if you want to go back later and add more details, you can! One easy-to-use button that allows you to instantly record anything you could possibly want to review later about your catch.

Aside from taking along an AI robot, it’s as hands-free as you can get!

How the Bullseye Works

The lightweight weatherproof button has a removable sticky backing to stick to anything, or clip it to your hat, your shirt, or an optional lanyard with the included apparel clip. You can attach it anywhere!

Connect it directly to your phone through the free ANGLR App and start a trip through the app.

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Click the Bullseye twice to drop a waypoint that you can later go back and edit. You can instantly record the time, date, and coordinates.

Click the Bullseye once to record your catch. That sounds simple, right? But it doesn’t just record a catch. It instantly diaries everything about that catch that you’ll want to recall later . . . . any time you want to!

Each click of the button records details about the weather:

  • Air temperature
  • Cloud coverage
  • Barometric pressure
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Moon phase

Each click of the button records details about the water right from leading national water data provider partners:

  • Water temperature
  • Gage height and flow

Not to mention the exact GPS location.

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It’s literally that easy! You can go back later and edit through your phone when you have a spare minute, adding photos, information about the tackle you used, and notes about species, weight, and length.

The Bullseye works with the ANGLR App, even when you’ve ventured out far enough to lose cell service. The app will automatically update to your online profile when you return to service. Everything remains automatically private by default, unless you choose to share your trip information with your friends.

The Bullseye’s battery is built to last for two years, so there’s absolutely no charging required! You’ll always be ready to go.

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Once You’re Home

Jump on your ANGLR profile on the website and view everything laid out neatly in front of you. You can replay the trip through the day based on time and activity, and make additional edits or add details. You have the ability to keep things private, or choose to share a link with a trusted buddy, or make it public if you desire.

Go back months or years later to discover patterns to your catches so you’ll be more successful your next trip back!

Nothing on the water is as easy as ANGLR Bullseye!

5 Things To Do In the Fishing Offseason

For some, there is no fishing offseason! Those lucky enough to live down south find themselves on the water through all times of the year. We know many avid anglers that find ways to chase their favorite catches through the ice. Some elect to pick a new species to go after in the winter months because they just can’t bring themselves to put the rod down.

But for many, the onset of winter means a forced lull in the action; a time when it’s just not possible to get out on the water and chase ‘em down.

So just what do fishermen do in the offseason?

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Learn as Much as Possible in the Fishing Offseason

If you’re going to be holed up somewhere, snowed in and iced over, you may as well make the best of it. Cozy up to the fireplace if you have one, (pretend, if you don’t) and dig into some good learning opportunities.

While we all pride ourselves on our vast knowledge, we’re humble enough to know that we just don’t know it all. There is always something that you can learn from everyone and every situation, even if it’s learning how not to do something. Keeping an open mind is how we grow, both as humans, and as anglers.

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With literally thousands of opportunities to explore videos, blogs, articles, books, magazines, podcasts, web forums, and more, there’s no excuse for not having enough to occupy your time and increase your knowledge base.

Not sure where to start? We’ve already compiled some of the best forums, videos, and experts to follow. That’s not even mentioning our entire giant library of Fishing Intelligence Podcasts and Fishing Intelligence Articles! All of that, in addition to our exclusive Bass Fishing Resource Center, and you’ve got all you need to keep that knowledge base growing through the stark winter season.

Check out:

Fishing Offseason: Organize and Maintainence

You have a break. No stress of having to get to tournaments. The urge to get out on the water is lessening as the feel of the blistering cold moves in. Take this time to slow down and give some TLC to your gear and equipment.

Winterizing your boat is a must to ensure it makes it through the season without any additional problems cropping up come springtime. You’ll want to completely clean and wax it, drain all water from the engine and lower unit. Winterize your engine by topping off the fuel tank, changing the lower unit oil, and adding marine fuel stabilizer. Make sure you run it for a few minutes to let the stabilizer get through the whole system. Hook your batteries up to a battery maintainer. If they’re likely to freeze, store them in a warm, dry place inside.

This is the perfect time to organize all of your tackle. You’ll thank yourself come tournament time!

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Start by getting rid of things that you don’t use. That may be a painful prospect, but you can do it! If you’ve been hoarding something for a “just in case” situation, but haven’t thrown it in years, get rid of it! Gift it. Sell it. Throw it away. Whatever it takes. Have a funeral if it makes you feel better.

Everything should have a place, and you should know right where to find things at a moment’s notice on your boat. Make-up for all those times you tossed a bait into a box, couldn’t find it later so you bought a new one, and added to an already overcrowded, unorganized tackle box. Find a system that will work for you. Storage bins, boxes, or bags with labels can work wonders for your efficiency come push or shove out on the water.

Once you’ve got things under control, take inventory with your ANGLR App’s Tackle section.

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Plan Your Next Trip During the Fishing Offseason

Now that you have some time to sit down and think, go through the next season’s calendar now instead of waiting until the week of the first derby. Take some notes on fishing reports and tournament results. Grab your phone and start plugging your proposed waypoints into the ANGLR App.

Decide where you’ll head out to start practicing once the weather opens up a bit. Come up with your game plan now, so you’ll be more than ready to strike when the season opens.

Practice Makes Perfect

Even if you think you were pretty spot-on last year, there’s always room for improvement. Stop and think about how many of your pitches and casts hit the target – and how many didn’t. Getting in some target practice during the offseason is easier than you think. You can set up a practice area in your basement or garage by setting out cups and bowls around the area- beside, under, and close to objects. Come spring, you’ll be happy you did.

Here’s a fun challenge for you:

Teach yourself to pitch left-handed. You’ve got plenty of time. Think how much more efficient you’ll be if you don’t have to switch hands when your jig hits the water. You’ll be able to feel that many more strikes, which equals more fish being caught.

Use the Fishing Offseason Free Time to Exercise!

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Doing even just a little bit of physical exercise can make all the difference in the world during your first few derbies. Think back to last year and how tired you were halfway through the day. You still had hours to go before weigh-in, and all you wanted to do was crawl back into bed.

We all tend to just simply melt into the couch when the winds are blustering outside and the temperatures are ridiculously cold, but don’t give in to the temptation. Get yourself up and go for a walk. Do a few simple exercises and stretches on your living room floor. Go to the gym like you’ve been thinking about. You’ll thank yourself during the season next year!

Digital Fishing Tackle Organization

You won’t find much about digital fishing tackle organization on the internet right now. It’s still a relatively new concept, and there aren’t very many apps or sites that offer the capability. But an online tackle box can really make all the difference to your fishing game.

What’s Wrong With the Old-Fashioned Way?

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We all can agree that being prepared for a day on the water or a week-long tournament is important because it makes us, as anglers, more efficient and confident. We need to know what rods, reels, and baits we have to choose from at any given moment. For many touring pros as well as the up-and-coming anglers, we tend to acquire massive amounts of “fishing stuff.” Whether that is baits we catch on-sale at our favorite tackle shop or a sweet deal we found on Tackle Direct for that reel we’ve been wanting, we need to know what we have.

If you are an avid angler like me, you’ve been standing in the aisles of Tackle Direct, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Academy Sports prepping for a tournament and wondering:

“Do I have this color of craw or stick bait? How many 7.3:1 reels do I have? Do I even have a medium-­light rod for a Ned Rig?”

You question yourself and you pick up a couple packs of baits, a reel, and a rod, only to get back to your boat to find you already have four packs of the very same baits you just bought, or two extra reels that you now spent an additional $200 on. That money could have gone to lunch, ice, an entry fee, or gas for the boat.

As each year passes we acquire more and more tackle and there comes a point where we have so much that we don’t even know what we have ­anymore. We all have totes and bags full of hard baits and soft plastics, hooks, weights, line, etc., etc., etc, . . . .  

It can be overwhelming.

The Digital Fishing Tackle Organization Solution

So how can you keep it all together ­in one easy-to-get-to place, calling up your entire inventory of tackle right in the palm of your hand without having to go through several totes of gear or overspend on things you probably already have?

If you don’t already have the ANGLR App downloaded, you’re behind the times.

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Part of the ANGLR App is a feature called “Tackle.” This is where you can keep inventory of every major tool we all use on the water – rods, reels, lures, flies – and pull it all up at a moment’s notice with a touch of your screen. Utilizing the the Tackle feature within the ANGLR App allows you to have your physical tackle box right there in the palm of your hand, everywhere you go. No more standing in the aisles of a tackle shop trying to remember what you have.

Digital fishing tackle organization can definitely help you save some cash if you commit to keeping things up-to-date. Tournament entry fees have increased, so some of us have to scrape to gather enough to compete each month. Keeping your fishing tool box clean and organized can have many positive impacts on your fishing, including the potential to save money since you won’t be over-buying baits, rods, and reels anymore.

Being organized digitally can speed up your tournament prep and allow you more time to sleep, research the lake, or chop it up with your fishing buddies.

Getting digitally organized will take a little time initially as you enter your inventory into the app, but it is time well spent in my opinion. For the record, a great time to do this is right now, during the long cold months of winter. There’s not usually a whole lot of fishing going on, depending on where you are in the world, so winter is when most anglers are prepping for next year’s tournament season.

If you are wanting to step up your game as an angler I strongly encourage you to download the free ANGLR App and get started with your online digital fishing tackle organization. It also allows you to mark waypoints, record fish catches, mark structure, or pinpoint your favorite restaurant on the lake.

ANGLR’s Digital Fishing Tackle Organization Gets Even Better

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But don’t stop there. Take your fishing game to the next level by picking up the Bullseye from ANGLR. If you are into metrics like me, you can pair your ANGLR Bullseye with ANGLR Tracker to record how many casts you’ve made on any given fishing trip and compare those numbers with your buddies to see who is really the best among you, all electronically. The app enables you to choose who you share your information with, and how much of your secrets you can keep to yourself.  

The ANGLR App along with the Bullseye, the Tracker, and the Tackle feature is an all-in-one resource I believe is indispensable.­ It will make you a better angler because it will make you smarter, more efficient, and the most organized angler on and off the water.

Utilizing the ANGLR App on the water to its full extent and staying digitally organized, you can single-handedly give yourself the edge over other anglers. We all know that being more efficient on and off the water allows us to be more successful, allows more time to focus on other aspects of fishing, and allows us to actually enjoy ourselves. Spend less time pondering what’s in your tackle box, and more time enjoying the waters.

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