It's tackle time

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

In two short weeks we’ll all be watching the Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake out in Oklahoma. That’s good news. It’s one of my favorite times of the year for more than one reason. To begin with, I love to watch the best anglers chase bass and I know that once it’s over spring is right around the corner. That means I can go fishing every single day. Almost as good, it also means it’s Expo time.

If there’s anything I love darn near as much as going smallmouth fishing it’s messing around with fishing tackle, and there’s no better place to do that than at a Bassmaster Classic Expo. I go as often as my schedule will let me.

Every year at this time I spend some time looking over my tackle and upgrading anything that needs it. That includes the usual stuff like rods, reels, lures and hooks. While I’m doing that I take stock of my line situation. I’m not just talking about quality. I’m also talking about quantity.

I try to make sure I have whatever kinds of line I’m going to need for the year — monofilament, fluorocarbon, braid — as well as lots of different test weights. A complete line inventory like I’m talking about is something a lot of guys don’t think enough about. That’s a shame. Line is the link between the fish and you. If it doesn’t do its job nothing else matters.

There will be times when you want a line that’s buoyant or that floats. That’s monofilament. On the other hand there will be occasions when you’ll want a heavy, sinking line like fluorocarbon. It’ll help get your baits down deeper and faster. Shallow, nasty cover or thick weeds might call for something really tough like braid.

Different test weights, within each category, have special applications. Clear water might require lighter weights but you’ll be able to use something heavier if the water has a lot of stain to it. Lighter line gives you better lure action, too. You might need that action with a small crankbait. 

While you’re thinking about all this you need to keep something else in mind. Different brands of line have different diameters or thicknesses. Ten-pound-test line is not all the same. Some companies make it thicker than others, a lot thicker. That can be really important because it’ll affect everything that we’ve been talking about.  

There are a couple of ways to make sure your line inventory is complete. You can spend hours and hours looking through catalogues or searching the Internet. Those aren’t bad things, but they aren’t my idea of a good time. I’d rather be at a sport or tackle show, and there’s none better than an Expo.

The show will be crammed wall-to-wall with every new toy you can imagine, and some you can’t. It’ll also have a sampling from just about every line maker in the world. There’s no place better you can find that’ll let you compare and contrast fishing lines. And, the prices are usually pretty good, sometimes better than so-called sale prices.

Take advantage of the Expo if you can.

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