Time to get serious about tackle

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

As we head into January, I wish everyone a safe, happy and prosperous New Year!

Turning the calendar means it’s time for me to bear down on my tackle and get everything in order for the new season.

I’ve been piecing it together since fall, but now’s when I put serious thought to what I need in the boat for the season start.

Once the Classic is over, we jump right into the thick of things with the regular season.

That’s why it’s so critical for me to be organized before I leave for Oklahoma. I want to be prepared for anything.

I inventoried all my tackle last fall and listed those items I needed to replace or restock. As the crankbaits come in, I replace stock hooks with premium Mustad’s and in the sizes and designs I prefer.

I’ve ordered a lot of new colors, shapes and sizes of soft baits from Strike King, too. I carefully assessed what I think I’ll need at those tournaments and ordered accordingly.

I’ll pack them in numerous Plano Speed Bags with specific types of baits in each. I carry a dozen to 15 bags of soft plastics in each Speed Bag, that way I have plenty of whatever I need during the day.

The bags are small, soft-sided, top-zippered tackle bags in which you can file a lot of baits within their original packages. That’s important because you don’t want your plastics waded up to where the appendages get bent or disfigured.

I don’t carry everything in my boat, but I do have extra, well-stocked Speed Bags in storage bins in my truck.

Think about it: Our first two tournaments are on entirely different fisheries. We open on the Sabine River in Texas which will be a small-to-average size type fishery, then head to Falcon Lake the next week, which will require larger and different types of baits because the fish are so big there.

With my system, I can take the smaller stuff out of the boat, grab the bigger stuff from my truck and be ready for Falcon.

I also pack a lot of different types of hooks, but have only one large utility box of hooks in the boat. It contains my replacement trebles and soft plastic hooks, which I restock from the truck as needed. Of course, the hooks are organized in individual compartments.

I won’t spool my line for Grand Lake until it gets closer, as I prefer to do that when I’m rigging rods. That’s especially true for Grand, where we are uncertain about weather and fishing conditions we will face. By the time I leave Kalamazoo I’ll have a good idea of how I’m going to fish there.

Remember, line can get a “memory set” when left on a spool too long. When I do spool reels, I spray down my lines with line conditioner that helps relax the line and ensure smoother, longer casts.

I carry a variety of lines and sizes in a bin of my truck, too. Again, for Falcon, I’ll make sure I have extra 25-pound fluorocarbon and some 80-pound braid on hand.

However, I limit the amount line I carry in the vehicle because line is vulnerable to heat and sunshine; I can’t control the environment back there.

When my boat and truck leaves Kalamazoo, it will be loaded for bear and I will be ready to get this thing started!

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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