It can get awfully cold around Lake Erie in the winter. When Frank Scalish is home, he spends considerable time tinkering with lures and tackle.
Two ideas that were born in his Cleveland workshop have been paying dividends for years.
"I like fiddling with my tackle," said Scalish, a BASS winner and trained graphic artist. "All pros are always looking for ways to improve things."
Rod sensitivity. Although Scalish's ingenious rod adaptation has proved invaluable during the drop shot rage the past few years, it was originally invented to enhance the typical challenges involved in finessing Great Lake smallmouth.
"When fishing tubes, Woolly Hawgtails and subtle baits on jigheads for smallmouth, what I needed was a rod that was going to offer me a lot more sensitivity," he explained.
"When the wind is blowing and you're out there bouncing around in 3-foot waves, it's hard to be in good contact with what's going on down there. So I had the guys at the Rodmaker Shop in Strongsville, Ohio, build me a special rod that has a 6-inch graphite tube that goes on in place of the handle of a standard spinning rod. So it creates a Tennessee handle, but with the benefits of a graphite insert, which transmits down the rod better. So when you're holding your rod, you're basically holding a solid piece of graphite."
Scalish's finesse rod is a 7-foot, medium-action, fast-tapered baitcaster blank that has been further modified. The first four guides were removed and replaced with larger spinning rod guides. The reel is taped to the graphite handle.
"I went to the 7-footer because I wanted the backbone that a baitcasting rod offers, but I wanted the tip flex of a spinning rod. The main thing is the sensitivity. When you're drop shotting, you can feel the slightest little movement. If the lure gets heavy, you can feel it."