Beginner's Tacklebox

Beginner’s Tacklebox with Jacob Wheeler

Jacob Wheeler happily took a few minutes to show us exactly what he'd suggest to fit inside a standard Plano Stowaway tray for the new or beginning angler.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Jacob Wheeler happily took a few minutes to show us exactly what he'd suggest to fit inside a standard Plano Stowaway tray for the new or beginning angler.
To start things off, he said it's smart to always keep a couple of the classics on hand. He learned how to catch fish on the Rapala Original Floater, and they still hold a valuable place in his collection.
Photo: Thomas Allen - To start things off, he said it's smart to always keep a couple of the classics on hand. He learned how to catch fish on the Rapala Original Floater, and they still hold a valuable place in his collection.
This was one of the original hardbaits on the market, and Wheeler said they still have their magic.
Photo: Thomas Allen - This was one of the original hardbaits on the market, and Wheeler said they still have their magic.
The Storm 360 GT Swimbait in various sizes are always within arm's reach inside Wheeler's Academy wrapped Legend boat. Keep a few in natural colors, and choose them when the fish need to see something other than a crankbait or jig.
Photo: Thomas Allen - The Storm 360 GT Swimbait in various sizes are always within arm's reach inside Wheeler's Academy wrapped Legend boat. Keep a few in natural colors, and choose them when the fish need to see something other than a crankbait or jig.
Another long-time producer for the Indiana native is the Rapala Shad Rap. Keep a few on hand in both natural and shock colors.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Another long-time producer for the Indiana native is the Rapala Shad Rap. Keep a few on hand in both natural and shock colors.
Wheeler said that a collection of various hard-bait shapes and sizes will keep an angler versatile. Sometimes a subtle tweak in body style will turn a slow day into a game changer.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Wheeler said that a collection of various hard-bait shapes and sizes will keep an angler versatile. Sometimes a subtle tweak in body style will turn a slow day into a game changer.
The X-Rap from Rapala is a jerkbait that forces fish to react. He loves it for a number of reasons, especially for northern smallmouth bass during spring and fall when the water temps are cool and fish are feeding heavily.
Photo: Thomas Allen - The X-Rap from Rapala is a jerkbait that forces fish to react. He loves it for a number of reasons, especially for northern smallmouth bass during spring and fall when the water temps are cool and fish are feeding heavily.
He claims it's the greatest crankbait of all time: The Rapala DT 6 is one of the most versatile cranks out there. It's easy to throw, easy to crank and the fish love it.
Photo: Thomas Allen - He claims it's the greatest crankbait of all time: The Rapala DT 6 is one of the most versatile cranks out there. It's easy to throw, easy to crank and the fish love it. "DT" stands for "Dives To", this one obviously runs to 6 feet, and is one selection in the DT family he relies heavily upon.
Gene Larew 6-inch Tattletail worm is a solid finesse presentation that can be rigged in a number of methods. It can be put on a shaky head, Texas rigged, or ...
Photo: Thomas Allen - Gene Larew 6-inch Tattletail worm is a solid finesse presentation that can be rigged in a number of methods. It can be put on a shaky head, Texas rigged, or ...
Wacky rigged on a VMC weedless Wacky Jig.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Wacky rigged on a VMC weedless Wacky Jig.
Also from Gene Larew and new in 2018 is the Hammer Craw -- his own design. It's a great soft plastic that could be used for punch-rig or buzzbait trailers. It's extra thick to hide heavy-duty hooks for these types of presentations.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Also from Gene Larew and new in 2018 is the Hammer Craw -- his own design. It's a great soft plastic that could be used for punch-rig or buzzbait trailers. It's extra thick to hide heavy-duty hooks for these types of presentations.
He also likes the Hammer Craw on the back of a D&L jig -- a bait he uses often. Always have a jig handy.
Photo: Thomas Allen - He also likes the Hammer Craw on the back of a D&L jig -- a bait he uses often. Always have a jig handy.
VMC Wide Gap Worm hooks are an easy selection. Anytime the bass are eating a worm, the right hook is critical to your success. Wheeler believes in VMC hooks, period.
Photo: Thomas Allen - VMC Wide Gap Worm hooks are an easy selection. Anytime the bass are eating a worm, the right hook is critical to your success. Wheeler believes in VMC hooks, period.
Another brand-new lure for 2018 is the Strom Arashi Cover Pop. This lure not only acts like a popper and spits water with the twitch of the rod tip, but it also walks back and forth allowing the angler to work it slowly through the strike zone without it moving forward too fast.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Another brand-new lure for 2018 is the Strom Arashi Cover Pop. This lure not only acts like a popper and spits water with the twitch of the rod tip, but it also walks back and forth allowing the angler to work it slowly through the strike zone without it moving forward too fast.
As you can see, Wheeler likes hardbaits, and it's hard to argue with his success. The box is beginning to fill up.
Photo: Thomas Allen - As you can see, Wheeler likes hardbaits, and it's hard to argue with his success. The box is beginning to fill up.
He keeps a healthy supply of Accent spinnerbaits on hand as well. He said white is his go-to for most applications, north to south.
Photo: Thomas Allen - He keeps a healthy supply of Accent spinnerbaits on hand as well. He said white is his go-to for most applications, north to south.
He said as anglers are learning their craft, he suggest choosing either silver- or brass-colored blades due to the versatility. Worrying about painted blades is another conversation down the road.
Photo: Thomas Allen - He said as anglers are learning their craft, he suggest choosing either silver- or brass-colored blades due to the versatility. Worrying about painted blades is another conversation down the road.
Another lure built to his own specifications, the Accent Jacob Wheeler Game Changer buzzbait was designed with multiple applications in mind, including: Skipping docks, through pads and along weed edges. He likes to dress up every buzzbait with a Gene Larew Biffle Bug.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Another lure built to his own specifications, the Accent Jacob Wheeler Game Changer buzzbait was designed with multiple applications in mind, including: Skipping docks, through pads and along weed edges. He likes to dress up every buzzbait with a Gene Larew Biffle Bug.
Before he threads it on the hook, he makes an easy modification to the Biffle Bug.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Before he threads it on the hook, he makes an easy modification to the Biffle Bug.
He removes the
Photo: Thomas Allen - He removes the "tongue", which makes the bait easier to skip.
Just a simple tweak.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Just a simple tweak.
And he loads it beneath the skirt of the Game Changer.
Photo: Thomas Allen - And he loads it beneath the skirt of the Game Changer.
Then trims up the skirt.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Then trims up the skirt.
And it's obviously hard to resist.
Photo: Thomas Allen - And it's obviously hard to resist.
He loves catching fish on frogs, and one of his favorites is the Terminator Walking Frog Jr. It's a bit smaller than standard frogs, and he's found that more fish are likely to attack the smaller profile. And that means more fish in the boat.
Photo: Thomas Allen - He loves catching fish on frogs, and one of his favorites is the Terminator Walking Frog Jr. It's a bit smaller than standard frogs, and he's found that more fish are likely to attack the smaller profile. And that means more fish in the boat.
Most of the time he prefers natural colors for his frog selections.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Most of the time he prefers natural colors for his frog selections.
A good pair of scissors is essential.
Photo: Thomas Allen - A good pair of scissors is essential.
A solid pair of needle-nose pliers is critical if you plan on catching fish and releasing them.
Photo: Thomas Allen - A solid pair of needle-nose pliers is critical if you plan on catching fish and releasing them.
He said that exaggerating fish size is no longer a factor, especially when you have a quality scale handy. A Rapala digital scale will help you know for sure how much your fish weighed. It'll keep you honest, he said.
Photo: Thomas Allen - He said that exaggerating fish size is no longer a factor, especially when you have a quality scale handy. A Rapala digital scale will help you know for sure how much your fish weighed. It'll keep you honest, he said.
Meanwhile Alabama pro and 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Mark Daniels Jr. takes a look through Wheeler's tacklebox, and agrees it looks good.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Meanwhile Alabama pro and 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Mark Daniels Jr. takes a look through Wheeler's tacklebox, and agrees it looks good.
And Wheeler also keeps a spool of Sufix fluorocarbon handy for tying leaders to braid when fishing clear water. Photobomb: Mark Daniels Jr.
Photo: Thomas Allen - And Wheeler also keeps a spool of Sufix fluorocarbon handy for tying leaders to braid when fishing clear water. Photobomb: Mark Daniels Jr.
The scale and spool of line didn't fit into the box, but they're ideal to have along, Wheeler insisted.
Photo: Thomas Allen - The scale and spool of line didn't fit into the box, but they're ideal to have along, Wheeler insisted.
Thanks for taking the time, Jacob! There was a lot of great information shared here from one of the brightest young stars on the Elite Series.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Thanks for taking the time, Jacob! There was a lot of great information shared here from one of the brightest young stars on the Elite Series.
Back to work studying maps.
Photo: Thomas Allen - Back to work studying maps.