Be prepared

Its seems like I've been preparing for the Classic for months. I've only got a day left before we head to the Classic and it feels as though I have weeks of work left to be fully prepared.

The first thing I do is label my Plano boxes. I label them with a technique and in some cases a size, color or depth. For example, "shallow crawdad crankbaits" or "Dog X top waters" or "1/2 ounce jigs."

Then I empty all the boxes all over my work bench and go through each bait one by one. I'll check the hooks and replace any hook that isn't sticky sharp with a new Gamakatsu hook of matching size and style.

For skirted baits, I check each skirt to make sure it's perfect — trimmed the way I like it and in perfect fishing shape.  For spinnerbait skirts that aren't perfect, I replace them or fix them. I've spent more than six hours this week fixing spinnerbait skirts alone.

One tip I can give you for your spinnerbait skirts, or jig skirts for that matter, is to use braided line to tie them on. Wrap the braid around the skirt and tie a sturdy knot and use just small dab of superglue to hold the braid on. Braid is stronger than thread and we usually have lots of leftover short lengths of braid available after spooling reels.

I'll organize my hooks by size, shape and style. I'll double check to make sure I have enough of each model for the upcoming events and make sure every one of them is razor sharp and ready to fish.

Speaking of spooling reels, I spend a lot of my offseason time tearing reels apart cleaning them thoroughly, then lubricating them and putting them back together. Not much bothers me more than a reel that isn't silky smooth.

We recently covered how I take care of my rod guides, but let me say it again: clean your guides. Again, anything less than silky smooth is unacceptable.

I have too much preparing to do and too little time to do it, so I'll cut to the chase. By taking the time before you head to the water you can actually improve on two fundamental aspects of fishing confidence and time management. You'll be confident that the baits, rods and reels you are using are in prime fishing condition. You'll also be able to find the baits you need faster, which will save you time and maybe get you that one extra cast that makes a difference.

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