Five easy ways to increase your catch

It won’t be long and most of you will be heading out to your favorite lake or river to go fishing. Here are five easy and inexpensive ways you can increase your catch this year. I’ve mentioned most of them in other columns but I thought I’d package them together here just before the season starts. They’ll be fresh in your mind that way.

Use sharp hooks

Hooks get dull when you drive them into a bass’ mouth, and they get dull when they run through the water. (Water is very abrasive.) Don’t let a dull hook cost you a big bass.

I change my hooks often, sometimes two or three times a day. With lures that have fixed hooks like spinnerbaits and jigs I change the whole bait. You can do that but it’s expensive. A cheaper way to keep your hooks sharp is to lay a few strokes on them with a diamond file. You won’t ever get one as sharp as it was right out of the package but it’ll be better than it was before you worked on it.

Retie often

Casting and retrieving a lure weakens a knot. Even the best knots will fail over time. And, unless you have other problems with your line you only need to use about a foot of line to do this.

Don’t make cast after cast all day without retying, especially if you’re using fluorocarbon or monofilament line. I’d say you should do it at least every 20 or 30 minutes — more often if your lure is heavy or if you’re fishing in nasty stuff.

Check your line frequently

Even the best line will get nicks and abrasions as it rubs against stuff in the water, and it will break when you put pressure on it.

Changing all your line is really expensive and unnecessary for most anglers. Just wet your fingers and run them up and down the first 15 feet or so of line. Clip it above the bad spots and retie. Do this with braid, too.

Use scent products liberally

I don’t know if scent products attract fish or if they mask offensive smells and odors. Either way, I use them when necessary. I’m saying it that way because Strike King puts scent into all their plastics. It’s easier for me to swap baits than it is to add scent. But that’s expensive if you’re buying them. Good plastics aren’t cheap.

Strike King sells their Coffee scent in a spray can that’s really inexpensive. Spray it on your plastic bait every 10 casts or so. You can also spray it on all your other lures. It won’t hurt a thing.

In fairness, there are countless other scents on the market. Some are known to man, some not. Check them out if coffee isn’t nasty enough for you.

Customize and save your skirts

I change skirts constantly. Sometimes it’s for color, sometimes for thickness and sometimes for length. Once I customize one and use it I don’t throw it away. I take it off carefully and put it in a bag for future use.

You can do the same thing. Customize any lure that has a skirt when it’s necessary but save money by not destroying it after you use it.

Catching bass isn’t always about the big things.