We talk and write a lot about lures and techniques, but there’s something else that’s even more important. That’s your equipment, and how it performs. You see, no matter how fancy your lures are or how up-to-date your rods and reels are, if something doesn’t work you can’t catch a bass with it.
It’s no accident that pro anglers spend hours and hours getting everything ready before a tournament and spend more hours in the afternoon and evening during the tournament doing the same thing. We know that breakdowns are a disaster.
At the level we fish you simply can’t afford not to be looking for fish and casting. If that happens, it’s like you’re spotting the other guys a couple of hours of fishing time. No one is going to do that. It’s crazy.
I check everything before I fish a tournament. When I pick up a rod and reel I know that the blank isn’t cracked and that the guides are right. I’m confident that the spools on my reels will all turn freely because I check them, and I know my drag is smooth for the same reason.
The same thinking goes for my batteries and trolling motor. A weak cranking battery is a hassle when it comes to starting my outboard, and it’ll cause me problems with my electronics and other equipment. A corroded connection is the same thing. I want to know that my trolling motor can use all the power it gets. I test it.
And, when I’m on the water I check my electronics. If something isn’t right, I get it fixed — pronto.
I do the same thing with my trailer. A breakdown on the way to the ramp means less fishing time, or no fishing time, and maybe an expensive repair. In my world lost time is more valuable than the cost of a repair.
When it comes to my outboard I take extra time and extra care to treat it right. Modern outboards are engineering marvels that’ll give you years and years of service if you take care of them. But, they aren’t cheap to buy and they aren’t cheap to repair.
I get a new one every year, and I take the time to break it in properly. There isn’t much to that anymore, especially with a new Evinrude like my E-TEC G2 250 H.O. But, I’m still careful about not running it too hard for the first couple of hours, and I make sure I vary the rpms at first.
The other thing is, I don’t abuse it too much even when I’m fishing a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament. I suppose I could if I wanted to, but I have too much respect for it to treat it that way. It wouldn’t be right. I also do all the recommended maintenance when it’s recommended.
I’ve been with Evinrude for 12 or 14 years now, and I can’t remember ever having a breakdown. That says something given the number of days I’m on the water every year. I’d like to think that the combination of a quality product and the way I treat it is responsible for that.
That’s the professional side of it.
The same things I’ve said here apply to recreational anglers. Maybe you get to fish one day a week, or maybe only two or three times a month. Why do you want to spend that time fishing with a reel that won’t cast right, a battery that should have been replaced, a trolling motor that won’t pull your boat or an electronics unit with a busted transducer?
Your outboard is even more important than those other things when you think about it. Other than your hull it costs more than anything else on or in your boat, and you can’t go far without it.
Your equipment and tackle: It’s gotta work. If it doesn’t, you’re guaranteed to blank every time.