Like most anglers, I love walking through tackle stores, especially ones that I’ve never visited before.
That’s one reason why I’m looking forward to going to Little Rock, Ark., Nov. 13 for the grand opening of a new Bass Pro Shops store there. It marks the first major outdoors retailer in the Little Rock area.
I’ll be joined by other Bass Pro Shops pros along with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart and Miss Arkansas USA Hannah Billingsley. The festivities begin at 6 p.m., and I’ll be around signing autographs.
If I have extra time, you can bet that I will walk the tackle department aisles, checking out the next year’s new items that are starting to arrive on store shelves nationwide.
Although I got a sneak peak at some new tackle during the ICAST Show in Las Vegas last summer, the retailer is where you can get your hands on cool stuff and examine it closely.
I’m always looking for anything new; whether it’s a new bait, lure color, new style of jighead or a new way to rig baits. You can find some real gems and nifty trends in tackle shops away from home.
I’m constantly working on new designs for Strike King Lures, so it’s critical I keep up on new products in the fishing business. By seeing what others are doing, I get ideas for better systems or colors I’d like play with or implement into my lures.
I remember the first time I went to California and saw all of the hand-pour plastics and swimbaits that I had never seen before. It blew me away at the time, yet we now see those same baits on shelves throughout the east.
I also recall seeing the Buckeye Mop Jig in a Carolina tackle shop long before Davy Hite won an Elite tourney on Clarks Hill Lake and Tommy Biffle’s Hard Head Jig in a store before he began winning B.A.S.S. events with it.
One thing for sure – you will see regional things that look weird to you and make you wonder how in the world they catch fish. But if you take time to ask questions about them you may discover some are really good ideas and offer tricks you can adapt to fishing on your home waters.
And don’t forget to dig through close-out bins in retailer shops. You may find baits that have fallen out of favor in that part of the country yet ones that still work well on your waters. Baits tossed in close-out bins often are priced below cost, so it’s a good time to load up on favorites.
Also, if you’re into older lures, you might find some you can’t find at home that have been hanging on another retailer’s shelf for a long time.
So keep that in mind when you visit any tackle shop when you’re out of town. The trip may have nothing to do with fishing, but it’s always worth the time to visit a local shop and see the new or intriguing gear other tackle shops have to offer.
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!
Kevin VanDam’s column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.