Growing up in Minnesota, we didn’t have a lot of true “bass tackle shops” nearby. There were plenty of places where you could go and buy sinkers and bobbers and Lindy Rigs, but they were traditional “bait shops” and many did not have the products being used on the Bassmaster tournament trail. We’d get the Bass Pro Shops master catalog every year, and I’d obsess over it all winter long, dreaming about the day that I could see that gear up close and maybe afford it.
As my tournament career progressed and my wallet grew a little fatter, I had the opportunity to buy a lot of those dream items. I didn’t have much guidance as I headed outside of the upper Midwest, so my purchases weren’t always smart. Some of them lived up to the hype while others proved to be worthless. There were a lot of things that looked cool but didn’t work and ended up either in a box somewhere or in the trash. It would have been a huge benefit to have some sort of guidance or rating system on products.
It’s not as hard to access tackle today as it was 10 or 20 years ago – there are plenty of online sites that’ll get you just about anything on the market – but it’s still tough to find solid information on what you’ll need when you head to a distant fishery.
We almost have too many options at our fingertips. If you’re headed to California for the first time, you can get on a website and see 50 different swimbaits that come in 20 different colors apiece, but most of us don’t know which ones we really need, nor do we have the disposable income to buy and try them all.
That’s why I’m excited to work with Omnia Fishing, an online retailer that will personalize your tackle selections and tailor them to specific bodies of water. They have a map of the country and every lake has a dot on it. You click and it’ll crowdsource information to give you an educated shopping list. That means if you’re a high school kid from Minnesota fishing your first big event on Pickwick this summer, it’ll tell you the right crankbaits, football jigs and soft plastics to use. It might tell you to buy a Rapala DT20 in Sexy Shad and fish it on a 7-foot cranking rod with a 6.3:1 baitcasting reel and 12 pound fluorocarbon. Of course, not every angler needs this service or this level of specificity, but for the guys just starting out it’s a tremendous resource, especially if you want to be competitive on a limited budget.
It’ll be particularly helpful any time you’re headed out of your comfort zone. In that case, our inclination is often to try everything, but trial and error takes time that most of us don’t have. Sometimes it’s better to have an ample supply of proven winners than one of everything.
One other service that they’ll offer is a premium membership that operates sort of like Amazon Prime. For a minimal charge per year, they’ll give you free shipping on every order, with no minimums, as well as rebates and special deals.
I still find myself getting tackle shipped to just about every tournament I fish. It’s not that I don’t have a huge supply of gear, including the right stuff, but often I have so many options that I don’t know where to start. If you’re just getting started, Omnia is a great way to avoid the hoarding and clutter that plagues most of us. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran, it’s a good lesson that there is typically no such thing as a “magic bait.” By focusing on the staples, not only do you keep your boat cleaner and lighter, but you’re likely to spend more time with a lure in the water.