Tips for the frugal angler

Things are getting better in our economy, but they’re still tough in some places. And, I’m a frugal guy. So I thought I’d write this column and give you some tips on how to fish more and spend less money. I know how to do that. Remember, I’m the guy who once stayed in a $30-a-night motel.

1. Use your line efficiently. 

We all know about using backing to save on our main line costs. But you can save more by reversing your main line. The part that’s in your reel is rarely used. It’s basically new. 

Tie the end to the cleat on your boat. Pull it all off and then tie the cleat end to your backing and spool up. You’ll have new line that you probably would have thrown away otherwise. It’s just as good as new from a spool, and it doesn’t cost you a dime.

2. Slow down. 

If you’re not fishing a high-dollar tournament, slow your speed down. You don’t have to run at 5,500 rpms to get to the next spot unless there’s a lot at stake. Fun fishing is just that. Why burn a tank of fuel in two or three days when you can make it last four or five?

If you doubt what I say, go to the internet and look at the fuel burn charts the manufacturers post for their motors. They will get your attention. Fuel burn goes through the roof at higher rpms.  

I do this on a regular basis, unless I’m fishing a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament, and I catch just as many fish and have just as much fun. 

3. A 6-inch worm doesn’t have to be 6 inches long.

I see a lot of anglers who throw away their plastics when the head gets loose at the eye of the hook. Don’t do that. Bite off an inch. That’ll make the bait new, and the shorter length won’t make any difference at all. 

I’ve done this for years, and I’m telling you that if a bass will bite a 6-inch worm it’ll bite a 5-inch worm. It’s the same thing with most other plastic baits.  

4. You don’t have to own every color of a lure that’s made. 

Some lure makers — especially the plastics makers — offer anglers 30 colors or more. You don’t need all of them. You’re just wasting your money. 

Even when I’m fishing an Elite Series event, I only carry about four. I have green pumpkin, black-and-blue, a combination of green pumpkin with black-and-blue and sometimes a red bug or translucent watermelon. When it comes to hard baits think dark, light, natural and shock colors.

Limiting colors will save a lot of money, and it won’t cost you any fish either. 

5. Cut your old plastic stick baits in half. 

A half of a stick bait will make a great Ned rig bait. I do it all the time. 

6. Buy your snacks and drinks at the grocery store. 

You can buy a whole pack of water, or snacks, at the grocery store for about the same price you pay for one item in a gas station or convenience store. Carry a small cooler with you, and you’ll be good to go. Having them with you all the time is more convenient too.

Why spend extra money to make things more inconvenient?

7. Learn to sleep in your truck. 

When I make a long drive I get tired. The thing is, though, if I stop at a motel I end up spending $100 to get a few hours of rest. (I’m married now so I’m not allowed to do the $30 thing.)

I usually pull off in a Walmart parking lot or a 24-hour McDonalds parking lot. They’re well lit and safe. I sleep a couple of hours in the truck and then I’m back on the road headed home refreshed and alert.  

Here’s the thing: Being frugal isn’t being cheap. Money is a commodity like everything else. Wasting it doesn’t make sense. You might need it for something else another day.