If there is one question that every angler has had to face at some point in his fishing career it is this:
“Compact Angling: Tackle Management for Small Craft” If there is one question that every angler has had to face at some point in his fishing career it is this: How much tackle do I take with me? – Dewald Viljoen
How much tackle do I take with me?
It is a question that is of particular importance to small craft anglers, where a lack of space is the driving factor behind the decision, but the answer could proof valuable to any travelling angler.
I am not saying that my choices, or system is the best, or final word in tackle choice, but it is rather intended to demonstrate a thought process in tackle management. Clearly as a kayak angler I am rather limited in the amount of tackle I can carry with me, but I have found that my kayaking tackle choices have spilled over into my other fishing choices.
While my kayak can easily carry in excess of 60kg in tackle the problem is accessibility. Kayaks have limited deck space (obviously!) and while most modern kayaks have plenty of in hull storage, access to these storage spaces often require the angler to disembark. Clearly not the ideal option.
My system is quite simple. I should be able to carry everything I need in a single trip to the car! This of course meant that I had to put my tackle “needs” under serious review! The uncomfortable truth about us as bass anglers is that we are tackle addicts. We buy and acquire tackle with any serious thought to our actual needs or habits. Yes, I said habits. As much as we are addicts that buy tons of new stuff, we tend to be creatures of habit that fall back on only a handful of techniques and lures for 90% of our fishing.
So here is how my approach works. It requires a hard and honest look at how you as an angler approach your fishing. The first thing you get out of the way is the idea that you are going to use every rod you own on every trip you take. Years of surveys and polls, from all over the bass fishing world shows that most anglers tend to use between three and six techniques to catch the bulk of their fish. Personally, I think that six rods are more than enough in most cases and often on the kayak I take only three or four. Every angler has a favourite technique, no exceptions! This is the first rod you pack. Following this method, select your next favourite rod. If you are anything like me, your back up technique is usually your
favourite, up or down scaled. If this is the case then take two rods for a similar technique but limit yourself to your most confident four or five rods. Now pick your last rod. I usually try to pick a technique that I am either trying to learn or a general purpose rod that can be pushed into service at multiple techniques.
The next choice to make is terminal tackle. Obviously this is heavily dictated by the technique choices you made but it is important to be realistic about catch rates and tackle loses. Remember that every single item takes up space and weight, no matter how small or light. Also keep in mind that even on an extended trip you only spend one day at a time on the water. So only take what you will need for a single day. Let’s make some educated guesses to prove the point. I am sure that it is safe say that the average soft plastic lure is good for at least two fish per lure (depending on brand and rigging method it could be much more!). That means that a packet of ten lures is good for twenty fish! A good days fishing in anybody’s books! A hook is good for ten fish so even with a 50% tackle loss rate, ten hooks should last the average angler more than two days. Same goes for weights, bobber stoppers, beads etc.
When it comes to lures we all have our preferences too. Most of us will do more than half of our fishing with a particular lure in a particular colour. This is the first lure you should pack. Then pick your next two favourites and stick to it! You will very seldom need more than three colours of your favourite technique, and if you are familiar with the waters you are fishing you will probably only need one or two! I stick to two full packets of bait per full days fishing and I almost always come home with a few lure left over even on a very good day! This selection process works for all baits! Once you go past your top three confidence techniques and lures you catch averages drop dramatically anyway, and once you get into that territory it is a slippery slope and you will rapidly fail at multiple techniques!
All that is left now is to pack your camera, scale, sunblock and sustenance. Like I said earlier, this is my own approach. It is merely an insight on how I as a kayak angler think about tackle requirements. Hopefully you can find some use from it and apply some of it in your own fishing and travels. Until next time, stay dry and safe on the water!
*Dewald Viljoen is sponsored by Canoe & Kayak Centre, the owner of Hot Reels Service Centre, partner and designer at AfriBaits.