Tools of the Trade
There’s likely no such thing as too much fishing tackle, but we’ve come close to overload the last few weeks.
We’ve been poring over quite a bit of it for this issue, to pick the best of the new gear, gleaned from several days on the floor of the overwhelmingly large display at the annual trade show that goes under the imposing name of International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades. The industry refers to it simply as ICAST.
There’s a lot of shiny equipment on display, and there’s no denying that the lures, reels and rods often function as the jewelry of the sport. Take a late-night walk down the docks at any big tournament and you’ll see boat cockpits decorated with the gleaming and polished outfits on display, ready to go to work.
But the legitimacy remains. These are the tools we rely on, the hardware that serves as the conduit for our enthusiasm.
New tackle represents more than just new stuff to buy. Look beyond the marketing and the hype, of which there is no shortage, and the functionality of new tools, new materials and new technologies holds promise.
When braided lines appeared, their distinctive advantages and characteristics opened whole worlds of new opportunity, and a lot of the fishing we currently enjoy wouldn’t have been possible without them. Graphite rods, once found only in luxury tackle lockers, quickly became the standard.
Where among the sea of gleaming new gear is innovation destined to be a game changer?
We cull through, looking for the best, the promising edge, that gear or technology that elevates our skills just enough to raise our success to the next level.
It’s too easy to dismiss new tackle as superfluous — what worked for us last year, the year before, and a decade ago is still good enough, right? We all have our proven favorites in rods, reels and go-to lures that always save the day. Once we’ve settled on what works, why change it?
When I find something I like, I usually stick with it. Sometimes too long.
I had this foolishness driven home recently on an excursion in the Bahamas.
We were hunting the flats for bonefish on a particularly blustery day. Fish were scarce, then the guide called for a fast, long cast into the wind at a tough angle. I couldn’t do it.
I’m certainly no tournament caster, but I can usually hold my own, and I’ve been at it long enough to have the bugs worked out. But the guide’s orders seemed unreasonable. I’m not accustomed to stepping up to answer the call and flubbing it.
Rolling the frustration around in my mind at the end of the day, I recognized the guide probably wasn’t making any request that he didn’t see routinely honored by the anglers in the front of his boat.
So I surmised what any self-respecting, rationalizing angler would: My equipment wasn’t up to snuff. Everybody else he fished with had better, newer gear.
Once home, my research verified my suspicions. I acquired some cutting-edge rods and found they make a big difference. My confidence returned.
Talk about justification for acquiring a lot of tackle. I had a watertight case.
I’m currently in the process of upgrading my gear. It’s a spendy endeavor, I admit, but that’s a small matter. It’s a true fact that anglers who have the most and the best gear not only catch more fish, but they also outlast those who don’t.
The more fishing tackle you have, the longer you’ll live.