You Need To Learn To Use Your Tools
By Stan Fagerstrom
Some arguments never seem to end.
No, Iím not talking about the verbal debates you might be having with your mother in law, or how you and your neighbor canít seem to agree on how to best keep his dog from barking its head off morning, noon and night.
Iím talking about the never ending debate I hear fishermen having about using ---or not using---all the tools available to them. Youíve undoubtedly heard the same thing. Itís been going on ever since spinning tackle came on the scene.
The technique of spin fishing was generally introduced in the United States shortly after World War 11. Ever since anglers have been arguing about which type of reel is best---the stationery spool spinning reel or the revolving spool level wind.
Because I've been so deeply involved in sport fishing for so long, I'm often asked to settle such an argument. My response is always the same. In most kinds of fishing you're far better off if you learn to use reels of both types. Each has its place.
I doubt I'd ever brought this beauty out of the cover she was in without having had a stout casting rod and strong braided line on my casting reel.
Let's say you're a steelhead fisherman who goes after those elusive migratory battlers year around. The same level wind reel that works wonderfully for winter, spring and early summer fishing might not be best when it comes to late summer and early fall.
The reason is changed water conditions. If the water drops way down and is extremely clear, as it often does in late summer, you may be forced to use little or no weight and the smallest lures or baits. Don't try to tell me you can handle a 1/16th-ounce lure adequately with a level wind casting outfit. You might get by if you are throwing a big gob of salmon eggs along with it. But it isn't nearly as easy or efficient as it is with spinning gear.
Every now and then I come across an advertisement extolling the virtues of this or that level wind reel. The copy tells how it's possible to throw a 1/8th-ounce weight clear across the river with a mere flick of the wrist. Pig poop!
For a long, long time I've made a substantial portion of my income giving casting demonstrations and lectures on the subject. I've talked to, and fished with, anglers from all over the United States and a number of foreign countries in the process. Almost always the most efficient anglers I've had occasion to watch in action have been able to use either spinning gear or bait casting tackle.
So when should you switch from a level wind reel to the spinning type? The things I consider in making that determination are line test and lure weight.
If the type of fishing I'm doing requires a line testing at least 10-pounds, I may use either outfit. Provided, of course, that the lure weight is sufficient to get adequate casting distance with a level wind reel. If less than 10-pound line is required, I'll wind up with a spinning rod in my hand.
One of the most interesting things I've had opportunity to do in past years was to participate in the Bass Masters Classic, the World Series of Bass Fishing. I've been a press observer in many of the Classic tournaments. It provided a wondrous opportunity to observe some of the country's best-known fishermen up close and careful.
In the early days of the Classic it wasn't uncommon to find contestants who went out armed with only one type of tackle. I remember one pro, well known at the time, who fished with only with two spinning rods. Another used only revolving spool reels.
My spinning reel with light line and a lightweight rod were ideal to battle this dandy trout. I caught it in the mountain waters of a beautiful lake in the Patagonia region of Argentina.
You won't find that in current Classic competition. The anglers in each boat pack both types of gear. They may use revolving spool reels most of the time, but when they get into a situation where light lines and lures are required they switch to spinning gear.
You simply can't compete in an event as demanding as the Classic has become unless you are a master of all of the equipment available to you.
Remember that early day pro I mentioned who used only spinning gear? He lasted about three years after the Classic started. As the competition grew more intense he no longer had a prayer of winning handicapping himself as he was with only those two spinning rigs.
And that's how it is for most of us. Now and then someone tells me how they just fish for fun. I do too. But it's a heck of a lot more fun when I'm catching fish. I do a better job of catching fish---and have more fun in the process--- using the tackle most suited to the demands I'm going to make of it. So will you.
Tools, and thatís what rods and reels are, were developed for just one purpose---to help you put fish in the boat. They flat ainít gonna work if you donít learn how to use them properly.
I have additional thoughts to share on this subject. Iíll share them in my next column beginning July 1.
-To Be Continued-