Sometimes Simple is Better


By Chris Beardsley

Simple for me means dumbing down my gear and dumbing down my approach. There are endless articles surrounding what bait to use, which rod is the most sensitive or casts the farthest and which reel provides the smoothest or strongest drag. Everyone has their favorite and my recommendation is to use it.

For most inshore fishing a 7- to 10-foot medium to a medium-heavy rod and a good reel that will hold 200 yards of 15-pound monofilament fits the bill perfectly. There are many other options regarding hook shape, leader material, line weight, rod constructions, etc. It can get complicated and overwhelming. Use what you’re the most comfortable and confident with, and go fishing.

My favorite is a 7-foot medium-heavy rod and a 5000 series reel spooled with 15-pound Trilene Big Game mono. The business end consists of a 2-foot fluorocarbon leader and 2/0 circle hook rigged below a swivel and a 1 to a 3-ounce barrel or pyramid sinker. Tipped with a live shrimp, this simple fish-finder rig can be left to soak or dragged slowly across the bottom. I have found this to be very effective around oyster bars or grass flats and also extremely deadly fishing in the surf.

One of my favorite techniques is to tip my fish-finder rig with a live, whole shrimp. I’ve used bits and pieces of shrimp, sand fleas, assorted cut bait with varying and sometimes very good success, but it seems the whole shrimp is just too much to pass up for most fish. It’s like that house you go to on Halloween that’s giving away the large size Snickers bars; you just have to get one. The whole live shrimp is like that Snickers bar, and fish just have to have one.

Another simple addition is a popping cork. The ubiquitous bobber is familiar to anyone who has soaked a worm. Besides, the visual of a bobber disappearing below the waves is great fun. For pelagics in the surf or bull reds in the bay, the popping cork is a great addition to any tackle box.

Artificial baits are hard to beat when fishing at daybreak or just before the sun starts to make some heat. A trusty gold spoon is by far the best lure for getting the attention of virtually anything that swims. It produces in salt and fresh water and is a common denominator in most tackle boxes. Trout love them, and it is my preferred method for putting one or more of those beautiful fish in the cooler.

Granted, I have enough Gotchas, Gulps and Goofys to float a battleship, but some of my most successful days have been with the most basic setup. While it’s easy to get caught up buying the latest and greatest gear, it isn’t necessary. I love looking at and sometimes buying something new and shiny, but I often find myself going back to the old standbys because sometimes simple is better.

Chris is a freelance writer from Wisconsin with an obsession for all things saltwater. Though growing up hunting and fishing in Wisconsin, an introduction to Florida’s Forgotten Coast provided a new outlet and exciting new challenges for anything with a forked tail.