Terminal Tactics

It’s easy to lose sight of priorities. Presentation ranks at the top of the list when it comes to catching fish. Putting a bait or lure in front of one’s quarry in a realistic manner incorporates several facets, but none more important than the choice of terminal tackle. Whenever you rig, think in terms of developing a total tackle system.

Consider that the finer the diameter of the line you put in the water, the better your chances of getting strikes when the fish refuse to feed aggressively. Choose the finest diameter leader that will handle the assignment. If you only need a length of 30-pound test, don’t tie on 50-pound “just to be sure.” And, when you are sure the fish are there, but they are not biting, go to an even lighter leader. Leader diameter and length can be critical factors.

Given a choice, fluorocarbon leaders would be the best pick followed by monofilament. Single strand wire often fools more fish than braided wire or cable. That’s because fluorocarbon has a refractive index closest to that of water and is more difficult to see. It almost goes without saying that when a leader becomes frayed, for any reason, change it. The odds are against you if you take a chance with a weakened leader.

Swivels serve as connectors and help to eliminate line twist. Ball bearing swivels are far superior to the standard ones. If you do use a swivel or snap-swivel, make it the smallest size commensurate with the line you have selected. You don’t need a swivel rated at a breaking strength of 150 pounds when your line only tests 20 pounds. You should know that in a number of situations, serious light tackle anglers do away with swivels, preferring to tie the leader to the line and to the hook or lure.

The rule of thumb with sinkers centers on using the lightest and smallest one which will take the bait to the bottom. Unless you plan to anchor your bait to the bottom (which can be beneficial in a few situations), you want the sinker to drag or roll across the bottom so that it presents the bait over a wide area.

Just because a fish may boast a big mouth doesn’t mean you need a butcher’s meat hook to hold that critter. Light wire hooks are much easier to bury in a fish’s mouth and you don’t need an oversized hook to do it. Most anglers opt for hooks that are too big. Smaller hooks enable a live bait to swim more naturally and a dead bait to drift more realistically. If you worry about smaller, light wire hooks straightening, that’s caused more by the jaw action of the fish than the amount of pressure you put on it.

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