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Gear, Tackle, and Technique

Articles dedicated to fishing gear.


Me with a really nice large mouth caught on a spinnerbait.  Notice the colour of the blades.  Chartreuse and white combinations can be very effective at times.  This bass was caught in very clear water with overcast conditions. 

Spinnerbaits catch fish-period.  I have caught multiple species on spinnerbaits including walleye, largemouth, smallmouth, pike, and muskies, (although the muskies were just hits as I missed my hook sets on several occasions-I thought I had snags until too late).

My love affair with the spinnerbait began this past year.  I am hooked.  It is an effective bait when the wind is strong.  A 3/4 ounce spinnerbait will not be affected drastically by the wind.  It is also a phenomenal performer when the weeds are choking a bay.  Burn the spinnerbait fast across the top of a weed bed and wait for some action.

With a baitcaster, you can cover a large territory quickly and locate active fish.  I recommend the baitcaster over spinning gear for a couple of reasons.  First is the accuracy of the cast.  With very little effort, you will be able to quickly learn how to properly cast.  Secondly, these larger baits go a mile on a baitcaster.  Correct me if you know better, but a 7′ medium baitcaster will chuck a 3/4 ounce spinnerbait a country mile and get it right to where you want it.  The gear ratio I like is 7.0 to 1 as it is quick on the retrieve.  I fished with a buddy recently and I was able to cover twice as much water – maybe more, as he could not retrieve as quickly or cast as accurately as I could while using spinning gear.  This might not be important to you, but it is an advantage if you are trying to boat fish.

Rod’s appropriate for spinnerbaits.  Notice that I have chosen a selection of baitcaster outfits.  The baitcaster is the most accurate and fastest way to deliver a spinnerbait to your target.  Spinning rods take more time to cast, do not present the bait as accurately, and do not burn the bait as fast, which is key to the presentation. 

The spinnerbait will catch most of your bass as the cast hits the water, but at times, you will get hits during the retrieve.  Pike and musky follow the baits before committing, especially musky.  I have not had an immediate reaction bite from a musky yet.  All the bites have been late in the retrieve.  Sometimes, even right at the boat.   I haven’t had as much experience on walleye waters with spinners though, so don’t get too excited about what I say if it doesn’t make sense to you for this species.  I am only trying to advocate the use of these versatile  baits when conditions such as wind or weeds dictate the use of a bait that won’t be hindered by either.

As a tip, I bought all of my spinnerbaits at the same weight – 3/4 oz.  I know you may think this is heavy, but It isn’t.  With large enough willow blades, it will helicopter down when you end the retrieve, and it will burn quickly without breaking the surface.  Having all the same size baits makes for very quick changes if you are using leaders with snaps.

Notice the snap.  Make sure if you are using leaders like this titanium one in toothy waters, that you buy baits that they will fit into.  This eye where the arms of the bait meet is almost too small to get through with this leader snap.  The 130# ones I have for musky wouldn’t make it.  Don’t think you can’t catch early season musky with this size bait.  You can and will!

Although I haven’t actually caught a fish on a stinger hook, many people advocate the use of them.  It makes sense that if you are burning a bait across the surface of the water, that a fish may strike short.  Use siwash hooks with open eyes.  I prefer certain brands of hooks for being sticky sharp,  one of which is a Gamakatsu.  I use a number 4 size hook.  Close the eye around the shank of the primary hook.  Some folks believe in putting silicone tubing around the eye of the siwash hook to anchor it in place.  I believe  that you will get better action from the hook if you anchor it under a piece of silicone, leaving the hook free to move.

Here is an example of how I prefer to rig a cheater hook or “stinger”  hook.  The silicone tubing is slid over the  primary hook in order to prevent losing the cheater.

Some spinnerbaits have anchor points molded into the lead head.  This helps in securing a plastic or live bait to the spinnerbait.  I have fished the spinnerbait with minnow style swimbaits.  There are many choices on the market for trailers of this nature.  I like the yum money minnow or the berkely hollow belly swimbaits.  I rig both of them flat.  They look awesome in the water.

This bait has an anchor for holding onto trailer baits such as swimbaits.  I have read that minnows and worms are also very effective on a spinnerbait though I have to admit that I haven’t felt the need to enhance the rig with live bait yet.  Maybe when the fishing gets tough, this would be a good tactic to have in your tool kit of tactics.


This is a convenient storage solution for spinnerbaits.  They hang nicely and can be organized into patterns and colours.



If you have read my article  I Am Addicted To Fishing, My Name Is Stefan , then you will understand what I am on about in this article.  If you haven’t, that’s ok; you will have a pretty good idea of the gist of things by the time I’m done.


So musky 2012 opener is just a few weeks away here in Ontario.  Last year, I was fortunate enough to be invited to my friends cottage on the Lower Buckhorn to fish what is now known as the 5th annual musky opener weekend.  If you want to know more about how that went, you may enjoy reading about my experience in The Blue Gill Session.  If not, here is a recap in short – I didn’t catch a musky, but… I did catch the musky bug.  Some of you already know that bug.  I am just in the early stages of the disease but I am an addict so this could be a long down hill road I’m about to travel.  I hope that it doesn’t end in another 12 step program, but hey, I’m sure that if it does, I’ll find a few of you in the rooms.


For me, part of the joy of fishing is the preparation and planning that goes into a trip.  I have been watching the Musky Hunter and a few other programs.  I have been reading articles by Doug Stange, editor-in-chief of In-Fisherman magazine as well as others on the ins and outs of musky fishing.  I have been going down to the local tackle stores and telling everyone that I’m going musky fishing on the Lower Buckhorn, trolling for information on the chance that someone may be able to offer some insight into what it takes to catch a musky.  I have spent the last year browsing through on-line catalogues of gear appropriate to the sport.  I have researched a number of different leads on tackle that has one property or another that will give me the angling edge when it finally comes time to pound the water.  All of these things, I have done – and more, in hopes that I am preparing myself for the experience.  I have talked fishing rods, reels, line, techniques – I am a wealth of untested knowledge.


In theory, I am prepared.   Mentally, I am ready.  Emotionally, I am amped up – enjoying the process all the way so as not to cheapen the experience if I happen to get skunked again this year.  The opener is on its way – I have my rods and reels collected – almost – (last year I was borrowing everything I needed – this year I will own some of my own! )

And….this year I have my own baits too!!  (Yes Ron – I can lose my own prize lures on cast one and two – no more replacing tackle for other people )

I have spent just as much time if not more in lure selection for the trip.  I have some body baits – jerks and such – suspending  loveliness in an array of colours, shapes and sizes.  I have some small buck-tail baits too, some with single hooks, some with doubles.  Most with fluted blades.  I have some original Buchertail baits from famous musky fisherman Joe Bucher ( I first read about him in an article about J.J. Ross – a Canadian musky lure manufacture that sited Joe as someone he had talked to about lure design).  I don’t have a Gobbler by J.J. Ross, though I would love to have a couple – I am just having difficulty getting a hold of him so far.  J.J. – if you read this, please help!  I would like 3 of your Gobblers.  Black on Black – Black with orange blade and black with silver blade)  .  On the subject of Joe Bucher, I read a great article by him about rod selection and the 3 rods a fisherman needs for musky – only thing I would change is the 6’6″ rod would be for spinning gear as I prefer spinning gear for the jerkbaits ( they are lighter and I hate throwing light tackle on baitcasters – bird nest problems being the reason – though if these new Quantum Smoke Reels perform as I expect they will, then I may just be casting jerks with them too.)


Anyway – everything that I have mentioned above is all part of the lead up and as I get closer to the opener, the more excited I get.  Bare with me as I share this experience –

Last week on Thursday, I was researching buck tail lures.  I mentioned that I have had problems getting Gobblers and I really want some for this years opener.  I started looking for buck tail manufacturers in Ontario that may be able to fulfill my desire for new lures before opener.  I found the name Johnny Dadson from Dadson lures and I must say that I am super glad that I did!  Go to the website and check out the amazing selection of lures this gentleman makes – scratch that – CREATES.  They are works of art – no kidding.  I had an absolutely seamless transaction and Johnny was first class about everything.  First, he gave me a walk through on where I could buy his baits.  I told him that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to any of the locations carrying them before opener and asked if he knew if any of them would order specific baits for me and how long I would have to wait.  He sent back that he had some baits in stock if I would like to choose from his selection.  He helped me with his knowledge of the fishery I was heading to as well.  I took him up on his suggestions for lures and colours.  We then got the details of the transaction worked out and I paid him through what must be one of the coolest ways ever; an Interac email money transfer.  It was so smooth and quick that he had the money literally within minutes of the beginning of our discussion.  I had never used that method of payment before, and honestly if you are a retailer, you need to check it out.   If you want a cool way to pay, you should check it out.  Anyway, the money transferred and Johnny put the baits in the mail the very next day – Friday.   They arrived at my work today, Tuesday and wow!  Just to let you all know – these are not just lures.  They are incredible works of art.  I can’t wait to fish them and man it will be cool to catch something too.


As I said earlier and many times – for me it is the process of fishing – the planning, the preparing and the learning that all comes before, during and after the fishing trip.  I hope to send you some amazing pictures from the opener and I hope that I can report on some really great new experiences.  If you have any pictures from this years musky opener, I would love to see them so send them along and I will post them up!  Especially if you catch a musky on  a Dadson lure!  And, even if you don’t catch a musky – send me your pics from the weekend anyway and maybe a story or an event or something you learned.  I would love to hear from you.  But please, refrain from sending me pictures of your half naked, drunken self -(yes Tinkerbell – this does mean you! Lol )


Stefan Cartmale


A Great Project for When It Is Zero-Fish-O’Clock (see also article One, Two, Three, Four-Fish O’clock)

-Bottom Holes Drilled 6″ apart – A perfect Fit!

Requires – 3 equal lengths of wood about 4-5 inches wide – and as long as you want for the number of rods you own – 6 inches worked well for the space in between rods for me and the gear I own.

A drill

A saw – preferably, a table saw as you will need one of the boards ripped in half ( or get this done when you purchase the wood at your local lumber store)

Some screws – like maybe two dozen or so – make them the right length for the lumber you  are using – we used 1 and a half inch screws for the half inch lumber.

A spirit level

A tape measure

Inch and a half round drill bit –

Top Drilled Holes - 1 and 1/2 "

My father-in-law Wade, is a genius.  The other day Wade had one of his better ideas.  “Why don’t we build you a rod holder with that extra lumber laying around.  We can put it up in the garage on the wall and get that area kind of cleaned up for you.”  Hmm…let me think about that for a minute.  Heck Yah!  We had talked about it once or twice but I figured it might  be one of those projects that you know, gets put off and put off some more.  I was so excited.  I quickly set us up, getting the ball in motion before there was any further debate on the subject.  This was one of those opportunities that I wasn’t going to let get away!!

First thing was to get the lumber down from the garage loft.   I enlisted the services of my father, getting him to hold the ladder while I zoomed up  to get the wood.  I got the wood down, which was perfect for what we needed and Wade set up the table saw.  I cleared some of the crap that was cluttering up the space I was going to stake as my territory while  Wade began measuring the wood.  “Six inches between rods going to be enough?”, he asked.  “I think so.”, I replied.  He measured the lengths of wood.  “That will make space enough for fourteen rods.  Will that be enough?”  I did some quick calculations in my head.  “Well, the three trout rods will be all I ever need for that.  The three perch rods, and I have two bait casters but would like one more, and at least one more spinning rod and reel – that makes eleven plus some room for expansion. “Yup fourteen is good, more than enough.  I think after fourteen rods, I should probably start giving some away.”  Ok, it was settled.  Wade finished the layout and I finished the clean-up and the corner was good and ready.  He dug out some really awesome circle drill bits.  We debated for a minute about the size needed and settled on inch-and-a-half.  This would allow the bait casters and the spinning rods to go through if we carefully positioned the upper and lower parts of the holders.  After using the rods as measuring devices for where the best fit would be, we got down to the business of drilling the wood.  Wade told me what to do and I eagerly set about the drilling of the holes.  I was only supposed to go half way sunk with the bit for the bottom holder as this would give a nice groove for the butts of the rods to sit in.  I managed to accomplish this task with only one or two hiccups along the way.  The drill bit got away from me on one of the holes, but since this isn’t going up for sale anytime soon, I’ll live with the small “character flaw” in the rod holder that I created.  After drilling the bottoms out, I had to drill all the way through for the holes on the upper portion as this would make it so the rods could slip into their nesting spots.  Mission accomplished and it was time to a-fix a couple of backing strips so that we would be able to screw this thing into the wall.  We cut the third board in half and found some drywall screws ( it is amazing how many things you can put together with drywall screws), which we used to attach the two parts together.  Wade let me know that we were going to have to counter-sink for the drywall screws heads as they “V” and this would not be good if we don’t countersink.    After getting the upper and lower pieces all done, it was time to hang them on the board.  We located the studs and again got out the handy dandy drywall screws!  A level is also very handy for this type of job!

I have to say, that this project turned out perfect!  I am so pleased to get my rods organized and off the floor.  Take a look at the pictures and you will see why I am so excited!  Oh, one down side to this project is that my girlfriend now knows just how big my problem is in measureable quantities.  If you are trying to hide any of your gear from your wife, I don’t suggest that this project is for you as the full extent of your addiction will be on display for her and others.  If this is not a worry, then good luck to you in making your own fishing rod holders!


Like Pretty Maids All In A Row

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