Monday, April 25, 2011

Tackling Pre-Season Preparation

Sorting, cleaning, organizing my fishing tackle instead of buying all new

I’m a saltwater fisherman. Over the last few weekends I’ve spent about 7 hours reviewing my rods and reels and going through my fishing tackle boxes, pulling out the things in poor shape that need to be thrown away, and then cleaning and organizing the rest.  While at it, I also cleaned up the three tackle boxes the tackle was stored in.
It’s unlikely that I’ll spend 7 hours during the coming year with a fish on the other end of the line!  Most of the fish I catch take only a few minutes to “land,”  so I’d have to catch a lot of them to add up to 7 hours.  Why then would I spend 7 hours fiddling with tackle?
Tackle isn’t free, but it’s fairly inexpensive.  I know lots of fishermen who’d throw away most of the tackle I had on hand and would start fresh, buying sharp hooks and bright spoons and feather jigs.  Why didn’t I do that?
It’s not because I’m thrifty, and it’s not because I’m “green.”  I could stand to be more of each of those fine qualities.  The reason I don’t just buy all new tackle to stuff into my tackle boxes is because by spending time examining every piece, I really know what I have, and what condition it’s in.  And later, out on the water, when my instincts tell me “a larger hook” or “a heavier barrel swivel” is needed, I’ll know whether I have what’s needed and exactly where it is.
Even people who don’t fish much know that clean, sharp hooks are a must.  If you fish with dull or rusty hooks, you’ll miss fish.  But most of the better fishermen I know spend significant time thinking about the knots and the connecting hardware.  Snaps, swivels, wire leaders and the like.  This is the stuff we depend upon to keep the fish attached to us until landed!  Rods need to be sturdy, the guides smooth and clean, and a fresh spool of line for the reel couldn’t hurt. 
I’ll start fishing regularly in the next week or so.  When my first fresh bait hits the water, I’ll have confidence in my rod and reel, in my hooks, my knots and my connecting hardware.  I’ll have confidence that I’m as ready as I can be and that I won’t miss fish by bringing less than my best.  Somehow, that lets me really enjoy my day of fishing.
Please leave a comment about fishing, about preparation (for fishing or anything else!), or both.


  1. That tackle box looks exactly like my sewing box...different notions.

  2. I will never forget the last time i went fishing.
    It was with your dad in 1975,and we caught nothing but an endless supply of sea bass.
    Good memories.

  3. Tony, this year we'll go fishing again. Every 36 years, without fail :)

    JP, both boxes hold little treasures, the tools that help us get it done!

  4. Re: preparation: I painted houses in high school and college. People often tell me how much they hate painting. I eventually realized that part of the problem is a tendency to consider "painting" to be the specific action of putting paint on a wall. Unfortunately, that's only a fraction of house painting (albeit one of the most satisfying). More time is spent laying out tarps, setting ladders, prepping surfaces, priming, washing brushes, etc. If you're not ready for this surrounding effort, it all seems like drudgery that is getting in the way of you doing the thing you think is "painting"... I wonder if there are folks who don't like fishing (impossible?) because they conceive of it as the precise moment they are pulling a tuna in the boat.

  5. Nice observation, Josh. Like it or not, you have to do ALL those things in order to paint. But many people go fishing without all the prep -- and then they lose fish or don't hook them up at all and it ends up unsatisfying.

    With fishing, you can pay a charter captain/crew to do all the prep and you can land the tuna! I wonder if house painting needs that service. :)