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fishing tips, fishing instructions

Got a question about fishing, that you have never been able to figure out?

Well, along comes old Fishin' Tipster, Weekend Semi-Pro and resident backlash picking champion, with the solution.


  1. Fish slowly, providing better action and enabling the fish to have ample eye contact.
  2. Fish slowly and always be observant. Fish usually give away their presence 90% of the time (baitfish fleeing; surface action; vegetation movement). Be alert and always watchful.
  3. If possible, fish cover and structure near deeper water areas. Deep water is dark water, and that is a bass's 'hidey hole'. 'Deep water' is the safety area bass ALWAYS flee to and usually try to stay close to. Weedbeds are another, if available.
  4. Set the hook on a fish by feel rather than by sight (topwater/surface strike). Count to three after seeing the strike.
  5. Check your knot for weakness and hook for sharpness on a regular basis.
  6. A swivel does not affect the action of a lure in a negative way. Fish really don’t care about it. They are not that smart. So, use one anytime there is the potential for line twist.
  7. Bass are an aggressive predator; he normally responds best to an erratic retrieve and a lot of motion. Note that Tipster DID NOT say 'speed'. 'Motion' can be all in one place, such as shaking the lure. A slow retrieve with a LOT of 'motion' is what makes our RIPPIN' STICK so phenomenally successful. It is NOT the lure (I hate to say that) as much as it is the application of the imparted action we give it. So, remember the words 'erratic' and 'motion', while holding the 'speed' factor down. Keep that lure in front of the fish as long as you can. Just ask anyone who had fished that soft jerkbait with us. Right, Stan??
  8. For better ‘feel’, hold your rod tip down and to the side, keeping the angle between rod and line at around 90 degrees.
  9. If you are using small hooks, don't jerk hard on the hookset; just tighten up the slack with the rod and reel faster. That's why you never miss a strike and never lose a bass on the Swimming Worm (IF you don't 'set' and don't 'pull'!
  10. Check your line just above the lure frequently when fishing crankbaits around rocks, gravel, stumps, and other hard obstructions. They can quickly fray your line.
  11. Use a wire cross - locking snap when fishing crank plugs (Berkley makes the best one). It allows you to change lures quickly and enables the bait to vibrate more freely.
  12. Use large crankbaits in warm and hot weather (the bass’s metabolism is high and he must eat more). Switch to smaller baits when the water is cooler (metabolism is lower).
  13. If feeding fish and baitfish movement are noted, that means the predators are actively after the prey. Switch to a fast moving crankbait, such as a Rat-L-Trap and 'burn it' through the area of activity.
  14. Concentrate strongly on ‘depth’ when selecting a lure, tempering that with the lure’s adaptability to the cover (deep crank plugs don’t do well in weed beds!). ‘Speed’ is the next factor for consideration (that doesn't mean 'fast'; the speed could be slow, stop/go, or fast). ‘Color’ and ‘brand names’ mean nothing.
  15. When the bite seems to slow down, YOU should slow also down. Work methodically until you find the fish.
  16. Always know your weather forecast. Wind, storms, and lightening kill. Safety comes first.
  17. Keep your mosquito repellent and plastic worms separate from your tackle. ZipLoc bags work well. Both of these items contain lacquer solvent that has a tendency to soften the paint on metal, plastic, or wood lures. Paint so affected will never harden again.
  18. God only gave you one pair of eyes. Protect them. Invest in a good pair of PLASTIC polarized sunglasses (glass can shatter and take out an eye!). Not only do they protect from the sun’s rays, they also provide a shield against a snagged slip sinker or lure flying back when pulled loose.
  19. A food vacuum sealer is a great gadget for keeping baits fresh and airtight, especially those with strong scents. Hooks and other terminal tackle can also be stored this way. Store small quantities of hooks with a few grains of rice and they will never rust. You can store your ‘stuff’ this way for as long as you want. I even have a dry pair of socks packed this way and in my boat.
  20. Never trim ‘across’ the weed guard on a jig in trying to reduce the guard stiffness. Instead, reduce some of the individual wed guard strands down at the jig head. The length of the strands is what provides the snag-free trait. The quantity of strands determines the stiffness.
  21. A great technique for big bass is ticking the top of submerged grass with a Rat-L-Trap. To prevent the lure from hanging in the grass, cut the front hook of the treble off, both on the front and rear hooks. This will help prevent catching the weeds.
  22. With a Texas-rigged plastic worm, consider putting the sinker on backward when fishing on a sandy bottom. With the cup of the sinker facing forward, it will kick up puffs of sand when moved, making it look very life-like. It will also make the lure hang for a second and then ‘jump’ when pulled over limbs and other obstructions.
  23. Black buzz baits always seem to produce more strikes than bright colors. Try it. You’ll find it true.
  24. When the end of your ‘RIPPIN STICK’, or other soft sinking jerk bait, becomes torn, rig them through the opposite end. It will work just as well and give you longer use-per-lure.
  25. If wet feet bother you on rainy days, try a pair of GORE-TEX sox. They are waterproof and can be worn in any shoe or boot. They may be a slight bit costly, but – hey – you and I are worth it!!!
  26. To keep your trolling motor prop blades from damaging your boat cover, you can easily cover the blades first. Go to a Home Depot, Lowes, or other hardware store and get a length of that foam pipe covering used to insulate water pipes (a tip of Tipster's old fishin' hat to Mike Camp for this one!!). Get the largest diameter they have. Now, cut pieces to the length needed to cover the outside edge of the blades. You will find the foam pipe cover is already split down one side, so it will be easy to slip on and off the prop edges. Or, you can simply lay a piece of old carpet or other fabric over the blades before tightening the cover down. These are also ‘fixes’ to prevent the edge of your windshield from damaging the boat cover, too!!.
  27. Believe it or not, PLEDGE furniture polish is great for making a boat look like new and to protect the finish. And, you can wax your boat in 15-20 minutes.
  28. Use alcohol prep pads to clean the cork handles on your rods. They are very cheap and you can simply throw them away after finishing the job. If the cork handles on your fishing rods are looking extra dirty and it makes your rods look like they are fifty years old, try this: take a very light grade sand paper and sand the cork handles. They will look like brand new looking fishing rods.
  29. ALWAYS opt to go with extra high trust in your trolling motor selection. It is impossible to over-power a bass boat with a trolling motor (you can always run it at less than full speed). However, it is easy to under-power. And, an under-powered condition cannot be compensated for while you are fishing. Them 'electric paddles' are a great invention. We think MINN-KOTA is the best, hands down (and, they aren't even a sponsor!).
  30. The biggest killer of graphite rods is impact against a hard object. The graphite is very hard and, therefore, brittle. Be careful not to hit the rod on the boat when casting, be sure not to step on them, and be sure not to place any heavy object on them when on the boat floor.
  31. An essential item to every bass boat is a drift sock or sea anchor. It gives you the ability to slow a boat’s drift to a crawl, even in high winds. It can be a safety, as well as fishing, asset.
  32. We all have days when every other cast is a backlash. Here’s a tip that actually works in most instances. Press your thumb firmly against the spool and crank the reel 3 or 4 turns. You thumb pressure and friction aligns the loops all in the same direction. Now, simply pull the off the reel and the backlash should come right out. I find that this works better than 50% of the time. It also helps us old folks with bad eyes.
  33. It is sure difficult to drift and fish a small river in a canoe. The eddies and current flow fluctuations are always trying to turn the front of the canoe to the back or sideways. Seems like I spend more time with the paddle in my hand than the fishing rod. By necessity, Old Fishin’ Tipster has found the perfect solution! It is an 18-inch length of medium chain tied to a length of rope. Simply tie the rope to the back of the canoe and let the chain drag (vary the rope length to the depth and the amount of chain needed to be dragging on bottom). This will hold the canoe with the front downstream. An added benefit is that the canoe will track with the strongest current path and guide itself through rapids and between rocks.
  34. Always look in a bass’ mouth before releasing it. Most time, when fighting a lure in his jaw, he will try to throw-up whatever is in his stomach. You may be able to determine what prey the fish are actively feeding on and choose a lure/presentation to duplicate it.
  35. If the fishing is tough, always downsize your lure and slow down. I find a 3-inch
    RIPPIN’ STICK fished on a slack line drop, or a 4-inch plastic worm crawled slowly, will nearly always produce, even on the ‘hard’ days. When downsizing lures, it is also best to go to lighter lines, too.
  36. When fishing stumps, don’t overlook the fact that their roots systems may be large and far reaching. Many of the roots may be exposed and provide even better ambush cover than the stump, itself. This can be especially true when the stump is on a sloping bottom or the edge of a sharp drop (like a channel).
  37. Watch for announcements of drawdowns, or extra-low water conditions, on your local lakes and rivers. Go see what you have been fishing all that time. Use a GPS or a video camera to record now-visible structure and cover features.
  38. Always keep a RIPPIN’ STICK, or other soft jerk bait rigged and ready beside you. No matter what other lure you may be fishing, you are sure to get short strikes, blow-ups, or last-ditch strikes right at the boat. When that happens, immediately lay the primary rod down and grab that jerk bait. Toss it close to where the missed strike occurred and just let it drop on a lack line. It is a tremendously effective way to draw that fish back.
  39. When cranking a shoreline or drop line, always try to run the lure parallel to, and along, the feature. That keeps the lure in the strike zone the maximum time. When two anglers are in the boat, work out a timing system to overlap your casts so you can stay as parallel as possible.
  40. Crank plugs are usually much more effective when they are presented right on the bottom. This is a major reason why proper lure selection is so important. When fishing submerged grass beds, treat the top of the grass as though it were a ‘bottom’ location and try to keep your lure is in contact with the top of the grass. When fishing a rocky or stumpy bottom, select a lure that will intermittently contact that bottom.
  41. If it rains the day/night before your fishing trip, always look for run-off locations. Creeks and other drainages can be especially productive. Small fishes will gather to feed on whatever the moving water brings them, drawing the larger predators to feed on them.
  42. When using light lines and small hooks, it's very important to use a quality reel with a smooth drag system to protect against sudden surges by the fighting fish.
  43. A good rule to remember is that the dirtier the water, the shallower the bass will be. Conversely, the clearer the water, the deeper the bass will stay.
  44. Stained, cloudy, and muddy water causes bass to stay shallow and very close to cover.
  45. The suspended particles in stained, cloudy, and muddy water causes the water to absorb sunlight and warm faster than clear water. This can be a good thing to remember during the spawning period.
  46. Another good rule for evaluating the probable ‘pattern depth’ of bass is to estimate how far down you can see your lure and double that number. It really does seem to come close, especially in clear water lakes.
  47. Cutting off a hook in a fish’s mouth is always a good tactic, if the fish would be injured by its removal. But, contrary to what you may have read, hooks do not rust out in fresh water. The fish eventually rids itself of the hook in the same manner that your body rids itself of a splinter. Scar tissue forms around the foreign object and moves it to the surface, where it eventually disconnects itself. I have removed many old hooks, that had this large wad a tissue molded around it, simply my pulling lightly on them.
  48. A ‘jig and pig’ lure catches a higher percentage of ‘quality bass’ than any other lure, IF flipped or pitched to dense, shallow cover. Learn to do that.
  49. In the hands of an experienced angler, a RIPPIN’ STICK, or similar soft sinking jerk bait, will catch MORE bass than any other lure.
  50. A ‘super line’, such as Berkeley’s FIRELINE, is a modern marvel for anglers. Every fisherman should use it. It lasts forever, casts beautifully, takes no ‘set’, and has virtually NO stretch factor. Because of the lack of stretch, you are able to feel virtually every strike, every rock, and every limb the lure touches. AND, you will do this even on a slack line. This means many more fish. Use a tiny swivel and a monofilament leader, if you feel you should. Our thousands of hours of use have shown us that the fish really do not care about being able to see the line. They just go for the moving bait or lure. Keep in mind, if they were smart at all, they wouldn’t try to eat a piece of plastic, wood and/or metal in the first place.
  51. Want to make your canoe more comfortable with a regular padded boat seat? Old Fishin’ Tipster found out how, thanks to our buddy, Don Hitchcock. First, you will need to drop the existing molded or web seat down about 5.5 inches so as not to make the boat unstable (the padded seat and its necessary mount will raise you above the gunnel, making for major instability; especially if you do both front and rear seats.). Do this (per seat) using four each 8-inch long ¼-inch toggle bolts, 4 each ¼-inch nuts with nylon inserts, and four each 5.5 inch piece of small PVC pipe as spacers. Then, get a regular padded boat seat without a swivel on it (be sure it is a regular size, not a large). Attach the seat to a clamp-on seat mount (Cabelas catalog Item 0420; Wal-Mart and Bass Pro Shops stock them in-store). Attach the seat to the mount and clamp it all to the lowered canoe bench seat.

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