Fishing smarter with less tackle is a great reminder of how our parents fished and a way to keep the sport affordable to start and remain a fun past-time for the family.
Sure, if you want to drop $100,000 on a used 28ft Sailfish and go head-first into offshore fishing… it’s going to take cash to gear up, fuel the trips and maintain the gear and boat. However, that’s not our focus in this blog post. As always, we focus on helping new anglers, young and old, get into the sport of fishing creating family memories. Here are some ways I fish smarter with less tackle and ultimately making the trips out more enjoyable.
Let’s talk fishing gear for bay and inshore:
Assuming you have yourself a smaller affordable boat in good working order, there is no need to load it down with rods and tackle. There are plenty of forums such as The Hull Truth as well as any local tackle shop that can provide insight on a few rigs, hooks or baits to use when targeting some species. When going out for the a 4 hour jag in the boat, you’ll likely want to focus on 1 or 2 species of fish and equip for that. I recommend taking one or two rods per person (fishing) on the boat… NOT 3! If you have 3-4 anglers going, heck just take 5 rods total. Less clutter on the boat makes for a less stressful time trying to work around the extra rods and line. Most days, I work one rod and that’s all that goes on the boat with me.
As for tackle, keep it simple! Just one medium sized tackle bag is plenty. For example: if you’re targeting flounder in the bay, you’ll end up using one or two size hooks, bucktails, some floro leader and lead. There’s no need for an 8 drawer tacklebox sitting in the middle of the boat creating a frustrating trip hazard. Becoming proficient at one or two proven rigs is key. Many legendary locals only work a few rigs their whole life but are extremely successful and pulling fish over the rails.
It may cost a little more upfront, but in the long run, I’ve found the time savings of tackle organization and ease of use to provide huge benefits. I like having a small tackle bag for each targeted specie – or even a tackle tray for each that I keep on the boat. All the hooks, rigs, and precut leaders are organized and ready making it fast to help the children or friends fishing with me. Having dedicated small tackle bags is great for the fishermen who fish from a boat or pier and need a portable setup. Just grab the bag or two you need for the day and off you go. I’ve found this much easier to use than a huge tackle box with every lure imaginable taking up valuable real estate on the boat deck.
So with less gear to worry about, you’ll have the ability to focus more on locating the fish. Think about it; why spend a ton of money and time on fancy gear if your casting or drop where the fish are nowhere to be found! Also with less gear to maintain, you’ll be able to spend more time planning your next trip, researching spots having a better chance to be in a “fishy” spot quicker.
Before heading out, I like to look at Google Earth and pick out locations that would lend to the specie of fish I’m going to target. Look for the deep holes, channels and sand bars of the back bays. In OCMD and Indian River, this has helped a great deal to navigate around the bars and find drop-offs where the flounder love to hang. As the water temps change, this will also greatly affect the early and late seasons in the bays and the migration of the inshore fisheries at the wreck/reef sites. Under our resources page, you can find links for weather and water temps.
The other activity I place emphasis on is the scouting while traveling on the water. The time you spend traveling from the dock to the first site is a great opportunity to scout the waters and watching your fish finder. Many of times I see guys flying out to a spot they hear about, traveling miles around the bay waters, but they cruise right over a honey hole. For safety reasons and comfort for my children, I tend to take it slower on the water than most which also allows me to watch my Lowrance Elite-5 chirp sonar to view contours and mark fish. This is a great opportunity to discover underwater structure where we know bait love to hang, drawing bigger fish in.
When I hit a new bay, inlet or wreck site, I may spend up to a whole day just scouting and becoming familiar with the waters. I’ll look for structure, contours, mark fish and ultimate add waypoints to my chart plotter so that later that day or the next, I can cast right on and increase my chances for a productive day on the water.
Save your money
Don’t focus on the rods or tackle tossing hundreds or thousands of dollars out into the wind! Spend time becoming a smarter angler with less equipment and in the long run, it will greatly pay off. Let’s face it, when I come home with flounder fillets and can tell my wife we caught on a few dollars of bait… it makes for a much more enjoyable dinner as opposed to constantly spending money and never bring a catch home. Fishing smarter also helps save on the fuel cost as I can eliminate a lot of wasted run time by reviewing Google Earth and pre-planning.
Take home tips to fish smarter with less tackle:
- Preplanning makes for a successful day on the water
- Use free resources such as Google Earth
- Talk to tackle shops and read the free magazines. (i.e. Coastal Fisherman)
- Pack light and become proficient at a few rigs
- Keep tackle organize and your boat uncluttered
- Scout the waters and find the fish, don’t waste your time casting in dead zones
Nobody cares how much you spend on tackle, rigs, rods, reels or fancy electronics (except your spouse!) so don’t get caught up in the need to buy! I often see older folks out in the bays with a 14ft jon, 20 horse outboard, a rod and reel with a small tackle box bringing in daily limits of flounder while the 26ft center console rolls back with an empty yeti cooler. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a nice boat, good gear and enjoying rewards for you hard days at work – this blog is simply focused on providing ways to affordably get into fishing and not feel the pressure of buying the “cool” gear to fit in. You can be very successful by fishing smarter with less tackle and money!