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Whether on land or in a boat, use your vision and/or electronic fish locator to locate baitfish schools or game fish before fishing. Look for working birds or “disturbed” water caused by swirling, boiling or leaping fish.
For freshwater, look for weed beds, standing timber, rock piles, rocky reefs, submerged structures, bridges, docks, deep holes, river mouths, etc. For saltwater, find kelp beds, tidal rips, color lines, floating debris, oil rigs and shrimp boats.
These include strong tides, muddy water, excessive wind, full moon phases, fast-falling barometric pressure.
This is important. Fishing a tight line maximizes your sensitivity, lure presentation and hook sets. To remedy a bow in your line, cast directly up or downwind. Fish with the lightest braided main line as possible so you can feel your lure over bottom structure. In most situations, fish the smallest lure to effectively reach your target fish.
The smallest SBF come factory-equipped, in the blade bait version, with attached self-sleeving double hooks and a duo lock snap. This is the vertical jigging version. If your state requires single hooks, replace the double hook with a single siwash-type hook. Attach hook with smallest possible split ring or attach it directly to the tail.
Sharp hooks increase hookups. Simple enough.
When attaching leader to braided mainline, swivels are not necessary because line twist is usually not a problem. However, a swivel attaching mainline-to-leader creates a stronger connection than a direct leader-to-line knot. Conversely, a swivel is recommended for all monofilament mainline applications to minimize its chronic line twist issues. Attach the swivel 3- to 5-feet between the mainline and leader.
Fluorocarbon leader is necessary to increase strikes when cutoffs by sharp teeth are not a problem. Use longer, thinner diameter leader in clearer waters. Attach leader to mainline with a double uni-knot to minimize hardware for line-shy fish. Only use wire leader if absolutely necessary.
No-stretch braided line is superior to mono for longer casts, better hook sets, reducing line drag and better sensitivity for feeling strikes and structure.
The most important feature is a fast-action tip for a fast-action response to a strike. Basically, a medium or medium-heavy 5 1/2- to 6 1/2-foot long spinning rod will cover most applications.
Metallic finishes work best in clear, sunny water. UV and high fluorescent finishes work best in daylight clear, tea-stained and murky water. Glow-in-the-dark works in the same water conditions, both day and night.
If scent is necessary, add night crawler pieces for yellow perch and walleye in open freshwater and minnow or Gulp pieces through the ice. Also works for crappie and trout. In saltwater, scent is usually not needed. At times, adding shrimp or squid pieces will increase strikes from snapper and grouper.
Think big but use the smallest SBF as possible to reach your target. This is especially effective when the bite is dead. Going as small as possible will often beat “matching the hatch.”