Outside with Chris - Get Ready for Spring

Chris Erwin

The Ashland Beacon


   I know that we have just experienced a throwback winter; however, spring is just weeks away, and it's time to get your gear ready for the 2021 fishing season. Each year around this time, I go over what I need to do to get prepared. These things will save you a lot of time and make your time on the water a lot more fun. If you wait until you are on the water to find out your favorite lure is missing hooks, or your rod is broken, you may waste what little time you have trying to get your gear back in shape.

   I also want to talk to you about the "fishing line". Many new products are on the market, and new anglers don't know what line should be used on any given rod or bait selection. I will say this before we begin: there are many varied opinions, and you can make up your mind as to what works best for you.

   I have more than 15 boxes of baits in my boat ranging from crankbaits of all colors, sizes, shapes, jigs, soft baits, spoons, spinnerbaits, both inline and safety pin types, and that doesn't even cover my terminal tackle used for crappie fishing. I fill my bathtub with a few inches of water with a little Dawn dishwashing liquid and dump all my hard baits in there. I wash and clean my empty boxes, then wipe off each bait, checking them for problems. Baits with broken or missing hooks, damaged bills, or any issue that might keep them from working go in a repair bucket. The other baits go back in the right box, topwater, square bill, deep divers, and so on. This gets your baits clean rearranged, and lets you know what needs to be repaired. Doing the same thing with your rods will allow you to see what needs to be repaired and if a rod needs replacement.

   Fishing Line: While there are a lot of subsets these days, I want to cover three main types of line: monofilament, braid, and fluorocarbon. I know there has been a big push to get you to use many combinations of one kind with a leader using another type. Simultaneously, there are some conditions where this has some advantage; in my opinion, it's way overblown, plus you have the chance of an additional knot failure. And leader knots like the FG or blood knot take a long time to tie if you are on fish. I fish with 10 rods. Three are spinning rods; one is ultra-light, so it usually stays in the box. On the other two, I will use a braid because it lies on the spool and casts much more smoothly without line twist. It's going to be only 20 lb, which is a small diameter. I'm also going to use braid on my flipping stick 65 lb test. Here I don't want any stretch and something strong enough to pull fish out of heavy cover. Most of the time, I fish stained water, so I don't use a leader.

   The rest of my rods will have monofilament except my crankbait rods and my jig rods. We know that fluorocarbon sinks; this will help get your crankbait a little deeper. It is also a low stretch line; this is good and bad. It has to be checked often for abrasions. A nick in this type of line will take your 17 lb test time to 5 lb in a heartbeat. While it helps feel your bait contact the bottom, it can shatter since it has a low stretch. But it gets you on the bottom quicker and has a better feel.

   Monofilament is still my mainline. It's more durable to resist abrasions and has enough stretch to not shatter in stressful conditions. If I could only use one line, it would be monofilament. While it has more line memory than some of the other lines, the key here is to change it as soon as it doesn't want to lie on the spool without kinking or becoming loose on the spool.

   One last tip! Invest in a line dispensing box. This box will save time and make it easy to change the line on the fly. Get the clear type. They hold six spools of line and have a rubber grommet hole for each, so you don't even need to open the box. Just take a magic marker and mark the line weight and type on the top of each grommet. Examplea re the B-20 lb or M-17 lb and so on. If you do this one thing, you will thank me for it. 

   Chris Erwin is the founder and publisher of Kentucky Angling News, an online magazine available at www.kentuckyangling.com/magazine Chris can be reached by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.