UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Clear Lake

Packing a manageable amount of tackle

One of the most difficult decisions a co-angler can make is what tackle to pack for a day of fishing with a pro. Although many co-anglers have a penchant for bringing the better part of a tackle store with them to a tournament, tackle must be scaled down to a manageable amount when riding in another angler's boat.

Exactly how much tackle to bring for each day changes dramatically, depending on a multitude of factors. For example, one pro may tell a co-angler to only bring a couple of flipping sticks and a handful of jigs. Another pro may say, "Well, I am catching them on Carolina rigs, topwater baits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and, oh yeah, we may flip some, too." Suddenly, bringing the whole tackle store sounds necessary.

Even veteran co-anglers admit that scaling tackle down is hard. You want enough of your own tackle to feel comfortable and versatile, yet you do not want to be wheeling your tackle down to the pro's boat in a shopping cart.

Basic tackle strategy

Standard operating procedure for a co-angler on FLW Outdoors tournament circuits is to carry one soft tackle bag that holds several pull-out utility boxes. Soft tackle bags come in a variety of sizes, but most are designed to hold three to six flat, durable utility boxes like the Plano 3600 or 3700 series boxes. Each slender utility box has a multitude of compartments that can hold dozens of bass lures.

FLW touring pro Bernie Schultz suggests that co-anglers try to segregate a majority of their tackle into seven or eight of the flat utility boxes.

"Put all your jerkbaits into one box, all your crankbaits in another, all your jigs in another, etc," suggests Schultz. "Then, when your pro says the plan is jerkbaits and floating worms, you just select those two boxes and put them into one soft-sided tackle bag. It is like a rotational or interchangeable tackle system where you take only what you need for that day."

FLW Tour pro Mike Wurm agrees.

"I recommend co-anglers bring one tackle bag only," says Wurm. "More than one and things get cumbersome. A co-angler may consider bringing another small tote bag that can be stored in a compartment to hold a rainsuit, sunglasses, sunscreen, and snacks."

Most pros carry a tremendous amount of tackle in their boat, and many are more than happy to help out when it comes to sharing baits with co-anglers.

"Don't pack every lure you own just because you are bashful about asking for a bait," says Schultz. "I would rather a co-angler borrow a bait from me than bring the kitchen sink."

One of the most common mistakes Schultz and Wurm observe with co-anglers is packing too much tackle for the sake of having different colored baits.

"You don't need the whole rainbow of colors for every bait you bring," says Schultz.

"This is especially true with soft plastics," adds Wurm. "I see amateurs who will bring fifty bags of worms to have ten different colors of five types of worms. Stick with the basics when it comes to colors - blue, purple, or black in dark water; smoke, pumpkin, or watermelon in clear water."

If you have to cull tackle to make it all fit into one bag, consider sacrificing soft plastics to lighten the load. Of all the bass baits, pros are likely to have a bigger variety of soft plastics available for a co-angler to use than anything else.

One box that should have a permanent place in the soft tackle bag is a box with terminal tackle - hooks, weights and swivels of differing size for Texas rigs and Carolina rigs. While pros do not mind occasionally digging out a bag of soft plastics for a co-angler's use, constantly badgering a pro for weights and hooks every time a snagged Carolina rig breaks off is distracting.

Follow similar guidelines for fishing rods

When it comes to rods and reels, both Wurm and Schultz say six is the maximum number of rods most co-anglers can manage.

"I think four rods is probably the optimum number, but any more than six and the co-angler really just spends his day fighting tackle given the amount of space he has to use," says Wurm.

Schultz adds, "I would recommend that co-anglers always carry one flipping rod and one spinning rod. The flipping rod can always double as a Carolina-rig rod, and a spinning rod is just an excellent tool for co-anglers to make different presentations than their pro."

Schultz also suggests co-anglers carry a spare filler spool of line in an appropriate size.

"One bad backlash or wind knot can ruin a rod and reel combo for the day. If a co-angler has a small spool of line in his bag, he can re-spool and be back in business in just a few minutes."

One piece of personal advice I can add about packing tackle is to really scale down when long runs are in your pro's plans. Runs of an hour or more mean having to streamline tackle selection to a minimum. Long, rough boat rides are even worse when holding down a tackle bag and rods.

If you bring a minimum amount of tackle, you can usually convince your pro to allow you to store your tackle and rods in his compartments making for a much smoother, worry free ride. Moreover, long runs usually mean limited fishing time and there won't be much time to experiment with different baits.

Learning how to pack tackle for each day comes with experience. With time, every co-angler develops his own tackle system for back deck fishing.

In the next installment of the Co-anglers' Clinic, readers will learn proper net handling techniques.

Rob Newell is a freelance outdoor writer from Tallahassee, Fla. He has competed in over 30 Operation Bass events as a co-angler on all levels - BFL, Everstart and FLW. He won an FLW as a co-angler in 1999 at Lake Okeechobee. He finds the Co-angler Division to be one of the most enjoyable and enriching opportunities available to FLW Outdoors members who want to become more involved in competitive angling.

Related links:
The Co-angler's Clinic: The importance of the pre-tournament meeting
The Co-angler's Clinic: Arriving at the tournament site
The Co-angler's Clinic: Packing for a fishing tournament means careful planning
The Co-angler's Clinic: Analyzing the amateur experience

Tags: co-angler-clinic  rob-newell 


Top 10 Patterns from the Forrest Wood Cup

If you don’t believe that summertime bass fishing in the dog days of August is all over the map, just take a look at the top 10 patterns from the best bass pros on earth at the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Brad Knight captured the Cup by mining one small creek end for four days. But beyond that, the rest of the top 10 patterns ran the gamut, from targeting schoolers over 40 feet to wolf packs of bass on the bank to brush piles to grass to mud flats and everywhere in between. Here’s a rundown. READ MORE »


Knight Slays Ouachita

Lancing, Tenn., pro Brad Knight won the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart on Lake Ouachita with a four-day total of 51 pounds, 12 ounces. In front of a standing-room-only crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs, Ark., Knight weighed in 11-07 on day four to surpass Jacob Wheeler, who started the day with a 12-ounce lead. Fishing in just one area all four days, Knight locked up the first win of his FLW career. He earned $500,000 for his victory and pushed his career earnings total to more than $688,000. READ MORE »


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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 2

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Wheeler Hunting History

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Top 5 Patterns from the Cup Day 1

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Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

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One spot plus two lures plus 92 pounds, 4 ounces of Lake Chickamauga bass equals a $125,000 Walmart FLW Tour win for Michael Wooley. Wooley, a second-year pro on the FLW Tour who hails from Collierville, Tenn., spends most of his fishing time somewhere on the Tennessee River, mostly on either Pickwick or Kentucky Lake. Despite his deep knowledge of Tennessee River bass, Wooley’s win on Lake Chickamauga was about as straightforward as it gets. There were no big flashy spoons, secret hair jigs or new must-have crankbaits involved in his victory. There were no mega-schools or timing of tricky rotations. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 3

While Michael Wooley has tapped a single hot spot for the tournament lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers at Lake Chickamauga, his competition has had to hustle both deep and shallow just to have a shot at catching him. His lead is now more than 6 pounds ahead of second-place pro Stetson Blaylock. The patterns working at Chickamauga right now are all over the map. Shallow grass, bream beds, middepth bars in bays, river ledges and even some long-lining are all represented in the top 10. Here are the details for the top five. READ MORE »


Wooley Takes the Lead

The last time the Walmart FLW Tour visited Lake Chickamauga in June 2013, the term “mega-school” was thrown around a lot. At this year’s Chickamauga event, which is presented by Igloo Coolers, you will hardly hear that term at all at the weigh-in. Michael Wooley of Collierville, Tenn., knows the difference between mega-schools and the “regular” kind. After sacking 26 pounds, 2 ounces on day one and 23-05 on day two to take the tournament lead with 49-07, Wooley says his fish are certainly not swimming in a mega-school. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 2

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Billy Mac Smacks 29

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Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 1

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Top 10 Patterns from Lake Seminole

Clint Brown won the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole by targeting late spawners and obscure stretches of bank that received little pressure during the week. Here is a look at how the rest of the top 10 competitors fared. READ MORE »


Brown Rallies for Seminole Win

When the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Seminole started on Thursday, hot, slick conditions prevailed. The air temperatures pushed into the 90’s, water temperatures hovered between 80 and 85 degrees – summertime was on. Or was it? READ MORE »


Jeter Takes Co-Angler Crown

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Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »


Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »