Most anglers will benefit from the products and techniques that get developed by competitive angling. Bass fishing wouldn't be what it is today with rods, reels, lines, plastics, and techniques that have been developed and then promoted by nationwide bass tournaments and the coverage they receive on T.V. and in magazines.
That has also been true in more of a regional way with walleye and musky angling. It is the little variations and the creative adaptations that can improve efficiency and success with increased catch rates.
We will discuss some examples of innovations that have come from some national walleye tournament success, that has created some success for local tournament anglers, and then in turn influenced improvements in "weekend angler" success.
One proven strategy is using the sophistication of electronics (like HD 2D, down scan, side scan, and pan optics or live action technology) to identify individual fish and larger fish. Driving around until the fish is spotted, throwing the boat in reverse and pitching a jigging rap, puppet minnow, shiver minnow or rippin rap to the fish to catch it with the reaction style bait is one obvious influence.
The same can also be done with what has been given the new name "power corking." Instead of throwing a high action bait to the fish, a slip bobber is dropped right over the individual marked fish.
The slip bobber setup has a heavier weight to get the bait down fast, usually a quarter-ounce egg sinker that is stopped on the line with a barrel swivel with an 18-inch drop line with a jig and leech.
The slip bobber can be adjusted to any depth, and can be set to stop just above the fish to tempt it into a bite. This has also been productive for catching suspended walleyes that previously were only targeted by trollers with a good understanding of how to pull crank baits at the suspended depth.
And, by the way, the use of snap weights, dipsy divers, and lead core line to get depth control for trolling were all innovations that became mainstream from veteran tournament anglers. The innovation of baits that are getting produced have been inspired and developed by successful tournament anglers working with sponsors for product development.
An "old school" live bait trolling weight that has been overlooked in past years is making a comeback for better use in specific applications.
The "chain weight" is a fixed cylinder shaped lead sinker with a small piece of chain on both ends. One end ties to the main line, the other to the leader with a hook, floating jig head, or spinner.
With the popularity of the sliding sinker for feeding line to a fish (live bait rig, lindy rig, roach rig by other names) the chain sinker took a back seat. Some angers found that trying to cast a slip sinker into weeds was difficult to get distance and accuracy-back comes the chain sinker! It casts better and more accurately, as well as fishing more effectively pulling though cabbage weeds.
New innovations are sometimes just slight changes or adaptations of long standing and widely known techniques. A little tweaking can make big differences to making the adaptations you need to catch the fish you want.
Let your own creativity help you make your own adjustments for more success on the water. Copy others that have consistent success and practice to get better. Fishing is always fun-but catching is even more fun.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)