By Chad LaChance
What’s your favorite lure? We get this question all the time, so much so that it has become a running joke around La Cueva del Fishful. It seems folks have an infatuation with “what’s our favorite” anything in general; fish species, lake, line, etc, and there is no single answer to any of them for me. Having said that, there are a few favorites of mine that can be easily and unequivocally stated, and the answers can almost always be found on or around me on any given outing. They are the things that make my fishing easier, cleaner, comfier, or more enjoyable in general, and none of them directly catch me fish!
The favorites I’m referencing are the things that don’t often get mentioned in articles, on TV shows, or in general fishing discussion, and yet as I already said, I rarely fish without most or all of them on hand. They’re the unsung heroes of angling success, quietly doing their job without all the glamour of a favorite-for-now lure often seen being plucked from a fish’s mouth on TV. They are the accessories of the fishing world, and some are more obvious than others.
A few of my favorite accessories deserve to be highlighted, if for no other reason than perhaps you’ll find they’ll make your fishing more enjoyable too; so let’s look at a few of them.
If you happen to watch FTTV, you’ll possibly notice that I always have a hand towel hanging off my left hip. Why? Because wet or slimy hands cause casting mistakes, filthy rods and reels, and ruined clothes.
Let’s face it, fish are slick and smelly. The water they live in is technically a lubricant, and many soft plastics and Gulp! baits are wallowing in oil or some sort of juice in their packaging and all of these will end up on your hands. A small, absorbent towel always in reach hanging from my waist is very convenient. Just before writing this column I was reviewing some video and laughed at how often I subconsciously grab that towel to dry my hands. It’ll help you stay warm, too.
Along the same lines, at least as far as placement on my self, is my pliers. Again, watch the show and you’ll see that they are always on my right hip. The tool I prefer is a Berkley 7” aluminum pair with stainless jaws and a carbide line cutter, and they have a stretchy lanyard I clip to my belt loop. They easily cut any sort of braided line, and they have a split-ring tool for replacing hooks. More importantly than all of that, they are within immediate reach whenever I need them, which is often. Searching around the boat deck or shoreline for your pliers while handling a fish with a mouthful of crankbait hooks is inconvenient at best, and possibly dangerous. The lanyard ensures they never end up in the lake, and the aluminum body makes them light in weight. I consider quality pliers within constant reach as a way to fish more efficiently and safer.
Anything that makes you more comfortable on an outing will obviously make said outing more enjoyable, and it will probably help you catch more fish. When the conditions get cold, wet, or windy – meaning when the fishing is probably good – my absolute favorite accessory is my weatherproof suit. Yep, it’s the bib’s-n-parka combo that turns even a cold weather wuss like yours truly into an all-weather angler that I rarely leave home to fish without. Waterproof bib pants and parka have come to be my standard for all weather fishing in boats, on ice or anything short of wading, and even then I may wear the parka solo. My suit is a Frabil FXE Stormsuit It is waterproof, windproof, breathable, ergonomically designed, and with some cool features like drip-proof cuffs, a sunglass pocket complete with lens cloth, and a pocket for my pliers on the bibs. I was introduced to the suit back in 2010 by the legendary Al Lindner, a guy who has fished in some crappy conditions for decades. He bluntly explained to me the importance of his foul weather gear over the years, and why this suit was his favorite. It became mine, too.
Quality bibs and parkas are not cheap, but I view them as an investment. If you’ve never fished in a storm suit, instead relying on more traditional outwear, you’ll be surprised. I commonly wear the bibs over shorts on cool morning boat rides, or layer up with polypropylene and polar fleece and I’m ready to hit the ice. For me, a storm suit is required gear for any season.
The last overlooked yet important accessory is my shades; I’m nearly fanatical about sunglasses while fishing. Let’s start with safety. From high-speed boat rides and flying lures, to UV protection, sunglasses protect you. Comfort? Great lenses prevent headaches and eye-strain, and well designed frames make them comfy to wear all day. Fish catching? Quality polarization and lens color choices allow you to adjust for any visibility conditions. Spotting fish in rivers and shallow water is the obvious benefit, but how about weedlines, slightly submerged cover, bottom content changes, etc? Or my personal tip for catching, always watching your line. Good lenses allow you to spot the line at the point it enters the water even in glaring or flat light conditions. This is critical to detecting bites with many presentations. If you only set the hook on fish you feel, you’re missing out on a great percentage of your bites, I promise.
I wear Costa’s for the lens quality, pure and simple. Their 580G glass lens in sunrise color for lowlight, copper for average conditions, and green mirror on the bluebird days is my system in fresh or inshore waters. I add blue mirror for ice fishing or offshore. If you pick only one lens, get copper, but like I said, I’m fanatical about great sunglasses in my angling.
From a couple of simple things to a couple of fundamentals tools, these four accessories will make you cleaner, better prepared, and generally more comfortable and efficient as an angler. Next time you’re deciding where to spend some spare bucks on fishing tackle, consider the unsung heroes of our sport!