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October 1st Issue
           Think Like A Bass Newsletter October 1 / 2004
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Welcome to our new subscribers. We sincerely hope you enjoy Think Like A Bass. Most of all we hope you become a better Bass fisherman from reading it.
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In this issue

1. Tweaking A Baitcast Real: Richie White
2. Funny of the day
3. Do Scents Really Make Sense?: Roger Lee Brown
4. Quote Of The Month

Get your bass fishing on the right track. Learn to read conditions and establish patterns based on your own knowledge of the bass, just like the pros' do.
                                        "Tweaking A Baitcast Real"
This article applies to most baitcasting reels. However, since I prefer Shimano reels, that is the primary focus of this article. I haven't used every Shimano baitcaster, but I have tweaked Shimano Chronarch, Calais, Curado, Calcutta, and Citica models. This article also assumes you are using right handed reels.

Fill them full
The most important (and most often ignored) factor in setting a baitcasting reel is to fill it full of line. I like to have my reels so full that if I put any more on it, it will bind up on the sides. If it does bind on the sides, it is too full. However, it is better to overfill it and have to remove some than to short yourself on every cast.
Let me explain the importance of filling it full. The main reason is that you will get longer casts. If your line is full, your spool doesn't have to turn as many revolutions to get the distance. A rule of thumb I have come up with is that the percent of how full you fill your reel is about equivalent to the percentage of your maximum casting distance. For instance, if you fill your spool 100%, your maximum casting distance is 100%. If you fill it 80%, you can only expect to throw it 80% of its' potential. Likewise, if you fill it 50% full, you can likely throw it to the end, which is about half the distance you could get if it was full.
Another reason for having it full is because it is the only way you can be consistent. If you fill your line 80% full and get it tweaked for that amount of line. Later, you get hung up and cut your line - now you are at 60%. Your settings are now too tight, so you loosen your reel so you can get your maximum distance (which is about 60%). You later fill your line full and don't tighten your settings. What can you then expect? You guessed it! You can expect a big backlash with your brand new line.
How do you prevent inconsistencies? Well, you can't totally prevent inconsistencies, because line changes after it gets wet and after it has been used. But you can be fairly consistent by filling your line full and not letting it get low. My rule of thumb is to change my line when it gets below 90% or when the line gets looking bad.
Some people don't fill it full because they want to save line. I'm all for saving line, so here is my suggestion. I tie on to the line of most of my reels. Since I always keep my line full, I never expect to get to the knot. If I am using 12 to 15 pound test, I will leave almost half of the line on my bigger spools (Citica). If I am using 20 pound test, I will leave about 1/3 of my line on my bigger spools. If I am using 30 pound test, I will usually tie directly to the reel. If I use smaller spools such as my Chronarch or a small Calcutta, I will tie directly to the spool, unless I am using light line.
Let me mention that there are reels that are exceptions to the rule of filling them full. I have a Shimano Corsair reel that I got because of its' large line capacity. I filled it full and couldn't get it tweaked until I took about 20% of the line off.

Setting the brakes
Setting the brakes is very simple on the low profile styles of Shimano reels. Just remove the cover on the left side and pull out one of the 6 plastic weights to tighten the brakes or push it in to loosen the brakes. The round style reels (Corsair & Calcutta) are a little more complex. The brakes are in the same place and they are basically identical, but you must remove the spool from the right side of the reel to get to the brakes. Many reels have control knobs on the left side of them. You can probably tweak them by following the same procedures.

Tweaking the reel
To tweak the reel, first fill your reel full with line. Then tightnen the friction control knob (located under the star drag control) on the right side of the reel. You don't want it finger tight, just tighten it until it gets harder to turn. Start with 3 brakes out and 3 brakes in. Cast your lure fairly easily, but not against the wind. If it backlashes before the bait hits the water, you need to pull out a brake. If it backlashes after the bait hits the water, either you released too late or you need to tighten your friction control knob.
If you didn't backlash on the cast, try again a little harder. If it still didn't backlash, push in another brake and repeat the process. You want to find the point where if you pushed in one more brake it would backlash before the bait hit the water. The only way I know to find that point is to push them in until it does backlash (before it hits the water) and then pull one out. That point will usually be 2 to 3 magnets out on a calm day and 3 to 4 magnets out on a windy day. If you are able to fish with only one magnet out, you probably don't have enough line.
Once you get it tweaked to where it would backlash if you pushed in another brake, then you do any adjusting with the friction control knob on the right. Loosen it to get more distance, tighten it to keep it from backlashing.
Keep in mind that your reel will let you know if it is too loose, but it won't tell you if it is too tight. You may set it for a windy day and when the wind dies down you could be getting much longer casts if you pushed in a brake or two. Likewise if you have it set for a full spool and you lose some line, it will then be too tight.

Setting the drag
Setting the drag can mean the difference from catching or losing a fish, so it is very important. In case you didn't know, the big star next to the reel handle is the drag setting. Clockwise tightens the drag while counter-clockwise loosens it. I like to get the fish in the boat as soon as possible, so I normally keep the drag as tight as I can get away with. If I am using 30 pound test, I don't want the drag to slip unless a big fish turns away right at the boat. If I am using lighter line, I want it to slip so it doesn't break the line. What I do is put my thumb on my spool and hold it tight to keep it from turning. I then turn my reel handle. If my drag is too tight, I can't keep the spool from turning - so I loosen it counter-clockwise. If it is too loose, I can hold the spool and easily turn the handle without the spool turning - so I tighten it clockwise. This is basically the same as trying to pull the line to see if the drag will turn, only it doesn't dig the line in the reel. You may still want to pull the line to test it - just to make sure it is set right. Be sure to check it fairly often - especially if someone else uses your reel. I often set the hook on a fish later to find out that one of my clients loosened the drag so much that I couldn't get a hookset.

Richie White is a professional guide on Lake Fork Texas for 13 years for more info visit http://www.bassfishing.org/GuideInfo.htm

email Richie@bassfishing.org


Funny of the day

Standing at the edge of the lake, a man saw a woman flailing about in the deep water. Unable to swim, the man screamed for help. A trout fisherman ran up. The man said, "My wife is drowning and I can't swim. Please save her. I'll give you a hundred dollars." The fisherman dove into the water. In ten powerful strokes, he reached the woman, put his arm around her, and swam back to shore. Depositing her at the feet of the man, the fisherman said, "Okay, where's my hundred dollars?" The man said, "Look, when I saw her going down for the third time, I thought it was my wife. But this is my mother-in-law." The fisherman reached into his pocket and said, "Just my luck. How much do I owe you?"


If you are a pro Bass fisherman, or just an experianced one and have a tip or an article that you would like to share, LET US HEAR FROM YOU ! If your article or tip is accepted and published, you will get a free ad for your business in Think Like A Bass. email to jguide@tds.net

Do "Scents" Really Make Sense?

(By: "The Bass Coach" - Roger Lee Brown)

Fish formulas and attractants are a very big product in today's angling market, but are they really worth using?  I seem to get at least a dozen emails (along with phone calls) each week from anglers who specifically ask me if a fish formula (or fish a attractant) is worth purchasing.  I usually respond with my answer as being yes!  I personally wouldn't be without a fish formula if I were to go fishing (I'll explain in a moment.)  Then some of these anglers will ask; "What kind of formulas (or attractants) should I buy, or which one works the best for catching fish?"  To this question, I am a bit more hesitant in my answer because of all the different brands, scents (or flavors), substances of the many different formulas (liquids, spray-ons, jelly types, etc.), along with the costs per container, and because of having their own individual pros and cons when used.  Personally, I use only three different formulas (or scents) that cover all of my bass fishing needs, and they are Crawfish, Shad, and Garlic formulas.  The reason for these three is that they're the most proven and tested by anglers like you.  Then finally many will ask me what kind of applicators would be best to use for the application of these formulas (or attractants?), mostly because of the problems with some products ruining boat carpets when spilling formulas (or attractants) on them, some gumming up on the fiberglass or metal finishes of a boat when dripping formula on them, but most of all wasting formula by pouring it over a bait while most of it runs off into the water, or even some spraying formula onto a bait allowing the wind blow it all over everything (including themselves). (Sound familiar?)  Hopefully I can help some of you anglers that haven't had a chance to ask these questions as well as to help with some of the problems mentioned above.  

The answer to the first question about formulas (or attractants) of being an importance to an angler is a bit more than one would seem just a simple yes or no answer.  First, we'll try to clarify a "myth" about formulas (or attractants.)  One thing to keep in mind is that there is no such thing as a "Fish Attractant!" except when it comes to "chumming the water, usually done while salt water fishing."  Fish Attractants do not attract anything except for the angler who buys them off of the self or orders them from their favorite bait and tackle outlet, and a "Fish Formula" is no more than a "cover-up" for an unwanted taste that had probably contaminated your bait from something you may have had on your hands or what ever the bait was kept in (the old musty smell?)  A fish formula is much like when the deer hunter puts scents on his clothes to "cover-up" his human scent so the deer won't smell him walking through the woods.  The same principal goes for the formulas that are made to use for fishing, they're simply just a "Cover-up!" but they're still needed because if a fish accepts the taste of a scent (or flavor) it will hold on to it a few moments longer than if the fish didn't like the taste, in which it would spit it right out in a split second (if it bites the bait at all.)

Let's say for example that you were going to go fishing one day and on the way to the boat launch you stopped to gas up your boat.  While you were putting gas into your boat you spilled some gas on your hands and didn't have a place to wash them after you paid for the gas.   Next, you put your boat into the water and go to your favorite spot.   When you get to your fishing hole you grab your rod and reel, pick up your plastic worm (just for a bait example) and put it on your hook and cast it into the water.  When you do all that you find yourself just sitting and waiting for quite some time but you can't figure out why the fish aren't biting the bait, especially when you know that there are fish in the area (why?) or the fish just short-strike the bait and let go (could this be a cause for the short-strikes?)   Probably the biggest reason for this to happen is because you have contaminated the plastic worm (or whatever bait you may be using) with the scent of the gas on your hands from putting the gas in your boat on the way to the ramp.  You see, a bass (and many other species of fish) can scent approximately 1/200th of a drop of a substance in 100 gallons of water.  Now if their sense of taste and smell are that acute, they can surly taste the gas that rubbed off of your hands and got on the bait you cast into the water or any other foreign scent or residue that may have been on your hands such as sun lotion, ingredients from something you may have ate,  a after shave lotion (or perfume hopefully used by female anglers), rust, must, mold, or just about anything you can imagine.  This is why many companies have scented or salted products made to help prevent this problem, but even these can get contaminated...Here's a money saving tip for you; if you buy the expensive formulated baits that can get contaminated from something on your hands, why not buy the inexpensive "more for the buck" plastics and just put formula on them?  You will get the same results!!!

The next question we'll cover is which formula to purchase.. To this question I really can't tell you exactly which company product to buy because there are so many different manufacturers of fish formulas on the market and most of them are all very compatible and work great, but I can tell you from experience that the natural scents work the best.  I always use a Crawfish formula for plastics and jig & pig combos, Shad Oil (or scent) for actions baits such as spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and top water baits, and a Garlic scent when things slow down from the Crawfish scented baits.  Here's a point you may want to remember... a Crawfish is ALWAYS!, ALWAYS!, the number one food source of a bass, even over baitfish!

Now that we've went over some of the "Pros" of formulas, let's eliminate some of the "Cons" that can really bother anglers when applying formulas to artificial baits, and this goes for fresh water as well as salt water baits.  For over the past 25 years up to approximinately 4 years ago, I've tried just about every applicator that can be used for applying fish formulas.  I've tried the spray on types that just sprayed formula over everything when it was windy (which usually is 80% of the time.  I've tried the dip tubs, where you pour the formula into a little tub and dip your baits into it, but found myself dripping formula all over my boat.  I have even tried just pouring formula on my baits right out of the container just to find that I was pouring most of it into the water (when it missed my boat carpet.)  I got so frustrated at times because of problems with formulas gumming up on my boat when dripping on it (especially the pain of using a scouring pad on my boat to clean it off), ruining my boat carpets (when my students, charter clients, as well as myself spilling formula on the carpet), and just flat pouring more money (formula) into the water than I was getting on my baits.  I literally must have gone through at least 7 or 8 containers of formula per season, and you know how costly that can be.  Then finally over the years I discovered a method of using the formula like a hand lotion which I even wrote a article a few years back on "Fish Attractants" that mentioned this method of just rubbing formula onto your hands so that anything you touch while fishing artificial baits, the formula would rub off on the bait as to eliminate contamination (the ole cover-up!) 

Now, the good news!,  just shortly after I had authored the "Fish Attractants" article that was nationally exposed I received a email from a fellow angler by the name of Darryl who was also a avid bass angler.  Darryl had asked me after reading my article I wrote about the attractants if I had ever heard of a product called the Scentbox (which he had invented), and I replied back to him and said that I never heard of the Scentbox or ever seen anything like it (after looking at it on his website), so he said that he would send me one to try and for me to let him know how I liked it.  Now, I can say without hesitation that I have came across many different products related to angling (some good and some bad) over my career, but this product (the Scentbox) became a part of my life.  If I had to describe how valuable this product can be to an angler (whether fresh water or salt water angling) and how important of a tool it can be, it would be like a carpenter needing a hammer for his work.  I have used the Scentbox every time I have been in my boat since it was introduced to me over four years ago, I won't be without it because of many different reasons: 1.  It saves me lots of money each season because now I only use one container of formula per season, no more waste!  2.  It won't allow formula to get on you, your boat, or spill on your carpets, and especially saturate the water because it's literally drip free (you don't even get any on your hands.)  3.  It actually became a "Tool" to me for my angling profession.  It is so unique that "Every" former student of mine that had attended my 3-day bass fishing school as well as my bass charter clients had to get one for themselves after using mine.  

I have authored many articles in the past to help anglers, the general public, and even tournament anglers learn more about angling with helpful hints, pro tips, unique products, and even a understanding about the fish themselves, but when a product like the Scentbox comes along that can solve many problems, save lots of money (it literally pays for itself in 1 season of use), and the most important! .. allows more fish to be caught.. I felt that I need to share this product because of it's importance in many areas for anglers of all types such as the simple pan fishermen (or woman) who fishes for crappie, blue gill, perch, etc. or bass anglers whether they be beginners, novices, or even touring tournament anglers, and even the salt water fishermen (or women) who do the artificial lure fishing.  I even know of certain bass lures that the cost for one is more than the whole cost of the Scentbox.  The Scentbox even comes in three different sizes for all angling.  They make a smaller size for pan fish, one for fresh water fishing, and one for salt-water fishing.

The last time I talked about a certain product I didn't mention how to get one or how to contact the company that manufactured the product, which caused me hundreds of Emails of inquiry.  The Scent box can be seen at www.scentbox.com. It is made by the Lake Champlain Bait and Tackle, Inc., and you can call  1-800-331-2188 for further information.

I hope this article helps many of you from going through what many of us have in the past as far as pros and cons concerning fish formulas.  I honestly feel that this tool (the Scentbox) will revolutionize the angling industry because of its simplicity and helpfulness for all artificial angling whether it is fresh or salt-water angling.  If you wish to write me about the 3-day bass fishing school, or bass charter service on the worlds famous Lake Champlain and Lake George, located in upstate NY.  You can visit my sites at: www.capital.net/~rlbrown or www.fishing-boating.com/basscoach or you can email me at: rlbrown@capital.net or even call me at (518) 597-4240.

Until next time!... Take Care & God Bless!... "The Bass Coach".Roger Lee Brown



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