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Saturday, January 31, 2009

How To Make A Jig

For all of you who ever wanted to try and make your own jig, this is how I do it. Hopefully, this will help you or at least give you some ideas. Keep in mind, this is how I do it and every lure maker has his own way of doing things. If you can use any of this information, great! If not, I won't be offended.
video

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tying The Right Knot With The Right Line

Last year I decided to try out the new popular rave in fishing fluorocarbon line. I spooled up nearly all my reels with the most expensive fluorocarbon money could buy, with the exception of my top water reels. I read great results from the pros that use fluorocarbon and they seem to love the line. More... It’s most commonly known for its ability to help increase the amount of bites you receive because the line is invisible to the fish. It also sinks faster, is more sensitive, and has less stretch than monofilament so you get a better hook set. This line compares closely to braid, but is looked at to be a much better line due to the invisibility aspect and fast sinking for deep diving lures. So, I thought I would give it a shot last year. However, when I started fishing the line I did not research which knot was best to tie or use, and I paid dearly for loosing good quality fish due to my line breaking. I was using the Palomar Knot and it was not working with this line or at least not for me. There may be other reasons my line broke, such as not getting the line wet enough upon tying or brushing up against some rocks, or who knows what else may have happened. I do know one thing for sure, and that is my line broke a lot last year and this was the only change I made. I do have another problem that could have caused the line to break and that’s a hard hook set, but I have always been known for breaking a jaw and I really don’t want to stop any time soon, so I must find something else that works for me. So, even though I’m still not confident in the strength of fluorocarbon line I have researched more and it appears that the Berkley Braid Knot, Trilene Knot, Uni-Knot, and even the Palomar Knot I was using are all preferred when fishing fluorocarbon line. After doing all this research I come to the conclusion that I need to work on making perfect knots and focus on tying my knots much better than before. I will begin to work on my knot tying this year and hopefully it will lead to landing those lunkers I lost last year, which caused my team from placing or winning a tournament. If you are just beginning to test fluorocarbon line, then I recommend wetting your line, making a perfect knot from the knots listed above and testing its strength before casting into the big gulp. If you follow these simple rules I did not last year, then you will get those extra keepers into the livewell.

Tournament Preparation

Well, it's almost that time of year when I start competing in tournaments and thought I'd share some things I do to get prepared.
Most of the pros talk about studying lake maps, calling local tackle shops and doing internet research to prepare for their upcoming season. That's fine because they fish many different lakes all over the country. However, to me this information is kind of useless because I only fish 3 or 4 lakes a year. As a matter of fact, most of the anglers I know only fish a few lakes a year. More... We have become familiar enough with these lakes to eliminate map study and such. If you are fishing a lake for the first time, by all means, get a map and use it for as long as you feel you need it. I used maps of the lakes I fish for a couple years until I felt comfortable without them. Having said that, I would like to talk about some things to prepare you for the tournament season that would apply to both amateur and professional anglers.
The most important thing in preparing for tournaments is making sure your gear is in good shape, especially your boat, rods and reels. Following is a list of things I do to make sure they are in good working condition. I continue to do this several times a year due to the frequency of use.

Rods:


  • Check for any hairline fractures. A broken rod is a useless one.

  • Make sure your cork is in good shape.

  • Check all guides and tip. Run a cotton ball through them and if it snags, you need to sand down or replace the guide. Snags lead to broken line.

  • Clean rod and eyes to remove any dirt.

Reels:



  • Remove all old line.

  • Clean exterior with a good product designed for reels. I like Ardent products.

  • Take apart and completely clean insides.

  • Grease the gears lightly, don't gum them up.

  • Lightly oil any moving parts such as handles, spools, roller balls.

  • On baitcasters, make sure the line guide is smooth and clean any dirt out of it.

  • Put new line on all reels. Write down what line you have on each reel so if you don't like the setup, you'll know not to use it again.

The other equipment you need to prepare is your lures. Here are some of the things I do.


Crankbaits:



  • Touch up any paint you feel is necessary. I do this on some baits, but mostly I like them beat up and rough looking.

  • On heavily used baits, change the hooks. I prefer Owners on lipped crankbaits, and Mustad Triple Grip on lipless. I change factory hooks on everything except Lucky Craft.

  • Make sure the split rings aren't bent.

  • Sand the diving lip if it's beat up. This will help it dive.

Spinnerbaits, Buzzbaits and Jigs:



  • Sort by size

  • Sort by color

  • Sharpen hooks

Plastics:



  • This may sound silly, but make sure they haven't melted in storage before you throw them in your bag.

  • Arrange them so they are easy for you to find. A previous article recommends using a cake pan that you can get at WalMart or Target and it works great. I carry about 50 plastic bait bags in one of these.

  • If you have several bags of particular bait, consolidate them into one to save space.

Lure Storage:


I used to be a lure fanatic. I would buy everything just to try it. Those days are gone! I try new lures occassionaly, but I mostly know what works well where I fish and what I am comfortable with. Here is what I carry for lure storage in my boat to tournaments.



  • A Shimano bag that holds four boxes in it and has a front pocket, 2 side pockets, and a zipper pocket in back. In the boxes I have one for spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, one for flipping jigs, one for football jigs, and one for smaller buzzbaits, inline spinners, hair jigs and bucktails. The side pockets hold extra blades, trailer hooks, sharpie markers and scent. The front pocket holds plastic trailers and pork trailers. Tha back zipper holds my caplight, scissors and pliers.

  • Two Falcon hook utility boxes. One holds shakey heads, drop shots, and other finesse type hooks and sinkers. The other holds heavy hooks and sinkers for Carolina and Texas rigging.

  • 2 Plano utility boxes. I like to make these season specific as far as colors and types of lures, but generally it is this. One for deep diving crankbaits. One for other crankbaits, topwaters, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits.

  • 1 cake pan for all my plastics.

So, to sum it up, I carry one bag, 4 utility boxes, and 1 cake pan. This really helps me decide what to use on the water by limiting my choices to only the lures I am comfortable with and I know work.

Last but not least, you need to make sure your boat, trolling motor, and electronics are in goodworking condition. I change my lower unit oil, start the boat in the driveway and let it idle for a few minutes. I also put it in and out of forward and reverse gear. Be sure to keep up with regular maintenance on your boat. I just turn my electronics and trolling motor on to make sure they're working after being stored for a couple months.

Everyone has their own preseason rituals which may or may not include things in this post. These are some of my practices, but I am a firm believer in doing whatever works best for you. Have a happy and safe tournament season!



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Off Topic - "Popcorn" Sutton, taxes, and bailouts

Well, we have news that known moonshiner, Popcorn Sutton, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail. Authorities found moonshine stills on 3 of his properties and 800 gallons of moonshine in an old school bus on one of the properties. More...

Here is my beef. Alcohol is completely legal in the U.S. What is the difference in going to the liquor store and buying a gallon of Jack Daniels Whiskey or going to see ol' Popcorn and gettin' a jug of shine? The government doesn't care if he makes moonshine or not, but they can't stand him making a profit and cutting them out of the tax revenue.

So it goes in this day and age. The government can't stay out of anyone's business. Just look at these ridiculous bailout plans. As long as the government controls our money, they control us.

When you get your next paycheck stub, look at the money taken out for income tax and imagine if you could keep that money over the next 12 months. You would have enough to buy some new fishing tackle, pay tournament fees, make an extra mortgage payment, or spend on anything you want. If you're like me, you may even buy the new truck or boat you've been wanting. As an example, I would have about $150 dollars a month or $1800 a year. $150 a month would buy roughly 9 Lucky Craft lures, 37 packs of Zoom plastic worms, 3.75 entry fees to $40 tournaments, 1 Shimano Crucial Rod, or 1 quality reel.

It seems to me that would be a better way to stimulate the economy, rather than taking our money and spending millions on abortion providers, birth control, $600 million on new government cars, etc., etc.

My plea to you is whether you are a democrat or republican, hold your elected officials accountable on how they spend your money (they tend to forget that it is not their money to spend, it is ours). If you don't like it, complain. If you do nothing, then expect this trend to continue.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Location, Location, Location!

Location, Location, Location! It does not matter whether you are talking about real estate, business, or fishing because location is important in every aspect of life. Realtor’s profit, business thrives, and fishermen’s dreams come true being in the right place at the right time. One common mistake fishermen make is not being prepared or understanding how to locate bass quickly and efficiently. Bass are a difficult species to understand, but if you want to fish like the pros, then I suggest you start studying the movement of forage or baitfish. More... It’s highly important to educate yourself on where the bait is at all times of the year. If you can think like the bait and understand where the forage would be, then you had better hold on because poppa bass is not far behind. Read books, magazine articles, watch DVDs, search the internet or anything else, which you can learn about baitfish or forage and how it moves to other parts of the lake during different conditions. Baitfish move around depending upon different weather conditions, seasons, and phases of the moon. A great fisherman understands all these aspects of fishing and knows where the bait will most likely be under these different conditions. Another thing I suggest is to practice like you compete, if you are a competitive fisherman. Keep a journal. Mark your honey holes with GPS, and remember the time of day you caught your keepers along with where they were positioned when you caught them. This will help you establish a pattern to try in other parts of the lake, as you move from spot to spot. I can’t stress enough the importance of location and how this can make or break your fishing adventures. Also, let’s not forget how important your electronics play in the success of locating bass. All professional fishermen know their electronic fish finders like the back of their hand. If you master the art of using electronics and how the weather, moon, and seasons effect the movement of baitfish, then I bet this fishing season you will be surprised how many limits you will catch.


Best,

Dittmore

Be Responsible!

As I was sitting here thinking about how much trash can be seen washed ashore on Ft. Loudon Lake when the water is dropped, I recalled two experiences that really bothered me last year. More... First, I was fishing in a very popular area of the lake called Prater Flats (or Ish Creek) and I saw a dead kingfisher and a dead osprey that had become tangled in discarded fishing line. They were on opposite sides of the bay. The kingfisher was hanging from a tree and the osprey was hanging from one of the nest sites that have been built in the lake for them. After all the heat that fishermen take from environmental groups, I cannot believe that someone would leave fishing line behind like that. Sure, we all break our lines now and then, but there is a big difference in leaving behind 5 feet of line accidentally and intentionally discarding 150 feet of line.
The second thing that really got under my skin was during a tournament. Just as we were launching, I happened to look over and see an older man in a small, aluminum fishing boat dump out a small garbage can into the lake. There were soda cans and snack wrappers floating away in the current and he didn't even think twice about it! Give me a break!
All that I ask is for fellow fishermen to be responsible, dispose of your trash properly, and if you see something on the ground you can pick up and put in the trash, then do it. Also, it's not a bad idea to cut your old fishing line with scissors so it cannot create tangles before you discard it. Or you can take it to one of the tackle shops with a recycling bin for old fishing line.
Remember, it is up to us to protect our lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds for future generations. If we don't, there are always special interests groups that will have more leverage to stop us from doing what we love.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Does Size Really Matter?

Well it depends on who you’re asking, but if you’re asking a bass, then she would most likely say yes. I experienced a new-found love and gained confidence last year in fishing big lures. Although to this day I’ve caught my largest bass on a three inch grub, which to most fisherman would be considered a small fishing lure. You will catch large fish on small lures too, but I believe there are certain lures that will increase your chance of putting a lunker in the livewell. More... Most of my fishing career I’ve relied on small to medium sized fishing lures in tournaments to produce more bites and medium size fish with an occasional large fish here and there. So, this past season I told myself that I would make a change and I stuck with it. I knew that I probably would not get as many bites, but if I did receive a bite, then it would most likely be a keeper for the livewell. I soon realized and found a new confidence in fishing big lures. The main big fish lure I like to use is the big ribbon tail or curly tail ten inch worm. Several manufacturers produce a good ten inch worm, so I suggest you try a few and choose the best one that works for you. You can fish a big worm several different ways, so you just need to adapt it to the season and style that the bass are hitting during the time of year you’re fishing. It’s important to be comfortable with the rig you are using too, so if you prefer texas rig, then stick with it until you gain confidence in the other styles and approaches, such as carolina, shaky head, wacky, or drop shot rigging. There are other lures I like to use which land big fish too. You will experience catching big bass on jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, flippin’ or pitchin’ jigs, lizards, brush hawgs, deep diving crankbaits, and slow rolling swimbaits. This fishing season just ask yourself one question, “Do you want to catch big bass”? If the answer is yes, then I suggest you try out more big lures this year and stick with them until your livewell is full of hawgs.

Best,

Dittmore

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cake Pans Are Great For Storing Plastic Lures


Last fishing season I was looking for a better option to easily sort and get to my favorite plastic lures quickly and stumbled upon a great option while strolling through Wally World. At the time, I was using the more expensive plastic bag lure holders, which held a lot of plastics but did not give me the ease and quick access to reach the lures fast. More... When you are in a tournament, you need to know where everything is and be able to get to those lures fast because every minute burned searching decreases your chance of landing the lunker or kicker fish that may help you win that tournament. At Wally World I was walking through the tupperware section and stumbled upon the best idea I've had for fishing in a few years. I found a large clear Cake Pan container for about five dollars. I studied the Cake Pan's size and realized I could line up my favorite plastic lures and sort them by preference to easily retrieve when needed. All you have to do is open the lid and all your lures are ready to retrieve quickly. A Cake Pan container will hold on average about 60 bags of plastic lures. I prefer two rows of plastic lures side by side. On average about 30 bags will fit on one side and 30 on the other, so you can see how easy this would be to find what you need fast. Try it out and you will put your other expensive plastic bag holders to the side. A Cake Pan will also fit easily in most of your boat compartments. It's the way to go when you need to get to your plastic lures fast! You never know what those extra casted lines will produce!

Best,

Dittmore

Do you REALLY need all those rods?

This is a much debated topic I thought I would comment on. It seems like every tackle shop in the country sells specialty rods these days. By specialty rod I mean a rod made specifically for a particular presentation, such as Carolina rigging, cranking, topwater, flipping, etc. As anglers, we buy things that shop owners and associates tell us work the best. More... So, if they push these specialty rods, we will probably buy them. I know I have spent my fair share of money on them.
The question is, do we really need to do this? To answer, lets look at 2 of the most successful professional fishermen to hit the water, Kevin VanDam and Rick Clunn.

Kevin VanDam uses specialty rods in every tournament he fishes. He even designs specialty rods now. For picking a new rod, he recommends that you start with 3 different ones:
1. A 6'10" Medium Heavy baitcasting for spinnerbaits, crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwaters.
2. A 7' Medium spinning for drop shots, shakey heads, and weightless worms.
3. A 7'2" Heavy baitcasting for flipping, pitching, and frogs.
http://www.kevinvandam.com/news/article/kvd_helps_you_choose_a_fishing_rod/
Of course VanDam has more than 3 specialty rods, but even he admits that most people can't afford to buy too many rods.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rick Clunn prefers to use the same rod model and same reel model in as many situations as possible. Mostly, he uses a 6.3:1 reel and a 7' heavy action rod. This was evident in his 5th place finish at Old Hickory on July 2, 2008. He used the same rod, reel, and line to throw crankbaits and jigs. http://www.bassfan.com/news_article.asp?id=2952. He believes that by using the same gear he doesn't have to get used to the feel of a new setup each time he switches lures.

I prefer to use as many specialty rods as I can afford because they have proven to help me catch more fish. However, I would never count that guy out of a tournament that only has 2 identical setups. Bottom line, do what you feel comfortable with and don't worry about the guy that has 20 rods in his boat with 20 different lures tied on. All that matters is YOUR ability to catch fish with what YOU have.

New Tournament Link

For all you tournament fishermen, I have posted a new link on the right side of the page with all the upcoming tournament information I can find for now. This will be updated frequently, so check back often.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crankfly Custom Tackle






A few years ago three best friends decided to start a fly tying business. The three friends all loved to fish and were looking for a hobby to do in the winter that may create a little extra income on the side, and maybe even help pay for their desire and need to buy every popular good lookin' fishin' lure in sight. More... You see it was just three friends getting together to have fun, talk some smack and drink a few adult frosty beverages. We all became very good at tying those special flies and I somehow got us in every "mom and pop" local fishin' hole in the surrounding Knoxville area. Heck we were even over in the mountains of TN in a small tackle shop on the way to Watauga Lake. At this point I can tell you are probably wondering what these special flies look like and what they are used for. We'll let me tell you. See these flies were tied on a vise. We used only the best chicken feathers and flash you could find and the hooks were Mustad, which always seemed to get the job done breakin' every fish's jaw that latched on. These Crankfly dressed trebles were placed on crankbaits, spoons, jerkbaits, and top water lures. We still have a few boxes ready to go to the next customer and we may even crank up the business again, if we can ever work it into our demanding schedules. However, if we do not break out the fly business again, there will be some other venture we create or do in our spare time to gain the interest of a lunker trophy "biggie" or "smallie" in Fort Loudon. You see it was never about the money and never will be, just good times with my brothers that I will cherish forever.






Best,




Dittmore

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Review - Hometown Baits Handpoured Plastics

This past summer I was fortunate to win a tackle package on the East Tennessee Fishing website (http://www.easttennesseefishing.com/) by catching and posting the largest bass of the month. In this package I received a large quantity of 3 different designs of handpoured baits and some other items. I would like to discuss the handpoured baits. More...

The 3 types of plastic baits I received were a 10" Monster Worm in Black Grape with green glitter, 6" Trick Worms in Watermelon Seed with red glitter, and 4" Finesse Worms in Watermelon Seed with red glitter. These were all made by Hometown Baits(http://www.softbaitmaker.com/).

I have used all 3 now, with my favorite being the trick worm. I usually rig this worm on a 1/8 or 3/16 oz. shakey head jig and use spinning gear to present it. Anywhere there are rocks or docks, this worm seems to work great. The monster worm is primarily used in deeper water, texas rigged with a 3/16 or 1/4 oz bullet weight and 4/0 or 5/0 worm hook and baitcasting gear. The finesse worm is fished the same way as the trick worm, but on days when the bite is tougher.

What I really like about these products are the softness of the plastic. It gives them plenty of action in the water, and the fish hold on longer than conventional plastics. However, there is a downside to the softness of the plastic, which is the number of fish you can catch on a single bait before having to replace it. For me, the increased number of bites is well worth a few extra torn baits throughout the day. One thing you may want to do to increase your success is to add a small amount of your favorite scent into the bag of baits.

At Hometown Baits, they offer all kinds of plastics from jig trailers to giant worms. They even have a swimbait available now. You are allowed to pick from any of the colors they have and add any of the glitters they have, letting you create preferred custom colors. They are wonderful people to work with and will pour your order as soon as it is received.

On a scale of 1-5, I give these plastics a 5 on fish catching, and 3 on durability. If you are willing to go through a few more baits in a day, your hookup success will definitely increase.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hello, and welcome to my blog! My name is Jon Dice and I have created this blog for the enjoyment of fellow anglers. I consider myself to be an avid fisherman and compete in many amateur tournaments in the Knoxville, TN area.
I intend to keep this site informative by using several categories of interest:

1. Local Fishing Reports - These will include a journal of my own fishing experiences as well as
the reports of others I know and trust. I will try to include water levels, temperatures, and clarity in these reports.

2. Product Reviews - This will be about tackle that I currently use or new things I and other authors may try. I will use a scale of 1-5, with 1 being bad and 5 being excellent.

3. General Fishing Articles - The articles may be written by myself or others and will be about anything from regulations to new techniques.

4. Tips and Tricks - Things to save you time, money, aggravation, and make your fishing more productive.

5. Tournament Schedules and Results - I will try to include some of the local tournament schedules and results, but cannot guarantee 100% accuracy because some of these will be obtained through word of mouth.

6. Links to other Sites - These will be sites of products that I use and recommend.

7. Fun Trips - Fishing trips and vacations that my friends and I might take throughout the year.

So, with that being said, I hope you visit my blog frequently and enjoy the articles!