10 Fishing Tips And Tricks

Whether fishing on our own or alongside some of the most talented anglers in the Northeast, the staff at On The Water has racked up quite a few hours of fishing experience. Along the way, we’ve learned a thing or two so we started making a list of some tricks and tips that make fishing more productive and more fun. Here are ten of our favorites.

1. Mark Up Your Soft Baits
Mark Up Your Soft Baits

With indelible markers, you can add a number of realistic baitfish patterns to your soft-plastic baits. Get creative! Over time, the colors will “bleed” into the bait, giving them a unique fish-attracting appearance.

2. Stow Snaps And Swivels
Stow Snaps And Swivels

The most important links in your connection to a fish also happen to be the easiest to lose in your tackle bag. To better keep these tiny pieces of terminal tackle, slide them one at a time onto a large snap, then attach that snap to a lanyard worn around your neck. It keeps the snaps and swivels in easy reach when it’s time to re-tie in the middle of a hot bite.

3. Clip Your Trebles
Clip Your Trebles

Swap out the trebles for single hooks on most swimming plugs and you’ll change, or even ruin, the fish-catching action. To keep the plugs swimming right but gain the easy-unhooking benefits of single hooks, simply clip off the points on two of the tines, just behind the barb. Pliers will cut most freshwater hooks, and a bolt cutter can take care of sturdier saltwater hooks.

4. Cut Down on Tangles

The dreaded wind knot can be prevented, or at least reduced, by manually flipping over the bail on your spinning reel after a cast. This keeps the line from twisting as it works its way from the bail to the line roller, which it does when the bail is snapped shut automatically by turning the reel handle.

5. Dress-Up your Jigs
Dress-Up your Jigs

Diamond jigs are a classic striped bass, bluefish and cod lure that can be dressed with a bare hook, a colored tube, or a feathered Siwash hook. The faster you can switch out these different dressed hooks to find the color and style that the fish are responding to, the faster you will be into fish. To do this, replace the split ring on the bottom of your diamond jig with a sturdy lure clip and swap out hook styles.

6. Sock It to Short Biters
Sock It to Short Biters

Short-biting fish like sunfish, perch and scup will use their small mouths to grab the dangling end of your bait and tear it from the hook. To stop them from stealing your bait, use an Aberdeen hook with a long shank and a small gap, and then thread the bait on the hook like a sock so that very little hangs off the end. This works with night crawlers in freshwater and sea worms and squid strips in saltwater.

7. Get a Grip on Eels
Get a Grip on Eels

Instead of a wet, sloppy rag or old slime-soaked tee-shirt that has to be thrown away after each outing, pick up a pack of plastic kitchen scrubbing pads. They are easy to store and great for gripping eels. Eel slime rinses right off, and they can even be tossed in the dishwasher between trips.

8. Stop on Top
Stop on Top

If you’re fishing a topwater lure and the stripers keep blowing up on the plug or tail-slapping it without hitting it, try stopping it cold and counting to five. A lure bobbing on the surface looks like a stunned baitfish – easy pickings – and will often draw a vicious strike.

9. Cripple Your Baitfish
Cripple Your Baitfish

When ice fishing with live shiners, a frisky bait can be tough for sluggish cold-water predators to chase down. Try slowing it down by clipping its tail fin with a pair of small scissors. This works in other situations too, like when fishing menhaden for stripers.

10. Shave Your Swimmer’s Bill
Shave Your Swimmer’s Bill

Create a deadly lure for shallow-water striped bass by using a file to shave down the plastic bill on a swimming plug. With a slow retrieve, the plug will stay on the surface making just a light wiggle and sending out a v-wake like a big silverside or other baitfish.

  1. Irving Lehman

    Thanks for all your tips. I will certainly use some of them this year. I fish only fresh water for largemouth bass. Thanks again.

  2. Roger J. Marucci

    Thank you for the tips. I fish mainly fresh water but do hit the salt two or times a year. I will put some of your tips to use this fishing season.

  3. Steve

    My grandfather taught me the trick of clipping the tail of a bait fish 50 years ago while icefishing; have followed his advice ever since. He sometimes even cut his bait ever so slightly with a single blade razor – to show blood.

  4. Alan

    I cut the bottom half of the tail fin off with a circular cut. This makes the bunker (manhaden) look like it was injured by a bluefish. Cutting the bottom half of the tail makes the bunker swim downward.

  5. Brian Jones

    sometimes I forget my scissors when I go ice fishing so I bite the tail off the shiner instead It doesn’t taste too bad

  6. Dan McCue

    Kitchen scrubbing pads for a better grip on eels is a great idea!
    Putting them in the dishwasher after….. For my wife to find…..bad bad bad!!

  7. Mark Dacey

    Just recently started reading OTW and I’m very impressed you got a smart group of people over there I’ve learned a lot an avoid hours of arguing with my girl because my face was glued to your articles.. (Haha no really!!) Thank you to all that make it happen..

  8. Dwaine

    Great tips.Btw shaving your swimmers bills works great.Heres an extra one.Turn that rubber worm into a deadly top water jig.By simply running a hook thru an earplug and stopping it at the eye of your hook.then rigging your worm, grub,craw, etc. It works great as well.

  9. Alex Trodder

    I really like your tip about using a permanent marker to dress up your soft bait. That can be a great way to make your tackle look more realistic. I like you you mention that the colors will fade and bleed over time to make them look more realistic an attractive to fish. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind. Thanks! http://www.berrysbait.com/products.aspx

  10. Turp

    I usually hook it on the tail end, instead of the Mouth. For some reason the flounder prefer it that way.

  11. Troy Blackburn

    That’s a great tip about using an indelible marker and adding baitfish patterns to my lures! I’ve heard, too, that making the lure wiggle in the water will make fish more likely to bite. Could that really make that much of a difference? I’m taking my son fishing for the first time next week and I’ll have to put some of these tips in to action so we can catch some fish! http://fintasticmp.com/trips-offered/4126207

  12. Alice Jones

    Thank you for all these tips on how to become a better fisher. My boyfriend loves to go fishing, but I know little about his hobby. I like your tip about dressing up a jig to help lure fish to it. I think decorating the jig will be fun to do. http://jimstroedefishing.com/

  13. LNweaver

    I never thought of using plastic kitchen scrubbing pads to get a better grip on eels, rather than using tee-shirts like I’ve done before. My dad would like to take the family out on a big fishing trip, and it’s been a while since I last went out. Finding a good inlet fishing center would be a great place to start in preparation for the family trip.

  14. Sam Solo

    I like your tip about using an Aberdeen hook so that the fish don’t take the bait. My dad is thinking about taking us fishing for the first time this summer and I want to make sure that we can have all the right equipment. I’ll have to consider your tips so that we have the best fishing trip ever!


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