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Frequently Asked Questions


Several years ago I was approached to do a seminar by Dave Johnston of the Fishin’ Hole for the Fishin’ Hole Outdoor Show and Sale they were organizing. We bounced several topic ideas off of each other over lunch. We decided at that time that a good seminar topic would be one tackling (pun intended) the many questions that both myself and his staff are asked time and again. We then needed a list of frequently asked questions. Dave was gracious enough to approach his staff and request questions they most often receive from their customers – yes that’s you. Naturally, his staff responded with a series of very relevant angling questions. As I received the list of questions, I was amazed at how many of these same questions were the one’s I’ve been answering for years at trade shows in my role as a Shimano Pro Staff, after tournaments, or on the dock after a successful day on the water. As I was going through some notes for this column, I came across the list of questions Dave handed me. I thought you might like to hear what I have to say on these FAQ’s.

Q) What strength (lb. Test) line should I be using to avoid losing fish?

Six to ten pound test should cover most of your needs. Use a high quality line – you really do get what you pay for. You work hard to get that fish on the other end of your line; why lose the fish due to inferior or old line? Many of you would argue with me “too heavy Claudio” while others will debate “that’s way too light”. I’ve boated some nice fish in tournaments on four pound test. Was I nervous? - you bet. Six pound test gives you that much more security without affecting presentation a whole lot. Eight pound test provides lots of pulling power . I find ten to be a bit on the heavy side for most fishing situations in Western Canada. Braided lines are thin, supple and strong with no memory. The thinner and lighter your line...the more naturally your bait or lure will be presented to fish. More natural presentations mean more hook ups.

Q) What type of reel would be best and what is the difference in reels?

Spinning (open faced) versus bait casting (level winds). When casting live bait, spinning reels can’t be beat. Front drags are much smoother than rear drags and will allow you the luxury of using lighter lines with fewer break offs. Bait casters, as their name implies, are ideal for casting. They are very effective and trouble free when trolling. Because the line rolls off the spool and is retrieved straight back in, there is no line twist if you should occasionally reel against the drag. Their one handed operation also makes them ideal for trolling as you can steer the boat and let line out at the same time.

Q) How do I decide what action and length I need in a rod?

Rod length and action depend on species and application. Your presentation will dictate your requirements. I tend to go with the shortest and stiffest rod I can get my hands on - put as much emphasis on stiffness as possible. Stiffer rods tend to be more sensitive than limp rods. If you want to jig for walleye, a six foot medium action rod that lets you feel an 1/8 ounce jig sliding off a rock in 25 feet of water should be sensitive enough. Trolling big crank baits or heavy (3 oz) bottom bouncers will require longer heavier rods - keep them stiff. I have a seven foot rod that I use bottom bouncing - which is shorter than what most use - because it is so sensitive. I call it my pool cue.

Q) Does the color of the lure make a difference and if so how do you decide when to use them?

I’m not big on color selection. I tend to stick with one or two colors. A properly presented lure in the wrong color is better than a poorly presented lure in the right color. Now, how do you determine right and wrong color? The one that catches fish is the right color. In a conversation with Al Lindner (yes thee Al Lindner – we had supper together in Kyle, Saskatchewan after a tournament) several years ago, he commented on “color giving an angler confidence”. If you are confident in a color, you will use that color and present it properly sooner or later. Ask ten different consistently successful anglers their favorite color and you’ll get ten different answers. Having said that, I have seen situations where color WILL make a difference - be prepared to miss out on occasion.

Q) Should I use a leader?

This depends on what you are after and how you are after them. Even when jigging for Pike I won’t use a leader - jigs are cheap and they will reduce hooks ups. If you’re pitching or trolling big dollar crank baits - you’d better use a leader. You won’t significantly decrease your chances with these lures by using a light wire leader and you will potentially save some big bucks.

Q) What is the best way to handle a fish you intend to release to avoid harming them?

Very gently. Push your cat off the work bench and he’ll land on his feet. Fish don’t have feet. They don’t need them - they don’t fall off of things. Their bodies are not designed to handle the effects of gravity or fall on the floor of your boat. It will kill them. A pet peeve of mine is seeing people mishandle fish for release. Squeezing fish at all can kill them. Fish are a very valuable resource and deserve to be treated as such.

Removing the hook while the fish is still in the water is the most desirable. Cradle the fish with one hand while using forceps to remove the hook. Otherwise, use a net that will not tangle prolonging the hook removal and a gentle release. Keep the fish cradled in the net until the hooks are free. Make sure the fish will swim before releasing it. It will save you from having to go after it a second time when it surfaces and needs more help - this gets frustrating if your boat is at anchor.

Previous Fishing Articles
(1) It’s OK to Be Little Bitty
(2) Exploring Tundra Waters
(3) The Jewel at First Ice
(4) Fly Fishing Bucket List
(5) Guided or DIY?
(6) Pond Power
(7) Caddisflies
(8) In the Good Old Summertime
(9) A Southern Escape
(10) Springtime in Alberta - Can Thrill You to the Bone
(11) Sunny Day Rainbows
(12) New "Fishing" Year Resolutions
(13) Five Fine Places to Find Trout
(14) Catfishing Revisited
(15) Discover Squamish, an Outdoor Playground
(16) Falling for Cutthroat
(17) New Water and Old Friends
(18) My McLeod
(19) Temperature and Trout
(20) On the Road Again
(21) Tips That Will Make You a More Successful Fly-Fisherman
(22) 5 Ways to Catch Your Trout
(23) The Difference Maker - Reading Trout Stream Waters
(24) Rollin’ on the River
(25) Windy Day Pike
(26) Cures for Cabin Fever
(27) Snowbirding with a Fishing Rod
(28) Alberta’s Spring Creek Browns - Blessings and Curses
(29) A day on our foothill streams
(30) Fly Fishing Crowded Waters
(31) Fly Leaders
(32) In the Zone
(33) Learners Permit
(34) Flies of Summer
(35) Selecting the Right Boat
(36) The Italian Job
(37) Making a difference
(38) Pass the Salt
(39) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(40) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(41) Fall brings the big walleye out
(42) Hoppertunity Time
(43) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(44) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(45) Early Season Fly Fishing
(46) Walleye Logic
(47) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(48) Grammy’s Fish
(49) Top 10 Trout Lures
(50) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(51) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(52) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(53) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(54) There’s No Place Like Home
(55) A Golden Opportunity
(56) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(57) Un-matching the Hatch
(58) Alberta Super Bugs
(59) Glass is Back
(60) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(61) Speed Kills
(62) Entering the Twilight Zone
(63) Old Man River
(64) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(65) Small stream BT fishing
(66) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(67) In The Walleye Zone
(68) Zoo Trout
(69) Fly Selection for Beginners
(70) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(71) New Waters
(72) Big Bad Burbot
(73) Looking Back
(74) Out of Africa
(75) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(76) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(77) The Browns of Autumn
(78) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(79) Walleye Town
(80) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(81) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(82) Going With The Flow
(83) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(84) Swinging The Fences
(85) A View From The Aerie
(86) Dixieland Delight
(87) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(88) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(89) Montana's Cool Missouri
(90) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(91) Toothy Critters
(92) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(93) Top Ten Flies
(94) Northern Exposure
(95) Home Water Lessons
(96) Chicken Of The Sea
(97) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(98) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(99) Keep It Up!
(100) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(101) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the 2013 flood
(102) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(103) Hawg Holes
(104) Saltwater Salmon
(105) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(106) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(107) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(110) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(111) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(112) Fall Walleye
(113) Wet Flies
(114) Versatility the Key to Success
(115) Grayling of the Boreal
(116) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(117) Size Matters
(118) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(119) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(120) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(121) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(122) The Point Of It All
(123) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(124) Fall Fly Fishing
(125) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(126) Big River, Big Fish
(127) Bottom Bonanza
(128) Fishing Small Flies
(129) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(130) Four Seasons of the Bow
(131) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(133) Trout Hunting New Zealand style
(134) Don’t Leave Home Without Them – 10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(135) Edge Walleye
(137) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(138) Four Corners – Four Waters
(139) Chasing Pothole Trout
(140) Springtime Stoneflies
(141) The Torrents of Spring
(142) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(143) Bust Them With Bait
(144) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(145) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(146) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(147) Terrestrials
(148) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(149) Rocky Mountain High
(150) Reading the clues
(151) Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.
(152) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(153) Fly Fishing 101
(154) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(155) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(156) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(157) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(158) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(159) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(160) Trust Your Electronics
(161) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(162) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(163) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(164) Walleye can be Humbling
(165) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(166) Winter Flyfishing
(167) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(168) Hot Fall Pike Action
(169) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(170) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(171) Frequently Asked Questions
(172) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(173) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(174) Deep Water Perch
(175) Post Spawn Brookies
(176) A Fisher's Life
(177) The River's Last Stand
(178) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(179) Coho on the Coast
(180) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(181) Summer in the Mountains
(182) Peak Walleye Season
(183) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(184) Last Ice Rainbows
(185) The Burbot Event
(186) Tackle Matching
(187) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(188) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(189) The Lure of Brook Trout
(190) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(191) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(192) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(193) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(194) The Vesatile Plug
(195) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(196) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(197) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(198) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(199) Daily Fish Migrations
(200) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(201) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(202) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(203) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(204) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(205) The Fun in Ultra Light
(206) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(207) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(208) Never Stop Learning
(209) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(210) Jigging through the Ice
(211) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(212) Rainbows on Ice
(213) The Season of Ice Begins
(214) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(215) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(216) Facts On Cats
(217) West Coast Adventure
(218) June Walleye Frenzy
(219) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(220) First Fish of the Year Pothole Rainbows and Browns
(221) Northern Exposure
(222) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(223) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(224) Man Overboard
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