STORIES OUT THERE FISHING By: Keith 'Catfish' Sutton, WorldFishingNetwork.com 17 Easy Hacks to Upgrade Your Bass Tackle Most anglers enjoy learning about new ways to modify and improve tackle; here's a collection of helpful bass-tackle hacks to make life easier and improve fishing success Slight modifications can turn a so-so piece of bass tackle into a product that performs and meets your needs much better than the original. (Keith Sutton photo) If you’re like me, you love learning easy ways to trick out your tackle and make your bass fishing more productive and enjoyable. For example, a friend showed me how he dips the head of a plastic worm in fish attractant and slides it into the open end of a 3-inch tube bait to create a new lure with different action and bulk. He mixes worm and tube colors to create a variety bass-catching enticements. Another fishing buddy showed me how he uses a bit of Super Glue to stiffen the weedguard on a jig when fishing heavy cover. This reduces hang-ups even more, increasing his catch. Helpful tips like these can work wonders to improve angling success and reduce tackle problems. Here are more you should try: BUZZBAITS Buzzing with a Minnow Give a buzzbait a different look by removing the skirt and putting a soft-plastic minnow on the hook. The lure will look more like natural forage, and you may get more strikes. Add a Trailer Hook If the bass after your buzzbaits are striking short, add a trailer hook to the buzzbait hook. This destroys the lure’s weedlessness, but if you’re fishing relatively open water or where cover is below the surface, a trailer hook won’t pose problems and you’ll hook more bass. CRANKBAITS Dress It in a Skirt When you’re fishing small crankbaits and the bite is slow, try this. Remove the back treble hook on your lure, place a crappie-tube skirt on the hook’s shank, then replace the hook. The skirt works just like the feathers on some topwater plugs, giving the lure more action. Hook Replacement You may catch more bass if you remove factory hooks from lipless crankbaits like Bill Lewis Lure’s Rat-L-Trap and replace them with XCalibur Rotating Treble Hooks in sizes number 2 or 4. When a bass strikes, rotating hooks turn and penetrate more easily than standard hooks. JIGS Brush Buster A great combo for bass in thick brush is a jighead with a built-in weedguard tricked out with a 6- to 8-inch plastic worm trailer. Few bass ever see this unique configuration, making it just the ticket for persnickety fish. Bass Activator Want to activate inactive bass when jig fishing? Sometimes all you need to do is add a chunk of minnow to the hook. The smell and taste of the bleeding bait prompt strikes when there were none before. RODS & REELS Line Keeper Squeeze a split shot on your line’s end after removing a baitcasting reel from a rod for storage or travel. This keeps the line from slipping through the guide and prevents tangles. Cork Protectant Coat cork rod handles with Armor All Original Protectant to keep them soft and clean. Apply two coats, buffing lightly with fine sandpaper after each. SOFT PLASTICS Split-Ring Rig Here’s a good rig for top-schooling bass. Add three small barrel swivels to a large split ring. Tie an 18-inch dropline to one swivel and a 12- inch dropline to another. Tie a small, soft-plastic jerkbait, rigged weedless, to each. Use the third swivel to tie the main line. Cast to surfacing fish, and you’ll often catch two bass at a time. Scent Holder for Tubes When using bass attractant with tube lures, insert a piece of cotton or packing foam through the bottom and push it to the top of the tube before rigging. When the hook is inserted, this material stays in place. Attractant then can be applied inside, and the scent holds much longer. SPINNERBAITS Just Like New White paint chipping off your spinnerbaits? Don’t toss the lures. Freshen the finish with white appliance touch-up paint that comes with a brush applicator. Modified Spinnerbaits for Down-Under Modify a small spinnerbait for deep-water, slow rolling by adding a Water Gremlin Rubbercor sinker. Remove the sinker’s rubber insert and slide the lead onto the lower wire near the spinnerbait’s head. Then pull the rubber insert from each end to elongate and narrow it, and slide it back into its slot. The lure now sinks faster for fishing deep structure. SPOONS Silver Minnow Sweetener Many anglers add a pork frog or eel when fishing a Johnson Silver Minnow weedless spoon. Another sweetener is a 4-inch, curly-tailed grub threaded onto the hook and secured to the spoon’s butt with a dab of Super Glue. Spoon Fix Concave casting spoons often twist line. To combat this, use a high-quality ball-bearing swivel above a leader to which the spoon is tied, and if necessary, use a snap swivel to attach the spoon. Spoon and Jig You sometimes can increase the effectiveness of jigging spoons by tying a 12- to 18-inch monofilament leader to the treble hook and then adding a small jig. Bass that strike short and miss the spoon often will hit the follow-up jig. TOPWATER PLUGS Bend Your Blades On prop baits such as the Smithwick Devil’s Horse, bend the front and rear blades forward to reduce the distance the bait moves forward with each twitch. This allows the bait to stay in the strike zone longer. Trailer for a Chugger Plug When casting to surface-schooling bass feeding on small shad, try tying a white or silver jig to a short mono leader tied to the rear hook of a topwater chugger plug. The chugger provides casting weight and creates a tantalizing surface disturbance, increasing the effectiveness of the jig.