Over the years, I have compiled a list of items that are oftentimes not associated with bass fishing but that play critical roles for me each time I'm on the water and need to modifying baits. These little tools and trinkets can be used to improve your success rate, but will not be found in a local bait shop. Instead, they’re found in the aisles of local hardware and craft stores. To recognize their value, you have to think outside the box a little bit.
Here are five of the many items I have found over the years. I always keep them in my boat and rely on them almost every time I'm on the water.
1. Solder wire
I can't begin to tell you all the applications for solder wire. It comes in multiple sizes and is extremely malleable, allowing you to work with it easily. I primarily use it to add weight to my baits without adding much bulk.
Two of my favorite examples are to wrap the treble-hook shank of a jerkbait to sink or suspend the bait and to add weight to the front or back hook of a topwater bait to get it to dive below the surface or ride higher, respectively. You can also use solder to add weight to soft plastics by inserting heavier-gauge wire into the plastic the way you would a nail weight. Another favorite trick is to wrap the wire around a wacky-rigged Senko. This adds extra weight to the bait and negates the need for a rubber O-ring since you can slip your hook around the ring of solder.
2. Nail polish
More than once my wife, Sara, has accused me of stealing her nail polish. She was right. I often raid the bathroom cabinet looking for nail polish colors that I think might work on my baits.
Nail polish is an easy tool to add color to baits and is surprisingly chip-resistant when covered with a clear topcoat. Every color imaginable is available, and it also comes in tons of clear coats with various types of glitter, which allow anglers to make endless color changes to their baits.
Nail polish also works great for painting bullet weights and jigheads in order to match your favorite soft plastic and is easy to use to touch up used weights and jigheads. Nail polish dries quickly, so I carry it with me in the boat, but I usually make most of my changes while doing tackle preparations for upcoming tournaments.
3. Permanent markers
I always carry a set of permanent markers in my boat. They come in multiple colors and can be used to quickly add color to both hard and soft baits. These alterations can be as simple as adding a black dot to a lure in order to mimic a shad or as comprehensive as a full lure repaint. I also use permanent markers to add the original color back to braided line that has faded from use. Another tip is to use a permanent marker to mark specific length increments on line. I'll do this often when fishing for suspended bass because it allows me to know exactly how deep my bait is.
4. Super Glue
I've had some bad experiences over the years with Super Glue, but the negatives of glued-together fingers don't come close to outweighing the positives of using the sticky stuff. I use it routinely on all of my plastic baits. Specifically, I glue the tip of the plastic bait to the hook shank to keep the plastic from sliding down the hook and potentially interfering with a hookset. Gluing baits in place can also prolong the life of each bait.
I also use Super Glue to reinforce knots when using braided line. It’s handy to repair torn plastics and to seal holes in hollow-belly frogs and other topwaters. And if your spinnerbait or jig skirt ever comes off because the rubber skirt collar tears, try adding a couple wraps of braided line around the collar and locking it down with a dab of Super Glue.
5. Clear vinyl flex tubing
This tubing should be in everyone's boat for many different reasons. It comes in several different sizes and can be found at most hardware stores. While pre-fishing, I use the tubing to cover the points of my hooks. It prevents me from hooking fish so I can shake them off, but it doesn’t change the action of the lure. The tubing can also be used to prevent trailer hooks from coming off your favorite spinnerbait.
Finally, the tubing can protect knots from abrasion. With a Texas rig, cut a 1/4-inch-long piece, slide it up the line between the bullet weight and hook, tie a knot to the hook and then slide the plastic tubing over the knot. This also works great for Carolina rigs.
The next time your significant other wants you to go to the craft store, you might want to use it as an opportunity to look for some fishing equipment. You’ll be amazed at how many items you will find that can be helpful on your next fishing trip. You just have to think outside of the box … the tackle box, that is.