Here in Minnesota my favorite waters have transformed into motionless sheets of ice that are typically strong enough to support full-size vehicles. Staying busy and occupied during these long winter months is important to help curb cabin fever.
Some of the things I do to keep me busy include tackle organization and maintenance. Just one small minor tweak or touch of creativity can take a normal lure and change it into your next top-secret, fish-catching machine. I do this now so I don’t have to think about it when I’m on the water.I also like to change out the split rings and treble hooks on crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwaters. By doing this project now, you’ll have an ample supply of ready-to-cast lures for the first trip of the spring.
Swapping out the standard split rings on a bait, for a heavy duty split ring will prevent a big fish from pulling the treble hook out of that split ring. I put a No. 3 heavy-duty split ring on and that has worked very well for me. At this time, I also put the new Lazer TroKar Treble Hooks on the baits that I know will see action during a tournament. These treble hooks are extremely sharp and come in a wide gap or round bend model.
On my topwater plugs I like to use a dressed treble as the rear hook on the bait. These hooks can be purchased with a bucktail or flashabou dressing, or you can set yourself up with a fly-tying vise, materials, thread and glue and create your own dressed treble hooks. This is a great way to save some money and experiment with different materials and colors to create a unique-looking rear treble hook.
The soft plastic frog has morphed from its simple original design, that had many flaws, to the now high-performance, fish-catching machines that so many anglers rely on throughout the summer months. Since these baits are so popular, fish are seeing more and more of the same lure, which is why making modifications to a soft plastic frog, is a good idea.
A few of the things I like to do to my Snag Proof Frog’s include adding additional rattles. I like to use jingle bells, because they are loud, won’t break and they add some additional weight to your frog for increased casting distance.
Using markers I also like to put some red, chartreuse or orange markings on the bottom and sides of my frogs. These colors will help emulate a bleeding baitfish or a bluegill swimming in the shallows.
Using paints or dyes on your other baits is another area where tinkering pays off.
Bottom line is simple: You can help pass the slow months as you anxiously await spring and summer by modifying—and making better—your go-to baits for next year.