Barbs and Backlashes

5 Things you can live without by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
November 11, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

I mentioned our Saturday morning radio show here in Lincoln last week, .  We had some fun discussing some hunting and fishing products that folks could do without.  I thought I would carry some of that over here.

Now, first of all the disclaimers.  I am not sponsored by anyone.  It is not my job to endorse products for anyone.  But I will tell you my experiences and what things I like and dislike.  When I tell you 5 fishing products you do not need, realize that these are taken from my experiences, from the fishing that I do, and what I see other anglers doing.  Please keep in mind that when I mention a product I realize that there are uses for that product.  You will often hear me say “use the right tool for the job”, and even though I mention some products that I see mis-used or over-used, I fully realize that there are situations where those products are “the right tool for the job”.  So, having said that, let us have some fun with this . . .

My list of 5 Things an Angler does NOT need would be . . .

1.  Beach-ball bobbers. Floats or bobbers are a great fishing tool; every angler should have a variety of them.  However, the biggest mistake I see beginning anglers make is using bobbers that are too big.  Yes, there are situations where you may be fishing big baits and you need big bobbers to do that.  But I have seen too many folks take the kids out to fish for “sunfish” and the bobbers they put on the kid’s line are big enough to play basketball with.  Sure, those bobbers are easy to cast and easy to see, but are lousy strike detectors.  Use a bobber that is just big enough to float the bait you are fishing.  If you do that you will be amazed at the number of fish you can catch that you never even knew were biting while using a beach-ball bobber.


2. Brass Snap Swivels. This is an item that has a use, but is overused by too many anglers.  Many believe it is really handy to tie on a snap swivel and then change baits by opening the snap and slipping on a new bait.  This is true, but for almost all of those baits the snap swivel is unnecessary and will make the bait or presentation look unnatural, and in some cases the snap swivel will inhibit the action of the bait.  Yes, I use snap swivels, BUT the only time I do is when using in-line spinners or some other type of artificial lure that may twist my line.  If I am concerned about line twist I will use a high-quality ball-bearing swivel with a high quality snap.  Other than that I never use snap swivels.  Most baits work better if tied directly to the line–learn a good fishing knot and tie it!


3.  Snelled Hooks. Again this is a product that has a use; for some still-fishing situations snelled hooks work great.  But they are awkward to store, especially after being taken out of their packages.  In most cases a person can simply tie hooks onto their line.  I have lots of hooks in my tackle box and if I am fishing some type of live or dead bait it is easy to pick the appropriate hook, tie it on and use it.  In some cases some leader may be required and for that I have leader material that I can tie on and then tie to the hook.  I might even use a snell knot to tie a hook on, but I have not used a pre-packaged snelled hook in years.


4.  Steel Leaders. Let me take some time to explain this one.  Yes, steel leaders are needed for some fishing situations especially when fishing for pike and muskies.  If you are fishing for those species you absolutely should use some type of leader because a pike or muskie that cuts you off may then be stuck with a hook in its mouth.  But, I often see steel leaders being used in other situations where there is no need for them.  I have seen folks use steel leaders for walleyes and even catfish.  I cannot think of one time when a catfish nor a walleye sliced my line.  If you do not need those leaders you will catch more fish by NOT using them.

If a leader is needed there now are a lot of great leaders on the market.  Yes, I have the old leader material and the sleeves and crimping tool and could churn out dozens of those old, silver, “clunky” steel leaders.  I never use them anymore.  Sometimes when fishing waters where a big toothy is a possibility I would prefer not to use a heavy, obvious steel leader.  Fluorocarbon leaders are abrasion resistant and one option to use in those situations.  There are also a variety of leader materials on the market that more subtle.  Titanium leaders are one option.  Sevenstrand is another variety of steel wire including relatively thin, flexible and camouflaged wire ( ).  In an earlier blog post I mentioned another wire product that I love, Surflon Micro Supreme, because it is so flexible you can tie your usual fishing knots with it–splice it onto your line with back-to-back Uni-knots, tie on your bait and GO FISH! ( )

steel-leader5.  Chain stringers. I am a huge fan of selective harvest–most of the fish I catch are released, especially big fish regardless of species, but we should continue the tradition of enjoying meals of fresh fish that we have harvested.  When the decision is made to harvest fish, I believe it is our responsibility to wisely utilize that resource by keeping the fish in the best condition possible so that they provide the best quality meal possible.  That can be accomplished by keeping the catch alive until it is time for them to be cleaned.  Many boats are now equipped with livewells that can keep fish alive until they are cleaned and that is one great way to handle those fish.  Fish baskets are another great tool for keeping fish alive, especially if water temperatures are not near their summer peak.

There are a variety of stringers on the market that anglers can use to keep their fish in the water and alive as long as possible.  Chain stringers are probably one of the poorest stringer options because those stringers are so heavy that they prevent fish from moving and “breathing”.  Rope stringers placed through the lower jaw may be a better option or perhaps a stringer that has nylon clips and rope instead of metal clips and chain.  I carry a nylon mesh laundry bag with me that is easy to slip in a pocket, is light, and does a good job of keeping fish alive.

Or, may I suggest that if you choose to harvest some fish for a meal of fresh fish, maybe the best thing to do is take a cooler of ice and immediately place the fish on ice after being caught.  If you prefer those fish can be field-dressed to remove the gills and “guts”, and then placed on ice.  Putting fish on ice may be the best way to keep fish fresh until they reach the table.


So there is my list of 5 things anglers can live without.  Of course lists like this are bound to be controversial and as I said earlier these 5 items are based on my opinions and experiences.  You might have other opinions and thoughts and by all means feel free to share those with me!

Oh, one other thing . . .

Thank you Veterans!



4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You’re supposed to use the brass snap swivels with the snelled hooks. 😉

Comment by Stoneman

Yes, that would work and actually that would not be a bad way to still-fish live or dead baits on the bottom, but a slip-sinker rig might work better.

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

[…] use steel leader, this blog post mentions a couple of wire leader products that I really like, 5 Things you can live without Barbs and Backlashes I really like the SevenStrand uncoated wire for making my tip-up leaders for pike. I use a barrel […]

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[…] you read this previous blog post, you will know how I feel about big bobbers.  Let me return to that topic and “turn it up a […]

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