Tips and Tricks - Mike Schoonveld

Tips and Tricks - Mike Schoonveld

The Basics and Beyond column is “reader driven.” All of us together are smarter than any one of us in particular, and whether you are an old dog or just a pup in the Great Lakes angling world, we can all learn new tricks. 

Where better to get tips and tricks than from other GLA readers who have real life experience on the Great Lakes and have come up with ideas on the job, on their boats that help them catch more fish, save a few bucks or have more fun. To encourage readers to send in their own “great ideas” Great Lakes Angler will reward a tipster a free annual subscription or extend their current subscription for a year.

So if you have a new trick (or old) Great Lake anglers would benefit from knowing, share it! Please email me at: with your tips. Add a hi-res photo if possible—a photo is still worth a thousand words. The text of the tip doesn’t have to be that long. Tweet-length to mini-blog is about right. You may use your own name, a pseudonym or be anonymous, if you wish, but do include your name and postal address to receive your subscriptions or extension.




I’m always amazed at the little details some anglers worry about and think are important. I’m sure I’m guilty of this myself at times, but I thought it was noteworthy that I received three different tips for this issue, each dealing with making that final connection between line and lure. All of them make a bit of sense; each of them could add a fish or two to your cooler—at least occasionally. At least give them some consideration.  

—Capt. Mike



Everyone has had a crankbait that wouldn’t run correctly, either not tracking straight, not diving correctly or not attaining the proper side to side wiggle. Most know the culprit is likely the connector loop in the lure’s lip and immediately think giving it a bend or twist might make the lure work properly.

It could be an easier fix than that. Check to see where the knot is tied to the split ring on the lure’s lip loop. There’s a gap in each split ring where the ends of the wire that makes the ring don’t quite meet up. If that gap is right in the lip or nose loop of the crankbait, it can keep the lure from running correctly.





So what I do is make sure when I tie the line to the lure’s split ring I cinch the knot down in that small gap. Tied like that, the knot can never slide around the split ring and the gap will never be positioned in the lure’s lip loop.

—Marcus Milanovich Antioch, IL




Some people put a small wire snap on the end of all their lines to make it easy to swap lures without having to clip the knot and retie the line to the new lure. Some anglers cut the knot and retie every time to make sure the knot and the line just ahead of the lure is fresh.

Lure makers don’t know which way t fisherman buying their lure is going to use their lure, so they add a split ring to the nose or diving bill on their crankbaits to complete the line to lure connection. Most lures are designed to track better, dive correctly and attain the right wiggle when the line is tied to the split ring rather than when the line is tied directly to the wire molded into the lure.

What most end-of-the-line snap users don’t consider is that using both a snap and the split ring changes the way some crank-baits swim through the water. For most, the change to the lure’s action is small, but for others, the lure’s action changes dramatically. So when I get new crankbaits that I know I will attach to my line using a snap, the first thing I do is remove the split ring from lure’s tie loop. I know it won’t make much difference for many lures, but when I’m actually out fishing, it’s one less thing for me to worry about and it’s also one less bit of hardware that could break.

—Hugh Philips Sterling, Michigan 




Most of the time having a tag end on something is an indication of poor workmanship. You don’t want a bunch of threads hanging off your sleeves or cuffs. You don’t see a bunch of exposed wire at an electrical fitting without thinking, “That’s not right.” Perhaps that’s why when tying a fishing knot, many people are worried about clipping the tag end of the line—the part of the line not in the knot and not going back to the reel—as close to the knot as possible.

If this is you, stop trimming those tags short! Have you ever lost a fish or lure, reeled in and saw a tight curly-Q at the end of the line? “Must have been a poor knot,” you think. So you retie and clip that tag end short again.

Actually, it’s that tag end—or the lack of it—that caused the knot to fail. Whether it’s monofilament, braid or fluorocarbon line, if a knot is not snugged down really tight, it can continue to tighten with use, especially when an extra load is put on the knot. When that happens the knot can slip, a little, maybe only a millimeter or two, but if the tag is trimmed close, that can be enough to cause it to fail.






Leave up to a quarter-inch of tag on the knot. If a knot slips that much, it’s a poorly tied knot, but if it just slips a little, the lure or fish will stay attached to the line.

What will it hurt? Will the fish see it? Will it upset the action of the lure? Will it catch weeds or filamentous algae?

The answer to the first question is“nothing.” If a fish sees a tag and that’s enough to convince it to not bite, that fish is smart enough to see other clues. I’ve never used a lure so finicky a simple line tag will upset it’s action. And if it’s weeds or algae strands, if there’s that much in the water, some of it is going to stick to a lure’s lip or hooks which is worse than just get-ting a slime ball by the knot.

So leave a tag and say goodbye to those tag-end curly-Qs.

—Clarence Reynolds Minneapolis, MN 




I’ll admit to being a bit “overstocked” with fishing tackle. If a crook wanted to plan a heist to boost some fishing gear, they’d do much better figuring how to get into my garage than how to break into many tackle shops.

I was thinking about this one day while writing a check for my home insurance and called my agent and asked what would happen if a burglar did break in to help himself to my equipment. The answer wasn’t what I hoped to hear.





Basically, he said if the value of the fishing tackle was less than my deductible, I’d just have to take the loss. “Of course, we would cover a reasonable amount of tackle, after the deductible is met.”

“What’s reasonable,” I asked?

“I’d have to check for sure, but it would be two or three fishing poles and a hundred dollars or so of other gear. Do you have more than that?”

That answer was easy. “I do have more than that, in fact, quite a lot more. Prob-ably several thousands of dollars more,” I said.

The long and short of the rest of the conversation was that I was severely uninsured, but—for a fee—they could affix a rider to my policy to get me covered. It wasn’t simple, however.

What I ended up doing was making an inventory of my rods, reels, lures and other “portable” gear. (Most electronics were covered by my boat insurance and that’s became a whole different project.) Assuming a total loss—say a fire or tornado—I was required to itemize all of the equipment I wanted to be insured and I wanted them to be insured for their replacement cost not the actual cash value.





It took me the better part of a day to make the inventory, and then it all had to be documented. I took photos of all the rods and reels, I actually made videos of the tackle boxes and their contents. One crankbait tray had 38 lures in it. The cost of replacing that tray would be about $275. I have a dozen of them similarly stocked. The videos are now stored in “the cloud” as are photos of all the other gear and the itemized list.

In the end, my insurance premium increased $150 for the year. I didn’t like it, but I’d have disliked it even more if I’d had a theft or other loss and found out most of my fishing gear wasn’t covered. Check with your agent!

—Name withheld by request



Lots of people put a plastic bead on their line when using a slip sinker, at the end of the line whenever they add a snap or a swivel for the purpose of protecting the knot in the line from being weakened when the sinker slides against it. Or to protect the line guide at the rod tip from being nicked or broken when the swivel is reeled all the way to the top. Beads, however, are made from hard plastic. 

No doubt, plastic beads aren’t as hard as the steel or brass the swivels are made from or the material used to make rod tip guides, but the plastic is hard and I imagine the beads can still break something, at least occasionally. 





What if the beads were made from something soft, like soft rubber, squishy plastic or something like that? I flashed on that one day when I was handling a silicone “rubber” tube when working on a project having nothing to do with fishing. Do the little “knot-bumpers” have to be spherical? I thought. There’s no reason I can think of why any specific shape would be better than others, including cylindrical. So if I cut a silicone tube into short, quarter-inch or so lengths, wouldn’t that do the same thing better? When the slip sinker slides down to the knot, it wouldn’t be a hard plastic bead protecting the knot, it would be a soft silicone bumper. When someone reels a diver to the rod tip and then keeps reeling, it wouldn’t be a hard wire line tie hitting the ceramic insert in the top line guide, it would be soft, squishy silicone. 

Silicone tubes can be purchased in several places. Look for it in pet stores in the aquarium section, but most of it there will be clear or translucent white. Auto parts stores carry it to use as vacuum hoses in automotive applications. Black is the “default” color and is often sold by the foot and usually for less than a dollar per foot. Custom colors—blue, red, green, others—can be found, but you may need to buy several feet. Craft and hobby stores carry it in a variety of colors and sizes. The size that works for me is 3mm inside diameter, 5mm OD. That’s about 1/8”X

—Robin Alexander Ashtabula, Ohio




I break down my two-piece rods for transport each time I use them. I’ve tried a lot of methods to keep the two halves bound together—rubber bands, Velcro strips and others, but for me spiral cable wrap designed to keep wires, cords and other cables under control, are great for holding my rods together when not in use, stored or being hauled to the lake. They come in a variety of sizes and colors and are available at auto parts outlets, hardware and home improvement stores. I use smaller diameter wraps for smaller rods and rod tips, and larger diameter for butt sections. Most of the wraps don’t even have to be removed from the rod when it is being used. It won’t get lost and doesn’t interfere with casting or catching fish.

—Mike Shaw Attica, NY 




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