John Baltes

Chief Editor & Contributor

John Baltes is the Chief Editor at USAngler. Born in Hampton Roads, Virginia, his blood is saltier than most. He cut his teeth on croaker, blues, and flounder, and from the bayous of Louisiana to the upper James River, if it has fins, he’s tried to catch it. An avid kayak fisherman, he’s chased largemouth on some of the South’s most storied lakes as well as a secret spot or two where the bass and crappie had never seen a lure before. Now living in Sarajevo, Bosnia, he’s discovered a love of fly fishing on the Una, Drina, and Neretva rivers.

Expertise

Expertise and interests include ultralight fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and crappie, kayak fishing, and fly fishing in cold, clear streams. He especially enjoys finesse techniques, though he hasn’t seen a crankbait or topwater lure he didn’t like.

Experience

In a former life, John was a professor of political theory and a published academic, braving the bad driving of Williamsburg and the freezing winters of Astana. His experience as an outdoor writer includes thousands of articles about fishing, lure selection, technique, and fish biology, and he’s been with USAngler from the very start. He’s also been a ghost writer for an acclaimed futurist, analyzing the impact of bleeding-edge tech on society, unmasking bad science, and charting the future of trends like gene editing, AI, and quantum computing.

Education

John earned a B.A. from Louisiana State University, an M.A. from the same institution a few years later, and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Among other academic titles, he is the author of The Empire of Habit: John Locke, Discipline, and the Origins of Liberalism, published by University of Rochester Press.

Fun Fact

John has yet to hook himself, despite decades of trying. He is not looking forward to the day this run of good luck ends.

Articles by John Baltes

The Best Spinning Reels Under $100 for 2024

Spinning reels are versatile, wind-bucking options for anglers who want to run lighter lines or who need the capacity to fish in all conditions.

The Best Collapsible Fishing Rods for 2024

Buying Guide: What to Look for in the Best Collapsible Rods Quality In the fishing world, it’s easy to divide tackle into two general groups: options that serious anglers should consider, and cheap toys that are going to work once or twice before breaking. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember infomercials for Ron Popeil’s “Pocket […]

Mastering Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing: Tips, Techniques, and Secrets

Pre-spawn fishing is a real challenge for plenty of anglers, and the reasons are all too clear.

Best Fishing Sandals for 2024: Reviews and Buying Guide

Buying Guide: What to Look For in a Good Fishing Sandal? Comfort If you’re thinking about a fishing sandal rather than a shoe or boot, it’s clear that warm weather comfort is at the top of your list. You’ll want a cool-wearing option with plenty of cushion underfoot, especially if you’ll be standing a lot […]

The Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel - Too Good to Be True? Our Exclusive Review Tells All

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel Review Shimano’s Vanford series of spinning reels are designed around the needs of inshore anglers chasing specks, reds, flounder, blues, and the like, as well as freshwater fishermen who need a reels capable of handling everything from nasty pike to finesse largemouth applications to panfish. Specifications Sizes: 500, 1000, 2500, 3000, […]

Best Minnow Traps Reviewed for 2024

How We Tested: What to Look for in a Good Minnow Trap Proven metal designs Folks who’ve never actually used a minnow trap will recommend fabric mesh designs. And at a glance, those tightly-woven sides look attractive. They’re ultra-light and often fold down to almost nothing.  What’s not to like? Everything, actually! These mesh designs […]

Humminbird ICE HELIX 9 MSI+ GPS G4N MEGA Live Fish Finder Bundle Review

How We Tested: What to Look for in a Great FFS Fish Finder for the Ice Image quality Live, moving images have changed how anglers use fish-finding tech. Now you can watch fish, studying how your technique, presentation, and lure affect their interest, enabling you to adjust your jigging in real time to better lure […]

Lowrance Explorer Elite FS 9 and ActiveTarget Live Sonar Ice Kit Reviewd

How We Tested: What to Look for in a Great FFS Fish Finder for the Ice Image quality Live, moving images have changed how anglers use fish-finding tech. Now you can watch fish, studying how your technique, presentation, and lure affect their interest, enabling you to adjust your jigging in real time to better lure […]

Garmin ECHOMAP UHD2 LiveScope Plus Ice-Fishing Bundle LI Review

How We Tested: What to Look for in a Great FFS Fish Finder for the Ice Image quality Live, moving images have changed how anglers use fish-finding tech. Now you can watch fish, studying how your technique, presentation, and lure affect their interest, enabling you to adjust your jigging in real time to better lure […]

Casting Light on the Bluegill vs Sunfish Debate: What Every Angler Should Know!

Very few anglers in America are unfamiliar with the humble bluegill, and while they don’t receive the fanfare of largemouth bass or crappie, there’s no questioning their popularity. Abundant across the country, these aggressive predators are fun to catch and delicious to eat. One testament to their popularity is the abundance of names they've earned, […]

The Best Hip Waders for 2024: LaCrosse and Frogg Toggs Dominate the Competition!

A good pair of hip waders do a lot more than keep your feet and legs dry. In icy-cold streams, they’ll insulate you from the chilly water, and in murkier conditions, they’ll help keep your legs and feet protected from sharp sticks and other hazards. If you’re been searching for tough, comfortable, effective hip waders, […]

The Best Live Bait for Flounder and How to Rig It: Everything You Need to Know!

For many anglers, saltwater is synonymous with live bait.  Ask them why, and you’ll get a variety of answers, but it all comes down to this: it works. While lures like bucktail jigs and soft plastics imitate prey items, shrimp, finger mullet, crabs, and other live bait options are the real thing. And there’s nothing […]

Best Lures for Flounder: Flatfish Options for Spring, Summer, and Fall

I remember my first flounder like it was yesterday.  I was wading in water up to my knees and casting out over an enormous salt flat. When a flounder took my lure - and it wasn’t long - I was startled by how hard it fought, and just as impressed by how it tasted stuffed […]

The Best Flies for Panfish: 5 Sure-Fire Options

Panfish are a fly-angling opportunity not to be missed, especially if clear, cold streams are in short supply where you live. Species like crappie or bluegill are more aggressive than your typical trout - and decidedly less wary. As any experienced angler can attest, trout can be particular about which fly pattern they’ll take, turning […]

The Best Fly Fishing Books of All Time

For those of us that love the water the way a dog loves its favorite spot on a couch, there’s no dragging us away from fishing. And whether we choose to return to the same spot, year after year, or hunt for new honey holes, it’s to the water that we always return. But when […]

Best Wading Belts for Fly and Inshore Fishing Reviewed: Top Picks for 2024

Wading belts have long been sold as accessories to hip and chest waders, allegedly as a safety device to prevent water from filling your waders and dragging you under. As far as we can tell, that’s a complete myth that’s been debunked time and time again. But wading belts are excellent for two things. They […]

The Best Lures for Bank Fishing Salmon: Our Top Picks for Shore Salmon Success

I’ve always had an affinity for river fishing. There are a few moments from my younger years that could contribute to that but none more so than salmon fishing. The idea of catching trophy fish without the need for a boat, in rivers that were practically right in my backyard, fascinated me. The more time […]

The Best Euro-Nymphing Fly Rods Reviewed: Long, Light, and Ultra-Sensitive 

Euro nymphing is easily the hottest technique in the fly fishing world. The reason is as clear as the water you fish: tight-line, subsurface tactics have proven themselves to be remarkably effective. And while euro nymphing is possible with any fly rod, longer, purpose-built rods are definitely the best choices for long-distance tight lining. If […]

The Best Streamer Boxes for Fly Fishing: 2023 Reviews and Buying Guide

When you’re lofting flies to big fish, nothing beats a streamer. Designed to imitate small bait fish and attract reaction strikes, streamers are a fantastic option when you’re chasing large species like pike, salmon, steelhead, or even just monster brown trout. Streamers can work a lot of water quickly, too, allowing you to find active […]

The Best Fly-Fishing Nippers for 2024: Options for Every Budget

Nippers are an essential fly fishing tool. Ideal for cutting tippet, leader, and line, nippers are easy to take for granted until you realize you don’t have them. And while nail clippers can be had for just pennies, well-made nippers are far more effective, by design.  If you’re looking for the best fly-fishing nippers to […]

The Best Lights and Lamps for Fly Tying: A Well Lit Place

Some anglers can tie flies in the dark. I’m not one of them. I need a lot of light to see what I’m doing, and I either like that light to be gentle and diffuse or focused and moveable, depending on precisely what I’m trying to do. I’ve experimented with a few different lighting systems […]

The Best Fly Tying Bobbins Reviewed for 2024

A well-crafted fly is truly a thing of beauty, and if you’ve tried your hand at following a trout’s senses, you know how important precision really is. A good bobbin is a fly-tying essential, allowing you to craft clean, neat flies by providing perfect tension and a continuous, consistent feed of thread. And as simple […]

The Best Fly Tying Vises Reviewed: Choosing Your Next (or First) Fly-Tying Vise

Tying your own flies is a fantastic idea. Not only can you customize your flies and adjust the weight of nymphs perfectly, but you’ll also come to know the special satisfaction of catching fish on flies you’ve crafted yourself. Tying flies takes a lot of practice, and the true masters have worked for years - […]

Best Fly-Fishing Sunglasses for 2024 Review: Protect Your Eyes While You Cast Flies

Great fishing sunglasses aren’t a luxury; they’re essential fly-angling gear. The right sunglasses cut through glare, help you spot trout you’d miss with your naked eyes, and give you a break from the dazzling sun. They’ll also shield your eyes from branches, flying insects, and the occasional errant fly or rod tip. But my advice […]

The Best Fly Fishing Outfits for 2023: Rod and Reel Combos That Are Nothing Short of Amazing!

Maybe you’re new to fly fishing, and you’re searching for a rod and reel combo that can help you learn the art while simplifying an often overwhelming selection process. Or maybe you’re a fly-fishing die-hard looking for a backup rod and reel for the trip of a lifetime. In either case, and potentially dozens of […]

Best Fly Rods for Beginners: 2024 Reviews and Buying Guide

There’s a beautiful simplicity to fly fishing, a pure connection to nature that can’t be matched by conventional tackle. When you’re knee-deep in a gurgling stream, feeling your rod load on the back cast, and watching your fly sail through the air to land on the water, life is nothing short of magical. But getting […]

Best 5 Weight Fly Rods for 2024 - 5 wt Showdown

Fly anglers in the market for an excellent 5 wt rod are spoiled for choices. Often considered “all-arounders,” 5 wt rods are a great option for minimalists as well as anyone who wants a rod that’s capable in the vast majority of situations. Trout, panfish, smallmouth bass, and even largemouth and other similarly-sized species can […]

Best Fly-Fishing Chest Packs Reviewed: Your Best Options for 2024

One challenge every fly angler faces is storage. While you're wading in a stream, returning to the bank to change flies, re-spool, or re-tie is a waste of precious time, as well as an unnecessary hassle. Instead, you want to keep your supplies - hemostats, fly storage boxes, spare spools, floatant, etc. - ready to […]

The Best Wading Socks for Fly Fishing: 2024 Reviews and Buying Guide

I’m blessed to live pretty close to some of the best trout fishing in the world, and I’ve been tempted a time or two to hit the water without wading socks. On a bright, hot day, I went barefoot with sandals, and even with the sun baking my back, I couldn’t feel anything below my […]

The Best Electric Fillet Knives for 2024: Complete Reviews and Buying Guide

As a veteran of many fishing camps, I’ve seen countless electric fillet knives in use. Real masters of the electric knife can reduce a red or speck to fillets, skin, and bones in just seconds - provided that the electric knife in question is sharp, powerful, and handy. Arguably superior to a fixed-blade fillet knife, […]

KastKing’s MegaJaws Elite: Detailed Review and Comparison to Shimano, Daiwa, and Lews

Analysis and Results Body KastKing manufactures the MegaJaws Elite from die-cast aluminum, adding a carbon-fiber swing side to access its guts. And while I’m certain there’s plenty of machining between the die and the water, casting aluminum is much more cost-effective than machining it from a solid lump of metal. That helps keep performance high […]

The Best Rod Length for Bass Fishing Explained: Technique Specific or Compromise?

As you can probably guess, there’s no one perfect rod length for a bass rod. Instead, the ideal length depends on several factors, specifically your technique. That’s not to say that there aren’t good compromises available for an all-around bass rod, but if you look at the deck of a pro’s boat, you’re going to […]

How to Fish a Buzzbait: An Old-School Top-Water Killer

Buzzbaits may be old school, but they still have a lot to teach bass fishermen about how to cover water quickly and fish shallow cover! Once an almost forgotten option, buzzbaits are getting more attention as anglers look for something that isn’t like what everyone else is throwing. And the more that people fish them, […]

Umbrella Rigs: The Most Effective (and Controversial) Technique to Target Cold-Weather Bass

When Andy Poss invented the Alabama rig in 2010, downsizing the umbrella rigs commonly used to troll for tuna and bluefish inshore, he unleashed controversies as loud and as far-ranging as a pack of dogs. Now banned from many major bass tournaments and illegal in many states, the A-rig or umbrella rig has lost some […]

Punch Rig: The Ultimate Heavy Cover Technique for Big Bass

When the summer sun threatens to boil the water, bass will look for shade. Thick, heavy cover like hydrilla, lily pads, or mats of dead vegetation offer a perfect spot to wait out the heat and set up an ambush for any shad or bluegill that happen by. Experienced anglers know that in the heat, […]

The Damiki Rig: The Most Effective Cold-Water Finesse Technique for Sluggish Bass

When low water temperatures force largemouth bass into cold-induced torpor, they’ll hold in the deepest holes they can find and cease feeding actively. That can make winter fishing an exercise in frustration for even the most experienced anglers. Only a handful of techniques have even the hope of soliciting a bite, and sluggish, cold-weather bass […]

The Best Gear Ratio for Spinnerbaits: Goldilocks Gears Explained

Anytime the light is disrupted, say on an overcast, windy day - spinnerbaits can be magical. And because you have so many choices of color, blade shape, and even trailer, they’re amazingly versatile, wherever and whenever you fish. But to get the most from your spinnerbaits, whether you want to buzz them just under the […]

Hook Selection for Trout Fishing: The Best Size and Style Hooks for Trout

When you’re fishing for trout, details matter. And as confusing as choosing the right bait or trout lure can be, hook selection is positively bedeviling. Pick the wrong style of hook, and the brookies will give even the most enticing baits a pass. Pick the wrong size of hook, and you can lose fish, end […]

The Best Hooks for Trout Fishing: 6 Awesome Hooks to Cover All Your Needs

Hook selection is always important, but for trout, it’s nothing short of critical. And whether you fish for steelhead off the west coast or cast into bubbling streams in search of brook trout in Colorado, the wrong hook is going to ruin your morning. As we’ve discussed before, the right hook is going to be […]

Best Fish Finder Under $100 - Top Rated Budget Fish Finders

Anglers on a tight budget know that high-end fish finders start at several thousand dollars - and head north from there. And while the tech available on flagship fish finders from Garmin, Lowrance, and Humminbird is undeniably game-changing, rising interest rates and stagnant salaries mean that plenty of us have to give these luxuries a […]

Fly Fishing for Bass: Everything You Need to Know!

Among fly anglers, there’s no question that cold water species like trout reign supreme. Flies and trout are a perfect pairing, as they’re primed to feed on flying insects on or near the surface. But across America, it’s largemouth bass that haunt the dreams of anglers, and on clear rivers, it’s smallies that get fishermen’s […]

Best Fishing Kayaks for Big and Tall Anglers: 2024 Reviews and Buying Guide

Larger anglers can find some kayaks a tight squeeze, and with limited capacities, there are plenty of ‘yaks out there that just can’t provide enough buoyancy for big anglers and their gear. But don’t let that keep you off the water. If you know where to look, you can find kayaks that offer capacious seating, […]

Best Crankbait Reels Reviewed: When Slower is Better!

Take a look at new baitcasting reels these days, and you'll see that high speed is all the rage.  That’s great if you’re working a worm all day and need to pick it up quickly to cast again. But for crankbaits, slower is better - and slow, high-torque reels are in relatively short supply. Here […]

Best Fish Finders for Small Boats: Top Options for 2024

Owning a small boat doesn’t mean that you don’t need to go big with your fishing electronics, and whether you run a jon boat or a premium inflatable, the right fish finder is critical to maximizing your odds. We get a lot of questions about fish finders, and there's no question that the options can […]

Best Fish Finders Under $500: Affordable Options You Can Rely On

A new, high-end fish finder typically wears a price tag that’s nothing short of shocking. And unless you earn a living on the water or have money to spare, it’s tough to justify fishing electronics that cost as much as a good used car. If your budget just can’t stretch that far, don’t worry. As […]

Minnow Fishing for Largemouth Bass: So Effective, It’s Almost Like Cheating!

Post-spawn, and all summer and fall, largemouth bass will predominantly feed on minnows and shad. Present in huge numbers, they offer a plentiful, reliable food source that bass just can’t pass up. That’s one reason that lures that imitate small fish are so effective: they’re matching the hatch by mimicking a natural prey item that’s […]

Largemouth vs. Smallmouth: Everything You Need to Know - And Tips to Catch Them!

America’s love of fishing encompasses many species, but none are more popular than the largemouth and smallmouth bass. Widely present, tremendously aggressive, and always up for a hard fight, it’s easy to get addicted to bass fishing, whichever species you prefer. New anglers may be unsure about the differences between largemouth and smallmouth bass, where […]

Best Trolling Motors for Jon Boats: Transom and Bow Mounts for 2024

Jon boats of all sizes can be equipped with trolling motors, though there’s a big difference between a transom-mounted electric motor pushing an 16-foot jon boat and a bow-mounted trolling motor fighting a gentle current to hold a fisherman in place while he casts. Both of these options have a place on the water, solving […]

Best Jon Boats for Hunting and Fishing: Which Boat is Right for You?

While bass boats dominate big lakes and center consoles rule the salt, the simple jon boat is perhaps the most efficient, effective choice for anglers and hunters who need to navigate shallow water. Built tough and sized right, jon boats are easy to tow, simple to store, and not nearly as expensive as larger fiberglass […]

Mystery Tackle Box Review: Is MTB Right for You?

Lure selection can be a real challenge no matter what your experience level, but it’s especially bewildering for new anglers. With thousands of choices of style, shape, pattern, and color, it’s tough to know what works and when to throw it. Simplifying these options is critical, as is getting to know what works, when. That’s […]

Knots for Ice Fishing: Your Best Options Explained with Step-by-Step Instructions

Anglers learn really quickly that a good knot is essential and that a bad - or poorly tied knot - is worthless. Nothing about that changes when the mercury plummets and the ice gets thick. That said, most ice fishing calls for nylon monofilament, as braid just absorbs too much water, encouraging freezing. Fluorocarbon can […]

MonsterBass Box Review: Is the “Most Popular” Subscription Service Right for You?

Fishing subscription boxes are all the rage right now, offering a monthly shipment of tackle direct to your door. But like everything else in the fishing world, you typically get what you pay for, and we have serious questions about whether you’re better off spending your hard-earned money on a mystery or just heading over […]

How to Store Fish on a Kayak: Good Options vs. Bad Choices

Space on a kayak is always at a premium, and fish storage options reflect that. This doesn’t mean that keeping your catch is impossible - or even difficult - but it does necessitate that you think your options through pretty carefully. As an avid kayak angler, I’ve tried all kinds of fish storage solutions, and […]

Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv Review: Is This the End for Lowrance and Humminbird?

Analysis and Results Garmin has largely ceded the mid-range to exceptional options like the Lowrance Elite FS and the Humminbird Helix series, and their own STRIKER series just can’t keep up with these once flagship models. But Garmin’s top-of-the-line ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv is equipped to give the incredible Lowrance’s HDS Live and Humminbird’s Solix a […]

The Hair Rig: The First Carp Rig Every Angler Should Learn

While fishing for carp has yet to take off in the US, in the UK, it’s a national obsession.  These massive fish are more than capable of putting up a memorable fight, but you can leave the lures at home. Largely herbivorous, carp search the bottom for their meals, routine through the mud, silt, or […]

Fishing Line Life Expectancy: How Long Will Your Line Last?

We get a lot of questions here at USAngler, and one of the most common concerns is "How Long Does Fishing Line Last?". Can you leave the line on your spool from last season and start fishing? Probably, but not certainly. Can you grab the line from last season, spool it on, and expect it […]

Can Fish Hear You Talking? The Science Behind Spooking Fish

If there’s one thing I heard as a kid from my dad and grandpa, it was, “don’t make noise while you’re fishing, son!” I’ll bet you hear the same thing - or have said it yourself! But it turns out that the fear of spooking fish by talking or making noise is mostly a myth, […]

Full-Moon Fishing: Myths, Science, and Tips to Tilt the Odds in Your Favor

For reasons that are not entirely understood, the lunar cycle affects fishing. And plenty of anglers avoid a full moon, believing that the fish simply aren’t biting when the moon is round and bright. I don’t believe that’s true, and you shouldn’t either. A full moon, among other things, creates more subsurface light than is […]

Lowrance Elite FS 9 Reviewed: Is This the Best Mid-Range Fishfinder on the Market?

As long-time readers of USAngler will know, we continue to be strong advocates for the mid-range fishfinders offered by Lowrance.  Packed with powerful, but affordable, tech, they offer a sweet spot between capability and price that savvy anglers crave. How does the Lowrance Elite FS 9 with Active Imaging 3-in-1 stack up to this tough […]

Helix 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G4N Reviewed: Affordable Performance

Our Analysis and Test Results Is the Humminbird Helix 7 - in its most powerful variation - a good buy for a serious angler? Let’s find out! The Helix 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G4N is a super-capable fishfinder that’s surprisingly inexpensive for the tech it offers. And while it can’t match the huge screens […]

Can You Fish on a Golf Course? - Not Without Express Permission from the Owners

Avid fishermen are always looking for new places to fish, especially lakes and ponds with little to no pressure. And if you live near a golf course, you’ve no doubt felt the temptation to see if there were nice fish hiding in those undisturbed waters. I get you!  You can really feel that temptation when […]

How Big Is an Ice Fishing Hole? Your Questions Answered

We get a lot of questions here at USAngler, and for anglers new to the sport, that’s completely understandable.  If you’ve never been out on the water, or you’ve only been fishing with friends who did most of the heavy lifting, you may not know much beyond the basics - and there’s nothing wrong with […]

Do Fish Bite? - All You Need To Know For The Most Common Species

Most species of fish are capable of biting, but there’s quite a bit of difference in what that might mean for you. The giant and docile whale shark, which feeds on microscopic plankton, has a mouth into which you could slide your hand. You might even feel rough surfaces there, but a “bite” - no […]

The Three-Way Rig: Everything You Need to Know

For anglers in search of a versatile, easy-to-assemble rig for bottom fishing, the three-way rig is an essential. Often used in catfishing with live bait and when hunting walleye to get a lure where it can find wallies when they've retreated from the heat, it’s an excellent choice for almost any situation where depth is […]

Do Carp Eat Other Fish?

Do Carp Eat other fish? The short answer is no. While dominantly herbivorous, carp are opportunistic omnivores, and in very, very rare circumstances, if they get the chance to swallow a fish - live or dead - they’ll take it. But there are better bait choices for carp than minnows, live or dead. But chances […]

How to Find a Good Fishing Spot: A Guide for New Anglers

Most of the advice out there about how to find a good fishing spot isn’t very helpful, and if you’re new to fishing, you probably don’t have a boat and powerful fishing electronics. Instead, you’re probably fishing from the bank or paddling a canoe or kayak.  If you feel that this puts you at a […]

The Fish Finder Rig: Maybe the Best Surf Fishing Rig Ever

Anglers who chase fish in the surf know they need a rig that does more than just hold live bait.  It needs to have enough weight to allow long casts when necessary, hold the bottom against tide and current, and offer the option of a tough leader tied to their hook. The Fish Finder Rig […]

Is It Legal to Use Goldfish as Live Bait? A Bad Idea Explained

At first glance, goldfish look like an attractive live bait option. Easy to come by in pet stores and giant retailers, goldfish are readily available pretty much wherever you live and fish. And there’s no questioning their hardiness, which is why they’re popular for small aquariums and as first pets for kids. But most states […]

Cast and Retrieve Fishing: A Guide for New Anglers

You’ll occasionally run into advice online that suggests that there’s a style of fishing called “cast and retrieve.” The advice runs something like this: Cast your lure out and reel it back in. How deep your lure runs depends on the speed of your retrieve, the design of your lure, and how high you hold […]

How to Troll for Fish: A Multi-Species Guide to Technique

As anglers across America will tell you, trolling is one of the most effective ways to catch fish. And from the Great lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys to Alaska, fishermen are proving that true year after year. Some fishermen think trolling is too simple to count as “real” fishing. They’re wrong. […]

Drift Fishing: A How-To Guide

Drift fishing is a time-honored technique that provides a realistic presentation while allowing you to reach fish you can’t possibly cast to. Popular for species as diverse as bluegill and steelhead, it’s an exceptional method to catch fish in rivers and streams as well as being applied on lakes and inshore from a boat drifting […]

Still Fishing: An Easy-To-Follow Guide for New Anglers

Fishing with live bait from a boat, bank, or pier is a time-honored tradition and an effective way to catch fish. Especially for new anglers, it’s probably their first experience on the water and their initial chance to get hooked on the sport. We love the idea of more people taking up fishing, and we’d […]

Fishing with Hotdogs: Catfish and Pike Can’t Resist!

We occasionally field some pretty weird questions here at USAngler, and we’ve got one for you today. Can you use hotdogs as bait? That may sound crazy, but the qualified answer is yes. Catfish and pike are known to take hotdogs, and plenty of experienced catfishermen swear by hotdogs that have been marinated in secret […]

How To Put Sinkers On Fishing Line: A Guide for New Anglers

For new anglers, how exactly to attach a sinker to a line may seem somewhat mysterious.  And since sinkers are essential components of rigs as far-ranging as the Fish Finder Rig for surf casting to the famous Texas Rig for bass fishing, knowing how to attach a sinker is pretty much essential knowledge. The thing […]

Saltwater Chumming: A Complete Guide to Using Chum in the Salt

The logic behind chumming is simple and convincing: by offering fish something that smells and tastes good, they are simultaneously attracted to where you’re fishing and primed to strike. And there’s simply no question that chumming works. In some cases, chumming is as simple as throwing a handful of corn into the water, but in […]

Is Corn Legal For Fishing and Chumming? All 50 States Considered

Plenty of anglers use corn as bait, most commonly for carp but also for species as diverse as crappie, bluegill, and kokanee (non-migrating salmon). Not only is corn cheap and readily available, but it’s also easy to rig on a hook and cost-effective. And plenty of fish will take it if you let it settle […]

Is Snagging Fish Legal?

If you fish long enough, you’ll inevitably foul-hook a fish. You’ll be ripping a crankbait, spoon, or in-line spinner through the water, and you’ll accidentally make contact with a fish somewhere on its body. That sharp hook will drive home, and you’ll end up with a fish that’s hooked in the head, body, or tail […]

How to Rig and Fish a Topwater Lure: A Guide for New Anglers

Topwater lures are effective from spring through to fall, triggering strikes from sluggish as well as aggressive fish. They’re also exciting to fish because when they get hit, they get hit hard! New anglers need to learn all they can about topwater lure options and techniques, and it’s worth taking a deep dive into the […]

How to Fish a Jig: A Guide for New Fishermen

As a new angler, it’s important to get a sense of your lure options.  One of the most effective, versatile lures ever made is the jig, and if you ask fishermen anywhere in America, you’ll find plenty of jigs in their tackle boxes. Why? They’re easy to rig, easy to fish, and incredibly effective. Let’s […]

How to Handle and Release Fish: The Right Way Explained

Believe it or not, the way you handle and release fish is one of the most important things you can do for the future of the sport. Improper fish handling kills nearly as many fish as gut hooking, and while it’s relatively simple to do, plenty of anglers don’t know how to do it right. […]

Types of Carp - Species Identification and Invasive Threats

Two general kinds of carp are present in North American waters: the common carp, Cyprinus carpio, and several species of closely-related carp collectively known as Asian carp. Both the common carp and the species we call Asian carp are invasive species, and though they’re infrequently targeted by rod and reel anglers, bow fishermen find the […]

Kayak Fishing for Trout: Essential Tips to Get You Started

Trout anglers know that crystal-clear, shallow water demands stealth. And there’s nothing stealthier than a silent kayak sliding into a pool. Even out west, where you may be trolling for trout on a big lake, a kayak is an affordable, easily-transportable alternative to a big aluminum boat. And trust me, trolling from a ’yak is […]

Fishing Before, During, and After the Rain: When Cool Weather Means Hot Fishing

In the hot, withering days of summer, clear blue skies invite lots of people to the water, including anglers. But veteran fishermen know that bright sun and cloudless skies can kill the bite, making a fishing trip little more than an exercise in frustration. But when the weather turns cool and clouds move in, they’ll […]

Zombie Fish: Pacific Salmon and the Spawn of the Living Dead 

On rivers and streams in salmon country, Halloween brings horrors that rival The Walking Dead. Terrifying “zombie fish” swim these cold, shallow waters, offering a spooky sight that hard-core fishermen know all too well. And while this sounds like fake news, it’s anything but. If you want to know about these real-life zombie fish, keep […]

How to Hold a Bass: The Right Technique Explained

If there’s one unspoken rule of bass fishing, it’s catch and release. We all love the sport, and for every angler I’ve ever met, that means we take care of bass to protect the future of fishing. If you want to kill a bass, this is a great way to start… I know you wince […]

Snook Secrets: Our Top Tips for Catching Summer Snook

Native to the hot, humid climates of Florida and the Gulf Coast, snook are one of the most sought-after game species these warm waters hold. And whether you call them robalo or anything else, nothing beats the excitement of fighting these big fish in shallow water. If you’ve got a trip planned to the coast […]

How to Mount a Trolling Motor to a Kayak: Four Easy Options

Mounting a trolling motor on a kayak provides much greater range, vastly improved speed, and often substantial cost savings from buying a ‘yak already equipped with a pedal or electric drive. That range can get you to hot spots you can’t - or won’t - reach with a paddle. That speed cuts your trip time […]

How Long Can Fish Be Dead Before They Go Bad?

Every angler knows that fish is at its best when it’s as fresh as possible, and nothing beats the flavor you get when you dispatch, clean, and cook your catch immediately. But that’s not always possible or practical, and storing fish in a livewell, cooler, or refrigerator is common. As a result, lots of folks […]

Lowrance Ghost Reviewed - Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to fishing electronics, Lowrance is currently the name to beat. From their Elite series to the amazing HDS Live, they’re edging away from Humminbird, and leaving Garmin in the dust. So when Lowrance announced the arrival of a freshwater trolling motor with full networking capability, you can bet we were excited to […]

Minn Kota’s Terrova: How Does it Stack Up Against the Competition?

Everyone on the water knows the name Minn Kota, and there’s no more trusted manufacturer of trolling motors in the world, period. But with feature-rich options like Garmin’s Force and Lowrance’s Ghost demonstrating the cutting-edge of trolling motor tech, it’s fair to ask if options like the Terrova are still competitive. That’s not an easy […]

Garmin Force Reviewed: A Powerful, Efficient, Silent Motor Featuring Next-Level Control Tech

Anglers looking for a powerful, networked trolling motor are spoiled for choices like never before. Companies like Minn Kota/Humminbird and Lowrance now offer high-tech models with features like spot-lock and auto-navigation, as well as powerful communication with both fish finders and outboards. But let’s not forget about Garmin. Once the dominant name in automotive GPS, […]

Can You Use a Car Battery to Power a Trolling Motor?

Battery tech can be confusing, and with a wide range of battery types and options on the market, it can get downright complicated to know which is the right battery for you. One question we get asked a lot is, “Can I use a car battery to power my trolling motor?” The short answer is […]

Best Saltwater Trolling Motors for 2022 Reviewed: Maneuvering in the Salt

Saltwater trolling motors take on two very different roles. First, there are trolling motors designed for transom mounting that replace a small gasoline-powered outboard. These are used as primary propulsion for small boats and kayaks, allowing anglers to get to and from their hot spots. Then there are the bow-mounted trolling motors for maneuvering large […]

The Best Weather for Fishing Explained: Most Productive Times to Hit the Water

Ask any angler who makes a living on the water, and they’ll tell you that weather matters. Tournament champions, professional guides, and charter captains study the skies and the weather reports, keep track of air and water temperature, and watch barometric pressure and moon phases like a hawk hunting a country road. Their livelihood depends […]

Ned Rig vs Texas Rig: Which Rig is Right for You?

Most anglers know that a Texas rig is typically anything but a finesse presentation, putting it at the opposite end of the spectrum from the compact, subtle Ned. For the most part, that’s true, and where the Ned shines, the Texas rig doesn’t - and vice versa. But there’s more to the story than that […]

Best Fishing Knot Tying Tools to Make Angling Easy Again

Knot tying tools become essential for seasoned anglers. As we get older, most of us lose the ability to focus on things up close, a fact you’ll probably notice first when reading a menu or - for anglers - when trying to thread the eye of a hook, lure, or jig.  Arthritis, injuries, age and […]

Best Fishing Line Spoolers and Tools for 2024

Loading a reel with line is an important step that’s easy to do wrong, and unless you’ve got a buddy - and a pencil - to create tension as you wind line on your arbor, you're going to do a bad job with that initial attempt. The solution is a line spooler, a tool that […]

Best Line Counter Reels Reviewed In 2024: Precision Trolling

Modern precision trolling requires accurate knowledge of line length and boat speed. This allows you to target specific depths where fish are feeding, leading to impressive results. However, it can be complex and requires specialized equipment like trolling rods, planer boards, and line counter reels. If you want to enhance your trolling skills for walleye, […]

Best Underspin Reels: Top Reels For New Anglers

For anglers new to the sport, occasional fishermen, and children just starting their fishing journey, underspin - or “triggerspin” reels as they’re sometimes called - are a great option. Easier to use than spinning reels and much less demanding than baitcasting reels, underspin reels pair with spinning tackle, allowing you to throw light lures on […]

Tokyo Rig: A Secret Weapon for Soft Plastics

For a long time, my go-to worm setup was the weed-busting Texas rig. And while there’s still no question that the Texas rig is a good choice, it has issues that every savvy angler recognizes. The weight at the nose of the worm or creature bait deadens action the heavier it gets, placing a practical […]

The Shaky Head: Perhaps the Best Finesse Technique for Pressured Bass

Two finesse techniques dominate bass angling: the drop shot rig and the shaky head.  By contrast, the Texas and Carolina rigs use the same soft baits but are entirely different techniques. That doesn’t stop a lot of questions about the Texas rig versus the shaky head, but that’s an apples to oranges comparison that misses […]

Neko Rig: The Ideal Technique for Wary Bass

The Neko rig was invented in Japan, where it originated as Shin Fukai’s unorthodox response to ultra-pressured bass in glass-clear water. Essentially a weighted variation of a wacky rig, the Neko keeps your worm head-down on the bottom, allowing you to entice bass to strike through a series of short hops and bumps along the […]

Fishing the Ned Rig: A Subtle, Finesse Technique at Its Finest

I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new when I say that pressured bass need to be seduced into a bite. On lakes that take a pounding over the weekend, even weekday anglers need to adjust their approach to lure wary bass into a strike - and finesse techniques are definitely the way to go. […]

Best Rod Holders for Bank Fishing: 2022 Reviews and Buying Guide

Whether you fish at night for catfish, casting big circle hooks armed with chicken liver into a quiet lake, or bait tiny hooks with maggots for trout, a good rod holder that holds fast to the bank is essential. Waiting is the name of the game, and most anglers prefer to do that without the […]

Best Fishing Reel Grease and Oil for Your Gears and Bearings: 2024 Reviews and Buying Guide

Proper maintenance is essential for your fishing reels. Ask any experienced angler, and they’ll tell you that if you want your reels to last - and perform like they did the day you bought them - the right grease and oil are critical. And while there are still fishermen out there who swear by Vaseline […]

Best Float Tubes and Belly Boats for Remote Fishing: 2024 Reviews and Buying Guide

Float tubes, sometimes called belly boats, are specialized fishing platforms that remind me a lot of an inflatable La-Z-Boy.  Ideal for quiet ponds and lakes far from the beaten path, float tubes enable anglers to work the water - not just the shore - no matter how remote their chosen fishing destination. Lightweight and portable, […]

Best Fish Finder GPS Combo for 2024 - Reviews & Buying Guide

Fish Finder Basics: Frequency Demystified If you want to know more about why CHIRP is superior to standard sonar, or if you’re curious about the science behind fish finder tech, check out this article. What We Consider When Selecting a GPS-Capable Fish Finder GPS and Mapping Satellite location tech does a lot more than let […]

Do Fish Attractants and Scented/Flavored Soft Baits Actually Work?

The fishing lure industry banked an incredible $1.3 billion in 2019 - and yes, that’s billion with a “B.” Moreover, the combined annual growth rate for this figure stands at roughly 4.1%, and that’s during an economy plagued by COVID and reduced consumer spending. By catering to the desires of anglers and employing research and […]

Can You Eat Shark?

After movies like Jaws, most people probably spend more time thinking about whether a shark will eat them than whether they can eat a shark! But the truth is that most common species of shark are delicious when properly prepared, and outside the US, shark is considered a delicacy worthy of any table. That said, […]

Best Gas Powered Ice Auger - Buying Guide & Reviews For 2024

Gasoline-powered augers are old-school tech, surrendering ground to a new generation of battery-powered ice augers that provide hassle-free performance, no emissions, and no danger of spills. That doesn’t mean that gas augers are obsolete, but the reality is that there are fewer models and options available every year, with StrikeMaster dropping gas augers altogether. For […]

The Best Ice Auger Drills: 2024 Review and Buying Guide

What We Look For When Selecting a Drill to Power a Convertible Ice Auger Why choose a convertible ice auger? Convertible ice augers attach a sharp blade to a powerful, cordless drill. As quiet as the best electric augers, and of course emissions-free, they’re perfect for use in an ice shelter or shanty. But their […]

Best Propane Ice Auger: Shredding Through The Ice In 2024

Propane augers promised to revolutionize ice fishing when they first appeared, threatening to dethrone gasoline as the fuel of choice. Much of that promise has been denied due to rapid improvements in battery tech, and electric and drill-driven augers are clearly the future of hard-water angling. That doesn’t make propane a bad choice, especially if […]

Best Electric Fishing Reels

When you’re fishing offshore in deep water, chasing daytime sailfish in 1500 feet of water, or just working deep for tuna or halibut, retrieving heavy sinkers all day can become a real chore.  And fighting fish by hand from that kind of depth is exhausting, to say the least. Enter the electric fishing reel, equipped […]

How to Get Fish Smell Off Your Hands

If you’re a regular angler, or just a home cook who likes to prepare fish, you’ll know exactly why people ask this question. Handling even the freshest fish can leave your hands smelling off, and the more contact you have with fish slime, flesh, and blood, the stronger that odor will get. In the kitchen, […]

How to Raise Your Own Nightcrawlers: DIY Live Bait

Fishing with nightcrawlers is a time-honored tradition, and there’s no questioning the effectiveness of a fat, wriggling worm on your hook. If you’re an avid angler and you like DIY projects, you can skip the bait store and easily produce a never-ending supply of nightcrawlers at home. If that sounds like a tempting proposition, we’ve […]

Best Kayak Outriggers and Stabilizers: 2024 Buying Guide

Whether you like to stand to cast with your fly rod, take to your feet to sight fish, or bow fish from a kayak, you’ll find that not every kayak is as stable as you’d like it to be. And since buying a new kayak is not budget-friendly, you need a stability solution that won’t […]

The Best Travel Rods Reviewed: Real Performance for Serious Fishermen

Anglers who travel a lot and want to get some fishing in or who need to pack rods in carry-on luggage know that real fishing tackle that meets their needs is in short supply. Yes, you can opt for some of the products that promise performance - Plussino comes to mind - and you’ll see […]

Best Jerkbaits Reviewed: Top Picks for 2024

Jerkbaits are known for their pre-spawn and late fall magic, and in cool, clear water, they’re probably without equal. Popular on the tournament trail even in warmer water when bass are schooling and actively feeding on masses of baitfish, jerkbaits are a staple every angler should learn to fish well. If you’re not sure which […]

Best Fishing Bibs for 2024

Whether you’re facing a sudden squall, a punishing wind that’s pushing spray sideways, or waves that are breaking over the deck, foul weather means fishing bibs that doesn’t know the word “quit.” We’ve already covered the boots we’d choose for those conditions, and now it’s time to turn to foul-weather bibs. You may not even […]

Best Fish Culling System: Win More Tournaments

Talk to professional bass anglers, and they’ll tell you that tournaments are won (or lost) through time management. That’s one reason that tournament winners are willing to invest in bigger motors, more powerful electronics, and faster boats.  Anything that saves time gives you those seconds and minutes back to catch fish. And whether that time […]

Best Ice Fishing Bucket For 2024

Hard-water anglers know that a good ice fishing bucket is a staple on the ice, and whether you use it to carry pop-ups, lunch and beverages, or fish home from the hole, they need to serve a number of purposes well. Of course, a simple paint bucket with a strong lid can get the job […]

How To Catch Spotted Bass - Identification, Techniques and Lures

While the vast majority of American anglers are familiar with the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), far fewer know about its cousin, the spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus). Endemic to the deep south, these fish are relatively easy to mistake for either large or smallmouth bass, as they resemble both to a striking degree. But these hard-fighting […]

Redeye Bass: What You Need to Know to Catch Them

America’s most popular game fish is undoubtedly the largemouth bass, and with such a wide distribution, it just makes sense that you’d run into hybrids and subspecies. We’ve written about them before, and if you want the full list and complete details, check out this article on bass species. There, you’ll find information on species […]

Best Fishing Line Conditioner

If there’s something all anglers learn to hate about nylon monofilament and fluorocarbon, it’s memory. These materials are cursed by physics to “remember” the shapes into which they’ve been formed, and after a while on your reel or on a replacement spool of line, they’ll stick doggedly to those tight rings and bends. The good […]

Can You Eat Snook?

Can you eat snook? Yes! As anglers from Florida to Texas can tell you, snook are as good to eat as they are exciting to catch. Related: Can You Eat Bonefish? Can You Eat Shark? Table of Contents (clickable)1 What are Snook?2 What does Snook taste like? What are Snook? Known to science as Centropomus […]

Best Fishing Rod Racks For 2024

Pretty much every angler I know has more than a few rods. And while leaning them against a wall works for a while, the first time an expensive rod is damaged like that, most folks bite the bullet and buy a quality rack. Reliable storage options abound, but there are lemons out there, too. If […]

Best Fishing Rods Holders For 2024

Anglers across America know that trolling is a fantastic technique to catch fish. Whether you prefer summertime crappie, walleye on the Great Lakes, or offshore salmon, it’s essential to realize that the right rod holder is just as important as proper tackle. But there are at least as many rod holder options out there as […]

Rapala’s Shadow Rap: A Simply Deadly Jerkbait Reviewed

Analysis and Results Specifications Rapala offers the Shadow Rap in four distinct variations. Two body styles are available: the slender, elongated minnow - just going by the moniker “Rap” - and the taller, more ovoid shad. These two bodies can be had with the standard jerkbait lip or a longer version that dives deep. The […]

Slip Sinker Rig: A Catfishing Essential

Serious anglers know that not just any rig will hook trophy-size blues, flatheads, and channel cats. Nope - it’s going to take something special. You’ll need a rig that stays put in current, that holds bait on or near the bottom, and that offers minimal resistance when the cat takes your bait. And there’s only […]

How To Setup a Slip Bobber Rig

While blues and flatheads are active hunters, channel cats use their super senses to find dead prey items, detecting their stink in even microscopic amounts, even at great distances. And where live minnows are perhaps the best bait option for hunting cats, prepared stink baits like Catfish Charlie’s or Secret 7 are pretty much ideal […]

Uses For Old Fishing Reels

Pretty much every angler I know has a few old reels lying around, and short of turning them into questionable home decor, all of us wonder what can be done with them. Here’s a short list of ideas that can help you decide what to do with your old fishing reels. Related: Top Fishing Reels […]

Fishing Reel Bearings: What You Need to Know

Bearings are a critical component in any fishing reel, and a product with lots of them typically touts that as a virtue.  Of course, “lots” is relative, and maybe seven counts as a “lot” for me, while 15 is the high end for you. But numbers don’t always mean quality, and there’s a lot of […]

Marine Battery Group Size

Selecting a marine battery is typically an expensive proposition, and it’s critical to get the details right. That’s why we’ve spent so much time discussing this topic. One thing you’ll notice is that there are lots of technical specifications to keep in mind: battery types, Amp hours, cold cranking amps, reserve capacity, weights … the […]

Best Marine Battery Boxes: Complete Reviews and Buying Guide for 2024

Marine batteries are a significant investment, and whether we’re talking about a starting battery to crank up your outboard, a dual-use battery that can start your engine and run your electronics, or a dedicated trolling motor battery, you need to know that you can rely on them, 100% of the time. Proper maintenance is critical, […]

Largemouth Bass Hearing: Sounds that Trigger Flight or Feeding 

Most of the bass anglers I fish with know more about color palettes than interior designers, and I’m pretty confident that if you’re reading this, you can immediately summon to mind colors like “chartreuse,” “pumpkin seed,” and “junebug.” That’s because we all know how important sight is to bass, and we choose our worms and […]

Good Vibrations: Lures to Trigger a Largemouth’s Lateral Line

Bass are sight predators, which explains why they grow faster and larger in habitats where visibility is good. But that doesn’t mean that their other finely-tuned senses aren’t important. Even in clear water, bass rely on senses like hearing to alert them to potential prey and predators, especially when confronted by sounds behind or below […]

Sight: The Largemouth Bass’s Most Important Sense

Everything you decide about a bass lure - everything from shape to color choice to the action you give it - determines its effectiveness. And since the vast majority of lures are designed by companies that do real-world research, most work pretty well.  And common techniques - the erratic, bumpy ride you give a good […]

Bowfishing Tips: Six Effective Tips to Help You Shoot the Fish of Your Dreams

The first few times you hit the water as an archer, you can expect frustration. That’s just the way it is, and unless you’re an unusually seasoned hunter, your first 20, 30, or even 40 shots are going to miss. And that’s if you even see a shootable fish! But there are ways to shorten […]

Best Bowfishing Arrow Points: Sharp, Hard and Grippy Tips

A good point is more than a nice extra on your arrow. It’s essential. And whether you’re trying to stick big, nasty gar or shoot a fat cat, you need plenty of penetration and barbs that hold.  That can be a tall order, and we’d like to help you make the best choice. Below, you’ll […]

Best Bowfishing Line: Stronger Than Steel Cable

The only thing connecting your arrow to your bow is a length of line, and when you hit a monster carp or a big blue cat, you’ll want that slender cable to act like it was made of steel. Suffice it to say that what counts as strong fishing line isn’t even beginning to register […]

Best Bowfishing Arrows Reviewed: Stiff, Straight, and Deadly

As any archer can tell you, a good arrow is an essential part of your bowfishing system. And while a standard bow can get you on the water with few to no modifications, bowfishing arrows are a breed all their own. That can leave even experienced archers at a loss about what to look for, […]

Best Bowfishing Reels for 2021: Reviews and Buying Guide

No fishing bow is complete without a reel, and from simple drums to high-end retrievers, reel choice is critical to a successful hunt. Three options are common - retrievers, spincasters, and drums - and each has strengths and weaknesses.  If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find reviews of […]

Best Bowfishing Bows Reviewed: Hunting Fish in 2024

Bowfishing offers a heart-pounding, adrenaline-fueled rush, turning fishing into something more akin to hunting. And as any aficionado of this rapidly growing sport will tell you, if you haven’t tried it, you really should! It’s easy to get started and tons of fun once you do - but you’ll need to invest in a good […]

Can You Eat Piranha Fish?

Can you eat piranha? In short, Yes! You might not find them on the menu at your favorite restaurant, and they probably can’t be caught near where you live, but if you’re ever in a position to eat one - tuck in! Table of Contents (clickable)1 What are Piranha?2 What do Piranha Taste Like? What […]

How to Tie the Dropper Loop

A dropper loop is simply a mixed loop on your main line, leader, or tippet - but it turns out to be amazingly useful. Whether you want to run more than one hook or fly or skip a three-way swivel on your rig, a Dropper Loop is just perfect. And there’s even more good news: […]

Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel Reviewed

Analysis and Results Okuma advertises its Ceymar series as budget-friendly spinning reels whose performance outpaces their price. Sometimes seen as “Shimano killers,” the Ceymar lineup is supposed to be so good that it can compete with reels costing twice, even three times, as much. Pflueger’s President is clearly in Okuma’s sites, but do they have […]

Pflueger President Reel Review: Quite Possibly America's Favorite Spinning Reel

Analysis and Results Fish any lake, pond, or river in America, and chances are, you’ll see a Pflueger reel in the hands of an angler. And their likely choice? The President. What explains the perennial, nationwide popularity of this reel when so many others have local or trendy followings? Precision and performance. Let’s get down […]

Catfish Questions and Answers: 6 Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know

We’ve all got questions about catfish, but we’re often either too embarrassed to ask or have trouble finding a reliable answer. That’s why we’ve taken the time to answer some of the more common questions about cats, relying on science and reputable sources rather than rumor and “common” knowledge. Do you want to have your […]

Best Fish Grippers: 2024 Buying Guide & Reviews

A fish gripper is the ideal tool for handling medium to large fish, and for many anglers, it’s an essential piece of gear. In contrast to fish like largemouth bass, which are safe to lip by hand, species like muskie and pike, as well as saltwater favorites like bluefish and barracuda, sport a mouth full […]

Best Fish Scalers for 2024

I’ll bet there’s not an angler reading this who hasn’t used a big spoon or a butter knife to scale a fish. We’ve all been there, and it’s pretty much universally accepted that a good scaler is faster and does a better job. They offer better abrasive surfaces, handles designed for the task, and simply […]

Best Homemade Catfish Bait Recipes

Let’s get the truth out there up front: commercial catfish baits are easy to come by, surprisingly economical, and very, very effective on channel cats. There’s just no question about that. And until you’ve actually processed a disgusting mash of rotten minnows, spoiled cheese, and chicken livers in a plastic bucket, let that concoction ripen […]

How to Tie the (Triple) Surgeon’s Knot

Initially developed to hold the two sides of a suture closed while the surgeon completed the stitch, the Surgeon’s Knot quickly gained popularity among anglers. Very easy to tie even with cold, wet hands, the Surgeon’s knot is ideal for joining lines of different diameters and/or materials. Often tied with two twists, the addition of […]

How to Tie the Arbor Knot

The Arbor Knot, sometimes also known as the Canadian Jam, is used by anglers to attach line to the arbor of their reels. Designed to hold fast for emergencies like retrieving a rod and reel that have gotten into the water, the Arbor Knot is not intended as a last-ditch measure should a fish take […]

Catfish Noodling: Dangerous, Exciting, and Crazy Fun

If there’s a more heart-pounding method of fishing than noodling, please let me know! A form of hand fishing that takes advantage of the spawning behavior of catfish, noodling is an adrenaline-packed contest between an angler and a (typically) big catfish. Controversial because of its potential impact on catfish reproduction, noodling has only been given […]

What Do Catfish Eat?

Three species of catfish dominate North American fishing: the channel, the blue, and the flathead. And while they share a lot in common, including an incredible sense of smell, their feeding behavior and diet are more different than you might expect. So while the stomach of a channel cat may be filled with snails and […]

Best Time To Catch Catfish: A Season-by-Season Breakdown

While most anglers chase catfish in the hazy, lazy days of summer, die-hard catmen know that all four seasons offer their own abundance, and that with the possible exception of the spawn in late spring/early summer, there’s great catfishing to be had year-round. That doesn’t mean that peak seasons can’t be identified for each of […]

The Catfish Spawn: A Problem with a Solution

Unlike bass, crappie, bluegill, and other popular species of game fish, catfish are actually toughest to catch during the spawn. Varying widely even within the same body of water, and driving males to avoid feeding altogether until their hatch are free swimming, spring and early summer are the hardest seasons to catch nice cats. Many […]

How to Hold a Catfish Safely - Avoid Getting Stung!

There are plenty of myths in the fishing world, but none more persistent than the idea that catfish whiskers can “sting.” It’s simply not true--not even a little! Their whiskers may look scary, but they’re harmless! That doesn’t mean that catfish can’t hurt you while you’re handling them--they certainly can and will--but it’s not their […]

Best Carp Bait for Coarse Fishing

Easily the most popular game fish in Europe, carp are growing on American anglers now, too. Long ignored by fishermen here who prefer bass, crappie, pike, and even catfish to these gentle giants, carp are slowly being recognized for the sporting species they are. Often massive and always wary, they can be a challenge to […]

Best Worms for Bass Fishing: Top 5 Options

For many bass fanatics, fishing for largemouth means fishing with worms. And while we don’t really know why bass are so attracted to the fluttering, erratic motion of a soft plastic worm, we do know that among the legion of techniques and lures employed by bass anglers, soft plastic worms may be the most deadly. […]

Night Fishing For Bass: How to Catch Largemouth Bass After Dark

As every hard-core largemouth angler knows, fishing at nighttime is the right time to catch big bass. Falling water temperatures trigger prey items like shad to move shallow as the sun sets. The frogs begin their evening songs in the lilies, big water bugs skate across the surface, and minnows swarm among the water grasses.  […]

Bottom Bouncer Rig

Among walleye anglers, the bottom bouncer rig is rightly famous as the ideal trolling method to produce trophy fish. A properly rigged bottom bouncer, armed with a slow death spinner, is simply amazingly effective. A simple design with complex consequences, the better you understand this exceptional rig, the more fish it will produce for you. […]

Crappie Electronics? Not Hardly! The Best Fish Finders for Crappie Fishing

Crappie anglers have never had a better range of choices for fish finding electronics, and from units designed for boats to anglers casting from shore, you’ll find the right model to suit your needs and budget. If you’re in the market for new crappie fish finder, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive […]

Types Of Fishing Bobbers

If you’re new to fishing or just a die-hard single species angler, you may not be familiar with every bobber option out there. And from tiny wobblers for panfish to massive popping corks, you can pretty much guarantee that there’s just the right option for your needs. Keep reading for a complete rundown of the […]

How To Tie the Bimini Twist Knot

For in- and offshore trolling with braided mainline, there’s no stronger knot than the Bimini Twist. Designed around the needs of anglers chasing tuna, marlin, wahoos, and sailfish, it doubles the mainline into a secured loop, resulting in a very strong anchor for your leader connection. Most anglers then use a Bristol or Yucatan knot […]

Best Fishing Bobbers for Every Application

I’ve caught coolers full of fish under a simple red and white fishing bobber, tossing my worms and hooks into the shallow water of a bluegill spawning bed. And legions of crappie have succumbed to the allure of the minnows thrashing beneath my slip floats. If you’re reading this, my guess is that you’ve had […]

Best Catfish Rod And Reel Combo: Strength and Power in 2024

There are fish--and then there are catfish. And as any hardcore catman can explain, tying into a big blue or flathead is an exhilarating experience that’ll test your rod, reel, line, and hook like almost nothing else. Some say catfishermen are a different breed, but one thing’s certain: a good catfish rod and reel combo […]

Muskie vs Pike: Identification of Scale, Tail, and Jaw

Muskie vs Pike: these not-so-gentle giants fire the imagination of anglers. Known for their sharp teeth, voracious appetites, and incredible power, these apex predators are enough to give you a second thought before you take a swim in a northern lake! Close kin that share the genus Esox, E. lucius and E. masquinongy have a […]

When Do Bluegill Spawn?

Water temperature triggers every species of fish to spawn, and bluegill are no exception. But because they’re so broadly distributed--and voracious enough to thrive where they’ve found a new home--timing the bluegill spawn is never as simple as marking a calendar. Instead, predicting the spawn is a matter of careful measurement, and by knowing the […]

What Do Bluegill Eat?

Lepomis macrochirus may not sound like much, but in terms of fun, it’s hard to beat! The common bluegill is plentiful on lakes and ponds across the eastern half of the U.S, and many anglers have turned this fact into fond memories of submerged floats, hard fights on ultralight tackle, and full coolers ready for […]

What Do Carp Eat?

While not as indiscriminate as some species of catfish, the diet of carp is varied enough that having a better understanding of it can help tilt the angling odds in your favor. The quick answer on what do carp eat?: Insects including their larvae Aquatic plants Algae Worms Crayfish Fish eggs Water plants and their […]

When Do Crappie Spawn? - and How You Can Make the Most of It!

Most anglers know that the spawning season for crappie is a prime time to catch them. As warming temperatures break winter’s torpor, you’ll find that the fish are hungry after a long fast and looking to pack on weight for breeding.  That’s as true for any other species as it is for crappie, and much […]

Crappie vs Bluegill? An Easy Guide to Species Identification

Pretty much everywhere you find crappie, you’ll find an equally healthy population of bluegill. But while both of these species are as fun to catch as they are delicious to eat, anglers new to the panfish game may be confused about which is which. If you’re not sure how to tell the difference between crappie […]

How to Tie the Rapala Knot

Rapala Knot - Good Loop Knot For All Line Types As any pro can tell you, there’s a big difference between a snug knot and a loop knot when you’re connecting your main line directly to a lure. Snug knots are just that--snug--and they deaden the action of crankbaits, jerkbaits, topwater lures, and the like. […]

How to Tie the San Diego Jam Knot

San Diego Jam - Good Snug Knot for All Line Types Braid makes awesome main line, offering ridiculous strength for diameter and superior limpness for excellent casting. And as many bass anglers know, that’s an ideal combination for pulling in monster females. The problem is that braid doesn't bite on itself very well, and plenty […]

How to Tie the FG Knot

Whether you chase the thrill of fighting big sailfish or tuna or spend your weekends muscling monster bass on your local lake, you’re probably already familiar with the advantages of running a leader on braided main line. And for many applications, fluorocarbon simply can’t be beat as leader material. The problem is that both braid […]

How to Tie the Snell Knot (Uni Version)

Circle hooks, also known as octopus hooks, are among my favorite options for everything from drop shot rigs on my local lake to live bait in the salt. The reason is simple: they improve hookset probabilities and enhance lock up. By dint of their shape and clever physics, they hook themselves without your assistance. And […]

How to Tie the Non-Slip Loop Knot or Kreh Knot

Many anglers discover the hard way that a snug knot is often a poor choice for direct connection to lures. By design, snug knots will stifle action and suppress wiggle, deadening many lures beyond redemption. The solution is a strong, easy-to-tie loop knot like the Kreh. Easier to tie than the Rapala knot, the Krey […]

How to Tie the Palomar Knot: A Complete Guide

If you’re looking for a knot that’s easy to tie and as solid as a pair of steel handcuffs, the Palomar is a fantastic option. Lightning-quick and useful on everything from bare hooks to swivels, jigs to small crankbaits, the Palomar is one of only a handful of knots that every angler should know. Related: […]

Best Fly Tying Kits Reviewed: Complete Buying Guide and Component List

Fly tying isn’t just a way to beat the cost of buying pre-tied flies: it’s an art in itself. But it can be a tough transition from buying those beautifully crafted nymphs to creating your own, and where to start can be confusing. We’re here to help, and if you want to get started tying […]

Best Fly Fishing Nets - Buying Guide & Reviews

A good wading net is as important as your fly rod. Not only does one make landing a struggling fish much, much easier, but the best fly fishing nets also provide gentle protection to delicate fish, preserving their all-important scales and slime. Unfortunately, many of the nets suggested for fly anglers are offered by reviewers […]

The Texas Rig: A Complete Guide to Rigging and Techniques

The Texas Rig has come to dominate bass fishing for a reason: it works. Whether you’re pitching big tubes or creature baits, working the bottom of a hard-bottomed channel, or running a worm through grass and brush, a Texas Rig won’t let you down. This versatile rig makes the most of virtually any soft plastic, […]

Carp Fishing Rigs: Best Carp Rigs and How to Make Them

Carp angling is off to a promising start in America, with the number of fishermen chasing these fish increasing every year. And that’s easy to understand. Wary, massive, and hard-fighting: the carp is an exciting catch that’s relatively common and easy to fish. But as experienced carp fisherman can tell you, the rigs you need […]

Best Wading Boots for Fly Fishing Reviewed

Walking across slime-covered pebbles can feel like balancing on marbles, and good wading boots quickly prove their value. Rather than slipping and sliding your way across the stream, when you’re able to actually creep and cast, you know you’ve made the right choice! Offering excellent grip, plenty of foot protection, and all-day comfort, a good […]

Best Saltwater Fishing Reels: Inshore and Offshore Buying Guide

Saltwater anglers need reels they can rely on to take a beating and deliver the goods in a hard fight. And whether you fish inshore for reds and specks or chase sailfish and sharks in the blue water, a good reel is essential. If you’re looking for a quality saltwater fishing reel, we’ve got you […]

Best Fishing Line for Spinning Reels: Braid, Mono, and Fluorocarbon

From wind-bucking casts to bomb-proof durability, heavy surf-casting models to tiny ultralights, more and more anglers are recognizing the advantages of spinning tackle.  Built tough enough for the likes of shark and marlin, perfectly at home when fighting catfish or pike, and ideal for panfish of all kinds, spinning reels are up to any job--and […]

How To Jig For Bass: The Next Generation of Jigs Explained 

If you think jigging for largemouth bass involves a naked lead head and a curly-tailed grub, you’re behind the times! Undoubtedly effective year ‘round, jigging works wherever you find bass suspended in the water column or hunting near the bottom. It’s also an excellent tactic for teasing a hard strike from heavy cover. But there’s […]

Hook Size For Bass: Picking the Right Hook Size for Bass

Hook sizing can be confusing, and for new anglers, there’s certainly a temptation to assume that big bass demand massive hooks. But an oversized hook is almost never a good idea, and from poor action to spooked fish and missed strikes, a hook that’s too large just won’t work very well. Too small isn’t good […]

Best Live Bait For Bass: Alive and Kicking

Never underestimate using live bait for bass. You’re not going to see many live crawfish or shiners on the tournament circuit, but that’s not because they don’t work. In virtually every tournament, live bait is illegal, to say nothing of the endorsement issue! The truth is that live bait works as well or better than […]

Best Trolling Motor Battery: Dedicated Batteries To Keep You Moving In 2024

To get the most from your trolling motor, you need reliable, powerful batteries. Unfortunately, battery tech is confusing, and unless you really do your homework, you’ll shortchange your motor and yourself. Let’s clear up some confusion right away: while dual-use batteries can power a trolling motor, you won’t get the performance from them that you […]

Fly Fishing With A Spinning Rod

There are lots of good reasons to give flies a chance on your spinning rod. You may be traveling and only have room for one rod. You might not have mastered the art of fly casting--or might not care to! It may be that you have a nagging shoulder injury that makes fly casting torture. […]

Best Spinnerbaits for Bass - Color, Vibration, and Flash

Spinnerbaits are special. Not only do they offer nearly endless options for customization, but with the right know-how, they can also be the ultimate tool in a bass angler’s tacklebox. But to new anglers and old-hands alike, they can be a high mystery, and from blade shapes to color combos, there’s a lot to learn […]

Best Fishing Hats Reviewed: Protecting More Than Just Your Eyes

A good fishing hat does more than keep the sun out of your eyes. It also offers protection for your face, neck, and ears, helping to lower your risk of skin cancer. More and more anglers are aware of the long-term effects of not shielding their skin from the sun, and a simple hat with […]

Best Bass Fishing Line: Braid, Mono, and Fluorocarbon Compared

Largemouth are America’s #1 game fish for a reason, and the heart-pounding excitement of fighting your first 10-pounder will hook you for life! But with increased fishing pressure, busier lives, and less time to spend on the water than we’d like, tackle choice is critical to make the most of every opportunity. And among the […]

Best Fly Fishing Waders - Hip, Pant, and Chest Waders Reviewed

From icy mountain streams in Colorado to lazy rivers in Arkansas, trout anglers take to the water with waders and fly tackle, looking to land a big one. But to access the water, nothing is as effective as the best wader. Brush-busting, waterproof, and goat-footed on slippery rocks, good waders are essential fly angling gear. […]

Carp Fishing Tips: A Guide On How To Catch Carp

While only recently gaining popularity as a sport fish in North America, carp have long been prized by anglers in Europe. Hard to get biting, but explosive when hooked, these giants can make for an exciting day on the water and an equally fine meal. Do you know what baits and techniques work best for […]

Fishing Rod Casting Techniques for Beginners and Advanced Anglers

Casting is an art mastered through practice, and whether you’re new to the sport or an old hand, a few minutes spent every day in the back yard is going to make you a better angler in no time. The basics of casting are pretty simple: it’s all about timing the release of your lure […]

Speckled Trout Fishing Tips Guaranteed To Help

The speckled trout, or Cynoscion nebulosus as it’s known to science, makes its home in the shallow water of the coasts of much of the eastern and southern U.S. Actually a member of the drum family, and not a true trout at all, this wary fish is prized as both a meal and a trophy. […]

Fishing Tips For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide For New Anglers

If you’re new to fishing, you may feel overwhelmed by all the new terminology and the variety of gear. And you may be at a loss for any idea about how and where to find fish beyond your local grocery store! Sounds like you need some fishing tips. That’s to be expected as a beginner, […]

Best Catfish Bait and Techniques for Every Situation

Plenty of catmen swear that the best bait for catfish is nothing more complicated than a box of old chicken livers, and years of experience has proven that they’re not wrong! But if you want to improve your odds, increase your catch, or land some brute blues, chicken liver is probably not your best option […]

Best Fishing Line For Catfish Reviewed

Tying into a monster catfish is a heart-pounding experience, and you want to know that the fishing line you’ve spooled on your reel can take the heat. When you’re hunting murky water for a big blue, you don’t need excellent sensitivity or super long casts, but you will appreciate awesome shock strength, incredible knot integrity, […]

Best Catfish Reels Reviewed

Fishing for catfish requires unusually tough tackle, because while you can plan on hooking a 3-pound channel cat, you might end up with a 20-pound flathead! That doesn’t mean that every rod and reel needs to be ready for a trophy blue, but rather than any given day on the water might just put your […]

Best Catfish Rods Reviewed - Tough, Sensitive, and Capable

The heart-pounding excitement of catfishing is easy to understand. A big blue or flathead can rival the size of any fish you can take by line, and these real-life river-monsters will put up the fight of your life! And an evening spent pulling channel cats from the river, followed by a fish-fry the next day, […]

Catfish Fishing Tips: Catch Catfish Like a Pro

Catfishing is a time-honored tradition in many parts of the country. While grabbing a few packs of chicken livers or some hotdogs from the local store is the way many people prepare to catch some kitties, we’d like to help you improve your game a bit more than that and give you some solid catfish […]

Best Line For Surf Fishing Reviewed: Casting From The Beach

If there is a single point of argument-starting contention, it’s fishing line choice. And choosing the best line for surf fishing isn't the easiest of things. Some surf anglers swear by braided superlines. Others choose monofilament. And while I’ve yet to run into someone running fluorocarbon as main line, I’ll bet they’re out there! We’ve […]

How To Use A Downrigger: Tips and Techniques to Master Deep Water Trolling

If there’s a more effective deep-water trolling method than a downrigger, we’d like to know what it is! Downriggers are simple systems designed to allow precision trolling, and though the idea is easy to grasp, the complexities can be frustrating if you aren’t in the know. If you’re new to downriggers, or just having trouble […]

Best Fishing Sunglasses Reviewed - Stylish Safety in the Sun

From bright sun to errant hooks, fishing is harder on your eyes than the price of a new boat. If you’ve taken to the water without sunglasses, you know exactly what we mean. And as any optometrist can tell you, it’s unwise in the extreme to neglect quality eye protection, and plenty of ER doctors […]

Fishing Gifts for Dad in 2024

Need to find a present for the man who means everything - and who has everything? That’s a tough order, but we’ve got you covered with a list of fishing gifts for dad that are sure to put a smile on your father's face. Table of Contents (clickable)1 Fishing Gifts For Dad Under $101.1 1.2 […]

How Does Barometric Pressure Affect Fishing? The Hottest Fishing Predicted

Pretty much everyone knows that the weather affects fishing. Warm and cold fronts heat and cool the water, suppressing or encouraging feeding behavior depending on the season in which they arrive. For instance, a warm front in spring, accompanied by a lot of sun, can make the water warmer than usual, turning fish on while […]

Best Fishing Rods for Kids: Excellent Options Reviewed For 2024

If there’s a little angler in your family, you’re probably counting the days until they catch their first fish. But if you’ve searched the shelves for a kids’ rod that’s more than a cheap toy, you’ve probably come away frustrated. And if you did pull the trigger on one of these toys, you know all […]

Buck 112 Slim Pro Knife Review

Overall length: 7.25” Closed length: 4.25” Blade length: 3” Blade thickness: .12” Handle material: micarta Blade material: S30V Blade grind: hollow, with Buck’s Edge 2X geometry Locking mechanism: lockback Weight: 2.6 ounces Table of Contents (clickable)1 The Basics2 Fit and Finish3 Performance3.1 Grip and comfort3.2 Pocket clip3.3 Opening, closing, and locking3.4 Sharpening and care4 Field […]

UglyStik Elite Casting Rod Reviewed

Shakespeare’s UglyStik has built a reputation for bomb-proof toughness, and if you’ve ever felt the heart-wrenching pain of a broken rod, you can understand just how important that can be. They also price their rods for the rest of us, putting them within easy reach of the vast majority of anglers. But inexpensive rods often […]

Best Fishing Knives Reviewed: Finding The Right Knife

I’ve never gone fishing and not needed a knife. From line to rope, cutting bait to cleaning fish, a knife is essential gear for an angler, and indeed, any outdoorsmen. And whether you fish, hunt, camp, or hike, a good blade is a trusted companion and a thoroughly useful tool. In this article, I’ll review […]

Fall Crappie Fishing Tips: Catching Cool-Weather Slabs

As the weather becomes crisp and the days short, many crappie anglers decide to call it quits until the hard water season begins. And there’s no question that fall crappie fishing can be a frustrating challenge. But before you pack in your tackle and wait for winter, perhaps you should rethink your approach to cool […]

Bass Pro Micro Lite Elite Spinning Reel Review

Line capacity: 6 lb./150 yds (mono) Bearings: 6 + 1 roller bearing Gear ratio: 5.2:1 Weight: 6.2 oz. Maximum drag: 6 lbs. Bass Pro’s Micro Lite Elite spinning reel is a real winner in its price range. And while it may not compete with the absolute best ultralight reels that brands like Shimano can offer, […]

Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Graphite Spinning Rod Review

Bass Pro’s Micro Lite spinning rod is an excellent value, delivering lots of performance at a reasonable price point. If you’re in the market for a new ultralight rod, you could do a lot worse than this, even if you’re willing to spend big bucks, you might not do as well with a pricier model. […]

Power When You Need It: Best On-Board Battery Chargers Reviewed

Rods, reels, line, and lures may be sexy, but the humble battery charger keeps you fishing, day after day. Designed to provide the power you need to stay in the game, they’re an essential tool that every angler quickly learns to respect and appreciate. Most bass boats come with a charger and the option of […]

Best Marine Battery - Dual Use, Starting, and Deep Cycle Batteries Explained and Reviewed

Ever been on the water and had your trolling motor die? Worse still, ever been miles from the boat ramp, tried to start your outboard, and got nothing? That’s a heart-sinking feeling you only need to experience once to learn to take batteries seriously! Marine batteries can be tricky business, and if you don’t know […]

Chatterbait Chatter: Tips and Techniques to Get the Most from a Chatterbait

If you haven’t been throwing a chatterbait, you don’t know what you’re missing! A worthy addition to any angler’s tackle bag, chatterbaits are just the right medicine when you need an aggressive presentation that maximizes vibration and erratic action. But as Ron Davis, who helped design the very first chatterbait, warns, "A very small percentage […]

Best Fishing Knots for Fresh and Saltwater - Strongest, Easiest to tie, and Fastest Reviewed

We’ve demystified the marketing hype around fishing line before, and now it’s time to concentrate on knots themselves. Which knot is the strongest? Which is the easiest to tie? Can you use the same knot on braid as well as fluorocarbon? Which is the best choice for joining your braided main-line to a fluoro leader? […]

How to Tie a Spinner Bait: A Complete Guide with a Step-by-Step Walkthrough

Spinners are among the most popular style of lure for a reason. From bass to crappie, pike to walleye, a bladed crankbait that creates flash, vibration, and excitement can turn a bad day into a prized memory with just one cast. We’re often asked about spinner baits, and we’d like to answer some of questions […]

Best Crappie Rods For Spider Rigging - Our Favorites Reviewed

We’ve written before about selecting a rod for crappie. But there, we were taking a close look at the best general purpose rods for casting, shooting, and jigging - all-arounders that could get most jobs done for papermouths. Spider rigging is specialized fishing, and a good general purpose rod isn’t going to be what you […]

Spider Rigging For Crappie: Are you Geared-Up for Spinning a Web?

As the spring spawn gives way to the summer heat, crappie will leave the shallows and look for deeper, cooler water. Still active, and still feeding, summer slabs will disperse over a wide area, making this season tough on papermouth anglers. Where legal, spider rigging is the most effective technique for trolling diffuse crappie on […]

Bank Fishing For Crappie: How to Catch Spring Slabs from Shore

Not every angler owns a boat, and if you’re planning on fishing from shore this spring, don’t be discouraged. As the water warms and the days lengthen, there’s no better time to try for crappie with your feet planted firmly on the ground. In fact, think of spring as the season when the fish come […]

Getting to Know Crappie: The Black and White of Identification

Whether you call them crappie, sac-a-lait, papermouths, or silver perch, one thing’s for sure: the excitement of dropping dozens of these bad boys into a cooler is hard to beat. And as any crappie fanatic can attest, they’re more than just fun to catch--they make a fine meal, too! That makes it easy to understand […]

Hook More Crappie More Often: Best Hooks For Crappie Reviewed

As any successful crappie angler can tell you, the hooks you choose are no less important than your line, rod, and reel. Crappie sport bigger, more fragile mouths than similar species like bluegill, and they have an appetite for minnows rather than worms. If you’re new to chasing spring slabs, you might not know what […]

Catching Spring Slabs: Best Crappie Corks, Floats, and Bobbers Reviewed

For many anglers, spring means the start of crappie season. And while there are many ways to catch them, the best technique for early crappie involves a cork, float, or bobber. Whatever you call them, they’re ideal for suspending a jig at just the right depth or dropping a kicking cricket into a stationary school. […]

Best Inflatable Fishing Boats: Buying Guide and Reviews

If you want to get out onto the water, but don’t have a truck or trailer, you might consider an inflatable fishing boat. They’re also great for anglers on a tight budget, or for people who fish on lakes that limit engine horsepower. Far from pool toys, the most capable designs are used by special […]

Best Fish Finder for the Money 2024

Find the best fish finder for your boat or kayak in this review

Best Trolling Motors: Buying Guide & Reviews

Whether you're new to or experienced with trolling motors, it pays to do your homework before you pull the trigger on a model that won’t suit your needs or fit your boat. We’d like to help by offering a comprehensive guide to buying the best trolling motor, a few helpful pointers when selecting one, and […]

Best Fishing Line for Crappie Explained and Reviewed

Crappie anglers know that “papermouths” demand a light hookset. And to help, they often choose ultralight rods for their sensitivity and finesse, pairing this gear with carefully selected line. But not every angler opts for ultralight, and if you fish crappie with anything stouter, line choice becomes even more important. Which fishing line is the […]

How To Catch Perch - Fishing Tips and Techniques Guaranteed To Improve Your Odds

Hooking panfish after panfish on ultralight tackle is a recipe for fishing fun, and as any perch angler can tell you, it’s a great way to spend a spring or fall morning. Not every fishing adventure ends with a monster, and what the yellow perch lacks in size it more than makes up for in […]

Northern Pike Fishing Tips & Techniques: Catching Pike In The Spring and Summer

There’s a monster lurking in shallow water, gently working its fins to stay still. It’s half-in and half-out of a weed bed, and it’s waiting to explode into action when a perch swims near. It’s the northern pike, the closest thing to a torpedo with teeth that you’ll find in freshwater. And if there’s a […]

Best Fishing Line - Monofilament vs. Fluorocarbon vs. Braid

Anglers ourselves, we want answers to the same questions you do. Questions like what’s the best fishing line? How do mono, fluorocarbon, and braid stack up against one another? Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the various kinds of lines is complicated, and it’s not made any easier by advertising copy and myth. What exactly […]

Want to Catch More Crappie? Best Crappie Lures, Jigs, and Bait Reviewed

Whether you call them crappie, speckled bass, or sac-a-lait, angling for these aggressive panfish is about as much fun as you can have with a rod in your hands. In fact, from Michigan to Louisiana, crappie provide year-round fishing excitement, whether you take them through the lake ice or from the shaded banks of a […]

Best Ice Fishing Tip-Ups Reviewed: The Low-Down on Tip-Ups

For most winter anglers, tip-ups are essential gear. Whether you want to cover a lot of water, try multiple baits and depths, or just increase the odds of landing fish while you jig in the comfort of an ice shanty, well-designed tip-ups are a reliable, effective fishing tool. From monster pike to plate-sized panfish, a […]

Best Ice Fishing Flashers Reviewed: Stone Cold Fish Finders

Three brands dominate the ice fishing fish finder scene : Humminbird, MarCum, and Vexilar. And if you’ve spent much time on the ice, you already know these names. But there are new players and new approaches to watching fish approach your jig, and it’s important to know how they stack up against the tried-and-true. After […]

Ice Fishing Perch: Tips and Techniques

The yellow perch, Perca flavescens, is a popular panfish to chase all year ‘round. Their natural curiosity and voracious appetite make them easy and fun to catch, contributing to their introduction beyond their naturally northern range. As a result, they can now be found as far south as Ohio and South Carolina. Perch behavior is […]

Best Portable Ice Fishing Shelters: Cold Weather Protection for 2024 At Its Finest

When you're ice fishing the right clothing is essential, of course, but so is a good ice fishing tent. If you’re in the market for a portable ice fishing shelter, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites as well as a complete buying guide to help you make the […]

Best Ice Fishing Lures: Our Favorite Jigs and some Tips and Tricks!

Jigging is the ultimate ice fishing technique, and as we wait for the water to harden, it’s time to revisit this tried and true method. While apparently no more complicated than dropping a lure through a hole in the ice and giving it a bit of a twitch, the difference between fishing and catching this […]

Best KastKing Reels Reviewed 2024 - Can KastKing Compete with the Big-Names?

Among the big names in fishing, KastKing stands out, as their entry-level pricing puts good reels within reach of pretty much anyone. And they haven’t ignored the mid-priced segment, either, developing quite a few reels for mid-market. So, you may be wondering what are the best KastKing reels? Let’s find out! Quick glance at the […]

The Best Rods for Crappie: Sticks for Every Technique Reviewed

Final Thoughts When you’re looking at crappie rods that are designed for a wide range of techniques, there’s no one quality you can use to compare them. You’ll want the longest rods for trolling, slightly shorter rods for vertical jigging, limber deeply-loading blanks for shooting, ultra-sensitive blanks for casting a slip float…well, you get the […]

Best Underwater Fishing Camera Reviewed - “Eyes-On” Angling

However awesome your flasher or fishfinder, there’s nothing like actually seeing the fish you’re after. And from species identification to indications of behavior, live video is an impressive tool to enhance your angling prowess. Indeed, plenty of hard-water anglers already know that “eyes-on” fishing will improve your success. But finding what you need isn't exactly […]

Ice Fishing Walleye: Tips and Tricks

The walleye--Sander vitreus--is one of the most popular species ice anglers chase, but it’s also the least well-understood by fishermen and scientists alike. Exactly why and how walleye migrate is something of a mystery, though their attraction to spawning sites is obvious. But the key to catching these aggressive predators is to make the most […]

Ice Fishing Lake Trout: Tips and Tricks

Lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush, are a salmonid cousin of both salmon and brook trout. Distinctive for their forked tail and silver-gray body, they’re actually a freshwater char, not a true trout at all. These large fish are as fun to catch as they are tasty to eat. But if you want to ice fish for […]

Ice Fishing Pike: Tips and Tricks

The northern pike, Esox lucius, is a common predator in freshwater lakes and rivers where ice fishing is popular. Armed with a mouthful of sharp, backward-facing teeth and a sleek olive green body sporting a white belly, the pike is the stuff of nightmares for other fish--and the fuel of dreams for many anglers. Massive, […]

Ice Fishing Crappie: Tips and Techniques

Crappie are predatory fish of the genus Pomoxis. Two species are recognized by science: P. annularis, commonly called the white crappie, and P. nigromaculatus, also known as the black crappie. Both species change colors throughout the season, and by pattern alone, they can be tough to tell apart. The surest way to tell the difference […]

Best Conventional Reels Reviewed - Big Reels for Big Water

Designed for massive fish and ferocious fights, you can think of conventional reels as baitcasters on steroids. With easy-to-access drag levers, capacious spools, and tough gearing, they’re built for the big stuff. Not sure what makes a conventional reel superior for offshore fishing or trolling on the Great Lakes? Curious about which models are the […]

Best Crappie Reels Reviewed: Tiny Reels that are Huge on Performance

The ultralight tackle you use for fishing crappie turns each of these little fish into whales, adding to the addictive excitement angling for this species offers. In fact, just one afternoon catching these speckled devils will have you as hooked as they will be! And the good news is that reels for crappie doesn’t need […]

Lily Pad Madness: Best Topwater Frog Lures Reviewed

Some of the most exciting bass fishing of my life has happened around lily pads. I’ve worked a clear Heddon Torpedo into a ferocious leaping strike. I’ve pulled a across pads and into the water with deadly results. But nothing I’ve tried matched the awesome attraction of a frog or the heart-stopping moment when a […]

Best Drop Shot Rods for the Money: Our Favorites Reviewed for 2024

Drop shotting is one of the hottest techniques for bass. It offers a subtle, finesse presentation of a worm that largemouth can’t resist. In fact, you can work the edge of a weed bed that’s been hit hard by other anglers and still hook a big one! But because this technique demands a finesse presentation, […]

Best Ice Fishing Line: Landing your Limit on the Ice

To get the most from your tackle, line choice is critical. Unfortunately, this is a complicated subject, and it’s easy to find plenty of misinformation out there. Since the wrong choice can lead to frustration, missed strikes, and broken line, we’d like to help by offering a clear, fact-backed discussion of line basics, followed by […]

Best Tenkara Rods Reviewed: A Simplified Aesthetic for Small Mountain Streams

Developed on the trout streams of inland Japan, tenkara fishing is gaining popularity in the West, especially among high-altitude backpackers and hikers. In part, this is due to the clean aesthetic and simplicity of tenkara: rod, line, and fly--the three components of fishing stripped of any excess. But the rising profile of tenkara is also […]

Trouble Catching Slabs? Our Top Crappie Fishing Tips & Techniques Are Guaranteed To Help!

Whether you’re a crappie fishing fanatic or new to the sport, we’d like to help you catch more crappie, more often. To help, we’ve compiled a list of crappie fishing tips and techniques. Fished correctly, these tips and “lucky seven” techniques will deliver the monsters you’ve been waiting for! There’s only one question to ask. […]

Walleye Fishing Tips: How to Fish for and Catch Walleye In All Seasons

Walleye fanatics know that fall brings hard strikes and monster walleyes with the color change. And while perhaps not quite as productive as spring, a strong case can still be made for fall as the prime season to catch these gold-green predators. Summer’s no slouch either, especially if you know where to look, what to […]