"No Name Fishing"
By Daniel Kiazyk
As simple as it may seem to say, sometimes we get too caught up in this or that new lure and colour or size of presentation to the detriment of what has always worked. What? What's wrong with the latest scent technology, lure configuration and application? Nothing really. Newer sometimes is really better…. but not always. This year, however, I personally had a significant insight about fishing by going back, back to where I started fishing. Sometimes simple is just as effective.
Well, where did I start ……..I almost forgot…….. In fact, I had spent the last 15 years getting into every new development that came along the fishing pike (pun intended). In the process, I had made a lot of personal progress as a fisherman, becoming a professional guide and outfitter in the process. Do I regret learning what I've learned using the new knowledge I've learned? No, not really. However, in the process, I moved away from using some very effective and simple approaches. The new approaches that I had taken on were generally a bit more expensive and in some cases quite involved and generally required a lot more storage space. What I had forgotten was how I started and what those "simpler" techniques could produce fish very well.
Context: Springtime on the Red River at the exit of the floodway near the Lockport dam. Our objective was to get at some of the huge drum that had come up the Red River this particular spring. I had brought down a friend to experience some of these big fish's fighting appeal. At the same time I was going to put a few goldeye in my bait box. It is still fascinating in retrospect how my tag-a-long friend was going to provide me with an insight into how fishing with less can sometimes mean more..
My guest that day was offered a commonly used rig to get at our Red River's bruiser drum. Politely my guest would man his rod and begin to do battle with some drum using the previously mentioned time honored approach. At the same time as he fished he watched and we discussed how I was setting up a slip float rig to pick up a few goldeye. The procedure involves small neoprene stopper followed by a float, split shot and small J-hook. It was this float set up that started the wheels of thought turning in my friend in terms of how he could improve his angling experience that day. In a few minutes with the extra rod we had available he would start to dig around in my goldeye float box looking for some terminal tackle that would improve the frequency of drum action he was experiencing at that point. His choice was very simple, a #6 J hook and one #3 split shot.
A brief discussion ensued involving his description of an approach he often used on some streams in Missouri. I was surprised with its simplicity and more importantly at its efficiency at hooking up with any number of species that were present that day at the Floodway exit. As described the "j" hook was tied onto the line and then one appropriately sized split shot was put in line as close or as far as the conditions required. Bait was important, I was told, and whatever species being angled for called for a species appropriate bait. Our bait this day was crawlers. By the numbers he began to catch it was apparent that they were good enough for the species we were angling for that day.
As a side note, the distance the split shot was put away from the hook was the one component of the system that had some real importance for the success of the rig. In rocky conditions shortening up the weight/hook relationship would help avoid hang-ups. For super spooky fish, a longer distance was desirable, but obviously "hook-ups" with snags would occur more frequently. Looking at his rig as a generic "Lindy" style rig would be a mistake as the split shot is fixed to the line and there was the obvious absence of a swivel. This rig was very specific and it has some very specific applications.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the split shot technique being described was angler control. Following the rig (when cast out into current) or working the appropriate retrieval with control is "everything" with this approach. Any sudden change in direction or "tick" signals a fish's presence. Not setting soon enough generally results in a fish being deeply hooked, but too soon a hook-set results in a missed fish. A fine line to work? Yup, but with a little practice, the number of "good" hook ups increases.
The approach in my opinion is superior and simple in so far as it presents bait in an ultra stealthy manner in a way that would make the bait seem totally natural. Not having the extra hardware that is normally associated with rigging means it quicker to employ and is nowhere near as expensive as present rigging options. The only really important component of this rigging is the use of good sharp hooks.
Of course I asked myself the next obvious question; What would this approach be effective for? Without a doubt, the applications for which this approach would be effective for are endless. In particular, I've now applied this particular approach to most of the species that I angle for in a given year. It's interesting how many new opportunities have presented themselves through this ultra stealthy approach. In the process I've truly come full circle, angling-wise. Sometime simpler can be just as good as the latest most widely publicized approaches.