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Size Matters in Fishing Boats!

Mid-sized boats like this Smokercraft Pro Angler XL continue to be popular among fishermen because they are affordable, they can be towed with smaller vehicles and storing them in the family garage is no problem during the off season.
By Mark Romanack

             During the next few months thousands of potential boat buyers will wrestle with the question of boat size. The size of a fishing boat matters a great deal and the reasons don’t always have to do with how many people the boat must carry.
            A fishing boat is a big investment. If towing that fishing boat to popular fishing destinations means the family must also invest in a new tow vehicle, there is a good chance that boat deal is dead in the water. Typical family automobiles including mini vans and small SUV’s equipped with V6 engines can also double as a great “tow vehicle” so long as the boat in question isn’t too large.
            This is precisely the primary reason that the most popular boat sizes in America continue to be 16, 17 and 18 foot models. These medium sized boats dominate in sales because most families already own an automobile capable of towing boats in this class without issue.
            To effectively tow larger 19 to 22 foot boats is a job better suited to a full size SUV, pick up or van. For fishing trips close to home any of these vehicles with a V6 engine is adequate as a tow vehicle. For long distance towing a better choice is a tow vehicle equipped with a more powerful V8 engine.
            It’s interesting to note that vehicles with V6 engines tend to get better gas mileage than those equipped with larger V8 power plants. However, when towing the smaller V6 will be working harder and in most cases it’s actually the V8 that will deliver better fuel economy.

Larger boats like this STX 2050 typically require a full sized vehicle
 and V8 engine for towing and a pole building for winter storage.

            As mentioned before a fishing boat is a large investment. Owning a boat also comes with the responsibility of storing that boat during the off season. Most two car garages are big enough to accommodate a tow vehicle and also a medium sized fishing boat.
            In order to fit both inside the garage may require having a trailer that features a “swing away” tongue and also trimming the outboard into the down position. Another trick home owners can use when storing their fishing boat is to purchase wheel dollies designed to fit under the trailer tires. Simply jack up the boat and trailer, place the dolly under the trailer tire and lower the boat and trailer back down onto the dolly wheels.
            Rigged in this manner the boat can be wheeled around by hand and positioned much closer to garage walls and fixtures than would be otherwise possible. The dolly wheel trick helps a boat owner store their valuable fishing boat during the off season while still having enough storage space for the garage to function as a home for the family car.
            Storing larger boats in the 19 to 22 foot class normally requires a more spacious pole building or the use of an off site storage facility. Because off site boat storage facilities pack boats in like cord wood, once the boat is in storage it normally can not be removed until an agreed upon date.
            If a fishing boat must be stored outside there are some affordable steps boat owners can do to insure the best possible protection for their investment. The biggest threat to outside storage is snow and water pooling on the boat cover, seeping into the boat, freezing and causing damage to flooring and boat fixtures.
            Using 2X4 lumber, some deck screws and a battery powered drill, boat owners can build a simple wooden frame around the boat from which to drape and secure a heavy duty tarp. The goal is to create a tent over top of the boat that is steep and taunt enough that rain and snow shed right off.
            It’s best if the boat has a mooring or travel cover and the tarp provides additional weather protection. The wooden frame work can be taken apart in the spring, stored and used again the next winter.
            When storing boats outside it’s essential to winterize the outboard motor, remove batteries, charge them and store them in a cool and dry location. It’s also essential to make sure no water is left in the livewell, bait well or plumbing. Remove the drain plug, tilt up the bow of the boat using the jack stand and inspect the bilge area to make sure no water remains in the boat.


Mark's Go To Fishing Knots

When fishing lead core, copper wire or weighted stainless wire the Albright knot is a good choice for connecting these sinking lines to fluorocarbon leaders and also monofilament or braid backing line.

Mark Romanack

            The ability to tie a good fishing knot is one of those skill sets that everyone heading out fishing needs to master. Apparently knot tying isn’t as interesting as lures, boats, motors, electronics and a host of other fishing topics, because rarely do anglers preach about knot tying skills.
            Ironically, it’s the fishing knot that insures the fish that bite, end up landed and gracing the pages of Facebook! Without at least a basic grasp of the common fishing knots and how to tie them, most of your fish stories will be focusing on the one that got away!
            Fortunately, the list of “must know” fishing knots isn’t a long one. Master the knots outlined here and you’ll be well equipped to hook and land everything that swims no matter where you wet a line.
            The improved clinch knot is easy to tie and without question the most common fishing knot out there. Frequently used to tie on small lures like walleye jigs, the clinch has good knot strength and will hold nicely when used on any monofilament, co-polymer or fluorocarbon line.
            The improved clinch knot works in a wide variety of fishing situations, but it doesn’t hold well on fused and super braid lines.
            This easy to tie knot is super strong and works great for all line types. Because braids and fused lines are slick not a lot of traditional knots will hold well with these super lines. The palomar knot is the exception and it holds great with all braids, fused lines, nylon monofilaments, co-polymers and fluorocarbon lines.
            The palomar is a “go to” knot for tying on snaps and swivels, single hooks and smaller lures like jigs or in-line spinners. Perhaps the strongest of all knot types, if you only learn one knot make it the palomar.
            The egg loop knot is a snelling knot that is easy to tie, super strong and it has the advantage of being useful for putting attractors like yarn on a hook. This knot is often used when fishing skein because the line can be backed up enough to form a loop that holds skein in place when the knot is pulled up tight. Steelhead, salmon and trout fishermen swear by this knot, but it has other uses.
            I use the egg loop knot to tie my walleye fishing nightcrawler harnesses. Again this knot is easy to tie and it allows two or three hooks to be snelled on a leader and space them perfectly every time.
            The Albright Knot is an obscure knot, but this knot is rapidly growing in popularity. The ideal knot for attaching any backing or leader material to a main line, this knot can be used in fly fishing applications, to attach mono or braid backing to lead core line, attaching backing to copper line or attaching fluorocarbon leader to lead core or copper trolling lines.
            Trollers swear by this knot and it’s easy to tie with a little practice, the knot is small and it passes easily through rod guides and also reel line guides.

When fishing plugs using a cross lok style snap, the Palomar
 knot is hands down the strongest connection possible
 when using monofilament, co-polymer lines,
 fused and also super braid lines.

            The double uni knot is a great way to attach small braids and fused lines to fluorocarbon leaders. Ideal for jig fishing with braids, this simple knot allows anglers to tie in a short invisible leader between their super line and the jig. This knot is also ideal anytime two different line types must be joined. When pulled up tightly, the double uni knot is small enough it slides right into and out of baitcasting and spinning reel line guides.
            No matter what knot an angler chooses to use, the strength of that knot can be increased by simply wetting the line before pulling the knot up tight. Line conditioning products also do a nice job of reducing memory in fishing line, especially stiffer lines like fluorocarbon and hard surfaced nylon lines.
            Also, to insure your fishing line retains it’s natural tensile strength, store your line in a cool, dry place away from direct light. A basement is the ideal place to store fishing line.
            A good pair of scissors is mandatory for cutting line and clipping tag ends short. The garden variety line clippers on the market work okay for monofilament, but they simply don’t have the cutting powers to handle fused or super braid lines.

Smallmouth like this one caught by the author are exceptionally
 strong fighters and landing them consistently requires a solid
 knowledge of fishing knots and what lines each knot works best with.


            The internet is one of the best places an angler can visit when trying to learn new knot tying skills. My favorite is, but there are many others including, and Fishing Knots 101, These sites and more make it very easy to learn to tie any fishing knot in a matter of minutes. After that, practice makes perfect.

To Sting Or Not To Sting....

Stinger hooks aren’t required every day or for every jigging situation, but on those tough bite days a stinger hook will make a noticeable difference in the number of fish landed.
By: Mark Romanack

            For most of my adult life I’ve had a love/hate relationship with stinger hooks. Any walleye fisherman who has put in his or her time fishing stinger hooks knows exactly what I’m expressing here. Stinger hooks help us catch more walleye, but they are clearly a pain in the butt cheeks!
            Besides catching more walleye, stinger hooks have the annoying habit of catching on just about everything else including the river bottom, landing net mesh, in the boat carpet, on fishing gloves and literally everything else they come in contact with!
            A little discussion on how I deal with the question of “to sting or not to sting” seems appropriate considering the best jig fishing of the season is almost upon us.
            Before we dive into when to use a stinger and when not to use stinger hooks, we need to first touch base a little on stinger hook technology. To be frank, most of the stinger hooks on the market are next to worthless. Stingers tied on steel leader material and or heavy monofilament line are way too stiff to be effective walleye jigging.
            The stiffness of the stinger hook robs the minnow of that natural flip action that triggers strikes. I look for stinger hooks tied on 10 to 12 pound test fluorocarbon or monofilament line.
            The most productive size treble hooks for walleye stinger fishing tend to be No. 10 and No. 12 size hooks. When targeting exceptionally large fish a No. 8 hook size is acceptable.
            A stinger hook can be used anytime an angler is fishing a jig tipped with a minnow, but clearly the biggest advantage comes when fishing in cold water and lethargic fish. Early and late in the season when the water temperatures are 40 degrees or below represent the ideal conditions for stinger hooks.
            In warmer water, most of the time the bite is going to be good enough that a stinger hook can only marginally improve fishing success. That stated, on those days when the fish are seemingly “closed mouth” a stinger will hook and land fish that would otherwise be missed. This tidbit of knowledge holds true regardless of water temperature.
            In other words, stingers are most useful in cold water, but they can also be useful in tough bites no matter what the water temperature or time of year.
            The other rule of thumb involving stinger hooks plays to the jig size. In general the heavier the jig used, the more likely a stinger hook will improve fishing success. I generally fish stinger hooks on 3/8, 1/2, 5/8 and 3/4 ounce jigs.
            When fishing lighter jigs normally the fish has no trouble inhaling the entire jig and minnow. Larger jigs are more difficult for walleye to suck completely into their mouth and hence best used with stinger hooks.
            Different stinger hooks attach to the jig in different ways. Some have small clips that can be attached to the “eye tie” of the jig or a special stinger hook loop molded right into the jig. Others slip over the hook point after the minnow has been added to the hook.
            For some time now I’ve been using a fairly unique stinger hook produced by Golden Gator Tackle. The GGT stinger features a slip knot tied in combination with a small bead. The angler slips the small loop over the hook point and pulls the stinger up tight to the hook shaft by pulling on the stinger. When it’s time to re-bait, simply grasp the bead and pull gently opening up the loop so it can be slipped off the hook point.
            This unique set up in stinger hooks technology also helps to keep the minnow from working loose from the jig hook. I typically fish the three inch models with a No. 12 treble hook.
The Golden Gator Tackle Company makes one of the author’s favorite stinger hooks. 
For those anglers who like to make their own tackle, a modest 
investment in line and hardware is all it takes to create 
stinger hooks that help put more walleye in the boat.
            For those anglers who enjoy making their own fishing tackle, stinger hooks can be tied up in a jiffy. To get started anglers will need a good supply of No. 10 and No. 12 treble hooks, some small clips, line connector sleeves and some 10 to 12 pound test fluorocarbon line.
            An Egg Loop knot is ideal for attaching the treble hook because it helps the hook lay straight on the fluorocarbon line. At the other end the small clips that fly fishermen use so they can change flies rapidly are ideal for attaching the stinger hook to the jig eye.
            For most walleye fishing applications the stinger hook should be approximately three inches long. Shorter stinger hooks tend to position the treble hook too close to the jig hook to significantly improve the hooking ratio.
Walleye are notorious for being light biters and bait stealers. 
Using a stinger hook when fishing minnows in cold 
water conditions can and does put more fish in the boat.
            It’s true that stinger hooks are a pain to deal with and create more work for the angler. However, it’s also true that using a quality stinger hook helps walleye anglers land more fish.

            To sting or not to sting is a personal decision every walleye jigger will eventually be faced with. What separates the men from the boys in this discussion is the knowledge that stinger hooks really do help catch more fish when used in the right situations.