Texas fishermen are seeing that "light is right"
Last updated 3/21/2023 at 6:53pm
Fishermen are an ever-evolving breed, much like the fish they pursue fishermen continue to get smarter and better equipped in order to be more successful. A perfect example of this phenomenon is as close the nearest tackle box and fishing rod. Standard fare among coastal anglers for years was a level wind reel "spooled" to the hilt with 17 or 20 pound monofilament. In the hands of the average angler the reel made one feel as if there were no fish known to man that could not be tamed by this "mini winch". Rods resembled pool cues or garden rakes with their stiffness and diameters. These were the tools of the trade; the bench marks by which all fishermen were judged. Anything less than a heavy-duty outfit and you were just wasting your time.
In today's angling world the fisherman has climbed out of the dark ages to embrace the new technology being offered by every major manufacturer. Lighter and more responsive rods coupled with reels that would make jewelers drool are now the common weapon of coastal pluggers. The benefits of this new technology make using lighter lines and smaller tackle a new frontier for Texas anglers. Florida fishermen joke about how easy it is to tell if you are a fisherman from Texas because Texans are always the ones carrying baitcasters and big line. The spinning rig is the weapon of choice in Florida's clear waters where fish can see monofilament coming from a mile away. The spinning rig is rapidly gaining acceptance among Texas anglers who are now intoxicated with catching big fish on tiny tackle. Sure the newer level wind reels will let you chunk tiny offerings on 8 or 10 pound test, but the spinning rig is much more efficient at this task. Many anglers have been converted to the legion of light tackle lovers simply by mistake. Flounder fishermen who routinely throw 6 or 8-pound test along the shorelines often do battle with redfish or sheepshead in the same water. Invariably at the end of the day the first fish story told is how the redfish or sheepshead put up such an awesome fight on the small gear. Before too long the light stuff is all these folks want to throw the challenge and excitement is just what they have been looking for to satisfy their sense of adventure.
The natural progression to lighter tackle makes each angler a better and more complete fisherman. By being able to adapt to different conditions an angler no longer is completely at the mercy of the fish. Trophy trout stalkers all along the coast of Texas routinely down size their line as well as their lure size in clear water. This is a perfect example of how being able and proficient with lighter gear will help you catch more fish. By adapting to the surrounding conditions an angler will always catch more fish.
Another example is during the winter months when fish may not be quite as aggressive, light line allows an angler to feel more strikes and in turn catch more fish. This fact is proven routinely on my home waters of Sabine Lake in Texas. In the late winter and early spring it is a common practice to drift soft plastics over a huge reef near the southern end of the lake. Most fishermen use heavy line so they can pull their lures free from the shell they are constantly hanging on. In the past several years many of these anglers have gone to throwing lighter lines because they can feel more strikes and control their baits better. The lighter lines sink quicker because they are less buoyant, this means the fishermen can now get their offerings closer to the shell which is where most of the speckled trout tend to position themselves. Heavier lines tend to float higher in the water and will often times not get down deep enough to where the fish are. It is funny to watch as other anglers try to figure out what is going on, how come one guy is catching all the fish and the rest of them are drawing blanks. Chalk up another one for the light tackle angler.
For those of you who just can't dream of using lighter line then braid is your answer. These lines are incredibly tough and sensitive while maintaining ultra small diameters much like smaller mono. For many years now I've thrown Suffix braid and I have been very pleased with the results, my favorite size is the 30lb test in 6lb diameter. The small diameter line allows me to use a smaller series spinning rod and that translates into less weight and fatigue at the end of the day. The sensitivity and strength of this line and others like it will completely blow you away if you have not tried it before. For folks who just don't feel comfortable with using light line you can think of braid as "training wheels", it's a nice compromise without sacrificing confidence.
As the temperatures heat up, rain begins to get scarce, and the water continues to clear you can bet that the anglers who downsize their lines and baits will be the ones who consistently catch fish. Try downsizing and I promise you will catch more fish in the process.