By Jeff Little

I peeled the front edge of my kayaks seat back, searching for the one specific color of the only bait they seemed to want to eat that day. A few old rusty jig heads slid around where I was hoping to find what I needed. Beaching the kayak my feet plopped into the clear water so I could get a better look behind the seat. There! One last finesse worm. The head was chewed up, but I sunk my teeth into it, excising a pencil eraser sized nub, spitting it down with the rusty jig heads. The bait was quickly rigged, tossed into the brush pile and immediately hit. The green, white and black largemouth erupted from the water and I saw the soft plastic tear free from the corner of its mouth and fly to places unknown. I landed the bass, released it and looked around for the one thing I knew they would hit. It was gone.

This scenario is what drives many anglers to drag along an entire tackle shop worth of tackle. We hoard and gather like furry critters in the waning days of fall. The fear of going without makes us candidates for reality television shows on compulsive hoarding behavior. Much like the houses of the afflicted in those shows, our kayaks wind up with too much stuff, and we are afraid to give up any of it.

It makes us slow. Weighted down, we are slow moving our gear laden kayaks across the water. We are slow sifting through our gear to find the next “only thing they will bite.” The more complicated we make our tackle selection, the less time we spend on quality presentations. Good tackle organization systems can speed up your selection time, but nothing quite keeps you light on your feet like a good spring cleaning. In my case, I require a spring cleaning, a prespawn, post spawn, mid summer, early fall and winter cleaning.

A good tactic is to completely remove all your gear from whatever you store your tackle in, be it a milk crate, tupperware bin or soft sided tackle bag. In my case it’s a YakAttack Black Pak. I tend to go through species specific shifts each season, so this thinning out by emptying out is becoming more natural. For instance, I recently switched from a lot of river smallmouth trips to catching Chesapeake Bay striped bass. All the smallmouth tackle came out of the pack, and the striped bass tackle was assembled.

But somehow I managed within three trips to amass about 16 pounds of soft plastics, 24 pounds of jig heads, and another 5 or so pounds of spoons, blade baits and diamond jigs. Following a particularly rough weather day, I heaved my pack into the back of my vehicle wondering how many jig heads I could possibly snag in a single day of fishing. My best estimate of a previous worst day was 7 jig heads. There’s no need to carry six trips worth of any supply of terminal tackle. So the thinning continued, leaving a dozen one-ounce heads and half a dozen 1.5-ounce heads in the tray.

On the following trip, I found myself being able to hold position on a rip rounding the down current end of a jetty easier. At the end of the day, putting the kayak on the cart wasn’t so strenuous. I lost three jig heads, but somehow didn’t worry about being without my confidence bait.

Know what you are going to throw, carry a moderate but not excessive stock of it, and leave the rest at home. It will save your back, allow you to cover more water in a day and ultimately give you more time with your line in the water.

–Check out more TACKLE TIPS from Kayak Fish magazine.