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Learn to use your equipment well and broaden your horizons:


DRAG SETTINGS: The biggest mistake made by anglers is to have their drag set improperly. Most manufacturers recommend that your drag be set at one-third of your line's test weight. This means that a reel holding 15 pound test line should have the drag set to let out line at 5 pounds of pull. To set your drag run the line out through your rod's guides, tie a loop in the end, then use the hook on a fish scale (the tool, not the fish body part) to pull on the line. When the weight shown on the scale is one-third of your rated line weight, the drag should be letting out line. If not, adjust the drag until it does.

AVOID TANGLES ON YOUR SPINNING REEL: Spinning reels often get bird's nests and tangles, which are usually caused by one of three mistakes. The first is putting the line on the reel improperly. The line should go onto the reel the same way it comes off the spool, taking advantage of the curve the line has memorized from being stored on the spool. Lay the spool FLAT on the ground (do NOT hold it vertically) and start winding the reel. If tangles begin, turn the spool over. The tangling should stop and your reel should be tangle free for the future, as long as you don't make the other two mistakes. The second mistake is to overfill the spool. Spinning reels should never be filled past the front spool lip, or too much line will come out during casting and -POOF!- you'll have a big mess of tangles. The third most common mistake is to crank the reel while a fish is taking out line. While it's OK to crank a baitcaster while a fish makes a run, a spinning reel is not designed for such a mistake. During the fish's run, cranking a spinning reel literally twirls the line around and around, twisting it up like a rubber band and resulting in lots of kinks and tangles.

FILLING CASTING AND CONVENTIONAL REELS: Improper filling of casting and conventional reels can lead to tangles, just like on a spinning reel. Again, it is important to put the line on the reel the same way it comes off the spool. This time, the spool of line should be vertical, with the hole horizontal and perhaps with a pencil through it. The line should be coming off the top of the spool, NOT the bottom. Fill the spool to the fill line, which is a painted or etched line on the spool, and you're done.

SETTING CAST CONTROLS ON CASTING REELS: There are 2 primary methods for adjusting the cast controls on casting reels. Try them both and stick with the method that works best for you and your reel. One method is to adjust the control so that it just barely stops the reel from falling when you push the casting button. To do this, loosen the cast control a little and push the button. The lure should start falling. Quickly adjust the cast control until the lure stops falling. Remember to make small adjustments. The other method is to set the control so that there is no overrun when the lure strikes the deck. To do this, push the casting button and let the lure fall to the deck. If the spool keeps turning and lets the line overrun, adjust the cast control and try again. Make small adjustments until the spool stops the instant the lure hits the deck. With either method, you will need to re-adjust the cast control when you change lures, especially if the lure is a different weight.

POLARIZED SUNGLASSES- All anglers will better protect their eyes and be able to see underwater fish better with good quality polarized sunglasses. Polarization cuts surface glare due to the alignment of particles in or on the lens, which can actually help an angler see underwater. Since polarization makes sunglasses special, glasses that are polarized usually bear a special label when they're on the rack. However, not all polarized sunglasses are created equal. The better polarized sunglasses have a ground-in polarization that results in a top-notch, optical quality lens with no distortions. Cheaper polarized sunglasses only have a sprayed-on polarized finish that results in lens distortions that will cause eyestrain and can even damage the eyes. Like polarization, optical quality lenses are special, so if they're optical quality there will usually be a special label or information in the accompanying tag or pamphlet that says so.