Conventional Wisdom

| June 7, 2011

So, last week I put out the call for some conventional fishing wisdom, including tackle and lures. For you purists out there, you can run but you can’t hide from the fact that most, if not all of the greatest names in fly fishing do conventional fish when circumstances dictate. I am talking the likes of folks like Lefty Kreh among others. So, turn the page if you wish, but in the relentless pursuit of all that is fly fishing, we must also bow down to conventional wisdom from time-to-time. If you need to rationalize this post away, just remember the tagline for Texas Fly Caster – “Fly Fishing Culture on the Skids.” Let he who is without sin cast the first spoon.

Jim Palumbo, from South Padre Island, Texas, wrote, “I fish with conventional tackle often to accomadate the people with whom I’m fishing. Bait and poppers with my kids, plastic with a bunch of guys who are already fishing conventional.”
Joel Hays, of Denton, Texas, said, “When it’s “meat fishing” time (usually for sand bass) Light spinning gear with topwaters, Rat-L-traps, or slab spoons.” I have been on meat runs with Joel, he casts a mile, and we usually end up smelling pretty fishy.
Michael Boone uses “conventional equipment couple times every five years. It is usually for bass and I am throwing a bass assassin or yamamoto,” he said. I say, what’s a yamamoto?
Chris Turner, who’s closer to salt said, “I do for sure…For Freshwater it’s a good way to locate and pattern bass quickly during the day, then switch to the fly. When I owned a flats skiff, I always took fly and conventional gear. Drive all the way to the coast and the sky goes cloudy, spotting fish on the flats was over. Too far to drive and limit myself to just fly tackle, I went with whatever tackle the weather would allow with fly being the preferred method.”
Chris uses – “Freshwater (Bass)- Plastic worms & jigs, and for saltwater (Trout & Reds)- corkies, catch 2000, spoons, and bass-assasin style soft plastics.” I wonder if the conventional guys think we speak a foreign language as well?
Fox Schaffer, from right here in North Texas said, “I prefer supplementing my two fly lines with two ultra lite/lite spin rod/reels on my inflatable pontoon (trolling two fly lines with olive wooly buggers and one of several Clousers) with traditional spoons and trolling for sandies, hybrids, blue cats, fresh water drums and LMB (Lake Lewisville, Eagle Point marina) … but as far as ONLY using conventional goes, then banjo minnows for LMB!!! If at Gulf coast then Berkley copper plastic/infused shrimp for croakers, sea trout, flounders, Red Drums… prefer flounders and Reds though, and will definitely want to gear up to catch shark from Galveston shores this year, and blue crab seems the ticket there.
Thomas Phillips, a man of words, said, “Rather would I flail and fail than cast a baited hook. But moments and companions sometimes supersede preference. Pride is not lost, and catching fish is fun, no matter the method.”
And a guide after your own pure heart, Captain Mark Becerra, who calls the Tip of Texas – South Padre Island, his home, sums it up for you, “Never.”

All this conventional talk, and the fact that most kayak tournaments are conventionally fought, had me wondering about my 30-year-old saltwater spinning rods and old aqua colored Penn reel. Sure, I have a “newer” Shimano spinning reel, but conventional reels just don’t seem to take the punishment that fly reels take … all those moving parts. I even went as far as to start researching a conventional mom-and-pop shop here in North Texas.

It doesn’t hurt that I was privy to some absolutely fantastic fishing retail stores in the Rio Grande Valley, where I grew up fishing. First, there was Glick Twins in Pharr, Texas, and then there was this hole-in-the-wall shop (smaller than a store) over in San Benito (Home to Freddie Fender), as I recall foggily. It was chock full of saltwater gear – rods, reels, and even the latest graphite rods at more than 100-dollars a pop. That’s in 1975 dollars! No, I never had one of those, and even now my conventional rods don’t contain a fleck of carbon or graphite.

That’s all about to change though. A new reel is in order, and I am looking at the oversize spools on some spinning reel models, lie US Reel and one particular Pflueger model. That’s the start, and maybe someday an upgrade to a rod from this century. I was given a fine TFO spinning rod, a TiCR-2 6’6″ three piece that is fine for ultralight, but may not be enough stick for bass, and certainly not in the running for a saltwater species.

I would be amazed if there aren’t a handfull of small mom-and-pop conventional fishing gear stores in the area, so if you know of any, please feel free to pipe in here – heck let’s make it within 150 miles of Dallas, and see if there’s a store worthy of note.

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Life Observed

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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