By (Shooting Time)
The tarsal glands on a whitetail deer secrete a powerful identifying odor used by deer all year. Deer unfamiliar with each other will sniff each others tarsal glands to get to know one another. Their powerful 300 million nasal scent receptors store this information in their brain which can recall it in the future for identifying purposes.
Tarsal glands tell important factors like sex, age, health and dominance. The hairs on the tarsal gland are very dense and limit the amount of scent they release. The very strong pheromone containing scent is released when a deer urinates on their glands (rub-urinates) or when a deer enters a fight or flight mood swing. The most dominant whitetail bucks will have darker tarsal glands.
Using tarsal glands as an attractant
Tarsal glands can be used all year as an attractant because they peak a deer’s curiosity. Tarsals will bring in deer of any shape and size but if used properly, they could entice that trophy of a lifetime to walk within range of your stand.
Doe tarsals will attract other does and bucks all season. Remember, its the real thing and when someone new is in their house, their curiosity will lure them in. During the rut phases, the tarsal glands of bucks, mixed with or without tarsal glands of does, can do wonders.
While pursuing bucks who are establishing dominancy, use a smaller less dominant bucks tarsal glands to lure in the king of the block. If you obtain a local dominant buck’s tarsal glands and use them in his home area, this may backfire and scare off other challenging buck who knew who he was. I mean, who would go out of their way to go a round or two with Mike Tyson!
If you can acquire a dominant buck’s tarsal glands from another area though then you are in business. The local dominant buck will pick up the strong odor, instantly know there’s a challenger, and come to the scent to settle the score. Success!!
Removing a deer’s tarsal glands
The quicker you can take a harvested deer’s tarsal glands and get them to the refrigerator or freezer the better off you will be. There are bacteria in a deer’s tarsal gland which is proven to cause illnesses in humans so use rubber gloves while handling tarsal glands. With a sharp knife, skin around the gland and remove the entire gland before field dressing. Take the tarsal glands, put them in a zip lock bag, mark it with the deer’s information (sex, estimated age, dominance level) and store it in the freezer or refrigerator.
It is normally good practice to use the tarsal glands when the weather is cooler. The glands will spoil, so after use, they should be put back in their bag and back into the freezer or refrigerator as soon as possible. To prevent spoiling, when thawing out frozen tarsal glands, thaw them out in a refrigerator.
The tarsal glands will typically last for a couple weeks with the right care. Use your nose to determine if they are past due or not. If the tarsal glands dry up, dip them quickly in water to bring their moisture level back up.
How to use the tarsal glands in the field
There are two methods that we will describe for using the tarsal glands in the field. They can be used individually or together to create the environment the hunter requires. One method is hanging the actual tarsal gland in a tree and the other method is using the “tarsal juice.”
Hanging the tarsal gland in a tree
The tarsal gland on a deer is normally only 12-18 inches off the ground so that is the most logical place to put it. Wedge the tarsal gland in the crotch of a sapling or branch. If one isn’t present at that level you can put it higher. Just as long as the wind can hit it. Try to install it so the scent will carried by a cross wind to the deer’s anticipated location. This can get tricky; you want the deer to smell the tarsal glands, not you, so choose a location wisely.
*Just a reminder – Never leave your tarsal glands or any scents in the field while you are not hunting. This is a bad practice and only educates deer.
Using “tarsal juice”
To make and use tarsal juice, you will need the following:
– 6-8 ounces of bottled water
– a small spray bottle
– a fine strainer or coffee filter
1. Take the scissors and cut and keep the tarsal glands fine dense hair. If you have a really sharp knife, you can “shave” the hair off as well.
2. Warm up (not too hot, slightly above luke warm) the 6-8 ounces of bottled water.
3. Put the tarsal hair into the warm water for 30 minutes. The water will draw the oils from the tarsal hair.
4. Pour the mixture through a strainer or coffee filter and bottle the fresh “tarsal juice.”
5. Pour the tarsal gland juice into a spray bottle. You should be able to fill up two 2 ounce spray bottles and still have 3-4 ounces left over. With the left over juice we advise freezing it in a breast milk freezer bag. Mark the date you made the juice and what kind of deer it was on the containers.
The tarsal juice and be used a variety ways in the field. It can be used on a drag rag, on a scent wick, sprayed onto licking branches, sprayed onto scrapes, or just misted into the air when the time is right. Our favorite dispenser is a 2 ounce spray bottle found at many local convenience stores
8 Lures You Need in Your Winter Bass Fishing Box
My most productive non-ice fishing lures for winter time bass fishing
You’re scraping ice off the windshield, as the truck sputters and grumpily tries to warm its interior. Breathing in exhaust fumes as cold chills pulse down your spine as you hook the trailer to the hitch. The nose begins what will be a full day trickle as your ears already burn from the frost trying to adhear to your lobes. The allure of big lumbering sluggish bass in icy cold water fills your brain as you scramble to the cab of the truck. It’s winter time, and surprisingly some bass anglers hate it.
To an extent, all anglers probably fall victim to “rut fishing” at some point throughout the year, and winter can be the worst time to be in a rut about how you approach your fishing. A few simple facts will hopefully give you better perspective and hopefully some tips on tackle will make your quest to catch bass a little easier this winter.
First, bass don’t need to feed every day. There metabolisms slow to a crawl and they don’t need as much coal for their furnace so to speak. So they don’t have to eat as much or as often. That makes smaller baits a good option or extremely slow moving big baits that they don’t need to run down to satisfy a week’s worth of food requirements.
Second, bass group up and spend a good portion of their winter motionless. They populate an area that has food and deep water nearby and hover there until early spring. So spend time looking for deep concentrations of bait, cover and bass and realize fish use the smallest percentage of the lake of any other time of the year.
Now for the good news. Bass do eat in the winter. They stay near the bait because they need to eat. Also, they stay with their friends, so if one bass isn’t eating today, chances are a buddy right next to him is. They are very keyed into shad this time of year and the shad can be struggling to stay alive if the water temperatures are dipping into the low 40s. So while they are looking for those injured dying shad, they won’t pass up a slow crawling craw right in their face either. They are still opportunists and will seek to eat whatever they can in close proximity.
Having addressed their “tendencies,” here are my 8 choices for targeting and catching sluggish cold water bass and some tips on how to make them more effective.
Deep suspending jerkbaits
I spent a lot of time watching shad die in the winter when I fished on clear water fisheries like Table Rock and Beaver Lakes in the Ozark Mountains. These shad would kick and pause, flutter and float and sometimes sink slowly out of sight. I’ve incorporated mimicking this kick-and-float behavior into chasing winter bass with deep diving suspending jerkbaits. A Lucky Craft Staysee, a SPRO McRip, Megbass Ito Vision 110+1 and a Jackall DD Squirrel all do a great job of twitching and jerking in water 8-12 feet deep. The sound, flash and water displacement in clear water can all lead big bass out of deep haunts to grab a quick easy meal.
Tip: I sometimes weight my jerkbaits so they will slowly sink. When I know I’m fishing for bass deeper than 10 feet over much deeper water, I actually like for my jerkbait to mimic those shad I saw dying for many years on other fisheries. I will add lead golfers tape or a few extra split rings to make my deep suspending jerkbaits slowly sink after a rip or pull so they look like a shad struggling to stay afloat.
A blade bait is a dynamite lure for stair-stepping down steep 45 degree banks into the zones bass are holding. Where a spoon derives its action after the hop or pull as it flutters on the fall, a blade bait attracts on the actual rip and drop.
Tip: I will fish a blade bait like a lipless rattling bait and just slowly wind it along, hoping it bumps a rock or two. I think the subtle vibration, couple with the clinking and clacking over rocks, draws those deep bass in for a closer look and the slow crawl is easy for them to run down.
A jigging spoon has been a staple over the years for deep wintering fish. It looks like nothing, but it casts like a rock, gets to the bottom and into the strike zone with blazing speed and can be worked in place easily on a vertical presentation with a simple snap and fall on slack line.
Tip: Slack is critical so learn to drop or cast the spoon and watch your line as it falls. Think it stopped too early, reel up fast and set the hook. See your line jump, set the hook. I often cast out a few yards from the boat and hop it around to cover a small circular area where I think the bass are holding and being out away from the boat helps me watch my slack a little easier as well.
Another deep small hunk of lead with some flash, a tail spinner has been a hot ticket in Texas lake in colder years. The ability to hop it, wind it, pump it and work it various ways both near the bottom and up in the strike zone make this simple tear drop lure a dynamite presentation.
Tip: I use a lighter one a lot of the time to get a slower fall in the winter. I think a lighter weight really lets the blade work and you can keep the bait in their strike zone for a much longer period on each cast, which is critical in the winter.
Under spins with shad tails
When you are fishing deep flats, a lure you can cast and wind slowly along the bottom or up off the bottom if you find the bass suspended can be the ticket. Something like a Sworming Hornet or a Buckeye SuSpin with a small swimbait or shad tail like the Optimum Opti Shad or Basstrix can easily mimic a shad in cold water that might have a slight stain to it.
Tip: Super glue is your friend. Super glue the swim tail to the head and you can fish all day with one tail and head, well at least for a lot more fish than you would otherwise. And a pumping and stop and go retrieve can also trigger bass who might slowly lumber behind but never strike.
A grub is such a simple and old faithful lure, that many anglers totally forget about them. Fact is, this bait really shines when the water is ultra cold. I’ve caught bass in water below 40 degrees on a grub and 1/4 ounce jighead. When bass suspend in vertical cover, a grub can be a dynamite lure to catch those otherwise stationary bass. Wind it slowly and methodically and most bites will just feel like a little pressure as you wind it.
Tip: Small diameter line helps keep the lure down and swimming steady through the water. The lure doesn’t weigh much so heavier line causes it to rise too much. I like some of the new grubs like the Strike King Rage Tail grub or Zoom Fat Albert that put out a lot of vibration.
One of my favorite ways to catch smallmouths this time of year, is casting to 45 degree banks and steep points and bluffs with a casting jig. Something like a Cumberland Pro Lures Pro Caster or a Stan Sloan’s Booza Bug are ideal for this technique. I will tip the jigs with a Zoom Chunk or Zoom Super Chunk Jr.–something with flat appendages that undulate more than twist and thump.
Tip: I’m normally fishing this on fairly open rocky banks with occasional stumps or laydowns. So I will opt for very light line like 10 to 12 pound fluorocarbon. The lighter line gives the bait better depth control and I think the fish look at a jig this time of year longer than other times of the year before biting. So I want to stack the deck in my favor with very natural presentations, trimmed skirts, natural chunk colors to give the bass a real meal looking profile.
I’ve definitely built up a lot of confidence with a drop shot over the last decade. And I just smile when I hear guys tell me bass won’t bite plastics in cold water. They will bite the right plastic. Especially if presented in a very realistic manner. The bass are often tight to the bottom so I will keep my leader lengths fairly short and I will let the drop shot sit for long periods. I still want to butt it up against a rock or a stump and work it painfully slow around an isolated object. But sometimes just barely flicking the tail is all the action it needs.
A grub can be one of the most effective bass lures for cold water. A 4 inch curly tail grub on a 1/4 ounce jig head can be all that is needed. Target steep chunk-rock banks with as much as 45 degree slope. Bass prefer these areas because they can make extreme depth changes up and down the water column to feed without using conserved energy. Cast to the shallow edge of the steep bank and then allow the grub to sink, raising the rod tip as the bait reaches the bottom to lift the grub. Anglers are successful when repeating this technique until the grub is back to the boat. Bass often bite when the grub is on the fall, so be ready to set the hook.
If it is a trophy bass you’re hoping to catch during the winter, it is important to learn weather patterns. Timing your fishing trips when there is a break in the cold temperatures can help. Fronts usually bring warm rain as the temperature is rising and the barometric pressure is changing and this can be one of the most productive times to fish. A warm front in conjunction with a barometric change will cause bass to feed as the bait will migrate to the warmest areas usually in the back of creeks, then they will move out to the mouth as the water cools back down following the front. One degree in water temperature can make a huge difference. Fishing with cold water lures like a jig and trailer on the shaded banks just might land that trophy you’re looking for.
During the winter months you may read a lot of articles about jigs and spinnerbaits and how to use them for cold water bass. Both lures do well as the jig and the spinnerbait are similar in design and use similar techniques when fishing them. The difference between the two is the spinner blade and the wire it’s attached to. However, The Punisher Head Spinner is a hybrid innovation between the two and features chip resistant paint job, a Sampo ball bearing swivel to enable the blade to spin easily at any retrieve speed. Backed with a sharp hook, the Head Spinner will hook and hold any bass that bites. The Head Spinner works well when fished over deep cover like brush piles, around standing cover like bridge pilings and standing timber, and along weed edges. You can use the Head Spinner with all of your favorite soft plastics or rig it with a skirt for a unique look. Use the Punisher Head Spinner with any single or double tail grub or the Super Fluke or Super Fluke Jr. as a trailer. In winter, as the water temperature falls into the middle to low 50’s, try pitching these innovative jigs to the wooden cover and work it the same way you would a jig. Allow it to fall while maintaining a tight line as it bounces off the limbs shimmering and fluttering on the way down. Watch for subtle line movement and be ready to set the hook.
In winter as the water temperatures continues to drop and the lake turns, bass feed aggressively. Sensing that winter is close, and their metabolism will slow down bass prepare by feeding heavily on the big baits when the water temperature is in the 50s. This can be a great time to throw a soft plastic swim-bait. Concentrate in the 4- to 10-foot range near docks and remaining grass and broken mats. Under blue skies, a few days into a cold front fish deeper with a weighted swim-bait on the bottom like fishing a jig. Concentrate like a rock-pile or drop off by slowly crawling and hopping the bait across the structure. Baits like these by FishHouse Lures can quickly entice a cold water bite in winter.
A soft plastic worm worked very slowly can be one of the most effective winter bass fishing techniques. By simply allowing the worm to lie motionless on targeted structure or “dead sticking” the worm and then “shaking” the rod tip occasionally can prevail. This technique will often trigger a strike. Using a bait injected with a quality bass attracting such as Attack Pak has with the Juiced Up X10 formula can be rewarding during the cold winter months.
Bass jigs with crawfish trailer worked slowly across bottom structure and cover like rocks and wood can be a good tactic in winter. Cast the jig and allow it to settle a moment before starting your retrieve. Bass often grab the bait from the bottom. However, many strikes occur as the jig is on the fall. Fish the jig slowly, avoiding the temptation to retrieve the jigs quickly. Twitch and hop the bait along slowly, enticing the bass to take the bait.
These are more angler approved and tested methods for a cold water bass bite. Although winter fishing is somewhat limited there are many techniques suited for bass fishing in the cold water
HOW TO CATCH STOCKED TROUT
Catching stocked trout is a fun way to spend a morning and afternoon. Even better when you’re catching fish! This article will discuss little known facts about the habits of stocked trout. Understanding the habits of the fish you are trying to catch will help you catch them. Important highlights are what trout eat, what triggers them to strike a lure, at what depth they swim at, how they react when freshly planted and how they behave after some time has passed. Knowing these facts will help you catch stocked trout.
What do stocked trout eat?
Stocked trout are accustomed to eating brown food pellets. They don’t generally know to eat anything else. If you cut open the stomach of a stocked trout it is very likely that you will find things like brown leaves, parts of acorns, and bits of twigs. The one thing in common to all of these stomach contents is that they are brown and arrived in the water after having been blown into it. Quite likely the twig or bit of leaf floated in the wind and splashed down on the water. This matches the feeding pattern of stocked trout: they are accustomed to brown pellets splashing down over them. For trout, during the first couple weeks after having been planted in a lake, food is something brown that splashes into the water.
Trout identify food with patterns
This leads to an important point about how trout (and most fish) identify food. Fish identify food by matching patterns. A pattern can be the size of the bait or lure, the color of the bait or lure, the way the bait/lure was presented to them (for example, by a splashdown or a “fleeing” motion that triggers an instinctual chase response). These are all patterns. Understanding that trout identify food by their pattern will help you in your selection of lure and the way it is presented. Always keep this in mind: trout are looking for patterns.
An interesting pattern is their association of food with brown things thrown at them by humans. This is why freshly stocked trout do not shy away from humans the way wild trout do. This is also why sometimes freshly stocked trout can easily be caught by casting a dropshot plastic worm at a school of trout. The dropshot artificial worm gives the presentation the trout associate with food (a human casting food at them), combined with the instinctual trigger of a fleeing bait. Fish, like many other animals, have an instinctual trigger to chase down something that is fleeing. Casting a dropshotted three inch plastic worm can work insanely well for catching freshly stocked trout. I have even caught stocked trout by quickly jigging back a slip sinker rigged PowerBait worm.
Stocked brown trout & brook trout
Patterns can also work against you. For example, even though a worm is brown and is generally considered food, a freshly stocked rainbow trout will sometimes not recognize it as food, probably because it isn’t splashing down. It takes time for them to figure it out.
This isn’t true for stocked brown trout and brook trout. Brown trout & brook trout respond better to the instinctual trigger of a fleeing bait that is presented by an inline spinner, minow shaped lure or a casting spoon. Brown trout also more readily associate a worm with food than a stocked rainbow trout. A meal worm or a hook laden with squirming little worms will trigger an enthusiastic lunge from a brown trout or a brook trout. On the other hand, brown trout and brook trout aren’t easily caught with artificial worms or trout dough. If trout dough or artificial worms stop working, switch out to lures with a fleeing bait action, especially if all those around you that are using dough and artificial worms suddenly stop catching.
Freshly planted trout
Notice how I keep repeating the phrase, freshly planted? When you read that phrase, please take it to mean that what I’m writing doesn’t necessarily hold true for trout that have been planted a month or more previously. A rainbow trout that has been in the lake or river for a few weeks will respond to real food like a worm.
How stocked trout behave
Freshly stocked trout tend to swim in schools. If you are at a stocked reservoir, pond or river and see schools of trout swimming by, odds are that the lake has recently been recently stocked. Schooling is a behavior that comes from habit. Trout are raised in long oval shaped pools about two feet high. There is an artificial current in it and they tend to swim in circles, often counter clockwise. There is also netting above their pools to prevent birds of prey from swooping down on them.
The above is important information to know. It explains the behavior of trout after they’re planted. Stocked trout tend to keep close to shore, perhaps seeking the comfort of the edge they had been used to from being in the pool. They also tend to prefer swimming about eighteen inches from the surface or eighteen inches from the bottom. This means that if you are going to float a fishing fly or other bait under a bobber, rigging the lure about eighteen inches below the bobber is a good start. This is true when the temperature of the water is optimal. When it starts to get warmer or time passes, trout tend to hover about eighteen inches to two feet above the bottom of the lake, often just a short cast from shore. If you’re fishing a sliding slip sinker rig and are not sure at what depth the trout are holding at, start at twelve inches for one pole and eighteen inches for another pole. Then gradually increase the length up to about two feet.
The thing about trout swimming counter clockwise is also important, particularly to anglers who are trolling bait. If you want to trigger an instinctual chase response, try circling your boat or kayak in a counter clockwise direction, that way your lure will pass them from behind. If you are drifting bait with a current, particularly in a river, then the natural movement is casting upstream and allowing the bait to float and tumble downstream to where the stocked fish are holding.
How stocked trout behave after time has passed
After time has passed, rainbow trout begin to regain instinctual behavior such as shyness, staying close to the bottom, feeding on insects and relating to structure. Examples of structures that fish seek are steep drops from shallow to deep, boulders, underwater trees, underwater currents, breaks in currents that create an area of calm water, shade etc. After time has passed, a rainbow trout will be able to be caught with lures with lively action and live bait. Stocked brook trout and brown trout consistently respond to movement, the action of a lure, as well as to the size.
What flies to use when fishing for stocked trout
For fly fishing, flies such as the Cove Pheasant Tail, brown Wooly Bugger, natural colored Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear fly, AP (All Purpose) Emerger and other similar nymph type flies will take trout. I think it’s because, combined with the way they are presented in stillwater (i.e. lakes and ponds) they resemble the general profile of trout food. Both the Cove Pheasant Tail fishing fly and the AP Emerger are well regarded flies for stillwater, with the Cove having been created specifically for stocked trout in reservoirs. In my opinion it’s no coincidence they resemble in color, size and presentation the general profile of trout pellets splashing down, particularly when two or three flies are tied in tandem.
What stickbait lures to use to catch stocked trout
Minnow shaped lures from two inches to just over three inches work well for catching stocked brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Two to two and a half inches is the general sweet spot. Color is generally important insofar as a calling attention to itself. There are situations when bright colors might spook fish, such as in clear water, but in general colors such as firetiger, white, pink, transluscent pink, gold and transluscent gold will all work well. If I had to pick just two minnow shaped lures, a two and half inch lure in firetiger and transluscent pink would be my choice for stocked trout. But really it’s the action, the depth, and the speed that catches the fish. The lure color mostly serves just to catch the trouts attention. Rapala and Mirashads by Owner work well trolled in reservoir lakes. Rapala minnow shaped lures and DynamicLures HD Trout work well in rivers and brooks. These aren’t the only good brands. There are many. Those are just two of my favorites, one well known and the other better known in Colorado than elsewhere.
Spoons work great on stillwater
The Thomas Buoyant in gold is a popular color, particularly for brown trout. Kastmasters and Johnson Splinter spoons in the 1/4 ounce size work well too. Gold is a good color to use when the sun is out. Not so good when the skies are overcast because there is no sunshine to create a fish attracting flash. In overcast weather and less then crystal clear water switch to a brighter flourescent color such as Firetiger. The only reservation I have with the Kastmasters is that I (and many other anglers) have experienced lost fish due to fish shaking off. This happens often with Kastmasters and if you don’t believe me search your favorite fishing forum and see how many anglers complain about this problem. I prefer to switch the treble hooks out for something reliable like an Owner Stinger 36 treble hook (ST-36BC). There are many other high quality hooks, so don’t obsess about it. The important thing is to not get the extra strong type hooks because they are thicker and this could lead to a more difficult hook set. The thinner the diameter of the hook, the easier it cuts.
Inline spinners work well in moving water. They work in stillwater too. The way they work is through the vibrations sent out by the spinning blade. It’s felt by the fish’s lateral line, a line down the middle of their sides that they use to locate prey. Examples of inline spinners are the Panther Martin lures, Mepps, Blue Fox, and the Rooster Tail. The first three feature a kind of blade that spins nicely on slow retrieves, which will allow you to get down close to the bottom where the trout are often holding. The shape of the Rooster Tail blade makes it ideal for burning it back to shore, i.e. reeling it in quickly to work the top part of the water column, for fish that are holding eighteen inches from the top. In fact, the Rooster Tail blade doesn’t spin as well if you reel it in slowly. Don’t obsess on colors. Gold blade, nickel blade, copper blade, firetiger/fluourescent colored blades, and black blades all work well. The body can be pretty much anything. I know many anglers swear by certain colors and I agree that for different water conditions the color may be more visible. When I choose to use an inline spinner, I usually choose it by the blade color. That’s just me. But you’ll save a lot of money and spend more time fishing if you avoid obsessing over colors.
What color PowerBait Dough?
There are many colors to choose from. Just keep in mind that White is a color that can be seen regardless of depth, regardless of how sunny or overcast the weather and without regard to whether the water is clear or murky. if you can only choose one color, white is the best color to choose because of how visible it is- and getting your bait noticed is one of the important keys to catching fish with dough since dough does not have fish attracting action. Other colors can be useful too, such as fluorescents for overcast days and pretty much anything for clear water. Perhaps just as important as color is how light your hook is (will it float when smeared in trout dough?), making sure your bait ball isn’t too big, floating it at the right depth and casting it not too far from shore (although sometimes a long cast is necessary). These are rigged using a slip sinker rig.
PowerBait Mice Tails
These are worm shaped rubbery lures that have a round “head” in a contrasting color. White, pink, and orange are top fish catching colors for me. Haven’t had the need to experiment with brown but that might be a good color, ha! Feel free to experiment finding your own best colors. These are also fished using a slip sinker rig. That said, anything fished with a slip sinker rig can also be rigged without a leader line and simply crimping on a split shot so that you can quickly change fishing depth. The downside of the split shot is line twist which can end up causing birds nests at your spinning reel, as well as the theoretical creation of a weak spot where the split shot is crimped, although that has not been a problem for me.
If you have any questions please email them to me or write them in the comments. I would be more than happy to write a post anwering your questions!
Have a great time catching fish!
Flathead Catfish Bait Options
If you were to cater a gourmet meal for a convention of flathead catfish, the menu might center around a lively 6-inch green sunfish presented on a 5/0 hook. Other entrees might include feisty bluegills, bullheads, or creek chubs served on sliprigs constructed with 12-inch leaders. Appetizers such as a writhing ball of river worms on an 8/0 hook, a lip-hooked waterdog, or a juicy section of a large sucker also would be welcome. Dessert could be a back-hooked mudpuppy or a crankbait trolled through a school of gizzard shad.
This menu is courtesy of some of America’s leading flathead catfish bait anglers. All of these experts agree that green sunfish, where legal, are the premier bait for flatheads. “Green sunfish are tough, and they constantly fight the hook, which produces lots of vibration,” says Denny Halgren, who guides flathead-loving clients on the Rock River near his home in Dixon, Illinois.
Jigging sunfish—Unlike most flathead anglers, Halgren fishes almost exclusively during daylight hours and aggressively jigs his sunfish to antagonize inactive flatheads into attacking his baits. He anchors his boat above a hole, baits with a 5- to 6-inch green sunfish back-hooked on a 5/0 or 6/0 Tru-Turn Catfish Hook, then casts at a 45-degree angle to the back of the boat. He uses a 2- to 4-ounce slipsinker pegged 10 to 24 inches above the hook with a lead shot.
Slow currents allow for less weight and longer leaders; stronger currents require more weight and shorter leaders. Halgren’s clients cast a similarly rigged sunfish off the other side of the boat at a 45-degree angle. The current and a jigging motion moves the baits downstream into the daytime resting hole of the resident flathead. A slow, methodical lifting-and-dropping action moves the sunfish into the hole, then works it back to the boat.
“During the day, these flatheads aren’t in feeding mode,” Halgren says, “so I show them the bait, then take it away, over and over again. We may work a bait through the same hole 15 or 20 times in an hour, but eventually the fish will grab the bait.”
Jigging for big flatheads requires specialized tackle. Halgren uses Pro Cat II graphite catfish rods developed and marketed by Aurora Sports in Elmhurst, Illinois. “I use 20-pound Stren line and those Pro Cat rods to give me the sensitivity to feel exactly what my bait is doing as I jig it, ” Halgren says. “Twenty-pound line is strong enough to handle a big flathead. It’s not necessary to horse him back to the boat. All you have to do is hold him when you set the hook, keep him from getting back into the snag, then use the current and steady pressure to guide him away from cover so you can work him back to the boat.”
Other sunfish tactics—Live green sunfish also are the preferred bait of Gene Murray, a well-known catfish angler from southeastern Iowa, who has lived on the banks of the lower Iowa River for over 30 years. Murray, who has fished with Halgren, agrees that Halgren’s jigging technique can be deadly—under certain conditions. “Most of these rivers have a soft bottom littered with debris, so jigging tends to produce lots of snags,” Murray says. “I agree with Halgren that green sunfish are a top bait, if you can get them, but I also have a lot of luck with 6- to 8-inch bullheads.
“My fishing partner Craig Whittaker is a little more adventurous and will put anything that’s legal on his hook, just to see if a flathead will take it,” Murray adds. “He’s used small sheepshead, carp minnows, crawdads, chubs and has caught flatheads on all of them. But I usually catch more and bigger flatheads by using proven baits like green sunfish or bullheads. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m also a better fishermen than he is.”
While Murray and Whittaker enjoy long discussions about who is the better angler, they agree that they have discovered a way to dramatically increase their catch rates for flatheads. Iowa regulations allow two hooks per rod, so Murray and Whittaker use either a 3-way swivel or a Kentucky-style twisted-monofilament leader rig to put a chunk of fresh cutbait—usually a small shad or herring fillet—on the same rig with a live sunfish, bullhead, or chub. “Rigs with both cutbait and livebait almost always get bit before a rig with two livebaits, ” Murray says. “I think the flavor of the cutbait draws the cats’ attention, but they almost always take the livebait once they get close enough to see it.”
The trouble with mudpuppies—Murray admits that while his favorite bait for flatheads is live green sunfish, his dream bait, when he can find them, is mudpuppies. Mudpuppies are the larval stage of salamanders; they’re only available during certain seasons and usually difficult to find. “I grew up with an old river rat who knew a spot where we could seine mudpuppies,” Murray recalls. “We’d bait bank lines with those mudpuppies and catch lots of channel catfish; we’d also find broken lines and straightened hooks where big flatheads had broken off. The only problem with mudpuppies is that every fish species in the river likes them too.”
Great gobs of worms—Virgil Agee, of Chamois, Missouri, has a favorite bait for flatheads that deals with the problem of bait thieves. He uses river worms, a sluggish, blackish-purple-brown worm found along riverbanks from Oklahoma to the Carolina coast. “I don’t know any other name for them except river worms,” Agee says. “I dig them in sand or gravel areas along the river bank. They’re about a quarter inch in diameter and up to a foot long. They’re slow-moving, tough-skinned, and their slime kind of glows in the dark. Sometimes I dig for hours to get a dozen, and other times it’s possible to get three dozen in 15 minutes.”
Three dozen river worms equates to about three “baits” for Agee. He threads a baseball-size gob of river worms onto an 8/0 or 10/0 hook below a pegged slip sinker, then casts the slow-writhing mass into a prime flathead lair. “Little fish start working on the tips of the worms, but those river worms are so tough that small fish can’t do much more than nip off the ends, ” Agee says. “All the juice and activity attracts larger fish that in turn eventually attract the big boy in charge of that particular hole.
“Those little “shakers” will keep that wad of worms bouncing from the minute you toss it in the water, ” Agee adds. “But be patient and ignore all that shaking, even if you leave it out there for an hour or more. Have faith that the river worms are tough enough that the small fish won’t clean the hook. Just leave it out there, and when all the shaking stops, it’s time to start paying attention. Something has scared away all the little fish, and it’s probably a big flathead. Flatheads don’t mess around with river worms—they just up and grab the wad, so be ready to set the hook as soon as you detect a steady pull.”
Eels, dead or alive—Ed Davis of Fayetteville, North Carolina, hasn’t boated any 100-pound flatheads, but in the past three years he has caught more than 100 flatheads in the 40- to 70-pound range from the Cape Fear River. Davis fished for flatheads all across the United States during a 21-year military career. He baits his line with green sunfish where they’re legal, and eels whenever possible. “I’ve often fished with two rigs, one baited with live sunfish and the other tipped with 6- to 8-inch chunks of a 1-inch-diameter eel,” Davis says. “The chunks of eel always outfish the live sunfish.
“Live 6- to 8-inch eels are good, too, but they’re hard to fish because they crawl into holes and get you snagged a lot. Live eels can be kept alive for months if they’re kept on ice,” Davis says. “They go dormant as soon as they’re chilled, then they perk right up as soon as you put them into warm water. The secret is to prevent them from burrowing through the crushed ice and to the melt water at the bottom of the container where they’ll drown.”
Bully for bullheads, too—Davis also is fond of baiting with bullheads. He usually hooks an 8- or 9-inch bullhead through the back near the tail, so the bait is off-balance and must constantly fight to stay level. “Bullheads are tough, they put a lot of vibration in the water, and they’re easy to find,” Davis says. “Anyone who doesn’t fish with bullheads for flatheads is handicapping himself, particularly in states where sunfish aren’t legal and eels aren’t available.”
The cutbait crusaders—Ryan Wassink of Hull, Iowa, and his brother Vaughn frequently cross the Minnesota border to fish the bait-restricted Minnesota River. Last year they caught and released 102 flatheads from the Minnesota that weighed up to 50 pounds. The Wassinks have developed an aggressive approach to catching flatheads with cutbait. “We buy 8- to 12-inch suckers from bait shops and cut them into halves or thirds, ” Ryan says. “For flatheads, I like to use the gut section, but Vaughn likes to use the heads. We save the tail sections for channel cats.”
The Wassinks put the juicy chunks of fresh sucker flesh on a 4/0 or 5/0 Kahle hook with a 12-inch leader. An appropriate-sized sliding egg sinker above a swivel keeps the chunk of sucker on the bottom. “The secret is to keep moving, ” Wassink says. “If we’re fishing during the day, we’ll hit 40 or 50 snags in an afternoon. We average about 5 minutes per snag. It has to be a really hot-looking spot for us to spend more than 15 minutes in one spot.”
The Wassinks have learned that the older the snag, the more attractive to flatheads. “We look for the old snags that have so much debris in them that grass and weeds are growing out the top, ” Ryan adds. “It doesn’t have to be deep—four feet of water under a snag might hold a nice flathead if sunlight can’t penetrate the snag during daylight hours.”
Artificial offerings—While most flathead anglers swear that lively livebaits or fresh cutbaits are the only sure-fire way to catch flatheads, Eric Anderson of Phoenix, Arizona, disagrees. “I’ve taken lots of flatheads on crankbaits, ” Anderson says. “In Horseshoe Reservoir, we clobbered flatheads that were suspended 12 feet down over 30 feet of water, following schools of shad. We caught them on #9 Shad Raps; that’s 15- to 20-pound flatheads on spinning rigs spooled with 8-pound line.”
Anderson says his goal when trolling is to trigger impulse strikes from aggressive flatheads already bent on feeding. Crankbait color doesn’t seem to make a big difference in murky water. “Thump or vibration is what matters,” Anderson adds. “Flatheads live in dirty water, and they depend on vibration to find food.”
The waterdog option—While Anderson has had success trolling crankbaits for flatheads, 9-inch waterdogs pitched into nooks and crannies along shoreline cover also have been deadly flathead bait. “I thump a waterdog on the head to kill it,” he says, “then hook it through both lips. They’re too active and hard to control when they’re alive. I pitch them into nooks and crannies along the shoreline as if pitchin’ for bass. I can give dead waterdogs enough action on the retrieve so flatheads think they’re alive.
Anderson agreed with our other experts that no single bait will catch flatheads in every situation. Weather, water temperature, water levels, time of day, and a dozen other factors all influence the sometimes finicky taste buds of flatheads. But flatheads find certain baits difficult to resist. If green sunfish aren’t legal in your waters, then bullheads, river worms, mudpuppies, eels, or fresh chunks of cutbait definitely should be on the menu.
BRIM REAPER FISHING TIPS
One of the benefits of selling the Brim Reaper is all the feedback I get from fishermen. Here are some tips that I have found and some that I have been told.
WHEN THE BREAM ARE NOT COOPERATIVE, TRY THE FOLLOWING:
- I was down at Reelfoot Lake, TN in May and fishing was slow. I could see down about 4 feet. It really helped when I added a wax worm and cast 50 feet from the boat. Obviously in clear water light line works.
Sometimes it helps to shorten the legs. I am not sure why, but sometimes they want them short.
One fellow reported that he was using the reaper and his brother was using a cricket and neither were doing much until he added a cricket to the Brim Reaper. Then the Brim Reaper with a cricket on it out caught the plain cricket two to one.
One day the fish were hitting slowly. Just nipping the bait and would not hold on. I made 6 casts into one stob and had 6 snibs. No fish so I shortened the legs and dunked it in fish formula (Crappie flavored) I then made 9 straight casts at the same stob and had 9 consecutive bream.
Another fisherman reported the same problem, which he solved by putting on a red lead-head.
Try casting the Reaper with a # 00 L-Shaped spinner in either gold or silver. This can be Deadly. Add a split shot when needed, I do. I tend to use this more often in very clear water.
The Reaper might last even longer if it does not get hot. Take it into the house when you are through rather than leave it in the car. Keep it out of the sunlight, it will last longer.
I have even used the Brim Reaper with a touch of trout dough bait and caught bluegill, crappie, and trout.
CRAPPIE AND THE BRIM REAPER
- BIG Crappie!!!! More and more fishermen are finding out every day that this bait can be Deadly on Big Slab Crappie. This summer when it was hot, the good Crappie sometimes moved into real shallow water in heavy cover in the river sloughs. Try the Brim Reaper, some people prefer to change the lead-head to one with a # 6 hook instead of the standard #8. Some people prefer a plain lead-head or painted. Depending on the water, you might want to us the Reaper with the chartreuse legs. I went out one day and did better with the chartreuse legs on both Brim and Crappie. The water was pretty dingy.
IF YOU HAVE ANY TIPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO PASS ALONG, JUST SEND THEM AND I WILL DO IT.
Remember how awesome the fishing was last month? Crappies were spawning, bunched in the shallows thicker than fleas on a hound. You were catching slabs off stake beds and brushpiles in every bay, cove, and flat. Then suddenly, just like somebody pulled the plug, it was over. Now you’re figuring it’s time to stash the crappie tackle until next spring.
Hold on. Even though the spawning bonanza has passed, there’s still plenty of great crappie action out there if you change your tactics. After the spawn, crappies follow submerged creek channels out of reservoir tributary arms toward the main body of the lake. Although they’re unlikely to be packed together now as they were during the spawn, they’re still in predictable places and respond eagerly to live bait and lure presentations. Here’s how to find these summer hangouts.
TROLL CRANKBAITS When lake temperatures reach about 75 degrees, postspawn crappies will be scattered along the first dropoff they encounter adjacent to their bedding areas—12 to 18 feet deep is typical. These fish will be suspending now rather than holding tight to the bottom, so your best approach is to cover a lot of water by slow-trolling small crankbaits like the Bandit 100 and Bomber Model A. Target the deep ends of gravel flats, major points at tributary mouths, and creek-channel drops [figure 1]. First scan these areas with your sonar and put marker buoys along channels and ditches to chart your route. Using soft-action baitcasting rods and 8-pound abrasion-resistant line, troll between 1.5 and 2.5 mph in a lazy S pattern, alternately sweeping the open water over the channel and banging bottom on top of the drop with your lures. When a fish strikes, don’t grab the rod and set the hook—crappies aren’t called “paper-mouths” for nothing, and a hard hookset may rip out the hook. Instead, pick up the rod and just start reeling. The strike is usually sufficient to bury the hook. Don’t forget to take along a plug knocker to retrieve crankbaits that hang up in brushy cover.
PROBE CHANNEL COVER With the lake now topping 80 degrees, crappies will most often be hanging around deep creek and river channels. Look for them to be suspending near, or holding tight to, stumps, brushpiles, and flooded standing timber adjacent to channels in 20 to 30 feet of water. Mark channel drops with buoys, then probe for crappies using a Kentucky rig [figure 2]. Use cheap 30-pound mono as leaders off of the main line. The stiff, springy leaders will keep the two lures from tangling. A bow-mounted sonar with the transducer attached to the trolling motor will help you stay on target. Lower the sinker straight down into bottom cover and s-l-o-w-l-y reel it up, repeating as you progress along the channel [figure 3]. July crappies often suspend in a tower formation, and this presentation will catch fish from 30 to 10 feet deep.
DRAG OFFSHORE HUMPS Even though the lake temperature may exceed 90 degrees now, you can still catch crappies by keying on offshore humps (submerged islands). Target those no shallower than 15 feet on top, especially if they rise out of deep water near a flowing channel. Crappies gravitate to the peak of the hump to feed on baitfish when current is being generated from the upstream dam, then drop back to suspend off its deep sides once the turbines shut down.
Idle over the structure, marking it with buoys. Move to open water, let out about 40 feet of line with a Kentucky rig on the business end, and head back to the spot with your trolling motor, dragging the rig behind your boat. When you move across the hump and feel the sinker hit bottom, speed up slightly; if you haven’t felt the sinker drag for several seconds, slow down until you do.
Crappies suspending in hot water can be maddeningly slow to bite. When you spot a school on your sonar, you may have to approach it from several different directions to entice a strike. A sudden change of speed can also trigger a bite. As the rig passes near the school, either speed up your trolling motor to quicken the presentation, or kill it so the rig sinks. Find the right combination, and you can get two hookups at once.
Follow the Forecast:
Minnows fade quickly in the heat, so switch to tube baits. Look for towers of suspending fish at dropoffs down to 30 feet and probe them vertically with a Kentucky rig.
Wave action creates cloudy water perfect for ambushes, and crappies emerge from channels to prey on bait feeding on windblown plankton. Head to banks with nearby dropoffs and slowly swim a small white or chartreuse twister jig.
Under clear skies, crappies retreat from piercing UV light in brushy cover near channel drops. Fish straight down into the thick stuff with a Kentucky rig.
Before a storm, crappies school up to bird-dog wandering baitfish. Make multiple passes over channel drops until you find them on your graph, then troll crankbaits or slow- drift jigs through the school. —DON WIRTH
A SHARP KNIFE IS A SAFE KNIFE
Keeping a sharp edge on your blade is important for your own safety. Compensating for a dull edge by applying additional force to finish a cut is where serious injuries can occur. If the knife blade is unexpectedly freed from what you are cutting, there is often an ongoing momentum that can slash you.
When you sharpen a Buck Knife properly it will perform the way it was meant to. Never sharpen your knife on a power-driven grinding wheel not specifically designed for that purpose. You could burn the temper from your blade making the edge brittle and prone to chips or cracks. This also voids the warranty. The first step to knife sharpening is to pick a sharpener.
HOW TO SHARPEN YOUR KNIFE
Once you decide which type of sharpener is best for you, please check out the following instructions. If you are uncomfortable sharpening a blade yourself, we do offer Sharpening Services. Buck does not offer sharpening to serrated edges.
Sharpening is really two processes: Grinding and honing. Grinding is simply the removal of metal. Honing is a precision abrasion process in which a relatively small amount of material is removed from the surface by the means of abrasive stones. Once you have the right shape, usually using a more aggressive grit, you then switch to a finer grit to hone the edge.
BUCK FAMILY INSIDE TIP!
Al Buck (1910-1991) had a great tip using a felt pen for people struggling to master sharpening by hand. He would tell people there were only three things to remember when sharpening: “Always cut into the stone, never drag your knife edge back over the stone and always maintain your angle.”
To use Al’s method, take a black felt pen and shade in the bevel of the knife. Then take two strokes on the stone and examine the edge. If you have maintained the proper angle then all the black will be gone. If you see black on the top of the edge it means you are holding the back of the knife too far from the stone. If there is black on the bottom of the edge but the top is clean then you are laying the knife too flat on the stone and you need to raise it a bit. Repaint the edge and try it again. Once you discover what the right angle looks like then just maintain that.
SHARPENING STRAIGHT, NON-SERRATED BLADES ON A STONE OR STEEL
See Buck’s line of EdgeTek Sharpeners
You should inspect the condition of the blade by looking down the length of the edge. Look for nicks or flat spots that will reflect light.
• If the blade is nicked or extremely dull, start with Stage 1 (Use a Coarse Grit Stone).
• If the blade is only somewhat dull or just needs a touch-up, start with Stage 2 or Stage 3.
STAGE 1, HEAVY SHARPENING: FOR NICKED, INCONSISTENT EDGES OR EXTREMELY DULL BLADES. USE A COARSE GRIT SHARPENER
This stage is called the “rough cut.” To remove inconsistencies in the blade edge and take the edge from a round “U” to a strong “V”, begin with a coarse grit sharpener. Buck’s EdgeTek steels or stones will do the trick, as well as the EdgeTek Honing Stone.
We recommend doing 5 strokes per side and then evaluate the grind you are creating and adjust your angle or stroke as you deem necessary to get a consistent width bevel on both sides.
Hold the Correct Grind Angle (Fig. 1, 1a)Ideally, you want to follow the same grind and edge angle (the bevel) as when the blade was new.
The angle on a Buck Knife is set based upon how we feel the knife will be used. Heavy use needs a strong and blunt “V” while skinning or filleting would need a deeper but more vulnerable “V”. We tend to grind to 13-16 degrees per side (see illustrations). If you match the existing edge angle and hold the knife against the stone to cut evenly across the edge grind, you will produce an edge with a similar angle.
A good rule of thumb is to hold the blade so the back of it is about one blade width up from flat on the stone.
Stroke the Blade Across the Sharpener with Even Control (Fig. 2, 3)
Too much pressure can crush or remove the grit from a diamond sharpener and will fatigue the user. It can also force deeper micro serrations on the edge, which are harder to remove in a subsequent process and can even break off the burr, creating new flat spots on the edge.
Your stroke can be straight or circular, from “hilt to tip” OR “tip to hilt,” whichever is more comfortable. If you’re using a small portable sharpener, stroke the blade in nearly a straight direction. Remember to always cut into the stone and never pull or drag your edge backwards. The blade edge should face in the same direction as your stroke. So, you’re essentially moving the metal away from the edge. We recommend the circular stroke as it helps you maintain your angle instead of having to find it every time you lift the knife from the stone.
Maintain Contact with the Sharpener
As you work the length of the edge (from hilt to tip), do not let the tip of the blade skip off the end of the sharpener. This can cause a rounded tip or long sharpening scratches across the blade.
Alternate Blade Sides Equally
Do the same number of strokes on each side of the blade. We recommend 5 strokes per side and evaluate, but if you do 15-20 strokes on one side, do 15-20 on the other side. Don’t alternate sides with each stroke as this makes it more difficult to maintain your angle or find a burr.
Circular Sharpening (Fig. 4, 4a)
Keep the blade on the surface and use an easy, clockwise motion with the edge facing right, until the desired sharpness is achieved. It is ideal to achieve the original factory edge.
Turn the blade over. Use an easy, counter-clockwise motion with the edge facing left. Try to spend the same amount of time on each side and evaluate.
Work the “Nicks” Separately
If there is a small nick on the edge, work the area around the nick evenly, side-to-side. Once the nick is gone, go back to working the entire length of the edge. If there is a large nick on the edge that does not not interfere with your work, you may want to prolong the life of your knife and leave the nick.
A final process inspection is to lightly (and we stress lightly) run the knife over a finger nail. If your sharpening has made it to teh edge you will feel the micro serrations catching. If you are not done, the unsharpened sections of your edge will slide with no drag.
Inspect the “Evenness” of Your Edge
You should have an even edge angle “bevel” on both sides.
Once you feel a consistent drag from hilt to tip move on to Stage 2.
STAGE 2, MEDIUM TO FINAL SHARPENING: FOR DULL BLADES, QUICK TOUCH UPS AND FINAL SHARPENING. USE A MEDIUM GRIT SHARPENER
If you have just completed Stage 1, pat or wipe your knife dry. Be careful-the burr can cut just like a sharpened edge. Now you’re ready to work the edge.
To simply sharpen dull blades and remove rough scratches begin here.
Diamond Sharpeners can be used dry or wet. Use water or water-based honing fluid, not petroleum based oil as a lubricant. Natural Sharpening Stones can also be used dry or wet, but we recommend wet. Use water, water-based honing fluid or petroleum-based honing oil.
Sharpen the edge, following the same steps as in Stage 1
You can achieve a good, sharp edge and finish at this stage without going on to Stage 3. Hone with light, single strokes, side-to-side, until you feel no burr on either side. To fine-tune the edge or smooth “sharpening scratches,” skip this step and go directly to Stage 3.
STAGE 3: FINE SHARPENING FOR A SHAVING EDGE
FINAL SHARPENING = NATURAL STONE OR FINE GRIT SHARPENER
Stage 3 removes any remaining burr and puts a burnish on the blade edge.
Using sharpening fluid
Natural Sharpening Stones should be used wet. Sharpening will require some clean up, so be generous with the honing fluid.
Use the same stroking motion as described in Stage 1. Repeat until scratches from the previous grit stone are gone. You should still feel a burr, but it should be smaller and finer.
Use light, single strokes side-to-side. Make one stroke from hilt to tip, then turn the knife to the other side and stroke once from hilt to tip. Repeat until there is no burr. This will final set the edge.
Repeat Several Times
You shouldn’t feel any micro serrations on the edge, from hilt to tip. The knife should be razor sharp at this point. If the knife fails to cut as expected, you may need to go back to Stage 2. And remember don’t apply too much pressure.
To watch the experts sharpen with EdgeTek steels click here or click on the image of Chuck Buck below.
Serrated blades hold their cutting ability long after a straight edged blade will go dull, however they are much more difficult to sharpen. A flat stone or steel will grind off your serrations therefore we recommend a tapered or cylindrical fine diamond steel or ceramic for this job. Each separate serration much be sharpened individually.
Serrated blades have a grind on one side of the blade. Only sharpen the grind side of the blade. Hold the sharpener at the angle that matches the original edge angle. Hold the knife with the edge away from you and the serrated side of the edge facing up. Set the tapered diamond sharpener in a serration so that you fill the indentation. Draw the sharpener towards the edge.
The goal in sharpening a serration is to maintain the ramp of the serration right to the edge. You do not want to create an edge bevel. Therefore we once again recommend the trusty felt pen trick. Paint the serration to be sharpened and follow your process. Evaluate if you are removing all the black. It should not take more than 5-8 strokes to resharpen if your angle was correct. Rotate or spin the sharpener as you go for the most even, consistent sharpening.
Recreating the “Initial Sharpness” on a serrated knife is difficult even if you use a tapered sharpener. But you can expect to get a “serviceable” edge. A serrated blade is more easily distorted through sharpening than a straight blade edge. So, don’t sharpen unless dull spots are truly visible.
GUT HOOKS (FIG. 6)
While very similar in process to a serrated blade, a gut hook is ground on both sides of the blade. Use a Diamond Taper Sharpener or a Diamond Pocket Sharpener. Both are excellent tools for sharpening gut hooks.
Do not try to fill the entire width of the gut hook with the wide end of the sharpener. This will enlarge the gut hook curve and distort the cutting edge.
Put the pointed, narrow end of the sharpener up against the open end of the gut hook. The narrow, pointed end of the sharpener should face in toward the thickness of the blade, away from the edge of the gut hook. Match the angle of the sharpener to the original edge angle. This will maintain the correct sharpening angle and prevent you from getting cut by the blade tip. Hold the same angle when sharpening each side of the gut hook.
In a forward and sideways motion, stroke the sharpener from one side of the gut hook to the other. Spin the sharpener as you go. As with sharpening a blade edge, the objective is to start at the edge and stroke away from the edge.
Don’t Overdo It
Restrain from over-sharpening or putting too much pressure on the tool. Alternate sides and check your progress often.
SHARPENING FISHHOOKS (FIG. 7)
To sharpen fishhooks and other small, pointed objects, use Buck’s portable EdgeTek Fishing Flipstik They have a straight-line “fishhook groove.” Do not use a flat sharpening stone.
Place the fishhook in the groove, and push hook toward the end of the sharpener away from the handle. Being a small, thin object, you’ll want to check progress frequently. A few strokes may be all you need. Do not use pressure when stroking.
You can use the fishhook groove to sharpen other fine point objects like darts and needles, too.
Source: Buck Knives
BUCK KNIFE CARE
BUCK KNIVES ARE DESIGNED FOR CUTTING
Please don’t throw, pound, pry or chop with a knife. It’s not safe and if you damage the knife using it that way, it may void the warranty. Strong impact or twisting can also damage your knife, or worse, cause an injury. If you have a locking blade, always check that the locking mechanism has secured the blade open before you use it.
KNIFE CARE INSTRUCTIONS
- Buck knives are built to last. Cleaning and caring for your knife will maintain performance and enhance the life your knife.
- Keep your knife dry; that means the entire knife, not just the blade.
- Keep your knife clean, particularly moving parts and locking devices.
- Keep your knife oiled; especially pivot points and the blade. Oil at least twice a year.
- Keep your knife sharp; a sharp blade is safer than a dull one.
- Don’t try to repair a damaged knife yourself. Send it to us and we’ll do our best to make it good as new.
- Store your knife in a dry place.
CLEAN THE ENTIRE KNIFE REGULARLY
That includes the blade, pivot points and locking mechanism. It’s best not to immerse the knife in liquid. But if you do, be sure to dry your knife thoroughly. Spray cleaners are a good alternative. Clean and oil your knife regularly to avoid sticky residues, light surface oxidation and the beginnings of rust. Always lubricate your knife after cleaning, we recommend using Wax Lubricant. It will lubricate, seal and protect your knife from surface oxidation and corrosion from moisture.
Clean Streak is completely residue-free. It’s an excellent metal cleaner that’s easy to use. Simply spray and wipe. No rinsing or immersion in liquid required.
Metal Brite is a polish. It removes surface oxidation, rust, tarnish and sticky residues while leaving a protective coating.
You can also use chemical solvents like Acetone, nail polish remover, MEK, alcohol and paint thinner to clean the blade. Keep in mind that these solvents can damage some Buck handles.
Don’t use harsh detergents that contain chlorine like washing machine powders. They can speed up corrosion of the metal.
DISCOLORATION IS A SIGN OF OXIDATION
If you find the metal has a blue, grey or black color, it is a sign of oxidation and a precursor of rust.
Stainless steel, which is what Buck uses, does not discolor easily. If you do notice a change in the color of the metal, clean it immediately. It’s a sign of rust waiting to happen.
Discoloration is common to non-stainless steel. But regular cleaning will keep the metal from rusting.
GET RID OF RUST
Rust is reddish-brown in color and will eat pits into your blade and contaminate what you cut. Light rust can be cleaned and removed with oil. Heavier rust requires more abrasive action.
We recommend Metal Brite, an excellent polish for removing rust. You can also use some solvents or a plastic cleaning pad.