Paint by Numbers, Don't Lose Friends

In America, I’m told, most babies’ first words are either “mama” or “dada.”

In Mexico, I’m convinced, most fishing guides’ first words are “You have dye?”

Seriously, every time I’ve been to El Salto or Picachos or Mateos, I’ve quickly learned that you don’t throw a watermelon lizard or a green pumpkin Senko in the drink without dying the tail chartreuse before it gets wet. Otherwise you’ll get a serious case of stinkeye from your guide and perhaps some under-the-breath Spanglish decrying know-nothing gringos.

They believe that it makes a difference and since my guides have rarely steered me wrong, I do too.

All that time down there has led me to sneak some of those habits back over the border. Now when I’m at home I use dipping dye much more than I did before I started making twice- or thrice-yearly trips to our southern neighbor. I’m convinced that the stuff works, and that it’s often worth the time and trouble to apply it.

That doesn’t mean it’s trouble-free, though. Try to dip your boot tail swimbait into that little jar in bucking four-foot rollers and unless you have the manual dexterity of a brain surgeon you’re going to struggle. Even worse is watching your 78 year-old co-angler with a hand tremor trying to do the same thing in the back of your new $70,000 Hydro-Blaster. It’s enough to make you scream. Even if the dunking works out fine, invariably when you or your partner removes the bait there’s going to be a little bit of escaping drippage that’ll make a beeline for your carpet or seats. In fact, my friend Brian Thompson once had a draw partner spill a not-insubstantial amount of dye on the seats of his new Triton. When Brian protested, the guy pretty much said “Suck it up, buttercup.” They almost came to blows in the parking lot at Buggs Island. The dye faded years later, but the guy was an absolute jerk about it and it left a bad feeling among all involved.

While I doubt that such problems are entirely in our past, Elite Series pro Mark Menendez introduced me to a new product last week that might reduce their frequency. The DyeSafe from Dyeing2Fish is a clear utility box that includes dipping dye, but perhaps more importantly, it has a foam insert that not only holds the bottles in place in unstable boats, but also catches the excess drippings that invariably arise after a dipping – before they can find their way to your expensive boat. In this era of specialized storage boxes for everything from terminal tackle to Alabama Rigs, it makes more sense than ever that there should be a dedicated version for your “bait paint,” too. If it can prevent on-the-water brawls, so much the better.