I’d guesstimate that I have 80 pounds of tackle in the two bags I keep in storage at Lake El Salto. Most of it consists of proven tools, but there are also plenty of items that haven’t produced a single fish for me down there – including flutter spoons, umbrella rigs and various glide baits. Their lack of production might be because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, or because I’ve fished them at the wrong times, or a combination of the two, but the bottom line is that they’re wasting space, and so far they’ve wasted time, too.
In fact, I’d guess that well over two-thirds of the bass I’ve caught on my 15 or so trips to interior Mexican lakes have come on a handful of lures: a Senko, a Texas Rig, a deep-diving crankbait, a Rico and a spinnerbait. Next in line comes a Chatterbait, and swimbaits, jerkbaits and jigs have all had their days.
It’s basic stuff, proven stuff, but when first-timers ask me what they need to bring, the impression I get is that they’re waiting for the whispered name of some magic bait. Maybe it’s a topwater that was discontinued in 1968, or a swimbait with a waiting list 2,000 names deep, but they want something exotic. When I recommend that they go heavy on the fundamentals, I can hear the disappointment in their voices. You have limited space in your luggage going down – be sure that you have your main bases covered before you start branching out.
I know that few people are going to heed that advice. They might even get mad at me when I tell them to bring a hundred green pumpkin Senkos and they don’t catch a single fish on one the entire trip, or when I lead them to believe there will be an epic topwater bite and that fails to materialize. But more often than not, one of those core baits will be on fire, and you’d better have an adequate amount.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t experiment. Our guides were dubious the first time we pulled out a Chatterbait, a Vision 110 and a Whopper Plopper, and now they have complete faith in them. Instead, my point is to say that you should keep the freelancing to a reasonable level, and devote substantial time to proven winners. Figure out how much time you’re willing to go fishless and use that in pursuit of the next big thing. A standard 3- or 4-day fishing trip goes remarkably fast, even when you’re putting in 11 or 12 hours a day, and two hours a day down a rabbit hole with no end in sight can undermine what would’ve been a trip of a lifetime.