Key to Fishing Success
Inside the Outdoors, March 14
, 2014

When I heard Eric Bykowsky give his presentation on picking the best fishing rod and gear at one of the seminars at the Allegheny Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show, little did I know I would learn so much. After all, I had been educated by anglers of all ages as to the dos and don’ts of fishing. I thought by now, I had a pretty good grip on the sport.

But it took an 18 year-old Carnegie Mellon University sophomore to fill in the spaces that long had remained gaps as to my understanding just why one should chose certain fishing gear over others followed by the techniques over those that were taught to me originally.

We who are bent toward using one particular reel may have always used it because that’s all we knew. Anymore time is a factor as well, and most of us have very little of it to spare. So, when we go fishing, we grab what we have and go out to the waters for a limited amount of time and try to catch the desired species and then head home and ready for work or whatever is on our plate.

So when the president of CMU’s fishing club started talking about baitcasting reels, I thought to myself, “Oh, those are the one’s pros use that I see in magazine advertisements. I’m not sure I could handle them.”

Bykowsky agreed that they are unforgiving, but they outweigh the advantages over spinning reels.

“They are very adjustable, have more precise casting using specific techniques and because heavy-braided line is used, structure is avoided.” He went on to point out that, “Fishermen are more apt to use baitcaster reels when fishing from a boat whereas shore fisherman will opt to use spin fishing gear instead,” he said.

There are so many assets to using braided line the angler stated. “It can be used in heavy cover; it is more visible and has zero memory.”

The Fenwick/Pflueger sponsor went into detail as to the difference between monofilament and fluorocarbon lines.

“The more popular line, mono, as it is called, is used for a lot of different things. First of all, it is inexpensive, has stretch and often breaks easily. Fluorocarbon, a higher quality line, may cost more, but also has many more benefits,” he said.

Here is the one part of his presentation that really intrigued me. “Fluorocarbon is invisible to fish.”

To prove this, he showed a slide of lures hanging on two lines in water. The mono leading to the spoon stood out vividly whereas the other was visibly non-existent. Fishing is all about natural presentation. What better way is there than to retrieve a lure through the depths of a stream or lake than to use the latter.
“If one is fishing for bass,” the business major said, “fluorocarbon is the best line to use. It also has more sensitivity.”

The South Carolina native disclosed when best to employ either of two lines. “Fluorocarbon can be used by itself, for example, in clean water,” Bykowsky said. “But when fishing in murky water, braided line is the best choice of the two.” He went on to point out, “When using braided line, one must use a fluorocarbon leader for proper presentation.”

His presentation on rod choice was equally impressive. He had several of them present, all used for different occasions. All made by Fenwick, one was used for action lures, another for plastic worms and the third for jigs. “All Fenwick rods are marked for fast or slow action,” he said. “Slower action rods are designed for spinners or crankbaits.”

The tournament competitor then emphasized, “All lures must match the rod used.”

He then stressed that anglers should choose fully graphite six to eight-foot rods depending on what type of lure is being used. “If one is using crankbaits, one should use a six foot, six-inch rod, and for general (plastic) worms, seven-foot long rods.”

Bykowsky then touched upon techniques stating how to use braided and fluorocarbon line accenting the finesse necessary to catch fish.

After his very informative seminar, I asked him what led him to become a competitive angler.
“When I first came up to college in 2012,” he stated, “I realized how much I missed fishing, so I went and bought a $25 Shakespeare combo from Dick’s and would take the bus down to the river once a week to bass fish.”

“Have you won any competitions?” was my next question. “I haven’t won any tournaments (only three in my life),” Bykowsky said, “but did place in the top 16 at the FLW College Region Qualifier, which got me a birth in the regional even this year.”

He concluded, “Once I got my sponsorship with Fenwick, I started fishing tournaments with the CMU team.” He is looking forward to a career in marketing.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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