We’ve never had a year quite like 2020, for many reasons. In the fishing industry alone, we saw all tournaments halt for several months and bare shelves in tackle shops across the country.
Yet, we made it through, and now is the time to look back at the trends from this past fishing season. And there definitely were some big trends that emerged this year you should take note of going forward.
Sight fishing with electronics
People used to get upset if you called your electronics “fish finders.” “They’re depth finders,” they’d scoff.
Well, not anymore. They truly are fish finders. Modern electronics have gotten so good that top anglers will get on patterns simply by watching their graphs to see fish. They’ll know exactly how to cast on them and can even watch the fish eat the lure on-screen.
This ability to find fish and see them react to lures is revolutionizing fishing; to the point where if you’re not using it, top pros say you’re at a severe disadvantage trying to compete at high levels. Pros say they can watch their lures and get even the most treble-hook-laden lures within inches of the gnarliest brush pile without ever getting hung up, and then watch bass swim out of the brush to choke their lures.
If you were fishing for smallmouth in 2020, you better have been doing it with a drop-shot.
Every major tournament held on northern smallmouth fisheries was won on a drop-shot. In fact, many of them were won on the exact same lure. While tubes had their day and jerkbaits still come into play every now and then for smallmouth, they seem fully all-in on the drop-shot bite right now, unable to lay off a small worm.
Yet, it wasn’t just Great Lakes smallies who seemed to find the finesse presentation irresistible. Used in conjunction with good electronics, anglers across the country were targeting suspended fish with them, dropping their drop-shots right down to the fish suspended out over nothing and watching them come up and eat.
Up until a half dozen years ago, hair jigs were seen as niche lures long surpassed by their silicone-skirted cousins. Then offshore anglers started tossing them out on deep ledges and scoring some big weights.
Now? Anglers are finding more and more reasons to throw them, deep or shallow.
While rarely the No. 1 lure used to win tournaments, hair jigs were featured prominently in numerous tournament victories this year, everywhere from Florida to Texas to Tennessee.
Still, many anglers undervalue the hair jig. While big swimbaits get the call more often, the action of a hair jig hopping draws different reaction strikes that swimbaits can’t match. They are also less intrusive than a crankbait.
If you are already throwing crankbaits and swimbaits, shallow or deep, you should add a hair jig to your arsenal to complete the trifecta.