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Games & Apps

There's an app for that rings true for just about every facet of modern life, and fishing is no exception. Fishing apps exist in both the Apple and Android app stores (and newsstands), and they range from traditional fishing magazines to digital publications designed expressly for tablets. Other apps cover tides, weather, fishing methods, best spots to fish in, species, rules and regulations, and more.

Fishing game apps are on the increase, too, for those days when you can't get on the water. Since they are all mobile, it is easy to see why fishing apps are becoming so popular. The beauty of it is that the information is with you, and stored in your smartphone while fishing.

Fly & Light Tackle Angler – This fully interactive, digital fishing magazine from Apple is a digital quarterly that covers saltwater and freshwater fishing for light tackle and fly fishing anglers. Covered territory includes the U.S. Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf Coast, in Florida and the tropics, with a heavy focus on “where-to” and “how-to” instructional columns and features.

American Angler – A digital fly fishing magazine for the iPad that covers mainly freshwaters, there's a seasonal emphasis on freshwater streams, rivers, lakes, and occasional saltwater coastal destinations. Brush up on your skills via the where-to coverage and highly technical fly fishing columns throughout.

Fishing Calendar – This is an advanced So-lunar prediction calendar that steers anglers to prime fishing times of the day. Features include moon phases, minor and major lunar times for fish activity, likely feeding times and more. Compatible to download for iPhone or iPad.

Fishing Paradise 3D, Bass Professor – Promoted on TV through South Bend's Lunkerville program, this animated app features the late Doug Hannon, the famous Bass Professor. This app puts anglers on the lakeside, and points are scored for fish caught and released. It has sounds of the reel drag, and other sounds of nature in the background. This is a good one for kids, as well as adults.

Weather and Tides

Nothing has a more profound effect on fishing than the weather (freshwater and saltwater) and tides (saltwater).

Tides (low and high) are influenced by the moon's gravity and position primarily, and occur either twice or four times each day depending on the location. Tide phase times change by approximately 50 minutes each day, like clockwork, due to the moon's rotation around the earth. Fishing is generally best when the current is flowing, so knowledge of tides is paramount for anglers.

Tracking Tides - To track tide predictions, anglers can choose from many sources, including the following:

Daily newspaper, print or online – Most newspapers run the tide charts in the sports section of the paper, typically with fishing reports, but they can be found on the weather page in a table with sun and moon information.

Tide booklets and print-format monthly tables – These are normally found in most bait and tackle shops, and are free, or are available for a nominal charge.

Tide websites online – Many websites exist, and cover the globe. Typically, they include every ocean basin and all corrections for waters, from the open sea to headwaters of tidal rivers.

Tide apps – In both the Apple app store and Android store, there are dozens of dedicated tide prediction apps for download to phones and tablets. Many are global, others are continental or region-based. Most are free, and a good example is USA Tides Free, by Verona Solutions. This one is menu-driven and breaks down tidal predictions to every inlet, and all inshore water features in the country. There are thousands of popular tide locations in this app.

Tide wristwatches – Basically, you set it and forget it. Tidal chronometers are simply watches that tell the tide time 24 hours a day, and can be set for the wearer's location. Most also have moon phase graphics, air temperature and a compass built in. Popular brands include Casio, Nixon, Timex and Rip Curl. Prices vary widely.

Fishing Charts

Nautical charts approved for navigation (produced and updated by NOAA) differ from so-called hot spot fishing charts, in that they are more detailed, and include every navigational hazard a mariner should know. Many print, online and app fishing charts are geared mostly toward listing hot spots, fishing features, GPS locations of reefs, artificial reefs and wrecks offshore. And the charts may have a key that shows best places to fish for particular species.

They are normally marked by a professional guide or experienced angler who is paid for the information. A fisherman cannot take that information as gospel, because conditions and time of year ultimately dictate whether a published hot spot is a productive spot on a particular day. Consider these fishing charts as a good general starting point, and add your own discovered spots as you fish. Many are waterproof, and can be marked with erasable grease markers for personal input.

Tying Fishing Knots

There are dozens of basic knots for fishing, though a few basic types suffice for most fishing. A knot is the connection of line-to-hook (or lure or fly) and line-to-leader. The best knot is one you can tie well, with practice. The goal is to use knots that preserve the pound-test rating of your main fishing line. Keep in mind that a knot will normally break before your main fishing line, unless you achieve 100 percent knot strength. And that is certainly possible, so long as your knot is drawn down (tightened) evenly and completely seated.

Lubricating the knot (with either knot oil, water or saliva will decrease the friction that can burn, and thus weaken a monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line. Anglers can find hundreds of knot diagrams, photos and YouTube knot-tying videos on the web. But don’t let it overwhelm you – there are a few that are perfectly applicable to many fishing situations.

Basic hook-tie knots – The clinch knot, improved clinch knot, Palomar knot and uni-knot are some of more popular knots with which to tie on a hook, lure or fly. These draw the knot down tight against a hook eye, and are ideal for many saltwater and freshwater situations. With all of these, you will make more “turns” with the bitter end of your line around the standing part of the line with light line, say, in the 4- to 15-pound-test range to make a strong connection.

As you go up in line test, for example to 20- to 40-pound test, fewer turns are needed, because the line of that pound-test is heavier, and even if your knot is rated for 75 percent of the line test, the breaking point is still relatively high.

Basic line-to-leader knots – Most popular and easy to tie are blood knots, surgeon's knots and double uni-knots. These are excellent for tying a light line to a somewhat heavier piece of leader material made of monofilament or fluorocarbon. The heavier leader is needed when targeting rough-mouthed or sharp-toothed fish that would otherwise slice through your lighter fishing line. As long as the pound-test (and diameter) ratio between your main fishing line and leader is in the 3 to 1 range or less, these knots draw down well and preserve integrity.

For example, tying a 30-pound-test leader (or lighter) to a 10-pound-test fishing line would be fine with these knots. For greater ratios, tying a 10-pound-test to a 40-pound-test or heavier leader, an Albright special knot would be better. As would forming a double line with the last couple of feet of your main fishing line before tying on a leader.

To form a double line in your main fishing line, choose between a spider hitch and the more difficult, but superior Bimini twist. The idea here is to create more diameter, not to mention better strength preservation in your line-to-leader connection.

Knots for wire leaders – If tying on a wire leader for fish with very sharp teeth, use a figure eight knot, which is very basic and simple, and works well with a flexible soft, multi-strand leader, or a haywire twist for the stiffer single-strand wire.

Fly fishing knots – Fly fishing calls for many of the same knots to tie on flies and join leader sections, but fly fishers who tie nylon leaders to their heavier fly line use the nail knot to make a connection. Others form a loop in both the bitter end of the fly line and the butt end of the leader (to join them) by using the whip-finish to make a strong loop.