Itís that time of year again. Black Friday is behind us, but that doesnít stop the big-box retailers from sending ads and catalogs at record pace. Iím continually amazed at the vast waste created by mailings, both in terms of paper and dollars. Evidently marketing and advertising gurus still find it relevant, somehow.
Subconsciously falling victim to the crime, I decided to browse the pages of one such catalog during an evening in front of the tube. Such activity once had me searching for magic lures, but now I find myself looking more at sun shirts, deep fryers and slippers. I guess Iím officially old.
As the minutes faded into hours, it struck me that I often find what I want, but never what I need. Through all my years in the fishing biz, Iíve seen dozens of innovations that literally changed our world. Weíve discussed this before; Side Imaging, 36-volt trolling motors and braided line immediately coming to mind.
Despite all of the advancements, bass fishermen still lack a few essential items that manufacturers never bring to market. To many of us, such products seem so simple; certain to set the world on fire should they ever come about. Yet, judging from their continued absence, bringing such ideas to fruition must be more difficult than weíd think.
Letís take a look at my initial ideas. Iíve shared a few of these with R&D professionals in the past, but maybe it will take one of you to get the ball rolling. In the end, weíd all sleep better.
> Tungsten sinker dye: As we know, tungsten weights come bare or painted, and efforts to switch the finish from one to the other is quite difficult. Some anglers have found hot torches and acidic compounds capable of temporarily taking off the shine, but who wants to go through all of that?
> Power locks for boats: Why in the world isnít there an aftermarket locking system for all boat compartments that can be easily installed by a dealer, and works off of a fob? I can lock my car, as can everyone else in the world, yet few of us can easily lock up a boat. What gives?
> Hook sharpening machine: Todayís fish hooks come chemically sharpened to needle points, direct from the manufacturer, in giant quantities. Yet maintaining these points is a painstakingly slow process and, in the case of some ďcutting edgeĒ designs, is nearly impossible. I envision a device that can be loaded with a dozen or more hooks. After a simple button push, like-new points are the result. Possible?
> Braided line that holds color: This one is pretty self-explanatory. While I recently tried a braided line paint that works extremely well to correct the problem of faded fishing lines, why is there a problem in the first place? I assume itís very difficult to get the materials used in manufacturing braided line to hold permanent color. But impossible? PleaseÖ
> Small, inexpensive boat batteries: While weíre hearing more buzz about alternatives to traditional lead-core batteries, initial tests have been inconclusive and anglers have reported high levels of failure. In addition, costs are simply prohibitive for most bass anglers to jump on board, with complete battery sets running thousands of dollars. Conversely, I can buy a lithium-powered chainsaw set, capable of cutting down all the trees in my yard, for $129, and that includes the saw. Perhaps the engineering focus should be more on ways to continuously recharge trolling motor batteries while on the water, rather than striving for longer chargers. In any case, bass boat battery systems remain in the Stone Age.
> Plastics that really donít tear: My never-ending rant. A few manufacturers have tried to reduce tearing in plastics with mixed results. Cyber-age materials really donít fish the same and are often difficult to place correctly on a hook. Mannís HardNose series of lures introduced the correct idea, but their overall moderate placement in the hardcore bass industry hasnít really allowed the ball to get rolling. So I again sit alone in my office screaming to deaf ears: Please, oh God of bass fishing, please put a tear-proof spot in the nose of Speed Worms and Horny Toads. Put it in Power Worms and Sweet Beavers. And please, if anyone out there is listening to anything I say, and Iím granted just one last wish for Christmas, please put a tear-proof spot in the nose of a Senko.
There you have it; my Christmas wish list. Truly wishes Ė no different than a cure for male baldness or cars that run on water Ė because none are likely to ever exist. Or are they?
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)