I continue to read about the use of trailer hooks on spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. Most often it is recommended that you use a piece of surgical tubing over the eye of the trailer hook. However, while attempting to remove or change the hook, I have a difficult time removing the surgical tubing, as it gets stuck on the barb of the hook. Recently, while repairing a small leak in my windshield with silicone sealant, it occurred to me that I could use the silicone in place of the surgical tubing. The silicone remains pliable and is much easier to work with than the tubing. I tried it out and it works great. Just place a dab of silicone sealant on the eye of the hook. Let it set for few a minutes, then give it a squeeze to force it into the eye and the hook eye head. Not only does this work easier than the surgical tubing, it can also be reused again and again. After removing the hook, just give the silicone a little squeeze to refill the eye.
Dave Faulhaber - Gurnee, IL
I learned a good tip for sharpening knives from my grandmother. She used the unglazed rim on the bottom of a ceramic mug, plate or bowl. Just angle your knife as you would against a whetstone. It works pretty well in a pinch!
Daniel Lane - Bloomington, MN
I like to make up several rigs ahead of time by tying two-way swivels, leaders and hooks of different sizes and test strengths. I then match each one up with a sliding sinker and appropriately sized bead. I place each set in a snack-size Ziploc® bag. I label the bag with the hook size and style, leader strength, sinker weight, etc. I keep these bags in my tackle box and when I'm going fishing I can take a few and stick them in my pocket to travel light. Now I'm ready for any situation and I can spend more time fishing and less time digging and rigging!
Chris Whitley - Petersburg, IL
I have found it very helpful to put flavor back in my 10-month-old labs hard chew bones/toys by boiling them in beef bouillon cubes and then let them soak for a day. Young dogs seem to need to be busy chewing on something but once the flavor is gone they want something they should not have. Saves on buying new ones all the time.
Jerry Strand - Dousman, WI
Recently, as I was preparing my fishing boat for winter storage, I discovered that the pedestal stand meant to support the cover was unstable. It had a tendency to fall over, creating a valley in the cover where rain or snow could accumulate. By substituting an unused birdbath-which had a wider base and top-for the pedestal, I created a much more stable support. These plain, plastic birdbaths, with no figurines on top, may be purchased cheaply at garage sales, flea markets, etc., or brand new from garden centers or home improvement stores. In the spring, simply remove it from the boat and use it in your yard for its intended purpose.
David Sepanski - Wadena, MN
I use white plastic bleach bottles as duck decoys. The ones with handles work best. Just tie a decoy anchor rope with weight to the handle; put a little sand or water inside the bottle for weight; and place four or five of these with your regular decoys. They look like feeding ducks (tip ups). They work for me and they're cheap!
Daniel Lee - Bloomington, MN
When I saw a flock of several hundred bluebills on Lake Rathbun, the duck hunting bug bit me hard. I had loaned my duck decoys to a buddy. He was out of town and his garage was locked. A dozen new decoys would set me back about $50. The economy is slow and things are tight. As I was driving, I passed a garage sale with hunting clothes hanging out in front. I stopped and, sure enough, the lady had some old decoys for sale. I bought a gunny sack of dekes, sight unseen, for $10. When I go home, I took them out to inspect them. While they were worn, they still appeared to have plenty of use left in them. I cleaned them up with Black Magic® Tire Wet® Foam, then touched them up with some old paint. The finished product-a dozen bluebill decoys for under $15. I put them to work on Lake Rathbun. They worked just fine!
Tony Humeston - Albia, IA
To keep from falling and getting hurt on the slick ice, I put half-inch gold screws in the bottom of my Sorel boots. I put three in the heel and four or five in the foot. The screws are made for ATVs and motorcycles to give traction on ice. They also did a great job when I put them on the hard rubber tires of my snowblower.
Robert Zimmerman - Lomira, WI
Last year I started fishing for catfish on the Mississippi. Part of that meant learning about the wonderful world of dip (stink) baits. I started to notice that the monofilament leaders of dip worms kink up pretty easily. I took a few of mine apart and put steel leaders in place of the monofilament. This worked well. The leaders didn't kink and the clasp kept the tube in place better than mono. On my last outing, I tried two worms on one rig with a six-inch leader on one and a nine-inch leader on the other. That also worked well. I got most of my fish on the nine-inch worm, but I suspect that was because as the fish came up the scent trail, that was the first worm it encountered. Anyway, try this. I had good luck with it.
Lee Nice - Sherrard, IL
You can prolong the life of your hunting socks by washing them inside-out. You should also run them through an extra rinse cycle to help get rid of detergent residue. (It also makes them softer.)
Daniel Lane - Bloomington, MN
I have a tip to help you identify your own tip-ups and replace a worn out flag. It uses multi-colored duct tape. 1. Remove old flag. 2. Cut two pieces of dark colored duct tape into eight-inch long strips (I use black). 3. Lay one piece over the other so the width of both is approximately 3-1/2 inches. 4. Lightly crease it in half so you know where the middle is and wrap it around the strike indicator rod where the old flag was. 5. Cut a second piece of different colored duct tape into an eight-inch long strip (I use orange). 6. Lightly crease it in half and place it on top of the first piece of duct tape. You now have a personalized tip-up and one that is easy to see from a distance.
Sam Heitl - , WI
Most fishermen know enough to change fishing line very often. Obviously the better the line the longer it can last, even more than one season depending on conditions and if it was left in a warm or cold area during winter. Reversing the line on a reel can work if the quality is good and it doesn't kink when doing this. Always check more than one spot on the line for weakness. Now is a good time to inventory what you need for the summer so when the spring specials hit you are ready to go. Get all the equipment cleaned as spring has a way of sneaking up on you.
Jerry Strand - Dousman, WI
Boot patches: Don't use expensive car tire patch kits, use bicycle tube patches. Buy a can of contact glue with the brush attached and a box of tube patches. Follow instructions as you normally would if patching an inner tube. These patches are soft and flexible and contour around the ridges and overlaps built into boots. You can even lay one over a portion of another to patch a long tear.
John Koyen - Cogan Station, PA
When camping outdoors in cold weather, place a plastic drop cloth under and over your sleeping bag. The plastic holds body heat in and keeps you warm in freezing temperatures.
Gary Schacht - Kenosha, WI
Having trouble locating the blood trail of a wounded animal? A few drops of hydrogen peroxide can help. It is a cheap antiseptic that can be found at your local drug store. Pour some hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and take it along when hunting. When you see what you think is blood on the trail, spray it with hydrogen peroxide. If it is blood, it will foam. This could help keep you from losing a wounded animal.
Dan Lane - Bloomington, MN
If you fish with spikes and refrigerate them between outings, the bedding material eventually becomes damp and soggy. When this happens, simply replace the bedding with dry, uncooked oatmeal. The spikes will stay dry and lively. I've never tried this with wax worms, but I don't know why it wouldn't work just as well.
Kevin Coulson - Plum City, WI
Pile your raked leaves inside a small circular fenced area. Soak the leaves well with water and cover with a plastic tarp. Next summer, you will have lots of free worms for bait hiding underneath the pile. Use the rotted leaves for compost and mulch in the garden. Good fishing and good gardening!
Steve Turnis - Debuque, IA
Want to avoid that lingering smell that is left over when frying fish? Put a bowl of vinegar next to where you are frying fish. The vinegar will absorb the majority of the greasy smell and you will have a nice fresh kitchen when you are done cooking.
Bob Bohland - St. Paul, MN
I recently learned a new method of fishing through the ice in clear water where there is a sandy bottom. Drill two holes about four inches apart. Sitting with the holes vertically positioned in front of you, drop your line in farthest hole. The bait, when reaching the bottom, will actually be visible in the hole nearest to you. You can watch as the fish takes the bait. For this to work, you must be fishing in a closed shanty so that it is dark enough to illuminate the holes and the bottom. I recently used this method while perch fishing in 12 feet of water in Canada. It gives you a whole new excitement when ice fishing.
Walt Knaus - St. Johns, MI
If you collect golden rod grubs in the fall for ice fishing, you will need a medium in which to keep them over winter. First, remove the grubs from the galls at home where it is warm. (This could save you from cutting your finger, trying to do it when you are cold out on the ice.) Once the grub is removed, rub the gall with a file or a piece of sandpaper to shred it. Use the shredded gall to keep the grubs all winter.
Jerry Wagner - Mineral Point, WI
Sew a large button out the outside of your hunting jacket at the center of one or both shoulders. When carrying a rifle on your shoulder, the sling won't slip past the button.
Gary Schacht - Kenosha, WI
I have a pull-behind ice shack. When I get to where I want to fish, I just crank it down on the ice. Banking it with snow to keep the cold air from coming in the bottom can be a problem, especially when there is no snow. I fastened old rubber baler belting to the frame on the bottom of the ice house. This forms a kind of gasket when I put the house down on the ice. Now there's no need to bank snow around it to keep out the cold air.
Kerby Lee - Boyceville, WI