Important tackle notes

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Ehrler fishes his topwater baits on a 6-foot, 9-inch medium-light Daiwa Tatula Elite Seth Feider Small Topwater/Small Jerkbait rod paired with a Tatula 100 casting reel carrying 30-pound Sunline X-Plasma braid with a 19-pound monofilament leader. This setup, he said, provides the optimal balance of bait control and fish-fighting efficiency.

“I think if you go any stiffer than this, you pull the bait away on the hookset,” Ehrler said. “You don’t set the hook, you pull into him. What I think happens with a stiffer rod is you tear the hook out of the fish’s mouth. With braided line, there’s zero stretch, so when you pull the only thing that absorbs that pressure is the softness of the rod.

“You overpower a fish with braid, so you need a softer rod. I honestly believe I land more fish with that topwater rod because it is so soft. People will throw that 108 on a medium-heavy rod and I promise you I will land more fish than they will because I’m using a lighter rod.”