With the sport of bass fishing growing at an exponential rate, it is imperative now more than ever that we all practice proper fishing handling as well as fish care while they are in our possession during tournaments. This finite resource is delicate but by using products available to us to cause as little harm and stress to the fish as possible, we can ensure this resource is available for future generations to come. One such example is non-puncture cull tags such as the Clip-N-Cull 2.0 Culling System from Cal Coast Fishing.
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The first ever B.A.S.S Federation tournament was held on Beaver Lake in June of 1967 and was really the powder keg to ignite the sport of professional bass fishing. Back in the day, proper fish handling and care was not in the forefront of the tournament directors’ minds. In that first tournament, the 700lbs of bass that were caught were all cleaned and donated to local charity. This was common in the early days of bass fishing. Fast forward to present and we see a very different mindset regarding fish care and handling to preserve the bass that we care so much about.
One such product that has caused more controversy than any other regarding fish care would have to be the implementation in all major circuits to a puncture free culling system. BASS put this rule into effect in 2016, banning puncture style cull clips. Most of us are aware of these style clips where a metal clip is used to puncture the jaw, typically the lower and clip back onto itself like a safety pin essentially. The problem with these tags is their destructive nature which can have lasting effects on the fish.
While tagged, fish will often thrash which can allow this hole to open more and more throughout the day, eventually leaving a gaping hole in the fish’s mouth or potentially worse, such as damaging ligaments in the jaw. The lasting effects of this are related to the fish’s ability to eat which can lead to eventual death if the jaw is damaged severely. The science behind the numbers or concrete facts on how this effects the fish long term are not certain, however, the view we should have is that we do all we can within our power to keep the fish undamaged and under as little stress as possible for the short time they are in our care.
Some tournament series have gone to weigh or measure and release formats to eliminate the time the fish is handled. Though a novel idea, the likelihood of the standard five fish limit and weigh in being done away with in its entirety is slim to none. That being said, we need to do all we can to protect the fish and utilizing a cull clip such has been developed by Cal Coast that is puncture-less is a good way we can do our part to take care of these fish.
What is the Cal Coast Clip-N-Cull 2.0 Culling System?
The Clip-N-Cull 2.0 system is a culling system designed around ease of use, fish friendliness and being secure. When in the heat of a tournament day, having a reliable culling system that is easy to use and secure is a must. We all know how it can be, you’ve got a school of fish fired up and the culling is fast and furious. Fumbling with tags, having fish flop off the tag or off the cull beam, etc. can result in the dreaded mistake of throwing back the wrong fish. This system fixes these issues.
The system comes with 7 easily identifiable tags that are both numbered and colored for easy identification. It is constructed of a high-grade nylon monofilament with rubber over it for comfort along with the colored and numbered floats and their unique ratchet and tooth designed punctureless clips. The design of the clips allows to adjust the pressure on the jaw of the clip dependent on the size of the fish, ensuring a snug fit to keep fish from flopping off the tag but also keeping them comfortable and limiting their stress.
The simplicity of design eliminates parts that can break and the fact that there is no corrisive metal means these tags are rust-free! This coupled with the Money Beam cull beam and included storage bracket to mount in your livewell, makes for a full proof culling system, perfect for the tournament angler, whether a weekend warrior or an Elite series pro.
What We Liked About It
After using these clips for a couple tournaments where many fish were culled, and only culled by an ounce or two at a time, it became abundantly clear what characteristics we liked most about the system. First and foremost is the ease of use. The ratchet and tooth design allows for quick and easy, single-hand operation. When in the heat of a tournament, being able to quickly attach the tag and get back into fishing is paramount when time is limited.
Once our limit was filled, we got to the part I usually detest, which is culling. Most all cull beams on the market have not caught up with the puncture free tags. Many still sport this same puncture style design which really may be even more destructive on a beam as the fish usually are thrashing around a bit. Others that have a nonpuncture style lip grip typically require one to remove the tag from the fish to place it on the beam which takes added time and risk for the fish to flop around and into the water. This is not the case with the Money Beam, which actually has slotted grooves for the tag itself to hang from. No more puncturing fish or having to move the fish from cull tag to beam, back to tag; this can be accomplished in one easy process. The design of the grooves also compensates for the fish thrashing and still holds the tags secure, making culling a breeze. Less time in the back of the boat culling fish equals more time on the deck and chasing that next bite.
Our suggestion on an improvement for the system has nothing to do with the system itself, but rather HOW it is to be properly used. If one does not know where to place the clip on the lower jaw of the fish between the hyoid and the dentary in the fleshy part of the lower jaw. If it is not placed here, the fish can wriggle itself off the clip BUT when placed correctly, we did not have this issue occur once. A simple diagram on the package showcasing how and where to place the clip could be advantageous to someone unfamiliar with the product.
With most of the larger tournament series already having made the jump to punctureless cull tags, if you are still living in the stone age and using puncture tags, its time to stop dragging your knuckles on the ground and pick up some puncture free cull tags like the Cal Coast Clip-N-Cull 2.0 culling system tags. The damage inflicted to the fish with puncture tags is not only archaic, its downright unnecessary at this point in bass fishing. Lets do our best to protect this finite resource for generations to come!