Ask ten tournament anglers what the best culling system is, and you’ll probably get twelve different answers! It’s a hotly debated topic, with anglers having vastly different preferences and opinions on the topic.
Being able to quickly cull and sort through your day’s catch will give you a distinct advantage in a tournament situation. A good culling system lets you quickly identify each fish using a color-coded float, so you’ll know exactly which fish is which. You also be less likely to injure your fish while they’re in your livewell, as modern culling systems don’t require you to puncture the fish’s jaw.
In addition to reducing the harm to your catch, a quality culling system makes managing your catch faster and easier. You won’t need to chase fish around the well with your bare hands or a net, so you’ll save time by being able to quickly grab any fish you like.
I’ll break down some of the best culling systems for bass fishing on the market, and help you pick the ideal one for your particular needs.
Quick Answer: 4 Best Culling Systems
What is a culling system?
Culling refers to choosing or gathering the best examples from a herd. You may have heard the term used in reference to thinning out a wild animal population or sending surplus farm animals to the slaughter.
When used for tournament fishing, it simply means sorting and removing the smaller fish in your well and releasing them. To do this effectively, you’ll need a system for quickly weighing, recording, and organizing your catch.
Less time sorting and organizing means more time catching fish!
What do you need for a culling system?
A good culling system has several different components. It’s all about efficiency and ease-of-use, as you don’t want to waste time fiddling around and re-weighing fish because you’re not sure which one is which.
The first thing you’ll need is a good method of weighing and measuring your catch. You can use either a mechanical fish scale or a digital one – each type has its relative strengths and weaknesses.
Mechanical scales are highly durable, and because they don’t rely on electrical components, they’ll never run out of batteries in the middle of a tournament. On the flip side, they can be a bit more difficult to read on the fly than digital scales. They also can’t save measurements in memory.
If you’re looking for a good mechanical scale, check out the Eastboga Bogagrips. These legendary grips are made in the USA and provide you with an all-in-one fish gripper and mechanical scale.
They feature an internal precision spring and an exterior embossed scale for a precision weight measurement.
The entire gripping head swivels when a fish is thrashing or wriggling around, so there’s no chance a fish will injure itself or wriggle free while your weighing and measuring it. You can also send them to the IGFA for certification if you like.
Digital scales are highly accurate, easy to read, and often feature built-in memory functions for saving weight measurements for later. Many tournament anglers favor them for this reason. On the other hand, they’re more prone to water damage and batteries can run out.
If you’re looking for a digital scale for tournament fishing, check out the Rapala 50 Lbs High Contrast Digital Scale. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket or on your belt and packs many of the same features of larger digital scales.
Eight weight storage slots allow you to save weight recordings for later on, while two different weighing methods let you use a metal hook or vise-grip clamp to hold your fish.
While it’s on the smaller side, the reverse image LCD screen is bright and easy to read. It’s readable even on bright, sunny days when normal LCDs would be tough to decipher.
Recording Your Catch
Not writing down the weight and measurement of your catch is a big mistake. Yes, you could save them in your digital scale’s memory, but writing them down gives you a failsafe way recording that can’t be accidentally erased.
A notepad and pencil/pen can work well for this task. If you’re like me and tend to get water on all of your gear, then you’ll want to go with something a little more waterproof. A small dry erase pad and grease pencil can work well for this task. Grease pencils leave water-resistant markings on glass, metal, and plastics, but can be removed with a little elbow grease.
Check out the DIXON Industrial Phano Peel-Off for a well-made grease pencil.
If you want a more professional option, check out the ACCU-CULL weight recorder. It’s an analog tournament fishing weight recorder with seven color-coded and numbered settings.
To record a weight simply rotate the dials until you get your desired reading. The dials lock in position, so they won’t get shaken out of place during a bumpy ride.
Next, you’ll need cull tags to organize your catch, and a culling beam to double-check fish weights. Some culling systems will include both of these items bundled together.
Top 4 Culling Systems
A longtime favorite of many tournament anglers, the Cal Coast culling system includes 7 clip-on color-coded cull tags. They utilize an adjustable grip pressure ratchet-tooth design that won’t injure the fish’s jaw even when attached all day long.
You can adjust the amount of pressure applied by each clip, so fish won’t wriggle free inside your livewell. The clips are also easy to operate single-handed, so hooking and dehooking a fish takes seconds.
Each tag features a color-code and numbered float, so you can easily identify which one is which. A retaining clip also comes included – so you can store and organize the tags when they’re not in use.
- Clip-on cull tags won’t damage the fish’s jaw.
- Adjustable pressure ratchet-tooth clip design.
- Clips are easy to operate single-handed.
- Each tag includes a color-code and number.
This all-in-one culling system contains everything you need to sort, cull, and weigh your fish. It includes 6 color-coded cull tags with non-penetrating clips that grip tightly but won’t injure your catch.
The clips feature stainless steel springs – allowing for easy one-handed operation. Strong plastic clips keep your catch secure while preventing any permanent damage to the fish’s jaw. A metal balance beam also comes included, allowing you to quickly determine which fish is heavier.
The color-coded buoys are made from durable plastic and are easily detached from the cull cables. The added weight from plastic buoys helps to tame fish inside your livewell. Keep in mind they’re not numbered, but that’s easily fixed with a simple permanent marker.
- All-in-one culling system includes color-coded tags, clips, and balance beam.
- Strong spring-loaded plastic clips.
- Color-coded cables.
- Plastic floats are easily removable.
Durable, well-designed, and easy-to-use, this culling system is the perfect choice when you want a foolproof system for recording your catch’s weight. Each color-coded float has a built-in system for recording weight – simply twist the dials to the correct weight lock them in place, and you’ve got a fail-safe weight recording.
This system eliminates the need for grease pencils, boards, or clunky electronic weight recording devices. The PVC-coated cables are highly durable and are compatible with livewell additives.
Unlike the other cull systems above, this one uses stainless steel self-piercing jaw clips. Some anglers don’t like to use these, but there is a method of hooking fish from under the jaw into the gill plate without putting a hole in the lip. Check it out here.
You can also purchase Ardent’s smart clips if you prefer non-piercing spring-loaded clips.
- Buoyant culling balls have built-in weight selectors up to 15 lbs, 15 oz.
- Eliminates the need for grease pencils, charts, or electronics.
- Comes with stainless-steel self-piercing jaw clips.
- Round floats are buoyant, impact-resistant, and color-coded.
Best Culling Beam
Culling beams let you quickly determine the heavier fish between two different options. They make a great addition to culling systems. This is particularly useful when you have several similarly sized fish and want to determine which one is heavier.
This culling beam isn’t a cheap piece of plastic. It’s made from 3/16” thick anodized aluminum plate with a full-sized padded carry handle. It can be used both in fresh and saltwater and features corrosion-proof stainless-steel clips for attaching your fish.
- Quick and easy method for weighing fish.
- Corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum construction.
- Comfortable carry handle.
Featured image source.
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.