August 30, 2007
Critter baits, those fat-bodied, multi-appendaged hunks of plastic that look like nothing real but suggest a variety of things that our bass (and other fish) can eat, are extremely popular of late—especially when used for probing heavy cover with a cone sinker.
Recent word from Japan is that bass anglers over there are hooking their critters—specifically the Yamamoto Flappin' Hog—backwards…and weightless. You can see how it’s done in the photo.
Here’s the advantage: Hooked with the fat tail section forward, the bait tends to drop down and forward. If you allow controlled (not totally loose, not too tight) slack in your line, the rig will go down and beneath edges of overhead cover like weeds, trees, docks and such—even between reed stalks. It takes a tad of practice but the technique is quickly learned. And it surely is effective.
For busting through the really thick weed mats, however, you’re still going to need a weight. You can continue to rig with the fat end forward, though. Some anglers then use a trick called “bombing.” With a heavy weight, they flip the rig vertically up into the air and let it crash down through the slop. To do that correctly, the moment the weighted bait hits and breaks through the matt, you need to feed line to get a vertical drop. But stay tuned. Fish can hit at any moment on the way down.
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The best gear and tactics in your area right now.
August 15, 2007by
Here’s a follow up to my last report on interesting new gear that’s coming down the pike. Some of it is available now for the latter part of the fishing season. Good-looking stuff. See if you don’t agree…
NEW SLUGGERS FOR STEEZ
Serious bass fishers who followed OL’s last tackle test will remember the incredibly light, high-end Daiwa Steez baitcast reels that made their debut. These mills were focused on lighter line due to limited-line capacity. Now come two new models for power fishing crankbaits, flipping jigs and such. They have deeper spools capable of holding 120 yds. of 14-lb.test or 100 yds. of 16. The new models weigh in at a mere 5.6 oz due to magnesium frames and sideplates plus titanium components. Like their predecessor, they’re stuffed with 11 ball bearings and the anti-reverse bearing and more. The swept-handle design moves your hand closer to the rod’s center line for less wobble and more efficient cranking. Models are 100HA and left-hand version 100HLA. They don’t give ‘em away, though. Suggested retail is $449.95. www.daiwa.com
St. Croix rod designers likely yanked their remaining hair out on this one. The best selling, made-in-the-US Avid series spinning and casting rods were totally redesigned using the company’s Integrated Poly Curve technology, meaning each blank is built to have a continuous-curve taper tip to butt. There’s no distinct transition point so the rods throw baits smoother and there’s less chance for breakage at sharp taper points. The two-piece models have slim-profile ferrules. The new rods promise to be lighter, faster and stronger. There are 84 models including an expanded salmon/steelhead line. There are models for specific techniques and you can find just the right one for your fishing by going to the company’s Rod Selector section at their site. Prices start at $120 for an ultralight. www.stcroixrods.com.
Yes indeed, Berkley’s live bait substitute –Gulp—is reborn, even better in the new Gulp Alive iteration. What’s cool is that the different baits come floating in Gulp juice in little stackable tubs. After you’ve used a bait, plop it back into the tub where it’ll revitalize. Berkley is saying the new stuff is 20% more potent than the original—likely because it’s being constantly bathed in the juice. For freshwater there are minnows, minnow grubs, leeches in different sizes. Saltwater patterns include peeler crab, shrimp, squid, pogy, sandworm and mullet, also in various sizes. The baits are biodegradable if lost. A heckuva lot easier than messing with live baits with their inherent waste. A small tub of baits costs $19.99, large container, $39.99. www.berkley-fishing.com.
TECHNIQUE SPECIFIC—IN SPADES
If you want a rod for a specific freshwater fishing technique, Fenwick just made the choice about as easy as it gets. The new EliteTech series includes 12 rods, each of different materials, design and components depending on the target use. The rods could be spinning or baitcast style, also dependent upon technique. Models include: Crankshaft; Strokin Special; Drop Shot; Riggin’ Stik; Flippin’ Stik; Jerkin’ Stik; Swimbait; Froggin’ Stik; Skippin’ Special; Jig/Worm; Target/Spinnerbait; Pitchin’ Stik. The butts of the rods are color-coded and have an icon so you can grab just the right one quickly out of a nest of rods. To give you a little idea on some differences, the Crankshaft Rod has a super-delay, solid tip so as to not rip a crankbait from a fish’s lips. The Flippin’ Stik has exchangeable weights in the butt for proper balance. Nice indeed. Prices go from $199.95 to $239.95 depending on model. www.fenwickfishing.com
A BETTER FISH TRAP
About every angler I know has a Rat-L-Trap in his/her tackle box. The things simply catch fish with no fancy manipulations needed. Now comes a new version of the lipless fish fooler from Bill Lewis Lures called the Vibra-Trap. The bait has been in development for years and it shows. Here’s what’s new: The front end Spoonbill Diving plane is indented to produce greater water displacement and thus greater low frequency bait-like sound. Ditto for the arse end Vibra-Ribs that only add to the low frequency intensity. Instead of a tight vibrating straight retrieve the bait scribes an erratic, zigzag coming back to you; like prey trying to get the hell out of there. That’s partially caused by the pot-belly shape housing a Tru-Tungsten ball. Tungsten being heavier than lead, the rattle ball is smaller, thus travels farther within its chamber for greater sound. Hooks are wide-gap Set-Lok trebles made expressly for the company. A dozen very natural finishes are offered in both the 3/8 and 5/8 oz. size. Cost is $9. www.rat-l-trap.com
Rapala’s new X-Rap SubWalk is going to make a lot of you topwater, dog-walkin’ fans happy. This new lure performs the same sashay we all love to watch on the water surface, but does it underwater. It’s got that strike provoking tail hook feather, too. There are 12 color patterns and the bait comes with VMC SureSet hooks. $6.99. www.rapala.com.
Sure you know how just about every builder of soft plastic baits now offers its fares embedded with salt. But coffee? Yes. True. Strike King now has a series of tubes scented with real coffee bean granules and coffee bean oil. They say fish like it, thus hold on longer. Of course the aroma of java is going to help hide the loathsome (to fish) odor of human hands, too. The coffee grains add a kind of natural earth tone to these tubes and, just in case, there’s salt embedded, too. The 3-1/2–inch version is best rigged using an internal jig head, while the solid head 4-1/2–incher is a great flipping bait. Strike King doesn’t say to use these things first off in the morning, but hey, even bass could need their first cuppa. $3.49-$3.99 a pack. www.strikeking.com.
TWIST ‘N FISH
Sometimes it’s the seemingly small things that produce big results. Take two hook treatments from Owner. First is the Weighted Twistlok for soft plastics like Slug-Gos. A centering pin in the middle of the screw spring means you’ll rig your lure dead-on all the time. (A slightly side- skewed bait just won’t run right.) And then you have a pre-weighted shank—1-1/16 oz. on
3/0 hooks, 1/8 oz. on 4/0 and 5/0 hooks. No separate weight needed. The now weedless rig is great for skipping or pitching to deep cover. $6.00 for a three-pack.
Next is the Shaky Type Ultrahead. It, too, has the Centering Pin Spring molded into the lead. The bottom of the head and a 30 degree bend at the hook eye presents baits in that teasing, nose-down position. A flat bottom contour encourages rocking along the hook plane. These come in five weights 1/16 oz. – 1/4 oz., on 4/0 hooks. $5.00 per four-pack. www.ownerhooks.com
All inshore gamefish eat crabs. So do largemouth bass in tidal waters. It would be interesting to see what other goodly size freshwater critters might pounce on the super-real-looking C W Crab. The lure has a clear bill to get it tracking—but not wiggling. Real crabs swim in a straight line. On the other end is the single green-colored treble hook. In between is what looks so good you’d almost like to boil it up for lunch. The lure is balanced so no matter how it lands it flips to proper swim position. While testing, designer Chuck Wilkinson anointed the bait with peeler crab scent and real crabs often attached themselves to the lure top. Crabs evidently do this to protect others that are shedding—or maybe it’s a sex thing. Anyway, C W Crabs come in floating, suspending or sinking models in light or dark green. $9.95. www.cwcrab.com.
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August 3, 2007by
There’s a gang of terrific new 2008 fishing tackle coming. Some of it will even be available late this season and some of it is ready now. Periodically I’ll be reporting on some items that caught my attention at the recent tackle trade show; stuff I think that answers a real need and that I think you’re going to like.
PERFORMANCE YOUTH TACKLE
When kids start outgrowing start-up Pirates-of-the-Caribbean, Barbie, Batman spincast rods/reels, what do you get them? One good choice would be the new Advanced Youth Systems (AVS) combos that Zebco/Quantum teamed up to create. The transitional outfits target two age groups: 6-10 and 9-14. The AVS v1.0 rigs for the younger group include spincast, spinning and triggerspin (the reel hangs under the rod and a trigger controls the freespool) models. The latter reel is fitted onto a 4-foot, 8-inch two-piece rod, while the spin and spincast reels are on 5-foot, 4-inch two-piece rods. AVS v2.0 for the older kids includes two spinning reel sizes on appropriate 5-foot, 8-inch or 6-foot, 2-inch medium-light rods. There are two baitcast outfits as well, fitted to appropriate medium-light-action rods. You’ll like the price, too. Depending on the outfit you’re looking at $29.99 to $34.99 for the v1.0 rigs; $39.99-59.99 for the v2.0 tackle. 918-836-5581; www.zebco.com.
The other day my cell phone went overboard. The bright side was that my contract was just expiring and I was due for an upgrade, but all my programmed phone numbers now sleep with the fishes! This is not a good thing. Wouldn’t I have loved to have at hand the small size –model 1425—in Plano’s new Guide Series Extreme Case lineup. Like two other new models in the series it’s made of tough polycarbonate, is airtight, lockable and has a pressure-release latch. It would have floated. The small box will hold a phone, wallet, keys and such. It measures 7.75 inches in lengher x 5.5 inches in width x 2.3 inches high and sells for $11.99. The other two boxes –models 1430 and 1435—are a bit larger and sell for $14.99 and 19.99 respectively. www.planomolding.com
NEW TAKE ON SCENT BAITS
Fisheries scientist Dr. William Carr was wading the shallows in Florida one day when he cut his ankle. Not a bad cut, but it did bleed. Carr was fascinated that the blood seemed to attract numerous small bait-size fish to the wound. The incident led him into researching just what it was in the blood that stimulated the attraction. Eventually he isolated a number of chemical stimulants fish use to detect and track prey. He found that what humans smell in air and what fish detect have little in common. Carr refined and concentrated the chemical attractants into a line of biodegradable baits called Fishbites. You’ll hardly smell them. They come in various shapes like soft jerkbaits and worms and chunks and strips and ribbons that you can cut to size. While most of the baits were aimed at saltwater fish, the company just made its launch into freshwater with a catfish bait called “Yeh Monn!” If they work as well, it could give a little reprieve from high-octane catfish stinkbaits. Fishbites last between 15-30 minutes on the hook before dissolving. Depending on the specific item, they cost between $3.98 and $9.45 per pack/put-up. Carr Specialty Baits, 877-840-2248; www.fishbites.com
PUSHING THE SPIN REEL ENVELOPE
Shimano must have done something right to garner the award for best freshwater spinning reel at that earlier-mentioned tackle trade show. I’ll have more reports on new rods and reels upcoming but wanted to share news of upgrades on four series from this company: the Saros F, Stradic FI (the award winner), Stradic MgFB (magnesium frame), Sustain FE, and the top dog Stella FD’s.
Here’s the deal: While most spinning reels give great out-of-the-box smoothness, that silky cranking often goes south after a season or so of steady use. The new tribe of Shimano spinning mills will keep going smooth for years with their cold-forged aluminum drive gear and hardened brass pinion gears. Cold forging allows manufacture with less metal for reduced weight but is stronger, more durable even than all stainless steel drive trains.
Next was the issue of line twist and periodic line tangles and wind knots from loosely spooled line. A five-component system addresses these frustrations. First a unique spool lip taper allows line to flow from the spool in smaller loops resulting in less line slap in the butt rod guide. That, combined with a long stroke spool gives increased cast distance. The bail, line roller, and S-R cam assembly redesign will greatly reduce tangles and twists, and a new bail-trip mechanism lets you close the bail easily by turning the handle (something we haven’t seen on spinning reels since constant anti-reverse) It also reduces the chance of premature closure during a power cast. Depending on size, Stradic FI retail prices start at $159.99. The Saros (they have a good slow oscillation on the retrieve, not the more advanced Aero Wrap II oscillation of the others), sell for $129.99. Other series are higher. 949-951-5003; www.shimano.com
Stay tuned for more good stuff coming soon.
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