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.