August 26, 2016

CastAway Taranis Carbon Extreme Rod Review

CastAway makes some great rods.  Last year I reviewed the Skeleton V2 and came away impressed. It was my first experience with their rods and I am still enjoying that rod a year later. That rod retails for around $190. How about one of their rods that cost half as much? That would be the Taranis series that I have been fishing for the past month.

A stunning rod
The model I have is the CXWRM66, a 6'6" medium heavy casting rod.  Its designed for worm fishing, but I have found it to be much more versatile than that. I have used it for worms, jigs, lipless crankbaits and even buzzbaits so far. It is rated for 8-17lb line and lures from 3/16 to 3/4 oz. making it useful for many other techniques as well.

The rod retails for $99.99 and the look and feel of it make it seem like a rod that costs much more. It's really a stunning look and features a Carbon Nano Tube composite for added strength.  It is also pretty sensitive as well. The components are all solid too. Stainless steel frame guides and Aluminum Oxide inserts are things that you usually don't find on rods in this price range.  I'm also a big fan of EVA handles and this rod has some good ones.

High quality and comfortable EVA
Style...all the way to the butt
One downside to the rod is that it feels a little heavier than the Medium Heavy action it is rated at.  It may just be the shorter length or fact that all rod brands vary so much, but I would consider it closer to a Heavy action.  It's not a bad thing though, power is good!

The rod line features nine freshwater models and seven saltwater models. All of the bass rods are technique specific and have you covered for just about any technique you would want to use. Overall, the CastAway Taranis is an excellent rod for the money.

August 22, 2016

Newman Lake Recap - 2nd Place

Finally starting to recover from that marathon 12 hour night tournament Saturday night.  It was worth the sleep depravation though, because I finished in 2nd place.  I was thinking about this yesterday and it is my fourth 2nd place finish on Newman.  Good news is I can catch them there. Bad news is I finish just short. I can't complain though, Newman is a fun lake and I'll take 2nd place anytime. 

Here's how I did it:
It may seem like a repeat of all of my other recaps, but once again a black Eco Pro Tungsten jig and Aaron's Magic Roboworm accounted for most of my fish.  I started off quick and caught four on the drop-shot and Roboworm and then another small keeper on a Paycheck Baits Repo Man topwater. Limit by dark.  That was my goal and I had around 8lbs at that point. I then hit the same bank over and over and tried to keep my boat right on the deep drop offs, but still close enough to pitch docks. The Lowrance night view was a lifesaver for my eyes and really makes the Navionics 1ft contours stand out.

Once it got dark I tried all kinds of stuff. Topwater, the Ima Disrat, Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Pro Buzz and Z-Man Chatterbaits. Nothing was working until I started to pitch the jig to docks.  I caught several nice ones doing this and the way they hit it is why I keep coming back for night fishing.  They crush it! One change I did make was going from a Zoom Super Chunk Jr. to the full sized version. The bigger size makes much more action and I like this in lowlight or dark conditions. 

I had a limit for around 13lbs when the sun was starting to come up around 4:45.  I still had one 13inch keeper, so I decided to hit a smallmouth spot and immediately caught one on a Strike King Tour Grade Football jig. That one was almost 3lbs and got me up to the 15lb range.  My total was 15.63 and my biggest was 4.10. The others were all about 3lbs and was enough for me to put together a solid limit.

Next I decided to make a move and my cranking battery wouldn't start!  12 hours running lights, two HDS 12s, livewell, Oxygenator and more added up to a dead battery.  I was also charging my phone all day and running WiFi on my graph so I could map all night with Navionics SonarChart Live.  Bad move and dead battery.  It wouldn't even jump from my trolling batteries or a cranking battery from a boat that was close by.  I spent the next hour on my trolling motor crossing the lake and missed out on any more of the morning bite, but I made it!

August 19, 2016

Storm Arashi Spin Review

Spybaiting as a technique is not brand new.  I published a review and video right here over three years ago, yet it is still kind of a secret among many anglers.  Now that Storm has released the Storm Arashi Spin, it may be time for it to hit the mainstream.

Before this release there were only a handful of Japanese companies making the baits.  These were all solid baits and have caught their fair share of bass.

The Arashi version is slightly different in the design since the propeller system has a different amount of blades. Instead of having two blades front and rear, it has three on the front and two in the back. I chatted with Brandon Palaniuk about this at ICAST and he said it has a much different feel in the water.  After using it, I agree.  It’s not like it is going to give you a ton of vibration or anything, but it is definitely different and you can feel it if you are an experienced spinbait user.

The overall quality of the bait is good.  I did have an issue with the line tie not being completely closed.  It allowed my line and knot to slip out, but the bait still worked and I didn’t lose any fish because of it.  Besides that, it is solid.  They have a pretty good selection of colors and the hooks are super sharp. They may be a little too thick, but still a good quality hook is important.

The action of the bait is also different that some of the other spinbaits I am used to.  It has a wider shimmy as it falls, but almost no side to side as you retrieve it through the water.  It is part of the appeal of the bait. Subtleness is key.  The action on the fall was impressive though and is sure to generate some interest from clear water bass.

Overall, at $7.99 you can’t beat it. It may not be on the same level as the Japanese baits, but it is a serviceable lure that is sure to get more people experimenting with spybaiting.

August 10, 2016

Connect Scale Digital Bluetooth Fishing Scale Review

Every angler should have a good scale on the boat or in their tackle bag. If not, your fish story is always missing a page.  With that being said, there are some great scales on the market. The Connect Scale is a solid scale just when it comes to weighing fish.  The many additional things it does make it a great scale.

The advances in technology have really made fishing better.  This scale a good example as it utilizes Bluetooth, smart phone apps, social media and GPS to get a much bigger picture of each fish you catch. Connect Scale allows you to log your catches for future reference as well as to instantly share the bragging rights pictures with all of your friends and family on social media.

I like how it allows you to add more fish catch data for later review.  It automatically logs the weight, exact GPS location, air temperature, date and time.  With a few taps and typing, you can add more detail to round out your fish catch log. If you weigh each fish with this scale, it is all there. 

Using the scale is fairly simple.  Once you have the app installed and running on your smart phone and weigh the fish, it will say "HOLD" when the weight is captured. It will then seamlessly update that weight to your app. 

You can then add pictures and other data and then share it if you would like. It just shares the weight, species and picture of the fish so don't worry about giving away your exact fishing locations.

There are some other features which I haven't used yet. There is a section in the app for culling in a tournament. It tracks your keepers as well as how many you caught that day and your overall average. This is a pretty cool feature that I need to take advantage of.  

If I were to choose a downside to it, it would be the cost. At $89.99, it is more than many other scales on the market.  With that being said, no other scale comes close to it in terms of overall capability.

July 6, 2016

Filling in the Map at Long Lake - Navionics SonarChart Event

Friday is the day that Long Lake will be mapped even better than it already is. I will be holding a SonarChart event on behalf of Navionics.  Feel free to join me and learn more about how to map lakes and do your part to improve the map.

I'll be launching at Riverside State Park (9 Mile) at 8:30 a.m. and will be mapping until around 3:00. Depending how many boats we get, we may have an informal bragging rights "photo tournament" to see who catches the biggest bass.  

Long Lake has been greatly improved over the past few years thanks to everyone uploading their logs, but there are still two big blue areas that haven't been mapped.  I know there is water there because I see it my Navionics Platinum card with satellite overlay. It's shallow in many of these areas, but I have fished there and know it is accessible. 

My goal is to map it all and I invite anyone who wants to help to come out with me and improve this and other areas on the lake. I'll show you just how easy it is to map the lake and if you have a WiFi enabled graph, you can see it done right before your eyes with SonarChart Live.

If you want to get a jump on things, read the Plotter Tutorial to see how easy it is.  I'll have all of the SD cards as well.