October 4, 2016

10XD Hook Replacement

I learned the hard way about not replacing my hooks on a 10XD. I lost a few big ones and knew I had to do something about it. After doing some online research and asking around, I switched them all to the Mustad KVD 1x Strong 2x Short Triple Grip trebles in the 2/0 size. The shorter shank allowed me to go up in size and they didn't tangle together.

The 10XD is a fun bait to throw and don't be afraid to throw it just about anywhere. I was able to catch smallmouth on it as well as a few big walleye. It works anytime you want to reach deep bass with a crankbait. I was even catching small, 1.5lb smallmouth on it so it works for more than just monster fish.

Having the right gear is crucial though. A normal cranking rod might not be enough to handle it. Here is the setup I'm now using for it.

September 19, 2016

Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg Jr. Review

I've fished the Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg a few times over the past few years and generally really like it. It walks easily, comes in a bunch of good colors and is priced right.  Recently, I have been using the Jr. version and think I like it even more.

One of my favorite topwaters is pictured below with the Sexy Dawg Jr. and they are both about the same size. This bait is 3.75" and weighs 1/2 oz. It is a size that I really like for smallmouth and that is part of the reason I like the Jr. version of Strike King's topwater.

Another thing I liked about it is how it sits in the water.  This is one thing I always look at with topwaters and the ones that I like most sit with just half of the body out of the water.  It really seems to help draw strikes while it is sitting and then changes the action as you start to walk it again.

At $7.99, it is a steal in the topwater world. Many of my other baits cost twice or three times as much. The price alone makes this bait worth a shot.  Besides that, it walks easily and has a really good sound as it is retrieved.  

With the cheaper price comes slightly less quality in terms of paint and finish.  It is not going to have the high end Japanese finishes you may be used to. On the other hand though, how much do bass even see of the finish on a topwater?  

Overall, this is a solid bait for the price. I have caught several fish on the Bone colored bait (pictured above) and am going to try out more of the colors as fall topwater season heats up.

August 31, 2016

The Mighty Columbia - WA TBF Recap

The Columbia River nearly got the best of me last weekend. It was the final Washington TBF tournament and I was in 3rd place in the points going in. The Top 7 for the year makes the State Team as a boater and 8-14 become non-boaters. I was pretty safely inside the Top 7, but I made it way too close.

Pre-fish bass selfie
I went down and practiced two weeks prior and found some good fish.  Each time I returned to this stretch I would catch one good one.  I went back multiple times at different times of the day to gauge if one was better than the other. It didn't seem to matter and I always caught one in the general area. Everywhere else I went I caught 12 inchers or non-keepers. Since that was my only solid place I had to put all my eggs in that basket.  

When the tournament came around the forecast was for 25-35mph winds. That was not good as I was out in the middle of the river in a notoriously rough section.  I went anyways and had about an hour before we got blown off of the spot. My co-angler caught two 3lbers, but I couldn't get a bite.  I scrambled and caught a tiny limit fishing bridge pilings.  I used a Dry Creek Tube, Aaron's Magic Roboworm and a Reins Bubbling Shaker to get my fish. 

Day 2 was nicer and I went again to my area and only caught one small fish.  Then leaving my next spot I lost my lower unit.  Turns out I had a gear go bad and it blew up the whole thing. Instead of getting mad, I got on the trolling motor and headed to the closest bank and caught one right away on the tube.  My partner and I made a plan to get back and with the help of other competitor's, we had a plan to pick him up around 12 and get him back to the weigh-in with our fish in time for the 1:00 weigh-in.  That gave me less than two hours to grind out a limit.  Obviously I couldn't go far, so I made the best of the area. I did it. I got a limit and caught a walleye in the process on the tube.  My last fish came with about 15 minutes to go and was the difference maker, the season maker really.

I finished in 7th place by two points, the last spot to be a boater.  I was so thankful to have filled out my limit and glad I kept going for it.  The tube saved me and so did all of the people who helped me get my co-angler and fish back. I also had some great friends who helped to get my truck to the ramp that was 20 minutes from the launch site.

Me on my 90 minute trolling motor run to the closest ramp
Here is the State Team pic (minus me) while I was stuck downriver

Another cool thing about my pre-fish and tournament was how much I was able to map the river with SonarChart Live.  I did it throughout and that should really improve the map here.  Here is a cool example of one spot that has already been updated.  It was a blank canvas and now it has some contours!



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!