December 5, 2017

Anglr Tracker Review

This review is long overdue since I have been using the Anglr Tracker most of the year. That has given me some time to explore it in depth, use it in multiple situations and really get a good feel for what this little device can do.

If you are not familiar with it, it is a small tracker that attaches to your rod to give you all kinds of data. Originally, my impression was that it was like a FitBit. It tracks your casts and lets you know how many fish you have caught that day. It does do that (which is really cool), but it captures so much more valuable data that can really help your fishing. It basically eliminates the need for a written log book since it tracks exactly when and where you caught a fish as well as more info which I will talk about in a bit.


The whole thing works with their mobile app and the Tracker "talks" to your phone and app via Bluetooth. It's pretty common for devices nowadays so chances are you have hooked something up via Bluetooth. It is really easy to get going and doesn't take away a bunch of fishing time (which is a huge plus) since it only takes getting set up initially and then it connects right away on your next trips.

Before I forget, the app itself is free (App Store and Google Play) and you can even use it without even purchasing the Tracker. The app allows you to manually enter details of each fish catch, mark waypoints and get weather info. The app is cool by itself, but with the Tracker it is even better.

The Tracker lets you push a button to record catches and mark waypoints without ever having to use your phone. I like to keep my phone in the glovebox so I don't drop it over so this makes sense for me. I also liked how it tracks how many fish you caught compared to how many casts you made. Take this shot, for example, I made about a cast per minute for just over an hour and caught five fish. Pretty cool info. I also took a few selfies of fish I caught and added more detail about how I caught them.


You can see it also marked each fish catch and pin I dropped along this area when I got a bite. I would like to see some additional mapping like Navionics included and hope that is coming soon.

Each time I caught one I had all of the weather info right there. It was cool to see and with enough data you could really put together a nice pattern for certain conditions. The app allows you to mark lures, rods, etc. to further help. I liked how it had more info than just simply temperature and wind or something. It had all kinds of weather-related info and I didn't have to enter any of it, it just included it automatically.


The Tracker connects to your rod with a simple mount that attaches to your rod. It is easy to pop in and out, but I would say this is one drawback to the system. When I fish, I typically have tons of rods on the deck and sometimes make a cast or two and then switch. It comes with two mounts and if you have two solid patterns going it will really help you gain valuable info for fishing those techniques as it wouldn't be hard to go back and forth between two rods.

It is not cheap, but not expensive either. I just saw it on Amazon for $89 instead of the $129 retail and that is a great price for something that can give you so much data. Here is a list of all of their retailers.

Overall, I was impressed with how easy it was to get so much information about your fishing trips. I am a "numbers guy" and this kind of stuff really appeals to me, so for someone like myself, it is a great tool. If you are like me, I would definitely recommend checking it out.

November 29, 2017

Rapala BX Brat Squarebill Review

This fall I have been playing around with a new squarebill from Rapala,  the Balsa Xtreme BX Brat Squarebill Crankbait. Even though fall is not my normal time to throw them, it has worked well and I have come away impressed with these little baits.


One of the first things that caught my attention when I received them was how small they are compared to other squarebill crankbaits. Not that that is a bad thing, it was actually pretty impressive that they can get down to 4 and 6-feet deep depending on the model. They are compact yet get down quickly thanks to the bill angle. This will allow me to fish a little deeper and still get that squarebill action.


Speaking of the action, both of the baits have a nice, tight wobble. It is fairly "aggressive", but not too much. I think this is why I was able to catch a few with it this fall when the water was starting to get chilly.


Another key to these baits is the durability. I fished it over the course of a few days and have had no issues. Squarebills are meant to bang and bump into everything so they need to be built to last. These are part of the Rapala Balsa Xtreme series, so they have the great action of balsa with a protective copolymer coating surrounding them.


The one thing I would say is a negative to the bait is the price.The bait retails for $9.99 and while that isn't outrageous, many of the squarebills I use are sub $6 baits because I lose more than my fair share. 

Overall though, the bait is solid, catches fish and comes in plenty of good colors. I would give it my approval as it does the job and if it is as durable as they claim it will make up for the cost.

They are available at TackleWarehouse.com and many other retailers.

November 13, 2017

Favorite Fishing Jack Hammer Review

I’ll start this off by saying that I am a finesse-fishing addict. I ALWAYS have a few spinning rods on my deck and I cannot count how many giant fish or checks I have cashed in tournaments using spinning rods. With that being said, I know what I want from spinning tackle and know a good finesse setup when I see one. That is why when I had the chance to choose a rod and reel from Favorite Fishing for a review, I chose the Jack Hammer 7’ medium spinning rod and Jack Hammer reel in the 2500 size.

First Impressions
When the rod and reel arrived I was immediately impressed with the fact that it came with a rod sock and neoprene case for the reel. I don’t know why more companies don’t do this; it is not that expensive and goes a long way in protecting your equipment.

The reel felt smooth right out of the box and matched the rod perfectly. I also liked the styling and just overall how the combo felt in my hand.

One thing I did notice was that the rod felt much lighter than a typical medium spinning rod I am used to, but that is a good thing for how I fish and is what I said in the video below that explains my first impressions.



On the Water
Like I mentioned in the video, it is crucial to get out on the water and use the rod to really get a good feel for it. Luckily, this was prime time for fall finesse fishing and I took it out on several trips before sitting down to write this review. The rod and reel performed flawlessly for a drop-shot and Ned Rig but was a little light for other techniques.


The Rod
Fishing it was great. The rod was very sensitive and I could feel bites with ease.  It is also very light! Their website lists it at 3.5 ounces, which is less than an 8” Huddleston swimbait.


One thing I noticed right away was that it has a single guide foot instead of two like most spinning rods have. This is by design and is a new type of guide from Fuji called the Titanium single stick guides. These help to reduce weight and the guides also help increase sensitivity.


One thing that I see as a drawback after fishing it was the placement of the hook keeper. Initially, I thought it was a good spot (halfway between the reel and first guide), but realized my braided line would get caught there from time to time.


Here are a few more specifications of the rod I used:

•    Model #: JHM-701 M
•    Length: 7'0"
•    Lure Weight: 1/8-5/8
•    Line Weight: 6-12
•    Power: Medium
•    Action: Moderate Fast

The rod retails for $289.99, which puts it at a high level for today’s bass rods. It definitely has the style, components, and sensitivity you would expect for a rod that costs this amount.

The Reel
The reel was also a very pleasant surprise. I had heard of their rods before but the reels were somewhat new to me. It was smooth, casts well and I had zero issues with the drag even while connected to some big smallmouth. The drag is probably the most important part of any spinning reel and the Favorite Fishing Jack Hammer passed the test.


Here a few specs for the reel that retails for $149.99:

•    Lightweight carbon composite body and side cover
•    Titanium nitride covered anti-twist line roller and spool lip
•    10 stainless steel ball bearings

Overall, the Jack Hammer rod and reel surprised me with how light and sensitive it was. I was impressed with how it performed with light tackle, and even though the name Jack Hammer may be misleading for a finesse setup, it had enough power to put a few nice fish in the boat. My first impression of Favorite Fishing was a good one and I think they have a winner with the Jack Hammer.


September 13, 2017

NetFish, FishBrain, and Fishidy App Comparison

How many apps do you have on your phone? If you are like me you have apps for banking, social media, music, sports and of course fishing. Over the past few weeks I have been using three fishing-focused apps; NetFish, FishBrain, and Fishidy.

All three of them have some similarities and all have cool features that allow you to find fishing locations, share pictures and more. I really do not want to invest my time in all three and put together a comparison of these three apps to see which one I should focus on. Again, they are all pretty cool, but I do not want to log catches into three different apps each time I catch a fish.

Setup
I downloaded all three apps for my Samsung Galaxy S7 and signed up and created an account for all three of them back to back to back, so it was sort of a blur, but there are some things that stood out.

NetFish – This was easy to setup and allowed a quick signup with just a few questions, then I was able to go into my account and add personal information and preferences.



FishBrain – I liked this one because it also allowed me to connect to my Google+ account, making it much faster to connect to my Android and Gmail accounts. It was also cool how it immediately showed me which of my Facebook “friends” were on the app and I was now instantly following 285 fishing friends. One major negative was it immediately wanted me to sign up for the premium account, which, like it sounds, costs money. I click “Start Free Trial” and it brought me to the Google Play payment page. Sorry, not paying or connecting payment for an app I haven’t used yet.

Fishidy – Another simple process, I connected to my Facebook page and off I went.



I liked the signup process for all three but did not like being sold to right away on the FishBrain app.

Ease of Use
All three of the apps are simple to use if you are familiar with smartphone apps and social media. I already included the setup and have found that each operates very similar to each other.

NetFish – This app is simple to scroll through your feed, fishing nearby and discussions. No real issue here, it is easy to operate and log catches. I did like how you can add bait type, rod, and reel used, etc. This is nice to be able to add to the basics like fish length and weight.


Fishbrain – This is also easy to navigate. The top icons allow you to see the map, fishing forecast, and log catches. It also allows you to select lure used and has a fish identification tool in case you weren’t sure what you caught.

Fishidy – Another easy app to use. It lets you use species, lure, depth and more. It did not have as many options for catch details, but the conditions page was good.

App Size
This is a small thing, but with as many things as I download on my phone, it does make a difference to me. They are not huge file sizes by any means, but it is something to consider.
•    Fishidy 84.8 MB
•    Fishbrain 128 MB
•    NetFish 130 MB

Extra Features
Beyond the simple social media aspect and looking for new spots, a few of the apps had some nice extra features that the others did not. NetFish, for instance, has recipes for many different species and it also shows wine and beer pairings. I liked this feature!



You can also earn rewards from NetFish that you can redeem for rods, reels and gift cards. It is pretty straightforward for earning points and if you are active, you may as well get some type of reward for it.


Fishbrain has a fishing forecast for your area, but it is a premium level item so I wasn’t able to see it without paying or signing up for a free trial.

Fishbrain

Fishidy allows you to overlay the Fishing Hot Spots mapping, but this is also a paid feature.

The extra features on NetFish really appealed to me and they were all free!

Locating Fishing Spots
One of the best tools for these apps is finding new areas to fish. They all have cool mapping overlays like Google Earth and other tools. The ability to see user data is another cool feature to help find new places to fish.


Recently, I was on a trip to Minnesota and had never been to the area and wanted to see how the fishing would be. It was great using the apps to find out what to expect and pick up a few new spots. Here are my thoughts on the three apps.

Fishbrain – This had a nice overlay of the area, but said I needed to subscribe to “Unlock 15 Catch Positions”


Fishidy – There were tons of places marked and even some contours for a small lake near where I was. This was a nice feature. I clicked a few of the icons and saw pictures and information on fish catches.


NetFish – Like Fishidy, it has some information on the lake near where I was. I clicked each of the tabs and saw lake details, where to fish, fishing times and suggested fishing tips. These were all awesome features and didn't cost money to see it.

Lake info

Fishing locations

Fishing tips



The data NetFish uses is from many sources and a specific algorithm instead of just user data. User data is fine until you see what I saw while using one of the other apps, a trout marked as a largemouth bass. Not sure how much you can trust all user data.

Not a bass and not 5lbs!

Overall, the three apps are each cool in their own way. I like the features and locating new fishing spots from NetFish, I like the ease of use of Fishidy. If I had to pick one it would be between these two, as FishBrain was constantly pushing the premium option. Between the NetFish and Fishidy apps, I am going to stick with NetFish. Tons of features, very easy to use and best of all, it is all free.



September 5, 2017

Neko Rig Tricks


I just returned from a trip to a media event in Minnesota where I was able to ride along with some pro anglers. I was paired with Shin Fukae, the FLW Tour pro from Japan. He is a finesse fishing wizard and had some cool tricks to show for the Neko rig.



Here are a few takeaways and tips I learned:
  1. First it is a Neh-ko, not Nee-ko rig like I have been saying all along.
  2. He had a special type of tungsten Neko weight that looked just like a screw. This helps to keep the bait in place and not fly out on a cast.
  3. He also used a small piece of what looked and felt like surgical tubing to hold the hook. This is better than an o-ring because it stays much more secure and you will lose less baits (and weights) on the cast.
Here is Shin talking a little more about the technique and how he rigs it.


Shop products listed (affiliate):
Gamakatsu G-Finesse Weedless Wacky Hook: https://goo.gl/L8uMBz
Yamamoto Senko: https://goo.gl/19g7ce



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