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.

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.


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:
Yamamoto Senko:

June 13, 2017

Lew's Mach Speed Stick Rod Review

The Lew's Mach Speed Stick was a rod of firsts for me. It was the first Lew's rod I have ever owned, the first time using a rod with Winn Grips and also a first for the MicroWave guides. The Winn Grips and MicroWave guides were things I had heard plenty about and it was cool to finally use them on the water.

Overall, the rod was fun to fish. It is lightweight, comfortable and does the job it is intended to do. I was surprised at how well the rod fished for just $79.99. The model I have is a Spinnerbait Rod, but it handles square bills, jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits as well. I think it would also be a good topwater rod.

The features of the rod are pretty impressive. Here is a list of what they list on TackleWarehouse:
  • IM6 Blank with Carbon Nano Tube construction
  • Lew’s SoftTouch Skeletal reel seats 
  • American Tackle “AIRWAVE” guide system 
  • WINN Inc. Dri-TEC, advanced polymer grips 
  • Lew’s built in trigger hook keepers

The IM6 blank is light and is good enough for reaction baits where sensitivity isn't crucial. I'm not sure how the other models will do, but for this purpose, it is just fine. The reel seat and hook keeper were nice features. I didn't notice anything spectacular about extra casting or less line slap with the MicroWave guides, but it didn't hurt either. I love the Winn Grips though and say that is probably my favorite part of the rod. They are comfortable and just feel better than other rods.

One negative is the quality. My rod has epoxy drip on one of the guides. Not sure if this is a common problem, but it was not good. I'll clean it up and all should be good, though.

The epoxy drip was one of the negatives.

For $79.99, the rod does a great job and has some really nice features. Although it is not my favorite rod, it is good enough to deserve a place in my arsenal. I think it would make an excellent rod for someone new to fishing or someone on a limited budget. 

You can find it at TackleWarehouse, by clicking this link. (NOTE: Link is an affiliate link)

Video Review:

June 7, 2017

Gift Guide for a Fishing Father

I just saw a gift guide put together by Rapala and their family of brands. A few items caught my attention because I have used them and agree that they would make a good gift. Here are the items they included in their guide that I would love to receive on this Father's Day.

Storm® 360GT Searchbait™ 

The latest and possibly most versatile bait from Storm® — the new 360GT Searchbait™ — offers Dad the perfect confidence lure to help him catch his limit anywhere, anytime. A dynamic searchbait, this lure allows anglers to efficiently cover water and uncover more fish. Once Pops locates his target species, he won’t even need to switch up his presentation. The 360GT Searchbait boasts a natural swimming action fish can’t refuse. And, fishing it couldn’t be easier. Simply cast it out and reel it in with a steady retrieve. Creating the ultimate illusion of natural movement, the 360GT Searchbait pairs a lifelike, single-ball rattling jig head, a realistic, phthalate-free soft body and 3D holographic eyes, with a toe-in boot tail that elicits incredible action at any retrieve speed. Each 360GT Searchbait is easy to rig, and comes equipped with an exclusive VMC® Coastal Black™ hook with an extended “leg” on the line-tie added to further enhance its action, and is available in a wide variety of color patterns to perfectly match regional forage species anywhere.

Simply put: This one fishes circles around every other bait. When he ties it on, Dad better hold on tight and be ready for action.

Retail: $4.99-$5.99

Rapala® Shadow Rap® & Shadow Rap Shad® 

Two instant classics, the introduction of the Rapala® Shadow Rap® and Shadow Rap Shad® shook the angling world. After a day on the water tossing these killer baits, dear ol’ Dad will understand exactly why. With unique movements that mimic the last moments of a dying minnow and shad respectively — two of the most common forage species in U.S. waters — the original Shadow Rap and Shadow Rap Shad were painstakingly designed to feature lifelike profiles to create innovative presentations that have proven to fool Bass and other game species time and time again. Unlike most jerkbaits, the Shadow Rap kicks almost 180 degrees right, then left, with each flick of the rod, allowing it to be fished nearly in place with little forward travel, keeping its slow flickering fade right in the strike zone longer than ever before. The latest addition to this acclaimed family of baits, the Shadow Rap Shad triggers bites in three ways: 1) on the kick, 2) with a slow, seductive rise, and 3) with a snap back to life. Both Bass-bustin’ models come in standard and deep varieties, and in several attention-grabbing finishes, allowing Pops to find fish no matter where they lurk in the water column.

Retail: $8.99

Terminator® Popping Frog 

If your father is a topwater diehard, he won’t be able to get enough of the new Terminator® Popping Frog. Built with a cupped face that creates a loud, strong pop, this frog drives fish crazy by causing a major commotion in otherwise calm waters. And, unlike lesser frog baits, the Popping Frog’s extra soft-body boasts a custom-designed weight shaped and positioned to help the bait compress easily when fish bite, delivering increased hook exposure and ensuring Dad will convert more strikes into adrenaline-filled fights. Featuring a razor sharp VMC® frog-gap hook, round-rubber legs, a heavy-duty welded line tie and lifelike detail from nose to rear, the Popping Frog is also tail-weighted to increase casting distance and stability on the retrieve. The lure is 2 ½ inches long, weighs 9/16 ounces and comes in 16 lifelike color patterns. A favorite bait type for Bass anglers everywhere, this fresh take on frog fishing is sure to become a fast favorite.

Retail: $9.59