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

May 24, 2017

Shimano Tranx Review

I've been using a new Shimano reel for the past month and have loved fishing it. The Shimano Tranx is a big, beefy reel that is perfect for swimbaits and deep crankbaits.

The reel comes in two sizes a 300 and 400 size. The reel I have is the 300 and it is giant compared to most of my low-profile reels. The trend over the past several years is for lighter, smaller and more compact baitcast reels. Looking at the Tranx compared to them shows how big this reel is, but if you compare it to a reel like the famous "green Curado" from the late 90's, it really isn't that big.

The Tranx weighs about 11 ounces for the 300 size and this is where you really notice the size difference. The handle is another piece of the reel that is big, but with a technique like swimbaits, it will help handle big fish.

One of the best things about the reel is the great line capacity (150 yards of 17lb) and the 22 pounds of drag. It comes in two different retrieve speeds, a 5.8:1 and 7.6:1 (HG). The HG models come with a big single power handle, which I am not really a fan of and the 5.8:1 comes with the double handle. I have seen some posts online about changing out the handle on the HG models, so that is another option if you want the double handle with a faster retrieve.

Overall, the Tranx has been great to fish with. It casts well and is very smooth thanks to the Shimano technologies like X-Ship. The one downside would be the weight and it's relatively limited use. I have used it for swimbaits but think it will also be great for deep crankbaits like a 10XD.

It retails for around $300 from Tackle Warehouse.

Here is my video review of the Tranx:

January 19, 2017

Finesse Fishing Tips for Bass

The following are the products mentioned in my webinar, Finesse Fishing Tips.

Drop Shot Gear
There are so many benefits to using a drop shot and I always have at least one tied up on my front desk. Here is a link to a previous blog with my whole setup.

Shaky Head Gear
The shaky head always catches fish. I like a straight tail worm like a 4" Yamamoto Senko or Zoom Trick Worm. Another good bait is the Reaction Innovations Flirt.

I'll fish this on a 7'2" M Phenix Recon2 rod with a Shimano Sustain 2500 spooled with 20-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid with a 10-pound AbrazX leader.

Ned Rig Gear
What is the Ned Rig? Check out my video below if you haven't heard of it. It is a finesse technique that is taking over the bass fishing world. I fish it on the same setup as the drop-shot (7' ML rod) and prefer the Z-Man TRD as my soft plastic. You can also cut a Strike King Zero in half and get the same effect.

The Z-Man ShroomZ are the jigheads of choice for many, but I recently received a Do-It Mold to pour my own.

Neko Rig Gear

I love the Neko Rig. If you have never heard of it, check out my video on it below. My favorite bait is the Reaction Innovations Pocket Rocket. It has a great action as the bait is falling, but really any Senko-style bait will work.

VMC has everything you need for Neko Rigging from the hooks to the weights. I also like tungsten nail weights like the ones from Reins.

I fish this most of the time on the same setup I use for a shaky head.

Hair Jigs

There are some great hair jigs on the market. I like the Outcast Tackle Feider Fly and Punisher jigs the best. I have also found cheaper alternatives by looking for steelhead and trout jigs.

I fish this on a 7' light action Phenix Ultra MBX with a Pflueger Patriarch XT and 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown with a 6-pound Tatsu leader.

Finesse Cranking

Who says crankbaits can't be finesse? I throw the Rapala DT6 and Ima Pinjack and fish it slow for a finesse approach. My rod choice is a 7' M Abu Garcia Villain 2.0 with a Revo MGX spooled with 10-pound Seaguar InvizX.


I like to dye the tips of my green pumpkin baits with chartreuse to better imitate perch and bluegill. The Dyeing2Fish kit has all you need to do it without making a mess.

January 3, 2017

Dyeing Soft Plastics

Something I should really do more of is dyeing my soft plastic baits. I do it quite a bit with a creature bait like a Zoom Brush Hog around the bluegill spawn, but that's about it. I like to dye the tips of those baits with chartreuse to imitate bluegill and it works really well. 

I don't know why I don't do it more. Probably because I hate the mess. I remember a tournament fishing as a Co-Angler where I spilled some JJ's Magic on my boater's carpet. It was an accident...but it sucked. 

I discovered something in November that has me wanting to dye more baits. Mark Menendez showed me a new product that makes it easier to dye your baits and store them, but it also protects your boat from the chartreuse dye. It's called the Dyeing2Fish Dyesafe Kit. It's so simple, a box with a place to store your dyes that doubles as a safe place to dip and dry your baits. Again, so simple, but I really like the product and what it does.

Here is Mark talking about the kit: