Breakaway Mini Link lure clip - does a lure clip get much better than this?

OK, so I have a slight (?) obsession/fascination with the bits and pieces that combine to make a successful lure fishing outfit. When it all works it’s great, but I suppose I have one of those brains that enjoys looking for other stuff that might do the job as well. I don’t need a new lure clip because the Delalande Agrafe Rapide in the 35lb size continues to perform flawlessly for me and the lures I fish with, but in September I think it was, Cian who runs Absolute Fishing over in Ireland pressed a little packet of these Breakaway Mini Link lure clips into my hands and told me to have a go with them and see what I think.

Well I’ll tell you what I think. Absolutely brilliant. After my play with those Mustad Fastach clips which resulted in the loss of a favourite lure (check here), I must admit to being a little hesitant to try any other clips again when those Delalande ones work so well for me, but hey, why not? I used to use the larger Breakaway Fastlink clips for my bait fishing (plus those truly excellent Gemini Genie Link Clips), indeed it was interesting to see how so many of the US striper guys we met out on Cape Cod were insistent that those Fastlink clips were the best lure clips they could get their hands on - some praise if you ask me. Our bass ain’t nearly as big of course, so I could see no reason why the much smaller Breakaway Mini Link at a stated 25lb test wasn’t going to be strong enough. I have no way of proving it, but I have a suspicion that these little clips would take more than 25lbs anyway.

If the Delalande Agrafe Rapide clips are close to the last word in being easy to use, then these little Mini Link clips are even easier again. Slide your lure or weedless hook on, fish away, then slide it off to change lures. Seriously, it’s as easy as a lure clip can get. Unlike with those Mustad Fastach clips which I really liked the look of but were in fact not as easy to use as the Delalande ones, these Breakaway Mini Link clips kinda do what they look like they might do. Clip on and off, end of. I am sure I could snag a lure up on 50lb braid and straighten one out if I had to, but I don’t lure fish for bass and pollack like this, and if I was chasing much larger and stronger fish then I would change my lure clip accordingly.

I can’t guarantee you that these clips will work with all the bass lures you might use, but I have tried all the weedless hooks I might use (with and without various hitchhiker attachments, up to a size 6/0), various jig heads, and then certain hard lures like the IMA Komomo II which can be awkward to get onto the Delalande clip - no problems with anything I own and use for bass fishing if that helps. Lure clips ain’t that exciting I grant you, but I am really liking these Breakaway Mini Link lure clips, and so far I can’t find anything to worry about with them. I really like how weedless hooks especially seem to be able to move perfectly freely when on the clip.

These Breakaway Mini Link lure clips seem to be pretty easy to find and I like how they are nice and cheap - around £1.50 to £2.00 for a packet of 10. There is also, how shall we say this, a “tribute” to this clever little clip called the TronixPro HTO Lure Link. OK, as far as I can tell they are exactly the same, indeed I have used both makes and they work perfectly. The HTO ones are around the same price, but if you go looking for them, be aware that the HTO Lure Clip is not the same as their Lure Link. Be similarly aware that if you go looking for the Breakaway Mini Link that their Spinlink Clips are larger and are rated at 35lb test (with their Fastlink Clips being the largest of that clever family of Breakaway clips). I haven’t tried the Spinlink Clips yet. Now please, control your racing heart with such an overload of fishing related excitement!! From cancer to lure clips - not bad eh?

It feels strange having cancer

I’m not sure how I should be feeling having cancer, because I feel great. Sure, I might be getting older and bits of me creak a bit more than they used to, but it feels most strange having cancer when in fact I feel so well. I am feeling pretty positive, and if I am lucky they will get rid of this bastard disease via an operation, but at the end of the day I have to be realistic and accept that I have a disease which could kill me if lady luck ain’t with me. I bloody hope not, I really do, but try as I might I can’t stick my head in the sand and hope I wake up the next morning with all the bad stuff magically gone. My youngest girl so sweetly asks me every morning how my cancer is, to the point where we tend to giggle now about how it sadly doesn’t disappear like that!!

One thing I am categorically not doing is beating myself up with thinking about why on earth this is happening to me. It’s skin cancer, I’ve got it, and I can’t go back over my life and wonder if I did something wrong. I don’t live like that. Ironically perhaps I am probably the most careful out of anybody I fish with about sun protection, but life is what it is and I have been dealt this particular card. It was most likely due to the sun but it could just be the fact that I’ve got cancer and it happens to be of the skin variety - which is a pretty common and treatable form of cancer.

I will admit to a few rather early mornings where I imagine what it would be like to walk into a hospital room a few weeks after the operation to be told sorry Mr Gilbey but you’ve got so and so long to live because the cancer’s gone everywhere. This is not going to happen, or at least I am in with every chance of this not happening, but when you are faced with even a sniff that your life could in fact end before your allotted time (whatever that may be), well it doesn’t half get you thinking about stuff. At the same time though, I feel pretty positive and things are moving as regards for meeting surgeons, going for operations etc. I can’t pretend that the not knowing/waiting is any easier, but I’m getting on with things although there is this dark shadow that sits in the corner of my mind and won’t sod off. And yes, I have looked at the bit on my leg and considered getting my old Swiss Army penknife out and having a crack at getting the cancer out myself, here at my desk. A couple of plasters should sort it all out and then I could nip out fishing for a few hours.

A big reason for trying to stay so strong about all this is to do my absolute best to help my wife and girls through it all. We talk about it and we don’t shy away from what is happening, and every morning over breakfast I reassure my girls that dad is going to be just fine and life will carry on as normal, but try as I might I can’t give them a cast-iron guarantee and they pick up on this. They are bright girls and they know about what has happened to their grandfather this year with his own cancer battles and quite frankly being bloody lucky to still be here, but now their own dad’s got cancer it has given them the odd wobble. Life is busy and there’s stacks going on, but I just wish I could take this stuff away from them and deal with it on my own so that it didn’t cause them any pain at all. I can’t though, and I consider myself an incredibly lucky man with the family I have. And as for Storm our sheepdog, well as long as she gets her three walks a day she’s just fine.

I believe in being open about what is going on and I have been incredibly touched by so many kind messages of support. Thank you, thank you. Honestly, I can’t believe how so many people have kindly reached out, but I also recognise that by being open about my cancer I could perhaps make a few people feel a bit uncomfortable or awkward talking to me about things. Some people find it very hard to talk about this sort of stuff and that’s never a problem, but my way is to talk and also to find something somewhere to laugh about. I don’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable, indeed I understand completely if many of you don’t want to read these cancer based blog posts and would rather come back when I am yapping about fishing, but if you have been in this sort of situation yourself then I wonder if communicating about it helped you as much as it helps me. None of this is my fault and I refuse to brush it under the carpet like it’s not really happening. I want to stick around for as long as I can and I will fight with all my strength against this bastard cancer. I am meeting the surgeon in a week and half and then he will give me a slot for an operation. In that meeting I shall of course be asking what the realistic timeframe is for getting back out fishing, and if it was blowing SW3 to 4 and the water was lovely and green the day after the operation, whether he could stitch/bind/whatever the wounds that little bit tighter so I could get out there fishing. You all have a good weekend. Tell your family how much you love them and draw strength from those around you. My profound thanks again for so many kind messages of support.

Major Craft N-One NSS-962ML 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rod review (around £220)

If this blog sometimes comes across as a Major Craft fan club then I make no apologies - bearing in mind that I can only mess around with the rods that certain kind people are good enough to help me get my hands on, then in my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, Major Craft are making the best value for money lure rods for how we tend to do our stuff here in the UK. There is quite possibly another very good “budget to medium high end” lure rod brand out there that offers such a wide range of rods as Major Craft, but I haven’t come across it yet. I am doing my best to try and find a Major Craft rod that I don’t actually enjoy fishing with, but it’s not easy - I did have a few chucks with the fairly cheap 9’6’’ 10-30g Crostage in Ireland in September and it’s not for me at all (too soft etc.) - so how about this new Major Craft N-One NSS-962ML 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rod?

Pretty simple really. This rod is an absolute disgrace how good it is. Sure, you can probably save a few quid by importing one from your second cousin’s pet rattlesnake in Outer Mongolia, but even at the full UK price it’s a steal, and if I am to buy a lure rod then I make no excuses for wanting an easy replacement deal if something were to go wrong with it (any rod can break, but of course it’s never the angler’s fault). So what does around the £220 mark get you?

A hell of a lot of rod for a start. I love the the slightly shorter 9’ 10-30g N-One (review here), and I am fast falling for this 9’6’’ model. The somewhat more expensive 9’6’’ 10-30g Truzer (review here) was my top lure rod of 2014, and it still blows me away how good it is, but the more I get to fish with this particular N-One, the more I am left wondering if Major Craft have got their marketing strategies a bit wrong here by making these new N-One rods this good. The Truzer hasn’t suddenly become a worse rod, just that this new N-One is that good I can’t help but question if it’s now worth spending the extra money to get the Truzer. Yes, the Truzer is a bit more rod overall (that bit “tighter”), as indeed it should be, but wow this 9’6’’ N-One is an impressive creature.

There’s not much point in me telling you how this 9’6’’ N-One performs with the various kinds of lures and techniques I might use for my bass fishing, because to put it bluntly I can’t get it to feel uncomfortable with anything. The chances are that you are fishing with lures and techniques that I may well not be and can therefore trip this N-One up, but I sure as hell can’t. I feel that I should be finding something wrong with it, but how can I when this rod suits me so well? It’s so light, responsive and downright easy to use that to be honest I find it just as wand-like to fish with as the shorter 9’ version, and because I find this longer N-One a touch more comfortable at blasting out the larger lures in bouncier conditions than the 9’ version, if I was looking to buy one I might end up frying my brain with which one to go for. Not a bad problem to have with rods costing a little over the £200 mark if you ask me.

OK, so in a perfect world I’d like a bit more duplon for the back of my right hand when it sits on the reelseat (I am right-handed, so it’s my forward hand on the rod if you like), but that’s nitpicking really because I can’t find anything else to complain about with this 9’6’’ N-One. The handle length is a little longer than on the shorter 9’ rod (36cms against about 30cms), and this feels quite right on the longer rod. The action on the rod works for me - nice and fast but not remotely a poker, and as with the 9’ version, there’s just something so damn easy about lure fishing with this rod. You just don’t need to lash into it to get the best out of it, although there’s a bit more “steel” overall in this 9’6’’ over the 9’, and I really like how this makes it feel like a natural progression via the length over the 9’ N-One. I’d still find choosing between the two a dilemma though.

I don’t know what more to tell you really. The 9’ Truzer (review here) is a faster, pokier rod than the comparable 9’ N-One, but when it gets to this longer length I’d find it hard to choose between the 9’6’’ Truzer, 9’6’’ X-Ride (review here) and this 9’6’’ N-One - the more expensive Truzer and X-Ride rods (same blanks anyway) are a touch faster and steelier, but this N-One is just so easy. Money no object and I am sucker for knowing that there’s a very expensive set of Fuji Torzite guides on a Truzer, but aesthetics aside and I am finding it remarkably hard to look much beyond this £220 Major Craft 9’6’’ 10-30g N-One. Rods are of course very personal things, but unless you are needing to fish with bass lures way over the 30g mark then I can’t really see how any angler couldn’t at least appreciate fishing with this 9’6’’ N-One. The spanner in the works is the remarkable and roughly £40 cheaper again Skyroad Surf 9’6’’ (review here), which is officially a joke it’s so cheap for what it is. Which one would I buy? Not easy, put it that way. If you are anywhere near Chesil Bait’n’Tackle or the Art of Fishing you should be able to see this rod in the flesh.

Dear Ultimate Fishing in France, please can you make a 20g/120-130mm version of the Patchinko

Distance isn’t everything of course, but having the ability to cover a huge amount of water with a lure is a pretty handy string to one’s bow if you ask me, and whilst I don’t actually use the regular sized Xorus Patchinko surface lure that much (140mm, 27g), there is no getting away from how in certain situations it’s a frigging killer surface lure, and of course it frigging flies. I am not personally aware of a surface lure of similar dimensions that casts so well, and I I tend to err towards surface lures that cast well. Bear in in mind that the bulk of my bass fishing is from the shore.

I have cast but not actually fished with the much smaller Patchinko 100 (100mm, 11g), and I was amazed at how well it cast for such a diminutive size. I don’t feel the need to turn to this smaller Patchinko because for a few years now the similar sized IMA Salt Skimmer (110mm, 14g) has been my go-to surface lure. I trust it implicitly and it’s one of the best casting surface lures I have ever come across. There are various surface lures around these kinds of dimensions, but I haven’t come across one that gets out there as well as the Salt Skimmer.

But what about when you want something slightly larger than the Salt Skimmer or Patchinko 100, but not quite as big and as noisy-landing as the regular Patchinko? I hear a bit about the Xorus Frosty (125mm, 16g) being a really good casting surface lure, but this must mean the one I own is faulty in some way - because mine casts like a bit of a dog. And yes, it could be me and my casting. The Lucky Craft Gunfish in the 115mm size (19g) is a bit of a flyer if you catch it right, and of course it’s a classic surface lure that I know slays bass for plenty of anglers, but it seems to be one of those lures that you have to catch exactly right for it to really get out there. When it does, it flies, but it seems prone to “fishtailing” on the way out if you’re not spot on all the time - I’d love to say my casting is perfect each and every time, but it’s not. I keep coming back to the Gunfish and wondering why on earth it ever left my box.

There is of course the Tackle House Vulture (120mm, 20g) which is one of those true missiles of a surface lure. Get this one right and without doubt it’s getting me a little more distance than my beloved Skimmer. It catches bass and I know of a few anglers who swear by the Vulture in a big way. I do carry one pretty regularly and I trust it to catch me fish and get me out there, but there’s sometimes this niggling feeling that I’d like a rattle in there to help draw bass in a bit more in rougher conditions. Does a rattle really help? Well I can’t prove either way, but a noisier surface lure sometimes gives me that extra bit of confidence. Horses for courses of course.

One surface lure I really liked the look of when I found it online was the Daiwa Morethan Scouter 110F (110mm, 18.8g), as per the photo above of the one I now own. I like the lure and it goes pretty well, but for some reason the fixed nature of the weight inside the lure seems to kill this thing into a headwind. I can quite easily live with there being no rattle, and whilst I like the lure, I admit that I was somewhat disappointed at how the shape and dimensions of the lure seemed to promise so much in the casting department yet in fact it’s nowhere close to the Salt Skimmer.

Pretty similar with the new and larger IMA Skimmer Grande that I was so excited about when I saw it at the iCast show the last couple of years. Well thanks to a very kind soul (with what I would suggest is a bit of a fishing tackle issue!!) I have a couple of them here, and whilst the specs say 135mm and 25g/1oz on the packet, I have weighed one of these bigger Skimmer Grande lures on the little scales I bought, and it says only 18.4g - some discrepancy. Anyway, I note that unlike many of the the regular IMA lures you or I might own which say “Made in Japan” on the boxes, it says “Made in China” on the Skimmer Grande box. Does this matter? Not in the slightest, but it’s a fact that much of the US fishing scene will simply not stand for the sort of lure prices that we might expect to be paying, hence I must guess the need to get lures like this made as cheaply as possible.

I would guess that Ultimate Fishing’s Xorus lures are made in China, indeed I would also guess that a lot of higher-end Japanese designed lures that you or I might own or lust after are also made in China. As I said, it matters not, but there’s no getting away from how my initial excitement at a larger Skimmer turned quickly to disappointment when I tried casting it into a headwind. Terrible, no other word to describe it. No worries downwind where the bulk of the lure gets it out there anyway, and ok in no wind, but into a wind and the Skimmer Grande casts like the proverbial dog. Does this matter? Not if you don’t fish into headwinds or from a boat, indeed the lad who so kindly sent them to me has smashed a bunch of serious bass later this year on his own Skimmer Grande. They obviously have an action that turns our bass on then, but I know this lad’s fishing calm, mainly gentle offshore conditions - due to his coastline’s characteristics - and as such he isn’t needing to punch a larger surface lure into headwinds as I might. Bear in mind also that the Skimmer Grande is a freshwater US bass fishing lure, and because so much of this fishing takes place from a boat I am guessing distance wasn’t a big consideration when making this larger Skimmer.

Nope, for all the surface lures I have tried over the last few years, there is no getting away from how the regular Xorus Patchinko is a missile, and via a few casts it’s interesting how they kept the great casting nature with the much smaller 100 model. This blog post ain’t going to change a thing, but it’s struck me for a long time now that there’s such a big gap between the regular Patchinko and the 100 models that it seems only natural that a roughly 120-130mm model should be in there somewhere, say around the 20g weight. Can you imagine how well this thing would get out there when you could move it so fast on these lighter lure rods that more and more anglers seem to be using? Keep the same sort of action, noise and castability and I reckon you’d end up with one of the ultimate surface lures for bass fishing. Pretty please Ultimate Fishing - I’d buy a bunch for starters……….