I could cheerfully talk to Dave of Diver Dave’s wader repair all day long

I absolutely love talking to knowledgeable people who are also passionate about their subjects, and whilst to non-anglers the whole subject of waders and wader related issues may not be of any interest at all, I could cheerfully talk to Dave Gordon of DiverDave’s Wader repair all day long. Holy cow the guy knows his stuff, and whilst I haven’t actually met Dave yet, we have talked a few times now, including yesterday, and every time I come away with yet more understanding of all things waders and a hope that one day we will get to meet up and say hi.

Lots of people know plenty of stuff, but if there is one thing that turns me right off somebody is if they are then overbearing and/or tedious with that knowledge. Talk with Dave on the phone and you can’t help but be infected with his enthusiasm and understanding of the whole world of waders - and yes, I know that might sound a bit odd when waders are not exactly the most exciting things in the world, but that’s the whole point here. People who are knowledgeable, passionate, AND can then bring that subject to life. I don’t want to embarrass the bloke, but he is genuinely fascinating to talk to on the phone.

I’ve got some Simms waders to send up to Dave because the bloody things keep on springing a leak somewhere new and the alcohol rubbing spray technique that I use isn’t stopping water getting in anymore. I am also mightily interested in what Dave calls “Warranty Replacement” waders - my understanding is that they get various new or very nearly new waders in that they then do their wader testing and repair thing to and then offer them for sale at some really good prices. I believe the best way to go about getting some of these waders is either to contact the guys here, or keep an eye on their Facebook page which is at “Dave Gordon (Diverdaves wader repair)”. Dave is very kindly sending me a bottle of his “Repel” waterproof spray to see how it might work for me (check here), and from how he was describing the stuff, it sounds like it might be really useful for our fishing jackets and waders. I will report back. OK, so if I was running this blog from the Seychelles we would never be talking about waders, but I don’t, and we are……….

Guest blog post - Keith White - Learning to sew, part 3 of a needlefish series

In this section I’d like to look more at choices, the way too many choices hamper your fishing, the way that simple looking fishing might fly in the face of ‘knowledge’ and the reasons why we might do something, buy a certain reel, rod, line or lure.

Should you use a reel of size 2500, 3000, a 4000, something else? Who cares, use what you know and like ...

However... Know your reel.

Most certainly do not or perhaps, a kinder way is to suggest they do not consider reel size outside of potential balance, weight and line capacity.

Retrieve ratio, line per turn all matter but, only in like for like comparisons with other reels and your mates.

Reels are, like I said, important but not to the point where you need to play both the brand name and money game in competition with your peers. Instead, just find a suitable one and stick with it.

Fishing needle’s is simple, easy, a no brainer. Most needlefish skills involve learning to leave the lure alone, trusting in it and having tackle that doesn’t interfere with it in that context. As regards reels and line, especially at night and throwing lightweight soft needlefish, nothing kills a session faster than a braid knot.

How easy is it, to simply cast and retrieve a lure, or cast and swing?

OK, go and find a fly fisherman's guide to presenting a dry fly. Why is presenting a needlefish any different? Well, it isn’t. You can go on a river and strip a lure back just like you might on a stocked small still water. However...

Go and watch the specialists, the dry fly men, the wet fly men, the salmon men who are still fly fishing yet, it’s all not always so subtlety different. Go and read some stuff on night time sea trout fishing for example and you’ll start to see a picture building. In fact, one book I always recommend to any potential night lure angler around currents and flows is ‘Sea Trout Fishing’ by Hugh Falkus.

Look at how a river coarse angler is asking the float to deliver a small bait in-line with the flow of the river or a stillwater waggler setup delivers a bait hopefully falling at the same rate as free offerings. This float fishing also works with lures, in rivers regards float jigging for the mighty steelhead and yes, even hanging a plastic crab or a shrimp under a float for wrasse, maybe even redfish in the Carolina’s USA.

Many top anglers from these branches of the sport have developed methods and skills aimed at reducing drag, getting baits to move in-line with currents and flows and they recognise, some area’s in any given water course are ‘better’ for X, Y, or Z reasons.

Sea lure anglers seem oblivious to much of this and many don’t even realise, or care to learn that the seas actually flow, and tide doesn’t come IN and go OUT, they know nothing of the rule of 12th’s, how water temperature affects lures and lines, how land affects winds, how waves move, how features and which features determine how bass or target species behave so ask yourself, WHY would such a person care, even remotely, about how and why a lure, representing x,y,or z bait, behave in a,b, or c water?

Turn your reels handle ONCE and how much line gets moved? Do you know? If not, why not. Do you realise that in a cross wind AND current, a lure may be acting like a car driving the wrong way up or down the motorway, do you know, that in faster flows, bass generally run deeper.

In the case of the latter, yes, it’s a fact, bass might indeed be deeper in strong flows because the water at the bottom moves slower. You have to THINK. I believe everyone has the ability to process data like this at incredible rates. Look, I don’t carry a science book around with me, you just do stuff, like I do stuff but my stuff is clearly influenced by what knowledge I carry inside. Imagine I am fishing a gutter running left to right. To the right is west. There is a strong F5 westerly blowing and this gully is say, 10ft deep along it’s centre. It’s flowing at 3mph. The bottom is rough and strewn with mixed sized boulders.

I’ll guarantee, there will be at least 3 layers of water speeds. The surface 2ft might be moving 20% faster, if not more. The middle depths might stabilise before friction slows the lower foot or so. In the case of some boulders, they might create layered eddy currents in which water may in fact, for a period, be flowing (from your perspective), backwards or the ‘wrong way’. Not the wrong way of course because it’s completely natural but your lure, simply retrieved, will of course, not take ANY of these flow nuances into consideration.

Lures with bibs are of course, affected more. Soft lures with a paddle tail are also, affected, far more than a simple, symmetrical lure like a needlefish. In the case of tails and water/retrieve speed, you can almost shake the tail off if you retrieve such a lure too fast, or against currents. In the further case of a bibbed, plastic style minnow lure, there is a point at which the lure becomes useless and ‘rolls out’. Literally, it gives up, rolls on it’s side and comes back skipping the surface with all the grace of a wet carrier bag. Not good you might say. Consider the ratio of involvement regards speed : lure type: sink rate: water depth: temp : etc.

Your reel might say, retrieve 80cm of line, per turn of the handle. Someone else’s, 90cm, another, 105cm. You might have 20lb braid, your friend 15lb and someone else, something different. The point is though, turning that handle at 1 turn per second, it’s rare you’ll exceed a lure speed that would challenge a brisk walking pace. YET...

Paddle tail lures kick like mules and many minnow style lures ‘will’ roll out as described. And this is in normal waters. You add moving water and stuff simply stops working as you may imagine. Needlefish and lures without extravagant actions and intention, are in many ways, immune to overwork unless YOU apply it. If you know how to swing the lure, where to cast into strong flows and how to maintain contact, the needefish will look natural in water conditions where many other lure types are simply the clown at the party. They stand out, too much.

Know your colours... or NOT

Imagine now, in the midst of trying to fathom a million ways to present a lure in as natural a way as possible, you start adding 25 colour variations and 3 size variations into the mix. You could forget it and learn from the dry fly angler who instead, chooses to match the hatch or offer something that ‘looks and behaves’ in a natural manner and concentrate instead upon presentation. You could choose to restrain yourself and have reasons, any reasons for using X or Y coloured lure or, like me, you could simply use whatever takes your fancy at the time as long as previously considered criteria like size, contrast, weight, action and profile are met first.

In fact, to prove a point rather than guessing, I threw together a small yet functional python3 script to work out a much smaller set of possible combo's using just 2 needefish types, 6 colours, 4 lengths, 4 weights and 5 sink rates. I cannot print here the results as in just that amount of choice,

you are left with 15360 permutations. Crazy right? It's incredulous to imagine 15360 permutations of lure before you even start fishing and then of course, you still need to be on fish.

You see, I’m not trying to be smart here but I myself would NEVER confuse the issue with such an amount of permutations. Just keep stuff simple and as I have written and proven elsewhere, colours in the main mean little to the fish, more to the anglers and more still to those selling lures to the anglers. At night, most mid range saturations of colours resolve to the same grey shade so as far as the fish are concerned, mid green, mid pink, mid blue, mid anything really will desaturate to 'almost' the same mid grey shade as 'green', so, if we need a representation of all of those mid colours, green is it. Add contrast into the affray and why not simply carry white/yellow for 'light', green for mid and maybe a dark blue/purple or black for high contrast? How much simpler that is BUT, it still leaves 3 colours or contrasts and 7680 possible permutations. Still clearly no good.

This is why when we go needlefishing, at night, (soft or hard), we choose the BEST POSSIBLE choice. For me, and for the people I generally fish with, that seems to be, in the waters we fish, 'GREEN', '1oz', ' 6" ', 'Centre Weighted' and go from there. If this was now daylight I might change green to white, I might not. If this was a dark new moon, overcast, I might change that to black. If I needed to cast miles I might choose a tail weighted 1oz before I chose to up the weight. So there is, and has to be logical choice made from a selection of lures you may need. Just carry the lures that sit within the boundary parameters of the water you are likely to fish. Done!

To be continued.........

Fancy coming on a guided bass/lure fishing trip in Ireland this July?

If there is one thing I absolutely cannot wait to do this year, it’s to get back over to Kerry in SW Ireland and do some more of this co-guiding work I do with John Quinlan of the rather excellent Thatch Cottage Ireland setup. I know it’s work and some people don’t like their work at all, but I do, and I can’t help it - I love this stuff. Working with John and helping anglers catch a few fish, learn a bit about lure fishing, and quite simply have a good holiday is such a buzz………

And we have got a few places available this July. I like that time of year in Kerry because you’ve got a good chance at everything - bass of course, and this is the species we spend the most time chasing, but you’ve also got what can be some ridiculously good pollack fishing from shore and boat, sight fishing to mullet if the conditions are right, and salmon on the river if we get the right water levels, etc. These trips are not about heaps of monster bass crawling up the line, rather it’s the whole experience of fishing hard in a special place, hopefully learning a bit, having a hell of a giggle, eating plenty of good food, and catching a bunch of fish on lure gear with other likeminded anglers. If the idea of this floats your boat then please contact me and we can get things moving. There’s plenty more info and contact details on the Guiding page at the top as well.

The two July trips we are running this year are as follows:

Trip 1

Tuesday 4th July - arrive at Thatch Cottage

Fishing - Weds 5th, Thurs 6th, Friday 7th, Sat 8th

Sun 9th July - depart

Trip 2

Sunday 9th July - arrive at Thatch Cottage

Fishing - Mon 10th, Tues 11th, Weds 12th, Thurs 13th

Friday 14th July - depart

How I get as much life as possible out of the killer but not exactly cheap OSP DoLive Stick

Sometimes the best things do cost that bit more, and whilst there may well be loads of options to the OSP DoLive Stick, so far I haven’t come across a “twitchbait” style of soft plastic that I prefer. Horses for courses and all that, but I like the lure, it works very well for me, and until something better (for me) comes along then I’ll stick with them - but they ain’t exactly cheap as chips, and sometimes they can be a swine to get hold of. I’ve been paying roughly £11 for a pack of six 6’’ DoLive Sticks, keep an eye on here and here if that helps. Call me tight if you like, but I have come up with a few simple ways that are geared towards getting as much life as I can out of these lures……….

5/0 Lunker City Texposer hook

5/0 Lunker City Texposer hook

I am more than happy to stick the outstanding Lunker City Texposer weedless hooks in the white senkos that I tend to fish with at night, but then the Wave Fishing 5’’ Bamboo Sticks are made from what seems to be a relatively tough sort of soft plastic that doesn’t tear up that easily - whereas the DoLive Sticks rigged on the same hooks don’t last nearly as well. They seem to be made from a softer kind of soft plastic, and because of this I do like to use one of those hitchhiker style weedless hooks with them. At not far off £2 a lure, I’d kinda like to get a decent bit of use out of them, and whilst yes, of course they don’t cost anywhere near as much as a decent hard lure, bass can and do sometimes rip a DoLive Stick clean off the hook.

6/0 Mustad Wide Gape hook

6/0 Mustad Wide Gape hook

The two hitchhiker style weedless hooks that I have most experience with are from Mustad and Owner. The Mustad Wide Gape hook in 5/0 or 6/0 works great in the 6’’ long OSP DoLive Sticks, and I like how these hooks aren’t very expensive at all. I have never, ever had a single issue with those Mustad hooks and the sort of fish we are catching from our shorelines, but if you tied me down and allowed me to use only one style of weedless hook with the DoLive Sticks then it would be the more expensive Owner Twistlock, code 5167, the ones that have a yellow sticker on them that says “Designed by Gary Yamamoto”. The size 5/0 and 6/0 just fit the 6’’ DoLive Sticks absolutely perfectly, and I do think that the little centering pin on Owner’s version of the hitchhiker (Owner Twistlock) makes for ever so slightly easier rigging than the regular hitchhiker screw thing that is on those Mustad hooks.

6/0 Owner Twistlock hook, code 5167, "Designed by Gary Yamamoto"

6/0 Owner Twistlock hook, code 5167, "Designed by Gary Yamamoto"

Bear in mind we’re talking about small margins here, and both hooks/systems work perfectly with these lures. I just slightly prefer the way the Owner hook sits with this particular lure. Both hooks last ok as regards rusting up, but they don’t last like the amazingly rustproof Lunker City Texposer ones do. In reality this doesn’t really matter much when you think of the amount of use you can get from a hook that you will very rarely snag up and lose anyway.

Then what I do when I’m fishing with these soft plastics is to keep an eye on them - if they start tearing up due to catching fish or repeated casting, I’ll take it off, put a new or previously repaired lure on, and keep that damaged DoLive Stick in my lure box for repairing when I get home. If they are going to tear up, it’ll be around where the hitchhiker secures in the front of the lure, or around where the hook comes up and through the body of the lure. You could of course keep fishing with the lure and not take any notice of them starting to tear up, but I have found that I can prolong their life a lot by not letting them get too damaged before replacing them.

And when I say repairing, I mean doing a bit of simple surgery with the “never be without” Mend-It soft plastic repair glue - paint around, in and over the holes with Mend-It, let the lures dry, and take them out fishing again, almost as good as new. If you fish with soft plastics that you pay decent money for and don’t have any Mend-It soft plastic repair glue then you owe it to yourself to get some. Anyway, yes, I am obsessed all over again with the OSP DoLive Stick, and yes, trying to prolong their life might be considered a little besotted, but I couldn’t give a stuff! Hope it might help a bit……...

Mark was right and I was wrong, but isn’t that a big part of what makes fishing so utterly fantastic?

Ask my wife and she will tell you that I am very rarely wrong, or to put it another way, I very rarely (if ever) admit when I am wrong! Aren’t most blokes like that though? But with fishing I absolutely love it when I am proven wrong, because that to me means I have got something new to learn, and it’s this continued learning which is such a big part of why I find fishing so endlessly fascinating. Yesterday morning here in south east Cornwall was a classic example………….

Mark and I came to the same conclusion on where to fish early on Sunday morning, but on the long walk down I’d have liked to see a bit more bounce on the sea than what we were seeing. No way says Mark, I’ll take exactly these conditions at this time of year thank you very much. Ummmmm thinks me. So we start fishing, but in no time Mark’s had enough of the weed and he moves a few hundred yards away to see if it’s any better. We are carrying radios to keep in touch which is ideal for a situation like this. I am fishing away and not doing too badly with the weed, but in all honesty I am not feeling a huge amount of love about the conditions combined with the low tide and lack of movement. The place just feels dead to me.

But not to Mark. The tide’s flooding now and we speak on the radio to find out what’s happening in our respective locations. Squat. OK, so it’s well into January, but with the so called winter we’ve been having down here we are in with more than a shout at bass - yet I can’t help feeling that the decision we came to on where to fish is feeling potentially like a duff call. I’m a positive person by nature but for whatever reason I’m just not feeling the love where I am chucking lures and that’s not really like me.

I make another radio call to Mark to see how he’s getting on. Squat, although he does tell me that he likes where he currently is as soon as a certain rock starts to cover on the pushing tide. Ummmm I think. OK, so the tide’s on the way in and things are starting to fizz up just that little bit, but I can’t shake the feeling that I should be fishing somewhere else, or at least where I am currently fishing ain’t cutting it at all. Time to head down towards Mark.

Which I start to do when the radio suddenly crackled into life - Mark’s landed a bass on his beloved Feed Shallow (he’s frigging lethal with it), and it sounds like a half-tidy fish. I ask him over the radio to put it in a rockpool so that I can photograph it when I reach him. I give him nudging 5lbs for the fish and it’s in about as prime condition as you could ever hope to see a bass. Outfriggingstanding, so damn good to see, and what a jolt of confidence.
OK, so no other bass were landed and I missed a hard bang on a DoLive Stick a bit further up the tide, but way above that for me is the fact that I was proven wrong with my doubts about the conditions, and it means that I learnt a valuable lesson about where we were fishing that I am sure will reap rewards at some point in the future in the form of a few bass. Mark was right and I was wrong, and I ain’t remotely ashamed to admit it……...

Would welcome your thoughts on this new blog landing page

Apologies, nothing fishing related today, but from time to time I have a look around my website and think how I might try and improve the user experience as such. If you come onto my website via the domain name and then click on “Blog” at the top, you will have seen the new landing page before you then clicked on the post title and came through to here - which is of course how the blog on this website has always looked…………

It’s just me messing around and if I live with it for a while and don’t end up liking it then I can easily change back to how it was, but I wanted to try and make the actual blog landing page a bit more visual and snappy whilst also helping you kind people to more easily find recent content that you might not have seen. I asked around on Facebook yesterday and the feedback was generally positive towards this new landing page look, and a few people also suggested that for this new page that I get rid of that image at the top that has “The blog” written on it.

Note that there is a “Search” box at the top of this new blog landing page, and it’s linked directly to the blog and not the whole website - type in say “Skyroad” and you will be given a list of blog posts that have that word in there, or you can hit “Enter” after typing in the search word and you will get a load of results as well.

This blog has been going for years now and there’s obviously a load of content that some of you may never have seen and might indeed want to - on this page where you are now, have a look over on the right hand side and you will find a little box that says “Blog archive”. Click on it and a drop down menu will appear that gives you the option of clicking on a particular month from a particular year. You can also look further down the right hand side and find “Blog Categories” - when I put a blog post up I try my best to assign a few categories to it, so if you click on a category here it will show the relevant blog posts.

Anyway, if you are so inclined then I would welcome your thoughts on this new blog landing page. Please leave a comment below or message me via Facebook, email etc. Change can of course be a good thing, and I’d be interested to know what people think. Thank you.

The penultimate day of 2016 and I manage to nail what may well be my favourite bass fishing photograph of the year

If a lot of outdoors photography is about being in the right place at the right time, then I would like to suggest that fishing photography is even more so about this, plus a great big serving of luck as well. Sure, when the light goes off you can work on putting yourself in the right position to shoot photos of your mates fishing away (whilst trying to hide where you actually are etc., one of the “joys” of shooting fishing!), but you can’t plan for when fish are hooked, and when you are out there fishing yourself, you can’t always plan for where you yourself will be standing as and when something visually exciting goes off. Saying that though, when the light goes off I’ll be shooting stills instead of actually fishing………...

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Farewell dear wading boots - we’ve had some good times, but too often you are a rubbish and you cost far too much money. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, hope you all had a good Xmas, here’s to 2017. Well I reckon that’s me and wading boots done and dusted. My roughly £25 Dunlop safety boots have lasted the three months that I told myself they needed to last before I would wholeheartedly adopt them as my wading boots of choice (check here, and yes, I know, they aren’t actually wading boots), and I am now really keen to see how long they will last before falling apart. But that’s kinda the point here for me - I don’t care if these Dunlop things fall apart tomorrow, because for the price they are firstly an absolute steal with how I’ve been using and abusing them, and secondly and arguably more importantly, these £25 boots have rather effectively highlighted to me just how badly made far too many of the “proper” wading boots are that I have tried over a bunch of years now……….

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Happy Christmas 2016

Is it really only two days until Christmas? Happy Christmas to you all and my thanks as always for reading this blog - from time to time I do sit down and think about whether I should continue this blog for another year, but I love doing it, I love that people read it, I love getting feedback via comments, emails and various messages, and yes, I absolutely love it when I meet anglers out and about who tell me that they read this blog and that in some way it has helped them with their fishing. Thank you!

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Might be barking up the wrong tree here, but I’m looking out for smaller lures that can work like needlefish or senkos for specific situations

As we near the end of the year and I think about my fishing this year and the fishing I have been around, one thing that really stands out for me is the whole night lure fishing thing, and more specifically, chucking those senkos out, winding them straight in and catching bass and absolutely loving fishing like this. But there’s an aspect to it that has been niggling me for a while and I wonder if there’s a way round it………….

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APIA Foojin’R Grand Swell 96MH 9’6’’ 7-42g lure rod review - £300+

Well one’s thing for sure about this APIA Foojin’R Grand Swell 96MH 7-42g lure rod - you aren’t going to lack for power in dealing with any bass that we are ever likely to connect with in European waters. I took this rod over to the US to fish for striped bass when we weren’t fishing the much heavier lures in the Cape Cod canal, and whilst 9’6’’ could well be considered too long for boat fishing, that’s exactly what I did with it. I landed stripers on surface lures off the boat that were nudging 30lbs, and believe me when I say that I gave them as much grief as I possibly could with this rod, a 5000 size Shimano spinning reel, and 26lb Sufix 832 braid I think it was. Not even remotely a problem, so me thinks it’s just about powerful enough for our own bass………..

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I go fishing because I need to, but how on earth do you explain that all-consuming need to non-anglers?

We were with my folks for the weekend the other day, and whilst they are the most fantastic parents who have always supported me and my two brothers in what we do with our lives, they do not fish and I credit my awesome grandmother with introducing me to fishing when I was seven years old. My folks gamely used to watch those TV programmes I presented and they even used to subscribe to Sea Angler magazine until they asked me if I minded if they didn’t anymore because it wasn’t really their thing! You either fish or you don’t, and fishing in some form or another has kinda ruled my life since I was a nipper…………

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