Ready for the off - with a couple of new toys to test out.....

I can't believe the weather here in Plymouth at the moment - I don't think I saw a cloud in the sky all day yesterday, and it actually still felt lovely and warm in the sun. Doesn't feel quite right for very nearly mid-October, but I'll take it any day of the week. Just stunning. I am hearing reports of some good fishing all over the place down here, including conger eels off the shore of 41lb and 32lb last week, plus some nice bass off Chesil beach on lures., mixed in with some tidy cod as well. When I get back from Ireland I am going to head up there again and see what I can do, it's such a different place to chuck lures for me.

This new Shimano Stella 4000FD of mine is going to get a proper hammering over in Ireland, and I am really looking forward to using it on the bass. I have had a few chucks with it to bed the braid in and it feels as sublime as I remember a Stella always does. I accept that a reel like this is an extravagance, but you only live once is what I keep telling myself. Might even be able to put it through the books as a legitimate business expense - for photography purposes of course !! "Dear Mr. Inland Revenue - I did not want to buy a Stella for fishing, I got it only because I needed to photograph the best spinning reel in the world".Do you think he'd buy it ?

I have just been sent a brand new bass plugging rod by a friend of mine, with instructions to thrash the hell out of it and see what I think - let's call it "Rod X" at the moment. I am very aware that while I am in love with my red Tenryu rods, not every angler is going to drop that kind of dosh on a spinning rod - granted, plenty of guys are coming round to the fact that a spinning rod is not just some accessory purchase to supplement a range of hugely expensive beachcasters, but Tenryu rods are top of the range in price and of course performance. "Rod X" is potentially stunning value for money.......

So this "Rod X" really interests me - it is 8'3'' long and looks really well built with a very interesting handle configuration that seems to be really comfortable to fish lures with. Rated at I think 15-50g, (I always take these sorts of figures with a pinch of salt) it feels lightening quick and is extremely light. If you had asked me two years ago what I thought the optimum length for a plugging rod was for shore fishing, I would have said around 10', but now I reckon that somewhere between 8-9' is just about perfect for a rod that can fish all manner of lures. This "Rod X" feels really well balanced in the hand, especially with my new Stella on there, (yes, I am a tackle tart) and I am looking forward to seeing what it can do - this length of rod (just like my Tenryu Super Mix 240) allows you to fish a little differently if that makes sense -- kind of like waving a responsive wand when needs be. Sorry, my technical skills at describing fishing gear are not up to much. Fishing gear just has to feel "right" to me.

I have taken "Rod X" out for a quick play, and I chucked surface and sub-surface hard lures with it, plus small 30g vertical jigs rigged with proper assist hooks (killer lures), and I reckon the guy who sent it to me to try out might well be on to something here. Give me a week with it to form a better opinion, (and I will ask the other guys to use it as well and tell me what they think) but first off it seems to be a stunning bit of kit - especially for the price. I hear that there is also a slightly lighter version of it, and I reckon this might be worth a look as well. Seems to me that with some decent research and a lot of looking around that there are actually a number of fast action, "modern style" spinning rods out there that are well suited to lure fishing for bass. It's a shame that at the moment we can't buy these kinds of rods from UK fishing tackle companies, but perhaps this will change one day ? Who knows......time and tide waits for no man in my opinion.

Anyway, Andy and I are off to the ferry tomorrow, and if all goes to plan we should be arriving in Fethard around 7pm - unpack the gear, grab a bite to eat, talk some more about fishing (as if we won't have on the journey !!), get the gear sorted for the next day, and then set the alarm nice and early to take advantage of a high water around 4am in the morning. Bring it on. As often as possible over there I will keep this blog updated with reports and photos from our week in Ireland.

Here are a couple of recent front covers of mine for Trout Fisherman magazine - the shot above I am really, really pleased that it was picked out as a cover. You are never quite sure how people will take your photos, but I do remember standing in the river on a small step ladder and lining this one up - the moment I nailed it I thought it would make a decent cover, so it's cool when that gets picked up on and used exactly how you envisaged it. Believe it or not, this does not actually happen very much.