Hope to see a load of you next weekend at the UK’s first ever lure fishing show

It’s about time the UK got their own lure fishing show, and the time has finally come - next weekend sees the first ever European Sport Fishing Show, based in Bristol, and running on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th October. A combined lure and fly fishing event, open to the trade and the public, and I can’t wait. It’s so damn good to finally have a proper fishing show that’s dedicated to the two kinds of fishing which have so much in common, and I take my hat off to the people behind this brand new show and I wish them every possible success. To you kind people who read this blog of mine - please come along next weekend!

Is this going to be our own Nantes show?

Is this going to be our own Nantes show?

I will be there for both days, based around the Fiiish UK stand, but also wandering around and doing my utmost not to completely ruin my bank account with the gear that’s going to be on show and also for sale. I believe I am doing some talks on fishing photography as well, so please come along and heckle all you like! You can buy tickets to this brand new European Sport Fishing Show in advance, check here, or you can simply turn up and pay on the door. The show is on the outskirts of Bristol by the way, check here for full details.

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There’s going to be loads of lure and fly fishing gear on show and on sale, and for us lure junkies it’s looking very interesting indeed - check out the list of exhibitors here. I have just seen on Facebook this morning that The Art of Fishing tackle shop is doing an official launch of the Japanese rod brand Tailwalk at this new show, and they are offering a scary 20% off the UK RRPs for the weekend if you buy at the show. Why scary? Because I have seen enough of these rods to want too many of them! Check out my review of the stunning, sub-£200 (and lives in the same rarefied air as 9’ Skyroad) Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g lure rod here, and there are two Tailwalk rods in particular that I will be doing my best to walk past and pretend they don’t exist because I want them so badly - the Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S90ML 7-24g and the Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S96ML 7-30g. Calculator out, 20% off, help!

Of particular interest to us lure anglers are stands such as Lure Heaven, Fiiish UK, Abu Garcia, Berkley Fishing, Costa sunnies (the best, end of), Force 4 Chandlery, Future Lures UK, Greys Fishing, Hobie, Hodgman (starting to hear more and more about their waders and wading boots), The Lure Box, Penn Fishing, Predator Tackle, Anglers Only, Seaguar, Snowbee, Sufix UK (yes!), Spiderwire, Tronix Fishing (HTO etc.), Veals Mail Order, VMC Fishing, Fiiish UK, The Art of Fishing (Needful Things), Vision Fly fishing (such good waders), Zen 2, Z-Man, and I am so pleased to see the RNLI are going to be there as well. Now do you see why I worry about getting out of next weekend with a positive bank balance?

Anyway, I am really hoping to see plenty of you kind people at the show next weekend. Come and see me on the Fiiish UK stand. Show me what you’ve bought and tell me how much you admire my self-control around all that gear while I tell porky pies to you about how grown up I am these days around lure fishing tackle. As a mate of mine once said to me: “He who dies with the most toys wins!” Have a good weekend, batten down the hatches if the weather forecast is correct, and I’ll see you on the 28th and 29th October up at Bristol for the UK’s first ever European Sport Fishing Show. Help!

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you. Remember though, there's a 20% discount on Tailwalk rods from the Art of Fishing tackle shop at the show next weekend.

 

 

How much do the size and therefore weight of the guides (or rod rings, eyes etc.) affect how a fishing rod behaves?

Please bear in mind that there’s nothing remotely scientific about my thoughts and opinions here, indeed I very much stand to be corrected if I have got things completely wrong - but the other day I got to have a few casts with a particular lure rod that one of our clients was fishing with over in Ireland, and it got me thinking. Which then leads to my bouncing brain syndrome and me needing to literally offload the contents of my head here on this blog……….

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Anyway, the rod in question was the rather impressive Major Craft X-Ride 8’9’’ 7-23g, lighter bass lure rod, a rod that I have never had here to test, but thanks to this rather nice repeat client, I have got to have a few casts with it over the last few years, and without doubt it is a rod that I really want to own. I have used the more expensive Major Craft Truzer 9’ 7-23g rod a fair bit, and my mate Mark was using one a lot until it went and snapped earlier this year - and whilst I am 99% sure that the Truzer and X-Ride blanks are one and the same (save for a few inches on these 7-23g lighter versions), from memory there seems to be a little bit of difference in the way the rods behave.

I have never been able to put the two rods side by side for a direct comparison, so this is all from what I remember about the individual rods, but it seems to me that the lighter X-Ride is a smidgen “crisper” than the lighter Truzer. Whilst I accept that I could be imagining those slight differences, I can’t help but note how the Truzer has some very nice Fuji Torzite guides on it, yet the X-Ride has some cheaper but smaller again Fuji guides on the tip especially - and I wonder if this is making the slight difference to how “crisp” the two rods feel?

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Same with the longer 9’6’’ 10-30g X-Ride and Truzers - I really like both lure rods, and I have far more experience with the 9’6’’ Truzer than the 9’6’’ X-Ride, but again, this angler has the 9’6’’ X-Ride, and after a few casts with it the other day I can’t help but feel that the cheaper rod is a tiny little bit more steely or “crisp”. I am talking very small margins here, and it has to be based around my belief that the blanks are the same and it’s therefore the guides or rod rings making these tiny differences. I’m not saying that one rod is better than the other, and please continue to accept that this is all pure speculation on my behalf, but as much as I’d love to have owned that lighter 9’ 7-23g Truzer for example, when I have a few casts with the 8’9’’ 7-23g X-Ride, I know that it’s the rod I would personally go for out of the two. Clip a DoLive Stick on and this rod is just sublime. Same with the IMA Salt Skimmer - a perfect combination. Would the stunning Major Craft Skyroad rods be as crisp and steely and responsive if they were built with larger and therefore slightly heavier guides for example?

It makes sense that the size and therefore weight of the guides are going to make a difference to how a lighter fishing rod especially behaves, but how much? It can’t be a coincidence that so many modern fly rods often have those very lightweight snake type guides on them? I note that the two “budget” HTO Nebula rods that I now have experience of (the 9’ 7-35g here and the 9’ 12-42g here) both have very small guides on the tip of the rods especially, and I am convinced that these small and very lightweight guides are assisting in these ridiculously good lure rods feeling as steely and precise and plain bloody lovely as they do. Less weight on the tip section has to be a good thing. Sure, these cheaper Fuji guides aren’t going to last as long as the far more expensive Fuji Torzite guides that never seem to rust, but if you wash your rods down then does it really matter?

I also wonder how many of us UK anglers are almost conditioned if you like to believe that bigger rod guides mean less tangles and problems? Crumbs, look at the size of the guides on modern carp rods as a classic example - do they really need to be that big? They look horrendous to me! I remember back in the day being told that you could not effectively use a spinning reel on a shore rod that was rung for a multiplier, but I gave it a go and never had a single problem. I also remember seeing those long shore rods in Namibia for the first time, all rung with tiny guides for multiplier use, and they are casting mono lines around 0.50mm with say 1.00mm leaders for the sharks with no worries at all. An old friend used to build my beachcasters at the time, but he would not have it that they could potentially be rung with much smaller guides than what we were almost conditioned to be using.

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I have never had a single problem with my braid on any lure rod I have ever fished with that has really small guides on them, and if I think back to a few lure rods over the years that have nearly but not quite done it for me, I wonder how many of them might be improved a touch if they were built with much smaller and therefore lighter weight guides? OK, so you can’t polish a bit of poo, but are there some rods out there that might easily be improved a bit by using smaller guides?

Somebody sent me a couple of lure rods to try recently for example, but one of them especially just felt old school as such and didn’t do it for me at all, and it had far bigger guides on than I have seen on any modern lure rods for a while now. Would much smaller guides tighten the rod up a touch? Does it take a bit of a leap of faith to trust that very small and therefore very lightweight guides don’t actually cause problems with braid? And that the less weight you put on the tip of a fishing rod, surely the more “purely” it is going to behave? As in truer to the actual blank action before you go putting guides, whippings, varnish and reel seats on there. Whatever are the actual facts here, welcome to the contents of my head this morning! Is this kind of thinking remotely normal?

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

If I am going to start wearing a lifejacket for some of my shore fishing, it can’t be getting in the way

With the wind really starting to howl outside as I am writing this - and it must be quite something where I was in Kerry last week - a blog post about the whole safety out on the shore thing seems rather apt. I haven’t been able to return to this safety issue recently because I have been in Ireland for three weeks out of the last four, but I am home now, and in between the two trips a lifejacket arrived here for me to test out and see how it might work with my shore fishing…………

First off, it’s a big thanks to the Isle of Wight company Spinlock for being so kind to send me a lifejacket to test - I’ve got their lightest and most unobtrusive model here, the Deckvest Lite, and I took it over to Kerry with me just in case we managed to get a session out on the boat with our clients. I wanted to see what it would be like to wear this lifejacket while I helped the guys out, took a few photos, and moved around the boat.

Note the lifejackets, and the rather nice 11lb pollack taken on a very light lure rod and the white 150mm Fiiish Crazy Sandeel - some scrap!

Note the lifejackets, and the rather nice 11lb pollack taken on a very light lure rod and the white 150mm Fiiish Crazy Sandeel - some scrap!

I have worn a bunch of different lifejackets over the years either when out on a boat in Ireland, or when out on a lake photographing fly fishing, and whilst I am of course grateful to be wearing something that’s going to keep me afloat if something goes badly wrong, I can’t recall ever actually enjoying wearing those lifejackets because I always felt that they slightly got in my way and I knew they were there, but I accepted it as being far better to have one on that not - which of course begs the question why I have chosen to completely ignore the wearing of a lifejacket for some of my shore fishing for so many years. Please go back and read a couple of recent blog posts here and here which I hope make some sense.

This is the exact Spinlock Deskvest Lite lifejacket that I have here for testing

This is the exact Spinlock Deskvest Lite lifejacket that I have here for testing

Anyway, I have yet to wear a lifejacket when shore fishing, but a few hours of wearing this incredibly light and compact Spinlock Deskvest Lite on the boat and I hardly even know it’s there, indeed I would describe this lifejacket as not getting in my way in any way at all. I was wearing waders with a wading belt, and towards the end of the session I put a waterproof jacket on as we lost the sun. I was using the crotch strap as you are meant to (so the lifejacket doesn’t ride up over your head as it auto inflates, very important), and to be perfectly honest I forgot the thing was there after I got used to it and stopped thinking about the fact that I was trying to find out if it got in the way - which it didn’t.

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Now that I am back home and I can start to properly get out shore fishing again and put some decent time in, as and when I feel it is required I will be wearing this lifejacket to see how it does. The next logical step is to do a bit of basic testing, but for this we require some settled conditions and also a couple of mates who are willing to “fall” in so that I can shoot some video and take a bunch of photos (Spinlock kindly sent me some extra auto inflation systems so that we can reset the lifejacket after use). There’s a long way to go with all this, including wearing the lifejacket while I am actually out lure fishing from the shore of course, but with how easy this Deskvest Lite was to wear on the boat I am feeling really hopeful about all this. More to come.

 

HTO Nebula MH 2.7m (9’) 12-42g lure rod review - £122.99 UK price

I own a few expensive lure rods yet I am choosing to go out fishing with a more “budget” rod that retails at around £120 here in the UK. Why you might ask? Because it’s so damn good and I can’t get enough of it. A few years ago it was the Major Craft 9’ Skyroad that came along and completely changed my opinion on what seriously good lure rods needed to cost (nothing has changed, the Skyroad is still as good as it ever was), and then along comes the brand new HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g lure rod and changes things all over again when it comes to a more regular priced, “do it all” 9’ rod for the majority of my lure fishing.

Yes, it’s that good, and yes, I like it more and more the more I fish with it - it just can’t be right how much rod this thing is for the money! I reviewed the 7-35g version the other day, but for some reason this particular rod got very popular very quickly and HTO are now out of stock until January 2018 I believe.

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So up until the other day I hadn’t seen any of the other rods in the five strong range, but thanks to the nice people at the Art of Fishing tackle shop I have the more powerful HTO Nebula MH 9’ 12-42g here, and if it’s any help this rod is just as good as the lighter 7-35g version. Sure, it’s more powerful - and you may or may not want that extra power - but it’s still just as much truly serious lure rod as its sibling which I can’t put down. I would love to know how HTO manage to get these rods made for so little money - we’re talking Fuji reel seats and guides - and I absolutely love how they are using nice small guides which I think makes a positive difference to the way the rod behaves.

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What I really like here is how the 12-42g Nebula feels so similar to the 7-35g version, but it’s a tad more powerful. It bends the same way, I love how fast both rods are, they are very light, they have really good looking curves when being cast or bent into fish, indeed I am still struggling to find a single thing about either rod that I don’t like. I don’t work with HTO by the way, but I take my hat off to the people involved with bringing rods as good as this to our market for so little money - as I said, to the point that I am choosing to fish with these rods over far more expensive bits of kit.

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Don’t let the 12-42g rating put you off this HTO Nebula by the way, because as much as it can easily cope with the 42g end (and I reckon it would deal with plenty more if required, plus they both make stunning boat rods), if you were looking for a more powerful lure rod that could also deal pretty damn well with soft plastics such as the 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick then this thing does a hell of a good job. Sure, I’d choose the sublime 7-35g version for the bulk of my lure fishing needs because it is that bit more subtle, but when things get a bit bouncier out there, or I am looking to blast heavier lures out into a bit of surf, well the 12-42g version is about as good as it gets if you ask me. I’d love to see a 9’6’’ version of both rods, because if HTO could retain those wonderfully steely, crisp actions you’d have some incredible longer lure rods.

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What’s really interesting for me is when our clients over at Thatch Cottage in Ireland might need to use a lure rod, and this time around a few of our anglers ended up fishing with both the 9’ Nebula rods I had with me. One lad has already bought the 12-42g one because he got on with it so well, and I have a feeling that some of our anglers are now waiting for the 7-35g version to come into stock. What makes our (guiding) lives much easier is if the guys who need rods can go from location to location and species to species and keep using the same rod because it’s so versatile - from beach to rocks to boat, from bass to pollack (shore and boat) and wrasse, I can’t trip these HTO Nebula rods up. OK, so this 12-42g version would be a slightly more specialist rod for a lot of the bass fishing I might do from the shore, but that doesn’t change a thing for me - this is another incredible lure fishing rod at a price which I personally think is a bit of a joke. As I said, I don’t work for HTO, but if I did? I’m not sure I’d have put these rods out for so comparatively little money, put it that way. They're too good........

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

Watching your anglers pulling a bunch of bass out of some classic Irish surf on lures is pretty damn epic

It just smelt of bass, indeed if a bass hadn’t been caught by at least one of our clients then I think I might have given up - the conditions looked that good, and as is the norm out here in Kerry, you’ve got perfect bass fishing conditions on a huge beach and there are no other anglers to be seen. And we had a blast………

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Of course I love catching fish myself, but it’s some buzz to be standing next to another angler, watching intently as they fish away, and then they get walloped by a bass. I reckon you get to see more from not fishing, and it’s so exciting. It’s as good as fishing gets for me when those perfect tables of surf roll in from the Atlantic, but it’s very manageable and easily fishable, and because there are what seems to be a bunch of fish around, your anglers are fishing hard and expecting to get nailed on every single cast.

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One lure that is really starting to work well out here on the surf beaches is that newish Savage Gear Line Thru Sandeel - they absolutely fly, and as far as we can work out you need do no more than whack them out and wind them in. Get your rod tip up a bit, find the retrieve speed so that they are swimming very naturally just under the surface, and when those bass hit them, it’s something to see as the rod just slams round. One of our anglers also had a few bass on these Line Thru sandeels last week when we was casting it out across a strong current, controlling the swing round, and then slowly retrieving the lure when it moved outside of the main flow. I have been waiting to see how these killer looking lures might work in a bit of Irish surf, and John’s been doing really well with them when his clients have them with them and the conditions are right.

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It must have been the size of the bait that was out there the other day, because it was the smaller 19g version that was doing more damage, and in that ultra realistic sandeel pattern as well. The larger 27g version casts really well and has been catching fish, but holy cow that smaller 19g one goes out there like a frigging missile, and they remain so stable in bouncier conditions. I understand completely the line through rigging for sea trout fishing and how adept these fish are at throwing hooks, but here’s hoping that Savage Gear might one day bring out a version of this increasingly interesting lure that doesn’t need to be rigged line through - perhaps just a couple of eyelets on the end of the lure as per a regular hard lure? Anyway, apologies for the lack of blog posts, but it’s been hectic out here - today is our last day and then I head for home tomorrow. We had big blue skies yesterday and our anglers smashed a silly amount of pollack out on the boat in some wonderfully calm seas, but today is a proper Irish bass day down here in Kerry and we have plenty of time left before we wrap things up………………….

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Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

When the weather breaks and a few fish come out to play, down here in Kerry is pretty damn special

I wish I had more time to devote to my blog out here in Kerry, but this guiding work is some hectic stuff. It’s also a huge amount of fun when we are lucky enough to have such a nice bunch of anglers who are in the same boat as me - smitten with this part of the world, and especially when the bad weather passes on through and this quiet corner of Ireland lights up. Rather than me waffle on here when in fact I have got a load of photos to edit and keyword before everybody else wakes up, I will let a few photos do the talking for this particular blog post………..

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Heading over to Kerry today for some guiding work

No rest for the wicked as they say. I got back home from Ireland last Friday evening, and this morning I am getting back on the road and doing the long journey over to south west Ireland - I am leaving my house in south east Cornwall at about 7pm and will arrive in Kerry around 9.30pm if all goes well. Unlike last week where I had Steve and Carl to talk with on the journey (about DoLive Sticks!), on this Kerry jaunt I am on my own and will no doubt be talking to myself (about DoLive Sticks?).

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Our first group of lads arrive on Saturday, with fishing starting first thing Sunday morning, and I can’t wait to get going with this co-guiding work again. It may well be a case of not fishing myself for a couple of weeks, but it’s a genuine thrill to work with other anglers and of course John Quinlan. While I am over there John and I are going to work out our 2018 dates and I will get them out to people who have specifically requested them, and then make them available on here. If you want to be notified by email before the dates go up here, please contact me here, and I will make sure you are.

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Anyway, please spare a thought for the state of my head when I finally get to Kerry this evening after too many hours talking to myself about all things lure fishing. How many times have I imagined for example getting hold of the MD of OSP and threatening him or her with all manner of ills until he or she agrees to make a 6’’ solid white coloured DoLive Stick? Oh, and I’ll have a white belly/chartreuse back while we’re at it Mr or Mrs OPS. Seriously, it ain’t right. You all have a good weekend and I will do what I can with the hours we put in to keep you updated with how these guiding trips go in Kerry.

 

When the bass are feeding that bit further out………..

We had a situation over in Ireland last week when we could see a bunch of terns working over what we presumed were sandeels, and of course you can’t help but assume that there may well be a bass driving those sandeels up from underneath. And then you see the odd big swirl on the surface and your heart loses a few beats and your knees go all wobbly………..

On a couple of occasions those terns came within a relatively easy casting range and we could get at the bass - there must have been a good number of bass around because I distinctly remember properly missing a good hit on my DoLive Stick due to my over excitement (when will we grow up? Never I hope!), only for another bass to hit my lure and hook up a split second later.

Westin Kongetobis (L), Bass Bullet (R)

Westin Kongetobis (L), Bass Bullet (R)

But when those terns/sandeels/bass were out of conventional casting range, that’s when you are left rummaging through your lure boxes to see if you have got anything that might get out there. It was one of those times when I wish I had been carrying one of the GT Ice Cream lures to see how it might do here, but I wasn’t. Steve though had one of these Bass Bullet lookalikes, the Westin Kongetobis with him (says 27g on the packet, but it’s actually a 30g lure). I wonder how many anglers have looked at lures like this and thought no way, where’s the bib, where’s the big action, surely it looks too simple?

If you catch the Westin Kongetobis right it absolutely flies, but it does call for the right drop and rod speed. When Steve gets it going it frigging flies out there, and I guess much like fishing a senko or DoLive or something like that, yet again it seems to be the case that less is often so much more. Straight retrieving that Westin Kongetobis at a medium sort of speed gets it swimming with a bit of a lazy slalom just under the surface, and what was so important here was distance. I’ve got a few hard sub-surface and surface lures with me that are very good casters, but they can’t get out to where the bass are feeding at this particular time.

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A couple of good bass later and yet again it’s hit home to me how it can be so worth carrying the odd lure with you that might not end up seeing a whole lot of water time but can give you a different option. The option here was of course as much distance as possible, and whilst distance if of course not remotely everything in bass fishing, on the odd occasion the ability to put a lure a long way out there is a handy weapon to be able to turn to.

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We had another situation last week where we were fishing a raging run of current and again we could see some terns working. We tend to bump the bottom here with soft plastics on say 20g jig heads, but the fishing was very quiet and with those mostly out of casting range terns it just didn’t feel to me like the bass were going to be feeding on the bottom with the sandeels up in the water like that. So I put on the one casting jig I had with me, a 35g Duo Press Bait Fusion Slim thing that I think is discontinued, and on that truly remarkable 9’ 7-35g HTO Nebula rod and my beloved 18lb/0.12mm Sufix Performance Pro 8 braid this thing is absolutely flying out there (apparently the slightly more powerful 9’ 12-42g HTO Nebula is also a peach of a rod, but I haven’t seen it yet). A few casts later when the terns came just about close enough and as the lure is on the drop I am suddenly hooked up to the only bass we caught out there, and at about 5lbs and in that current it’s some scrap. We caught plenty of bass close in last week over in Ireland, but on a couple of occasions the distance thing paid off.

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

 

Let me tell you how to land a bass completely wrong and break your rod in the process

I have been loving fishing with this utterly sublime, lighter lure rod, the Favorite Skyline SKY-862M 8’6’’ 6-21g - every time a bass hits my lure I can’t help but give out a little yelp with how much of an excited jolt down my arm that hit is on a rod as precise as this. I don’t have a heap of experience with the lighter lure rods we might press into service for bass fishing, but I can’t see how a rod like this can get much better than this particular Favorite Skyline.

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So I took it over to Ireland with me the other day, ostensibly to use with the OSP DoLive Stick in the various estuaries I was sure we were going to spend a bit of time fishing - which we did, and as per my recent blog posts from when we were out there, we had some outstanding bass fishing. And yes, as per always, I am sure there are other lures which might have worked as well, but so far I haven’t found a soft plastic that I can fish weedless and weightless that floats my boat anywhere near as much as the DoLive Stick. So I’ll keep on buying them, fishing with them, and yapping about them until I come across something better.

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Anyway, so we’re fishing away in some very shallow, clear water, and I go and hook a bass on this Favorite Skyline rod. If I didn’t yelp with excitement then I certainly jumped out of my skin at the hit - the feeling from fishing with a lighter, ultra-sensitive lure rod when you are working your lures a bit is brilliant. The fish is soon ready for landing and unhooking, but bear in mind here that we are wading, there’s nowhere to drag the fish out of the water for unhooking, and I have got my camera gear in a rucksack on my back - but all this is no excuse I can assure you for some truly piss poor angling coming up!

As always I am using a barbless hook with my DoLive Stick (the 5/0 Owner Twistlock hook which I happen to think suits the lure perfectly), and because the fish is around 4lbs and I have some photos already of fish like this from the trip, I am going to go for a quick release which I have done successfully on many occasions. I will grab the leader with one hand, stick the rod under my arm, and with my now free rod hand I will remove the barbless hook so the fish swims off without me ever needing to even touch it or take it out of the water.

So I do exactly that - I grab the leader, go to stick the rod under my arm, but before I can do this the fish suddenly goes to charge off, and because I haven’t got a secure grip on the (wet) leader - I usually wrap it around my hand a couple of times but for some reason didn’t do so this time - the fish can suddenly move off. I bet you can imagine what happens next - my rod tip could not have been in a worse position, and a split second later I am down to a roughly 8’ Skyline instead of the more usual 8’6’’ Skyline. This may not be a traditional case of high-sticking as such, but in other respects it was - through my own stupid fault I allowed my rod tip to get into a totally unnatural angle when the fish suddenly lunged away. Modern carbon rods are amazing bits of kit, but they still obey the law of physics, and I am left standing there like a right tit.

This episode was 100% my fault, indeed there is no doubt whatsoever that my bag angling caused this awesome rod to break. A much more powerful lure rod might have held up to what I put it through when cocking up the landing of that bass, but I don’t want to be fishing with a rod like that with where and how we were fishing that particular session. These lighter lure rods are that bit more fragile, indeed the tip on this Favorite Skyline SKY-862M 8’6’’ 6-21g is a big part of what makes this lure rod so special, but as with landing say a bonefish in skinny water on an 8 weight fly rod, you need to show a bit of care for these things and categorically not do what I so stupidly did!

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Trip over as far as that rod went, and I was gutted mainly because we did a lot of shallow water soft plastics fishing over in Ireland to which this Skyline is perfectly suited. I changed over to fishing with the new HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g - I hadn’t fished with it for over a week because I lent my review copy to a friend, but it’s often when I come back to certain rods after not using them for a while that I am able to reconfirm in my head what they are really like, and this 9’ Nebula is an absolute freak of nature it is so ridiculously good, and for not much over the £100 mark it is a joke, end of. I had other, more expensive “regular” casting weight lure rods with me in Ireland, but I chose to fish with this “budget” 9’ 7-35g HTO Nebula because it’s so damn good. As special as this rod is though, it isn’t the delightfully light Favorite Skyline which I broke. Another example of fishing like a tit! Here’s hoping that a new tip doesn’t cost too much……….

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It's so damn special to be around bass like this

Catching a good number of angry, scrappy, bass in about as good a condition as you could ever hope to find is surely quite enough for any angler as it is, but just sometimes a very special fish comes along and you can’t help but act like a bunch of overexcited school children after it has safely swum away and you’re left to process how amazing that really was…………

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We have had some decent fishing during daylight hours, but as is becoming increasingly the way these last few years, it’s when darkness settles and non-fishing people are indoors doing what non-fishing people do that we are seeing the best of the fishing. The number of good bass that are jumping on the white senkos at night out here is pretty damn special - with a few to needlefish as I slowly get to grips with how best to fish them, albeit whacking them out and winding them in a la white senkos seems to be doing ok - but on Monday night I got a rather excited yelp over the radio that it might be worth my while traipsing back across the rocks to see the bass that Steve has just landed.

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You know the moment you see that stunner of a bass lying in a rockpool that it’s a double, but because you don’t want to get it wrong it comes out at first as “easy 9lb plus”, when if that’s only 9lbs then I am not having increasingly serious issues with DoLive Sticks and Competitive Colour Buying. Steve is in a bit of a state of shock, I am breaking out the camera gear, the main issue of course is to keep the fish safe and calm, and if you had recorded our conversation just then I would be interested to hear just how overexcited and inarticulate we were sounding! “&^%$ that’s a monster, @!&^ she’s a beast, *%$£ it’s awesome”, and so on. Mature stuff basically!

Anyway, so we get her weighed and photographed and safely returned - just over 11.5lbs of about the most stunningly conditioned bass you could ever see, and yet again Ireland has given us mere visitors a kind glimpse at the sort of bass fishing you can sometimes get when things come together. Anybody who comes fishing over here has had good trips and tough trips, but it’s when you see lure fishing like we are getting at the moment that you fall head over heels in love yet again with this magical country, and all you can think about is when you can come back again. I am so pleased for you Steve - I know how much a bass like that means and I consider it an honour to be around you landing another fish of a lifetime. Holy frigging cow. What more can you say?

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It’s still bass heaven out here, and I love it even more

Nowhere fishes well all the time, but when the bass fishing is good over here in Ireland then to me it’s about as fun as fishing gets. I have loved coming over here for many years now and the thrill never diminishes, but as cool as it is to catch a bunch of bass, what really floats my boat is moving around to different locations and catching on a few different techniques because of the changes in ground etc. I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again - it wasn’t that long ago when I had no idea how varied and addictive this whole bass fishing thing could be, and if there is a bass heaven then to me that place is still Ireland………….

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So we’ve had some good fishing in some challenging conditions (flat calm and crystal clear so far), with one absolutely blinding session when we were casting at terns working over shoals of sandeels, and sometimes the bass were busting on the bait and it was all I could do control my shaking excitement and fish properly. I have a feeling that a number of bass anglers tend to target these new moon tides in September around here, but as per usual out here, there’s so much coastline that for the most part we are rarely seeing other anglers.

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Take yesterday for a classic example of how bass fishing is so much more than just whacking stuff out and winding it in. We start off working DoLive Sticks in really shallow, clear water, with big blue skies overhead. and within a few casts Steve’s into a fish. What did it for me was then casting right behind where I was wading and nailing a fish around 4lbs in even shallower water that could not have been more than 18’’ deep. I knew this sub-£120, new HTO 9’ Nebula lure rod was a cracker when I waggled it for the first time and then reviewed it here, but the more and more I fish with it using all kinds of techniques, the more it bangs home to me just how good this rod is. Seriously, it ain’t right how fast and precise it is. I’ve done my review and in theory I am done with this new HTO rod, but I am loving it that much I just want to keep fishing with it. Put a 6’’ DoLive Stick on the end of it and I can’t stop grinning, but then I will admit to an unhealthy obsession with these lures.

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Next mark and again we are looking for a bit of current mainly because of the still, bright conditions, and although we can see a bunch of terns working on sandeels, they are way out of casting range and it feels like it’s that bit too bright for good bass fishing. As that light starts to fade a bit though, the terns start moving closer and almost as if a switch was flicked we are smashing a stack of bass. For the most part we need to get our lures out as far as possible and it’s the 22g Savage Gear Sandeel doing the business (this 9’ HTO Nebula animalises those lures out there), but a few times we get bass boiling on the sandeels not that far out and I can whack a DoLive Stick at them and hook up. We got lucky and were in the right place at the right time and we had a blinder of a session.

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And then that comes to an end and we grab a quick bite to eat and head for a shallow, calm sandy beach in the dark and catch a few more bass on the white senkos and the smaller Spofford needlefish I blogged about the other day. Again, there’s nobody else around and we have the beach to ourselves. All nice and simple stuff, nothing remotely complicated about anything we were doing yesterday, but I just love that moving around and using slightly different techniques because of the locations. It’s a complete blast as ever out here and I love it more than ever. How could I not want to come bass fishing out here when within ten minutes of starting fishing after travelling for most of Friday this roughly 7lb bass jumps right on my white senko?

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

Off to Ireland for a week, seriously can’t wait

For various reasons I haven’t done any fishing/photography trips over to the south coast of Ireland so far this year, so the excitement levels about heading over to Dungarvan today are somewhat through the roof! I’ve got a week around Dungarvan/Copper Coast area, then I come back home for six days before driving over to Ireland again to do a couple of weeks of guiding work with John Quinlan and their Thatch Cottage operation. I love being at home with my family, but I do feel a serious need to head across the water and spend time in Ireland…………..

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At the moment the weather forecast is looking ok, but as ever on these trips away from home, Steve, Carl and I will take what is thrown at us and do what we can. I will update the blog as much as possible, but please bear with me and the hours we will be putting in and often a lack of access to the internet. As per usual we are staying at the Gold Coast, indeed I still can’t think of a better base for accessing so much coastline out there. Here’s to hoping that they don’t weigh my Berlingo because of all the DoLive Sticks, Fiiish Black Minnows and needlefish I am taking over. Bring it on as they say!