Tears of joy spilled forth from my eyes like rain while I was fishing last night

OK, so that’s not entirely true, but I was rather happy! Three or four casts into the session which began at around 10.30pm and a nice bass jumped on the end of my white senko. So now’s the time I say to myself - on goes a freshly rigged, brand new 6’’ long white OSP DoLive Stick. Following on from a fair amount of tail-nipping last week at night I’ve got the thing rigged with a singlestinger hook that sits just before the tail of the lure starts………….

I had a few small bass at night last week, but I didn’t get in amongst them to a point where I felt confident in changing the lure that was working and sticking with the alternative come what may. I had a few tentative bumps on one of these newly arrived white DoLive Sticks, but nothing stuck and I didn’t really persist with them - whilst swearing to myself that the moment I felt confident there were more fish around I’d change back and make bloody sure I went and caught a bass on one at night to give myself what is surely one of the most important aspect to this night lure fishing thing. Without confidence it’s going to be a tough one, and I speak from experience here.

Anyway, last night we had a decent tide and good night fishing conditions although it wasn’t completely dark even at after 10pm when we got there yet there was a bit of a fog rolling in, and that bass jumped on the end of my stinger rigged white senko rather quickly. The fish didn’t actually hook up on the stinger, indeed all the bass from last night save for the last one I caught which was on one of Jim’s Lures rather nice needlefish managed to hook themselves on the “proper” weedless hook. How different to last week when any (small) bass I managed to winkle out at some very antisocial hours were hooked fair and square on the single stinger hook at the rear of the white senko. How come this week they seem to be hitting the lures differently? Does fishing ever stop (gloriously) asking us questions?

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Out comes my lure box and on goes a rather lovely looking white DoLive Stick - this is it I tell myself, it’s not coming off until I catch a fish on it, and that’s a promise. Unless I’m still standing there an hour later and catching sod all that is, but worry not fine reader because a few casts and retrieves later and bang, a bass goes and nails the lure. I land the fish and then I cough a bit to make sure that Mark can’t hear the sobs choke forth from me as moisture appears in the corner of my eyes. Crying? No way, a bit of dust in the eye. 

Now of course I fully expected these brand new white DoLive Sticks to work at night, and I was buoyed by the news I saw on Facebook the other day from a good angler I know on the south coast of Ireland who landed some cracking bass on his new lures - but you and I both know that it doesn’t completely matter at the end of the day. You are never going to feel entirely confident about a lure until you catch on it yourself. Doesn’t matter if your mate is hauling out double figure bass on the lure right next to you - you have to do it for yourself. Confidence. You need to take that punt and clip the lure on and persist until you catch on it. Well that’s my theory anyway, and I’m sticking with it.

 Epic night fishing photography!

Epic night fishing photography!

I grant you that it certainly makes life a little easier when only a few casts later it is proved to you that your new lure does indeed work, but I am sure you get my drift. A bunch more bass later on the same white DoLive Stick (but still none hooked up on the stinger) and I have managed to manfully choke back my sobs and mop my tears of joy at proving to myself that firstly the white DoLive Stick works at night, and secondly because I now know it works and works well, persisting with it is not shooting myself in the foot. I had a bit of a play last night with working it nice and slowly along or just off the bottom and I think that’s worth exploring further. Little things please little minds? Whatever the case I couldn’t get to sleep for ages after fishing last night as I turned the session over in my head and tried not to cry more tears of joy lest my wife wake up and think I’m even more unhinged than I reckon she already suspects……. 

Disclosure - If you buy anything using links found around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you anymore 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.
 

Hodgman Aesis Shell (waterproof) Jacket review - £200+ here in the UK

I have worked out the principal criteria by which I judge an item or items of fishing clothing, and it’s pretty simple really - if said item doesn’t annoy me in any way then chances are I really like it. For sure I need whatever bit of clothing it is to work for me and my fishing in the way that it is intended, but beyond that I need to see if there’s something about it that annoys me via some proper fishing time with it - and it’s interesting how some things can look so good on paper and indeed via initial impressions, but when you spend time fishing with or in them you can often find a few things that really annoy you about the item of clothing…………..

I can think of any number of times this has happened to me, indeed later last year I got hold of a waterproof top to try out - and it looked pretty damn good for the price especially. Within about two minutes of wading out into an Irish surf I discovered one major flaw with this top though, and then later on that day when it started peeing with rain (only occasionally in Kerry I might add!?) I discovered another really annoying flaw. It had become very obvious very quickly that this waterproof top had been designed around a table and had not been tested out in the real world. The top annoyed me and I didn’t like it.

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So we’ve got this Hodgman Aesis Shell Jacket to talk about here (I’ve got the Charcoal/Black one as per the pix here, there is also a Bronze/Black colour available). Hodgman is a US brand of fly fishing clothing, waders and wading boots especially, and more recently their gear has been introduced to the UK market by Pure Fishing (Google this jacket for example, there are plenty of UK stockists). It is not remotely budget gear and I have been trying out some of their waders and wading boots for a while now (more to come), plus I have had their Aesis Shell Jacket for my fishing for a few months now. I have used it in all manner of conditions for my own lure fishing and I have tried and tried to find something about this item of clothing that annoys me - but I can’t. Damn this is one hell of a waterproof jacket, and whilst it is of course designed for the fly fishing world, to me it’s about as good a wading style jacket as I have ever (lure) fished in. 

Here’s what Hodgman says about this jacket: “Forget the weather, focus on the fishing with the Hodgman® Aesis Shell Jacket thanks to its 3-layer waterproof and windproof V-TecH™ breathable fabric. We designed the Aesis Shell Jacket with a double water-shedding rain fly on the front zipper and fully taped seams, so even in the worst torrential downpour Mother Nature can throw your way you’ll be sure to stay dry. The integrated wire brim hood incorporates a 3-way adjustment to seal out rain from entering where the jacket meets your face while maintaining your peripheral vision. Water tight cinch cuffs also eliminate water from running down your sleeve when casting or while releasing a fish. We know you want to focus on catching your next fish so our ROM™ (Range of Motion) fit incorporates a gusset under the arm and articulated sleeves to eliminate binding along your shoulders when casting. Large low profile chest pockets are perfect for storing fly boxes or gear, and numerous interior and exterior pockets are designed to customize the way you use the jacket. A removable magnetic patch on the chest is perfect for quick fly or hook storage when changing out presentations for your next cast. Both front and rear D-rings allow for accessory attachment.”

For a long time now my go-to waterproof jacket for fishing has been the outstanding Vision Kust (review here), a minimalist style of wading jacket that I liked from the off and then nothing about it that has annoyed me in any way over a long period of time. This equally lightweight and incredibly easy to wear Hodgman Aesis jacket that is very much from the fly fishing world has pockets on the front, because if there is one thing that most fly anglers seem to do it’s stuff every available pocket full of fly boxes and leader material - I don’t though, so whilst some front pockets may well be really useful to lots of you here, I must admit that I haven’t yet put anything in them. They don’t remotely bother or annoy me though and I am sure that one day I will end up actually putting something in them. The pockets are there if you need them I guess.

I was advised to go one size up with this Hodgman Aesis Shell Jacket, so whilst I tend to take an XL in most things, I have this Hodgman jacket in an XXL. It’s the perfect fit for me, especially when I take into account the different layers I may or may not wear underneath depending on the weather, and very, very importantly for me and my fishing which of course calls for repeated casting - the arms on this Hodgman jacket are the perfect length. If there is one thing that will annoy me about a waterproof top it’s if the arms keep “pulling” or “catching” on me when I cast, indeed the perfect arm length was one thing that made me very happy very quickly about that outstanding Vision Kust jacket. 

Same here with the Hodgman one - the arms are the perfect length and don’t catch at all when I am casting, and the way of securing the sleeves is about as good as I have come across. They will keep out a lot of rain before a bit of water eventually creeps in, you can do them up nice and tight if needs be (wear sweatbands on your wrists to stop any water getting down your sleeves, secure the jacket sleeves over them, top tip!), and I am not remotely criticising a bit of water eventually getting inside with how lure fishing keeps putting your sleeves up to the rain, because I have never come across a waterproof jacket yet that keeps all rain out when it’s really peeing down for a long period of time. Hodgman do their sleeves about as good as it gets for me.

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Another thing I look for in a waterproof top that can often end up bugging the hell out of me is the hood. I don’t particularly like wearing hoods but of course when it’s peeing down it kinda makes sense to do so! I would suggest that somebody at Hodgman HQ has actually gone from design to creation to properly testing the hood on this Aesis Shell Jacket, because this one works. It should go without saying that a waterproof jacket at this price is actually properly waterproof and easy to move around in - which it is - but it’s the way a hood sits and fits that seems to be so easy to get wrong. Not here though. I put this hood up when I need it, it doesn’t bloody blow off my head when there’s a bit of breeze about, it doesn’t annoy me when I am fishing, and with a baseball cap on and the hood done up it’s as good a hood design as I can remember using for stopping rain and spray getting in and down your front.

Basically this Hodgman Aesis Shell Jacket is a seriously class bit of kit. Designed primarily for fly fishing it may well be, but then so is a lot of the gear that we use and wear - waders and wading boots ring any bells? One thing that could have let this Hodgman jacket down would be a dodgy front zip, but nope, this one’s got a proper zip that can’t rust up and fail on you with saltwater use. Nothing about this Hodgman Aesis Shell Jacket annoys me at all and I have had enough time for any niggles to have come to light. Outfriggingstanding. You all have a good weekend.
 

So far these braid leaders are working really well

The other day I blogged about braid leaders, and because the idea of a thicker length of braid as an attempt at some extra protection against sharp rocks etc. made a lot of sense to me I went and put braid leaders on a couple of rod and reel setups that were sitting in my rod rack. I liked the idea but I will never know if this system might work for me unless I use it as part of my own fishing gear……………

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And so far a braid leader has worked flawlessly for me. I can’t give you an indication yet as to whether that extra bit of potential protection is helping me from an abrasion point of view, but obviously I hope that it might one day if I persist with this leader setup. My mainline setup with a braid leader in there seems to be as strong as you like - I have caught fish in some heavy conditions and very rough ground, I have snagged a few lures and had to pull for breaks, I have cast repeatedly with all manner of lures, and I haven’t had a single issue.

As much as none of us like losing lures, I kinda needed to snag a lure up good and solid to see if that braid mainline to braid leader FG was going to hold up and not snap before either the FG knot from braid leader to fluoro leader, or preferably the knot in the fluoro leader to my lure clip. The FG knot is that bloody strong that if I need to pull for a break, for me it’s got to be nine times out of ten that my fluoro leader breaks somewhere (and usually on the knot to the lure clip) and the rather amazing FG knot which secures my braid mainline to my fluoro leader just keeps on going.

But obviously if you are going to put a thicker braid leader into the melting pot, that’s another knot, although it seems that a braid to braid FG is incredibly strong and that if you are using a bit of a longer leader then it might well be on your reel for a decent length of time before needing to be replaced, and as per usual you can simply replace your fluoro or mono leader as required.

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Last Saturday and Sunday I was using what I could call my north coast setup - that ridiculously good 9’6’’ Shimano rod I reviewed on Monday, a 4000 size Shimano spinning reel loaded up with my favourite, has never let me down 21lb/0.15mm Sufix Performance Pro 8 braid, and on the end of that I put say a five metre long Berkley Whiplash 8 38.5lb/17.5kg braid leader. This new Berkley Whiplash 8 braid comes in 300m spools and it feels as tough as hell, although I can’t take the quoted diameters of this line remotely seriously - a 38.5lb 8-strand braid at a claimed diameter of 0.12mm? Mmm, perhaps not! That aside, this rather nice braid feels all of 38.5lb strong and I thought it might do well as a braid leader. On the end of that braid leader I stepped up from 20lb/0.37mm to 30lb/0.44mm Sufix Invisiline fluorocarbon for Sunday because we were getting a lot of leader damage from the rough ground.

On both days I happened to snag a Savage Gear Sandeel up and had to pull for a break, and on both occasions the knot that secured my Sufix Invisiline fluorocarbon leader to my Breakaway Mini Link lure clip broke - as indeed I hoped it would, or rather I was hoping that the FG knot securing my braid mainline to my braid leader would hold, and it did. Even when I stepped up to a 30lb Sufix Invisiline fluoro leader and was still using the same braid mainline and leader, the connections were that strong that it was still my knot in the fluoro to the lure clip that broke when I snagged a lure up. So if there is one thing I am not going to worry about whilst I am trying out a braid leader, it’s the overall strength. I have a braid leader setup on a lighter rod and reel setup as well and that fishes just as well.

Not once has that FG knot from braid to braid caught in my rod rings, and I haven’t thought for one second that a braid leader is remotely affecting how far my lures are going if they need to - I can’t prove it, but it sure looks like my lures are flying incredibly “true” with that heavier braid leader trailing behind them, plus a part of me thinks they are going a little further as well. Please bear in mind here that I have been fishing mainly with that amazing Shimano Exsence Infinity 9’6’’ lure rod, and if there is one thing which is so obvious with this rod it’s that you seriously only need to be casting at say 75% power to get the best out of it, so this “smoothness” may have a lot to do with why my lures seem to be going out so well. I do though have a feeling that a braid leader is proving beneficial on the casting front.

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But to be fair and impartial here, I was fishing with a couple of lads on Saturday, and we got to talking about braid leaders. Both Charlie and Jody then put braid leaders on their setups for our early morning Sunday session, and both guys reckoned their casting distance had been cut. These guys are seriously good anglers so I am not about to dismiss what they were saying, but on the other hand I do also wonder if the fact that we were battling tricky conditions around HW especially quite naturally leads one to question something new in the setup. I set a rod and a reel up for a friend the other day, and I put a braid leader on that as well. He fished for the session and had no idea there was a braid leader in there until I told him on the way home.

Somebody kindly left a comment on the original braid leader post from the other day that gave a link to the video above. I have actually fished and photographed with the angler in the video down in South Africa, and holy cow do these lads know their shore based fishing. I can’t pretend that I had ever thought of your potentially very thin braid mainline potentially suffering from repeated casting - watch the video for an explanation - but it does make sense and I wonder if a few unexplained line breaks might be down to this? Whatever the case, I like their thinking behind a braid leader.

Anyway, there you go for the moment. I didn’t mean this to be a very long blog post, but there’s more to it than I thought. I am going to keep going with this braid leader thing and see where it might get me. It does seem to be an entirely logical way of fishing some very rough ground and hectic conditions with a nice thin mainline but then getting that extra bit of protection in there, but time will tell and all that.

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.
 

Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g lure rod review - imported from Japan, not cheap

Before I get going with this review, let’s get a few things out of the way - I am not here to tell you that importing a (not remotely cheap) lure fishing rod like this from Japan is going to procure you any more fish on the bank as such, nor that with the gear I have here at home do I really need a rod like this. Want and need are interesting things in fishing are they not though?! I’m not here to justify what I spend my money on, but I have owned this particular rod for a while now and I thought it might be of interest if I told you what I think of it………

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A while back I reviewed the lighter version of this Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g lure rod, the shorter and slightly less powerful Shimano Exsence Infinity S900ML/RF 9’ 5-32g - a rod that completely blew me away and continues to freak me out how good it is whenever it comes out fishing with me. I held out against getting this longer 9’6’’ 6-38g version as long as my pathetic, lure tackle addicted self could manage, doing all I could to tell myself that I didn’t need a more powerful lure rod because I’ve got stuff here already that does the job very well indeed - such as the hugely impressive HTO Shore Game S962MLM 9'6'' 7-35g (review here) - but in the end I failed. Damn I’m glad I did though. Holy cow.

If there is one thing these two high end marvels of Japanese fishing rod technology have proved to me, it’s that a few wiggles or indeed waggles tell you very little about them. As per my review of the 9’ Exsence Infinity, my first few waggles with this longer 9’6’’ version when it arrived at my front door didn’t exactly floor me, but you so need to get rods like these out fishing instead of standing there and waggling away like we really know what we’re talking about!

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Sure this rod is light, but then I knew it would be - look here where Shimano Japan quote 132g for this rod, and I see no reason to dispute that. I love the whole handle design, but then I knew I would because it’s the same handle as on the 9’ (I hadn’t realised that the butt grip is actually part of the rod therefore it’s hollow), and the rod felt impressive but not outright special when I first waggled it a few times. As a contrast to this, I knew from the very first waggle (or wiggle) with that far too good for the money HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g lure rod that I was going to love it (review here). My feeling is that these somewhat more expensive and indeed refined fishing rods have that bit more to them which tends to really open up to you as you spend more time fishing with them……..

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Which is exactly what has happened with this utterly ridiculous Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g lure rod. I’ve got my perfect 9’ lure rod now for doing a certain amount of my bass fishing, but I do like that slightly longer, more powerful rod for bouncier seas and/or windier conditions, and especially for the sort of lure fishing I might do on the north coast of Cornwall and other similar types of grounds and conditions. And what I really want - indeed this is the reason I took the punt on getting this new rod - is for this more powerful rod to be 100% as accomplished at dealing with the lighter, more finesse stuff, plus I’d also love it if the longer rod felt like fishing with a shorter rod. This one does all that and more - but I couldn’t imagine that I’d end up truly loving a 9’6’’ lure rod easily as much as a 9’ one.

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If anything though this 9’6’’ 6-38g version is an even more impressive lure fishing rod, and I will try to explain why. As freaky good as the 9’ 5-32g version is, I kind of expected (hoped?) a high end lure rod of that length and casting weight was going to be effortless to fish with - which it seriously is - but now step up a gear in length and also power and I was hoping the rod was going to be pretty damn nice but it would surely require more of me to get the best out of it, plus wouldn’t I surely be losing something by stepping up? If anything though it’s the exact opposite, indeed the harder you lash into this 9’6’’, the less I feel that I am getting out of it. The rod is so ridiculously accomplished and effortless that I need to keep telling myself to cast nice and smoothly at say 75% power and any number of different lures go out there as smoothly as one slips into a shiny pair of technical tights. OK, let’s no go there………….

I haven’t got a clue how Shimano Japan’s rod people have achieved this, because as good as some of the 9’6’’ rods I have been lucky enough to fish with in the past have been, none of them have been quite as versatile and smooth and easy and controlled as this Shimano Exsence Infinity 9’6’’ 6-38g. A 34g casting jig goes out as easily as a 6’’ DoLive Stick, both with no wobble at all because there is just no point at all in lashing into your lures with this rod. Watching that lethal DUO Slim 140 Flyer fly out into the north Cornwall sunshine the other day was something else (I think I might have got a little emotional), and when I slow down (75%) with the Patchinko II and use a slightly longer drop, well I can’t prove it because I have never measured a lure cast, but my gut is that I have never put this missile out as far. Seriously, it makes me giggle it goes out so well. I have never felt a rod feel so utterly “whole” or together when you cast and fish with it - except for the shorter 9’ version that is.

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So the rod does the bigger stuff really well, as indeed it bloody well should for the price and the specs, but how about what the 6-38g rating implies? I genuinely feel that the lighter 9’ version is working as well with a little 4.5’’ DoLive Stick as it is with say this new Xorus Patchinko 125 and upwards through to 32g, but surely this beefier 9’6’’ 6-38g rod can’t be quite as accomplished? Well it is, indeed it’s quite something how I can stand on a rock and punch out say the new Size 80/35g Fiiish Power Tail Saltwater into a bit of clean and green north Cornish surf and then move a few yards and gently work a calmer section of reef with the DoLive Stick or a smaller hard lure like the killer IMA iBorn 98F. I can’t tell you if this 9’6’’ 6-38g rod does the 6g lures really well because I don’t carry lures that light, and especially not when I am taking this 9’6’’ because of conditions or location, but it’s almost scarily impressive how good the rod feels with a wide variety of lures and weights. As I said, I am not here to tell you that you need to go and spend this kind of dosh on a lure rod, but on the other hand I reckon this incredible 9’6’’ Exsence Infinity would be the perfect do it all lure rod for a lot of anglers who would find that slightly heavier casting weight useful.  

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To me it’s all about the tension, indeed with both these Shimano Exsence Infinity rods I now own it’s the one word that springs to mind the most. They’ve both got these utterly divine tips on them and it’s when you fish and cast and retrieve and work lures that the tips on these rods and how they so seamlessly feel part of the whole rod make perfect sense - the “overall tension” if you like. There is some serious power here if you need it, but it’s so easy to get at. There are lure anglers out there who know far, far more about the north coast of Cornwall than me for example, but with what I do know about where I might fish up there, this 9’6’’ is my perfect rod for it. It’s got the power I need for the lures I might use in some often heavier conditions, but it’s like two or three more rods rolled into one. It’s that overall feeling of perfect tension through the whole rod that I think is key, and as good as I have found a number of lure rods to be, it’s these two Shimano Exsence Infinity rods that stand above them all now. It’s hard to explain but for me it all becomes very apparent when I go fishing with them.

And then we come to “walking” or bumping the Fiiish Black Minnow across a really rocky, snaggy bottom in a shallowish to medium depth, and categorically I have never fished a rod that gives me as feedback as this awesome Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g. I accept that you’d expect to feel a lot from a solid jig head bumping and bouncing over hard rocky ground, but I am utterly convinced that this rod is taking that feedback to another level of translating what is going on down the 9’6’’ rod length and into me. I am a conduit! I have used the Black Minnow loads and loads over the years, but I have been guilty of neglecting this often lethal way of covering reefy ground, and the first time I did it with the 120mm Black Minnow and that rather lovely 18g Search Head in some bouncy conditions I got one hell of a shock with what I could feel. It’s unquantifiable and I can’t prove that I am getting all this extra feedback, but I’ve fished with enough lure rods at all kinds of prices to know when I am fishing with something a bit extra special.

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As I said earlier, I just didn’t expect this longer and more powerful 9’6’’ Exsence Infinity to impress me quite as much as the shorter and lighter 9’ one, indeed if I am perfectly honest I was worried that I’d gone and made a bit of a mistake once I had clicked buy and was waiting for delivery of the 9’6’’. How could it possibly be as impressive as the 9’? Well I take my hat off to the Shimano Japan people who are responsible for these new Exsence Infinity lure rods, because the two I have here are in my mind the best two lure fishing rods I have ever used. They are not available in the UK and I therefore very much stand by my statement the other day that the HTO Shore Game S932ML 9'3'' 7-30g lure rod (review here) is the best “available off the shelf in the UK” rod that I have fished with so far. It’s an incredible rod that will catch me just as many bass as these Shimano Exsence Infinity rods might, but there’s a great big world out there full of nice shiny lure fishing tackle that I am sure you have guessed absolutely fascinates me. I love messing around with stuff and I am not into trying to compare tackle when it’s such an individual and price driven thing of course, but I look forward to the day (my wallet doesn’t) when I get to fish with a couple of lure rods that do it for me as much as these two new Shimano Exsence Infinity beauties………. 

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. 
 

The brand new, solid white 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick is real, it's available now in the UK, and I’m so excited I am dancing around my office in my compression gear plus Crocs with socks

I have known about these new solid white DoLive Sticks for a while now and then a few months ago I saw a photograph of one hot off the press as such, but they are now available here in the UK, I have some in my grubby paws, and I am over the frigging moon! Finally, a solid white 6’’ long OSP DoLive Stick is a real lure and not just me hassling various bods to see if they could get them made for our market…………

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OK, so I like white lures, indeed if you made me choose only one lure colour that I could use for bass fishing for the rest of my fishing days I reckon I’d go for white. I love white lures for night fishing of course, but way before I even knew that you could catch bass at night on lures, I caught my first bass on a senko in some fairly murky water over in Ireland - and the colour of that senko was, yes, you’ve guessed it, white! I really like white lures in more coloured water when bass fishing during the day, but then I’ve also caught bass on white hard and soft lures in crystal clear water, and so on. Hell, I used to own a white IMA Salt Skimmer that I think Sakura over in France got IMA to make for their market, and that slayed as well - or at least it did until I went and lost it to a bit of rock I shouldn’t have cast at. 

So I’ve now got my favourite soft plastic jerkbait style lure in a colour that seriously does it for me in a lot of different situations, so please forgive my overexcitement. My life is now complete! I’ve done just fine on a white senko at night over the last few years, but I keep hearing more reports from some very good bass anglers who have had some serious fishing on DoLive Sticks at night, fished somewhat slower and therefore a little deeper than I might fish a white senko. Now I accept completely that colour preferences at night may well be in our heads only, but I can’t get away from how well white lures have done for a number of us - and now I’ve got a solid white 6’’ DoLive Stick! Is this the best of both worlds? Be still my beating heart.

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If you are interested in this new DoLive Stick colour then they are only available here I believe. I take my hat off to the Lurefishingforbass.co.uk people for sticking their necks out and getting this custom colour made for our market after I asked them if it could be done - thank you, thank you, thank you! I know that bass fishing is 99% about where and when, indeed I hope that goes without saying - but as you have probably guessed, the tools of this fine trade we ply seriously fascinate me along with the actual fishing itself, and now that a pure white 6’’ DoLive Stick is a reality, well let’s just say that I wasn’t really designed for dressing up in compression gear and dancing a jig around my office. Damn it feels good though, and especially together with the Cornish uniform of crocs and socks that enable year round use from these awesome shoes. You all have a good weekend. I’m off for a lie down………...

Amendment - I am getting a few questions from people asking me what hook I like the most for these 6'' DoLive Sticks, and it's this hook here if that helps. Further details can be found here

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Disclosure - If you buy anything using links found around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you anymore 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.

A very clever way of getting a rear hook into a soft plastic, and it works

I do love this night fishing for bass thing, and I particularly love it when you get that unmistakable thump on the end of your rod and the fish is hooked up good and proper. Now it might just be me here, but I do get a number of hits on a lure like a white senko which are often some proper thumps - yet they don’t result in hooked bass. 

I have blogged about this before and I do wonder if it’s mainly smaller bass doing this, but the thing I can’t ignore is that even if it is mainly smaller bass, I’d like to hook more of these thumps because in my head you just never quite now. When was fishing ever full of hard and fast rules? I know I can clip a needlefish on that has either a treble or single hook on the rear end, but even so I had a hit on one of Jim’s Lures rather lovely needlefish the other night that was a good thump yet the fish didn’t hook up. 

And on a soft plastic like a white senko or an Albie Snax, for some reason bass seem to sometimes hit them in such a way that even with a 6/0 weedless hook in they don’t always hook up. So when somebody kindly sent me the link to the video above, I made sure to watch it - ok, so I don’t particularly like treble hooks at night especially, but the video shows such a clever but simple way of getting a (treble) hook further back down the soft plastic that I had to give it a go.

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I’ve had a couple of shortish night sessions recently when I had a decent thump on a white senko rigged how I would usually fish one - with a barbless 6/0 weedless hook in it. So I got those thumps which didn’t connect and on both occasions I then changed over to my “special senko” rigged as per the photo above and hooked fish pretty quickly afterwards, indeed this is the exact senko I caught those bass on. On each night I changed over after a “thump but no hookup” and my next hit resulted in a hooked and landed bass - albeit not very big fish! - and whilst that rear treble doesn’t exactly float my boat, not once has the thing moved or come out when I’ve been casting and retrieving the lure, and with both those bass they were hooked on the treble hook which came free of the senko and the 6/0 weedless hook was still in place and not in the fish’s mouth.

OK, so they were small bass and of course it’s so much better when larger fish just nail the whole lure, but it would be somewhat daft if I didn’t try to find a way to hook up with more of these thumps and instead simply continued to fish the same way and write these missed hits off as no more than small fish. I’d rather catch the fish and have that chance it’s a decent fish rather than not know, and whilst I am not about to start hooking up with everything now with this new rigging system, for me it’s something worth exploring because of how it’s worked already for me - if there is one thing I like doing it’s experimenting with stuff to see if I can improve my own fishing.

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But I don’t really like treble hooks at night especially, even if the barbs are all crushed down - with trying to use minimal or no light, I do find that single hooks are so much easier to get out of fish. So I’ve rigged a white senko up as per the photo above, with a wide gape single hook in the rear of the lure via this clever braid related way of rigging in the video. The next step for me now is to see this method might work, and yes, as you might have guessed, the old grey cells are still churning away!

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Is using a thicker braid leader a case of me missing something blindingly obvious, or is it just overcomplicating things?

If there is one thing that makes my day as regards doing this blog it’s when I get feedback and ideas from you people, and yesterday an angler from South Africa left a really interesting comment on a blog post I wrote last year when I got back from some mainly striped bass related stuff in the USA - have a look here at that blog post, but in summary it was how this awesome Cape Cod Canal specialist angler I have been privileged to fish with a fair few times now manages to put his mainly surface lures out a frigging country mile on some light braids.

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I am not going to repeat how he does it when you can easily go back and read that blog post, but this comment left by a South African angler really got me thinking, and I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote the entire comment here: “Hallo Henry. Here in South Africa most of us make use of a Braid Leader PE 2.5 (35lbs) that we joined to our main casting braid PE 1.5 (20 lbs) on our medium Spinning setups. In my case the Major Craft N-One 1062 (30 - 60gram). Contrary to some opinions that braid leaders reduce casting distance, I have found the opposite. The FG knot that I and most Spinning guys use to join the braid leader to the thinner casting braid travels silently and effortlessly through the Fuji concept guides. The braid leader protects the first few meters of casting braid, which removes the fear of snap-offs during casting from one’s mind. This in the long run improves casting rhythm/consistency, which benefits distance. I also find that the slight extra weight of the short braid leader (about 3.5 meters) travelling behind the lure stabilises the lure during flight, reducing lure tumbling and tail-wagging through the air, similar to the feather effect behind an arrow or a dart. With the lure doing less unwanted movements through the air (poorer aerodynamics) casting distance is increased. These individual elements add up to increase overall casting performance.”

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Now if there is one thing that I have found over the years is that there are some scary-good rock and surf anglers plying their trade in southern Africa, and they are often dealing with conditions and locations and often fish of the sort of size and power that we ain’t going to get anywhere close to here in the UK or Ireland. So when a South African leaves such a detailed comment like that (and a big thank you to this angler by the way), firstly I am going to make sure I really read it properly, then I’m going to read it again, and when I did just that was when my brain clicked into gear! As per the title of this blog post - “Is using a thicker braid leader a case of me missing something blindingly obvious, or is it just overcomplicating things?”

If we take into consideration the fact that a lot of the warmer water species of fish fight a lot harder than our colder water fish, then one could quite simply dismiss this information as being over the top for the fish we might catch and so on - but to me that would be a remarkably ignorant thing to do, indeed surely fishing teaches all of us to never say never……….

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OK, so in reality we don’t need really strong braids for the fish we catch, but of course the mainline debate goes beyond that - we might be casting some heavier lures really hard sometimes, most anglers don’t know that their drag knob can actually be tightened up, and a lot of the time we are putting our lures and the ends of our mainlines into and through some pretty foul ground. I don’t really need more than say a good quality 10lb 8-strand braid can give me pure strength wise if we are talking only about the bass I might connect with, but on the flipside I would not feel remotely comfortable fishing with a braid that light into some of the ground I happen to fish.

So I really got to thinking about this lad’s comment and how they are putting a decent length of heavier braid on the end of their regular braid mainline via the FG knot - which in its most basic form would give me that length of thicker braid near the business end. Together with my fluoro leader I reckon I’ve now got the potential for an increased dollop of abrasion resistance which to me can only be a good thing when you’re really fishing in the bricks especially. I know bass aren’t dirty fighters like wrasse, but sharp spikes of rocks and reef edges can and do get in the way of tight mainlines as I am sure some of you know all about. I do. In some respects I can see the logic behind fishing say a 50lb braid into the really rough ground, but do I really want to be fishing lighter soft plastics on a mainline like that? This braid leader method could well be the best of both worlds.

OK, so if you were still to use a fluoro leader with this lot you’re now talking about two knots, but with how stupidly strong the FG knot is I don’t see this as a problem save for the time it takes to tie them. If and when I pull for a break with a snagged lure, nine times out of ten with this FG knot it’s the fluoro knot to my Breakaway Mini Link lure clip that’s breaking and therefore I don’t need to tie a new leader on. I wonder if that might happen with this longer braid leader setup?

I could simply use a much longer fluoro leader to my mainline, and yes, although the FG knot does tend to go fairly well through the guides on most lure rods, in truth the knot does catch sometimes and then the braid can wrap around the tip etc. The sound of the knot going through the guides also freaks me out a bit, hence I use leaders that are of a length that I can keep the leader knot outside the rod when I am casting.

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So I read the comment, got to thinking about it, and then I went rummaging around to find some heavier braid. I went and tied a roughly 3m length of 40lb braid onto the end of my 20lb Sufix 832 mainline, and then tied my usual length 20lb Sufix Invisiline leader on the end of that 40lb braid “rubbing leader” as such. I grabbed the rod and a lure and took Storm for a bit of walk that involved water and a bit of casting, and for the life of me I couldn't feel let alone hear that tiny little braid to braid FG knot going through the guides. There are plenty of turns of heavier braid around the reel to act as a shockleader if I was to drop right down in mainline strength to see how that goes.

For me there’s only one thing to do here - try it out for a while and see how it goes. I know that some lure anglers don’t like using a leader at all - and I do wonder if this extra, heavier braid leader might negate the need for one - so this way of getting some tougher braid near the business end might be worth exploring for you guys. I also wonder if I could drop down to say a 10lb or so Sufix Performance Pro 8 braid mainline and then have that long braid leader on the end to firstly cushion my casting and then to get some thicker line near where it’s most needed - and then the benefits of an even thinner mainline cutting through wind and current might sometimes be useful.

Anyway, I hope that might be some food for thought. Thanks to the lad who left the comment and got me thinking about all this. I am open to trying it and I am also happy to admit that if it does end up as a part of armoury in the future then it’s something so obvious that I can’t believe I never thought of it before - but then isn’t a lot of fishing like that? It might not work out for me, but the idea of this braid rubbing leader makes a lot of sense and I want to see how it goes.

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.
 

I’ve got high hopes for this brand new, medium sized Xorus Patchinko 125

As much as I obviously have a thing for chucking soft plastics like the DoLive Stick around - and for me the hit on a lure like this that’s rigged weedless and weightless is always such a thrill - catching bass off the top is also one hell of a buzz. Like many of you I am sure, I have played with any number of different surface lures over the years, and I have caught bass on a number of them as well - but I bet if you looked in my lure box, more often than not you’d find the IMA Salt Skimmer and the larger, heavier Xorus Patchinko II (the 140mm one) in there. These are my default surface lures if you like and to me each is suited best to certain conditions.

 The new Xorus Patchinko 125

The new Xorus Patchinko 125

And because there’s a considerable gap between the 110mm/14g IMA Salt Skimmer (which seems to defy its dimensions and frigging fly) and the 140mm/25g+ Xorus Patchinko II, I have always kept my eyes and ears open for a surface lure that sits in the middle. Do I need a lure that sits in the middle though? Well that is open to debate of course, but I’d like one, and whilst there’s no way my blog post here from a few years ago remotely influenced Ultimate Fishing over in France who do the Xorus brand, I am rather pleased that we now have this new Xorus Patchinko 125 (125mm, 18g).

There must be something about the way the bigger Patchinko II works across the top that seriously does it for bass, because to me there is no getting away from how successful this missile of a fairly substantial surface lure has been since UK anglers switched onto it - and I am giving Mick of Mr. Fish over in Jersey the credit for this as he was the tackle dealer who first introduced Ultimate Fishing products into the UK - Xorus, Tenryu, Tackle House, DUO, Decoy, etc. Credit where credit is due if you ask me.

 IMA Salt Skimmer

IMA Salt Skimmer

Same with the IMA Salt Skimmer and how well it’s done for me over the years (full credit to Nick at Bass Lures for opening me up to the IMA brand some years ago now), and I did get rather excited when there was a larger and heavier “Skimmer Grande” introduced via IMA USA a while back - but it casts about as well as a banana, and as much as I am sure it works well for bass, if I can’t cover a decent amount of water and perhaps into a headwind as well then I tend to leave that particular surface lure alone and go looking for something else.

 Lucky Craft Gunfish 115

Lucky Craft Gunfish 115

I’ve fished with a few surface lures that fit in the middle, and some of them are of course brilliant lures - obviously you’ve got the killer Lucky Craft Gunfish 115 (115mm, 19g) that I know doesn’t leave the boxes of a few very good bass anglers, that Tackle House Vulture (120mm, 20g) that I stumbled upon in the Ultimate Fishing catalogue a while back, the Xorus Frosty that I know works well for many anglers, and then a surface lure that I really like but I can’t recall seeing any other anglers using - the Daiwa Morethan Scouter 110F (110mm, 19g). I have just seen that there’s a heavier version called the Scouter 130F (130mm) which weighs a substantial 31g and going by how well the 110F version casts I would hazard a guess that this Scouter 130F absolutely flies!

 Xorus Patchinko 125

Xorus Patchinko 125

But there must still be something about that Patchinko sort of action on the top, and now that we have this brand new, medium sized Patchinko 125 which to me fills a logical gap in the Patchinko range (I know plenty of anglers love the smaller Patchinko 100, but I’ll take the IMA Salt Skimmer over it), well I am pretty damn excited to see how it’s going to do. I have fished with it a little bit to see how it casts and works and it was a relief to see that if you catch it right it absolutely flies - longer drop, get that timing spot on, holy cow it goes, and casting it that little bit lower into a decent bit of a headwind the other evening proved to me that it’s a comparable distance machine to its older brother when you take into account the different sizes and weights. I think it’s pretty fair to have some high hopes for this rather lovely new Xorus Patchinko 125, but as ever, time will tell. Do I need a new lure or two? Let’s no go there!

 Tackle House Vulture

Tackle House Vulture

Disclosure - If you buy anything using links found around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you anymore 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.
 

 Daiwa Morethan Scouter 110F

Daiwa Morethan Scouter 110F

Breathable waist waders - where have you been all my life?

My chest waders are as important to me as a good rod and reel, but up until a few weeks ago I had never even tried a pair of the shorter length breathable waist waders - and to be honest I feel like a bit of a tit for so successfully ignoring breathable waist waders and how a pair of “higher up the body” chest waders sometimes aren’t really needed. I am not about to stop wearing chest waders because I think they are absolutely vital for so much of my fishing, but over the last few weeks I have been out and about a bit and only wearing waist waders - and they have proved to be a bit of a revelation.

 Here's my mate Nick wearing waist waders a few years ago and doing just fine in them

Here's my mate Nick wearing waist waders a few years ago and doing just fine in them

OK, so I ignored what seem to be far less popular waist waders for many years, but to be perfectly honest the only reason I opened my eyes and ears to them the other day was because of all this fishing safety stuff I have been getting involved in - and as per my Friday blog post from last week, it was me getting the bloody shock of my life that has prompted me to look at waist waders (with thanks to Ben from the Art of Fishing for prompting me to think about them) and how they might work for my fishing. It’s also because apart from wearing some kind of wetsuit and potentially melting on a long walk or climb to and from my fishing - or manning up and wet wading - I haven’t yet find a logical solution to the issue. I find waders incredibly useful for my fishing, I like warm Indian Ocean water and I don’t like cold Atlantic Ocean water, and as I am finding out, for me there is a time and place for chest waders and waist waders. 

One thing I have promised myself never, ever to do again is wear chest waders on a boat, indeed I am kicking myself for having done it so often. Have a look at the video above of me failing to  clamber out of the RNLI tank and now tell me whether you fancy your chances at getting back on your boat or kayak when your waders are full up with scarily heavy amounts of water. Ignorance is not bloody bliss, not here it isn’t.

So thanks to some kind contacts I have a couple of pairs of breathable waist waders here to try out, and whilst this blog post is by no means a review of them because I need far more time with these items, at least I can give you some initial thoughts and impressions that may prove helpful to some of you. On the safety side of things, please, please bear in mind here that until I can prove it, it’s only my opinion so far that if I get washed in (with a lifejacket on), then I can’t help but think that waist waders are going to be easier to “manage” as such than a full on pair of chest waders in choppy seas especially. I have worn both pairs of waist waders a few times now, including a couple of longer, warm and sweaty walks to and from some fishing.

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If we are trying to keep prices somewhere close to sensible then nothing has changed my mind over the last few years that the outstanding Vision Ikon breathable chest waders are the best bang for the buck out there, so it’s a bit brilliant to be able to wear the waist wader version of these waders (actually called the Vision Ikon Guiding Waist Waders). Everything feels just as well made except the waders obviously stop at your waist! They come with a pair of elasticated shoulder straps which even at their loosest setting end up holding the waist waders a little bit wedgie style - but you can simply unclip the shoulder straps, leave them at home, and instead I have put a webbing style belt through the belt loops.

I was a little worried that waist waders might spend their lives slipping down and driving me frigging loopy, but my worries were unfounded. Make sure they are nice and snug around your waist and I haven’t once had to hitch them up like those teenagers and their low-slung jeans with pants hanging out that make me feel properly middle aged because I want to give them a good slap and tell them to pull their bloody trousers up! I can’t find a single thing about these Vision Ikon waist waders I don’t like so far, so it now comes down to a test of time and how much grief they can take. Of course I have a very good feeling about them because the Ikon chest waders have done me so proud, but I will report back.

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And then I have this rather unique pair of Scierra X-Stretch waist waders here, and there is a also a an X-Stretch chest wader version that I haven’t seen yet. From the Scierra website: “Revolutionary technical breathable waist wader in 4-way stretch abrasion resistant shell fabric for the ultimate performance and freedom – you’ve never felt this free!” I have to say that whilst they feel a bit weird when you first feel them up, when you go fishing and as a byproduct of this sometimes end  walking a fair way and scrambling up and over rocks and reefs etc.,  well they don’t feel like a pair of waders at all, and I mean that as a really good thing. These Scierra X-Stretch waist waders feel a bit like wearing a really easy-wearing pair of lightweight trousers that don’t “catch” you anywhere when you are say lifting a leg up to clamber up onto a higher rock and so on. 

I took a punt on a quiet stretch of the north coast of Cornwall during that warm spell the other day, and this involved a pretty decent walk back especially - up some cliffs, down a valley, back up the other side, and then across a few fields back to my epic Berlingo. It was saying 24C in my car and even Storm had a bit of a lie down in the shade when we got back to where I had parked - I need more time with these Scierra X-Stretch waist waders, but they do seem to be amazingly breathable. I walk fast, I am not small, and I break into a decent sweat, but I am pretty damn sure that the inside of these waist waders was far less damp (from sweat) after that hot yomp than other waders I have worn over the years - and I include my two pairs of not bloody cheap Simms chest waders that I never thought lasted anywhere near long enough for the price.

Again I can’t tell you yet how these Scierra X-Stretch waist waders might last, but they are the closest thing I have come to wearing a pair of waders that don’t actually feel like wearing waders. I hope they last well because they do seem rather clever, and as with the Vision ones I simply secure the (included neoprene) belt around my waist and they don’t slip down at all. Both pairs of waist waders I have here are so damn easy to wear to be honest, and as much as I have lived in chest waders for so many years now and I am of course completely used to them, without a doubt these waist waders do feel that bit easier and non-wader like to wear over the higher waist ones. I will get back to you after a decent length of time, and I do hope to test out my safety related theories on waist versus chest waders one day, but so far so good. 
 

The second video from our day with the RNLI - waders and trying to climb out

Whilst I have a whack load more to learn about how breathable chest and indeed waist waders behave if you end up in the drink, I am kind of embarrassed at how little I knew about these items of clothing that for me are arguably as important to me as my lure rod and reel and how things go down if the worst was to happen………….

Go and ask fifty anglers what happens if you end up in a choppy to rough sea in pair of breathable chest waders and either you can get away from the rocks with your lifejacket on and await rescue, or else you end up spending a bit of time in the water and for whatever reason need to have a go at self-rescuing or you are clinging onto a throw-rope that your mate has got out to you and now you need to try and clamber up the rocks - and I bet you get fifty different answers based predominantly on what we have heard rather than what we actually know.

So I have a far better idea of what happens now, but not for one second did I head for that RNLI day at their training tank in Poole thinking that it would be the getting out in waders thing that banged home almost as hard as the obvious one which was that wearing a lifejacket quite simply gives you a much better chance at surviving when something goes badly wrong. 

Slipping over in your waders and finding your feet again in shallow water while your mates piss themselves laughing at you is completely different to spending a bit of time in deeper water where you might need to try and clamber up some rocks to get yourself out. When I jumped into that RNLI tank I was wearing a pair of Hodgman breathable chest waders with a wading belt, plus another belt which holds my HPA chest pack in which I carry my lures at my side. Everything was done up fairly tight and exactly as it would be for my fishing - you don’t sink like a stone in your waders, but I can guarantee you that if you end up spending a bit of time in choppy water especially then your waders will fill up with water.

 Come on, be honest, how many of check the depth with our lure rods?!

Come on, be honest, how many of check the depth with our lure rods?!

And don’t let anybody tell you that they won’t. If you are in and out pretty quickly then there may well be only a little bit of water in your waders, but spend more time in the water (which I would argue is more likely to happen with where so many of us fish) and they will start to properly fill up. I hear some anglers saying that a wading belt will stop water getting in, but it won’t - sure, I reckon it slows things down, but it’s not an airtight seal around your waist and you can’t wear the bloody thing too tight anyway otherwise you can’t breathe properly!

I can only give you my findings so far here, but if you are wearing a lifejacket which has obviously inflated then after spending a decent length of time in that tank so that my waders filled up properly then I was floating fine with my airways out of the water. Sure, life would probably be somewhat easier without a pair of waders on, and without a lifejacket and how waders aren’t exactly helping you I would suggest that in choppy water you will be in serious trouble - but with that lifejacket it’s doable.

But what shocked the hell out of me was when one of the RNLI people asked me to now try and climb out of the tank via some cargo style hard netting thing. Granted, it’s not rocks, but it matters not - nope, what really shocked me was how much extra weight those waders now full of water are, and how it’s as good as impossible to clamber out as you can see in the video. Bear in mind that I’ve spent a bit of time in the tank filling up, I wasn’t wearing a lifejacket that time around so I was tiring from trying to keep my airways clear of that horrible choppy water - and I simply didn’t have the strength to climb out. I needed some help to get myself over to the steps and just about clamber out like that. And when did you ever find some steps to get out of the ocean?

 When waist waders won't do!

When waist waders won't do!

I have no idea how much water was actually in my waders, but it was over my wading belt level inside, and if one litre of water weighs one kilogram then I dread to think how much extra weight I was adding to my (not lightweight!) self when trying to clamber out. I now have an HPA dive knife strapped to the belt on my lure bag which I would try and use to cut open my chest waders if the need ever arose, because for a certain amount of my shore based lure fishing I find breathable chest waders to be incredibly useful. I am now trying out a couple of different pairs of breathable waist waders and for a number of situations they are incredibly useful and at some point I hope to be able to test these things out in the tank. My feeling is that they will be somewhat easier to clamber out with, but I can’t prove that yet. You all have a good weekend and I hope this video gets you thinking about things.
 

How will I top that epic start to the bass season?

Isn’t it interesting how you can literally feel the world around here really waking up after winter? That glorious cacophony of birdsong early in the morning, swallows coming back, hearing cuckoos, seeing sandeels in the water, giggling away because you find so many mullet stacked up at one north coast spot you can’t help but bump them with your lure as you work the gloriously green, tumbling tide rip for bass - plus at last some properly warm weather. I love this time of year……….

 Awesome north Cornwall conditions on Sunday

Awesome north Cornwall conditions on Sunday

On Sunday we found about the best conditions you could ever hope to find on a particular spot on the rugged north coast of Cornwall, and it just felt alive. The three of us had a few bangs bumping Fiiish Black Minnows along the rocky bottom, but no hookups (I am really liking these 18g Search jig heads for the 120mm Black Minnow, they just seem to literally “walk” so well along all those contours on the bottom). Charlie saw a couple of properly big bass mooching around a gully as he went to jump from rock to rock and I reckon nearly fell in with the shock at seeing those fish - and then we found a stack of mullet which to me is a really good sign. OK, no bass landed, but the place felt alive at least, and especially with Charlie seeing a couple of shoals of sandeels.

Mark meanwhile did fall in, and I promise I didn’t laugh at all! He was wearing a prototype Mullion lifejacket we have here to test, and whilst there was nothing remotely dangerous about wading this gully, Mark got unlucky with his timing as a surge of water came through and took him off his feet. It is very impressive how quickly these auto-inflate lifejackets inflate! Charlie and I remained resolutely straight-faced?, the lifejackets work, Mark was not in any danger, and I’m still feeling weak from nearly wetting myself. Does anything provide more laughs than fishing?

So Monday early evening saw Mark and I out on our local south east Cornwall coast, and we had some pretty stunning conditions to fish the early flood on a bit of reef. Onshore conditions, a bit of breeze and bounce but not remotely out of control, a little too much weed in the water but it was ok if you moved around, grey, scudding light conditions, and damn things felt good. I find it so interesting how the ocean feels so different here in the south east compared to the north coast, and I love how we have such easy access to it all.

And then it happened. My 2018 bass fishing season kicked off in such outrageous style I was left shaking with adrenaline and then a bit of a worry about how on earth I could possibly top this mighty spring time feat (slight exaggeration as you will find out later). I had tried a few darker coloured lures to account for the very overcast conditions, but nothing, yet it’s feeling so good. A big gully is starting to fill up, I have got away from the worst of the weed, and for the life of me there’s got to be a bass or two on front of us. Sod this then, how about trying to get what I tend to think of as a sort of reaction hit by putting on a really bright, “look at me” hard lure and seeing what happens?

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I do find it a particular delight when I catch a fish on a cabin fever related lure that I liked the look of during those wet winter months, took a punt and bought one, and then it goes and works! For ages I had wanted to see what a Shimano Japan hard lure might be like, and when I stumbled across what looked like a long-casting, nice and shallow swimming Shimano Exsence Responder 109F (109mm, 15g), how the hell could I resist? Chunky, very stable, I like the size, wow it casts well into a headwind, it swims nice and shallow with such a lovely wiggle that I can’t bloody resist, seems to be seriously well made, and I like this particular colour above because on other hard lures a very similar colour has worked well for me before.

And it went and caught me my first two bass of the season, plus I got another couple of hits into the bargain. I would love to regale you with tales of how this ridiculously special Shimano Exsence Infinity S900ML/RF 9’ 5-32g lure rod that I reviewed the other day manfully subdued those April bass, but to be perfectly honest both bass I reckon were about 10cms longer than the actual lure! Is there a class of bass that’s below a schoolie? Hell they were small, but they were bass, and to me that simple fact that a couple of them impaled themselves on my new lure (yippee!) gives me that all important jolt of confidence. Joking aside I’ve got a really good feeling about this Shimano Exsence Responder 109F.  

Yes, there is always the possibility that another lure would have caught the same fish, but you can only catch on what you have clipped on at the time can you not? Did those bass suddenly move into that big gully and find my lure, or were they mooching around already and did that rather bright colour change just happen to do it for them as opposed to the more muted lure colours I had been previously trying? As ever I am left with questions to which I will never know the answers, but we’re off and running - small they might have been, but I’ll take ‘em!

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.
 

Major Craft Triple Cross TCX-942SSJ Super Light Shore Jigging 9'4'' 15-40g lure rod review - £199.99 UK price

I don’t think I have reviewed a Major Craft lure rod for a fair while now, not since this Japanese company in all their wisdom ceased production of the outstanding Skyroad range. I understand how product ranges need to be refreshed, but damn I’d have been reluctant to refresh those rods when they offered such outstanding value for money. Anyway, I believe the Major Craft Triple Cross range is the Skyroad replacement, and I’ve had the new Major Craft Triple Cross TCX-942SSJ Super Light Shore Jigging 9'4'' 15-40g lure rod here for a while now…………

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First off let’s call this rod the Triple Cross 9’4’’ to make things a little easier, and secondly I need to tell you that my experience of “light shore jigging” rods is about squat - as is my light shore jigging experience itself, albeit in the UK and Ireland I suppose you could refer to deeper water pollack fishing from the shore as shore jigging and so on. Or how about whacking metals out into a bit of surf and working them around a bit? Is that shore jigging? Does it matter anyway?

Whatever the case, because of the 9’4’’ length of this rod and the 15-40g casting weight, I have looked at it with bass fishing eyes, and after a few casts it struck me that we’ve got a rather interesting fishing rod here - this Triple Cross 9’4’’ is obviously not in Major Craft’s standard 10-30g range, but interestingly to me it’s not quite in their more powerful next step up 15-42g range. Nope, to me this new Triple Cross 9’4’’ that comes from the “Super Light Shore Jigging” world sits slap bang in the middle of these two casting weight ranges and therefore offers an angler a good chunk of both - and I really like this. It’s the sort of lure rod that works for a lot of my bass fishing.

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I guess that because of how shore jigging is meant to be done there’s a slightly longer handle length on this rod, and in a perfect world I’d like it a little shorter (44cms from reel stem to butt, and then 37.5cms on far too good for the price HTO Nebula 9’ 7-35g)  - but then I fish with the rod for a while and it all starts to feel normal. I do prefer shorter handles on lure rods and I know that plenty of anglers don’t. I love the actual handle design (duplon) and I like how well built this rod is. Credit as ever to Major Craft for using components like these and keeping the price more than reasonable if you ask me. This new Major Craft Triple Cross TCX-942SSJ Super Light Shore Jigging 9'4'' 15-40g lure rod smacks of quality.

It’s so easy to wind lures up on this thing. Accessing the power is effortless - it’s not a poker of a lure rod and you can feel that butt flexing when you wind this rod up (as indeed it should), but at first I didn’t feel I was quite getting the timing of this rod. A while later though and literally anything within that 15-40g range I can hit as hard and smoothly as I possibly can and I don’t feel the rod struggling at all, and putting a 40g lure out there (the 1.5oz GT Ice Cream) is just so easy. Load this rod up, don’t lash the hell out of it, and that tempered build up of power puts lures out there a mile if needs be.

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And the tip on this thing is just sublime, indeed it’s how the tip works that really floats my boat about this rod. I am assuming that shore jigging requires a certain amount of power but also finesse in the tip, and this rod’s got that in spades - for sure you can chuck say a 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick around, but now go putting the Xorus Patchinko II or the (nice long drop and wow it goes) Savage Gear Line-Thru Sandeel in the 19g or 27g size on and this Triple Cross 9’4’’ seriously starts talking. Working a surface lure at range on this tip is outstanding, and then I clip on a 120mm Fiiish Black Minnow with that rather lovely 18g Search Head and “search” this combination along a very rocky sea bed and again the tip on this rod for me is doing its magic. 

I can see a true 15-40g lure rod like this Triple Cross 9’4’’ suiting a lot of bass anglers with the way it kind of crosses the divide as such, and whilst the rod must now go back from whence it came, I sure would love to whack some Fiiish Crazy Sandeels out off a lonely Irish headland and bash some pollack on this rod. Another class bit of kit from the mighty Major Craft.

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And before anybody here looks at the photos of Mark casting this rod and verbally thrashes me for so obviously giving away a location because of those houses in the background, please give me some credit here. I was spending almost every school holiday on this part of the north Cornwall coast since I was born - we moved from where we were fishing specifically so I could line Mark up for some casting shots with how the light was angled (and not show where we had been fishing/blanking!), and anyway, even if this was a top secret bass mark I would suggest that with the number of people out walking around Trevose Head on a sunny Easter Holiday weekend you are sort of big time in rather plain view! If muttering into your cornflakes about how bass fishing was better in the good old days before all these tits (like me) got into lure fishing for them then please enjoy your cornflakes!

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.