If these new Penn Spinfisher VI spinning reels continue to fish as well as they currently are then I’m all over them

I am not here to tell you that the Penn spinning reels I have fished with over the last few years are the last word in lightweight refinement or “buttery smoothness” when compared to many of the Shimano and Daiwa reels I have used, but modern Penn spinning reels are becoming increasingly interesting to me the more I fish with them. When I try to weigh up the pros and cons of how long a spinning reel should really be lasting and whether it being almost ridiculously lightweight and smooth really are the factors that should mean the most, well I can’t help but be more and more interested in some of these modern Penn reels and how with some of them we seem to be getting a lot of bang for our bucks………….

 Penn Clash 3000

Penn Clash 3000

For me this interest started with the Penn Clash spinning reels (review here) which I thought from the off were plenty light and smooth enough albeit you need to be very careful with the amount of braid you put on them. Fill a Clash to the brim and you are asking for a lot of wind knot related trouble, but get that line level right and to me they are seriously nice reels. To be honest I don’t get hung up on having to fill a reel right up because it might give me a yard extra on my cast, but yes, it does niggle me that on a modern spinning reel such as the Penn Clash you can’t go filling it right up when I look at a Shimano or Daiwa spinning reel I have here at home and they are all properly full of braid and I don’t get any wind knot issues at all.

As much as I have enjoyed fishing with the Penn Clash spinning reels though, unless I am missing something they are not offering any more resistance as such to the saltwater environment than say the outstanding and similarly priced Shimano Stradic 3000FK (review here). For a long time it seemed to me that you spend what you can or want to on a spinning reel - whether it be Penn, Shimano, Daiwa, Okuma etc. - but whatever you do actually spend isn’t buying you a whole lot more longevity in a harsh saltwater environment.

You look after your reel as best you can but for the most part they don’t like a serious dunking for starters, and yes, this whole issue of how well or not a reel lasts has become far more important to me the more I am starting to spend time chucking lures in surf conditions especially. I accept that it may not be a concern with your own fishing, but I have seen and heard about far too many often not cheap spinning reels suffering what I think are very premature deaths in these kinds of situations. Admittedly we might well be expecting too much of our gear, but to me it’s a problem and because of that I then start looking for potential solutions.

 Penn Slammer III 3500

Penn Slammer III 3500

It wasn’t until I began fishing with the admittedly slightly heavier but incredibly confidence-inspiring Penn Slammer III spinning reels (review here) this year that I finally realised that there was a viable option to a completely sealed spinning reel such as the various Van Staal models. The Penn Slammer III is not completely sealed against saltwater and sand getting inside, but with its “IPX6 Sealed body and spool design” and how much time mine has been hammered in the surf this year and also deliberately drowned and dunked, I know that if I had treated any other spinning reel I own like that I’d have killed it. For sure these Penn Slammer III reels might not be the lightest reels in the world, but so far I can’t fault them and I wonder how many UK lure anglers are aware of these reels and how much toughness you are getting for your money.

 Penn Spinfisher VI 4500

Penn Spinfisher VI 4500

And then along come these new and lighter Penn Spinfisher VI spinning reels - I have the 3500 and 4500 versions here and I am waiting for the smallest 2500 to turn up. If it helps, the Spinfisher VI 3500 is essentially the same size as a Shimano 4000, and the 4500 is a little bit bigger and sits really nicely on a more powerful 9’6’’ or 10’ lure rod (note that because Daiwa have decided to change their spinning reel sizes again with their new LT reels I simply can’t be bothered trying to make sense of their stuff). I reckon the Spinfisher VI 2500 is around the same size as a Shimano 3000. If it helps, I have weighed the similar sized reels below when they are loaded up with line, because surely that’s the weight that means the most because surely you’re going to take a reel out fishing with line on it!:

  • Penn Slammer III 3500 - 403g

  • Penn Spinfisher VI 3500 - 359g

  • Shimano Sustain 4000FG (discontinued) - 300g

  • Penn Clash 3000 - 300g

Now if the long and incredibly detailed video above is to be believed, then at time 13:40 the guy claims that on the regular Penn Spinfisher VI reels I have here (i.e not the Live Liner or the Long Cast versions) the waterproof rating is actually the same IPX6 as the Slammer III. The video says that to make things more easily understandable, Penn have claimed an IPX5 rating for these new Spinfisher VI reels, but all is explained at that 13:40 time and onwards in the video. You can find plenty of IPX waterproof info online, but as far as I can tell an IPX6 rating is giving us as much resistance to water ingress as possible on a reel that is not actually 100% sealed.

 Line lay out of the box on the Penn Spinfisher VI 4500

Line lay out of the box on the Penn Spinfisher VI 4500

And this is one of the reasons why I think these new Penn Spinfisher VI reels have the potential to be so interesting for our lure fishing. The awesome Slammer III reels have a “7+1 stainless steel bearing system” and these new Spinfisher VI reels have a “5+1 sealed stainless steel ball bearing system”, and I don’t pretend to know if that will make any meaningful difference over time - but I do know that these Spinfisher VI reels are that bit lighter, they are wonderfully smooth so far (although they are a little “tighter” than a new Shimano reel when you wind a lure in), and I have filled both of them up to the brim with braid and have had no issues so far which I would never be able to do on the Clash. Out of the box I got a perfect line lay on the 4500 size Spinfisher VI, but I had to fiddle around with the washers to get a comparable line lay on the 3500 one - is this because they aren’t being set up in the same way when they leave the factory.

 Penn Spinfisher VI 3500

Penn Spinfisher VI 3500

Please take note the word “if” in the title of this blog post. This is not a review because I simply haven’t had enough meaningful fishing time yet with these Spinfisher VI reels, but my initial impressions are that I think they are every bit as nice to fish with in a real fishing environment as a similar priced Shimano (and not turning handles in a shop with all the oohing and ahhing). Put them on a rod and go out fishing and the slight weight increase over a similar sized Shimano to me is now meaningless. The equivalent Slammer III feels like a machine and I love it, but I wonder with the weight savings whether this new Penn Spinfisher VI 3500 for example is a more than viable alternative to a 4000 size Shimano spinning reel for a lot of lure anglers. I very much like the price of course, and if all that resistance to saltwater getting inside and killing it does actually happen and the reel stays nice and smooth for a decent length of time - whatever that actually is - then wow are these reels going to make a lot of sense to me……………..

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.

Destination Angler II, by Dave Lewis - book review (you seriously want this in your stocking!)

In fishing terms it’s probably easier to ask where Dave Lewis hasn’t been on this glorious earth rather than trying to work out exactly where he has been! If there is a better travelled angler or fishing photo journalist out there then I am not aware of him or her, so I am really pleased to have “Destination Angler II” here, the sequel to Dave’s excellent book “Destination Angler”. I reviewed the original one here a couple of years ago now and I kinda got the impression that there were a hell of a lot more stories and photos on Dave’s archive and brain to let sleeping dogs lie and not produce another fantastic worldwide fishing book that I defy any angler with any interest in what is out there not to enjoy…………..

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“Destination Angler II” is the continuation of what Dave started in the original Destination Angler book, and I love how time time around there is a wonderfully personal and amusing foreword by his wife Alison. She sounds like a complete star to me. If you are looking for an excuse to find out more about some of the fishing that can be done around the world and/or you need to nudge your better half with some ideas for your Xmas present then look no further - this book is it (you can buy it via here).

Dave Lewis writes in such an approachable and engaging way, and I can’t help but be drawn towards a book like this. There are loads of photos of fish and locations, and it’s fun to see a few photos in there of a very young and fresh-faced looking Dave Lewis, but to me it’s so much about Dave’s writing and how he so engages me and gets me turning those pages. There are no heirs and graces and never for one second do you begrudge the guy for all these wonderful experiences he has so obviously had via his outstanding (and bloody hard) work in fishing - nope, instead you can’t help but be swept along on the journey through the book and come out the other end with another heap of destinations you simply have to go to! It’s a skill to write like this and Dave is extremely good at it.

How on earth can I find fault with a fishing book that takes me around the world and is written in a style that I really enjoy reading? I have written and photographed a few books myself and I know what goes into it, so I take my hat off to Dave Lewis for this accomplishment that is Destination Angler II - and here’s hoping for a Destination Angler III, which indeed there should be because Dave seems to be here, there and everywhere with his fishing related travel. and good on him I reckon. You all have a good weekend and I am close to breaking point with the perfectly shite conditions we have got out there to at least have a half-meaningful attempt at a few bass which I know are still around………...

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Gear of the Year 2018 - Part 1

I was going to put these annual Gear of the Year posts up next week, but thanks to the sodding weather and the coastline being in such bad shape at the moment I thought I’d get on with it. As ever these Gear of the Year things are no more than my opinions after a decent amount of time with the various items - I know what I like and no doubt you will like different stuff, but if my thoughts and opinion manage to help a few of you out then that’s more than enough for me. If there is a bit of fishing tackle which has done particularly well or particularly badly, then please let me know down in the comments section at the bottom of the blog post. Enjoy……

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Product of the year no.1 2018 - An auto-inflate lifejacket that comes with a crotch strap. Take your pick from the lifejackets I have either reviewed (check here and here) or that I am continuing to wear and will review in due course. A complete no-brainer to me for much of the lure fishing that so many of us do here. Easy items to find online, and please keep an eye on the Art of Fishing website or speak to them if you are going to buy a lifejacket as their profits on lifejacket sales are going to the RNLI.

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Best lure rod that you can buy here in the UK 2018 - Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g. I thought about this a lot, because whilst the awesome but a lot more expensive HTO Shore Game S932ML 9'3'' 7-30g remains for me the best all round lure rod we can get off the shelf here in the UK (review here), the brilliant Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g crept up on me for a few reasons - it’s a truly fantastic fishing 9’ lure rod, it is somewhat cheaper than the 9’3’’ HTO Shore Game rod, and I am so pleased that we now have a lure rod here in the UK that replaces and improves upon the discontinued Major Craft Skyroad 9’ 10-30g. Review here of the rather special Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g and hats off to the nice people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle for getting this rod made. Available here and here in the UK. Special mention but I haven’t had enough time with it to consider it here - the seriously lovely Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g lure rod, review here.

 This Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8 braid has been on this reel for two years I believe, and the guy fishes hard

This Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8 braid has been on this reel for two years I believe, and the guy fishes hard

Braid of the year 2018 - Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8. Is it because the name “Spiderwire” is in there that this brilliant Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8 braid doesn’t seem to be getting the love it deserves? (I never used the old Spiderwire braid, but I heard all manner of differing reports about it). I have used this newer Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8 braid a lot though and I know one angler in particular who has had the same 20lb Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8 braid in the red colour on his spinning reel for a couple of years now and it has hardly lost any colour and the braid truly feels as good as new. There are four braids that I trust completely which come in at under the £20 mark for a 150 yard or so spool - Sufix 832, Sufix Performance Pro 8 (just discontinued but still readily available, replacement coming soon, fishing with it at the moment and it’s fantastic), Daiwa J-Braid, and then this Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8 braid which is the cheapest of the lot but is just as good as the others. Review here, and if you go looking online it’s not a hard braid to find.

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Leader material of the year 2018 - Varivas Hard Top fluorocarbon. What’s not to like? I have a thing for Varivas lines as indeed I seriously do for Sufix, and I really like how this Varivas Hard Top fluoro comes in 80m spools that cost only £8.99. A fluoro leader has to feel right to me, and whilst I know that is not remotely scientific, this Varivas Hard Top just felt good from the off, and the 15lb and 20lb versions I have used for a while now have performed perfectly. It knots very well - I only use the FG knot for my braid to leader connections - and I can’t prove this but it does seem to me that this Varivas Hard Top fluoro is a very tough leader material with high abrasion resistance. I have written the breaking strains on the spools because I don’t do PE numbers and fluoro yet! My only complaint would be to ask why Varivas couldn’t have put 80m of fluoro on somewhat smaller spools that then take up less room in a rucksack. Veals Mail Order is the place for this line, see here.

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Hard lure of the year 2018 - Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire surface lure. I don’t use hard lures as much as I used to, but one hard lure I have ended up using a hell of a lot this year because I have found it to be absolutely bloody lethal for bass is the Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire surface lure - with my eternal thanks to the Spanish angler who so kindly told me all about it and convinced me to part with my cash. Damn am I glad I did! Casts great, looks lovely on the water, and I can’t get away from how this Spittin’ Wire has caught a bunch of good bass for me this year, plus for a few anglers I know and fish with as well. Search “Spittin’ Wire” in the search box over on the right of this page and you will see what I mean. Oh, and I removed the split ring that comes rigged on the lure and I caught my biggest ever bass after doing so, so I guess it doesn’t matter. Not an easy lure to track down, but I believe the Art of Fishing still has a few that they are not putting on their website - I bought mine from a website in Spain, here.

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Best way to carry my lures when I am actually fishing 2018 - HPA Chest Pack, again. I make no apologies for continuing to praise this HPA Chest Pack which in fact I wear around my waist with a shoulder strap connected to it. I do keep my eyes open for similar systems and I have seen and indeed tried on a few different ones this year, but nothing has come close to how unobtrusive and easy to wear the HPA Chest Pack is. I have used them for so long now that I know I’ll get about a year to a year and a half out of one before where the shoulder lugs attach to the bag end up giving way, but at the price and how well this HPA Chest Pack works for me, I can live with that just fine. I can’t find this item for sale in the UK, so have a look for the HPA France website and find it on there.

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Waterproof jacket of the year 2018 - Vision Kust, again. I really like the Hodgman Aesis Shell waterproof jacket (review here), but it’s the minimalist design of the mighty Vision Kust that continues to do it for me that little bit more. It just works, as do their Vision’s Ikon chest waders, and I can’t really ask for much more than that. The closest to perfect waterproof jacket I have ever worn for my fishing. Easy to find online. Review here.

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Wading boots of the year 2018 - Dunlop safety boots, again. I was about five months into a brand new and not cheap pair of wading boots that were easily the most comfortable wading boots I have ever worn and I was about to blog about them being a bit brilliant but then they went and failed on me. I have used a pair of Simms Freestone wading boots which I found for a nice price a fair amount this year and I do really like them - and especially because there are no metal eyelets unlike on their previous generation and truly rubbish G3 Guide boots - but I have lost a bunch of studs now that just disappeared from the soles when I have never, ever lost a single stud from a pair of Simms wading boots in the past. So it’s back to the cheap as chips Dunlop safety boots being used as wading boots, all details here. You will need to go to the hellhole that is a Sports Direct shop to find these boots.

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Accessory of the year 2018 no.1 - VMC 7554B BN (Black Nickel finish) 2X-Strong Inline Barbless Treble hook. If I am putting new treble hooks on a hard lure then these are now my trebles of choice. Pretty much perfect if you ask me, but for whatever reason they still aren’t that easy to find for sale here in the UK.

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Accessory of the year 2018 no.2 - STURME Locking Carabiner Aluminum D Ring Clip. I bought these cheap as chips carabiner type clips off Amazon (check here) and I use them for attaching various bits and pieces to the neoprene belt on which my HPA Chest Pack sits, as well as onto my rucksack or whatever. Obviously at this price they are not for climbing!, but as a simple way of say clipping a fish-grip to my belt which I can then easily clip on and off, then these STURME Locking Carabiner Aluminum D Ring Clip are just about perfect - very lightweight, very cheap, and showing no signs of rust either.

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.

Arguably my favourite bass fishing time of year here in Cornwall, but crumbs are we in the lap of the weather gods

I absolutely love this time of year here in Cornwall for bass fishing, but what the hell can you do but hope for the right conditions in a season which in some respects owes us nothing, and especially after that quite incredible late spring and early summer we had. It’s as good as December and I feel kinda bad that in many parts of the UK you bass nuts have hung up your lure gear until sometime in spring or early summer next year, but here’s me banging on about how good the bass fishing can still be down here - if we get the right conditions though……….

 Early December last year

Early December last year

Which of course is pretty bloody obvious when our fishing lives revolve around the sea and her many moods, but more so at this time of year when we simply can’t go complaining when the wind and rain hits like it did the last couple of days for example. It is winter after all and what on earth should we expect? Hell, it wasn’t that many years ago that I was literally praying to the weather gods to give me as many SW gales per winter as possible for my cod fishing, yet here we are now and because I am an angler and we will always ask for more, I am now asking for “nice” weather conditions that give me a decent bit of fizz but don’t blow the coastline out and give me mountainous seas which we can’t attack with our lure gear.

 Xmas Eve last year…………still plenty of time!

Xmas Eve last year…………still plenty of time!

Anglers eh?! If I could control the weather I’d actually be asking for flat calm conditions on the next new moon set of tides because I have got my eye on a few particular locations that I so badly want to fish at night - and I need calm conditions for this. Then I’d like lovely choppy conditions please as we come off those tides so I can head for the north coast and fish a few spots that traditionally tend to work pretty well at this time of year - and so on. Will I get this? Most likely not of course, but what’s the harm in asking? There is no other god than the mighty Rotting Christ and the brand new song they have just released below (best band in the world, and that’s a fact), but I firmly believe in the weather gods and I shall be on my knees to ask for just the right conditions please! You all have a good weekend and I hope that some of you here find some bass which are intent on smashing your lures.

Does the type of sound a lure puts out make a difference? And yes, I am sitting here rattling my different surface lures up against my ear in a very scientific way……...

Following on from Monday’s post and partly because the weather is raging outside and not really having a viable fishing option doesn’t half get the old grey cells racing - the subject of what kind of sound, if any, a surface lure makes, and I would suggest that even if we buy a “silent” surface lure and also because I don’t know what fish do or do not hear in comparison to us human beings, a lure that has split rings and hooks and splashes around on the surface is always going to be making some kind of noise or commotion regardless……….

 Are those ball bearings and the sound they make the key, or is it profile and how the lure works across the top?

Are those ball bearings and the sound they make the key, or is it profile and how the lure works across the top?

Anyway, as per that post from Monday, it was something my mate Mark said when we were out fishing the other day that’s got me rattling every single surface lure I can find here at home right up against my ear to try and get an idea of the different kinds of sounds they are making (are we talking about the pitch?). This has to be a blog post about that Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire lure again because that was the lure Mark and I were talking about, but please note that there are no affiliate links here concerned with that lure and there are of course loads of other surface lures out there that catch plenty of bass! In this day and age of regular people lashing out on social media before they would ever stoop to stop and think before doing so (when did the facts ever actually matter eh?!), sadly I feel the need to lay this one out for you - I AM NOT TRYING TO GET YOU TO BUY THE SPITTIN’ WIRE SURFACE LURE! Hell, if I could afford it I would buy them all anyway.

Anyway, back to the subject of sound, and then insert whatever lure into the discussion as you see fit. I was asking Mark why he thought that this innocuous looking and not very big surface lure had done so well for us this year, and he said something which I must admit I hadn’t thought of - for sure this Spittin’ Wire has a ball bearing that moves around and makes a distinct rattling sound when you either shake it or indeed work it along the surface (i.e. it’s not a “silent” surface lure), but Mark had come to a conclusion that it was the “density” or I think pitch of that rattling sound that was doing it so much for the bass when compared to other surface lures he has used.

 Xorus Patchinko 125 surface lure

Xorus Patchinko 125 surface lure

So we’re standing there on a rock on Sunday morning as dawn begins to make itself known, and I am obviously now carefully rattling my Spittin’ Wire right up against my ear to try and better understand what I am hearing. The only other surface lure I had in my lure box was the rather lovely Xorus Patchinko 125 and the differences in the sound were very obvious.

You need to bear in mind here that my ears have been carefully trained over many years now to understand the subtle nuances in all manner of extreme metal music, and especially black metal and all its glorious sub-genres. So I reckon I’ve got pretty handy ears! Anyway, I get back home and I start my experiments as such - which consist of rooting around in various boxes to find a bunch of different surface lures, and then I sit here at my desk and I scientifically rattle them all up against my ear to see if I can hear any discernible differences.

And I can, indeed all the surface lures I have here which are obviously designed to make some sort of rattling or clicking sound when you work them across the top all seem to be making a subtly different kind of sound. Now not for one second am I trying to tell you that these differences in sound make any kind of difference to your catch rates (do I need to put that in capitals?!), but I do happen to find it really interesting how Mark has a theory about why the Spittin’ Wire has worked so well for us - and as per my post from Monday and not really being able to properly prove or disprove theories like this, who is to say that he hasn’t hit the nail on the head? Or is it profile and/or size and/or colour and/or quality of sound and so on?

 From day one with it, the IMA Salt Skimmer has been a killer surface lure for me

From day one with it, the IMA Salt Skimmer has been a killer surface lure for me

What I have found interesting after my very scientific sound experiments here at my desk is that a lure that has yet to do it for me - the Xorus Frosty (and yes, I know plenty of anglers who slay on it) - has a very high-pitched kind of sound from what I assume are a few very small ball bearings sitting in an internal chamber, whereas a surface lure that has seriously done it for me over the years - the IMA Salt Skimmer - has a correspondingly deep-pitched sound from what seems to be one single and larger ball bearing in its chamber. And so on. This Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire seems to have a fairly deep-pitched rattling sound that does seem to sound subtly different to any other surface lure I have got here, and it’s also interesting to note how another surface lure that I have started to really like this year - the Xorus Patchinko 125 - seems to have a sound that pitch wise sits between the Frosty and the Spittin’ Wire. And so on.

 I have seen plenty of good fish caught on the Xorus Frosty, but for whatever reason it has yet to do it properly for me

I have seen plenty of good fish caught on the Xorus Frosty, but for whatever reason it has yet to do it properly for me

What does any of this prove? Absolutely nothing of course, and as I said earlier, I am not in any way trying to tell you that the Spittin’ Wire is any better than any other surface lures out there. Mark’s theory has got me thinking though, and to me that has to be a good thing, and especially with the depths of winter coming up and what then manifests itself into my urge to buy a few new lures for the season ahead because I am weak-willed and tell myself that something subtly different might just be the key. Is the particular sound that this Spittin’ Wire makes making a difference? Are the fish remotely hearing or sensing what we are hearing? Who the hell really knows? And that’s just fine by me………

 Sexual chocolate?

Sexual chocolate?

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. And please note that there are no links here to this Spittin’ Wire lure, but a little birdy tells me that the Art of Fishing do have a bunch of them in the shop but that they are not putting them on the website.

How on earth can you ever really prove whether one lure is really better than another lure?

I am sure you are no different to me in that you use certain lures more than others firstly because they have caught well for you in the past, and secondly because you or I then naturally believe that they are a bit better than other similar lures. Confidence is of course key - and I would suggest that it is of particular importance when you are lure fishing - but if you dial it down and think about it, how do you actually prove whether one lure really is better than another lure?

It matters not really, but it always interests me when various anglers rave about certain lures working so well for them and a part of me often wonders whether a different lure might have worked even better and so on - and I am in the same boat here. You can only catch with what you have on of course, and if you or I have a good session and/or catch a particularly good fish then it’s pretty obvious that the lure we had on was working well, and also that because it did, we will naturally turn to it again and think to ourselves how much better it is than another lure - and so on.

 It was so satisfying to see some nice Irish bass jump on the Spittin’ Wire as well…………

It was so satisfying to see some nice Irish bass jump on the Spittin’ Wire as well…………

So yesterday morning we were out fishing and Mark and I gravitated towards our rucksacks at a certain point to grab some coffee etc. I happened to have the Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire surface lure on the end of my clip and I happened to say to Mark how much this lure had become my go-to surface lure and that it was a frigging killer and so on (this is not a blog post about the Spittin’ Wire because you could insert a number of different lures into the mix here and I am sure a number of you have similar stories) - but is it really a better surface lure than other similar lures though? Well it doesn’t matter because I chose to buy some and you don’t remotely have to, rather that I have come to firmly trust in this surface lure because it has caught me a number of decent bass fish this year in estuaries and on the open coast, in the UK and over in Ireland. You most likely have a lure in your armoury that you like as much as I like this Spittin’ Wire, and so on.

And I said to Mark yesterday morning that damn was I glad I trusted in that kind Spanish angler who told me about this surface lure earlier in the year, and I was glad I took the punt and bought a couple, but that although the lure had worked well for me (and for Mark I might add), at the end of the day could we really be sure that there was something a bit special about this Spittin’ Wire because you can only fish with the one lure, and would another lure have produced the various bass for us?

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That’s just it - you will never quite know, but Mark did say something very interesting yesterday morning. He told me to think back to a couple of sessions where we were fishing close together and I had recently bought my first ever couple of Spittin’ Wire lures and Mark hadn’t yet. I must admit that numbers and sizes of bass tend to blend into one overall experience for me, but Mark pointed out the fact that on those particular couple of sessions I had not only outfished him, but the bass I caught were noticeably bigger than the ones Mark caught. I was fishing with my new Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire surface lures, and Mark was fishing with the Tackle House Vulture and the Xorus Patchinko 125 he told me - two surface lures I happen to like as well but I’ll still take the IMA Salt Skimmer.

Now you know me by now I would hope - I don’t compete with my fishing and it bothers me not who catches the most of the biggest fish if at the end of the day we have had a blast. Even better for me if the light goes off and I can nail some photographs that float my boat. I hate seeing it when anglers get all arsey with each other because so and so catches more or bigger bass and they end up begrudging their mate’s success, but I guess that fishing does it for us in many different ways.

Anyway, so Mark was saying to me yesterday morning that he did his utmost to ignore the fact that I had been fishing with a different surface lure for those couple of sessions in particular, because most of us have quite enough lures already and do we really need many more? No comment! Seriously though, I have a bunch of different surface lures here at home that have all caught bass for me, so did I really need to buy a couple of those Spittin’ Wire ones? Whatever the case, it obviously got Mark thinking - we were fishing close together, but I happened to catch more and bigger bass and the one variable seemed to be the lure.

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So Mark did what many of us here would do, and me very much included - he bought some of those Spittin’ Wire surface lures himself, which now means that we have often been fishing the same surface lure at the same time on the same marks, so this then takes that “different” lure factor out of the equation. But Mark has caught a number of big bass now on the lure and a while back landed his second biggest shore caught bass ever at 76cms long.

So when Mark and I both ended up raving to each other about how well the lure had done for us this year and of course how killer we believe it to be, I guess that for us it’s all the “proof” we need - because of course there is nothing remotely scientific here and you can only catch with what you have on. As I said earlier, insert your lure of choice in here and I am sure loads of you have had similar experiences. Ask either one of us though and we’re going to tell you that in our opinion this particular surface lure is absolutely lethal. But why? Now that’s another story and Mark has an interesting theory! More to come……….

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. And please note that there are no links here to this Spittin’ Wire lure, but a little birdy tells me that the Art of Fishing do have a bunch of them in the shop but that they are not putting them on the website. Do with that info as you will, because I know I am!

Please support the “Get the Nets Out!” campaign from SOS (Save our Sea Bass)

As ever I must give a lot of credit to the anglers behind these SOS (Save our Sea Bass) campaigns - they are working tirelessly to try and improve the whole bass stocks situation, they are doing it for free, and with how vital this work is and how easy they make it for us anglers to go on their website and lend our support, well to me to do so is a complete no-brainer and I would urge you to do so. Please, please get behind this new SOS campaign and stop burying your head in the sand and hoping that we somehow magically end up with more and bigger bass to catch…………

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From the SOS homepage: “A number of fixed netters have been illegally targeting sea bass – cynically abusing their “unavoidable by-catch only” allowance. To stop this, the EU Commission has proposed to restrict the amount of bass they can land to 1% of their total daily catch. A percentage of catch restriction is the final step needed to make the bass fishery sustainable and transform the quality of bass angling across Northern Europe. We now need to persuade our Fisheries Ministers, George Eustice, to push hard for this to be accepted at the December Fishing Opportunities meeting. Please click on the link here to send a message to your MP to crank up the pressure”.

How hard is it to follow this link and follow the very easy to understand instructions? Hell, SOS have even given you the text to copy and paste into your email, plus a simple search facility to find your local MP and send the email to them. Here’s the text from that link: “Sea Bass – Percentage of catch restriction for commercial fixed netters. The only people who can now legally target bass are sea anglers and commercial hook and liners – the most sustainable stakeholders, yielding the greatest social and economic benefits. However, the bass stock is still currently below a safe level and a number of commercial fixed netters have been illegally targeting bass and landing them, abusing their “unavoidable by-catch only” allowance. The EU Commission has responded by proposing to extend to fixed netters the law that currently applies to bottom trawlers: bass landings to be restricted to 1% of their daily catch. This is an excellent proposal, the last piece of the jigsaw needed to deliver a sustainable bass fishery for future generations. But it needs to be tweaked to perhaps 10% of daily catch, to avoid discarding of bass legitimately caught as bycatch by fixed nets in a mixed fishery. Unfortunately, Defra is intending to oppose the EU Commission’s proposal because Defra has never really accepted the EU law and policy that fixed netters should not be allowed to target bass. Challenging the EU Commission’s proposal is effectively saying “we support fixed netters illegally targeting bass” – not an attractive position for the Government to be taking. Defra points to fixed netting landings having reduced to 80 tonnes, but this simply does not address the matter of stopping the illegal activity that is taking place. I should be very grateful indeed if you would: discuss this matter with George Eustice prior to the 17 December Fishing Opportunities meeting in Brussels and seek to persuade him that the UK should not be trying to subvert a previously agreed policy decision and should be supporting measures to stop illegal bass fishing activity; and raise this issue at the annual Fisheries Debate. Thank you very much for your help.”

And a big thank you from me to you for supporting this campaign. Remember, all you need to do is go to this webpage here and follow the instructions. It’s so easy to do that I am entirely convinced even a few “computer challenged” mates of mine could successfully complete the email and send it off to their local MP! You all have a good weekend and may England please sign off their autumn campaign with a thoroughly convincing thumping of the Aussies. And a belated congratulations to Ireland on such an incredible win over the All Blacks last weekend. Ireland never looked liked losing, what an epic game of rugby, and the Six Nations is now looking ever more worrying………..

Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g lure rod review - £279.99 UK RRP, but they are on offer at £199.99 until current stocks run out

It’s pretty bloody obvious that I’ve got a very serious issue with lure fishing rods, but if there is one thing that all this rod testing/playing around with has done for me, it’s to seriously nail how a lure rod needs to be for me to really, really like it. I like a number of different rods, but I really, really like only a few - I knew I was going to at least like this brand new Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g lure rod from the very first waggle I had with it on the Art of Fishing stand at this year’s European Sport Fishing Show, but what do I think now I have actually fished with it?

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Crumbs, or words to that effect. If we were to meet up and you were to ask me to pick the one 9’6’’ lure fishing rod that is available off the shelf here in the UK and essentially suits me perfectly, then as of November 2018 I’d show you this new Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g lure rod. I am trying my best to be a grownup reviewer and find a fault or two with this lure fishing rod, but I can’t, indeed if a fishing tackle company could get inside my head and build me a 9’6’’ lure fishing rod for how I go about a huge amount of my lure fishing for bass here and over in Ireland then they’d end up making a rod like this one that I am reviewing here. Yep, I really, really like this rod, and if I didn’t own the best 9’6’’ lure rod I have ever come across and I was in the market for one then I’d be seriously contemplating dropping my cash on this one. This Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g lure rod is from Tailwalk’s “Borderless” range of lure rods, and via some dodgy Google translate my understanding is that these lure rods are designed to cover all kinds of lure fishing based on the weights of lures you might use and the length of rod you might like.

And at the “on offer” price of £199.99 it is in my humble opinion a complete steal how much rod you are getting for the money, indeed I think that when compared to other lure rods out there it’s still fantastic value for money at the £279.99 price I believe it will go back up to when current stocks run out and another order is put in by those purveyors of fine lure fishing filth at the Art of Fishing tackle shop in Wadebridge. I don’t mean in any way to belittle spending around £200 on something, rather that I think for what you are getting this lure fishing rod represents a serious bargain.

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Now of course it goes without saying that we all like different fishing rods, but I would also suggest that you and I are more than likely into different kinds of lure rods than we might have been a while back - and to me a lot of this comes about from how we learn more about lure fishing for bass and how our methods and techniques naturally evolve and change. With how much I fish with soft plastics these days for example, I can’t help it that my opinions on lure fishing rods around the specs of something like this “Max 35g” Tailwalk rod will naturally be based around how said rod fishes with soft plastics - and then onto the other lures I’d fish with………...

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I have never understood it when some anglers say that a rod designed for soft plastics needs a soft tip on it, but then I also don’t want a poker of a rod that feels dead in the hands. Give me a rod somewhere around 8’ to 9’6’’ long and rated up to say 30g or 35g like this one and if the tip on it doesn’t feel right to me when I am working a 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick rigged weedless and weightless then I am most likely going to leave the rod alone. I then need the rod to feel just right when working a bunch of different surface lures, whacking various hard lures, and then bumping something like a Fiiish Black Minnow around. Rightly or wrongly I expect a 9’6’’ rod rated to cast lures up to 35g to be as close to a “do as much as possible” style of lure rod whilst obviously accepting that I am not going to be fishing in a raging surf and blasting 50g metals on a lure rod like this. Horses for courses and all that.

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I want a lure rod like this to be as light and responsive as possible. I want it to sit in my hands and feel like it’s all working together when I am fishing, and this Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g is just that type of lure fishing rod to me. For how I’d use a lure rod like this and for what I’d expect it to cope with, this thing is just frigging sublime - wonderfully crisp and steely and light and responsive. I love the handle, I like Fuji stainless SIC guides, and overall it seems to be very well built. The only potential issue could be the grip on the end of the butt section as per the photo above - five minutes with the rod and it feels perfectly normal, but I guess the minimal size and design could be a marmite thing. To me it suits the design and feel of the rod.

 The Daiwa Morethan Scouter 110S surface lure

The Daiwa Morethan Scouter 110S surface lure

I have absolutely belted one of Mark’s 32g Kilty Catcher metal lures on it and I have turned into a strong wind and wound a rather interesting surface lure up with no worries at all - the 30g Daiwa Morethan Scouter 110S (110mm, 30g, and wow does this thing get out there and I am really interested to see how over time it might do against the larger Patchinko which I know is a killer surface lure but it’s increasingly annoying me how a lure this expensive doesn’t seem to be made very well). For sure this rod can cast up to 35g if you need to, but you wouldn’t be buying a lure rod like this if all you wanted to do with it was fish 35g lures. It’s the same with all these kinds of rods - there’s a sweet spot, and to me this outstanding Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g is at its most responsive with lures up to about the 30g mark, and with how well it fishes a DoLive Stick or some of the smaller hard lures then I’d suggest it’s hugely versatile and perfectly suited to how so many of us go about our shore based lure fishing for bass. Wow.

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And so you know, there are a bunch of EGinn rods in this new range of Tailwalk Borderless rods, and most of them seem to be on offer here in the UK at the moment - check here and here. I waggled a bunch of them at the recent fishing show and there are some incredibly impressive rods in there. Please bear in mind though that just because you might have two rods from two different companies but with the same sort of specs, it doesn’t then mean that the two rods are the same. Without a doubt I’d describe this Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g lure rod as a “precision” kind of lure rod, whereas something like the similar specced Apia Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g (review here) is to me far more of a “rough and tumble” kind of lure rod. Does that make sense? Both rods will do a huge amount of our lure fishing, but I’d tend to take the Tailwalk over the APIA because I think the added “precision” of the Tailwalk better suits soft plastics and lighter surface lures like the killer Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire, whereas I’d take the APIA over the Tailwalk if I fished say the bigger Patchinko or bouncier north coast conditions more of the time - and so on.

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 more surf based lure fishing I do, the more I am leaning towards a specific lure rod for it

Nope, I am not telling you to go out and buy a new fishing rod because if you want to bang a few lures out into an autumnal or winter surf the chances are that you already have a lure rod that’ll do just fine. I’m merely thinking aloud here and because it’s the way my brain is wired, when I am out fishing I am often thinking about how I might better deal with the specific conditions I am faced with……..

So I take a session from last week for example which I alluded to here in fact. Good sessions and then blank sessions are starting to really inform me about what surf conditions I need to be looking for and so on (because not all surf is remotely the same), but the common factor with surf fishing seems to be wind, or rather the fact that when I head out to chuck lures off a beach and into some surf I am having to deal with generally a lot more breeze than when I might chuck a DoLive Stick around a quiet estuary or something like that.

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And for that “direct contact” kind of lure fishing I’ll take the loveliest high-end Japanese lure rods you can throw at me thank you very much, but when that wind starts to blow and my braid is all over the place, tables of tugging surf are trying to knock me off my feet, and I am struggling to maintain contact with my (more often than not) metal lure, well in my opinion you can forget about all that lovely high-end subtlety. I don’t need it, I don’t want it, and it seems to me that the surf type of lure rod I am leaning towards doesn’t actually need to break the bank.

The one thing I am finding out that I seriously don’t want from a lure rod for my surf fishing is a rod tip that bounces around in the breeze - which means I am after a pretty “stiff in the tip” lure rod but very importantly I don’t want it to be so bloody powerful that my shoulders want to fall off after an hour or so. I am increasingly leaning towards a good 25-40g and perhaps 50g metal that cuts into the wind as being about as heavy as I am needing to go so far, hence I don’t find myself needing a scaffold pole of a rod which of course it could be if I want something fairly stiff or extremely “steely” and fast.

 The new Palms/Zetz Slow Blatt Cast Up 40g

The new Palms/Zetz Slow Blatt Cast Up 40g

I tried out a new lure rod at the start of last week and for banging lures out it’s an absolute dream - so easy and effortless and efficient. But now I am trying to work that same rod in a strongish side wind and it’s driving me mad how the tip is flapping around like a demented tulip and I feel like I have lost all connection to my lure. I grant you that for simply whacking and cranking metals this might not really matter, but I am increasingly drawn to some of those fantastic looking and very interesting slow-jigs for some of my surf fishing - and for them I need all the contact to my lure I can get.

The not cheap and by a margin the best 9’6’’ lure rod I have ever fished with as an example doesn’t do it for me when I am faced with some proper surf. I have never liked a lure rod as much as this incredible Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g lure rod (review here), and the tip on it is utterly sublime, but I find myself increasingly drawn to some considerably cheaper lure rods for my surf fishing because their slightly lack of subtlety in the tip sections is in fact what I want.

 The rather impressive Apia Grandage 100M 10' 12-42g lure rod in action

The rather impressive Apia Grandage 100M 10' 12-42g lure rod in action

I am starting to play around with the HTO Nebula 10’ 15-56g lure rod for example, and whilst its power and stiffness make it into a lure rod I don’t really want for my day to day lure fishing as such, I absolutely love it in a decent bit of surf, a whole lot of breeze, and some metals on the end of my line. Paired with the awesome Penn Slammer III 3500 or 4500 spinning reel (review here) or indeed the brand new Penn Spinfisher VI 3500 or 4500 which are cheaper, lighter and nearly as well protected against saltwater intrusion than the incredible Slammers, it’s a hell of a sweet combination for some fairly heavy duty surf fishing. What I really want now is that rather fantastic HTO Nebula 9’ 12-42g lure rod (review here) taken to 10’ long and at the same casting weight, because this I reckon would make for a brilliant surf style lure rod for targeting our bass in some wonderfully turbulent conditions, but with a touch more “precision” in the tip than the heavier 15-56g version. Another lure rod I have had a few casts with and am starting to fall for in a big way is the new Apia Grandage 100M 10' 12-42g lure rod. Give me more time with it for a proper review, but to me it’s a lot better than the previous generation and now discontinued APIA Foojin’R Grand Swell 96MH 9’6’’ 7-42g which I really liked, and overall it’s a lot more versatile than the admittedly somewhat cheaper HTO Nebula 10’ 15-56g. Lots more to think about as I hope for lots more ideal surf fishing conditions over the next couple of months………….

 The new Penn Spinfisher VI 4500 spinning reel, loaded up with 20lb Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8 braid in the rather nice “Blue Camo” colour - because I am a hopeless tackle tart………

The new Penn Spinfisher VI 4500 spinning reel, loaded up with 20lb Spiderwire Smooth Stealth 8 braid in the rather nice “Blue Camo” colour - because I am a hopeless tackle tart………

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.

Just look at the sheer joy on an adult angler’s face - fishing can be as serious as you want it to be, but it will forever be about having fun to me

We were on the beach for about 5.45am this morning and the conditions were pretty damn tasty. By no means did we end up having an epic session, but to me there is something so wonderfully and eternally enjoyable about being out fishing with a good friend and connecting with a few bass. I get that we live in a small, over-populated country and we must do all we can to protect our fishing in a variety of different ways, but as long as I live I will hold on to how fun it is simply going fishing, and it so floats my boat when I am fishing with somebody who feels the same way………

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Please have a close look at the photo above that I shot this morning of Mark bending into a bass he’s just hooked in the surf. Bear in mind that Mark is just north of 50 years old and he works in the Art of Fishing tackle shop and therefore is surrounded by all things fishing all week long. How easy would it be to lose a bit of that love for fishing when it’s your work as well, so the photo above speaks volumes to me with how much simple fun it is to go fishing and catch some fish. Look at that smile on Mark’s face - surely it’s the perfect advert for how much we so love what we do? We went fishing early this morning, we caught a few fish, and we had a complete blast - does it need to get much better?

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And I also got to christen a brand new spinning reel that I took out fishing for the first time. I have been itching to get my hands on the new and not very expensive but apparently very well sealed against a good amount of saltwater ingress Penn Spinfisher VI, and yesterday a 4500 size arrived for a bit of a play. This Penn Spinfisher VI 4500 (380g loaded with line) weighs 50g less than the hugely impressive Penn Slammer III 4500 (429g loaded with line) and it sits rather nicely on a 10’ lure rod that I am trying out for my surf fishing. I have watched a few YouTube videos about this new Penn reel and they said it’s fine to load it up to the brim with braid (you would never do that with the Penn Clash!), so I put 300m of the “Blue Camo” 20lb Spiderwire Stealth 8 braid on with a load of mono backing and took it out fishing this morning.

Now the reel’s a little “tighter” when you wind a lure in than on say a Shimano, but it’s as smooth as you like, it casts like a dream, and I am guessing that little bit of “tightness” is down to the various seals (which I seriously want) and will most likely loosen up a bit more over time. Very early days of course with this new Penn Spinfisher VI 4500, but some very early impressions are that a spinning reel like this which I am seeing online for around the £130 mark could be a seriously handy weapon for a lot of the lure fishing we do, and I like how there is also a smaller 3500 and a 2500 version as well. Don’t get me wrong, I do love an ultra-lightweight, turns as smooth as butter Shimano or Daiwa, but I do not love those lovely Japanese reels when there’s a load of saltwater washing over and into them - plenty more to come. You all have a good weekend and the best of luck to Ireland tomorrow evening in what is surely the rugby match of the year…………..

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RIP John Wilson - in my mind a true legend of fishing

I was shocked to get back from blanking yesterday and find out that John Wilson had died of a stroke over in Thailand I believe, and whilst the word “legend” is in my opinion grossly overused these days, to me John was a proper legend of our fishing world. It depends on your age of course, but I would guess that a fair number of you reading this are in the same boat as me and grew up watching John Wilson’s outstanding programmes on terrestrial TV, indeed it’s easy to forget that there was a time when we only had very few TV channels and John was the voice of fishing.

 My profound apologies for “borrowing” this photo from the Angling Times website I think it was, but I don’t have any photos of John

My profound apologies for “borrowing” this photo from the Angling Times website I think it was, but I don’t have any photos of John

Apparently John Wilson made 16 TV series in all and he also wrote a heap of fishing books and took some pretty serious photographs and so on, but as a youngster who was obsessed with fishing, John’s TV programmes were a big inspiration to me and I distinctly remember being gripped every single week because he was so damn skilful at getting across his knowledge and love for all kinds of fishing. You can imagine I am sure how much of a thrill it was for a young angler like me to go and stay with my godmother in Norfolk and go into John’s Norwich based tackle shop to buy bait and tackle from the man himself for the coarse fishing I was doing up there.

And then I got to meet John properly as such at a bunch of different fishing shows over the years and he could not have been more friendly or encouraging of my own very minor TV work that let’s be honest wasn’t a patch on how effortlessly he could convey his own incredible fishing skills. I will always remember when I was first “approached” by a guy to see if I was interested in trying out in front of the camera and seeing if we could start making some fishing programmes together, because that director who got hold of me had in fact directed a huge number of John’s TV programmes - so when we started working together I would naturally ask endless questions about all that amazing TV work and travel they did together.

Fishing has lost one of its legends in my opinion. Without a doubt John Wilson paved the way for the various satellite channels to pick up on fishing and pump out far too many lesser programmes and series (and I include my stuff in that statement) that no doubt found some kind of audience but were never, ever going to have the immense kind of impact that John’s TV work had on so many people. I grew up watching John’s shows and I credit him with helping to inspire my love for fishing. RIP John Wilson - the fishing world is not quite as good today with you not being a part of it……….