It absolutely wrecks my head when you catch a nice bass on a hard lure in a specific colour and you then find out that the colour is no longer available!

Holy cow that was a fun week or so of charging around Cornwall with Steve and also Mark when he could get some time off work. It’s August and for the most part we have had huge tides which aren’t exactly my favourite, so the fact that we caught bass at every single mark we have fished in Cornwall is pretty damn good I reckon. For sure there have been a lot of smaller bass, but in between we have picked up a few nice fish, and as ever for me it’s been how much fun we have had that will live in the memory……………

So the other day Steve, Mark and I made a plan to fish a location that none of us really knew but we had a good feeling about it. We decided to get there on the HW and fish the tide out, and when Steve landed a nice bass almost straight away that for me was the day made to be honest. I know I like my lures and it’s not as if I need any more, but Steve has been doing really well this week on the 5’’ MegaBass Spindle Worm fished on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Worm EWG Weighted Spring Lock hook with the 3.5g belly-weight. For some reason this exact combination has been doing the business for him in a bit of bounce and backwash and fizzed up green water especially. It’s some kind of sickness, because guess who is now purchasing this exact lure combination! 


Anyway, Tuesday of this week was a whopping big tide and the water just kept on stripping out and out to expose more and more stunning ground - so we followed it out. Steve pulled a fish out to my right and then he moved off to fish some more ground, but I couldn’t walk away quite yet as there was a nice looking lump of rock just underneath the surface that I hadn’t covered yet because I couldn’t get my DoLive Stick at it with how the wind was coming in and across us.

So I delve into one of the two lure boxes I carry when I am out fishing. You already know of my increasing obsession with white lures in almost all conditions and times of the day and night, and sitting there winking at me was a white coloured (“Ice Shad”) little IMA iBorn 98F that has done really well for me over the last couple of years. I liked the iBorn from the first day I saw one when a couple of clients brought them over to Ireland and they worked almost straight away, and whilst I do use more and more soft plastics these days, as I said I wanted to cover that particular rock and I needed a hard lure that swam nice and shallow and casts like a little bullet to get me into position. 

Steve’s two or three bass had already made my day and proven to me that this particular mark warrants a lot more attention (wow is there a section of the location that is wrecking my head with how I think it might fish at night), but a couple of casts later with that stunning little iBorn and I get one hell of a bang on it. I keep turning the reel handle and a second or so later my rod slams over and there’s what feels like a decent fish on the end - and as well as the fish scrapped it never received a single millimetre of line from me. Each to their own as ever, but I would rather use the bend of the rod to control the fish rather than let it scream off when it doesn’t need to. I get a glimpse of the bass thrashing around on the water, I use a nice wave to help dump the fish at my feet, and I radio Steve to ask if he could please come back over to me as I needed to get a few photos of this bass.


We measured the bass (in the water I might add, more to come on this) at 70cms and of course I was over the moon to have caught this beautifully conditioned fish from a new mark in the height of summer and not very far from where I live. I have caught and seen enough serious fish around the world to never worry for one second who catches what, so as much as I am obviously happy that the bass jumped on my lure, it’s the fact that we took a calculated punt - and credit to Steve for suggesting we move way along the mark to cover the actual ground we were on instead of sticking it out where we had been fishing - and that our punt paid off which is what really floats my boat. I love fishing new ground and exploring is such an important part of lure fishing for me.


When we get back to my house I put a head shot of the bass up on Facebook and because I can’t see a reason for being all secret squirrel about what lure a fish was caught I mention the lure and the specific colour of IMA iBorn 98F on there as well. In no time at all a few anglers post on my Facebook page to tell me that this lovely “Ice Shad” (white) colour of iBorn is no longer being made by IMA over in Japan - aaarrrggghhhh! In some respects it’s my fault for not having bought a backup or two of this particular lure which has continued to produce bass for me - and yes, as ever I don’t know if the colour makes a difference and I have caught on various other colours of iBorn and they may well have caught that particular bass if I had had a different one in my box and so on - but as per the title of this blog post, it absolutely wrecks my head when you catch a nice bass on a hard lure in a specific colour and you then find out that the colour is no longer available! 


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.

It’s such fun having some time to charge around Cornwall and fish it pretty hard

I don’t know about you, but I tend to fish a fair bit yet because of life and how it works I usually go fishing, do my thing, and then head back home to get on with other stuff. My wife and girls have gone to the Isle of Wight to stay with my in-laws for a while and do various sailing courses so I’m home alone and my mate Steve has come to stay. Together with Mark we are running around and fishing this glorious part of the world pretty hard - kinda like we might do over in Ireland save for the fact that I am at home and having to water the greenhouse for my wife while she’s away etc!


And apart from one complete punt that Steve and I took on Sunday evening that involved a lot of walking and scrambling because we wanted to check out somewhere new for some potential future fishing, we have caught bass at every single spot we have been to so far. No great size yet - I had one that might have been 5.5lbs off the top the other evening on the bigger Patchinko - but this charging around Cornwall and getting to fish it pretty hard is about as much fun as fishing gets if you ask me. We’ve got huge tides that on their own create an interesting set of problems, but it’s a blast to get Steve down here and then for Mark and I to make the calls on where to go.


I really, really enjoy that thinking about tides and conditions and options and then coming up with a plan, and when that plan works it really gives me a buzz. We were consulting various weather forecasts and then Magic Seaweed to try and work out if the wind direction and predicted swells were going to be spot on for us to head for the north coast. We think it’s all looking pretty good and our first glimpse of the location and it’s looking spot on - and then my day is made when at about 7am yesterday morning Steve (who has never fished this mark before) casts out a 6’’ DoLive Stick into some delightfully fizzed up, almost ridiculously clear water and catches a bass. First cast, fish landed, result! I was jumping for joy and it wasn’t even me who caught the fish.


We have had a fair bunch of bass off the top at different marks, and it’s interesting how the three of us are all increasingly warming to the rather deadly new Xorus Patchinko 125. Holy cow it flies if you don’t try and lash it and keep things nice and smooth. We had a situation on Saturday (Mark was at work at the Art of Fishing) when Steve landed four bass in a row I think it was and I didn’t get a touch. We had a run of current and there was a little bit of sea on, and Steve was fishing with the Patchinko 125 whereas I had the regular one on. I had landed plenty of bass on it the evening before but for the moment couldn’t buy a swirl, so I changed over to the smaller Patchinko 125 - bang, bass on straight away. Did that slightly smaller profile just appeal to them more?


Anyway, we’re at it again today so I’ll report back when I can. I didn’t grow up with all this fishing and coastline around me and every single day I live somewhere as beautiful as this I pinch myself. It’s the middle of August, it’s prime summer holiday season, but if you know where to go then for the most part you can be away from any crowds and it’s just a blast.


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.

Could this upcoming Tsunami Salt X waterproof spinning reel be a viable alternative to the not easy to get hold of but damn I want one Van Staal VR50?

A while ago I blogged about this new but not easy to get hold of yet Van Staal VR50 spinning reel (see here), and when I was out in Kerry the other day a lad I know took delivery of one that he had had on order ever since the reel was first announced. I offered him £50 for it there and then but for some reason he wouldn’t take it! When I can track one of these spinning reels down I will be buying one for my own lure fishing………….


Anyway, a couple of guys kindly alerted me to a brand new, out sometime soon waterproof spinning reel from the US tackle brand Tsunami who seem to be making good waves in the striped bass fishing scene especially. I have no idea what their new Tsunami Salt X supposedly waterproof spinning reel is going to be like, but if it performs as per the claims in the video below then it could be pretty interesting - and especially for those anglers who like to reel the “wrong way round!” on a spinning reel and for the time being can’t therefore use a Van Staal VR50 which doesn’t really matter anyway because they are as rare as the rocking horse proverbials!

I am pretty sure that’s the 6000 size Salt X spinning reel the bloke is holding in his hands in the above video, and as per the details here there is meant to be a smaller 4000 size coming out as well which I guess might suit a lot of our lure rods. If you want to wade through a long forum based discussion on this upcoming waterproof Tsunami reel, go here and have a read through. I was looking at Stripers Online a while back when my wife walked through my office and laughed at me for looking at what she thought said “Strippers Online”! You all have a good weekend.

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I can’t believe how excited I am getting these days about what are essentially “straight sticks” that do so little in the water, but to me needlefish are changing our bass fishing for the better

So much of this lure fishing stuff and whether you accept and adopt different methods and techniques depends on timing to me - when and where you are if you like in your lure fishing progression or curve, and whether you are far enough along to accept for example that you don’t always need lures that are doing a whole heap of stuff in the water to catch bass. It took me a long time to accept this with some of the soft plastics I use so much now, it then took another leap of faith to accept catching bass at night on lures, and then it took another “jump” as such to end up feeling so supremely confident chucking needlefish out at night……………

Which let’s face it are doing next to nothing in or indeed sort of on top of the water depending on how fast you wind a needlefish in, and whilst I would urge you to search “guest blog post” via the search facility on this blog and read Keith White’s outstanding and very generous guest articles on bass fishing with needlefish, I find it mightily reassuring that if you are in the right place at the right time (the whole crux of fishing, surely?) then whacking out a straight stick kind of hard or indeed soft lure and doing nothing more than winding it straight back in seems to be an increasingly deadly way of catching bass at night especially.

I don’t know about you, but this lack of any exaggerated action on a lure such as a needlefish or indeed a white senko or DoLive Stick wound in at night sure gets me thinking about how bass so often seem so willing to respond to lures that aren’t in fact doing very much. I’ve got a load of hard lures sitting here that do any number of things in the water when you wind them in, but as much as I will continue to turn to them for a lot of my bass fishing, I feel so confident in calmer and quieter conditions these days when my lure is in fact doing very little.

If we take out a few very forward-thinking bass anglers who have been using needlefish for many years now, it continues to fascinate me how we can keep on learning so much about our bass fishing and how we might better approach it. Never in a million years when I was eying up all manner of shiny and good looking hard lures did I ever think I’d end up obsessing about straight bits of wood and plastic that aren’t remotely exciting or sexy looking - but I am.


I also find it absolutely bloody brilliant that there are more and more anglers disappearing into their sheds and actually making their own needlefish which they then go out and catch on. Hell, I used to get an incredible buzz collecting my own bait and catching on it, so I can imagine how exciting it is to create your own lure and catch on it, but with my well documented lack of DIY skills I shall be leaving this side of fishing well alone! I fancy not losing my fingers or hands or arms or ending up with another DIY disaster related bill. It staggers me that an angler can make something as professional as the needlefish above for example, with a big thanks to this kind soul. 

A year or two ago and I’d have struggled to point you in the direction of places where you might buy a few needlefish, but times are a changing and I thought a directory of sorts of off the shelf needlefish that are available to the likes of you and I might help a few of you out……………….


I bought a couple of the 180mm/28g Yankee Lures needlefish when I was over in the US at a striped bass show, but on their stand they didn’t have any of the slightly smaller ones. Well I got a bit of a shock to find that there is now a UK stockist of these plastic (ABS?), long-casting needlefish, so obviously I have ordered a couple of the smaller 150mm/21g size to see how they might do for me. How could I not?! There is also a great big 195mm/42g version as well. I don’t know what the hooks are like on the smaller 150mm/21g size yet, but I changed those heavy duty trebles over to lighter hooks on the two 180mm/28g needlefish that I bought in the US (amendment - my 150mm/21g Yankee Lures have just arrived, damn they look nice, but change the hooks that come with them, they are crap! Blunt, huge barbs, and poor quality metal).


Jim’s Lures are handmade here in the UK, and whilst they are not particularly cheap and do not come rigged with hooks or split rings, damn these things catch bass! I know that Marc over at the excellent South Devon Bass Guide service loves Jim’s Lures as well. I have found that some of his designs cast better than others, but they just seem to catch fish.


What technically is or is not a needlefish? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter in my mind, and whilst it was fascinating to hear from John Quinlan over in Ireland that his most successful two guide lures of 2018 were the OSP Dolive Stick in the 6’’ size and also the 19g Savage Gear Line-Thru Sandeel (perfect for a lot of the surf based fishing he will end up doing through the course of a season with his clients, more to come), I also find it really interesting to hear of more and more anglers doing well with the different sizes of Line-Thru Sandeels at night for bass - fished like a needlefish, i.e. whacked out and wound straight in. Does it need to get much more complicated than that? Right time and right place notwithstanding of course.


I really like those simple, plastic Spofford’s Lures needlefish that you can find here, but I am not sure that they have remotely caught on here in the UK. Simple bits of plastic that cast like bullets and catch bass. 


And I have only just noticed that those purveyors of fine filth are doing Super Strike needlefish here in the UK. I did a Google search for these lures this morning and hey presto like a shot of something illegal to a junkie the link popped up and spoke to me! I affiliate link with this website but I still struggle to keep up with the new gear they keep getting in, and please read my disclaimer at the bottom of this blog post. It has always struck with me how reverently so many of the striped bass lads talk about Super Strike lures.


Is the Westin Kongestobis a kind of needlefish? I am sure some would argue against this, but it sure can work like a needlefish does in my eyes - whack it out and wind it and it catches bass. For sure you need to work it a little faster over shallow ground because of how it can sink relatively quickly, but it’s essentially a straight stick of a hard lure that doesn’t do very much yet it catches fish. 


If there are more off the shelf needlefish that I should be aware of here in the UK then please let me know. Help me abuse my wallet even more! If I take that selection above and compare it to what was available only a year or so ago I reckon it’s an interesting development. And then you’ve got a magician like Hendrik Strydom who you can contact through Facebook who handmakes and sells wooden lures for anglers. I bought a couple of needlefish off Hendrik and they are works of art which also catch bass, indeed the lures are so good looking that I’d be sorely tempted to commission a range to frame up for my office wall.

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.

Vision Ikon Guiding Stockingfoot waist waders review - around £200 (and I now believe a whole heap safer than chest waders if you end up in the drink)

Let’s get the easy bit out of the way - the regular Vision Ikon chest waders remain my benchmark as regards a combination of value for money together with how well they perform for a good length of time (review here), and to be honest I am seeing the same thing with these (shorter) Vision Ikon waist waders. They just work. They are well cut, the neoprene stocking feet feel just as good as on the chest waders, the material is the same, indeed the more I wear chest waders for my lure fishing, the more I am finding them a complete no-brainer with how they wear like an easy-to-wear pair of looser fitting, lightweight trousers that of course keep you nice and dry if you need to get in the water etc.

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In the box is an elasticated pair of braces that clip onto these waist waders and adjust as required, but to be perfectly honest I found them a little on the short side and they held the waders a bit too high and tight around the proverbials for my liking. After a few goes with the waders I unclipped the braces and just threaded a waterproof fabric type belt (loads of them on Amazon) through the belt loops and tightened these waist waders up like I would a pair of jeans - and this turns out to be a really important point, but more on that a bit later.

As with any pair of breathable waders, I accept that if i slip over on sharp rocks or catch them on a barbed wire fence that I will most likely tear them, but a few home repairs are pretty easy to do if needs be. As for how breathable these Vision Ikon waist waders are, well it’s always the same for me - if I end up walking and scrabbling around in warmer weather especially then I will end up with some sweat on the inside, but to me that’s an unavoidable fact of wearing waders and I wear clothing underneath my waders that helps to minimise this. I still can’t find better under-wader wear than the Under Armour Cold and Heat Gear compression leggings and tops, and whilst I wasn’t exactly designed to compress, damn it’s comfortable gear to wear, and it’s been that way for me for many years now.

I wear an XL pair of the outstanding Vision Ikon chest waders and I am pleased to report that Vision have continued their excellent sizing and it’s a simple XL that fits me perfectly in their Ikon waist waders. I still can’t believe that it has taken me so long to come around to waist waders for what is turning out to be more and more of my saltwater lure fishing, but that feeling of walking around in what feels like an ultra-comfortable pair of loose fitting lightweight trousers can’t really be beaten if you ask me. For sure I don’t find chest waders remotely hard to wear, but cutting out that top bit of material for the waist waders does feel that bit better again.

 Here's my mate Nick in a pair of waist waders back in 2012 which at the time I thought were a bit pointless because I knew essentially nothing about how chest waders would behave when you end up in the water - never, ever say never in fishing!

Here's my mate Nick in a pair of waist waders back in 2012 which at the time I thought were a bit pointless because I knew essentially nothing about how chest waders would behave when you end up in the water - never, ever say never in fishing!

Okay, so if you are standing close to the water and it’s splashing around then you aren’t quite as well protected from a few splashes as with a pair of higher-wearing chest waders, but with how often many of us are wearing some kind of waterproof jacket or smock plus the need to man the hell up a bit, I don’t see this as a problem, and especially not when combined with all the good stuff that I think waist waders are giving me. I still find a regular need for chest waders - and obviously for deeper wading - but if you are careful then it’s surprising how many gullies you can successfully wade for example in a pair of waist waders. If you really stop and think about it, how often do you really need to wade beyond waist deep anyway?

Anyway, that’s the easy stuff out of the way - I can’t find a single thing that niggles me about these Vision Ikon waist waders except perhaps that I’d like to see what is a pair of waist waders that of course have less material on them than a pair of chest waders sold for a bit less because of this. I am guessing though that waist waders don’t sell as well as chest waders and therefore they are more expensive to make when volume is taken into consideration, but please bear in mind that this is pure speculation on my behalf. These are an outstanding pair of (waist) waders that I am using more and more, but then with how good the Vision Ikon chest waders are I kinda thought these waist waders might be the same.

So now we come to next part of this review - the real reason why I got hold of a pair of waist waders to try out for my fishing, and what I found out last week when we did some more safety related filming with the RNLI up on the north coast of Cornwall. For sure I wanted to see if waist as opposed to chest waders might be a little easier to wear for some of my lure fishing, but my primary reason for wanting to try them was because of how my chest waders filling up with water and not being able to clamber out of the RNLI training pool back in February shocked the living daylights out of me. How would waist waders behave?

So if you end up in the drink and you can get out fairly quickly I am not about to claim that your chest waders are going to prevent you doing so, but if for whatever reason you get washed in and you end up spending more time in the water then there is every chance that your chest waders are going to fill up with water (and without a lifejacket in choppy or rougher water especially I would suggest you most likely aren’t going to be able to spend much time waiting for rescue or trying to get out because you are going to drown). This will not sink you, but again, without a lifejacket you are going to be struggling horribly to keep your airways clear because of how those waders are “floating” you - and if you are able to self-rescue or grab a throw-line that your mate has chucked out to you, then trying to clamber out in full waders is going to depend on a number of things, including how much water you have in them, how cold and tired you are, how physically fit and strong you are, how the rocks are shaped for clambering or climbing out, and so on.

As I have said before, I am perfectly happy (but also alarmed that I knew so little about this) to admit that before February and our time at the RNLI testing tank that I had no idea how potentially dangerous chest waders could be when the shit hits the fan and you could be fighting for your life. By a process of elimination and talking to other anglers I came up with the idea of trying out a pair of waist waders, and last week was the first time I got to go in the water with them on.


Please read that blog post from last week to get an idea of the conditions we faced, for we weren’t in any real trouble when actually in the water and the guys wearing chest waders were able to get out of the water. Whilst it’s only a still photograph, I hope that you can see how Mark above is struggling with his movement in a pair of chest waders that have filled up a fair bit with what ends up being a scarily heavy amount of saltwater.

So I went into the water twice - once without a lifejacket, and once with. Both times I was wearing this pair of Vision Ikon waist waders (and really hoping that I didn’t tear them on the rocks when I was trying to get out of the water!) and I wore them exactly as I would for my fishing and I didn’t empty any water out between takes as such. I basically do them up with that fabric belt about as tight as I would a pair of jeans, and no, just in case you were wondering, I don’t wear my jeans around the base of my arse with my boxers showing! I wear them good and regular and not like I’m trying to be all gangsta-street-looking like a tit-with regular people wanting to pull them the hell up…………….

Anyway, so first time around I jumped in without a lifejacket, orientated myself, and swam towards the rocks where the film crew were and scrambled out - all fine, but in reality how realistic would this be if the conditions had been properly rough and dangerous and cold? I then walked back say fifty yards or so, put my lifejacket on, and jumped in again. The auto-inflate Crewsaver Crewfit 180Pro inflated reassuringly quickly and without fuss (review to come) and I am floating in the water about as comfortable as can be. The crew chuck me a handheld radio then a PLB and then a mobile phone to simulate working them when in the water, and then after that Nathaniel chucked me a throw-line, I grabbed it, and then he pulled me into the rocks and I clambered out. 

I reckon I was floating around with my lifejacket and waist waders on for at least ten minutes, plus I had jumped in and got out that first time around, and I was really pleased to find that when I clambered out for the second time that I had very little water in those Vision Ikon waist waders. I reckon the water reached to just below my knees and I was able to do my interview to camera and then walk say fifty yards to where my camera gear was and move around to take some photos of Cronin going in with the floatation suit on. 

So for the time being that’s more than enough proof for me that if the shit hits the fan I want to be wearing a pair of waist waders. I could move around easier in the water, floating around with a lifejacket on felt so reassuring, and far less water getting into the actual waders didn’t half make it so much easier getting out. Even if more water did end up getting in, wearing a pair of waist waders means that they can only fill up to my waist level anyway, and for trying to clamber out when you are potentially tired, cold and bloody terrified, well I’ll take water potentially up to my waist over water say up to the top of my stomach in a pair of chest waders any day of the week.

We did some RNLI fishing safety related filming on the north Cornwall coast this week - fascinating difference between swell and those “rough” conditions we had in their training pool

At 8am on Wednesday morning, a bunch of us met at the Padstow lifeboat station and then we headed just down the coast to Porthcothan where the aim was to do a load more shore fishing safety related filming work. Bearing in mind that I had headed out fishing the morning before on the north coast and walked away because it was verging on too dangerous where I was to be there on my own, I was interested to see how things were going to pan out - and especially because I was one of the anglers who was going to be going in the water………….


I am not going to try and cover everything from Wednesday in this one blog post, indeed when I was driving home in the evening I was obviously going through how the day went in my head and trying to work out the one thing that stood out the most to me. I can think of a lot of stuff I want to talk to you about - and I will in due course - but it was actually a shore angler called Cronin who went into the sea towards the end of the day in a floatation suit and what this showed that really stood out to me. Mark and I had told him to expect all sorts of problems after how horrible it was for Mark when he did the same thing but in the RNLI pool earlier in the year, as per the video below.

 A lack of chop on the water simply wasn't continually forcing water into Cronin's airways as what was happening to Mark in the video above

A lack of chop on the water simply wasn't continually forcing water into Cronin's airways as what was happening to Mark in the video above

But to be honest Cronin was okay when he was wearing the floatation suit, and on my drive home I was thinking about why Mark was in all kinds of trouble in the RNLI pool whereas here was Cronin out on the open coast and he looked pretty comfortable. Then I got to thinking about the rest of us anglers who went into the sea on Wednesday (with and without lifejackets on, and with a big thanks to Marc, Mark, Jamie and Nathaniel for coming along and helping out) and we weren’t really in much trouble when we were actually in the water - note as well that three of the guys are serious surfers and are extremely proficient and confident in the water.

 Marc is a surfer, he is extremely fit, and he is very confident in the water, but without a lifejacket and in a short space of time he was getting a lot of water washing around and no doubt into his airways

Marc is a surfer, he is extremely fit, and he is very confident in the water, but without a lifejacket and in a short space of time he was getting a lot of water washing around and no doubt into his airways

So what were the conditions like on Wednesday? Well there was a big swell rolling in on the north coast of Cornwall, but if you know Porthcothan and how there’s a bit of protection as you take the coast path south then this is where we were hoping to find some shelter - with the backup of the not very realistic looking Padstow lifeboat slip if needed. Setting up for filming and getting a load of establishing shots and interviews always takes a lot of time, but regardless of that we simply couldn’t go in the water around the HW because the swells surging in would have caused us all kinds of issues trying to get back out onto the rocks. I know we are trying to show what happens if it all goes wrong, but we’ve got the RNLI and a bunch of RNLI lifeguards there making the decision on what is as safe as can be for us - and for a few hours on Weds morning there wasn’t a single person who wanted to “fall” in and then try and get out of that surging water!

 I haven't asked Marc how much easier it was getting washed around at the base of the rocks and trying to get out whilst wearing a lifejacket, but to an observer it was easy to see how much more in control he was, and how little water was washing around his face and airways

I haven't asked Marc how much easier it was getting washed around at the base of the rocks and trying to get out whilst wearing a lifejacket, but to an observer it was easy to see how much more in control he was, and how little water was washing around his face and airways

Which of course throws up a big issue with what we are trying to do - how do you go about showing an angler getting washed in and churned around in a properly raging sea (as it often is when we are out fishing) and then getting them out safely? We are working with the RNLI and they are obviously not going to let anything go wrong and I don’t know of any sane angler who would volunteer to go in the water when it’s raging anyway, so I guess that it shows how much more we should be trying to avoid ending up in the water, and of course wearing a (so damn easy to wear) lifejacket AND having a means of calling for help if you are fishing on your own. If you can’t call for help or at least alert a passerby then help ain’t coming. You so badly don’t want something to go badly wrong in hectic conditions especially, and we can’t show this anyway, but we are trying our best to at least give some ideas on how to give yourself the best chance of surviving if the proverbial does hit the fan.

 As we found out back in February at the RNLI tank, you don't just sink like a stone in a pair of chest waders! But as Mark found out once again, when they start filling up with water it's a lot, lot harder hauling yourself up and out of the water - and bear in mind that our "exits" as such on Wednesday were not tough

As we found out back in February at the RNLI tank, you don't just sink like a stone in a pair of chest waders! But as Mark found out once again, when they start filling up with water it's a lot, lot harder hauling yourself up and out of the water - and bear in mind that our "exits" as such on Wednesday were not tough

So as that tide dropped we were all able to fall/jump into the sea and successfully get out, with and without lifejackets, and to be honest the only real difficulty was a bit of surge from a bit of swell that was still getting into where we were - and that to me is the one thing that really, really stands out from Wednesday. For sure there were some serious waves crashing into the more exposed parts of the north Cornwall coastline, but this was purely a decent swell rolling in - once you were in the (relatively sheltered) water you are going up and down with the swell and it was a bit awkward getting out in some places (I got a hurty on my hand!), but what none of us experienced on Wednesday that the four of us all experienced at the RNLI pool back in February was consistently choppy conditions. This is how I described it: “let me tell you how bloody horrible it is when you are in the water and now you’ve got water breaking into your face and in no time at all you start spluttering and gagging and spitting and you can’t get enough air in your lungs before getting water in your face again and then as safe as you are in the tank you’re already getting tired trying to stop water getting in your face and down your throat and in no time at all you’re not thinking straight and you want the hell out of there and I went for one of the ropes at the side of the pool because it was so bloody horrible - and that’s in a controlled talk and the water wasn’t even very cold. I dread to think how bloody horrendous and scary and panic-inducing it is in real life when you get washed clean off the rocks into cold, raging water.”

 I know I keep saying it these days, but it's true - wearing a lifejacket when you are fishing more hectic and or fast current conditions especially is a complete no-brainer, and especially with how inexpensive and unobtrusive they are to wear these days

I know I keep saying it these days, but it's true - wearing a lifejacket when you are fishing more hectic and or fast current conditions especially is a complete no-brainer, and especially with how inexpensive and unobtrusive they are to wear these days

So we had a bit of swell that was lifting us up and down out on the open coast on Wednesday - and there simply is no getting away from how much easier it is to float in the right position (head out of the water and the right way up) when you have got a lifejacket on, indeed at one point I was bobbing around for at least ten minutes without any bother at all - but at no point other than a bit of surge when we were clambering out did any of us experience anything like those “rough conditions” what were of course artificially created in the RNLI pool, and which to me were scarily realistic. I don’t know about you, but I often fish choppy/rough conditions when if I ended up in the water then I would be facing exactly the sort of issues that the wave machine created, and it’s an unavoidable fact that without a lifejacket you are most likely going to be in very serious trouble very quickly. If you can’t keep your airways clear then it’s no good, end of.

 That's a 275N lifejacket with the floatation suit

That's a 275N lifejacket with the floatation suit

And I guess that the RNLI pool and its perfectly horrible wave machine showed how dangerous a floatation suit without a lifejacket can be, whereas in non-choppy conditions as we had on Wednesday, Cronin was able to keep himself upright and pretty comfortable. But would I personally be trying to judge conditions and whether I should wear a floatation suit or not? Not a bloody chance, or at least not without a lifejacket, and I wonder if you knew that it is recommended you wear a minimum 275N lifejacket with a floatation suit primarily because of the greater buoyancy required to turn you over the right way if you aren’t able to do so yourself.

 Nathaniel is a surfer, an angler, and also an RNLI lifeguard. He is extremely competent and confident in the water, but now imagine you have been washed in like this in say December and you are on your own and you aren't wearing a lifejacket and you are fighting for your life and you are struggling to keep your airways clear and/or get out of the water. It doesn't bear thinking about. 

Nathaniel is a surfer, an angler, and also an RNLI lifeguard. He is extremely competent and confident in the water, but now imagine you have been washed in like this in say December and you are on your own and you aren't wearing a lifejacket and you are fighting for your life and you are struggling to keep your airways clear and/or get out of the water. It doesn't bear thinking about. 

Anyway, there will be plenty more to come. Thanks as ever to the awesome RNLI, the film crew (short films to come in due course), and those kind anglers who gave up their time to come along and help out. On Wednesday it was the first time I got to go into the sea with a pair of waist waders on as opposed to chest waders. I don’t want to go into what I found out now, but very briefly let me say that I was rather pleased that some of my theories on waist versus chest waders if you end up in the water proved to be true………………..


I’m starting to look around for a longer, more powerful lure rod for heavier lures and/or some surf based bass fishing - how about some of the lighter US striped bass rods?

Following on from my surf fishing based blog post from Weds last week, and then my post from a few days ago, well my brain is churning away with any number of bass fishing related things (as usual!) - with one of them being an interest in a more powerful lure rod to properly deal with bigger lures and heavier surf conditions especially………..

By no means am I saying that any of you here need to rush out and buy a new lure rod, but I would hope that you kindly read this blog because you kinda like thinking about fishing related stuff along with me on here. Like many of you I am sure, I can turn to say a 9’6’’ lure rod that might be rated up to around the 35-40g mark, and to be honest a rod like this covers the bulk of the heavier lures and/or rougher weather lure fishing I might currently do. But if there is one thing that obsessing about bass fishing has taught me is that there is so much more to lure fishing for these magnificent fish than I could ever have imagined, and via Monday’s blog post and how we needed to deal with that particular location, and then my urge to start properly exploring some autumn and winter surf fishing, well I am starting to look for a slightly more powerful lure rod again to deal with some potentially bigger and heavier lures.


For the time being I have got the reel sorted - review to come in due course, but wow this Penn Slammer III (3500 size, the smallest in the range) is growing on me. A few times I have deliberately drowned it in saltwater and so far there are no ill effects from this at all, indeed the reel feels like a frigging machine. OK, it’s not as light as a comparable sized Shimano or Daiwa, but if there is one thing I won’t be doing as and when I start doing some proper surf fishing is taking an expensive Japanese spinning reel out into those conditions - not with how easily I have seen surf fishing over in Kerry with our clients damage too many spinning reels now. Nope, unless the Penn Slammer III suddenly falls apart on me and/or goes horribly wrong (which it certainly doesn’t feel like it will so far), then as a reel to not worry about when it’s getting repeatedly soaked with saltwater, well it’s a no-brainer to me, and especially at the prices I can find it online.

Anyway, I digress. I know what I don’t want, and that’s an out and out poker of a bigger, more powerful lure rod. If you read my rod reviews then I am sure you will have worked out that I am drawn to very steely, faster/fast action lure rods up to around the 9’6’’ length, but for casting heavier lures than I would more usually fish with, well I don’t want something that’s going to make my shoulders ache after an hour of blasting. I have taken one of the Major Craft X-Ride 10’ shore jigging rods over with me when I have fished the famous Cape Cod Canal a few times for striped bass, and whilst it’s got the surface lures out there for me and also landed a few nice fish in a proper run of current (and I have seriously overloaded the rod with no ill effects at all), the rod’s so bloody stiff that I think it ends up working against you. 

 Bull casting the 12' Shimano Tiralejo rod 2-6oz - sure it gets some heavy lures out there a long, long way if you can cast as well as this guy can, but getting at the power in the rod is almost effortless

Bull casting the 12' Shimano Tiralejo rod 2-6oz - sure it gets some heavy lures out there a long, long way if you can cast as well as this guy can, but getting at the power in the rod is almost effortless

Granted, I know it’s not designed for this kind of fishing, but it takes so much effort to wind the rod up and punch surface lures out there that an hour or so later and your shoulders want to fall off. I then had a bit of a fish with this local Canal guru Bull’s US Shimano surf rod setup and it was an absolute delight and so much easier to get big lures out there. He uses rods that can cope with the bigger surface lures which often seriously need to get out there on the Canal, but the rod bends and it’s so much more efficient to fish with. I don’t want a rod like this for DoLive Sticks etc., but now give me say a 40g or 50g lump of metal and a raging winter surf and I want a rod that’s not going to put me on my backside. 

Obviously the the Major Craft is a shore jigging rod and I am not about to start trying to cast great big striped bass size lures at our somewhat smaller bass, but I hope you get my point. There are of course a load of Japanese and European lure rods out there that might well be exactly the rod I am after - and as much as I can get hold of stuff to try I will (APIA, Tailwalk, Teklon, Favorite etc.) and then report back on here - but after my limited experiences with Bull’s setup, waggling a fair few US surf rods in US tackle shops, and then a couple of lads over here saying so, I wonder whether I should be looking at some of the US surf fishing rods that are designed for what in striped bass terms would tend to be the lighter lures. In their terms this would be along the lines of say ¾-4oz, and if you go looking around there are plenty of US surf rods like this in a variety of different lengths.


Now I don’t know much about what might or might not be available along those lines here in the UK, but I do know that the nice people at Lure Lounge who handle brands such as Favorite and Z-Man have also just started to deal with the big US rod brand St.Croix for our market - and when I have been in striped bass parts of the US you do see a lot of St.Croix surf fishing rods around. There’s an interesting range of St.Croix surf and surf spinning rods called “Mojo” which aren’t hideously expensive at all. Somebody I know has the 10’6’’ ¾-4oz Mojo Surf Spinning rod which he is kindly going to get me a look at, and I am fascinated to see if this thing could work for some of the bass fishing that I have been on about recently. Century rods do a heap of US style surf rods for example, but as far as I know they are not available here in the UK - and so on. Plenty more to come I can assure you, holy cow my brain is on overdrive at the moment! 

 The St. Croix Mojo range of Surf Spinning rods that I believe Lure Lounge can bring into the UK

The St. Croix Mojo range of Surf Spinning rods that I believe Lure Lounge can bring into the UK

I have finally gone and fallen in (shore fishing) love with the 25g Offshore jig head that goes with the 120mm (no.3) Fiiish Black Minnow

So you know, and I have said this plenty of times before on here - I do some work with Fiiish over in France, but they are not paying me to promote their gear for them, indeed their very “Frenchness” would consider it a bit vulgar if all I did was try and get you to buy their stuff - that sort of promotion is up to their distributors and team members etc and not me. But I do use a lot of their awesome products for my fishing and I see nothing wrong with telling you about it on here, so as ever, if you don’t like, please don’t read……………


Anyway, ever since I first started fishing with the killer Fiiish Black Minnow it’s been their 120mm (no.3) size that has always done it for me the most in shore fishing terms - and yes, I haven’t spent nearly enough time fishing the smaller Black Minnow 90mm which I know works so well for so many anglers. Anyway, the 12g Shore Head that fits the 120mm Black Minnow suits a lot of my fishing, and a fair while ago I started banging on about a jig head for that size Black Minnow that would sit between the 12g Shore Head and the much heavier 25g Offshore Head. I was nothing to do with the design of the newish 18g Search Head, but I was rather happy when Fiiish brought it out.


But I can’t recall needing to turn to their 25g Offshore Head for the 120mm body for my shore fishing. On a few occasions from the boat - and I am thinking specifically of the time that Nick Roberts and I spent with Matt the Fiiish designer on his RIB off the coast of NW France a few years back - this particular Black Minnow combination has been deadly, but as much as I tried it for some of my shore fishing (and it’s a combination that weighs a not insubstantial 36g), primarily due to where I tend to do a lot of my fishing and the weight of jig heads that I tend to need, I just haven’t found much of a need for a paddletail/jig head combination that weighs as much as this.

But wow did that change last Friday, indeed it interests me how the generally more hectic north Cornwall coast often requires a bit of a different approach. A very kind angler gave me a shout on Thursday morning and suggested that my mate Mark and I should do all we could to get ourselves along to where he’s been fishing and smashing a heap of bass recently. So we did. Cue a 2.45am alarm call in the early hours of Friday morning and Mark and I were on the road by 3.30am and obviously yapping all things fishing the entire way there. Anyway, thanks to this very kind person we ended up fishing a mark that required a bit of a different approach to much of our fishing at home - whacking paddletails as far as possible into a serious run of current over rough ground and a bit more depth than I tend to fish around me. It’s not a place for your more regular lure rods and as such Mark and I took along a more powerful rod each. As ever for our bass it’s not the size of the fish that dictates the choice of rod, rather where we are fishing and how we need to fish to stand a good chance at catching.


Anyway, the guy we were fishing with does really well on the 42g Savage Gear Sandeels especially and the 42g Westin Sandy Andy lures which do look rather impressive. I don’t have any of the Westin lures but I increasingly like the Savage Gear Sandeels when a bit of whacking out and cranking in with a paddletail is required, and sure enough these deceptively simple lures started to produce a few bass for Mark and I. When I turn to a Black Minnow it is often for working along or near the bottom on a reef or in a run of current, but just before I had left home early that morning I literally had a flashback to the time when Matt from Fiiish had said to Nick and I on the boat as we got closer and closer to a scary mass of surging white water “wait, wait, wait, cast” and the three of us all hooked into bass as our 25g/120mm Fiiish Black Minnow lures dropped through the water column - so I put a couple in my lure box just in case…………


And if there is one thing that I am always going to do when there’s a bunch of fish around is have a a bit of a play. Thanks entirely to this kind lad we were into a bunch of bass and as I said on a Facebook post the other day, if fishing got any more fun than this then they’d classify it as a drug and ban it. It’s some blast to fish new waters with a highly skilled local angler, and if there is one thing I am going to do in a situation like this it’s watch what the local guy does and learn all I can - Steve fishes with a Tenryu Shore Dragon 11'6'' 20-80g lure rod for example, a weapon that he has been using over ground like this for a number of years now, and with how he is needing to fish I can see why. He can get the lures right out there where he needs to be and he can literally lift bass up to about 6lbs straight in on the rod and onto a big wet rag he has put on the rocks behind him as an unhooking mat (respect, and also for the barbless approach). It was also very interesting to see how such an experienced angler who fishes a lot on his own and very rarely sees other anglers wears an auto-inflate lifejacket because he thinks it would be stupid not to. Respect again.


Anyway, I digress - there’s a load of bass around and it’s time for a bit of a play. I need some distance and neither the 12g/120mm or 18g/120mm Black Minnow are going to properly get me out there and also keep my lure down in that raging current. Out comes the lure box and on goes the 25g Offshore Head/120mm body Black Minnow combination that I have yet to feel the love for when from a shore fishing point of view - and three casts later I have fallen in love about as fast as a teenager might with their first fling (but obviously not like my eldest, nearly 14 year old daughter might one day scarily soon because I own a big chainsaw and she’s not going out until she’s 29!).


Holy cow does that 25g/120mm Black Minnow combination fly, and when it hit the water out in that lovely run of current I snapped the bale arm over (on the increasingly impressive Penn Slammer III 3500 spinning reel, this thing is a machine) to maintain contact with the lure on its way to the bottom and me then starting a medium straight retrieve - but the lure never got to the bottom. As on the Fiiish RIB in that insane water off the coast of NW France a few years ago, I felt a tap, tap on the lure as it was dropping, so I quickly wound into the lure and struck - bass on! Three times in a row this getting nailed on the drop happened on Friday morning, plus I caught a few more fish on the 25g/120mm Black Minnow when I was retrieving it a little slower than I might the Savage Gear Sandeel, and how much fun is it when a bass absolutely slams into your lure when they are feeding in current?


I am not going to try and compare the Black Minnow to the Savage Gear Sandeel because I think they both have their different uses, indeed as I said earlier I really like the Savage Gear as a “whack and crank” paddletail - but to me there is something special about the Black Minnow when you have enough water in front of you for it to have a bit of time “on the drop” before it hits the bottom. I don’t know how fast the 25g/120mm Black Minnow falls through the water column, but unless I am mistaken it was the one paddletail that produced bass on the drop on Friday morning. Both lures have various strengths and weaknesses to me, but as I am sure you can imagine, I have been going through various storage boxes on the hunt for any Fiiish 25g Offshore Heads that I had put aside in the past………..

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How many bass anglers deliberately target “proper” surf conditions with lures, and are some of us missing a trick?

Don’t tell him this because I don’t want to embarrass the bloke, but getting to spend time with John Quinlan as part of this co-guiding work we do together is one of the reasons for the whole experience being so much fun. Obviously I hope that this comes across to our clients - and surely fishing is so much about the laughter - but I also love talking with John about all that he sees and experiences through a long guiding season. It continues to fascinate me how much John will concentrate on fishing surf conditions during the course of a year - and I have come back from this guiding trip with a bouncing brain that keeps on thinking about targeting what I would call “proper” surf conditions for bass………….

 Not a particularly big surf, but you get my drift......

Not a particularly big surf, but you get my drift......

Which in turn means that a lot of you reading this by virtue of where you live and fish quite possibly either have never seen “proper” surf conditions or might never get the chance to try and fish them. I am talking about proper surf beaches, and I am not talking about targeting rougher conditions which plenty of us do anyway - nope, I am on about mainly west or south west facing beach and those bigger autumn and winter swells especially produce waves that the surfers so want to see. We all get rougher conditions on the marks we fish, but not all of us get those stunning sets of clean green waves rolling in that are very unlike a turbulent mess of chopped up water which you might get on a rock mark.

The main beach close to where John lives over in Kerry is a classic surf beach, and when those swells roll in it can concentrate the bait and the bass will often home in on it. A friend of John’s caught an 11.5lb bass on a metal lure in an 11m swell a few years ago, and whilst an 11m (eleven metre) well does not mean you get 11m high waves, take it from me that we’re talking about some serious bass fishing conditions the like of which I would suggest that most bass anglers aren’t remotely geared up to properly fish. We can put away our regular bass rods and lures for a start!


If I lived in a part of the world like Kerry then I would have a surf fishing setup sitting on my rod rack for those times when conditions got big, and the rod would be capable of punching at least 50g+ lures into a potentially strong headwind, with reel to match. I’d be forgetting all about a lovely and smooth high end Japanese spinning reel as well, not with how much saltwater will end up inside it when surf fishing - the far more robust and what seems to be a far better sealed Penn Slammer III is really growing on me, and that’s the kind of reel I’d be going for if I didn’t want to spend far more on a Van Staal. I love my local Whitsand Bay for example, but when the conditions get big it tends to colour up and get very weedy, whereas the true storm beach over in Kerry that I know can take some serious swells and remain very fishable is you are prepared and able to really get in amongst it.

And I wonder how many bass anglers are deliberately targeting conditions like these on some of our surf beaches in areas such as north Cornwall, north Devon, and parts of Wales? I also wonder how much surf fishing with lures there might be around parts of Ireland that just aren’t seeing many if any anglers. Every single time I head over to Kerry to work with John it amazes me just how few anglers we see, indeed I think we saw a couple of anglers when I was over recently - one was a fly angler targeting bass, and the other I think was a bait angler who looked liked he snagged his gear up on a shallow reef and then buggered off!


Obviously there’s a long and rich bass fishing history centred around those classic surf beaches and standing amongst those white tables of water with a bait rod in hand - but are there many anglers out there really going at class surf conditions with the lure gear? Bass aren’t going to concentrate in any numbers if the bait isn’t there, but if it happens over in Ireland then surely it can happen over here in autumn and early winter especially? Blasting out bigger metals/casting jigs/slow jigs/Line-Thru Sandeels and Bass Bullet type lures etc. into the kind of water conditions that are trying to sweep you off your feet is somewhat different to quietly presenting soft plastics in an estuary, but surely that’s the whole point to lure fishing? It’s amazing how bass will hit lures in such turbulent conditions, but they do, and I would suggest that if you ever meet John Quinlan then you ask him about some of the best surf sessions he has been part of over the years. Holy cow it’s some exciting stuff. 

 You and your gear are going to get a hammering if you fish "proper" surf conditions

You and your gear are going to get a hammering if you fish "proper" surf conditions

I accept completely that I may well be barking up the wrong tree here, but surely a big part of travelling around for fishing, guiding and photography is about seeing different kinds of fishing and then wondering if any tricks are being missed back home. We all default to what we know the best because we want the best possible chance of catching fish, but I often wonder if there is more fishing out there that we are missing for whatever reason - and I think about the surf beaches that aren’t very far from where I live and I keep wondering if there’s another side to bass lure fishing that I should be seriously going at…………..

The tug is the drug - when you haven’t fished for a couple of weeks, holy cow is that first fish a great feeling

I love the co-guiding work I do over in Kerry with John Quinlan, and not fishing while you’re guiding was never going to be a problem for me. Most of the more exotic trips I have been on for part of my work have revolved around me taking photographs and not actually fishing myself, so I am perfectly used to watching people fish and catch fish - and actually being a part of the process and helping people do so is one hell of a buzz. But I am an angler first and foremost, and the tug is the drug as they say………..

So as per my blog post from Friday when I had just got back from Ireland, I did manage to keep my eyes open, and in the early hours of Saturday morning I was standing on a rock and about to have my first cast in a couple of weeks. Of course I’d been thinking about it and to be perfectly honest the being there and doing it was more than enough. Nice and calm and very dark, most other people are tucked up in bed or out on the town, wow is this night lure fishing something special and it increasingly floats my boat. Can you recall when you first started actively night fishing with lures and does it continue to amaze you just how normal a part of your fishing armoury it has become? With apologies to those of you who have been night lure fishing since before you were born of course!

Anyway, out into the darkness goes my white DoLive Stick and I start that constant, medium speed sort of retrieve. A part of me is obviously hoping that a bass hits me on the first cast, but it doesn’t happen like that - nope, it takes about ten casts and then tap, tap, bang and a fish is on. That feeling of elation washes through me like a drug - albeit drugs were never my thing - and the fact that the bass might have been a couple of pounds doesn’t matter one single bit. I am back fishing. This is what I do. I have been doing it since the age of seven and I love it more than ever. Does it get any better?


Have any of you ever caught a mullet fair and square in the mouth on a surface lure? I had a few small bass yesterday evening on this Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire surface lure which I am seriously starting to fall in love with (thank you kind Spanish angler for putting me onto this thing!), but one of the takes was a “regular” sort of bass hit which in fact turned out to be a mullet that was hooked in the mouth and not foul hooked and had obviously taken my surface lure as you’d expect a bass to. I have never had this and I am wondering if any of you have had this happen? For sure I have foul hooked the odd mullet on lures over the years, but a mullet taking a surface lure?

Great to be home, but it’s always hard to leave Kerry

I crawled into bed at about 3.30am this morning after a 500 mile drive back from Kerry, and when my wife’s alarm clock went off at 6.30am I must admit that for a while I wasn’t quite sure I was. Damn it’s good to be back home with my girls, but Kerry and the co-guiding work I do there with John Quinlan continues to grow and grow on me to the point that leaving that awesome part of the world gets ever harder.………


And it’s the same feelings even when for whatever reason the fishing sometimes gets tough as it did for our second group. The weather changed on our changeover day and the bass fishing died off a bit like a switch - there had been a bunch of fish around and then there weren’t! Our guys fished hard and fished well, but it was some tough fishing and my heart bleeds when it’s like that - you know how good the fishing can be, you’ve got people who can fish well and are soaking up information like sponges (it’s brilliant when this happens), but for whatever reason the fish don’t want to play proper ball. 


Kerry though gives anglers a lot of options, and on Wednesday which was the last fishing day with our group we had a really good session on the pollack. I have said it before and I will no doubt say it many more times, but with all that stunning coastline it continues to amaze me just how few anglers we see out there, and even if you’re not into lure fishing for bass then I can’t believe that we don’t see plenty of anglers out on the rocks chasing pollack for starters. I love my bass fishing and obviously I am not fishing when I am doing this guiding work, but I do miss not getting the chance to do a bit of pollack fishing myself when I am over there.


Anyway, I am back home now and I haven’t fished for a couple of weeks and it’s like a scratch I badly need to itch. If I can keep my eyes open I’ll be out tonight on the 12.30pm high tide. A thoroughly nice person who came to Ireland on one of our trips and who I had lunch with when I was in Dungarvan a few weeks back has started making his own needlefish over the winter and he has very kindly sent me a few to try. These are some seriously impressive looking lures and I continue to be utterly amazed that some people have the skills to no doubt disappear into a shed and make lures like this - thank you kind sir! You all have a good weekend and I can’t believe I am saying this after that winter we had, but please can we have some meaningful rain…………….


Where on earth would we be without soft plastics? (and a goodbye to our first group)

If there is one thing that this guiding work does it is to concentrate your mind on what works and then of course the bits and pieces of gear that don’t work so well - like the not cheap Century lure rod that broke on poor Kev when he hooked a nice pollack on his very first drop on the boat the other day (thankfully John Quinlan always insists on bringing a spare rod), and then later on that day one of those 92M “Over Ambitious” (gotta love a good rod name!) Japanese Tenryu Swat rods broke on another client who was into a fish. Neither angler did anything remotely wrong and here’s to hoping that the respective tackle companies will believe them and sort them out………….


Anyway, on to what does actually work! I love a nice shiny hard lure as much as the next bass angler, and a bass smashing a surface lure is surely about as good as it gets, but aside from Kev doing rather well on a few metals on a shore mark a few days ago and then hooking a nice pollack on a hard lure, I am pretty sure that nearly all if not actually all fish that our lads have caught on their trip have come to soft plastics. Where on earth would we be without them? 


We’ve had some tricky bass fishing conditions like I know a lot of anglers are suffering from with this glorious weather (hell, it’s Kerry and I haven’t worn a waterproof jacket since I got here!), but our lads have caught a bunch of fish and I hope had a good time that involved plenty of laughing which I personally think is key to an overall experience. When you’ve got your four guys lined up all catching a bunch of bass in calm, clear and warm conditions over some very shallow ground with a fair amount of floating weed around, we’ve only really got a few options for presenting a lure to these fish - now it might well be something different for you, but both John Quinlan and I feel supremely confident in advising our people to clip a DoLive Stick on in conditions like these, and a load of bending rods kinda justifies the call. With how much I obsess about the DoLive Stick, should I be adding a disclaimer along the lines of “there are of course other soft plastics that can be fished a bit like them out there”?!

Another thing that is very interesting from a guiding point of view is when you have got some good anglers who then do something a bit different to what you’d have done in the circumstances - guiding is very much about watching your anglers like hawks, and that watching revolves around trying to improve what they are doing if we can. Often though they don’t need much actual help with how they are fishing and I would suggest that the guides often end up learning stuff from their clients. When you have four anglers fishing hard it can be a bit like a fascinating case study if that makes sense.

 6g Shallow Head plus 120mm Black Minnow body

6g Shallow Head plus 120mm Black Minnow body

We found some bass yesterday afternoon, but there was more weed in the water and for whatever reason the fish were a little more finicky than the day before. Kev happens to fish with the killer Fiiish Black Minnow a lot back home - as do I - but I have not bass fished with the little 90 size nearly enough, and I also haven’t given enough time to the Fiiish Shallow Heads. Watching Kev retrieving the Black Minnow 90 at a speed which kept the lure just off the bottom and catching fish was fascinating, and then he turned to a Black Minnow 120 on that 6g Shallow Head and caught a few more like that on a bit of a slower straight retrieve. As per my blog post the other day, it was interesting to see white working well in very bright conditions again (DoLive and Black Minnow, I am continuing to thrash myself for not having used that lovely solid white Black Minnow enough, but damn I shall be rectifying that!), albeit to be fair the lads have been catching well on the “standard” wakasagi colour 6’’ DoLive Stick and so on. 


And it almost goes without saying that the Fiiish Crazy Sandeel has nailed a few pollack out here, although to be fair on the boat the other day the Black Minnow on a slow and steady retrieve seemed to be outfishing it for some reason. Conditions of course tend to dictate how you end up fishing - or out here it’s the how we are encouraging our anglers to fish rather than doing it ourselves - but while I am trying to get to sleep at night after another blast of a day out here in this utterly magical part of this world that is Kerry, I think back to when I was starting to really get into lure fishing and how much ground I almost used to avoid or not be able to fish remotely properly because I knew so little about modern soft plastics and how much they are helping so many anglers catch so many fish. I make no apologies for banging on about the soft plastics I know and fish with a lot, and I accept 100% that there are many different ways and indeed soft plastics to skin the proverbial cat with - but where on earth would we be without these lures and how we can fish with them so effectively in so many different situations?


Our first group leaves this morning and the next lot arrive late on today. Work this may be for me, but holy cow do I love it. We haven’t put our 2019 dates out there yet, but if you would like to be added to my email list of anglers (which doesn’t go any further than me) who will be notified before the dates are made public then please contact me here


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