Sufix Super 21 FC fluorocarbon review (150m spools for £9.99) - why spend any more on your leader material?

I was rooting through the Sufix European catalogue the other day and came across what they refer to as a “castable fluorocarbon line” in this Super 21 FC stuff, and straight away I am wondering why on earth it can’t also be used as a leader material? I like the fact that you can buy 150m spools, the breaking strains and diameters make a lot of sense to me, and the prices are really good when compared to some of the specialist fluorocarbon lines that are sold specifically as leader material.

So I got hold of some and then emailed my Mr. Sufix contact and asked him whether I was barking up the wrong tree by trying this Sufix Super 21 FC castable fluorocarbon out as a leader material, to which his reply was no, not at all, it works great, although of course it’s not made from exactly the same raw materials as their their somewhat more expensive Sufix Invisiline, plus it has various things done to it after extrusion to make it into a castable fluorocarbon mainline (that Sufix Invisiline is a pure leader material, I have used it plenty over the years, and it’s an outstanding line). Yes, I am obsessed with Sufix lines, but why wouldn’t I be when no Sufix line has ever let me down in all the time I have been fishing with them? I also really like the fact that their two different 8-strand braids are well under the £20 mark here in the UK, and that they are becoming properly available once again (Sufix 832 here and Sufix Performance Pro 8 here) - and of course it helps that these braids are just awesome mainlines.

Anyway, this is a remarkably easy review to write, because this Sufix Super 21 FC works perfectly as a leader material for species such as bass, pollack and wrasse, and I know this because I have now used it plenty myself, plus I used it for our clients over in Ireland the other day when I was tying on new leaders for them - and it just works, end of. It’s strong, it works perfectly with the FG knot, it knots great to the lure clip, I like how it’s a bit stiffer than regular mono which I think makes lines like this work so well as leader material, and to be honest, as much as I tell myself that I do really love “pure” fluorocarbons, in reality when I use a line like this Sufix Super 21 FC I am left wondering if I do actually need to spend any more money than what this stuff costs. This much cheaper fluorocarbon leader material does exactly what I want it to do.

If a 150m spool of this line doesn’t last you for a season of saltwater fishing then I’d be surprised (used as leader material), and at the £9.99 price for the sort of diameters/breaking strains we would use here in the UK and Ireland, Super 21 FC just makes a whole heap of sense to me as a leader material. There are a bunch of numbers on the spools, but if you do want to try this fluorocarbon out then go with these figures here when choosing which one to use (and I have based the UK prices on what the outstanding Art of Fishing tackle shop is selling this line for):

  • 0.28mm - 5.4kg/12lb

  • 0.30mm - 6.3kg/14lb  

  • 0.35mm - 8.1kg/18lb

  • 0.40mm - 9.0kg/20lb

So there you go. Yet another Sufix line which is working perfectly for me. Nice and easy on a Monday morning!

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

 

If you’ve ever had a problem with the FG knot, then these might be the two reasons (angler error? Never!)

I make no apologies for another blog post based on the FG knot, not when it’s the best connection from braid to leader that we can use, and not when you’ve got clients snagging the odd lure in the bottom when pollack fishing and John Quinlan or I pull for breaks on the FG knots we have tied in their lines and every single time you get the leader back - either with the lure still attached after serious pressure, or with it having given on the knot that was tied on the leader to the lure clip. But have you ever had any problems with the FG knot? Perhaps it’s gone out of the blue, or like what happened to me a few years back, perhaps you give it a sample sort of pull and for some reason the knot just unravels out of the blue?

Well I reckon there are two reasons why the FG knot could fail on you - it getting scuffed badly on sharp rocks aside of course - and both I would classify as angler error, with means that both reasons can be easily avoided. Today I am the FG knot doctor! I must sound like a scratched record here, but what on earth is the point in spending good money on modern lines and then not using the best modern knot to connect your braid to leader, if indeed you use a leader that is? Sure, the Improved Albright or the Uni to Uni are decent connection knots, but the fact is that they are not as good as the FG knot.

To me it’s like spending decent money on say a lovely soft plastic lure, but then rigging it with a suspect weedless hook - it will most likely be fine for most of the fish you might connect with, but what about when that fish of a lifetime comes along? Why take the risk? There are any number of reasons for us losing fish, but I know that it’s not going to be my leader knot that fails on me - so one potential problem has been removed from the equation. How about sometimes getting expensive lures back from snags as well? Anyway, I digress…………..

With the braids and leaders we are likely to use for our own lure fishing, I put thirty turns into my FG knot, or thinking about it another way, fifteen complete cross-wraps - which is more than on the video above, but I just think that it’s required for lighter braids especially. A few years ago out in Morocco I distinctly remember pulling hard on an FG knot one morning (that I had tied the previous day) and it just unravelled and came apart easily - which of course freaked the life out of me. From that moment on I started to put those thirty turns on the knot (instead of the twenty or so I had been doing) and it has never, ever happened again (if you do the next step properly as well), indeed on the last evening of that Morocco trip I snagged a hard lure up good and proper, but got it back because I literally straightened the trebles out. The mainline if that helps was the awesome Sufix 832 braid in the 0.15mm size.

Look around the internet and there are any number of videos on how to tie the FG knot, but I still really like the one embedded into this blog post as the best one I have come across for the initial construction of the FG knot - but once I’ve done my thirty turns (or fifteen complete cross-wraps), I reckon this next step is absolutely vital to “set” the knot, and the bloke in the video does this later than I do. Oh, and if you can’t secure the braid in your teeth to get some tension, you can tie a loop in it to make it easier, or secure that loop around something that’s attached to you (small carabiner attached to your wader strap for example) , or even secure that loop around the handle on your reel to get tension, and tie the knot like that, as per the video above (thanks to the French guy who left a comment on my blog and made me aware of this technique, love the music!).

So what is this next step? Tie that first half-hitch around the leader and braid, tighten it down, and then pull the living hell out of the knot - to me this is absolutely vital, and if you don’t do it you risk the knot failing on you. This step properly tightens up those cross-wraps so that they literally “grip” onto your leader, and after that real tightening phase you can finish the knot off. I’ve done that one half-hitch so far, so now I will put a couple more in over braid and leader, then I cut the leader as close as possible, put two more half-hitches around the braid only, and then do a three turn locking knot around the braid (which is basically a three turn half-hitch - put three turns inside the loop you form instead of just the one for a half-hitch), pull it tight, and leave a bit of a tag as per the photo above. That’s the FG knot done for me, and I’ve done it in a gale of wind and on a rocking boat with no problems at all - and it just works.

 

Is there a reason why we measure bass to the tip of their tail and not the fork-length?

I have never actually measured any of the bass I have caught (although a few have been measured by other anglers), but it interests me how more and more lure anglers seem to be doing so - which if done quickly I guess has to be better than hanging them from a weighing scale - and then I can’t help but wonder why the quoted length of a bass seems to be accepted as needing to be right to the tip of the tail. I ask mainly because when I see guides measure fish such as bonefish and GTs overseas, it’s accepted that the measurement is going to be to the fork of the tail, with say a 1m+ (fork-length) GT on the fly being a notable fish to aim for etc.

I don’t mean to be remotely pedantic here, and to be honest when you have that really handy BASS measuring tape with some useful indications of weight versus overall length on there then there is of course no reason to go and change things - but I do wonder if it’s simply more accurate to measure straight down the flank of a fish to the fork of a tail, rather than potentially getting a slightly wrong reading when trying to measure to the actual tip of the tail which of course it not in line with the middle of the fish. Does that make sense? Done correctly as above and you’ve got a perfectly accurate measurement, but done differently? Does it remotely matter anyway?

Is there a reason why we do it like this with our bass, or is it simply a case of how it’s always been done and therefore there is no reason to change? I must admit that I like how a lot of anglers are quoting the length of a bass these days, and whilst swinging a bass from a set of scales can’t exactly be very good for a fish’s welfare (and if you do want to weigh, please use a weigh sling or net or something like that to cradle the fish), I do also wonder about the time that I have seen some angers take over measuring their fish - which are for the most part out of the water.

I am not trying to rock any boats here, but as lure anglers especially seem to be changing the way that some things in fishing are done, I am just interested to know more about the way we measure our bass, and whether any of you out there have any thoughts of your own as regards the overall length (to tip of tail) versus the fork-length way of doing thing. In time will most lure anglers simply not even worry about an accurate weight for their bass and instead settle completely for a measurement?

Bearing in mind how much a double figure bass means though, and how as useful as that BASS measuring tape is, nobody would ever claim that the weight suggestions are completely accurate for the lengths, not when you aren’t taking into consideration the girth and overall condition of the bass. I’d love to be able to say that a 76cm bass I caught at night on an Irish beach was a 10lb+ fish for example, but it wasn’t - look how skinny the fish is in the photo above. Anyway, there we go - hardly earth shattering I grant you, but a bit of food for thought?

 

The OSP DoLive Stick - what the hell is it about this lure that makes it so lethal for bass?

I am sure there are other soft plastics like the OSP DoLive Stick out there that cast and fish as well for our bass, but if indeed there are then I haven’t found them yet. I got back from Ireland in the early hours of Saturday morning and I’m processing the trip in my head, and whilst we would preferred a bit of swell and life to the water for our co-guiding work, we didn’t get it - which then tends to dictate a quieter, more subtle kind of approach to work on catching a few bass. Naturally we can’t tell our clients which lures they have to use, but on the other hand we are here to help them as much as possible - and suggesting what lures we think might work is part of our job………..

I could show you a box I have here at home that is full of different kinds of soft plastic jerkbait style lures that I have bought over the years in an attempt to find one that can do what the DoLive Stick does for me. I am really starting to like the (cheaper) 6’’ Deps Deathadder, and I will be fascinated to see where it ends up with me after a load more water time. I love the fact that you can sometimes get it in a solid white colour that seems to work really well in more coloured water, and yes, I regularly dream about a solid white 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick. I don’t know anybody at the Japanese lure company OSP, but if anybody out there does, please could you ask really nicely on my behalf, and tell them that I will gladly buy them all! And don’t get hung up on that sandeel like wakasagi colour only, because plenty of other DoLive Stick colours smash our bass.

Your “typical” DoLive situation - our last morning with our first group of anglers, and only one guy wanted to get up early for a bit of fishing before the epic final Lions test match which we all went to watch. Obviously. So I met Dave at 4.30am and we headed out to find the water about as calm and as clear as you could ever find. Dave can seriously fish and he went through a few lures to see if we could interest a bass or two, but no joy, and to be perfectly honest neither of us was that surprised.

We were facing an ignominious return to the Thatch Cottage, so I suggested a bit of a move and a change over to a 6’’ DoLive Stick - and it went and worked. OK, so the fish wasn’t going to break any records, but in water that calm and that clear I just felt so confident that Dave was at least doing the right thing by fishing a DoLive Stick on a simple straight retrieve where it just does this ridiculously lovely little slalom. As much as I love fishing this lure with a simple kind of twitch, twitch, pause, wind, repeat sort of action, I can see myself doing a lot more of simply winding it in because it also works really well like this. Letting the lure do its natural thing?

Damn right I obsess about the DoLive Stick, and I make no apologies for it either. Hard lures are always going to a big part of my bass fishing, and of course there are many times when you can’t effectively fish with a soft plastic rigged weedless and weightless, but I do find myself clipping a soft plastic on more and more. It is fascinating to watch a client who has never caught on a lure like this go and catch a bass, because you can literally see that flood of confidence in such a comparatively sedate (boring?) looking lure wash through their body - it’s another option at the end of the day, and if we feel confident in the options we carry in our lure boxes then surely that helps us to fish that bit better?

It might just be a simple soft plastic that I far prefer fished with no added weight on the hook, but if I go rooting through my box of soft lures that don’t cut it for me like this thing does, then that combination of shape, weight, fall rate, castability, stability, and of course action does indeed seem to be fairly unique when compared to other lures which might look a bit similar - and it’s interesting how it’s another Japanese soft plastic (and not a US style freshwater bass soft “jerkbait”) in the 6’’ Deps Deathadder that seems to be able to do what the (Japanese) 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick is doing. It is also worth bearing in mind that you will find both these lures under the freshwater bass fishing section on their respective manufacturer websites. I am very particular about what weedless hooks I use with the DoLive Stick as well, and without a doubt a hitchhiker system of rigging helps them to last longer - and then repair tears etc. with that magical Mend-It stuff. My out and out favourite hooks for the DoLive Stick are these particular Owner ones here in 5/0 and here in 6/0, and ignore the photos of the hook on the website because they are wrong. Check the photo below for how this lure/hook setup should look once rigged.

Are we the only (sea) bass fishing part of the world that has so switched on to using these kinds of (freshwater) lures for saltwater fishing? Whatever the case, I can’t go bass fishing without these lures, and rest assured that if I come across any soft plastics that start to work as well for me as the DoLive Stick - and increasingly the 6’’ Deps Deathadder - I will tell you all about it on here. Like any angler I do what I can to protect where I fish for any number of different reasons, but for the life of me I will never understand why anybody would want to keep secret what lures and techniques are catching fish for them. Surely fishing is about sharing this kind of information so that we can all keep on trying new stuff and learning as we go along, and hopefully catch a few more fish?

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.

 

Is it sod’s law that what might well have been the biggest bass of this Ireland guiding trip smashed a surface lure on the very first cast of the morning?

OK, so it’s always the biggest fish that isn’t actually caught, but both John and I watched open-mouthed as this donkey of a bass bow-waved behind one of our client’s surface lures and then smashed into it the other morning - and because fishing is fishing and it likes to give us a kick from time to time, it was this lad’s very first cast of the morning and the sodding bass didn’t hook up. Sod’s law? Holy cow I’d have like to have seen that fish, because whilst the best bass one of our clients landed on this trip was a fantastic 73cms long, John and I are still wondering just how big that donkey was that didn’t connect - I can still see it now coming up behind that small Patchinko…………...

DSCF4697.jpeg

I am driving home today after a couple of back to back co-guiding trips out here in Kerry. I did have the opportunity to not need to wake up at 4am this morning, but failed - far too much fishing stuff to think about! I do fancy my chances though of having to crawl into the back of my (epic) Berlingo for a bit of a kip sometime in the wee small hours on that long drive back from Fishguard to Cornwall, but I am absolutely bloody buzzing to get out bass fishing myself as soon as possible - and to see my family of course! I count myself very lucky to be doing this guiding work, but fishing guides don’t fish with their clients (and personally I would not pay a “guide” who did) - I need to go fishing!

We haven’t found numbers of bass over these two trips, but a lot of the bass our clients have caught have been quality fish, as per this cracker nailed by Chris above. We’d have loved some swell here in Kerry, but it’s generally been pretty flat, and of course that does shut down some options - there is so much ground out there though that there’s usually a more than viable option to chase bass. The more time I spend in this part of Ireland working with John Quinlan, the more I fall in love with it. The fact that we have to try and sell these co-guiding spaces aside, this part of Kerry truly is something very special indeed - as with anywhere it’s extra magical when the fishing is really firing, but it’s way, way more than that. If you see another angler out and about it’s a shock, and whilst John knows his local patch incredibly well, he would be the first to admit that there are several lifetimes of further fishing opportunities out here that are waiting to be explored.

Without doubt the most successful lure of this trip has been the OSP DoLive Stick, indeed it can feel a little repetitive asking our clients to clip one on again, but the simple fact is that these soft plastics work. Yep, I am sure that there are other soft plastics that can be rigged weedless and weightless that might work as well as the DoLive Stick, but if there are then I haven’t found them yet - and believe me, I have tried, and I have a box full of lures that didn’t work as well for me (the cheaper Deps Deathadder 6’’ is growing and growing on me, got some high hopes for it). I do tend to fish the DoLive Stick with a twitch, twitch, pause kind of retrieve (as per the video below), but to be perfectly honest the lure seems to work just as well on a very simple straight retrieve where it swims just below the surface with this outrageous little slalom sort of an action that bass seem unable to refuse. Whatever the case, I can’t be without these lures, and I imagine that a few more of our clients are feeling the same.

Similar feelings as well for the Fiiish Crazy Sandeel when we go pollack fishing - it’s almost a joke how readily those fish latch onto this lure. I take my hat off to Matt at Fiiish for designing what I believe might well be just about the most lethal pollack lure ever invented, and whilst over the right sort of ground the Crazy Sandeel can be deadly for bass as well, it just makes me giggle to show a client how to use it for pollack, and then see them absolutely nailed when a fish smashes the lure on the drop. What size we use depends on where we are fishing, but I am pretty sure the one we use the most is the 150mm body and the 30g head - bearing in mind that we sometimes go out on the boat and fish over fairly shallow ground. Anyway, have a good weekend and see you next week. Homeward bound…………..

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.

 

Do you use a leader that is longer than the longest bass you could ever hope to catch?

Have you ever been playing a decent bass and your leader parts for no good reason you can think of? There’s no reason for the actual leader knot to break if you use a proper modern knot to join braid to leader, and dodgy knots from leader to clip or lure are something that no self-respecting angler should be tying anyway - but how about your leader suddenly parting? Do you put it down to some unseen damage to the line that must have happened beforehand, yet we didn’t pick it up and then tie a new leader on?

Well what if it isn’t that always that? Bear with me here, because this thinking comes primarily from a discussion that John Quinlan and I were having about striped bass fishing and a good US angler they met out in Cape Cod earlier this year. OK, so striped bass can grow far larger than the largest bass we could ever hope to see in a million years of trying, but this lad was telling John’s lot over there that he is sometimes landing bigger, more powerful stripers that have very fresh cuts in their tails - which he puts down to those fish running away from the angler and then their tails sometimes slap against the leader which can cause those cuts and then potentially break either a weaker leader, or if your leader is too short, break the braid against which the tail would be connecting with as the fish ran hard. Think about the tail structure on a fish and how much bone is actually in there, and now think about a decent fish really working their tail to run away - surely it makes perfect sense that the tail is going to hit the line, and in some cases break it?

So the other day out here in Kerry, Dave hooks a good bass. He’s fishing a 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick on the end of a 20lb fluoro leader, with that powerful (and utterly divine) HTO Shore Game 9’6’’ 7-35g lure rod (review here), and I could see the rod slam down as the scrappy bass splashed on the surface took a decent bit of line in some shallow water. There wasn’t a hint of panic from Dave and he did every single thing right, and in no great time John had the fish secured on a small Fish Grip to then take the hook out and get a few photos, as per above.

Now I must admit that I didn’t notice this, but John did - there’s a spit in the tail (I’ve zoomed into the tail area for the photo above), and John said it was very fresh because he saw some blood. Now that’s a 73cm fish in absolutely prime condition which ran pretty well in shallow water - and to me it makes perfect sense that the fresh split in the fish’s tail most likely occurred somewhere in that scrap, either when the bass thrashed on the surface, or else when it ran hard, and of course it needs to move its tail to do so.

If you don’t use a leader then that is entirely up to you, but personally I can see no reason not to use one - for a number of different reasons as well - and I wonder if anglers not using leaders is primarily because they have had bad experiences of leader knots breaking. My reply to that? Have a guess! Learn to tie the FG knot, tie it properly, and get a 100% strength join. Simple.

But let’s say here that you do use a leader when you go bass fishing, and let’s say that a bigger, scrappy fish does indeed slap its tail hard against your line during the scrap - how long a leader do you use? For no deep and meaningful reason other than it seems to work for me and my own casting and fishing I use a leader around 3’ long these days, and as much as I would love to think I’m going to connect to a 90cm+ bass from the shore one day, in reality me thinks not.

Can a bass actually break the leader as I have described above? I’m not sure, and of course big, powerful stripers are a completely different proposition to our own bass, but let’s say you do go and hook that bass of a lifetime in shallow water where the fish is most likely going to run and thrash about a bit - does it make sense when you are putting a leader on to make sure it’s longer than the longest bass you might connect with? Notwithstanding an absolute once in a lifetime monster that’s swimming around and chows your lure………..

And as much as big bass can of course be landed on very light line if it all goes right, what happens if a decent bass repeatedly slaps its tail on a really light leader which creates that split in their tail, and which then exposes your line to a potentially sharp edge etc.? A mate of mine lost a decent fish the other day for example when his long, lightish leader parted for no other reason that he could think of, save for believing the line had been previously damaged and he hadn’t noticed - which it could have been, no arguing with that - but what if it was the fish’s tail that broke the line? If this can happen, is a fish’s tail more likely to break fluoro, mono or braid? I don’t know, but personally I’d be far happier if a fish’s tail slaps against some kind of leader material with is somewhat thicker than these ultra-thin braids so many of us love lure fishing with. Food for thought?

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.

 

Helping your clients catch bass like this is the best job in the world

When it fires out here in Kerry it’s quite something, and especially when you are fishing literally miles of the most perfect bass ground you could imagine yet John has never seen another angler there - and our lads caught some crackers yesterday afternoon. Stunning dark backed rock bass from acres of shallow broken ground, running hard against some tight drags, everybody caught nice fish, and the best of the day was Dave’s 73cm fish which was in as fine condition as a bass can be. Great call on where to go John!

And what were the lures that did the damage yesterday? Have a guess. Yep, the 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick - the lads had some fish swirl on their surface lures, but no actual takes. Clip on a DoLive Stick and bang, fish on, indeed Nigel landed three bass well over 60cms in about twenty minutes on those frigging killer soft plastics. Sorry I haven’t got more time to tell you all about it, but it’s hectic stuff out here in Kerry and this co-guiding work - and I absolutely love it. We haven’t sorted out our dates for 2018 yet, but if you would like a chance at bass like these and want me to notify you when we know our plans, please go here and fill out the contact form.

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.

 

Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g lure rod - £179.99 UK price (have I finally found a sub-£200 9’ lure rod that can live with the 9’ Skyroad?)

You many not need or want a 9’ lure rod rated to fish lures from 7-28g, but if you have any inkling for a rod like this then I implore you to either find a way of checking out the quite incredible Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g lure rod at the Art of Fishing tackle shop in north Cornwall, or else take a leap of faith and trust me here when I tell you that this rod is easily up there with the single best sub-£200 lure rod I have come across so far, the outstanding Major Craft Skyroad 9’ 10-30g (review here) - and in some respects quite possibly a little bit better again…….

I have tried over the last few years to find a 9’ lure rod rated within that all important say 5-30g range AND which comes in at a sub-£200 price here in the UK that I like as much as the Major Craft Skyroad 9’ 10-30g - but up until now I haven’t found one. I still think the 9’ Skyroad is that good. Sure, I have fished with better 9’ lure rods, but they have cost a lot more than £200. Personally I think that under £200 is an important price point for what we might term modern lure rods these days, and even then it’s not an insignificant amount of money to spend on a slim bit of carbon that you are going to contort again and again as you put all manner of lures out there in all manner of conditions.

Even if you don’t need a lure rod like this, and accepting 100% that lure fishing rods are incredibly personal things, I still would struggle to see how any lure angler who fishes for bass could not enjoy this rod. It’s just “right” - it’s nice and light, it’s got plenty of power but also plenty of feel for the soft plastics, I can’t help but like how this well balanced 9’ lure rod sits in my hands, and the fastish action on this Tailwalk to me is just about perfect for lure fishing. Having now fished with this rod a proper amount, I can understand exactly why Ben at the Art of Fishing has chosen this sublime Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g lure rod to be the one rod on his website against which all the other rods are compared as regards the curve charts - this rod just like an all round 9’ lure rod should feel.

I guess the handle design could be a Marmite sort of thing - I have fished with these open kind of reel seats before on some APIA rods I think it was and I am perfectly comfortable with how this Tailwalk is configured. I thought it might be a bit of a problem to really get a good grip on the rod with wet hands, but it’s fine. OK, so I’d prefer a bit of duplon or cork for where the back of my reel hand sits on the rod, but I am coming to the conclusion that wanting this all the time on rods could just be me. I happen to like how that slightly open kind of design on the reel seat above where the reel stem sits naturally fits your hand when it’s closed over the rod, as per the photos above. Cian, I need my hand model back!

Casting sequence - 9' Tailwalk with a 6'' OSP DoLive Stick (15g rigged) - thanks as ever Mark

I don’t really like to try and compare lure rods, but then I can’t really get away from how this Tailwalk might stack up against my sub-£200 9’ yardstick of the last few years, the awesome Major Craft Skyroad 9’ 10-30g. The Skyroad is a great rod that works incredibly well for so much of our lure fishing here in the UK and Ireland - when put up against this 9’ Tailwalk you can feel how the Skyroad has more of a powerful throughish soft of action, whereas this Tailwalk has a faster action where you can really feel the grunt in the butt and mid-section, leading through to a wonderful tip. And the tip blends in perfectly if that helps. Yep, I can’t not bring out that word when trying to describe this Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g lure rod - it’s as steely as you like, and I like steely lure rods. As I said earlier, every single thing about it just feels right. It’s as if a lure rod company got inside my head and built the sub-£200 lure rod that I really want to fish with, indeed it’s the sort of blank that is so good that Tailwalk could easily strip it down, rebuild it with Fuji Torzite guides etc., and flog it for a whole lot more.

Gotta love how Ben at the Art of Fishing is constantly working on his lure rod information

Gotta love how Ben at the Art of Fishing is constantly working on his lure rod information

So there you go - finally I have found a sub-£200 lure fishing rod that I like as much as the 9’ Skyroad. Is one better than the other? Well I guess the action on this Tailwalk suits me a smidgen better, but give me a few casts to adjust back to the timing of the Skyroad and I find that one working perfectly for me as well. I reckon this Tailwalk deals with the heavier lures such as the Xorus Patchinko a little better than the Skyroad, and I put that down to the extra power in the butt section of the Tailwalk. Both rods feel as good to me when I am fishing soft plastics rigged weedless and weightless such as my beloved 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick, but to be honest all manner of lures within the casting ratings go really well on these two rods. Which one would I buy if I was after a lure rod like this for under the £200 mark? Either - they are both incredible lure fishing rods. Is that called sitting on the fence? Whatever the case, again it’s hats off to the people who make this kind of incredible lure fishing tackle available to us here in the UK.

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

 

Off to Ireland to do a couple of weeks of co-guiding work today - Kerry bound………..

By the time you read this blog post I will be on my way to my favourite country on this glorious earth to do a couple of weeks of co-guiding work with John Quinlan of the rather awesome Thatch Cottage Fishing Lodge setup. For various reasons I haven’t been to Ireland yet this year and I seriously can’t wait to disembark that ferry tomorrow afternoon in Rosslare and make the longish drive to Kerry in the south west.

Our first bunch of clients arrive on Tuesday, with the actual fishing starting on Wednesday, and I can’t wait to get going. Working with anglers is a massive buzz, and to be surrounded by such a special part of the world is the icing on the cake. You won’t find a nicer guy than John Quinlan and we’ve got lots of catching up to do. As ever I am sure that this trip will be a great mix of hard work and lots of laughing. I will keep the blog updated as much as I can, but please forgive me if it is somewhat sporadic at times..……..

I know the FG knot is an incredible connection between braid and leader, but I didn’t know that if tied correctly it can be a 100% strength join

We are anglers and we all do things slightly differently - I understand that. There are so many ways to skin the proverbial cat with fishing and its many techniques and methods, but one thing I will never understand is why an angler would spend money on a modern braided mainline and then tie it to a leader with anything other than the best modern knots that have been specifically developed for just that purpose - to be the strongest possible way to tie braid to leader…….

And if there is a stronger way to tie braid to leader than the FG knot then I have yet to come across it. I have talked about this incredible knot before on this blog, and all the details on how to tie it can be found here on my website if that helps. Bang on all you like about uni to uni, the Improved Albright or whatever - and they are perfectly decent knots of course - but they don’t come close to how good a connection the FG knot is if you tie it correctly. Does it matter for our bass fishing? Perhaps not a lot of the time, but my argument is still the same - why not? Why not use the best connection?  

Anyway, over a few years now I have occasionally emailed back and forth with a guy in Europe who deals with Sufix lines - and yes, I love Sufix lines. There are plenty of good braids, monos and fluoros out there these days, but for all that I try, I keep coming back to Sufix because I trust their lines completely. As I said the other day on here, I am genuinely over the moon that Sufix lines are coming back properly into the UK. So I was on a Skype call to this bloke earlier in the week to yap about Sufix lines, and whilst I know he’s heavily involved with Sufix, I then found out that he is actually Mr. Sufix, as in it’s his company. He designs and makes the lines in a couple of factories that he owns, and believe me when I say that I could have stayed on that Skype call for hours with the number of questions I wanted to ask. I got a fair few in, but Mr. Sufix has kindly said that I can fire any line related questions I want at him and he will do his utmost to answer me - and he’s perfectly happy for the info he gives me to appear on this blog.

We talked briefly about such subjects as how fishing lines are rated here in Europe and then over in the US (there is no logic to the US system, put it that way), how many factories there are that can make (extrude) monofilament line around the world (lots!) compared to factories that can produce genuine fluorocarbon (five), how braid suffers abrasion internally over time (fibres rubbing together and flexing over rings, roller bearings etc.) which can often be a cause of your braid suddenly starting to snap for no apparent reason (and how their Sufix 832 with its single Gore fibre is Sufix’s attempt at alleviating this problem as much as possible), how it’s scientifically impossible for a mono line to be coated with fluorocarbon as some lines are marketed, and also the FG knot………..

OK, so I know the FG knot when tied as per this video here is damn strong anyway, but I didn’t know that if you tie it correctly then it’s a 100% strength join between braid and leader. How do I know this? Because Mr. Sufix has tested it on a professional line testing machine. If you think about it, technically it’s not really a knot as such, hence the strength, because when you put an actual knot into braid, you weaken it - as with all lines. You might be using half-hitches to finish the knot and stop it unravelling, but the actual securing of the braid to the leader is a kind of wrap/clinch/grip thing rather than a knot as such - and because you are not trying a knot in the braid, you retain its linear strength. That is my understanding from our conversation.

And if it helps, with the kind of lightish braids that we use for our lure fishing (when compared to the lines used for say GT fishing), I put thirty over and under wraps in there before that first half-hitch which as you know you need to then pull really hard on both ends to secure the “knot”. I then put a further three half-hitches in, cut the leader tag end nice and tight, put three further half-hitches around the braid mainline only and then tie a three turn locking knot to finish it off. Tie the FG knot correctly and it’s a 100% join, but how you now tie your leader to a lure clip or direct to a lure is going to impact on the overall strength of course. Those thin lines we use that connect us to our fish are amazing if you think about what we put them through as we fish, so surely it makes sense to try and maximise their potential?

 

An interesting way to cast big lures on light braids without breaking your line

Whilst seeing and sometimes catching different fish around the world is of course the most ridiculous thrill that never diminishes, as ever for me it’s the anglers I meet and get to spend time with that arguably floats my boat even more - and sometimes I come across some seriously good anglers who for whatever reasons are that step up in talent and ability, and I would suggest that a lot of this comes down to natural ability combined with an inquisitive mind plus that drive to keep on getting better…………

So whilst I don’t want to embarrass the guy, I am forever in Bull McKinnon’s debt for how kindly he has helped me out over on the famous Cape Cod Canal, and not only for spending his own time fishing with me, but also for being so open and engaging about how he goes about his striped bass fishing. Bull is an incredible Canal specialist who over many years has continued to think about and refine his approach to targeting the sometimes huge striped bass that can run through that manmade waterway - and one of the core aspects to his fishing is having the ability to put heavy surface lures a long, long way out. Distance is not everything of course, but when you are so often seeing the best fish taking bait off the top at range, it makes perfect sense to at least have the ability to get your lures out there when required.

But how on earth do you cast (with a scary amount of power I might add) say 3oz to 6oz lures out when you are fishing with braids around 10-20lb breaking strain (and yes, US line ratings are different to ours), and without a long shockleader? When I was out there last week I found that Bull had adopted the newer 12’ long Shimano Tiralejo surf rod, rated to cast 2-6oz, and bear in mind that this USA rod is called a “surf spinning” rod. I had a bunch of casts with the rod and when you get the timing it’s quite something how you can get a good say 4oz pencil popper out there, but I need to practise, put it that way! Bull though makes those power casts look so effortless, and his casting technique is something else to watch - smooth, no rush, but so much power, and his lures just frigging fly.

But how does he not crack off all the time with light braids and heavy lures? Logic says you can’t go casting those kinds of weights on braids like that, but Bull is one of those anglers who is always thinking and refining - some anglers do, and some anglers don’t, and this guy is one of those people who I consider it a privilege to have met and spent some time with. Over the years he has thought about the issues he faces with lures and lines and he has come up with a solution that works perfectly for him. How applicable is it to us? I don’t know, but I bet that some of you chuck heavier lures and worry about using light braids to do so - try this out and see if it helps.

Obviously to get maximum distance you want to be using the lightest mainline possible, and if you can avoid having a leader knot flying through your (small) rod rings then this has to help as well. Some lures cast far better than others of course, and it’s quite something how the better and bigger US pencil poppers fly, to the point that I would so love it if we could get some in say 1oz or 1.5oz for our own bass fishing in say a bit of surf.

Anyway, Bull threads his (light) braid up through the rod rings and then takes enough off so that he can create a very long loop which when tied will give him a few turns of double line (braid) around his reel, and it’s this which is giving the added strength and impact resistance for the cast. So let’s say you walk off around three rod lengths of braid from your rod tip - it’s not easy, but now you want to put a simple double overhand knot in the doubled up braid to create that long length of double line. In essence this is a very long loop you have created, and without a doubt those few turns of doubled up line (loop) around your spinning reel gives you the added strength. And as you can guess, it’s far easier to make this long loop at home! Putting a double overhand knot in a length of double line that long can be a challenge when you have to pull so much line through the loop to form the knot. I was worried that a simple loop might wrap round my rod guides or whatever, but it never did, and Bull said that it’s never happened to him.

The baby 2.5oz pencil popper that I was casting

The baby 2.5oz pencil popper that I was casting

Now what you then attach to the end of that really long loop is up to you - I always like to use a leader, as does Bull, but you could simply tie a Palomar knot to a lure clip if you don’t want to use a leader. I’ll tell you how Bull finishes it off to his lure because I think it’s bloody clever - very simple, well thought out, quick to change things, and highly effective. And from my time spent with Bull and casting far heavier lures that I would here at home, I am convinced that the length and diameter of your leader can affect how certain lures fly - put it this way, I saw it plain as day when I was casting a 2.5oz pencil popper on a Major Craft X-Ride shore jigging rod. I was getting a bit of wobble on the lure as it flew out, so on Bull’s advice I changed from a 30lb to a 50lb leader and bang, the wobble in the flight was gone.

At the end of that really long braid loop, Bull attaches a Breakaway Spinlink clip via a Palomar knot - the US anglers love Breakaway clips. I can’t get enough of the smallest Breakaway Mini Link lure clip (our bass are magnificent, but they aren’t exactly striped bass size), then there is the medium size Breakaway Spinlink clip, with the largest one being the Breakaway Fastlink clip which I used to use a lot on my rigs for bait fishing. These clips just work, and I have yet to see one fail, neither here in the UK not over in the US, and bear in mind how much stress an anglers who casts like Bull is putting that relatively small Spinlink clip through.

So you’ve got a very long braid loop with a lure clip on the end - secured with a Palomar knot remember, a perfect knot for a doubled up line, very simple to tie, and strong as hell. Bull will then carry a bunch of pre-tied leaders of varying lengths and diameters/breaking strains - bearing in mind that his leader will never enter the rod rings if that makes sense - with a small swivel at the top end to simply clip onto his Breakaway Spinlink clip that is tied onto the end of his long braid loop, and then another Breakaway Spinlink clip at the end of the leader for clipping lures on and off.

Now if this all sounds like a monumental pain in the backside, then think about it like this - setup that long braid loop correctly and secure it to a lure clip (or you could of course tie the loop straight to a leader) and it’s highly unlikely you are going to need to retie this for a long time. You’ve got a double length of mainline that helps with casting bigger lures with lighter lines, and whilst we don’t exactly need this for our more regular bass fishing, how about the anglers who are punching bigger lures into heavy surf conditions? How about if you could drop down to say a 10lb 8-strand braid and better cut through wind and waves if a bit of extra distance and control might catch you a few more bass? Let’s be honest, as much as a lot of us use say 20lb braids, do we really need mainlines that strong for our bass? This way of setting up has really got me thinking about the chance to go much lighter and reap the potential benefits for example.

Jacob from Redtop tackle hating his rod!

Jacob from Redtop tackle hating his rod!

But does this really work? Well I have fished with Bull a few times now, and I hope to do so plenty of times in the future if the poor bloke can take all my questions! I haven’t seen the guy crack a lure off yet, and I have watched him cast lures as large as 6oz with the sort of power that makes me think he doesn’t like his fishing rod very much! He catches a lot of fish, and quite often to the sort of sizes that make me want to emigrate to the US and spend the rest of my life doing nothing else but chase striped bass………...

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.

 

APIA Foojin'AD Flow Hunt 810ML 8'10'' 7-32g lure rod review - not cheap…...

It’s not remotely scientific and it’s only what I happen to think, but thanks to this particular rod I have finally worked out in my head why (to me) some of the considerably more expensive lure rods seem to be in a bit of a different class. Sure, this new version of the APIA Foojin'AD Flow Hunt 810ML 8'10'' 7-32g lure rod is not remotely cheap (I think APIA redid their entire Foojin’AD range a year or so ago), but there are plenty of expensive fishing rods out there if you go looking. If it’s going to be this expensive then it has to feel like it’s really worth that amount of money to me. So is it?

And whilst just north of £450 here in the UK is a substantial amount of dosh to go spending on a fishing rod, the fact is that some anglers will spend that much. Would I? Well with how much good gear that is out there now for sensible money these days I am undecided, but without a doubt this rather stunning, new version APIA Foojin'AD Flow Hunt 810ML is one hell of a lure fishing rod - but so are plenty of others. I’ll tell you why I think this rod is worth the money though………..

It’s how effortlessly it moves through the different lures and techniques - never remotely straining when casting lures towards the high end (32g), and giving you all the feedback and subtlety you could want when twitching something around like the 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick (15g rigged weedless and weightless). Whilst standing on a rock in a bit of sea and breeze I very deliberately worked through my lure box to see if I could trip this Flow Hunt up, and I couldn’t - and that to me is where the high end rods such as this one earn their stripes so to speak. The rod feels just as good with any regular weight sort of bass lures I might use, and with any technique I might currently employ.

Sure you can fish the same sort of lures on something like the awesome Major Craft Skyroad Surf 9’6’’, but for sure you know when you’re really trying to push say the Xorus Patchinko surface lure out there. Does it matter? Not really, but what I am trying to do here is explain to you why I think an expensive rod like this APIA Flow Hunt costs what it does. I don’t know the ins and outs of making fishing rods, but I am guessing the quality of carbon in a rod like this is different than in a rod costing say half the price or less - and my next guess is that some higher quality carbon and rolling processes etc. can result in a rod like this being so at ease with anything within its casting range that you clip on.

So I stood on my rock and cast a white Deps Deathadder 6’’ out (15g rigged weedless and weightless), and then twitched it around and got bumped hard on about my third cast. Swine fish! This Flow Hunt works soft plastics like this beautifully - so I’ve got that “feel” of the rod in my head, how effortlessly it puts that particular lure out there, and how well the rod tip works as you help the lure come to life. Next step is to clip on something very different, the Xorus Patchinko, and properly wind it up - but to be honest the rod doesn’t remotely break a sweat with how incredibly easy and efficient it is with the heavier, larger surface lure. There’s just no straining from the rod during the cast. Working the Patchinko at range with my rod tip up is great, no worries at all.

Casting and retrieving various hard lures is exactly as you’d expect - brilliant. As is bumping a Fiiish Black Minnow around, and I love the feedback I’m getting. Change back to a soft plastic, this time a 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick, yet the rod doesn’t feel any less accomplished now I am not remotely pushing that top end casting weight. I absolutely love the tip on this Flow Hunt by the way - it blends into some serious but easily usable power. Then I really went for it with the 30g Westin Kongetobis (says 27g on the packet, but they weigh 30g), a lure which is surely a perfect replacement for the discontinued Bass Bullet. I can hit that 30g lure as hard as I can and still the rod isn’t remotely straining, but my reel is, and that’s because I am about to run out of braid. Holy cow that lure flies! Can’t wait to use it in a bit of surf over in Ireland especially……...

I did actually have a few casts again with the previous generation APIA FLow Hunt the other day, and it was as nice as I remembered when I reviewed it a few years ago - see here. This new 8’10’’ version feels somewhat “tighter” to me - a little more together in the tip area especially, or in the way the rod seems to flow as you fish it (sorry about that pathetic riff on the rod name!). I always like the handles that APIA put on their rods, and this one on the new Flow Hunt is just fantastic. I do tend to fish with 9’ and longer lure rods these days, but I’d be more than happy with this 8’10’’ long Flow Hunt - rod plus reel just feels great in my hands, indeed the only slight niggle is that at this price the rod isn’t rung with Fuji Torzite guides.

The previous generation APIA Flow Hunt

The previous generation APIA Flow Hunt

Will it catch you a heap more fish than say something like the outstanding Shimano Dialuna 9’ 6-28g rod that I reviewed a while back? Nope, and neither will this Apia Flow Hunt put your lures out further, land more fish for you, or make you more attractive to the fairer sex when you are wearing tights (technical leggings!) under your waders. That’s not the point though. Some anglers want to spend more money on their fishing tackle. In my mind there’s no doubting how this APIA Foojin'AD Flow Hunt 810ML is a seriously class lure fishing rod that I am sure will find its way into a few UK and Irish lure anglers’ hands - and I hope that whoever is up for parting with this much money for a lure fishing rod enjoys the lure fishing experience with it as much as I have. What an awesome bit of kit, and once again I am really pleased that such a good selection of APIA rods are available in the UK at The Art of Fishing - APIA make so many lure rods that are so perfectly suited to our fishing.

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.