I could shoot surf fishing until the cows come home……….

We took a bit of a punt yesterday afternoon on some surf fishing, and whilst we came away from a session that in theory was hardly electric, for me it was about as good as I could have hoped for. I am as obsessed about photographing fishing as I am about actually fishing, and as much as I need to shoot certain images for work reasons, when you give me the conditions and light and a mass of tumbling, sparkling water such as we had yesterday, well the fact that only two bass were caught for me means little when compared to how much I loved the photography side of that session………..

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As a photographer and an angler, I just love moving water. I have photographed loads of fly fishing features on lakes for example, but give me a river or the sea and creatively I am always happier. Water that moves either via flow or tides or current or like yesterday via a stunning bit of swell seriously does it for me, and of course if we get light like we had up on the north coast as the sun dropped away plus I’ve got a few good anglers to shoot who also happen to be winding up their new APIA Grandage rods with some long-casting metals, well that’s me done really.

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For sure I was there to fish, but in reality I couldn’t not strap my own lure rod to my side (fast flooding tide, nowhere to put rod or rucksack down) and fire away with my camera gear. Just moving around where the anglers were standing gave me a bunch of different lighting options, and like a pig in the proverbial I fired away! Not only do I clean my fishing gear down when I get home from a surf session like that, but then I need to dump all the photos, have a quick scan through them, back them up, and then start the editing, keywording, and outputting process. What are early mornings for if you’re not out fishing?!

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Mark and I have never deliberately targeted “proper” surf conditions where we were yesterday afternoon, so when our mate Andy nailed a couple of bass within about half an hour of being there, well that was my day made on the fishing front - and that was before I started to hyperventilate because the light was going off so well with the surf conditions and where the guys were standing to fish etc. As much as I’d love to have smashed a heap of bass, the punt paid off with those two fish, and then I can’t help but weigh up in my head how a load of bass could actually have impacted on my photography and so on. Believe me, my head works in mysterious ways!

 Mark and his new Apia Grandage 100M 10' 12-42g lure rod at 20 frames per second

Mark and his new Apia Grandage 100M 10' 12-42g lure rod at 20 frames per second

Mark was using his new Apia Grandage 100M 10' 12-42g rod and Andy was out for the first time with his brand new Apia Grandage 106MH 10'6'' 14-50g rod. I have briefly cast them both and I’d happily take either - holy cow they are some rods, they don’t remotely feel their length, and to me they are a big step up from the previous generation and now discontinued APIA Foojin’R Grand Swell 96MH 9’6’’ 7-42g that I have fished with so much. These new APIA Grandage rods are far easier to work with, indeed I have already reviewed and seriously loved the Apia Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g - see here. These new Grandage rods feel a lot more versatile, you can get at the power without having to work too hard, I’d fancy them for all kinds of lures, and when you go for it with say a 40g metal on these longer, more powerful rods, it’s about as sweet a casting and fishing experience as I can imagine. I know the Art of Fishing who do APIA rods here in the UK got a bit of a shock when they sold these new rods out almost the moment they got them in, so if you fancy one then give them a shout and put your name down for the next batch coming in - behind me of course!

 Andy and his new Apia Grandage 106MH 10'6'' 14-50g at 20 frames per second

Andy and his new Apia Grandage 106MH 10'6'' 14-50g at 20 frames per second

We had some stunning surf (and light) conditions yesterday afternoon, but we didn’t have any hectic onshore winds, so it was interesting how Andy was very able to work some metals/jigs, instead of having to simply crank them in because the wind dictates it. He caught both his bass on metals that he was (shore) jigging at range - and both fish hit him on the drop. I believe me that his bass came on a Daiwa Shore Rifle Casting Jig that he (the tart) picked up over in France the other day. I have owned and used a fair few casting jigs over the years now, but I do like how Andy’s one had a larger profile than the much smaller ones I have tended to play around with. Anyway, there you go. Nothing hectic on the fishing front, but from my photography point of view I hope you get a sense of just why those few hours floated my boat so much - and let’s be honest, I can’t see how any lure angler out there couldn’t get buzzed up from punching lures out into a stunning bit of surf.

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

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Does this obsession ever get any easier? Currently it’s metal lures and longer, more powerful lure rods……….

Here’s a bit of free advice for you - if you are currently a die hard bait angler but are just starting to dabble in this world of saltwater lure fishing, stop right now. Do yourself a big favour and put the lure gear down, get back to the rods in tripods, and I guarantee you won’t end up like me - a 45 year old “grown up?” father of two “more mature than me” girls who has been fishing since I was seven years old but because of lure fishing for bass especially I am more obsessed and consumed than I ever was, and it just doesn’t seem to be getting any better…………

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It goes without saying that going fishing is about catching fish, but for me it’s always been the whole thing that fascinates me - the why, the where, the how, and of course the unknowns that some experts seem to know but the rest of mortals don’t and seem happy to accept that we’re never going to get that consistent one up over nature. Damn we try our best though, and yet again I come back to how could I possibly have ever known how eternally varied and fascinating this whole lure fishing thing could be?

And it’s an obsession, plain and simple. It’s also an obsession that continues to get worse the more I get into it, and just when I think that’s surely it and I’m kinda comfortable with moving around and at least making a half-decent fist at trying to catch bass from a bunch of different locations and conditions, along comes another side to it all that for whatever reason I simply don’t understand starts to creep up on me until it’s consuming me like I suppose a casino might consume a gambling addict.

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You all know that surf fishing for bass is as old as the hills, indeed my basic knowledge of UK and Irish bass fishing history is based around those (black and white) days of standing in a tumbling surf with a bait rod in hand. I guess also that chucking various lures out in these conditions has been around as long as anglers have sport fished for bass. I have done a fair bit of bait based surf fishing for bass thanks largely to a kind soul in south east Ireland when I first really started getting into it all, and I have done a bit of chucking lures out into surf conditions as well.

If there is one thing that I have realised with this whole lure fishing, it’s that at various times in the learning curve that we are all on, a certain style as such will for some reason begin to resonate that bit more - and you then begin to obsess about it. It may be opening up to soft plastics or night fishing, or it could be bumping lures down an estuary etc., but for me at the moment it’s this whole banging lures out into surf conditions that is consuming my thoughts. Obviously I continue to fish for bass as much as I can with whatever techniques and methods the locations and conditions dictate, but for whatever reasons I can’t explain I currently wake up thinking about longer, more powerful lure rods and different metal lures especially that want to be launched out there into a tumbling mass of fizzed up white water where the bass fight like they are on steroids and you can’t help but literally shake with excitement because fishing like this is so damn exciting.

 Ragot Hareng 35g metal lure

Ragot Hareng 35g metal lure

Metal lures are of course nothing remotely new, but now go looking deep into it and there as many and varied metals out there as hard lures for sure. I am currently fishing with the best 9’ and 9’6’’ lure rods I have ever used, yet I am actively looking at lure rods around 9’6’’ to say 10’6’’ that are rated to around the 50g mark for banging some of those metals out, plus of course whatever other types of bass lure that might work in a bit of surf and/or when it might just pay off to reach the bit of water that your regular lures simply can’t. Does it ever get any easier?

 Williamson 40g Thunder Jig rigged with a VMC single hook

Williamson 40g Thunder Jig rigged with a VMC single hook

Has anybody official ever checked up on you and what you have caught while you are out fishing?

When I was over in Kerry the other day, on two or three occasions we had a bloke from IFI (Inland Fisheries Ireland) walk out to where we were fishing with our clients. We were also checked up on back in July as well. Now it’s not as if these blokes demanded to see inside our rucksacks or whatever - and to be honest I don’t actually know how far the IFI powers stretch in these situations - but the simple fact that somebody from the (Ireland) state agency that’s responsible for “the protection, management and conservation of Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resources” was checking up on what we were up to from a sport fishing point of view is a good thing if you ask me………….

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When compared to what seems to (not) be going on here in the UK. I got yapping with the IFI guys on a couple of occasions and I said to them how impressive it was that they were out and about checking up on anglers - and I told the guys that I had never, ever been checked up on for anything over here in the UK. I know it’s now legal to take one legal size bass per day (why oh why don’t we at least have slot sizes?), but if you think about it, it kinda changes nothing - if as an angler you have wanted to catch and kill as many bass or indeed other fish, is there really any kind of shore based deterrent especially out there?

Please note that I am not having a go at the powers that be, rather I am a bit in the dark here as to who might actually be out there on our extensive coastline to keep an eye on anglers and whether they are fishing legally as such. You can of course head out there and kill as many rays for example as you want, but bass as a species have been subject to different rules and regulations for a while now - and what’s to stop so called “anglers” taking as many as they want, and of any size? Are there actually officials out there checking but I for whatever reason just happen never to have come across any of them here in the UK?

 John tagging a bass over in Kerry

John tagging a bass over in Kerry

Having IFI people come out to check up on us over in Ireland naturally puts this into stark contrast for me. By no means am I saying that just because you’ve got IFI officials out and about around Ireland that nobody is doing anything illegal on the fishing or netting front, but contrast us getting at least checked up on and knowing that the powers that be are at least out there somewhere against me never, ever getting checked up on here in the UK and I’ve lived down here in the south west for twenty five years now.

I don’t personally want to kill bass, but I completely respect the fact that many anglers go fishing and want to come home with something to eat - which is of course where fishing comes from - but what was ever in place to prevent unscrupulous anglers killing as many bass as they want to when a law is in place but from my own experiences admittedly there has never been any fear or worry of being caught behaving illegally? Are my non-experiences unique to the south west or have you as a shore based anglers been checked up on here in the UK?

When there’s obviously a bunch of small bass around, what do you do?

After two weeks of co-guiding work over in Ireland and obviously not fishing (because guides do not fish with their clients, end of), believe me, the need to go fishing for myself is serious! As much as I absolutely love helping people to catch fish, I am obviously an obsessed angler - and I got back home the other day with a burning need to get out fishing and see if I could hook a fish or two for myself…………

Now I wouldn’t usually choose to fish on the open coast when it’s as flat and clear as it is right now down here in south east Cornwall, but around the kids and school and all that they do outside of it, plus my wife’s job as a teacher, sometimes you just gotta go when you can fit it in. For sure these are night fishing conditions at the moment, but I thought what the hell and headed out just before first light this morning. Damn it was calm!

And it was very obvious very quickly that there were a lot of bass around! I’d love to say that they were monsters on the hunt for my lure, but when my first bass came in at around a pound or so, and then I had multiple fish chasing my surface lure, you kinda know what’s going to happen. In some respects I could have walked away and fished somewhere else, but I can’t help coming back to when I had my big bass the other day and in the same session I caught a bass that wasn’t a whole heap bigger than my Spittin’ Wire surface lure - so you never quite know I guess.

I do though tend to start playing around a bit when I know I’ve got a bunch of small to smallish bass in front of me. I have little interest in numbers of fish and to me it’s a license to try something a bit different and give yourself a jolt of confidence if it goes and catches. If small bass respond to these changes then I see no reason why bigger bass will not, and so on.

It’s no secret on here that I have fallen head over heels for this Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire surface lure, and I sincerely hope that if any of you have invested in these (not cheap) lures that you are loving them as much as I am. I have tended to fish them with a fairly splashy walk the dog kind of action, indeed it seriously made my day when I persuaded Dave over in Ireland last week to change from his beloved baby Patchinko over to his brand new Spittin’ Wire and fish it like I have been doing - and he went and caught a bass.

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So first cast this morning and I’ve got small bass trying to inhale my white coloured Spittin’ Wire, as per above. The Spanish lad who kindly put me onto this lure and began my (not cheap) obsession with the lure told me from the off to really play around with different retrieves and ways of working it, so this morning to me was exactly the time to give this a go. On several occasions when a bass came at the lure and missed it I would stop it dead, wait a couple of seconds, and then twitch it - bang! A couple of times bass hit a static lure after they had swirled on it, and so on.

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly hard to hook a bunch of small bass up this morning, but if all the small ones are coming up for surface lures, how about changing to something sub-surface? I have seriously loved the “Honey Flash” 6’’ DoLive Stick from the first time I ever used one in very clear water and a bass around 5lbs hit the thing so hard it hooked itself but the lure ripped clean off the hook and hitchhiker. I obviously can’t prove if the shimmery yellow sort of colour makes a difference, but my one packet of this particular colour DoLive Stick has been uncanny how well they have worked when the water is particularly clear - which it was this morning.

 Does this count as a selfie?!

Does this count as a selfie?!

So you can imagine how I sat here in my office and nearly cried tears of joy when I found that I could finally buy this particular DoLive Stick here in the UK instead of having to trawl the internet and find the odd pack over in Japan. If there was ever a time to get one out there it was this morning, and I bet you can guess what happens next - no word of a lie my first cast with a “Honey Flash” 6’’ DoLive Stick and the best bass of the brief session absolutely smashes it. As ever I’m not trying to tell you that it was the lure or the colour or whatever, not when I am fishing on my own and I can’t come close to proving anything. Nope, all I can do is go on what happened this morning, and when trying something a bit different to what had been nailing a heap of schoolie bass goes and produces a fish around 4lbs which was by a long away the biggest one I caught this morning, well for me that’s all the “proof” I need. You all have a good weekend.

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.

Three years now with the Breakaway Mini Link lure clip, and not a single issue to report - can a lure clip get any better?

It was my friend Cian who used to run the outstanding Absolute Fishing tackle shop over in Ireland who put me onto these little Breakaway Mini Link lure clips, and at the time I was using the Delalande Agrafe Rapide lure clips in the 35lbs size. Some friends had recently had a few of the smaller 29lb Delalande clips opening up on bigger bass so I switched to the slightly larger and stronger 35lb ones, but with soft plastics rigged weedless/weightless becoming more and more relevant to my fishing it was starting to niggle me how some of the bigger weedless hooks didn’t seem to sit quite right on the Delalande clips…………….

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And then into my lure fishing life comes this wonderfully simple and easy to use Breakaway Mini Link lure clip. I had used the larger, bait fishing size Breakaway Fastlink clips a hell of a lot already for my shore fishing, so I knew how the design of the clip worked and therefore clipping various items on and then taking them off the clip was second nature before I gave their smaller Breakaway Mini Link lure clips a go for my lure fishing.

Between when Cian put me onto these ingenious and not remotely expensive little Breakaway Mini Link lure clips and the present day, and aside from trying a couple of other lure clips more out of interest more than anything else, I haven’t meaningfully fished with another lure clip. I have seen some clever looking designs out there and I also lost a beloved cotton candy Salt Skimmer when one particular clip failed on me - check here. I have also fished a bit with those stunning little (and not cheap) Owner Hyper Welded Quick Snap lure clips that as per my blog post here I found I could not use them “blind” at night.

 This is how my rods sit here on my rack here at home and then how they go on the Vac-Rac racks on my car

This is how my rods sit here on my rack here at home and then how they go on the Vac-Rac racks on my car

So here we are about three years down the line with the most perfect lure fishing clip for our UK and Irish saltwater lure fishing I have ever found, and hand on heart I have not had a single issue with them. I put John Quinlan onto them a couple of years ago and he has gone through I dread to think how many packets of them for his clients - and he hasn’t had a single issue either. As a professional fishing guide who relies on his skills at putting clients on fish, this says a lot to me, indeed when John and I are working together and our clients arrive and we set up the gear ready for fishing the next morning, if our clients haven’t got any Breakaway Mini Link lure clips themselves then we put them on the end of their leaders because John and I both completely and utterly trust these ingenious little contraptions.

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Plus of course they are so bloody easy to use - on and off with hard and soft lures, no trying to open up some snap-style lure clip with wet/cold hands or in the dark when you’re trying to be all ninja on the fish, they are nice and small, they don’t cost very much, and I can’t think of any way in which I could improve upon the brilliant design of them. I reckon three years is long enough for me to hail the Breakaway Mini Link as by miles the best lure clip I have fished with, and whilst I will no doubt try the odd other lure clip to see if they might work for me, I will be amazed if in another three years time you don’t see me shouting about the same Breakaway lure clip on here.

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And yes, before anybody goes suggesting a loop knot to me - I always lure fish with a lure clip because I hate the idea of having to retie a loop knot every single time I want to change my lure and then having to endlessly put new leaders on because they are now too short, and I have never, ever got the impression that fishing for bass with a lure clip as light and perfect as the Breakaway Mini Link has ever caught me less fish. Simple!

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.

Leaving Kerry and heading home today

As much as I can’t get enough of spending time here in Ireland, having spent more than three weeks out of four away from home in September it’s going to be great to get home and properly see my family. I am leaving Kerry this morning and heading home to Cornwall, and if all goes to plan I should be crawling into bed around 3am or so, to then get up at 6am for a walk with Storm our sheepdog plus my wife and youngest daughter before they head off for work and school respectively.

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And yes, I have obviously checked the tides and weather conditions for when I get home. I haven’t fished for nearly two weeks now, and as much as helping people catch fish is some of the most enjoyable work I have ever done, damn right I need to get out there and connect with a few bass for myself!

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It has to be that monster 82cms bass that stands out on the fish front from this Kerry co-guiding trip, but as ever what really bangs home to me is how much fun it is to get these groups of anglers together here in Kerry and then help them catch a few fish, learn plenty, get plenty of confidence for their own fishing, and have a hell of a good time in such a special part of the world.

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We’ve had some good fishing and we’ve had some tough fishing out here, but what I take away from these trips is the people and how much we laugh whatever the weather and whatever the fish are or are not doing. Thanks as ever to those kind people who come on these trips, and I can’t wait to come back out here in 2019. I had best get packed up and on the road and I’ll catch you later in the week……...

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Shimano Pitbull 8 braid review - €39.95 for a 200m spool here in Europe

Whilst I find it increasingly difficult to review these modern 8-strand braids when firstly we already have what to me are four awesome braids for what I would term a “more than friendly price” - Daiwa J-Braid, Sufix 832, Sufix Performance Pro 8, and SpiderWire Stealth Smooth 8 (just as good as the others but for some reason seems to fly under the radar) - and secondly these four braids which I have used a hell of a lot now are so damn good I can’t help but wonder why there could be any need to spend much more on a mainline…………….

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But then a high-end braid like this Shimano Pitbull 8 comes along and I can understand why it’s that bit more expensive than the four braids I mentioned above - and by no means am I saying you need to spend more, but more expensive stuff will always exist and some people will always pay more. If the figures on the spool of Pitbull 8 braid I am using are to be believed (PE1/22.4lbs) then it’s a very thin 8-strand braid, and I can’t get away from how uber-smooth and round it feels - from the very first cast with this stuff I am literally purring. I can’t tell you whether this Pitbull 8 really is 22.4lbs strong, but when I tie an FG knot between this braid and a leader it takes all the pulling I can possibly give it when tightening the knot down - and yes, I got one of those braid cuts on one of my fingers when trying unsuccessfully to break it.

So it’s smooth and it seems to be very strong. I love this Lime Green colour although it’s also available in a Blue colour here. I like to think I know a really good braid when I fish with it, and whilst I haven’t spent nearly enough time with this Shimano Pitbull 8 to feel comfortable putting it in the same category as the high-end Varivas braids that I have used loads and loads, I do have a feeling that this Shimano braid is easily as good as the Varivas ones. By no means am I going to sit here and tell you that you need to spend €39.95 on a 200m spool of 8-strand braid when the “more than friendly priced” braids I mentioned in the first paragraph are all outstanding, but this Shimano Pitbull 8 is relatively new, it’s out there, it’s done really well for me, and some anglers want to spend that bit more for any number of reasons.

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Perhaps I do have a slightly different take on this Shimano Pitbull 8 braid, and it’s based around the fact that if you buy it you are getting 200m of braid as opposed to the more usual 150m or less. I assume that many of you here reverse your braid when you feel it’s warranted, but of course if you’ve been using whatever 150m or less spool of braid for a fair amount of time you’ve been trying multiple leaders and no doubt cutting back the line a bit when you find the odd bit of damage etc. It sure ain’t 150m or so when you eventually come to reverse it.

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Now I’ve never had an issue changing my braid around to get at the unused stuff underneath, and to be honest I don’t always do it, but I would argue that having 200m of braid on your reel as opposed to 150m or less means you really are going to be getting at what is brand new braid when you reverse it. I don’t know anybody who is putting bass lures out over 100m, and even if you cast as far as you can and a big bass hits you, if that fish ends up over 100m out then I would suggest you need to locate that great big drag knob on the front of your spinning reel and tighten it the hell up. Twisted logic this may be, but all of a sudden that €39.95 for a 200m spool of what is so obviously a serious quality mainline makes a bit more sense……………...

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.

82cms of prime Kerry silver landed yesterday on one of our co-guided Ireland trips

Crumbs! To be fair yesterday was not an easy day of bass fishing, but about an hour before we were going to head off for supper, one of our lads Richard hooked and landed his first ever bass from the shore. We were fishing a serious run of current and he was bashing one of those killer little Apia Dover 99F hard lures out and across - result!

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As I was photographing Richard’s bass above, Paul hooked a fish just below where we were. I managed to turn around and snap a few shots of him fighting his bass, but to be honest my priority at the time was to record Richard’s first bass on camera, and especially as I could see that Paul’s fish was still a long way out and in no hurry to come in.

To be fair I don’t think any of us expected to see a bass quite that big popping up at the side of the current though! Paul did every single thing right and didn’t rush the fight or remotely panic. He kept a nice tight line throughout the scrap (barbless hooks don’t lose fish), I got a fish-grip secured to the bottom jaw, and then it began to sink in that we were looking at a serious donkey of an Irish bass! John measured the fish at 82cms long, and he even managed to take a few scale samples and stick a tag in the fish. As ever the bass was really well looked after and she swam off so strongly.

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Now it’s not every day that one of our clients goes and lands a bass this big, but yet again it goes and proves to me just what can happen out here in Ireland when things come together. A bass of a lifetime and I can’t tell you how much it floats my boat to see one of our lads land a fish like this out here in Kerry where as ever we are seeing virtually no other anglers. You can guess what the main topic of conversation was over supper last night! Isn’t it amazing how a tough day’s fishing can suddenly turn out so special? If you are interested in coming on one of our co-guided Ireland fishing trips, please contact me here - bass like this are not remotely common, but isn’t it wonderful to know that there’s always a chance of connecting with a fish like this?

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Paul landed this donkey on the ever-killer IMA Hound 125F Glide lure, a hard lure that I have so regularly turned to over the years both for my own fishing and as a lure for our clients. The Hound Glide just works in so many different situations. I love it, but for whatever reason I am think IMA in their infinite wisdom have stopped making it! Damn, damn, damn! Paul was using his trusted HTO Nebula 9’ 12-42g lure rod and I have lent him one of these awesome Penn Slammer III 3500 spinning reels loaded up with a fantastic 8-strand braid that seems to fly under the radar, SpiderWire Stealth Smooth 8 braid in the 20lb breaking strain.

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

Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod review - £199.99 UK price (all hail the new Skyroad!)

How on earth does a lure rod company go about replacing the Skyroad range of lure rods? I don’t pretend to be a businessman who knows about this sort of stuff, but I do recognise that product ranges need to be refreshed from time to time. Various Skyroad rods were in my opinion so damn good that I wish they could have been made forever, but product life cycles and all that I presume brought about them being discontinued - and then this new Major Craft Triple Cross range appeared.………...

 The discontinued 9’ 10-30g Skyroad in action

The discontinued 9’ 10-30g Skyroad in action

Fishing tackle is of course a very personal thing, but if there was one lure rod that forever changed my thoughts and opinions on what could be done for the money it was the Major Craft 9’ 10-30g Skyroad, and then some more rods from that range as I got to try them out. We still have an 8’6’’ and a 9’ Skyroad over in Kerry that have been used and abused like you would not believe yet they carry on without a whimper whilst I “gently” ask our clients not to go overloading them with Bass Bullets etc. when fish fever takes hold!

 The (non-EU custom) Major Craft Triple Cross 9’6’’ 10-30g going through the gears out in Ireland

The (non-EU custom) Major Craft Triple Cross 9’6’’ 10-30g going through the gears out in Ireland

Anyway, so the rather nice people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle kindly sent me a Major Craft Triple Cross 9’6’’ 10-30g rod as soon as they got them (note - NOT the brand new EU Custom version), and because I was so excited to see what Major Craft had done with this new range I took it out bass fishing as soon as I could - but try as I might I just didn’t fall for it like I was so hoping I might. It’s a bloody good rod that will catch a lot of anglers a lot of fish, but for me there just wasn’t that overall “crispness” as there is on the (discontinued) Skyroad Surf 9’6’’ for example. As ever though, fishing rods are incredibly personal things and my mate Mark for example really enjoyed fishing with it, and we had a client in Ireland back in July for example who had bought one of these Triple Cross 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rods and he was getting on with it brilliantly - which yet again proves that we simply can’t all love the same fishing rods.

Because I review fishing rods like this on my own time, I fished with this new rod a couple of times and then left it alone to move onto something else. Naturally I rang the nice people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle to tell them what I thought - which let’s be honest is only my opinion and what the hell do I know anyway? - and to say thanks very much but it made me mourn for the Skyroad rods even more.

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What Major Craft and the people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle (who are now fully responsible for importing a growing range of Major Craft gear into the UK) do is of course none of my business, but blow me down if a while later I don’t get the news that together they have come up with a brand new “EU Custom” range of Triple Cross lure rods that would be sitting alongside this current Triple Cross range and would I like to try one of these new ones? Apparently these “EU Custom” rods are that bit faster and steelier and damn right I am starting to get excited all over again, and in due course this Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod which I am reviewing here arrives. There are four rods in total in this brand new Triple Cross EU Custom range:

TCX-902L/EU Custom – 9ft – 7-23g (I have this one here at home for some proper testing this autumn)

TCX-902ML/EU Custom – 9ft –10-30g (the rod I am reviewing here)

TCX-962ML/EU Custom – 9ft 6in – 10-30g (so, so want to see this one)

TCX-962M/EU Custom – 9ft 6in – 15-42g

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Okay, so I have given you the build up and story behind this new rod, and because you have got this far I’m going to make this nice and easy for you - take the (discontinued) Skyroad 9’ 10-30g, add let’s say something like 20% more steeliness/crispness, and you’ve got this rather bloody brilliant Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod.

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As much as I am happy to fish with cork handles like on most of the Skyroad rods, at the end of the day I do prefer a duplon grip long term, and we’ve got them on all the Triple Cross rods. I also like the fact that this particular Triple Cross EU Custom rod has a slightly shorter handle length than on the comparable Skyroad. I have fished a lot with this rod and I have also handed it to various anglers I know plus a few of our clients over in Ireland as well, and praise for it has been universal. It’s just a really, really good 9’ lure fishing rod that in my opinion works so well for how so many of us fish for bass here in the UK and Ireland.

 Joe hitting the Patchinko II properly hard on the Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g

Joe hitting the Patchinko II properly hard on the Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g

I would fish the bigger Patchinko on the Skyroad 9’ 10-30g rod, but you knew you were getting towards the top end of the rod in the “how much more is there to give” stakes when you really started to wind a lure like this up. Not on this new Triple Cross EU Custom rod though. Holy cow does this 10-30g rod animalise a lure like the Patchinko and keep on going. I very much agree with the 10-30g rating on this rod if that helps - twitching a 6’’ DoLive Stick around is great, the Patchinko 125 goes out like a dream, fishing any number of hard lures is as good as you’d expect, but then say I need to work along a reefy bottom with the 120mm/18g Search Head Black Minnow combination which comes in at a shade over 28g and this Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod doesn’t break a sweat.

So yet again I have to hand it to Major Craft here, plus of course the bods at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle. We’ve got a 9’ 10-30g lure fishing rod for just under that £200 price bracket which is an absolute peach for how so many of us go about our bass fishing. I know a lad who has been fishing extensively with a sample of the Triple Cross EU Custom 9’6’’ 10-30g rod and he is raving about it. He has landed bass to over 10lbs on this rod from the shore, and if he ever parts company with it for a while then it’s going to come down to me for another thrashing around various parts of Cornwall.

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But I guess you want to know if I think that this new Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod is a better rod than the discontinued 9’ 10-30g Skyroad? Bearing in mind that I have fished with a hell of a lot of lure rods at all kinds of prices since I first got my mitts on that 9’ Skyroad, and then as much as I don’t really like trying to compare lure rods, well yes, I’d take this new Triple Cross EU Custom over the Skyroad. I like that extra dollop of steeliness, I prefer the duplon grips and the overall handle design plus the fact that it’s shorter, and what floats my boat a lot here is that we are still looking at a hell of a lot of proper lure fishing rod for for a penny under £200. Hail the new Skyroad then!

I am heading back out to Ireland tomorrow for a couple of weeks of co-guiding work in Kerry, so I will update the blog when possible. I’ve got a 500 mile drive on my own tomorrow with a 3.5hr ferry crossing in the middle, talking to myself about all things lure fishing all the way and listening to various rugby, cricket and serial killer podcasts, plus some new episodes of Season 4 of the “My Dad Wrote a Porno” podcast which cracks me up no end.

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.

One year down the line with the Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel

I kept a note of the fact that I bought this Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel in early August 2017 and it has been used pretty solidly ever since. I wrote a blog review of this reel in early November 2017 (check here) and I thought it would be interesting to give you my thoughts on this spinning reel after more than one year of owning and using it. It has been my go-to spinning reel on any lure rods around 9’ I have used since then (and especially the stupidly good Shimano Exsence Infinity S900ML/RF 9’ 5-32g lure rod, review here), it has been loaded up with a few different braids, and from time to time I have oiled and greased the various parts of the reel that I can easily get to. When I get back from fishing I tend to wind the drag down tight, hose my rod and reel down outside, slacken the drag off, and then let it stand until dry…………….

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Now perhaps I am lucky here and I got a particularly good reel, but for the life of me I can’t recall using a spinning reel this much and for this long and it remaining genuinely as smooth and easy to wind as when I first lifted it from its box. Damn right it’s not a cheap spinning reel and you could say this is to be expected, but I have usually found that a year of use around a saltwater environment tends to do some kind of harm to a spinning reel. Perhaps it’s a little grindy or there’s some sort of “rasping” sound coming from a bearing somewhere in the reel that’s on the way out and needs to be replaced, and so on, but not in the slightest with this little Twin Power XD.

This is without a doubt my favourite spinning reel of this size that I have ever lure fished with. The line lay was perfect out of the box, I love how a lightweight 3000 size Shimano reel sits so nicely on lure rods around that say 8’6’’-9’3’’ mark (and this one sits particularly nicely on that awesome HTO 9’3’’ Shore Game rod, review here), the drag is great albeit how much do we really need a serious drag system for our bass, the reel handle does it for me, you don’t get a spare spool which obviously niggles me but then we never seem to anymore (I blame Brexit!), and overall this Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel is about as good as it gets to me.

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I keep expecting something to go wrong with this spinning reel because we are so conditioned to saltwater harming our fishing tackle, but so far I can’t find a single thing that’s in any way iffy about this Twin Power. Via regular checking/oiling I found some small traces of saltwater that had got into the line roller area (white residue which I believe is salt), but I’d expect that on any spinning reel save for a sealed Van Staal and I would always argue that whatever a tackle company says about so-called sealing you should be regularly checking the line roller area especially - and then cleaning and oiling up as required. Think about how you wind your wet braid in and now see how it’s always driving saltwater into that line roller area. If I ever end up hearing any “raspiness” at all on this Twin Power, it will be the line roller bearing that I check first.

 The old Shimano Rarenium that I wish I had bought a few of!

The old Shimano Rarenium that I wish I had bought a few of!

Try as I might I can’t report back with anything that is or has been niggling me with this spinning reel over the course of the last year plus with it. I guess that in due course Shimano in all their wisdom will upgrade/replace this particular Twin Power XD range of spinning reels, but I like this 3000 much that if money were no object I’d be tempted to buy a bunch of them just because I can’t really imagine how a spinning reel for my roughly 9’ long lure rods can get much better than this one. Things obviously move on, but it’s interesting how some reels seriously get the love whereas others don’t - why for example did those old Rareniums get so much love and respect whereas the next generation of them for whatever reasons didn’t seem to achieve that status here in the UK?

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Over in Ireland the other day I propped my rod and reel up against a rock while I was taking some photos and the wind then blew the setup over and into a rockpool. This was the first time this reel has been completely submerged in saltwater and it was only a brief dunking to be fair, but when we finished fishing and got back to the house I tightened the drag up, filled a sink up with warm water, and then put the reel underwater and turned the handle for a while. I then slackened the drag off, left it to drip dry, oiled the various bearings I can easily get to, put a bit of that blue Penn reel grease on a few areas, and to be honest the reel’s as good as it ever was. And regardless, with the amount of saltwater that washes over and into a spinning reel when you’re surf fishing, there is no way I am taking a high-end Japanese spinning reel into the surf zone with me - that’s a job for this increasingly impressive Penn Slammer III 3500 (review here).

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So there you go. In my review of this reel I said I’d report back in due course and I have. Because this thing continues to perform so flawlessly I can’t exactly tell you much else about it save for the fact that I absolutely love this Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG, and I can only hope that it continues to perform like this for a long time to come…………….

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

Surf fishing for bass seriously floats my boat

I still pinch myself at how much fun lure fishing for bass is, and sometimes when I wake up early I like to think about the many different ways we can go about it and what is my favourite way to do so - which doesn’t remotely matter of course, but as an early-riser I can assure you that the brain works in mysterious ways!

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We’ve had some nice surf conditions out here in Ireland and we have been lucky enough to find a fair few bass mooching around - and I absolutely love fishing like this. Standing in the surf as those tables of water move around is hypnotic, and I have a huge amount to learn about it back home especially. A big part of it that I really like is that the lures can be so simple and uncomplicated, indeed most of the bass we have caught have come on these ultra long casting Savage Gear Seeker lures in the 28g size especially. I am sure there are a million different ways to work a metal like this, but whacking them out into a decent bit of surf and simply winding them in seems to work just great - right time and right place of course……….

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This bass of mine above which Steve put at about 8lbs absolutely smashed my Savage Gear Seeker - you know that feeling when it’s like you have hit a snag with the lure, but then the snag bangs back hard? Damn I love it.

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

It seriously floats my boat when a brand new lure works so well from literally the first cast

Do many of us here actually need any new lures? Come on, am I the right person to answer that?! It’s an addiction, plain and simple, but as mad as march hares a lot of us might be with this whole lure fishing thing, as and when a lure comes along that I think (or convince myself?) is doing something a bit different for me when compared to (boxes and boxes of) other lures I have then I tend to be all ears……….

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A very kind person very kindly sent me an interesting looking new lure the other day, a Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait. Made from what looks like the same material as those GT Ice Cream lures designed and handmade by a serious bass nut who I have seen on video landing some donkey bass in some hectic conditions down in Portugal as per below, I kinda liked that this Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait is a tough as hell, long-casting and very much non-flashy “buy me” lure that is designed to be walked and twitched just under the surface in all kinds of conditions. So I put it in box as I really enjoy playing around with new gear.

I managed to get out fishing just before I came over here to Ireland and of course I couldn’t help but make my way to where I was lucky enough to land that big bass the other day. A few small fish were intent on impaling themselves on my surface lure (obviously that Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire because how could I not be fishing with it after my experiences with it?) but to be honest things were a little quiet - so why not I thought, and on goes that 30g Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait. I had watched the video above before I went out fishing to get an idea of how the lure is meant to be worked, so I whacked it out and did exactly that. 

Blow me down with a lovely pair of compression tights if a 6.5lb bass didn’t go and absolutely smash the lure on my very first cast with it, and I know it was a 6.5lb bass because I was fishing on my own and had deliberately taken a set of scales and a lightweight weigh sling to see what it was like weighing bass on my own - and it’s a pain in the backside! I estimated the bass at 6lbs when it came in and it went 6lbs 8oz on the scales, but of far more importance to me was the fact that a hard-scrapping bass had jumped on the end of my new lure on my very first cast with it. If lure fishing is hugely about confidence then that’s the big time shot of it I need with this new Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait lure!

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So we had our first day fishing out here in Ireland yesterday and things were pretty quiet until the tide started to flood where we were. At one point I looked around to see Steve bent into what looked like a good fish, so I started to make my way over to get ready to shoot a few photos if he got the fish in - which he did, and the sneaky bastard had only gone and clipped on his very own Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait! But Steve had let the side down and had caught the roughly 6lb bass on his third cast with his brand new lure - bad angling if you ask me………..

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I shot a few photos as you can see here and then because I had made sure to put my own Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait in my lure box as I am obviously full of confidence with it after the other day and where we were fishing here in Ireland I kinda fancied it could be useful, well I went and clipped my one on. 

Holy frigging cow if about four casts later I don’t go and hook a good bass. For a split second I actually thought a sea trout had jumped in front of me, but in fact it was the tail of the bass obviously slapping the water as it absolutely smashed my lure while I was kinda twitching/walking it sub-surface. I had removed the front treble after I caught that nice bass at home on the lure and I had also put another split ring on the back to the size 2 treble hook - and yes, I’d be perfectly comfortable with a big barbless single hook on the lure but the ones I have ordered hadn’t arrived before I left home on Wednesday.

I landed this bass and estimated it at around 6lbs and then I got to thinking that after about ten casts between Steve and I with this Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait we’re looking at three 6lb or so bass, and however many monsters you yourself may catch and put those fish to shame, to me that’s some pretty good bass fishing. Would those same fish have jumped on another lure? Well that surely is the beauty here - we will never know, and because we are addicts with an affliction that knows no bounds, well obviously I am now praying that the one Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait I have out here doesn’t find a snag! I also note that there’s a 50g version of this lure that now I am obsessing about for a bit of surf fishing back home - and so on. Does it ever end?!

I have linked to a tackle shop in this blog post where I know you can buy this lure, plus various others from the Samson Lures company. It’s not an affiliate link hence me not putting a disclaimer down the bottom as I usually would, and Danny the owner of the shop was so kind the other day in asking me if I would like to try one of these Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait lures - thank you kind sir.