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

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

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

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

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

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“Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth” - to me this Mike Tyson quote could be describing surf fishing for bass

Damn I am loving the bit of surf based lure fishing for bass that I’m getting to do, and as with the whole lure fishing thing I am once again amazed at how much there is to learn and appreciate and fall head over heels in love with. If chucking lures at bass is your thing I fail to see how you could not love standing in a tumbling surf as the sound of crashing waves surrounds you and something slams into your lure amidst all that glorious turbulence………

I love how banging various metal lures out there is such a simple but effective way to catch bass, but as with all of this you can of course delve deeper into it all and start playing around a bit. The more of it I do, the more I am forced to learn about different kinds of surf and how the bass seem to react, how different lures do and do not work in different conditions, the kind of lure rod that I think works best for me when I am fishing like this, and so on. And I am absolutely fascinated in the whole slow jigging thing that has come over from Japan - metals can simply be metals, but they can also so much more.

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Crumbs have I got a lot to learn about it, but I am also reminded that sometimes the most direct and simple approach is the way to go because the conditions dictate it. We were fishing a local beach early last week and we had what looked to be some pretty tasty surf fishing conditions. I had loaded up my lure box with a bunch of different metals and I had every intention of having a proper play with a few Major Craft slow jigs that I had picked up at the European Sport Fishing Show the other day.

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Best laid plans eh? And that is why Mike Tyson’s famous saying “everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth” keeps rolling around my head when I make a few fishing plans in my head before I get out there and in amongst it - and then the actual conditions demand that we adopt and adapt our plans if we want to have the best chance at catching fish. I am often almost visualising how I’d like to fish before I get out there, but the wind direction and strength is of course the punch in the mouth.

Now you have to bear in mind that I am at day one with the whole slow jigging thing from the shore, but a few years ago I played around a bit with some metals rigged with assist hooks and they nailed bass and pollack big time. I am interested in it and I want to do more of it, but I hope that I am also realistic about when I can properly fish like this - and the other day was not the time for this. Make all the plans you like but I would argue that now you’ve got a strongish wind right in your kisser and/or slightly across and you’re also trying to time where you stand with the surges and any attempts at “technical lure fishing” kinda fly right out of the window. It seems to me that the whole point to this slow jigging stuff is maintaining proper and direct contact with your lure - which of course you can’t properly do when the wind especially is pumping right at you. That slack in my line is hugely reducing how I can properly work a lure.

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So I do what I think I need to do to keep myself fishing - I “whack and crank”. I put on something nice and easy like the 28g Savage Gear Seeker, I whack it out there, and I crank it back. What more do you need to be doing when the conditions dictate this kind of approach? And wow do I love it when a bass around the 6lb mark goes and jumps on the end of this simple metal lure that I was doing nothing more to than winding it in. Surf fishing to me is another arrow in the quiver and I want to do more and more of it because it’s so bloody exciting………

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.

Some thoughts and highlights from the weekend’s European Sport Fishing Show

So the second ever European Sport Fishing Show has been and gone, and as with last year I think the location is perfect and I take my hat off to the organisers for sticking their necks out like they so bravely do and putting this show together. In truth the show seemed busier last year and I am sure that the “getting it out there” to us punters could be done more effectively over time, but to be honest what surprises me the most is some of the lack of support from the fishing tackle trade……….

Bear in mind that I work in fishing but of course don’t make or distribute of sell fishing tackle. For many years now I have had all manner of people within the UK tackle industry banging on at me about the need for a fishing show that encompasses lure and/or fly fishing specifically - and now we’ve got one because a few brave people have decided that enough is enough and we have simply got to have one. So why were far too many key players not at the show? Where the hell are the big boys like Daiwa, Shimano, Hardy, Greys, Penn, Savage Gear, etc.? With the amount of fly and lure guy these companies do you’d have thought they would want to show it off to the fishing public.

And then where were some of the smaller companies? Where was somebody like Veals Mail Order with all their Varivas and Teklon lure gear especially? Where was HTO with their awesome Nebula and Shore Game rods and all their lures and bits and pieces? I hardly saw a Fiiish lure at the show, and so on. I am also surprised that more of the internet based lure fishing companies especially don’t go along to this show and help anglers to put faces to business names and also show off and of course sell a load of the increasingly impressive lure fishing tackle we can get our hands on. Don’t get me wrong, it was an impressive show and in time it could grow into something frigging amazing, so surely parts of the tackle trade are their own worst enemies - moan when there isn’t a show, then don’t go to a new show because their might not yet be quite enough footfall, but how on earth do you grow the footfall if you aren’t in there helping to grow it by showing off and selling fishing tackle and associated gear that anglers can come along to see and buy?

Anyway, I could go on and on about the above. We so need a fishing show like this in the UK and I can’t wait for the 2019 one. From my point of view it was awesome to be there in conjunction with the RNLI, and whilst this is very early days with the whole trying to make our fishing that bit safer so that we do get to come home to our families instead of becoming a tragic statistic, it’s really interesting to get to talk to more and more anglers about all this. I showed a brand new video at the show and I believe and I can put it onto YouTube sometime very soon. Here’s some info from the show that I know will be of interest to lure anglers:

Once again the Art of Fishing tackle shop had a hugely impressive stand, and they have my total respect for sourcing and selling the excellent and seriously good value for money Crewsaver lifejackets on sale at the show, with all profits on the sale of them going to the RNLI. I believe these lifejackets will be on their website this week as well, so keep an eye out - for a smidgen under £80 you can buy a seriously good auto-inflate lifejacket, the Crewsaver Crewfit 165N Sport - check my review of it here. I also got to waggle all the rods in their brand new Tailwalk Borderless “EGinn/do any kind of lure fishing” range - holy frigging cow, and I seriously mean that. I can’t recall waggling a more impressive overall range of lure fishing rods before and I have come away from the show actually wanting to buy and own a 10’+ lure rod for the first time ever. These new Tailwalk EGinn rods are on a scary-good introductory deal at the moment and it’s taking all my will power not to invest. A lot of anglers were quite rightly fawning over the the utterly delightful and lighter lure weight Tailwalk EGinn 86L-R, plus the “do it all” Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R. I’d happily take them both, plus that longer Tailwalk EGinn 106M-R as I said earlier, but damn the Tailwalk EGinn 88M absolutely blew me away. If you like very light and wonderfully “crisp” lure rods then you have to check out these new rods.

I got to see a lot more rods in the new Major Craft Triple Cross range over on the impressive Todber Manor stand, and thanks to the kind people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle I took away a hugely impressive feeling Triple Cross TCX-982Surf 9’8’’ 10-45g “Surf Style” lure rod to give it a proper thrashing. Damn this rod feels nice and it’s the perfect time of year for me to get my hands on a lure rod like this. I also saw a very impressive looking wrasse-style lure rod, the new Major Craft Triple Cross Hard Rock TCX-802MH/S 8’ 5-30g, and there is also a slightly longer Major Craft Triple Cross Hard Rock TCX-902H/S 9’ 5-35g - both would make serious wrassing rods, plus they would also work well as bass rods for those of us who like nice fast, very “crisp” actions. I am also becoming more aware of just how many technical metals especially that Major Craft are making, and I really like the prices as well. I have used an IMA lure similar to this Major Craft Jigpara Surf 28 (28g) that absolutely slayed for me on a session over in Ireland last year, so I can’t help but like how this Major Craft one seems to be along similar lines but considerably cheaper! I have also been told that these particular Major Craft slow jigs here and here have been pounding bass for some shore anglers this year. Did I resist at the show? Did I hell!

Great to see a much bigger Sufix lines/VMC hooks stand this year, indeed I am starting to test out some new Sufix lines that will come onto the UK market early next year I believe. If you read my blog then you know how much I like Sufix lines, and these new ones do feel rather special. I was so sorry to hear that the nice people at Lure Heaven could not make the show right at the last minute for family reasons, and I wish them all the best.

Always good to see the Vision fly fishing people, and they were telling me about a few new clothing and wading related products that I can’t wait to get my hands on next year for a proper test. They also assured me that there are no plans anywhere in the future to stop making their consistently brilliant Vision Ikon chest and indeed waist waders (review here) - thank you Vision!

I was so impressed that Aaron Insley the custom rod builder from Cornwall had a stand at the show, and he was showing me some brand new blanks he has got in which were of serious interest. I am not sure how much I can say about these blanks yet, but in due course I am hoping to get my hands on one of them for a bit of a test, and damn it felt impressive as a surf fishing rod. Holy cow can Aaron build fishing rods, indeed I would urge you to connect with him on Facebook or on 07858 478102 to discuss either his new lure blanks or if you’ve got any kind of fishing rods that need a rebuild etc. Aaron told me that he can now get hold of those great feeling Winn Grips rod grips and handles and I am sorely tempted to ask him to put some on a lure rod of mine.

 Do I look highly intelligent or slightly confused?!

Do I look highly intelligent or slightly confused?!

The more time I spend with the RNLI people, the more I am learning about all manner of fishing safety related stuff, and as much as I am further down the road with lifejackets especially, I still have so much to learn about them. What could be better than getting some one on one lessons from the guys about how to properly rearm a lifejacket and then repack it ready for using again? There will be lots more to come on this and I have come away from the weekend understanding so much more about how to look after and service my own lifejacket. My eternal thanks to the truly awesome RNLI.

Anyway, I’ll leave it there for the time being. Great to catch up with a bunch of our clients, great to talk fishing with so many anglers, I always enjoy seeing so many of the fishing trade people I have got to know over the years, and I so hope that next year more of the lure fishing trade especially gets right behind this fantastic new show and helps it to move onwards and upwards so that more of us fishing tackle junkies find ourselves drawn to Bristol because our tackle-addled brains call us there like homing beacons. So well done to the organisers, you deserve so much credit.

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 9’6'' 10-30g lure rod review - £199.99 UK price (and hope to see you at the European Sport Fishing Show tomorrow)

The one rod in the discontinued Major Craft Skyroad range that I never got to spend any meaningful time with was the 9’6’’ 10-30g. I spent a heap of time fishing with their awesome Major Craft Skyroad SKR-962 Surf 9’6’’ 5-28g, but my only experiences with that Skyroad 9’6’’ 10-30g rod was when I came across a few kind anglers who let me have a quick chuck with theirs. So yes, it was rather exciting to get my grubby mitts on this new Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rod. I’m not going to repeat myself here with why we are seeing this new “EU Custom range” of these Triple Cross rods, because you can find that info in my review of the outstanding 9’ rod - check here.

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We can get our hands on so much good lure fishing gear these days, and when I come across a rod like this Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rod which to be perfectly honest floated my boat the moment I picked it up and give it a waggle, I do wonder how anybody could not like fishing with a rod like this. For sure you might prefer a longer or shorter or more powerful or whatever lure rod, but as a 9’6’’ long lure fishing rod that is rated to fish with lure in that almost “do it all” 10-30g range, I fail to see how you can’t enjoy using a rod that works as well as this one. It’s a class bit of kit, but yes, obviously I accept completely that we all like different things. I mean hell, some anglers don’t go panic buying DoLive Sticks!

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I like the handle on this rod, I like the build, I like the look of the rod, and I like the price. If a 9’6’’ rod is as light and responsive as this one is then I am perfectly happy lure fishing with a rod this long, and holy cow does it get lures out there. I happen to think the 10-30g rating is spot on - only yesterday morning I was absolutely larruping (technical casting word!) a 30g casting jig with no issues, and managing to fish it properly at serious range as well. How do I know this? Because a bass jumped on the end! Please note that I am not telling you to go overloading the rod just because I have full-blooded a 30g jig, rather that I agree with the 10-30g figures. Putting out a 6’’ DoLive is as effortless as loading the rod up and belting a Patchinko out there, and so on.

It’s all very well putting lures out through, but at the end of the day you’ve got to be able to fish them properly. I can’t stand lure rods that “collapse” into a surface lure like the Patchinko, and when I clip on that 30g casting jig the next cast, I want to be able to work it properly at range. And so on. I liked this rod from the off, but sometimes I really like a rod to start with then over time I might find a few often minor issues that end up grating a little bit. Not at all with this Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rod though, indeed the more I have fished with it, the more I have liked it as locations and conditions have dictated a load of different lures and methods - and the rod does the lot with ease. I kind of enjoy trying to trip a lure rod up, but I’m damned if I can with this one, and it’s a rod I will be very sorry to send back to those nice people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle.

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And if it helps, I know of two very good UK lure anglers who both have this Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rod and have both landed 10lb+ bass on them. One I believe was taken on a metal and the other was taken off the top over in Ireland. All these rods we use are more than capable of landing big bass, but it’s good to know that a new to the UK rod has actually been properly tested out in the real world by some proper anglers who know their onions.

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What more can I say? This Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rod is a bloody good 9’6’’ lure fishing for for how so many of us go about our bass fishing, and for a penny under the £200 mark and with the amount of lure rods I have fished with, it’s a bit of a steal in my opinion. I can’t compare it to the discontinued 9’6’’ Skyroad, but as with that shorter Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod that I reviewed a while back, once more I take my hat off to those Chesil Bait’n’Tackle people for seriously nailing this “EU Custom” range of the Major Triple Cross rods. The discontinued Skyroad rods were a tough act to follow, but these EU Custom rods are all that plus a little bit more.

Hoping to see a bunch of you at the European Sport Fishing Show in Bristol tomorrow and/or Sunday, and I have been told that a whole heap of new Major Craft rods - including this EU Custom range - will be on display at the Todber Manor stand. I am working with the RNLI at the show, but I might also be waggling rods on the Art of Fishing, Lure Heaven, and Todber Manor stands. See you there, and if you by any chance come looking for me from about 2.30pm onwards on the Saturday afternoon and don’t find me, well I’ll have sodded off to (nervously?) watch the England v South Africa rugby!

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

I 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

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.

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.

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.