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.


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!


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.


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……...


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

 6g Shallow Head plus 120mm Black Minnow body

6g Shallow Head plus 120mm Black Minnow body

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


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


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


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Heading over to Kerry on Sunday for a guiding trip

Does time go faster the older you get? It seems like only yesterday that I was driving back from Kerry last October and already looking forward to right now when I head over there again. I try hard to be an understanding sort of person - if you ask my girls then I am sure I fail on a regular basis - but I would struggle to understand any angler out there who wouldn’t enjoy the thrill of visiting such a stunning, quiet and out of the way coastline. To be able to head over there for work is awesome……….


So on Sunday morning I will leave my house at around 7am to catch the 13.10 StenaLine ferry from Fishguard over to Rosslare, and then when the ferry docks in south east Ireland at around 16.30 it tends to be a four to five hour drive over to where John Quinlan and his family live in Kerry in the south west of Ireland. It’s a pretty long journey on my own, but driving in Ireland especially doesn’t tend to be much hassle at all, and also a good selection of podcasts that play via Apple CarPlay in my epic Berlingo don’t half make the driving go a lot easier (I read about Limetown Season 1 the other day, a podcast that plays out like a bit like Serial only it’s fiction, so I’ve got that downloaded on my phone for the journey).


And then our first group of four clients start arriving on Monday to start fishing no doubt pretty early on Tuesday morning. I can’t wait and I love this work I do with John over in Ireland. We have a blast and I hope that translates over to those kind people who come along on these joint trips we run together. I won’t be fishing over there of course but I am just as excited about heading over as if I was heading say for the Dungarvan area on a fishing/photography trip. Nothing has changed my opinion that guides don’t fish with their clients, indeed if I hired a guide myself and they fished with me then at the end of the day or trip I wouldn’t pay them, end of - why should you be subsidising somebody else’s fishing? 


Anyway, as per usual I will do my best to keep the blog updated with how we are getting on, but please accept that we put in some very long hours on these co-guided trips and sometimes I end up struggling for time. You all have a good weekend and I hope you might be out somewhere enjoying this perfectly glorious weather. Okay, so it might not be the best for bass fishing, but after the winter we all had we surely can’t complain!

Oh, and we have had a last minute cancellation on one of our September trips, for one person, so if you fancy coming along then please get in touch with me via the Contact Me part of the website at the top of this page. The September dates are:

  • Arrive Friday 21st Sept 2018
  • Fish 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th Sept
  • Depart Weds 26th Sept

Massively overexcited because I am off to Ireland tomorrow - yippee!

The day the buzz isn’t there about this fishing thing and also heading away for this fishing or indeed guiding thing is the day that life for me would essentially be over. A life without fishing and all that surrounds it is a life I don’t want to contemplate, and for all the amazing places I have been lucky enough to spend time in via my working in fishing, that buzz about heading over to Ireland is still that bit extra special…………


I am heading over tomorrow for a week of fishing and photography around Dungarvan. It’s been too long and I can’t wait to get back and fish those waters where I have had so much fun over the years. Steve and Carl are jumping in my epic Berlingo and I know deep down that they are more excited about getting to ride in my chariot than they are about the bass fishing to come. Come on lads, you can admit it, you look a lot younger and more hip when you are travelling in such style, and especially when the driver is wearing his under-wader compression tights and a pair of shorts with the obligatory Crocs of course!


As ever I am heading over with a very open mind - we will work together on trying to find the best bass fishing we can, and I reckon that if conditions stay like this then it’s going to be a lot of all night fishing especially. In truth we will only get about four or five hours of proper darkness a night, but between the three of us I reckon we know enough to have a decent chance at some good fishing if the bass are behaving. I can remember one complete day and night so well over there a couple of years ago in June, when we fished hard nearly all day and never had a sniff - but once it got dark we smashed bass until first light.

I had better get on with clearing some work and getting myself packed up for heading over tomorrow, and as ever I will do my best to keep the blog updated with how we are getting on. I haven’t been over to Ireland since my last co-guiding trip over in Kerry last October and I can’t wait to get back over there. You all have a good weekend and may England get back to winning ways again and stuff South Africa in the rugby tomorrow……….. 

We’ve had a cancellation so one space has become available on our second July co-guided Ireland lure fishing trip

Just a quick blog post today to let you know that a space has suddenly become available on one of our co-guided lure fishing trips over in Kerry, south west Ireland. If you read my blog then you will know I spend a few weeks each year working with the renowned Irish fishing guide John Quinlan out of their rather special Thatch Cottage Ireland setup. I absolutely love the work we do together and I would hope that our clients agree that these are some pretty unique fishing trips in a part of the world that is truly, truly special.

The one space that has become available is on these dates in July 2018:

  • Arrive at Thatch Cottage Saturday 14th July

  • Four full days of guided lure fishing on 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th July

  • Depart Thatch Cottage Thursday 19th July

If you are after a bit of lure fishing down in Kerry where if we see another angler it’s genuinely shocking then please get in touch here and I will reply to you with further details. We concentrate primarily on bass fishing, but this is Ireland and there are plenty of other options. Do not worry for one second if you are not kitted out with all the gear, for we have plenty of rods and reels etc. for our clients to use if needs be. We fish hard but I would hope that what our clients take away from these trips is how much fun we have. Come along if you can………..


We have a few spaces left on our co-guided Ireland based lure fishing trips in July, and one space in September - come along if you can!

OK, OK, as much as it pains me I must do this - well done Ireland on winning the Grand Slam and so comprehensively beating us that I reckon come the summer tests against South Africa we will surely be seeing a somewhat different England rugby team. Ireland were outstanding and we seriously were not. Holy cow, talk about a wakeup call…………….


Anyway, enough of that, because I need to tell you about a few places we have left on these co-guided lure fishing trips in Kerry, Ireland that John Quinlan and I run together - and yes, as much as I can’t wait for these weeks to come around each year, a part of me is also dreading the insufferable smugness that John has every right to relay to me with that rugby result. I know that being the good fellow that he is, John would never stoop to winding me up about what happened in the Six Nations! Sorry, I digress, but you can probably guess where I am at right now with the disappointment.


We have a few spaces on our July 2018 trips and then the one space on one of our September 2018 trips. All trips are of course timed to coincide with good tides, and the serious beauty about lure fishing around where John lives in Kerry is that we have so many options whatever the weather does or doesn’t do - plus the place is seriously beautiful and quiet and incredibly special. At those times of year we can even do a bit of lure and fly fishing for salmon if the river conditions are right and if our people want to have a go.


For these co-guided trips we work on five nights of accommodation and all food at their rather lovely Thatch Cottage setup, together with the four long days of guided fishing with John and I. We fish hard, we laugh a lot, and we work our socks off on trying our best to put our people onto some good lure fishing in a seriously special part of the world. And please do not for one second think that these co-guided trips are for experienced anglers only - if you’re into fishing then please come along.

So these are the July dates on which we have some spaces:

1st trip:
Arrive Monday 9th July
Fish 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th
Depart Sat 14th July

2nd trip:
Arrive Sat 14th July
Fish 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th
Depart Thurs 19th July

And we have the one space only on this trip in September:

Arrive Weds 26th Sept
Fish 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th
Depart Monday 1st October


The price for one of these all inclusive trips is the same as it’s always been - 1300 Euros. I tend to put our groups of clients together via email to see if any of them can share travel amongst themselves, for there are various ferry/drive and flying options to get to Kerry down in south west Ireland. You can find some more details on these trips right here, and then if you fancy coming along for some hugely fun fishing and also watching an Irishman berate an Englishman about the state of their rugby team, either fill out that Contact Me form on the guiding page, or over on the Contact Me page.

How can the one species of fish be so endlessly fascinating and absorbing?

I dread to think what the percentage is of my life that I spend thinking about fishing, and then because bass fishing has so utterly consumed me, a large part of my life is obviously spent obsessing about a single species of fish that firstly I used to catch by mistake and think little of it back in my mainly bait days, and secondly if you had told me even fifteen years ago that I’d be like I am now I would have refused to believe that this was possible………….


What the hell is it about bass then? It sure can’t be their sheer size when we have a number of saltwater species of fish that I would argue are somewhat easier to land in generally bigger sizes than a lot of bass we might catch, and as much as I love how bass often scrap, it’s not as if in our colder waters we are beset with plenty of species which might run us down to our backing with their sheer speed and power. So what on earth is it then? 

Well you can probably guess that I woke up nice and early this morning thinking about this, and my current thinking on this subject is that it’s an intoxicating mix of where and how that has allowed chasing bass to creep up on me to the point that I will often go for long periods of fishing for nothing else. 

Where and how, that’s the crux for me, and I wonder how many anglers are in a similar boat to me here - you know these fish are around, you sometimes catch them as a byproduct of chasing something else, but for whatever reason you start having a go at this whole lure fishing thing and then over time a whole new world of fishing opens up to you. Lure fishing in essence may well be simply putting artificial imitations in front of fish, but let’s be honest here and think back a bit in your fishing life and where lure fishing may have come into it - did you have even an inkling that there could be so much fun and interesting stuff involved in what at first looks like nothing more than chucking bits of plastic or metal out there?

Which in essence lure fishing is, but it’s how much there can be to it that I had no idea about when I first started to buzz about lure fishing for bass over in south east Ireland especially. Even if a few bass used to sometimes jump on my baits when I was targeting something else, I didn’t have a clue about how many different places you could go and target bass - and I am talking about different countries as well as different terrains here. I can distinctly remember being pretty amazed when I found out there bass fishing was big in countries such as France, Spain and Portugal for example, and I love thinking back to how we would chuck lures such as that killer Maria Chase BW from rock marks in south east Ireland, but change over to bait fishing when we targeted an estuary because we didn’t really know how to properly target that kind of water with lures.


Don’t get me wrong though, those times I spent running crab baits down an Irish estuary with Graham was some of the most glorious fishing I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of, but it was lure fishing that started to take over for me. I just had no idea that the one species of fish could demand such a variety of methods and techniques if you had an interest in targeting them from different locations and terrains (which I do) - and as much as I hope I have learnt a fair bit over the last few years about targeting bass on lures, what does it for me so much is how my brain is still buzzing with how much more stuff there is to learn and play around with.

If there is one thing that cabin fever does is it’s getting my brain ticking about how I might shake my own fishing up a bit, and then with the amount of often really good fishing “chat” online especially, how exciting it is to stumble upon different ways of doing things and then thinking about how you might incorporate such and such into your own fishing. I just love it. 


As a simple example, I can think of a few specific times last year when out and out distance did in fact pay off, and on a couple of occasions especially it was a simple metal (spinner, casting jig or whatever) that did the trick. Discussions get going online and because a lot of anglers are very generous with their own thoughts and info as regards techniques and methods, you can’t help but start thinking all over again about what a range of different metals could do for your fishing for example - I think about those technical slow jigs for example and how there are now a whole bunch now that are the right weights for shore fishing and I wonder if these might catch me some bass in certain situations where something else might not have in the past? And so on and so on.

As much as I like to think I have a lot of the bass fishing fairly well covered as such around where I live, in reality there is such a huge amount more to learn that I am left wondering where on earth the time is to do so. I think about such wonderful countries like Spain and Portugal and I know that I need to at least spend a little bit of time experiencing some of their bass fishing because it floats my boat so much to see different places, spend time with different anglers, and come away with new ideas and memories and plans - which in a way comes full circle with this species of fish we call bass. Isn’t it amazing how the one species can do all this to so many of us here? Can you imagine how much better it could be if we had a properly healthy fishery for bass as well?

It doesn’t matter how good or bad last season was, because around this time every year I start feeling sick with excitement about all the fishing to come

Whilst I don’t hold out a huge amount of hope for nailing a few bass on lures at this time of year down here, it is Cornwall, the water doesn’t feel too cold, and if conditions come good then a bit of a go has to be worth it. In reality though it’s the time of year for me when I start to literally feel sick with excitement and anticipation at the season to come - around where I live was very up and down on the bass in 2017, but you never know how each season as such will pan out, and as ever I have a bunch of plans and ideas to shake my fishing up a bit and see what happens…………


Every year is very different and I don’t know when your local bass fishing tends to switch on around you, but if I include January at least as part of the bass season down here, then I landed my first bass of the 2017 season on April 11th last year, as per the fish above. When might things switch on this season? My mate Mark who is kindly holding my bass above had a nice fish on March 12th a few years ago, and I would still love to know if that was a bass which had stuck around or was it a bass that had just come in?


I know that John Quinlan often starts his bass guiding season over in Kerry towards the end of March, and he fully expects his clients to catch fish or else he simply wouldn’t be taking their money. I keep hearing rumblings of some good, very early season bass fishing on lures in the deepest, darkest parts of Cornwall, and of course this sort of stuff makes my brain rattle around in my head when it’s early February, it feels like it’s been raining for two months solid, we’re burning a lot of wood to keep the stoves going, and my youngest girl is still wearing shorts to school but dad here isn’t as brave as he used to be and is waiting for warmer weather to get the shorts out.

I know things are different that far south and west, but are too many of us perhaps a bit guilty of doing the same things at the same times and not thinking out of the box a bit more? I am as guilty as the next angler of often defaulting to what you tend to know the best on your local patch, but with how up and down the bass fishing was around here last year I am determined to shake things up a bit. If there is one thing I don’t mind doing it’s taking a punt and risking a few blanks, because if I don’t try new places and techniques and stuff like that then I can get stale and lose a bit of the buzz.


One thing I didn’t manage to do last year was spend nearly enough time over in Ireland on my own fishing and photography. I consider myself incredibly lucky to spend what tends to be about a month in Kerry spread over a couple of guiding trips, but for various reasons I only managed the one Ireland trip where I got to fish myself and take a bunch of photos etc. We had some awesome fishing around Dungarvan last September, but if things go more to plan this year then I will be getting back to my usual quota of time over in Ireland, my favourite country on earth.

And of course it’s that epic time of the year when the Six Nations starts again. It might not be an epic time for bass fishing, but I can’t wait for the Six Nations and I reckon it’s going to be one hell of an interesting tournament with so many injuries for all the sides and with how strong Ireland and Scotland are looking. You all have a good weekend and may spring arrive pretty damn soon please……..


Happy Xmas, see you in 2018……….

Nearly another year gone, and as ever one has to ask where on earth the time goes? Can you really believe it’s Christmas Day on Monday, and as an angler I hope you have been good boys and girls for present time! Sadly my wife has absolutely no idea what a DoLive Stick is, so you can rest assured that when I open my presents on Monday (and surely you notice how bloody small your pile of presents is compared to when you were a kid!) there will be nothing like that in there.


I have no concrete plans to do any more blogging until the New Year, so you all have a good Xmas and I will see you in 2018. We’ve got lots of family down over the next week or so but I will be out fishing when possible with conditions etc., and I hope that many of you on here might manage to wet a line or two. As much as I tend to love this time of year for bass fishing around where I live, it does seem worryingly quiet at the moment, albeit there seem to be pockets of fish around if you can locate them.

I did want to draw your attention to a fantastic new fishing film trailer that I saw the other day, with the main man behind this project being a hugely talented South African fly fisherman and film maker who I have done a bunch of stuff with over the years. I was lucky enough to go and photograph this insane tigerfish location back in September 2010 and the experience has lived with me ever since. I have never seen a freshwater fish hit a fly as hard as a tigerfish, and the only saltwater fish I can think of that hits so hard and fast and aggressively is a GT. As you well know, I am obsessed with bass fishing and I love our magnificent fish to bits, but wow would I love to see some of the bass fishing experts out there get nailed by a 10lb plus tigerfish! Try setting a hook in that mouth! Africa, it has been far too long and I need to go back. I hope you all get some proper time away from work, looking forward to catching up soon…………….

 Only in Africa.........

Only in Africa.........

What kind of action do you prefer your lure rod to have, and does that action really work for you?

It’s an interesting thing to stand back and watch other anglers fish, and especially the casting part - we all do things slightly differently, some do it better than others, and I do wonder sometimes if an angler’s rod might actually be working against them a bit. How many anglers can’t help but be drawn to the fastest lure rod on the shelf because it feels so precise and steely and “manly”, but how many of these anglers are going to be able to get the most out of the fastest rods? You see it with fly anglers as well……….


I can’t get enough of this “budget” HTO Nebula M 9’ 7-35g lure rod (review here, and back in the UK in Jan 2018 I believe) - rated Ex(tra) Fast - but without a doubt you need to be on it to get the best out of it casting wise. I love the feeling of precision this particular rod gives me, but for the rod to really feel like it’s singing for me, I need to do things right - and because the rod is so fast there is very little margin for error. If my timing is slightly off then it bites back at me and my distance suffers. I like to think I can cast ok, and I can really feel it when I’ve got this 9’ Nebula working well - but I can also feel it when I am not casting at my best.


And then you’ve got a similar rated lure rod like the outstanding Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g that I reviewed earlier in the year here. Because the Nebula is a smidgen faster than the gorgeous Tailwalk Saltyshape rod, does this then make it better? Nope, of course not, and it would be interesting to stand back and watch a bunch of anglers casting both rods and see which kind of rod action was working better for each person.


I used to see this all the time with bait fishing - plenty of anglers who weren’t coming close to getting much out of their hugely powerful beachcasters because their casting style simply wasn’t up to it, and it’s interesting to read about these longer, easier to load, continental style shore rods gaining in popularity. Granted, it doesn’t matter much for short range rough ground fishing where you need to drag fish out, but as with lure fishing, I wonder how many anglers had gone for those big, powerful rods because they felt so “manly” when you picked them up? I sure as hell did many moons ago (Conoflex Highlander anyone?), but then I did actually go away and learn how to properly bend them if I needed to.

And of course it then depends on what size and weight of lures you are fishing with. The last couple of times I have fished the Cape Cod Canal for striped bass I have used a Major Craft X-Ride Shore Jigging rod that’s rated 20-60g - the 10’ long WRS 1002MH, rated Regular. Now this thing is an animal of a rod! I took it with me because it’s what I have here that I thought would be best suited to Canal fishing, and yes, I have cast way over the 60g recommended top end without any hassle at all. This rod may be rated Regular, but holy cow it take some bending, to the point that after a few hours of blasting big surface lures out there my shoulders are about ready to fall off. I understand why a rod like this is required for shore jigging in deep water for big fish, but for out and out distance casting, and rod this fast I feel works ends up working against me.


I had a go with the rod that Bull is using above (12’ long Shimano US Tiralejo surf rod, rated to cast 2-6oz, as per here), and whilst it’s got oodles of power for getting lures out there and horsing big fish in through a rip of current, holy cow it’s so much easier to wind up on the casting front. OK, so it’s longer than the X-Ride rod I was using, plus it’s rated to cast heavier lures, but its action to me is more efficient for getting lures out a long way. Ex Fast, Fast, Medium Fast, Medium etc. - what do you prefer and why? I know that some anglers delight in spouting off about the best rod lengths, actions and casting weights, but we are all different and there simply can’t be the one “perfect” fishing rod that is going to work perfectly for every single angler.

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