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……...


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

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


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

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


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


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

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

Do many of you swim paddletails nice and shallow for bass? And yes, my brain is in churn mode…….

Amendment - Just got back from a dog walk where I quickly had a few chucks with the Z-Man/weedless hook with hitchhiker setup which is described in more detail below - it doesn’t work. The Z-Man looks stunning in the water when you swim it nice and shallow, but the moment I put any power into the cast and the hitchhiker popped out of the front of the lure - because of the material I guess it’s not actually “catching” into the soft plastic. It’s going to work though, I just need to find another hook to get this thing swimming shallow. Perhaps the TT Lures ChinlockZ, and then add some lead strip to act as a belly weight? More to come.

If you listen carefully as you are reading this post you can probably hear my brain whirring away! If there is one thing that an intensive period of fishing with a few other anglers who I know and trust gives one is the chance to learn a whole lot more about this lure fishing thing, indeed I would always argue that the angler who fishes with other anglers but doesn’t watch and listen and learn is shooting themself in the foot by not doing so. Never for one second would I claim to be some sort of great angler, but I pride myself on wanting to learn more all the time……………


So I briefly mentioned the other day that during this week of charging around Cornwall and generally fishing our socks off how Steve had been doing well on the  5’’ MegaBass Spindle Worm fished on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Worm EWG Weighted Spring Lock hook with the 3.5g belly-weight - and naturally it has got me thinking a whole lot more. For sure I have swum various paddletails nice and shallow for bass a fair bit before - and with a good degree of success - but for whatever reason I kinda moved away from it as I tried other stuff.

Which of course is one of the dangers I suppose of striving to learn all the time and expand your armoury as such - you can sometimes almost forget a method that you used to use, but then that is also the beauty of fishing with other anglers. We are naturally going to fish in slightly different ways and sure enough somebody is going to do something that strikes a chord with you. If you bass fish from the shore with lures then I would guess you’re fishing a lot of shallow, reefy ground where the water can sometimes fizz around a bit, and to me it makes so much sense to swim certain paddletails nice and shallow and for the most part fairly slowly, indeed Steve had a few bass last week by literally holding his lure in the backwash or small rips created by the fizzing sea.


Obviously I went and bought a few packets of those 5’’ long MegaBass Spindle Worm paddletails - it’s not as if I need much encouragement to drop some dosh on lures after all! I have various weedless hooks here with belly weights on them already - and if it helps, I have used and really like the Owner and VMC ones, but I can’t get away from how well those Gamakatsu ones sit on the Spindle Worm as well. I must have bought some a few years ago because I found a couple of packets of them squirrelled away here in my office.


And blow me down if I didn’t go and find another stunning looking paddletail that I completely forgot I had here, and as per the photo above it looks pretty damn tasty rigged on a belly-weighted weedless hook. I have used some of the almost ridiculously long lasting ZMan soft plastics a lot for wrasse fishing, and whilst you need to keep them in their packets and separate from your other soft lures and they can be a little awkward to rig, to me they are more than worth it with how lethal they are for the wrasse.

Anyway, so I stumble upon this packet of Z-Man Grass KickerZ 5'' paddletails and I start wondering how nice they must surely be swum nice and shallow for bass. I realise very quickly that because of the weird plastic the lures are made from I can’t simply wind a hitchhiker on a weedless hook into the front of the lure, and then because we can these days, I go looking for help on YouTube and I found the video above. Sorted, and rigged with a VMC Drop Dead Weighted Weedless Twist 3.5g (belly weight) 5/0, the combination weighs 16.2g - and bear in mind that for whatever reason these VMC Drop Dead Weighted weedless hooks are big, and this 5/0 as per the photo is far more like a regular 6/0 if you ask me. Nice hooks though. I am really looking forward to giving this combination some water time, and I also like how the Z-Man soft plastics aren’t very expensive at all when you also factor in how long they last compared to other soft lures.


There are of course loads of options out there for lures like these. I found an old blog post from mine that refers to catching on the Yamamoto Swim Senko for example, a paddletail that some mates in Ireland put me onto a few years ago. And of course these paddletails can be fished nice and slow without any belly weight on the hook in calm conditions, although I don’t yet know how the very buoyant Z-Man Grass KickerZ 5'' paddletail might swim like this. A tip that I picked up from John Quinlan over in Ireland was to carry a few thin strips of lead to wrap around a weedless hook if you needed to add some weight and/or don’t have any belly-weighted weedless hooks to hand. And so on. A simple way of bass fishing that I find myself very excited to almost come back to and learn far more about, and to me it’s an option to turn to especially when the conditions might be a touch too fizzed up to properly control something like a 6’’ DoLive Stick rigged weedless and weightless. 

I mentioned John Quinlan and his lead strip thing earlier, so I am really pleased to see my interview with him in this month’s Sea Angler magazine. He is a blast to work with on this co-guiding stuff we do together over in SW Ireland, and it was great to finally find a bit of time to sit him down and fire a few questions at him. Professionally guiding as he does and has done for so long now doesn’t half give you some interesting insights into fishing. 

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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.

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

 6g Shallow Head plus 120mm Black Minnow body

6g Shallow Head plus 120mm Black Minnow body

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


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


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


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.

First day with our clients out here in Kerry - about as calm and clear and warm and dry as it’s ever going to get out here, but there are bass around

The fishing yesterday wasn’t remotely epic, but there are many, many things I love about spending time in Kerry and being able to do this guiding work with John Quinlan - and the fact that almost whatever the conditions you get you are still in with a realistic chance at a few bass is one of the many bonuses in this magical part of the world……………

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There are a lot of very shallow reefs out here, and if there is one thing that bass seem to like when there is a distinct lack of anglers around as there always is here in Kerry is mooching around ground like this when the water is nice and warm. On the first spot we went to yesterday morning the lad above hooked and landed this bass, and on guess what lure? I must sound like a scratched record sometimes, but yes, he nailed the fish on a 6’’ DoLive Stick, indeed the only real options for fishing ground that shallow and rocky and weedy that I know of is either with a surface lure or a soft plastic rigged weedless and weightless. 

When you’re guiding you are obviously going to advise your clients to use the lure or lures which you think have the absolute best chance of catching some fish - for John and I the DoLive Stick is so often that lure. John guides for bass for much of the year here in Kerry and he sees more ground and different conditions and fish and fishy things going on than most of us, and it’s interesting how much he turns to certain lures because they keep on producing.

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One of our lads hooked a really nice bass after lunch on the white DoLive Stick in some almost outrageously bright conditions, but the fish came off for some reason, and then later on another lad got smashed up good and proper on a Fiiish Black Minnow that he really likes fishing on the shallow heads that I just haven’t done enough with.

It continues to be the most incredible buzz helping people catch fish, indeed I have to be careful not to start jumping around like I’m in the mosh pit at a metal gig when something goes and works and somebody connects with a bass. I rigged up one of our lads with one of those long-casting Spofford’s needlefish last night, but with how shallow it was in front of us the lure kept bumping the bottom at a retrieve speed I tend to like with these lures. I pulled one of those rather lovely and increasingly for me “wouldn’t be without at night” Jim’s Lures needlefish out of my box that I know is more buoyant, so we changed lures, and within a few casts Nigel got nailed good and proper about ten yards or so off his rod tip. He has never night fished for bass before and it was some buzz to have been a small part of his first ever bass at night on a lure. 

So we’re off. Conditions are not exactly easy, but there are bass around, the tides are building, we’ve got a huge area to ourselves it seems, and John and I for whatever reason are lucky enough to get some thoroughly nice people coming along on these trips who are genuinely fun to spend time with (but then anglers are for the most part some pretty cool people anyway). I still kinda pinch myself that I get to spend time out here doing this co-guiding work………..

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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. 

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

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.

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……..


HTO Nebula MH 2.7m (9’) 12-42g lure rod review - £122.99 UK price

I own a few expensive lure rods yet I am choosing to go out fishing with a more “budget” rod that retails at around £120 here in the UK. Why you might ask? Because it’s so damn good and I can’t get enough of it. A few years ago it was the Major Craft 9’ Skyroad that came along and completely changed my opinion on what seriously good lure rods needed to cost (nothing has changed, the Skyroad is still as good as it ever was), and then along comes the brand new HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g lure rod and changes things all over again when it comes to a more regular priced, “do it all” 9’ rod for the majority of my lure fishing.

Yes, it’s that good, and yes, I like it more and more the more I fish with it - it just can’t be right how much rod this thing is for the money! I reviewed the 7-35g version the other day, but for some reason this particular rod got very popular very quickly and HTO are now out of stock until January 2018 I believe.


So up until the other day I hadn’t seen any of the other rods in the five strong range, but thanks to the nice people at the Art of Fishing tackle shop I have the more powerful HTO Nebula MH 9’ 12-42g here, and if it’s any help this rod is just as good as the lighter 7-35g version. Sure, it’s more powerful - and you may or may not want that extra power - but it’s still just as much truly serious lure rod as its sibling which I can’t put down. I would love to know how HTO manage to get these rods made for so little money - we’re talking Fuji reel seats and guides - and I absolutely love how they are using nice small guides which I think makes a positive difference to the way the rod behaves.

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What I really like here is how the 12-42g Nebula feels so similar to the 7-35g version, but it’s a tad more powerful. It bends the same way, I love how fast both rods are, they are very light, they have really good looking curves when being cast or bent into fish, indeed I am still struggling to find a single thing about either rod that I don’t like. I don’t work with HTO by the way, but I take my hat off to the people involved with bringing rods as good as this to our market for so little money - as I said, to the point that I am choosing to fish with these rods over far more expensive bits of kit.


Don’t let the 12-42g rating put you off this HTO Nebula by the way, because as much as it can easily cope with the 42g end (and I reckon it would deal with plenty more if required, plus they both make stunning boat rods), if you were looking for a more powerful lure rod that could also deal pretty damn well with soft plastics such as the 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick then this thing does a hell of a good job. Sure, I’d choose the sublime 7-35g version for the bulk of my lure fishing needs because it is that bit more subtle, but when things get a bit bouncier out there, or I am looking to blast heavier lures out into a bit of surf, well the 12-42g version is about as good as it gets if you ask me. I’d love to see a 9’6’’ version of both rods, because if HTO could retain those wonderfully steely, crisp actions you’d have some incredible longer lure rods.


What’s really interesting for me is when our clients over at Thatch Cottage in Ireland might need to use a lure rod, and this time around a few of our anglers ended up fishing with both the 9’ Nebula rods I had with me. One lad has already bought the 12-42g one because he got on with it so well, and I have a feeling that some of our anglers are now waiting for the 7-35g version to come into stock. What makes our (guiding) lives much easier is if the guys who need rods can go from location to location and species to species and keep using the same rod because it’s so versatile - from beach to rocks to boat, from bass to pollack (shore and boat) and wrasse, I can’t trip these HTO Nebula rods up. OK, so this 12-42g version would be a slightly more specialist rod for a lot of the bass fishing I might do from the shore, but that doesn’t change a thing for me - this is another incredible lure fishing rod at a price which I personally think is a bit of a joke. As I said, I don’t work for HTO, but if I did? I’m not sure I’d have put these rods out for so comparatively little money, put it that way. They're too good........

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.


Watching your anglers pulling a bunch of bass out of some classic Irish surf on lures is pretty damn epic

It just smelt of bass, indeed if a bass hadn’t been caught by at least one of our clients then I think I might have given up - the conditions looked that good, and as is the norm out here in Kerry, you’ve got perfect bass fishing conditions on a huge beach and there are no other anglers to be seen. And we had a blast………

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Of course I love catching fish myself, but it’s some buzz to be standing next to another angler, watching intently as they fish away, and then they get walloped by a bass. I reckon you get to see more from not fishing, and it’s so exciting. It’s as good as fishing gets for me when those perfect tables of surf roll in from the Atlantic, but it’s very manageable and easily fishable, and because there are what seems to be a bunch of fish around, your anglers are fishing hard and expecting to get nailed on every single cast.

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One lure that is really starting to work well out here on the surf beaches is that newish Savage Gear Line Thru Sandeel - they absolutely fly, and as far as we can work out you need do no more than whack them out and wind them in. Get your rod tip up a bit, find the retrieve speed so that they are swimming very naturally just under the surface, and when those bass hit them, it’s something to see as the rod just slams round. One of our anglers also had a few bass on these Line Thru sandeels last week when we was casting it out across a strong current, controlling the swing round, and then slowly retrieving the lure when it moved outside of the main flow. I have been waiting to see how these killer looking lures might work in a bit of Irish surf, and John’s been doing really well with them when his clients have them with them and the conditions are right.

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It must have been the size of the bait that was out there the other day, because it was the smaller 19g version that was doing more damage, and in that ultra realistic sandeel pattern as well. The larger 27g version casts really well and has been catching fish, but holy cow that smaller 19g one goes out there like a frigging missile, and they remain so stable in bouncier conditions. I understand completely the line through rigging for sea trout fishing and how adept these fish are at throwing hooks, but here’s hoping that Savage Gear might one day bring out a version of this increasingly interesting lure that doesn’t need to be rigged line through - perhaps just a couple of eyelets on the end of the lure as per a regular hard lure? Anyway, apologies for the lack of blog posts, but it’s been hectic out here - today is our last day and then I head for home tomorrow. We had big blue skies yesterday and our anglers smashed a silly amount of pollack out on the boat in some wonderfully calm seas, but today is a proper Irish bass day down here in Kerry and we have plenty of time left before we wrap things up………………….

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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.