How could you not learn from these trips away ?

I am what I am and like most human beings I am beset with various flaws, but one character trait I know I have in spades is that when I am interested in something (fishing, photography, music etc.), I can't help myself with needing to keep on learning and finding out as much new stuff as I can. Is this a good or a bad thing ? Not sure, but it's the way I am, and it will never cease to amaze me how some people never ask questions and seem to have little interest in learning more about the stuff that they enjoy doing.....................

Watching and talking to such a skilled lure angler as Abdel Sabon out in Morocco, it would be impossible to come away without learning something from him. It fascinated me how "precisely" he fishes his hard lures around the rocks, and some of what he does has really made me think how I might next approach the sort of sea conditions and/or location where when the waves break and then create those mini kind of "current rivers" as they drop back out - when you can hold a lure there and it's fishing away in that backwash - something I so need to do more of. Abdel told me plenty about how he might approach certain kinds of terrain, for example thinking more about how the gullies and holes run in certain directions, and how one might fish lures through or along them. I catch a few fish so I must be doing at least some stuff right, but I also always know that I need to keep improving.

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If you follow this blog then you will know that I have tried from time to time to find an alternative to wading boots. My Simms wading boots are by far and away the best wading boots that I have ever worn, to the point where I don't feel comfortable recommending any others here, but they are very expensive and they are not exactly lightweight - no wading boots have ever lasted as long for me though. One of the lads on the trip had a pair of Five Ten Canyoneer boots you can see above - check here and here for full details. Charles was very positive about them during the week - comfortable, very light, they seem to be tough enough, they drain, the soles look like they are fine if you screw studs in to them, and obviously they are designed to be used in water for long periods of time. I have subsequently heard from a bloke I know over in France that he has been using them for a couple of years now and they are lasting very well and seem to be ideal for lure fishing. Around the £100 mark is considerably cheaper than a pair of say Simms Rivershed wading boots (which by the way are frigging awesome), so I am going to get hold of a pair of these Five Ten canyoneering boots and see how they do - has to be worth a punt...........

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Abdel was using one of the most awesome looking spinning reels I have ever seen. Would a reel like this catch me loads more fish than the stuff I am currently using ? Yes !!!!! OK, not really, but I have wanted to see one of these Shimano (Japan) Exsence C14+ reels in the flesh for a while now, and lo and behold one was strapped to Abdel's lure rod - the 4000s model. I am guessing that the newish Shimano Sustain reels owe some of their design to this Exsence (or is it the other way round ?), but there is never anything wrong with lusting after a new bit of fishing tackle. Do I need one ? Yes !!! OK, as above, of course not, but what a stunning looking bit of kit, and I just absolutely love the handle (which I think is about the same as on the Sustain 5000FG, which sounds big but I believe is the same body size as the Sustain 4000FG, just with a larger capacity spool). You know you've got issues when you find yourself drawn to spinning reel handles !!

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I also find myself obsessing about braids. I fished the whole week with my 20lb (0.15mm) Sufix 832 braid and it just continues to perform flawlessly for me, and especially with that incredible FC knot for connecting to a fluoro leader (see here). I find nothing to persuade me otherwise that most "problems" with various braids stem from dodgy knots to leaders and also bad line lays/overfilling spools/ropey casting. Half way through the week and Abdel shows me a spool of YGK G-Soul Upgrade PE X8 - I don't know a great deal about PE numbers, but the other lads assured me that a 25lb breaking strain for a PE rating of 1.2 is very thin indeed, and the 30lb version is PE1.5 - PE numbers aside, holy cow it's one thin braid, anybody can tell that, and like the other YGK lines that I have tried so far, it feels the mutts. I know nothing about this line other than it looks pretty, Abdel raves about, and as far as I am aware it's not available in the UK yet - which is nice. Oh, and this Shimano AR-C Aero C14+ 4000 spinning reel keeps growing on me the more and more I fish with it - it is one awesome lure fishing reel.

It strikes me that such a long-casting, "hard biting" lure like the IMA Hound 125F Glide could have been almost purpose designed for bass fishing in Morocco, indeed I caught a few fish one morning on the cotton candy one. I have also started trying out the "baby" Hound 100F Sonic - smaller, lighter, but flies almost stupidly well and you can really feel the lure working hard on the rod tip when you retrieve it. If you fancy getting your hands on a couple, I left a couple of mine snagged on some rocks somewhere along that magical Moroccan coastline !! Abdel caught bass on the Sonic. I did also get to fish for my first time with the (slightly deeper diving than the Glide) Hound 125F Fang - I can't prove it, but it felt as if this thing was going out a little bit better again than the Glide, if that is really possible. Whatever the case, it is not right how these comparatively little lures fly out there. They catch me fish and they provide me with solutions to various "problems".

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Saying that though, my best bass in Morocco (above, kindly held by Neil) came on the killer MegaBass X120. Another lure that just doesn't not come along bass fishing with me, and especially since I found that I could just about fit one or two in those narrow sections of the drainable lure boxes I so like (and I only just found out via Ben that you can also get those drainable lure boxes with the sections lengthways instead of across, meaning you can fit the larger lures in there if needs be. Good eh ?). I took the bass above on the pearl colour X120, the model that came with single hooks when I got it - which I have come to think of as a waste of time. I am sure singles are great for further protecting the fish, but so far any single plugging hooks I have tried have all rusted out far too quickly - and these days I take the middle treble off my lures when there are three sets, and every single hook I use for lure fishing is barbless anyway. I replaced the rusted out singles on the pearl X120 with a couple of sets of trebles, size 6 I think.

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I will finish though with perhaps the single most important thing I learnt on the Morocco trip - donkeys are not even half as friendly as they might look. There were often locals collecting mussels on the shoreline, and they tend to use donkeys as transport up those high, steep cliffs. So I thought it might be nice to stroke a donkey as we walked past them one afternoon. I approach the thing, hand outstretched, making all kinds of nice noises - and the donkey only turns its arse to me, makes all kinds of sounds, and starts shaping up to kick me with its hind legs. Sod that, I'm out of there, only to be nearly attacked fifty yards down the rocks by some local stray psycho of a dog. In another life I might have been an animal whisperer, but not that afternoon. My next move is to see if I can track down some donkey steaks and get them on the barbie to make me feel better. You have been warned - don't let the innocent, slightly downtrodden look on a donkey's face fool you..........................