Some of the gear we've been using with our clients
Most people that have come on these Thatch Cottage Fishing Lodge/Henry Gilbey fishing trips so far have come pretty much fully fitted out with rods, reels, lures, waders, jackets etc., but from the off I wanted to make sure that we were kitted out with at least a couple of rod and reel outfits, plus a bunch of hard and soft lures that I trust implicitly. The more I get to know the Kerry coastline where John Quinlan is based (thanks to John's remarkable levels of local knowledge of course), the better I am understanding the sort of gear that is required to cover as many fishing options as possible over there.........
Blair putting the 8'6'' Major Craft Skyroad through its paces - what a rod
A couple of guys flew in the other week and I was able to supply them with the use of a couple of the ridiculously good Major Craft Skyroad lure rods for the duration of their trip - the 8'6'' 10-30g and the 9' 10-30g. Bear in mind that we jumped around between bass, pollack and wrasse fishing from the shore, and that both guys can fish properly and know how to push a lure rod hard. Rods like this are not exactly designed to fish weighted paddletails into deep water and haul up crash-diving pollack for example, but I never asked the lads to hold back one bit on the Skyroads - yet again these incredible rods came through with flying colours. To be able to loan out rods as good as these to our clients and know that they are fishing with something that I love using myself is a real help when it comes to chopping and changing with different techniques. The Slash 9' 10-35g Lamya Thief did great on the pollack as well.
One lure that I am finding more and more use for in John's part of Kerry is the Fiiish Black Minnow, and as much as the 120mm/12g model is something I would never go bass fishing without these days, we were fishing some deeper water with a fair amount of current for both bass and pollack at times, and as such we turned to the 25g head more than I have ever seen a need to. I can't get away from how well these lures work for fish like bass and pollack, indeed we completely ran out of Black Minnows by the end of the trip. I have to say that some of these soon to be launched Red Gill Evo-Stix sort of senko/Red Gill hybrid things did really well for the pollack, mounted on some of John's home poured jig heads. I know a couple of lads who have been doing well on them for bass as well.
Roland horsing the Major Craft 9' Skyroad and 16kg YGK G-soul X3 braid
I have a couple of spinning reels available for clients, loaded up with the "continues to do fantastically well" YGK G-soul X3 braid in the 16lb breaking strain - see a review of this braid I did a while back here. This stuff just keeps on going and as a "standard" kind of braid I can't fault it. Strapped to my camera bag are a couple of spools of exactly the same fluorocarbon as I use for my own fishing - the YGK Nitlon DFC fluorocarbon just refuses to let me down. I like the price, I like the fact you are getting 100m spools, hell, I even like how I can strap it to the outside of my camera bag and simply pull off the lengths I need to retie for our clients. I carry the 16lb and 20lb with me. I like YGK lines and as much as I am always keen on playing around with different stuff, I haven't found a reason to stop using this outstanding fluorocarbon.
I carry a few hard lures with me in case our clients need them, or perhaps they have a bunch of stuff already but aren't carrying something that swims really shallow for example - and we might need it on a certain spot etc. Yes, there are loads of lures that work out there, but it's easy for me to turn to IMA and end up with a few different kinds of lures that I know catch fish and I know will deal with the kinds of situations we are finding ourselves in as we move around the south Kerry coastline. Blair smashed a bunch of bass one evening on the IMA Komomo SF125 in that Cotton Candy colour that I feel naked without - I handed him the lure and he had no need to take it off as a fair few bass fish jumped on the end. I carry a selection of IMA Salt Skimmers (obviously), Komomo 2, SF125, Nabarones, Sasuke 120 and Hound Glide 125F. I trust them, they are easy to fish with, and it means I can carry the bare minimum but still be able to help clients out with the right lures if needs be.
Andy giving the gears to an 8lb pollack on the Slash 9' Lamya Thief
I also carry a selection of soft plastics that can be rigged weedless and either weightless or with some kind of belly weight - I like how John simply winds thin strips of lead around weedless hooks to get the desired effect. As with hard lures, there are an endless range of soft plastics out there, and I am tending to carry 5'' and 6'' Yum Dinger senkos, and then the rather killer Yum Lil' Suzy, a paddletail that can easily be fished weedless/weightless and swim nicely just below the surface. It seems to be the case in a packet of them that some swim a little more stably than others, but they are not expensive and they work well. The smaller 4'' Yum Dinger senkos did really well on the wrasse over in Ireland.
Chad hooked into another wrasse that took a liking to the 4'' Yum Dinger senkos
I also carry a few of the 5.8'' MegaBass DOT Crawlers, and these things are really starting to grow on me as a means of catching bass. Bearing in mind that a lot of lure anglers have yet to really get into soft plastics, it really helps how the DOT Crawler casts so well and is so easy to use - "how are you meant to fish with it?" is something I was asked a fair bit, to which I have to reply "not sure really, but this is how I do it and it seems to work" - as in there is no right or wrong way, but a couple of times the DOT Crawler got interest from bass when other stuff didn't.
One thing I have noticed is how many lure anglers carry some kind of sling-type bag that sits out of the way when you're fishing and then you slide it around to your front to access lures, leaders etc. when required - and so far nothing has changed my opinion that they are little more than a monumental pain in the arse!! They just seem to be so unpractical to fish with. My needs if you like are somewhat different from most of you in that I am always carrying various amounts of camera gear in a waterproof LowePro DryZone rucksack, but I still need to have my lures to hand for my fishing and/or guiding. I accept that you can carry a number of lure boxes full of hard lures in most sling-bags, but do you really need to carry that many and then try swinging it around and back again? I look around a lot for different ways of carrying lures so that they are accessible and not in some bag or rucksack half a mile away, but I haven't found anything yet that floats my boat any more than what I use already - see here. I have added a shoulder strap which makes it so comfortable and easy to wear that I don't really know it's there, except that is when I try and commando roll under anelectric fence and try getting up too early - see here. Ouch.
OK, so I do like using a "specialist" wrasse rod, but the 8'6'' Skyroad did great
I reckon that's about it for the moment, except to say that I have a few new to me lure rods here that I am starting to play around with - and one in particular is freaking the living daylights out of me it's so good. The 9' Skyroad is good enough already, but the top of the range Major Craft 9' 10-30g Truzer is like that rod but with a even more goodness added on. Give me plenty more time with it and I will report back, but I can't recall using a better (for me) lure fishing rod than this Truzer - it's that good, but then fishing rods are very personal things of course.
We are off to the Isles of Scilly on Monday morning for a few days holiday as a family, and of course some fishing gear will be going with me for a few attempts on the local wrasse and perhaps pollack population. The girls and I tend to take Storm for an early morning walk when we are over there while my wife can have a bit of a lie-in, so if the tides and conditions are ok I shall take a rod and see if I can get my girls into a few fish. If Del is not too frantic with work then I should be able to get him out as well, and especially considering that their new house backs onto some cracking marks. Have a good weekend and I'll try to blog a bit from the Isles of Scilly next week.