Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Shut-Down

If you are reading this then the world did not officially end today as scheduled (or predicted) by those trusty Mayans. (Damn what am I going to do with all this water, beef jerky and batteries?)

Anyways, now that the world is safe I can take this moment to wish you all a happy Holiday or Merry Christmas (whichever you prefer). I hope the jolly fat man is good to you and your family, and once I crawl out of my food and booze coma I promise I will be back and continue to write.

Thank you all for reading, and I will see you in 2013

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A New Generation of Anglers.. Dressed for Success

There is a new younger generation that is in the process of taking the reigns from the old guard. With them comes a new attitude, and a new look.

Loud, Tattooed and dressed like rock stars the young generation has just as much love and passion for their apparel as they do for the sport of fishing. Our clothing is loud, brass rude and makes a statement about our generation and the sport we love.. there are a few companies that have caught on to this trend and are banging out some seriously good fishing relates apparel... if you have not hear of any of the below companies you need to check them out

Brass Knuckles

Hailing from California USA the team from Brass Knuckles bangs out some seriously hip gear, that appeals to those anglers with that little bit of edge. I really like what I have seen from them and to be honest the below hoodie sparked this entire article.

Brass Knuckles has a line of T-Shirts, Hats, Hoodies and more. Their prices range from $19.99 to $44.99. 

To me the below image is the standout of their line-up and will be a staple in my on and off the water dress code. To find more products by Brass Knuckles, click HERE 

Limit Gear

Limit Gear is a start-up out of Jacksonville FLA, still new to the market  they are slowly but surly making a name for themselves.

Their line of shirts are designed for hunters and anglers alike. Many are equipped with various  motivational sayings or statements... including  a new classic " I Love Fat Girls"

I really dig what Limit Gear is doing, they have a great logo and put our a quality product. The team is hard at work getting their name out there and can be seen at various charity events and tournaments (you gotta respect that).

Their website is still under construction so if you are looking to pick up some Limit Gear you will need to check out their shop on their FaceBook page (HERE) While your there be sure to click the like button if you want to stay informed on new products and designs.

Limit Gear T-Shirts run from between $18 and $20


I came across the Cast Crew on the ever popular social media site 'Instagram" where they are constantly showing off their gear as well as their monster fish. The Cast Crew hail from Chicago Il, and really caught my attention with this "public enemy-esque"  bullseye t-shirt (I must have one)

They don't have a monster line-up at this time but they do have a nice collection of t-shirts, hats, towels and stickers. Prices range from $25-$45 and the only real flaw I can find is that they don't Ship to Canada! whats up with that?

If you want to check out the Cast Crew store click HERE and be sure to let them know that we want their gear up here in the cold north

Bass Brigade

I saved this one for last as I think Bass Brigade has some of the coolest shirts currently available for this generation of anglers (they speak to me anyways). Home based  in California, Bass Brigade has been doing it own thing since 2008, and their designs speak for themselves (so do the sales as most of their shirts are currently sold out). Simple  black T's with punchy slogans are exactly what I want.  Below is the T-shirt that drew my attention to BB, but it is not the only statement shirt they carry, "Bass Fishing Changed My Life" as well as "Cast and Destroy" round out a pretty impressive line-up of shirts. You may also recognize the ever popular "carry on" or "Keep Calm" shirts that are flooding all markets. Bass Brigades take is simple.. Keep Calm and Fish on"

These shirts are a lot of fun, my only issue with Bass Brigade is their shipping, I added one t-shirt to my shopping cart ($25) and the shipping into Canada was $30! ouch, that is never going to happen. Companies overlooking the Canadian market are making a big mistake

So there you have it, 4 companies banging out top notch gear for anglers young and old. I know this off season is going to be an expensive one, as I add these and more to my expanding wardrobe (think my wife will share her closet)

This by no means covers all the cool brands out there, I avoided many of the brands you are already familiar with due to their availability on site such as TackleWarehouse, brands like Bassaholics, TopWater Clothing and Bass King all make a good product, but focus more on splashy logos or graphics. I like my gear plain and simple, but with a message.. Im a Fisherman

Friday, December 14, 2012

Test Drive: Whip'r Ice Rod

Each season I get the "bug" or "itch" to hit the ice way too early, and with no ice in sight the only way I can scratch that itch is by buying new ice gear. If you are a member you have no doubt seen my annual thread entitled "building my arsenal" that follows my purchases throughout each ice season. 

Back in pre-ice 2012 one of the products that made it on that list was the Whip'r rod by K&E Lures. I had heard some decent hype about this decently priced rod, and being a gill chaser, it looks like it would fill a nice hole in my current arsenal.. boy was I wrong 


Don't miss-understand the above statement, this rod is not all bad (more like a bad experience). The rod itself has many redeeming qualities. First off, it comes in a great selection of sizes, I personally prefer to fish medium to longer rods, so having the option of picking up a 28", 36" and even a 48" is a big perk. (there is a con to follow.. see below)

The tip of these rods is sweet, it has great flex and has the perfect feel for small bait pan fishing. One this not common on ice rods is a reel seat, so to see this on a lower priced rod is odd, and a nice perk. The rod is well balanced so the addition of the reel seat should not effect your fishing. But if you are the kinda guy that likes the ability to move the reel around the find the sweet spot, this rod is not for you.

The Whip'r rod is available by itself or in a combo, as always I will recommend not getting the reel as more often then not these are an after thought and not the quality you want when on the ice.


I will start off by finishing the above paragraph in the "pros"section about the rod length. The lengths you see on on the website are deceiving as this rod has a very long handle and extended butt. For Example the 48" rod has an 11" handle making the rod fish more like a 36" rod then a 48". This is even more of an issue on the shorter rods, the fishing end of the 24" rod is very short and even tiny reels like a Tica Cetus (seen above) look huge and weighty. I don't usually fish with a rod under 24" and would not have ordered the 24" if I knew it was so short

A bigger concern then the rod length is the overall durability. My Whip'r rod lasted one outing, one fish, one hook set actually. As you can see from the below image the rod snapped through the blank just above the cork. This was extremely disappointing and left a bad taste in my mouth, so much so that I did not bother reporting the issue or replacing the rod

I was very surprised by the rods response. As mentioned in the "Pro" section the Whip'r has a nice tip and seemed to respond well down the blank. I'm not sure if it seized up in the colder temps causing the loss of action and in turn the blank snapped. Either way a rod designed for ice fishing should hold up to the cold, and a rod designed for pan fish should hold up to medium sized crappies

Below are some of the crappies we landed on the trip in which i snapped my Whip'r rod. As you can see although nice fish they are by no means monsters and any rod calling itself "the ultimate panfish' rod should have been able to handle them. So if you are in the market for pan fish rod that can handle gills, perch and crappie.. keep looking

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dobyns Tip of the Month: Hair Jigs by Paul Mueller

The Dobyns Tip of the month comes from our favorite video junky Paul Mueller, and as always, why would he write somthing when he can film it!

Check out Paul's tip on fishing with Hair Jigs

If you would like to learn more about Paul you can check out his profile HERE in the FLW community page

And in case you dont remember Paul... here's a reminder pic

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bass Fishing Christmas List 2012

With Christmas fast approaching, there is no better way to put a bug in my wife's ear about the goodies I would like to find under the tree , then posting a blog (yeah as if my wife reads my blog)

Anyways, as a guy known to have everything there is still a few things I have on my 2012 Christmas list.. i bet a few of them are on yours as well... lets compare

Duo Realis Popper 64:

I was honoured when asked to give the DUO line of baits a test drive earlier this season, and I was so happy with what I saw most of the baits maid it into my everyday arsenal. One bait that I did not get to test out is the Realis Popper 64, it is a stellar looking popper that I cant wait to add to my top water arsenal. These bad boys are in demand and hard to fins, so I hope Santa has me covered

Daiwa Ballistic Spinning Reel:

Last year I asked Santa for a Daiwa T3 Ballistic casting reel, and I was such a good kid he brought me TWO!, I have since changed my entire bait casting arsenal over to Daiwa and think it may be time to do the same with my spinning reels.

What caught my eye this year is the Daiwa Ballistic Spinning reel, which has more in common with the T3 then it's name. The Ballistic is a lightweight reel made of the same Zaion material as the T3, it's dense, strong and lightweight.. what more can you ask for in a reel.  I have yet to put my hands on one of these bad boys, but Im hoping to find one under the tree come Christmas Day

MegaBass Pony Frog:

You can never have enough frog baits, well thats my life philosophy anyways. So you know I have to get my hands on the new frog from Megabass.  The Pony Frog is an interesting bait with some changes to challenge the born.. first off the skirt is up high on the ass end of the frog, it sits up, like a horse or pony tail would. Secondly this frog comes with an additional nose ring to help give it even more erratic motion while in the water. I like the look of this frog and hope to find one under the tree.

Castaic Frog Brigade Topwater Umbrella Rig:

whats Christmas without the odd gag gift? Well It don't get much odder then the Castaic Frog Umbrella rig, you heard me, a frog umbrella rig. Normally I may scoff at items like this, but with the success of the standard umbrella rig and my love for everything frog related, this little beauty is right up my ally

Stocking Stuffers:

whats Christmas without a stocking? here are a few things I would like to find in my stocking on Christmas morning

Rod Glove "Pro Series" - I gotta to admit, I love my original series Rod Gloves, but when that pro series dropped, I started to get jealous, they are a sweet looking product that will provide your gear that extra bit of protection

Trokar Hooks - Im by no means new to Trokar hooks, but my success with them last season has made me rethink my current hook assortment, maybe it's time to add a lot more Trokars!

GoPro Wifi BackPac - Last season I picked myself up some GoPro cameras, and they are as advertised.. very cool, and fun to use. One down fall was that you could not see how the camera was pointed unless you had an LCD backpac on it, and then you could also see it at time of set-up and in the cold the  LCD did not work the best.. Thats where the Wifi BackPac comes in, this baby works like the LCD backpac but instead uses your phone as a viewfinder and control system.. very cool idea for a very cool camera system

Happy holidays and I hope you find what your looking for under the tree this year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Choosing the Right Portable Shelter: Part 2

In part 1 of Choosing the Right Portable  we discussed the many traps that anglers fall into when choosing their first (or 5th) portable Shelter. In Part 2 we are going to look at 3 different styles of portable and the pro's and con's of each. I will be focusing on Flip-Overs, Cabin Style, as well as Hub Style portables. There are other options out there (including tents) but these 3 are the most common and the current standard in the Industry.

FLIP-OVER Shelter:

I'm starting off in the Flip-Over category, not only because of  my bias, but also because in my area it is the predominant model I see when on the ice. Flip-over shelters are that perfect mix of fishability and portability without giving up too much comfort. In my personal opinion they are the best place to start when shopping for a portable (yes my bias is showing)

                                                       (Photo by IceShanty Member: Himo)


This is an easy one, a flip-over shelter is by far the quickest on-ice set-up of the three. You get to a spot, drill your holes, and flip the lid.. bam, your fishing. Both Cabin style and Hub style shelters require assembly on the ice, and cold hands and cold fingers can make for a slow set-up

I spent a lot of my time jigging as well as tip-up fishing at the same time. The Flip-over shelter offers me what I call "the quick escape". So when I hear or see my flag pop, I just grab a side bar/arm and flip the lid back  and go running. No messing with zippers, or latches, just flip and run (and yes you will still miss Flags)

Comfort is a big perk when it comes to flip-over shelters. Most come equipped with seats that slide/spin and flip up and down. This ensures anglers of all sizes can get as close or as far away from their hole as they want. By sliding the seat back you have more legroom, and by pulling it forward you are nearly looking down the hole sight fishing. These seats do add weight and $$ to a portable, but believe me they are worth every penny for long days on the ice

The sled shape bottom that most (if not all) flip-over shelters come equipped with make them an easy pull on the ice or in the snow. Cabin style shelters are flat bottomed (for the most part) and can dig-in or bury themselves in the snow while you pull them.

                                                   (Photo by IceShanty Member: wyoutdoors)


There are more pro's then cons when it comes to fishing out of a flip-over shelter, but they are no means perfect. Two big Cons of fishing from a flip-over both have to do with the cold getting in. The first of these is the most obvious and that that there is no floor, so your feet are on the ice/slush at all times, and if you don't have a good boot, or are susceptible to getting cold toes, then this may not be the shelter for you. The second way the cold gets in is around the skirt. If the ice/terrain is not level the skirt will not always sit properly on the ice and any breeze will blow through and further chill your feet. Most anglers pack snow around the skirt to stop this from happening, this works but defeats two of the "Pros" (quick set-up & quick escape) and on lakes that get little to no snow, this is not a possibility.

Con #2 has to do with room inside a flip-over. Most of them are designed for sitting not standing and thus most of us cannot stand in our flip-overs. There is room in front of you while fishing, and most of us fill that space with Flashers, Camera's and Heaters, thus the rest of your gear needs to be stored in the sled beneath you. This can be awkward to get it (if not fishing solo) but it is better then no space at all.

The last con I will touch on is the weight of these shelters. As a "walker" Im constantly pulling a 100lb shelter packed with 30-40 pounds of gear. This can make for a long hard haul. Single man flip-overs reduce the weight, but also reduce the space (a 2 man is a good size for fishing solo. If you have a sled or ATV you will not experience this con, but we cant all be so lucky. 

Popular Flip-Over Shelters:

Clam Fish Trap: $209 - $949

Frabill: $199 - $799

Otter Outdoors: $349 - $1,049

Eskimo: $349 - $499

                                                 (Photo by IceShanty Member: deadduk)

Cabin Style (Pop-UP) Shelter:

Many anglers are drawn to Cabin style or "pop-up" shelters when making their first portable purchase. I believe this is because many of us cut our teeth in a friends permanent hut and the Cabin style shelter is modelled after these (ah the memories). Cab Style shelters have really changed in the past few years, getting larger and larger with more and more options inside and out, they are a great way to spend some time on the ice with a group of friends or family 

                                                    (Photo by IceShanty Member: Himo)


A Cabin Style or Pop-Up shelter offers many perks to an ice angler. First and foremost on this list is comfort. Cabin Style huts are roomy, and often tall enough to stand in. The various sizes make it easy to fish in large groups and still store your gear. Most if not all Cabin Style Shelters include a floor, keeping your gear and your feet off the ice. This will keep you fishing longer and ensure your gear stays dry in the process.

It really amazes me on how large these cabins shelters can get nowadays. Some companies like Clam make card tables to fit in the middle of them, these have really become portable versions of a permanent hut. The Larger the hut the more weight they carry so keep this in mind when purchasing. 

                                                (Photo by IceShanty Member: coach)


Above I stated that a Cabin Style huts share many if not most of the perks you use to only see in a permanent shelter. That being said it also shares the cons 

Because Cabin Shelters have a floor, there are limited areas in witch you are able to drill your hole, the floor actually dictates where you have to fish. If you fish with a Flasher and Camera, you need to watch the trap door size and ensure there is enough room to drill two holes side by side and in some cases a few feet apart. This is not an option in most lower end Cabin models. 

The Size of the portable dictates the comfort and the available room. Smaller 2-man shelters have little to no storage room, If you want to take advantage of  the perks of a Cabin style hut you really need to look at the larger models. When fishing from my old 2-man Cabin Style Shappell I had to leave all my gear outside when fishing with a buddy. Another issue directly related to the size of your Cabin Style hut, it how well it will hold up in windy conditions. Those large flat sides really take a beating in windy conditions and act like a kite that can see your hut blown down the ice if you step out during a gust. Ice cleats are available and will be needed in windy conditions (yet again more set-up and take down time required) 

The biggest downfall to a cabin style shelter is the on-ice set-up that is required each and every time you hit the ice (and during larger on-ice moves). This can entail packing up all your gear, un-assembling the hut, moving then reassembling the hut. Yes, each year new improvements make this a  quicker and easier process, but all in all there is always some assembly required. Furthermore Cabin Style shelters do not come with seats or the sled bottom seen on a flip-over model. This means less ability to carry gear while on the move and you will need to bring your own seats (camping chairs or buckets).

Popular Flip-Over Shelters:

Frabill: $279

Shapelle: $249 - $379

(Photo by IceShanty Member: Himo)

Hub Style

I will be honest here and state that the Hub style shelter is one that I know the least about, and one I have never personally owned (although I have fished from one). I find them cumbersome, flimsy and a pain to set-up. That being said they continue to sell and I see more and more of them on the ice each year which means guys are using them. (who am I to judge). The best thing to compare a Hub style shelter to is a camping tent. They are bottomless and requite you to use poles to put them together when you get the spot you will be fishing

                                                (Photo by IceShanty Member: woodsman)


You may think that opening paragraph was slightly bashing, and it was not meant to be. There are some obvious perks to Hub style shelters, and they include:

a very light weight design. Hub shelters can be found in the 30-40lbs range, this is dramatically less then both Cabin and Flip-over shelters which average over 80lbs and can be as high as 120lbs. Reducing weight is very important to guys like me who spend most of my time walking for spot to spot. Hub shelters like tents are "Bagged" so once un-assembled you slide them into their bag and then can carry them over your  shoulder or throw them into a sled with the rest of your gear.

Perk #2 is that they are roomy, and contain no floor whatsoever. This allows you to set-up your gear (and holes) however you want. This is great for guys fishing with flashers or cameras.(or in large groups)

Last but not least, Hub style shelters are more affordable then their Flip-over or Cabin style counterparts, this is mainly because they require far less parts (no sled, no base, no seats) This makes getting into your first shelter easier (as long as it has all the features you require) 

                                                 (Photo by IceShanty Member: adkRoy)


Like with a Flip-over shelter the fact that there is no floor is both a pro and con (you have to decide). The lack of floor means your feet are on the ice all day long (as well as your gear) in turn this means cold feet and wet gear. You can pack accordingly and work around this, but it can be an issue for anglers not knowing what they are getting into.

On-ice set-up time can be more in-depth with Hub shelters then any other style of Shelter. We have all struggled setting up a tent and that's usually during warm dry weather. Like a Cabin Style shelter Hubs require some anchoring, if your lazy and don't anchor it, any little gust of wind can send it flying down the lake. Hubs have been on the ice for a few seasons now, but early (and cheaper) models had issues of collapsing in high winds. I believe this issue has been addressed, but it is something to be aware of.

Because Hub Style shelters are bottomless, they do not have any sled or storage areas when transporting them on/off the ice. A separate sled will need to be purchased to transport your gear and hut.

Popular Hub Shelters:

Clam Fish Trap: $149 - $449

Frabill: $199-$399

Eskimo $189-$289

                                                (Photo by IceShanty Member: pikemaster1)

The Wrap-Up

Well, that wraps up our 2-part look at choosing a portable shelter. I did my best to avoid Brand recognition as many of the top brands all deliver a good product and I believe feature/benefit is more important then the name of the side. I recommend doing your homework and getting in any shelter prior to purchasing it. You can drop by and ask the members there for thoughts and opinions or leave a comment here.

Good luck, stay warm, dry, and more importantly "above the ice"

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bass Season 2012.. Comes to a close (Ontario)

This time of year we are all calendar watching, there is only 21 days left until the world ends, or 31 days till  the year ends (you know, in case the Mayans were wrong) and in-between those dates you have Christmas, and Boxing day.. so November 30th may just seem like yet another day on the calendar, but not to us Bass Fisherman in Ontario, as Nov 30th marks the end of the 2012 fishing season.

2012 was a good year on the water, not only did Dustin and I complete our second full season as tournament anglers, but we also added some new events in the mix (like the Quinte Bass Champs). We expect more of the same in 2013 as we continue to branch out and wet a line in new events, testing the water so to speak. When not in a tournament I spent the season on my home lake (Dog Lake) as well as various lakes I have fallen in love with over the years. Although we call this "fishing for fun" the competitive grind is always there as I constantly try to improve my own skills or beat up on a friend.

2013 is just around the corner and like 2012 I hope to start my season super early by crossing the boarder and doing some May fishing in NY state on lake Erie as well as other lakes. When back in Canada it looks like we all might get some extra time as the Ministry of Natural resources is kicking around the idea of opening Bass season 1 week early.. hey it's only a week, but I'll take.

Yes today is a sad day, and the void left can only be filled by the fact that ice fishing is just around the corner. I hope you keep checking in with us over the off season, as I don't plan to slow down any, there will be bass news, product insight and of course ice fishing

thanks for reading


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Test Drive: Duo Baits Invading a Tackle Shop near you

I was recently contacted by a member of the DUO baits team, and asked if I would be interested in giving some of their baits a test run, and in turn provide my honest thoughts and opinions. Not one to miss a great opportunity, I quickly jumped at the offer, and am I ever glad I did.

I will be honest Im someone that prides themselves on the ability to keep up on "what new" and whats hot" in the lure and bait market, but I kinda missed the boat when it comes to DUO, and if I missed it maybe some of you did as well.. Here is the low down on Duo...

Duo is a Japanese hard bait manufacturer that has been banging out Salt and Fresh water baits since the mid 90's. They focus most of their energy on designing high quality baits that perform when called upon (I should also state here that these are some of the loudest baits I have ever thrown). The "Realis" line of baits as Bass fishing specific and tackle most of the major categories including shallow cranks, jerk-baits, stick-baits, topwater and more. I had the opportunity to test drive 6 Duo Baits, and here is my take...

Realis Crankbait 48SR: I'm the first to admit it, I'm not a huge crankbait guy, but when I do fish 'em, it's all about the shallow running cranks, so the Realis 48SR is right in my wheelhouse. Coming is at just under 2" in length this little guy is built like an SUV, short, flat and yet bulky. It has a wide stance that gives off a pretty sweet wobble on the retrieve no matter if you are burning or slow rolling it home. Duo also did something that I wish more bait companies would look at, they made sure the two trebles cannot get caught up on each other. This may sound pretty simple, but you would be surprised at the amount of baits on the market that foul up due to hook entanglement, 

For a small bait, the 48SR casts like a shot. Whether this is due to the profile or to the internal weigh and magnet system, I don't know, all I can say is that I easily covered good distance on both spinning and casting gear. In case I did not mention it yet, t his bait is loud as hell. On my first three casts the loud knocking made me think I was making contact with the rocks behind me. I kept stopping looking around, and then would try to cast it more gingerly.. yet the knocking still persisted. I finally came to realized that it was the bait (yes that was embarrassing).

I'm not going to spend much time talking about appearance as I believe the old adage " a pictures worth a 1000 words" and since this article is pic heavy, i think Ive said enough.

Test Drive Results: I was very happy with the performance of the Realis Crank48SR and have officially added it to my primary Crankbait box. I'm really looking forward to pounding the shallows with it next spring. 

Realis Pencil 110:  The minute I picked up this bait I was excited to get it on the water. I had done some reading on it, and the reviews seemed to be all around positive. Like most anglers I love to throw walking baits and I'm always in the market for the newest hottest thing, and if I'm being honest I think the Pencil 110 ranks right up there with the best I have ever fished.

This is not a bait for the faint of heart, it is big, bulky and loud as all hell. It's size alone makes it intimidating, unless you have fished with the IMA BigStick there are few top water baits that compete with the Pencil110 for size. And if the size does not get you, the weigh will, this is a hefty bait weighing in a 3/4oz and as I mentioned before and will again.. IT IS LOUD. If you follow this blog on a regular basis you may have seen a recent review of Top Water baits in which I mentioned how loud the Strike King Sexy Dog is, well the Pencil110 makes the sexy dog sound like a whisper.

I haven't even talked about performance yet. The Pencil110 walks the dog with ease, I think my 5 year old nephew would have it mastered in minutes. I really love the baits ability to keep up at high and low speeds, I shook the crap out of the Pencil 110 and it continually performed. It splashes, gurgles and chugs along with the best of them, and any fish in the area your there.

The only part of this bait I think needs some tweaking is the pause. The Pencil110 sits nearly vertical when paused, and because of the size of the bait I think it almost sits too low and would like to see it at more of an 45 degree angle. I get the idea they were trying to achieve and I know the importance of the tail of the bait hanging down to give the fish a target. Personally I think it could sit up a bit higher (this would also improve visibility on the pause)

Test Drive Results: I believe this bait falls into my top 3 when it comes to top water walking baits. It has officially worked it;s way into my primary topwater box and will be tag teamed (depending on conditions and the bite) with my IMA Skimmer (a much thinner bait) as well as Zara Spook Jr. These three baits offer distance profile changes that should suffice in any condition (it has knocked the Live Target walking frog out of the top 3, and the Strike King Sexy Dog off my radar entirely)

Realis Minnow80SP:  The Minnow80SP is one of two jerk-baits that Duo sent me to test Drive. It is what I consider the little brother of the pair. Coming in at just over 3 inches in length and weighing only 0.17 of an oz it is visibly smaller then its big brother (Realis Jerkbait120).

If you check out the DUO website you will notice that they spend some time talking about how quickly the Minnow80SP reacts, and I cant agree more.. the only issue I have, is that is reacts so quick and easily that I had trouble controlling it. It took multiple casts and retrieves before I was able to get the hang of fishing with this bait. Early on, i had issues keeping it down, hard twitches or jerks had the bait nearly breaking the surface of the water turning it into a top water bait.

I don't want to rag on it's performance as I know there are more talented jerk-bait anglers out there that may have had greater success then I did. On the positive side of things this baits looks incredible in the water and moves as advertised. I love the flash this bait produces and think it could draw the bass into a feeding frenzy.

Realis Jerkbait 120: Ok, now onto the big brother, and a bait I had a much easier time fishing with. The Realis Jerkbait 120 is a bruiser, it is big, heavy and makes some serious noise. I had a blast fishing with it, and love the response on the rod and in the water. It's large flat sided profile gives off great flash and the weight system is uniquely loud.  The Jerkbait120 comes equipped with 4 rattle style weights, two of these and tungsten and two are steel. This combinations gives off two different sounds, the tungsten providing a lower pitch (almost thud) and the steel giving it a higher pitch (crack). I cant attest to what this does to the fish, but I can say it is definitely offering them something different and as we all know sometimes that's all it takes. 

Test Drive Results: As you can see there are some mixed results on this one. I personally prefer to fish with the Realis Jerkbait120 and have added it to my primary jerkbait box along side my IMA Flits and various Lucky Crafts. I think it's profile and sound will provide me with that "something different" when the bite gets tough. The Minnow80SP on the other hand will need some getting use to. I have added to a secondary jerkbait box and will be sure to spend some more practise time with it next season

Realis Spinbait 80: I will honestly admit this little guy had me stumped/confused. I saw the image on-line but did not spend any time reading up on it prior to fishing with it. So with that said you may understand my confusion when I threw what I thought was a top water bait (like a skitter-pop) only to watch it sink as I frantically tried to keep it up on top of the water.. Obviously I was unsuccessful as this bait is not a topwater bait.  Once I understood that, I started to have fun with it. I

The Spinbaits80's long slender body is surprisingly heavy and casts like a shot (and sinks even better). While retrieving the bait the twin propellers give off a nice easy vibration, and when paused the Spinbait80 gives off a soft flutter while sinking. This bait is great for fishing for suspending bass or in areas with various depths and drop-offs. Like the Rapala countdown minnow it can be fished at any depth and still perform as advertised. This is a very unique bait in my arsenal and I'm really looking forward to playing with it in various situations (hell it could even be used under the ice)

Test Drive Results: You can learn from my mistakes, by spending some time getting to know a bait prior to fishing with it, my assumption on this bait cost me nothing by humility, but that being said I should have known better. I like the Spinbait80 and think it has a place in my day to day arsenal, I'm not sure where that is yet, but I plan on finding out.

Realis Vibration62: Last but certainly not least the Vibration62 is a great little lip less crank that will be seeing some time on the soft and hard water alike (yes that means ice for your warm weather anglers).
This little bait offers up what appears to be a trend for the DUO line-up.. great casting distance, amazingly loud internal rattles and superior performance.

The Vibration62 is lite and small enough that it can be fished on spinning or casting gear and the body design gives of great vibration and flash while being retrieve at medium, fast and super fast speeds (without effecting performance). I love that this is available in a couple sizes and the colour options are pretty impressive as well.

Test Drive Results: I loved this bait from first cast, it fishes extremely well and is something I consider an "all season" bait. In the spring it will see some  use on Walleye and Pike trips, and during the summer and fall it will be used during some bass outings, and in the winter I will be jigging up walleye, perch and crappie with it.. yes you can say it is versatile.

Test Drive Overview: 

Again I want to thank the team at DUO for giving my the opportunity to test drive a selection of their baits. I was extremely happy with the quality and performance from their entire line-up, so much so that I will be placing an order for a few of the baits I have yet to test (like the Realis Popper64) as well as stocking up on a few that I feel in love with (Pencil110 and Crankbait48ST). These baits where a lot of fun to fish with, and I believe they can and will fill some holes in my current arsenal. During the above reviews I did not really touch on colour, again I think the images speak for themselves, but in closing I will add that DUO has a pretty impressive array of color choices for all their baits. So If you are looking to mix-it-up and add some new baits to your arsenal you cant go wrong with a  DUO Realis. Check them out at Tackle Warehouse or from DUO International

All baits in the above Test Drive where fished using a Dobyns Savvy Micro Guide rod (SS704c) paired with a Daiwa Advantage reel (SunLine SuperSniper FC line)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Choosing the right Portable Shelter: Part 1

I'm coming up on my 10th year of "die hard" ice fishing, and over that span I have learned many a hard lesson, some cost me time on the ice, some cost me fish, and some cost me money.. Choosing the right portable shelter cost me all three. This is part 1 of a 2 part look into choosing the right portable shelter for you

Getting Started: Knowing your wants & needs

I get it, you love to ice fish, but hate sitting out in the cold, so you want to get yourself a portable ice hut. But you have a budget, and want to buy one cheap. So you head out to your local shop not knowing what you want, or really knowing what you need all you know is how much you want to (or can) spend. I know this because I have been there, here is what you need to do:  take a step back and think about the following things prior to opening your wallet

                                (Image Courtesy of Member: "mud_n_fun")

How many anglers or how much gear does this hut need to hold?

One of my first major mistakes when purchasing a hut, was purchasing a single man portable that all in all was too small for the amount of gear I carry. It felt cramped and uncomfortable and I quickly became frustrated fishing from it. I will also say I felt kinda like an ass when fishing with buddies, as I was forced to fish in solitude while they sat in two seaters or larger hub style shelters that could seat as many guys as you are willing to cram in.

If you are like me, you have a lot of gear, at the bare minimum we are talking about a rod case, a tackle bag, an auger, and a 5gallon bucket (for minnows or a seat). Now lets add in a Flasher, an underwater camera, a heater (sissy) and a second rod case. Can the portable hut your looking at transport all this gear? and even more importantly can it transport it safely? Flip-over huts are designed the best for transporting gear, they often have deep hulls that you can pack  full with no worry of anything spilling out. Most cabin style huts on the other hand offer a flat top (with a bucket slot if your lucky) you will have to stack all your gear on top of this flat surface and keep an eye out for any spillage as you travel. Hub style shelters offer no sled or hard bottom at all, and will need to carried or placed into a sled you purchased separately.

Tip: When shopping for your portable hut, bring a buddy with you (preferably your fattest buddy) and get in and sit down side by side in every hut your looking at. like with tents not all 2-man shelters are built equally, and unless you are looking to huddle together for warmth you are going to want to make sure there is plenty or room to move in the hut without rubiing elbows(or worse)

                                  (Image Courtesy of Member: "Coach")

How mush does it weigh and how well will it pull through the snow?

Kinda like your dad looking at his first car, you need to look under the hood. Not all portable shelters are equal when it comes to the bottom or sled portion of the hut. I found out how the hard way how difficult it is to pull a cabin style shelter through deep soft snow.. the flat bottom sits well on ice or hard packed snow, but when trying to pull it through soft/fresh snow you will find that they dig into and begin to bury themselves as you pull. Flip-overs on the other hand have a sleigh like bottom and pull with ease over all kinds of conditions.. the issue here is that a flip-over hut often weighs way more then a standard cabin style and most 2 seaters come in at or over the 100lb mark, and that can be a work out.

Tip: Check the bottom of the hut to see how durable the sled material is, remember you will be standing on these as well as dragging them over ice, sand and salt, you want a sled that can hold up to these conditions (Some companies like Clam sell runners to improve the life of your sled)

   (Image Courtesy of Member: "AdkRoy")

Seats or No seats?

Your first thought here needs to be: am I cool sitting on a bucket for 8hrs a day or do I need seats? Me I  need seats, something with a backrest that can give me some relief during a long day on the ice. There are pro's and con's to purchasing a hut with seats, first off they add additional weight to the sled and of course any portable with seats will also cost you more money. The pro's are obvious, your back and butt will thank you for a quality seat after 8 hrs on the ice.

Tip: If you are purchasing a hut with seats, make sure the are adjustable, they should be able to swivel and slide back and forth. We are all build differently and one seat does not fit all. Removable seats are also a big plus, if you want the room of a two man shelter but usually fish alone, taking out a seat not only provides you with more storage space, but it also drops som of the weight.

(Image Courtesy of Member: "Coach")

Standing Room Only

This was not a big one for me, but many of my buddies like a portable they can stand up in. This allows your to stretch out while still in the comfort (warmth) of your hut. This is obviously available in Hub and Cabin style shelters, and can also be found in some flip-overs. Again, test drive a hut befor you buy it, and make sure you are comfortable sitting and standing

Tip: Don't let your eyes deceive you, just because you can stand in an empty hut, does not mean you can stand easily when it is full. Cabin style shelters can be notoriously narrow, and once you have them loaded with gear you no longer have the ability to stand unless you place one foot firmly in your hole

How fast can I get set-up and start fishing!

Ok, lets all agree that most portable huts are a bitch to set-up right out of the box, but after that initial set-up you will want something that will get you fishing fast with limited to no on-ice hassle. The clear winner in this category is a flip-over. Both a cabin and hub style shelter require on-ice set-up and to me this is a pain in the ass. Even more so when fishing solo. My first shelter was a Shapelle Cabin style portable hut, and when setting it up on the ice I kind of felt like I was playing twister by my self. It was horrible, and if there was any wind at all, it became nearly impossible (see the below pic.. the video is even funnier)

Tip: While in the store you need to attempt to take down and set-up the shelter you are looking to purchase. If you struggle to set it up inside a store, image what it would be like on the ice in the wind or in -20 conditions. Don't listen if the salesman tells you "it will break in and be easier next time" that is not always true!

Price Tag:

Look, I get it, we all have a budget, but I will warn you all about what happened to me. The first ice hut I purchased I fell into many of the above traps I have just warned your about.. all because of price, I bought the cheapest (most affordable) hut and did not take my needs into consideration, so at the end of one season I sold it off (at a loss) and purchased what I considered an upgrade, again based on price. This hut also did not suit my needs and was again sold off at the end of one season (for a loss) finally I understood, and started to really look into what I needed and wanted in a hut, I made my choice and for the past 6 seasons I have been fishing out of the same hut and loving every minute of it.. too bad that it cost me twice as much as it should have (due to two mistakes).

Tip: Dont make rash decisons, if you cant afford the hut you need, dont buy one. Put that money aside and by the next season hopfully you can afford the hut that fits you and your needs. Remember buying the wrong hut is just as bad as fishing with no hut.. it just costs more

                                   (Image Courtesy of Member: "PikeMaster1")

Thats it's for part one, I hope you find some of the above info useful in your search for your perfect portable shelter. In part 2 I will spend some time breaking down all three varieties and even touch on a few brands that offer superior products and perks.

P.S: Special thanks the members of who graciously provided photos of their personal portable huts (and in some cases portable hut collections) It is much appreciated!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Site News: The Frog Pond hits 10,000 Views

This past February I decided I didn't have enough on my plate, between work, tournament fishing, and writing the Bass Junkies blog, so I decided to added another task into the mix.. Bass Junkies Frog pond (review blog).. yes my love for frog fishing got the best of me and over the past 10 months I have reviewed 40 frogs currently available to anglers.  (as well as a few frog fishing specific items like line, hooks and so on)

Yes it is hard work to keep two blogs up and running, but I feel my hard work has paid off, and I'm proud to say that the Frog pond has reached it's first milestone.. 10,000 site views. The timing couldn't be better, as the Frog Pond is set to close for the season in the coming weeks. Unlike BJFA the frog pond will be only be open from March thru November. With ice on the lakes it becomes harder and harder to review new frogs (except on how well they bounce).

Don't fret, during the off season there will continue to be site updates, and you always have this blog to fall back on. I have some good things cooking for 2013, so stay tuned frog lovers

In the meantime be sure to check out the latest frog reviews.. still a few more to come as well as a year in review!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dobyns Tip of the Month: Fall Fishing by Chris Cox

The Dobyns Tip of the Month for  November 2012 comes from FLW Everstart angler Chris Cox out of North Carolina

Fall fishing is in full swing. Water temps are falling, leaves are on the water and the fish are biting. This is the time to pull out your crankbait rods. Bass are gorging themselves on shad, preparing for winter, which makes a crankbait very effective. I generally use crankbaits that closely resemble a shad, in color and profile, with Silver Foil/Black being my favorite color. If the water is stained, use a Chartreuse/Black plug. Starting mid-way in a major creek and working towards the back is usually a good plan of attack. I use a Champion 684CB for small cranks like a Rapala #5 Shad Rap, and a Champion 705CB Glass for squarebills like the Strike King KVD 1.5 and lipless crankbaits like the Red Eye Shad. Cover water fast until you figure out what type of structure and depth the fish are keying on, then slow down and work the structure/depth more thoroughly. Also, keep an eye out for shad flicking and bass busting shad. Both of these are good signs that there is bait and actively feeding fish in the area. Get your Dobyns CB rods out, get cranking, and post photos of your catch! Good luck and good fishing!

To learn more about Chris, you can check out his FLW angler bio HERE  and to keep up to date on everything Dobyns, check out their Facebook page

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dustin's Corner: Top 5 from 2012

Well another year has almost past, it was excellent year on and off the water with lots of fish caught, and some new baits added to the tackle box.

Here goes my top 5 picks from the 2012 Season.

1. Live Target Hard Body Walking Frog

You may have seen me talk about this bait last year, well when I wear out several of them; it is something that I am going to use again this year with adding several more to the tackle box.  Our first tournament Rob and I did at the Quinte Bass Champs, I tossed this frog and first cast was almost a 4lb Largie, Once again, the frog strikes them.  The only tip I am going to say about the frog is that DON’T change the hooks, the Diachi hooks that come with it make the frog perform the way it should, and those hooks work awesome.  I tried a different hook on the frog and the performance changed and it was not the same.

Rating: 9 out 10

BJ's Comments: I can't argue with a man and his frog, Dustin slayed them all season long with the live target frog, so much so I did not use mine once.. But if you want to get him going ask him about the first tournment of the season and how well his switched out  trokars held up

2. Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg!

This is a new lure that I tried out!  The real first time that I tossed this lure was on a little lake in Madoc, that is notorious for catching big muskie and pike.  Well they didn’t have a hope in hell with how the smallmouth were smashing at this bait! I have never seen smallies literally shark attack a bait like this before in my life.  In one hour I caught over 15 smallmouth, and the biggest around a 3.5lber!  Ya its not huge, but when you catch them like that its just straight fun fishing, and how they came out of the water on it, I only wish I had a video camera to show the craziness!

Rating: 8 out of 10 (still figuring out this lure for other applications)

BJ's Comments: If you or your tournament partner plan on throwing a "sexydawg" be sure to bring your ear plugs, this bait is loud.. crazy loud

3.  Strike King Rodent

A good friend put me onto these rodent lures, and once he showed me a few tips and tricks, it didn’t take long to see some results coming out of them.  Once again another lure that I tried out this year for the first time, and it took a little work to get use to the action of them, and how to work the lure, but once that was down pat, the fish started coming into the boat.  The lure has the design of a creature/rodent bait, and can be worked and just about all applications from flipping docks,slop,pads,grass or just even bouncing the bottom with it.  Still have some learning to do with it, but thanks to my buddy KK, I am sure this lure will pay off for me next year! 

Rating: 8 out of 10 (once again still learning this new lure) 


4.     Power Team Lures Hammer Shad

Well this is the first year that I have ever used a drop shot rig, a little skeptical at first, and had to figure out how to fish this bait and applications for it, I was very nervous.  It took a few times out fishing with it, trying different depths and different lakes, and once I started to figure it out, it started working for me, and did I ever have fun with this bait this summer.  In one evening I got 2 smallies back to back that both weighed between the 3.5-4lb mark.  Also caught many of other fish on different lakes with this bait, and even largies were taking at it as well, and the occasional walleye! 
 Rating: 9 out of 10
BJ's Comments: I gotta give credit where credit is due, Power Team has been churning out some serious baits, nice pick Dustin, they definently have a home in my arsenal

5.  Berkley Pit Boss Havoc

This is a bait that I have used now for almost 2 years, and yet another top choice in my tackle box!  I have used this bait as well for flipping docks,logs,weeds, just about anything out there, and with its action of a craw fish to a creature bait moving through the water it makes the bass turn and attack at it.  The only down fall about this lure is how easy the tails rip off, however that is fishing!  But everything else about this bait works awesome. 
Rating: 9 out of 10
BJ's Comments: Dustin is not one to give up our color selections but you know me, Im all about sharing. If you are looking to give the PitBoss a run, go Vampire all the way

Well that’s it for the moment, as the year is coming to an end, I will be only getting out on the water before it becomes ice.  Look for more reviews on what I have learned this summer, and tips and tricks that go with it.
  - Dustin Lemmon

BJ's Comments: Nice Job Dustin, and again welcome to BJFA.. dont worry we wont give you too hard of a time for not taking your own pics!