Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saying Goodbye.. Quinte Outdoor Sports

I just wanted to take a moment to mourn the passing (or closing) of one of my favourite tackle shops. Quinte outdoor sports just north of Belleville Ontario closed it's doors this weekend, and ended a 16 year run. I have been a loyal customer for over 10 years now, stopping in each and every time i pasted through town, whether it was making a purchase or just shooting the shit, it was a nice little store and one the best tackle shops between Toronto and Ottawa.

I was saddened and surprised to see the doors papered up and locked this past weekend, and even more so when the new of the closing was confirmed. I wish Eric and his family all the best in the future, and will miss our conversations. They were always welcoming and helpful to both my wife and I

This is yet another reminder that big box stores and on-line purchasing are slowly killing the small guy. Please support your local shops, we dont need to add any more tackle shops to this growing list of casualties

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dobyns gears up to launch Zayta Rods.. sneek peek

What better place to launch a new line rods then at ICAST 2012, and Dobyns rods is gearing up to do just that (again!) 

For the second year in a row a new addition to the Dobyns line-up will be introduced on the sports largest stage. This year the Zayta series which will be utilizing 3M nano matrix resin, will kick up what is already a pretty astounding family of rods. 

(Photo: Spinning Split Grip)

12 models are set to be made available right out of the gate, in a mix of both spinning and casting rods. In typical Dobyns fashion these rods are build with the highest grade parts, including the grades of cork so high that wine makers around the world get angry to know they are used on fishing rods. As usual Gary is not afraid to "bling out" his rods, this time utilizing anodized aluminum on the hoods. 

(Photo: Casting Full Grip)

I have yet to get my hands on one of these beauties, but im not afraid to beg. I have yet to find a Dobyns rod I dont like, and I have a feeling I will be able to say the same thing for the Zayta. For more sneak peek info check out the video of Gary below, he had a prototype on hand at a recent show. And if you want even more info and some great close up images, be sure to check out the link below that will take you to an early product review by Tackle Tour

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Retailer Spotlight:

This is the first in a series of reviews I will be working on to cover both store and web based retailers. As a Canadian Angler it can be hard at times to get your hands on the newest, latest and greatest, so I thought I would share with you the places I have found that do it , and do it well.

LandBigFish also known as LBF is an on-line and store based retailer from Akron Ohio. They have a wide selection of Bass products from most major brands and some you may have never heard of. They are also loaded with equipment for most other species including some great crappie gear.


LBF is very price competitive, and carry most major brands you are looking for. The site is easy to navigate, and has all product broken down into easy to use categories. All products are displayed well, with great images of all the product options available. Customers can also rate products they have used, a ratings are visible to all customers, this may help when deciding on what to buy, and what to avoid.

International shipping is available. Very Canadian customer friendly. they ship via USPS, so your package may take a bit longer to arrive, but you will also avoid any nasty UPS charges. As we know UPS is a Canadian fisherman's worst enemy.

The LBF website has some great customer friendly attributes. Not only does it allow you to start an account, but it also allows you to create and save "wish lists". I use this feature all the time to create a list of products I may want to order in the future. Once ready to order, I go to the wish list and add the product to my shopping cart, it is that easy, and it makes sure I dont forget about a product. All past invoices are stored in your account so you can review past purchases

LBF also gives a little back to it's customers,  by allowing you to accrue earnings on your account. A small percentage (1.5%) of each order  is saved in your account to be used on future orders.. It may sound small, but it is better then nothing (which is what most companies offer).


Although they take most major credit cards, LBF does not accept PayPal. I love to use PayPal when ordering from the US and look for companies that accept it.

You can expect to spend $12 or more when shipping into Canada, i have no issues with that, but it makes you want to place larger orders so that the shipping will drop per item. They offer free shipping over $50 to US customers but this is not extended to Canadian customers even when placing orders with values over $150. This is common, but would be a nice perk.

Service Level: High

I have been placing regular orders over the past 12 months and have yet to have an issue. All product arrives as ordered and in perfect condition. They send emails to confirm when you order has been placed and shipped. The site allows you to track your orders progress with ease.

Key Brands Carried:

this section will focus on unique brands that are quality products but harder to find in many canadian retailers. these are the brands I look for, and more importably buy and use!

Dobyns Rods,  Jackall, ISG TubesMissile BaitsBlack Angel Jigs, Lews Reels

Overall LBF is a great retailer to buy from, they are  well stocked up and take care of both their US and Canadian based customers. I know i will continue to order equipment from them, and if you have not checked them out I think you are missing out

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dobyns Rods names the Ranger Boat Winner!

Well, todays the day that I learned  I was not the owner of a brand new Ranger Z521 .. but.. Zac Rodrigues is. so Congrats to Zac and the 19 other winners. see below for the complete list, maybe you are the winner of a new Dobyns rod.

The 2011 Dobyns Rods promotion drawing was held January 21, 2012. The winners are as follows:

1st prize: Zac Rodriguez, Corpus Christi, TX won a Ranger Z521 with Evinrude E-TEC 250 HO, Humminbird 998C SI and Humminbird 958C and 101 Minn Kota Fortrex

2nd prize: Alvin Kirby, New Oxford, PA won a Humminbird 998C SI
3rd prize: Jeff Whitfield, Dallas, GA won a 101 Minn Kota Fortrex

4th prize: Pete Mendoza, Merrillville, IN won a Humminbird 858C

5th prize: Lori Lester, Birmingham, AL won a 80 Minn Kota Fortrex

6th prize: Robert Williamson, Gorham, ME won 1 Dobyns Rods Extreme Series rod of his choice

7th prize: Wilbur Catabuy, Saratoga, CA won 1 Dobyns Rods Extreme Series rod of his choice

8th prize: Sue Maher, Westminster, SC won 1 Dobyns Rods Extreme Series rod of her choice

9th prize: Brian Toth, Brandon, MS won 1 Dobyns Rods Extreme Series rod of his choice

10th prize: Fred Young, Winchester, ON won 1 Dobyns Rods Extreme Series rod of his choice

11th prize: John Lanctot, Kemptville, ON won 1 Dobyns Rods Champion Series rod of his choice

12th prize: Gary Hurd, Bartlesville, OK won 1 Dobyns Rods Champion Series rod of his choice

13th prize: Steven McLennon, Ohawu, ON won 1 Dobyns Rods Champion Series rod of his choice

14th prize: John Griffin, Redding, CA won 1 Dobyns Rods Champion Series rod of his choice

15th prize: Gregory Underwood, Hemet, CA won 1 Dobyns Rods Champion Series rod of his choice

16th prize: Wilbur Catabay, Saratoga, CA won 1 Dobyns Rods Savvy Series rod of his choice

17th prize: Gary Lancaster, Fort Bragg, CA won 1 Dobyns Rods Savvy Series rod of his choice

18th prize: Michael Karr, Hiram GA won 1 Dobyns Rods Savvy Series rod of his choice

19th prize: Chris Hogan, Cedar Park, TX won 1 Dobyns Rods Savvy Series rod of his choice

20th prize: Jim Hanna, Houston, TX won 1 Dobyns Rods Savvy Series rod of his choice

Honorable Mentions:

Wilbur Catabay had the most entries and won a Dobyns Rods Extreme Series and Savvy Series of his choice.

Murray Williams, Columbus, GA has purchased the most Dobyns Rods and will receive a Dobyns Rod of his choice.

click here for the officiall Dobyns Press release..HERE!

2012 Spring Fishing & Boating Show

I will be the first to admit that it has been awhile since I have attended the annual Spring Fishing and Boat show, but this year Im very excited to get going and even prouder to be working the event as part of the Dobyns team.

If your going to be taking in the show be sure to stop by the VRX fishing booth and take a look at the amazing collection of Dobyns rods.. including the new Camo Coalition and Micro Guide Savvy series. You can also get an up close and personal look at the nearly indestructible Numa sunglasses, and of course the entire Rod Glove family of products.

As usual the show has a great list of celebrity speakers who like Madonna or Elvis need only be called by one name.. Bob, Italo, Mercer, JP, Big Jim and Pyzer... and thats not all, top notch anglers, writers and seminar speakers Jeff Gustafson, Jim Saric and Wil Wegman will also be on hand.

this show is shaping up to be a great event, I will be taking in the event Saturday afternoon and working the booth all day Sunday, so if you are in the area be sure to swing by.

Prices for the show are reasonable ($14), and if you are looking for a better deal, they have printable coupons that can be found Here!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gill Chasing on the Ice: Volume 3 - Jig & Bait Selection

For the final installment of this blog on chasing gill on the ice, we are going to focus on jig and bait selection. Obviously each lake in each reach region on each day may change or alter what works, but for the sake of trying Im going to share with you my top three jig & Spoon selections as well as what I like to use for bait.. both live and artificial .

 In my arsenal the two main categories of lure that I use for chasing gills are "micro jigs" and  "dropper spoons". The selection of Micro jigs has grown rapidly over the past 3 years with both lead and tungsten jigs available in all shapes, sizes and colors. My go to jigs consist of the following.

Custom Jigs & Spins: Gill Pill, the gill pill is the original when it comes to micro jigs with "gill" in the name. This tiny high quality jigs has a flattened base that give the jig a slight flutter when falling in the water. With 10 color options in 5 sizes you will have not trouble finding one that works on your lake on any given day.

Bait selection when fishing a gill pill can differ. Some anglers will fish the GP naked, but I prefer to tip it with a few live wax worms or some berkley gulp waxies. Both hang off the hook well, and still leave enough of the point open to ensure a good hook-up.

For color and size dont be afraid to test out a bunch to see what works on your lakes.. but for me you cant go wrong with the black/white and a glow. As for sizes I kinda hang out in the middle and usually purchase 12's or 14's.

Fishkas Wolf Ram Jig are very similar to the look and feel of  CJ&S's collection of jigs, the wolframs have one big difference.. they are tungsten, and will allow you to use smaller jigs and still get back down to that school of gills much faster then when using lead. 

Wolfram jigs are available in hand painted, epoxy and metalic and come in way more colors then most jigs on the market today  But at over $2 a piece they are a bit pricey.Due to the extra weigh you can afford to look at using smaller jig selection, Wolframs come in 5 sizes including a size 20.. for those keeping score that jig is listed at 2mm ( a bit small for my taste)

My color preferences in the wolfram line-up are geared towards the pinks, I love the "pink face" and "glow pink". If you want to try the epoxy line out be sure to check out the "glow spot" and the "black glow spot"

the below link is only place I have ever seen wolfram jigs.. if you plan to buy some, be sure to check out the Asso line as well (see Volume 2)

The last jig on my list is the Arnold Fairy Jig also known as a flutter jig. This is a great jig to start your day off with and works great when tipped with maggots or wax worms

The flutter jig comes in a few color options but almost always has copper blades. I use the pink version the most, followed closely by the green version. The orange very rarely sees the ice, unless I lend when to a friend (yeah Im that kinda guy). The blades on these jigs really attract attention and seem to call gills in from all around. The only real down fall to the flutter jig is they have a very slow fall rate. with little weight and flutter blades, this jig will cause you fits if you are fishing in water over 20ft deep.

Ok, so that should cover you on the jig side of things, but there are times when jigs just wont cut it, and when that happens you need to give a spoon a shot. There are three spoons I will turn to when the bite gets tuff, and they are sure to do some damage.

Cj&S not only hit it out of the park on their gill jig selection, but the Slender Spoon is also one of the best all around spoons I have ever used. I buy these babies in bulk in all sizes as they are fish slaying machines for all species. (Gills, Walleye, Perch, Crappie, Splake and I've lost a few to pike as well)

Like the gill pill CJ&S makes these spoons in a variety and sizes, I find that the 1/16 and 1/8 sizes are perfect for gill fishing. The 1/16 I will fish as is, but the 1/8 i will remove the stock treble and add a dropper hook, either a hali chain style hook or small treble. These spoons like the above jigs can be tipped with waxies, maggots and/or gulp waxies and maggots. With baits like these I may also increase the bait size and try out a pinhead minnow or a minnow head (real or artificial). Color selection for gills, I like to use a silver/red or silver/blue version. 

If you like your spoons with a little more weight to them, then you are looking for a Hali  Sukkula or just Hali for short. These heavy duty spoons (I use the term loosely) will get you down into the water column fast and will really announce your presence if you bang then around on the bottom a bit. 

These are available in various colors and sizes, but I kinda like the 35mm size when gill fishing. Again in these spoons I like lighter colors and like to have a little blue in there. 

The dropper hooks are great for gill fishing but are very small, so when pairing with bait be sure to look for smaller sizes as well. Pinhead minnows are great on these hooks and so are the standard waxies. A tip to remember is that you should invest in extra hooks, the light gauge wire hooks will be bend easily with use, and even more so if you need pliers to remove them from the fishes mouth

I will also note that I hate the damn packaging, the shrink wrap gets caught up on the hooks and chains and is a pain in the ass to pull free. I have damaged more then one bait just opening the package

The last spoon on my must have Gill list is a Northland Eyedropper , these spoons are available in a couple designs, one with a single hook permanently attached (known as the eye dropper jig), and the second version has a removable treble (known as the eye dropper spoon). I prefer option 2 when gill fishing, and I remove the treble and replace it with either a Hali chain or a northland dropper. 

The small face of the eyedropper spoon gives off great flash but is not imposing. I love to fish this bait with live minnows and or minnow heads. The light weight spoon allows a live minnow to make it flutter with ease and allows you to almost deadstick it, while still getting some nice action.

Although available in a few colors I like to stick with "perch", "glo-perch" and occasionally "shiner", they are nice lite colors and give off some serious flash for various species. I will add that this is a slow falling spoon, so try to avoid using it in 20ft of water or more. I like to use this spoon in 15ft and under.

The last tip I will leave you with is in regards to bait. You heard me mention both live and artificials, I like to travel with both, as both have their place. If you want to try live wax worms, but dont know where to start, try your local pet shop. This is standard Lizzard/reptile food, and they usually have it available in bulk. If you want to lean towards the artifically side, you cant really go wrong with Gulp waxies, they look and fell like the real thing. I stick with natural colors, but will also carry a neon green as a last ditch effort. Gulp also makes a minnow head bait, this also works great on all panfish, it is the perfect bite size piece without having to rip heads off.

So thats it, now you know my secrets to success when chasing gills on the ice. Just like any other species, good gear is the key. And by no means does this cover all that is available to the gill chaser today, companies like Jammin jigs  just missed my list (although they would be on my crappie list) and Northland also has a  line of "Gill Getter", so be sure to try a few of these out the next time your on the ice in search of gills, and let me know how it works out for you

till next time, be safe and enjoy the ice

Thursday, January 19, 2012

B.A.S.S Rains down on the Umbrella Rig (Alabama Rig)

I dont think this comes as much of a surprise to many of us who have been watching the dramatic rise of this years fad product.. the Alabama Rig. There has been rumblings for months now that BASS would squash the use of this somewhat controversial product, and now they have.. well sort of.

In true B.A.S.S fashion they have banned the use of the Alabama rig in all Elite Series events starting on Feb 1st.. Just in time to have the ban in place for Feb's Bassmaster Classic the series main annual event. But not all levels of B.A.S.S tournament are effected by the change, lower level series and college will still continue to use the rig at this time.

I do get where this rule change came from, and if you read the fine print you will also notice the Alabama or Umbrella rig is not the only thing effected by the change. B.A.S.S will continue to enforce the 1 rod, 1 reel, 1 cast mantra and will no longer permitted double soft jerk-bait rigs, drop shot rigs with jigs used as weights, double topwater setups and other multi-lure rigs. These all fall under the ban put in place to stop the use of the Alabama rig.

So the question now is... how does this effect the sales and growth of a technique still in its infancy? Tournament guys will tell you that it is dead in the water, but what percent of fisherman are tournament anglers? does this really effect the mass? I think the answer is yes and no.

Yes, because the success of tournament anglers  has been pushed down the line and enhanced to legend of this product, and yes because tournament anglers spend more money on gear then the average weekend warrior.. but No, because the hype is out there, and as long as it is legal in  your area a catches fish guys will use it.

To be honest I never thought the Alabama or umbrella rig would have a ling life span, and I think this recent ban will shorten it for sure. That being said then the tackle shops start to clear them out at discount prices, i think I will pick one up, just to say I gave it a toss.

If you are looking for more info here is a link to the article posted on the B.A.S.S site

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gill Chasing on the Ice: Volume 2 - Reel & Line Selection

Ok, so in volume 1 of this 3 part blog we tackle rod selection, but obviously if you plan on doing some fishing with that rod you will need two more important items.. a reel and a quality ice line.

Let s start off with the reel. There are three types of reel available that work well when chasing gills on the ice. I only use two of them.. 1000 or 500 Series Spinning reels and Straight-line reels (better know as Fly reels). (The Schooley style reel is also popular, but not really my thing)

Spinning Reels:

When it comes to Spinning reels there are 100's available to choose from and they can range in price from $9 and up to $600. But you dont need to spend $600 or even $100 on a panfish reel, personally i believe you can find a high quality reel starting as low as  $30 and going as high as about $60 depending on your budget. The two reels Im going to focus on today both fall within that price range, one is at the entry price point of $29.99 and the second is at the top of this scale averaging about $50.. both reels are quality, durable reels that stand up to the brutal conditions you experience while on the ice and can help you tame the toughest of gills.

Shimano Sienna - $29.99

If there is one thing that shimano does real well, its making fishing reels, and even more so, it is making fishing reels for every budget. A friend of mine stumbled across the Shimano Sienna a couple seasons back and could not stop raving about it's on ice capability. I was a little skeptical but was willing to give it a shot... and Im glad i did

the Sienna comes in 2 ice fishing friendly sizes.. the 1000 and the 500, but for my money the 500 is the reel you want when on the ice for gills. It has less weight then the 1000 series but still maintains the quality drag that makes this reel a steal at $29.99

A 4 ball bearing reel, the Sienna is very smooth and holds up pretty well in cold conditions. The 500 size is not available at all retailers, and can be hard to find unless you have a good local shop that fully supports ice fishing. I will also warn you that it comes in two versions a front drag (FD) and Rear drag (RD). The Front drag version is the superior reel

Tica Cetus SB500 - $49.99

The Tica Cetus series of reels are the epitome of quality, and have to be the best all around ice fishing reel on the market today. The SB and SS series are the forerunners of the Tica brand and are worth the extra money when searching for the perfect gill reel. Super smooth and strong, Tica Cetus reels have 7 ball bearing and weight in at just over 6oz. They have a very high performing drag system that holds up extremely well in cold temps and in snow and ice.

Tica reels are coveted by those who use them, and shrugged off by those who dont. If you can get your hands on one, I know you will quickly see and feel the difference.

Not readily available in most areas, you can find many dealers on-line. I purchase from Red Rock store as they have fair prices and ship quick and cheap into Canada.

Tip: Avoid rod and reel combos, in order to sell them at a cheap price point many companies offer inferior reels paired with their rods. Save yourself the $20-$30 buy the rod without the reel and purchase a quality reel with the money you saved.. you can thank me later.

Straight-line Reels:

You have seen this term pop-up on a few of my blogs this season, and it is a technique that Im still learning, but I feel it definitely has a place on the ice, and even more so when cashing gills.

Straight-lining really just consists of finding and utilizing small fly reels on the ice. My reel of preference is an Okuma Sierra 4/5 weight reel. It fits perfectly into the palm of my hand and although it has a aluminum frame it does not easily ice up while in the elements. The Sierra weighs just over 5.oz but like all fly reels it has a large line capacity that will need to be filled with some sort of backing prior to adding your line.

Straight-lining reels allow you to use your hand to apply the amount of drag required by species is is above and beyond a standard drag built into the reel, they also prevent line twist better then spinning reels. There is nothing worse then chasing gills with micro jigs that are spinning like a top due to line twist

The down side to straight-line reels is obviously the drop rate. When you are on a hot panfish bite the key is to get your line back done into the strike zone as fast as possible, with fly reels, you cant simply open the bail and let it fall, you have to strip line out by hand. This does not bother me for the most part, but I do prefer to fish straight line reels in shallower water (under 20ft) for that reason.

Okuma Sierra - $40 (approx)

Now for a higher end Stright-line reel, the Okuma SLV series is also a very popular reel for the ice. The SLV is slightly more expensive then the Sierra model, but it is available is a smaller size. The SLV 2/3 reel is smaller and lighter then the Sierra model wich allows for better balance on shorter ice fishing rods. The SLV also has an improved drag system and a more comfortable grip (rubber instead of wood).

Okuma SLV - $60 (approx)


Whether you choose a spinning reel or a straight-line reel, both are only as good as your line choice and with hundreds of options available on the market today choosing a line for chasing gills can be a daunting task. Im a product testing junky and have spent more money then i care to admit trying out new lines. Each season I give the newest, latest and greatest a test run, only to be reminded that the stuff I have been using for the past 6 years is still the best there is.. here are a few line choices when chasing gills

ASSO Ice Line:

hands down the best small diameter ice line I have ever used, it is a staple in my arsenal. The 2lb test line holds tight knots, and is much stronger then the 2.4lb breaking point would suggest. The relatively high vis blue is easy to see on the water but is not annoyingly high vis like the trilene ice blue.

I have battled monster gills, crappie and perch with Asso line and Im always impressed by its strenght. Again this line is hard to find, as it is an import (Italy).. here is where i buy mine.. shhhhh!

One tip... I use this line primarily as a leader, as it is so thin that it can be messy on a full spool. Give it a try and see what you like best.

Gamma ESP Ice:

Gama copolymer line is another harder to find line in my area that is well worth the search. Like Asso it comes in very small diameters and can be purchased in 1 thru to 10lb test. I like the 1.5lb and 2lb lines for gill fishing. For those of you not happy with high vis lines, gamma is a nice clear line with little to no memory.

Gamma Ice Line

P-Line Floroice:

For bigger game species this line is my go to. Stated as a copolymer with a fluorocarbon coating p-line floroice is a tuff, durable product that holds up well on the ice, and has little to no memory. Available in 2lb and up, I perfer to use the 4lb version of this line for crappies, perch and walleye but will occasionally use it on my gill rod (2lb or 4lb no higher!)

P-Line Floroice

The last two that I will talk about are lines that are newer on the marker, Northland Bionic Ice Line  and Trilene fluorocarbon ice . Both have tested really well in early season use so far. The Norhtland I again only use as a leader, but so far I really like the Trilene Fluoro on the spool. (way better then the mono ice line that have had on the market for years)

Tip: Similar to the above tip, I will state that I never, ever, use line that has come pre-spooled on a reel I purchased. Like to reels in the above example most companies use cheap line to add implied value to the consumer. There is no added value in a pre-spooled reel, throw that line out and spool up with the line of your choice.

There you have it, you now know my secret weapons when it comes to battling gills on the ice. All there is left to talk about is jig/lure/bait selection.. until next time.. tight lines

Monday, January 16, 2012

January Recipe: Easy Superbowl Chili


This recipe was passed my way by a co-worker after a recent work place potluck. I was super impressed by the taste, and when he gave me the recipe I couldn't think of a better quick Chili recipe for Superbowl sunday or for out on the ice.
To me, the perfect chili for Superbowl Sunday, or for when your out on the ice comes down to using the least amount of tools, and an almost no measure recipe. So thats what we have here, a quick and easy recipe that will have you back on the ice or watching the big game befor you know it.

1lb Ground Beef
l lb Ground Italian Sausage (I use Johnsonville as it is readily available) 
1 Jar Salsa (I use Pace as it is my favorite)
2 Cans Aylmer's diced Tomatoes (Spicy or Chili version)
1 Can of Red Kidney Beans
1 Can Black Beans
2 Packs of Club House Chili Powder (1 x Hot, 1 x Mild)
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Jalapeno Peppers

Ok, as I said, this is quick and easy.. grab your frying pan and fry up the ground beef and the Italian sausage, drain some but not all of the fat and toss the meat into your crock pot.

Open the Jar of Salsa and toss it in with the ground meet. Next toss in the tomatoes.. I like to blend up one of the cans to add some more liquid, but if you like your chili thicker, then dont bother blending. 

Mix in the chili power, and both cans of beans. If you like a lot of bean in your chili you can add a 3rd can, but for me.. two is enough.

Last but not least is the Jalapeno and garlic, you can quick chop with your knife, but if you already have the blender out, why not use it and blend them up. (add more of each depending on your own tastes).

Lastly.. add some cracked black pepper and let it stew together for a minimum of 2 hours. Me I like to get in 8 hours so the flavors really blend. 

Once ready to serve this chili goes well with a few traditional sides. Obviously cheddar cheese (the older the better) and some bread and butter and the main stays here. But since there is some salsa in this recipe and we are talking about SuperBowl sunday, try it with some corn chips, this nice thick chili stands up well on chips... there you have it, quick and easy, and great to take with you out on the ice, or to share with friends while you take in the big game

Friday, January 13, 2012

Does your city have a Tackle Swap!

Im a bass fisherman, but the seasons closed, and Im an ice fisherman but I dont have much ice. So what else is a guy to do other then surf the net looking to learn, and looking for deals on equipment.

Today I came across a post on  Bigfatbass a good Canadian bass fishing forum, and the post was letting the members know about a fishing tackle swap meet being held in Whitby, Ontario. Now like most of you I frequent the odd flea market or swap meet and I see the table with the guy selling vintage and antique lures, rods and tackle.. but how cool would it be to hit up a swap meet full of guys like you selling new gear, slightly used gear, and everything in between. The deal hunter in me, got very excited at this notion.

Maybe this is not something new, and maybe you have one of these Tackle Swaps s in your area, but for me this was a brand new thing, something I had never heard of, and something I would love to take advantage of. To set up a table and sell off all the plastics that you bought and never used, or last years reel that has been replaced by this years "new and improved". I really like the idea of anglers getting together to sell equipment to other anglers, these kind of face to face setting are great to meet the guys you are already seeing on your lake, but just didn't know it.  Not only do you get a chance to buy some equipment, but you get a chance meet guys in your area with the same passion

I know I will try to drag my ass down to Whitby to take in this event, and next year for next year I will have to round up my fishing buddies and see if we can get one of these going in Kingson. does your city have a Tackle Swap meet, if not, it should!

Downtown Anglers of Durham Region Tackle Swap

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Breaking the Ice 2012: Jacks Lake

So far 2012 has not been kind to many ice anglers in Southern Ontario, the big lakes like the Bay of Quinte and Lake Simcoe are still in very dangerous conditions, and some of the smaller lakes in most southern towns are still are not at 100% either. So to say my first ice trip of 2012 was a little delayed is an understatement, I should have been on the ice a  month ago, but I will take what I can get, and for me, first ice was Jan 8th.. and my lake of choice was a good little crappie lake called Jacks, just outside of Apsley Ontario.

Jacks Lake, is a great ice fishing lake that still produces well even after the relatively high amount of pressure it gets in both soft and hard water seasons. On the ice the targeted species are Lakers, Walleye, Sunfish, Perch and Crappie. Personally I go there for the crappie, decent numbers and good size make this an annual stop for me.

(Jesse's first Crappie)

This season with the current warm weather conditions not all of Jacks lake is ready to fish, I stuck close the main bay and focused on areas with 30ft of water and less. The fish were in a somewhat co-operative mood and we were able to ice some 10, 11 and 12 inch crappies along with some small perch.

Jesse was my partner for the day (our group of 4 became a group of 2 early Sunday morning), this was his first Crappie trip, and as  you can see from the above image, it wont be his last. He landed that heavy shouldered slab late in the day and helped us end the day on a high note. Always good to ice new species

We had some equipment issues on the day, my new Marcum LX7 lost battery power after only 5 hours on the ice, not sure if this is a machine or battery issue, but I will be giving Marcum a call to discuss it. I also broke a new rod that I purchased this past off season. the K&E Whip'r rod looked like a killer panfish set-up but did not last long on the ice, I set the hook on a nice crappie and heard a "snap" and then had to hand bomb the fish in after the rod broke in two. Although it was a nice crappy this rod should have easily shouldered the weight, and Im very disappointed in the quality.

I guess there will be two companies getting a call this week, to discuss product quality issues and concerns.

Anyways, you cant let stuff like that ruin your day. The weather was great and we had some fish on the ice, so all in all I would say it was a successful trip and a good way to break the ice in 2012

If you ever get the chance to fish jacks lake, I recommend giving it a try. There is a great bunch of locals on the lake that dont mind sharing the ice, as long as you are respectful to them and the body of water. The ministry spends a good deal of time on Jacks lake. This is the first time in 3 years that I was not approached by a CO to see how my day was going and check in to make sure everything was legit.. I dont mind those visits.. I plan to fish Jacks lake for years, and those guys are helping make sure the fish population is around so I can

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ask Gary.. Jerkbait Q&A has a pretty cool video segment called "Ask Gary" it is a filmed Q&A session in which Gary Dobyns takes time to answer questions from a group of anglers that sat in on his seminar, and those who submitted questions on-line

If you cant make it to a seminar to hear Gary speak in person, be sure to check out the video segments posted on They are short and sweet and in 10-15 minutes you get a recap of all of Gary's answers.

Im not much of a Jerkbait guy, but since Gary is the master, I knew it would be worth my time to watch the below video. If you want a crash course in throwing a jerkbait.. check out the below link

If you have some questions for Gary you can send them to ...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gill Chasing on the Ice: Volume 1 - Rod Selection

One of my favourite species to target on the ice are gills.. blue gills, sunfish, red ear, and any other name there is for the various members of this family of panfish. Gills encompass the 3 things ice anglers look for in a targeted species, they school up, put up some epic battles when hooked, and they taste great.. what more can you ask for?

I have been chasing gills on the ice for just over 7 years now. Slowly over that time I have been adjusting my arsenal to find the perfect combination of gear to take with me when chasing gills, and since I'm in a generous mood I thought I would share some of my findings with you. This is part 1 of of a 3 part blog. Today we will focus on the 4 styles or rod that I take with me to ensure a good day on the ice. Like you do with your tackle, you can and should adjust the rods you are using when the bite is tuff.

A quick disclaimer here before we jump in. This post is about rod/reel style and not so much brand. I will be sharing the brands I use, because that's what I use, that is not to say you need to load up on Thorne Bros rods if you want to be a good gill fisherman (but it cant hurt)

1) Noodle Rod

Many of you may use different names for this style rod, Jason Mitchell calls his version meatsticks (pictured below) Frabill calls theirs a Quick Tip, and thorne bros agrees with me and calls theirs a power noodle. What these rods all have in common is that they have a super sensitive tip with long soft tapers into the backbone of the rod. A good noodle rod tip will taper 1/3 to 1/2 way down the rod blank. The tip is usually painted a high vis color or marked in some way to help you train your eye on the tip while jigging.

(Jason Mitchell Meat Stick)

These rods are excellent for Gill fishing and remove any need for a traditional or spring bobber. The rods are weighted for ultra lite jigs and should show the slightest bend/arch wen the jig is tied on. I use various sizes of noodle rods but prefer to use one in between 28-34" in length, this ensures I still get some backbone and allows the rod to be used for larger species like perch and crappie. I do carry one noodle rod that is 48" in length that I use on days when i will be fishing outdoors and moving from hole to hole. This longer rod is a saint for those who have back issues and want to stand-up

In my opinion the best three rods in this category are..

Thorne Bros Power Noodle

Jason Mitchell MeatStick

Whip'R Rod


Noodle rods are my go-to panfish rod. It is the rod I start my day out with, they give you a good mix of sensitivity and fun. They are designed to handle the standard micro jigs that are used day in and day out when gill fishing. If the bite it tough, and I'm missing fish, its time to jump down to rod #2 (see below)

2) Spring Bobber Rods

You may argue that any rod can be made into a spring bobber rod and your probably right. Many companies sell spring bobber tips you can add to a rod, some are small pieces of wire and others are long springs that love to freeze solid when fishing outdoors. I have done some serious testing in the Spring bobber market and as with many areas in fishing equipment.. you get what you pay for.. so for me, there is no better spring bobber and spring bobber rod on the market then the St.Croix Legend. The adjustable coil body slides in and out of the holder to adjust tension without having to change bobbers and the high vis gold color and beaded tip is easy to see in all conditions. Best perk.. Since the line and water do not travel through the spring portion of the bobber there is no freeze up like that seen on the Frabill Panfish popper.. also no need for a threader when using the Legend.

My first ever spring bobber was a frabill panfish popper, a rod I truly hated, but over the past few season Frabill has really stepped up to the plate and given some of their rods a new life,  the panfish popper is one of those rods. Avoid the blue rod & reel combo at all costs, but the new popper rods are a quality product available in various sizes and power levels. They stepped up the rods durability but still rely on the solid coil spring, a bobber that causes many anglers fits, due to constant freeze ups and the threading concerns.

(St Croix legend)

Best Spring Bobber Rod Choices:

St Croix legend

Frabill Panfish Popper


Although the noodle rod is my go-to rod when panfishing, the spring bobber is a close second. I switch up to a spring bobber for the following reasons..

 - I want to use jigs that may outsize some of the noodle rod tips (St Croix bobber is available in L,M, MH and H).
- I want a firmer backboned rod but still use the ultra sensitive tip.
- I need an even more sensitive tip then the noodle rod can provide

In all these instances I will switch up to my spring bobber, and hopefully increase my catch ratio. But if I'm still missing bites and fish, then there is still one place I can go to increase the sensitivity and hopefully my catch..

#3) Palm Rods

There are a ton of guys out there that hate palm rods.. I'm not one of them.. but I also hope I never have to use one! The palm rod for me, is the ultimate rod for those days that the bite is so lite it is nearly no-existent. I carry two with me, and they are kinda like my emergency kit, rigged up with some super lite line (Asso Line 1-2lb) and baits that are so small I don't even know how I still manage to tie them (baits range from 1/16 down to 1/128). Like all emergency kits, you never want to have to use them, but sure glad you have them when needed.

(Marmish Rod)

My Palm rod of choice is the Marmish rod, a rod shown to me by a friend who was a former member of Canada's Ice fishing team, sadly he is longer with us (Terry Sweet) but his gift of the marmish will live on in my arsenal. Palm rods are simply that, a small plastic rod that fits in the palm of your hand, there is no reel, but a small plastic spool that will hold small diameter line. When fishing a palm rod you are really "hand over handling" you drop your jig down the hole, and using the bobber to detect the bite. A marmish spring bobber is the most sensitive spring bobber I have come across and detects the slightest movement including up-bites.

Once a fish is hooked similar to tip-up fishing you simply hand over hand you line back in. The rod is not meant to fish fish, it is just a high end bite detector . A nice perk to the hand over hand technique is that since you never reel in the line, it is super easy to drop back down to the same spot/depth you caught your last fish.. on the down side if you are fishing deep water the excess line on the ice can be a pain and a mess if you are not careful when bringing in your fish

(Marmish Tip with Wolfram Jig)

Palm Rod of Choice: Marmish

The Application:

I think I covered this above, these rods only leave my rod case when all else has failed. They are a way to redeem myself when I know there are fish down there, but cant get them to bite. The sensitivity of this bobber is incredible, you will be amazed at how many bites you were missing.

Rod #4: Straight Line Combo

I have already spent some time on a separate blog covering straight line combos so I wont dwell on them here. What I will say is that I like to move to a straightline line combo when using more non traditional Gill baits, like spoons or small lipless cranks or jigging raps. Many guys live and die by the micro jig when gill fishing, and I agree they are a great way to start, but it is allot of fun to use other baits not commonly used. these are baits the fish have not seen often and they help draw in some of the bruisers in the school

(Okuma Sierra Fly Reel)

To pull this off I move to the straight line combo as it gives me a stouter rod with a fairly soft tip, that is much firmer then noodle rods or spring bobbers. The firmer tip allows you to "snap" this style of bait. Snapping is just a more forceful or erratic means of jigging. Thorne Bros make a rod called the Quiver stick, it is one of the best rods I have ever purchased and gets some serious use with gills, perch and crappie.. strong but sensitive.

Some Straight Line options

Thorne Bros Quiver Stick

Frabill Straight Line

When Gill fishing I like to utilize all of the above rods, some see ice on every trip and others might only get one use a season. To be they are all an important part of my arsenal when chasing gills, although I don't always use them, I'm always happy they are there. Give some of these a try when your on the ice, and you may just land a few more gills for the pan

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dobyns Rods.. The Movie!

This is just a fun little commerical spot for Dobyns rods, kinda reminds me of a classic movie trailer. Hey in the depths of winter, this is the kind of movie I want to see.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Daiwa T3 Ballistic Reel - A reel created & designed in the Bat Cave

For those of you who frequent the fishing boards that I do, then you may have seen a post entitled "my wife's gonna kill me". That post was mine, right after I pulled the trigger on a pair of Daiwa T3 Ballistic reels.. two reels I have been waiting all year to get my hands on, and with a sweet boxing day sale, they were hard.. strike that.. impossible to pass up.

If you have not seen the T3 series from Daiwa then I will admit you are surely missing out. These sleek stylish reels bring a whole new concept and design to the reel market. The first time you open and close the bail, you will be hooked.

Not only does the  face of this reel remind me of the a tool you might find on Batman's gadget belt,  but it also has some tricks up its sleeve. With a face plate that pops wide open to reveal the almost hidden  T-Wing bar (another Batman-esque tool) this reel is a casting machine. The space around the spool and the T-Wing design allow the line to more freely come off the spool.

Another Hidden gadget on the T3 Ballistic is the MegForce 3D casting control system.. Hidden just under the reel, the Megforce system allows you to quickly adjust from "maxbreak", to "all around" and "long cast". This quick adjustment will allow you to adapt to any conditions and gives you the ultimate in casting fine tuning (6o total options!). As a guy who primarily uses Shimano reels the MegForce system is a huge perk for me, no more taking off the side plate to adjust the breaks, a simple click with the thumb and Im back fishing

The T3 is not exactly the lightest  reel on the market, but it is not where near a wrist breaker either. The Ballistic series comes in at 7.5oz witch is slightly heavier then the Shimano Curado (the main reel I use in my arsenal) witch comes in at 7.1oz. What it may have lost in the weight battle it regains in profile. This low profile reel sits real well on the rod and feels great in the hand. For a small reel it has some nice power and the paddles are positioned well and don't do a number on your fingers.

Similar to the new Quantim Exo reel, this reel does not have a metal or composite body, but instead it is made of Zaion, a high density carbonate that rivals the strength, weight and flex of magnesion. Obviously this is a new technology, and only time will tell how well it stands up. But so far I really like the strength and fell of Zaion and I appreciate the cost savings that put the T3 ballistic in my price range.

If you have not yet put your hands on the Dawai T3 Ballistic, I recommend you head on down to your local shop and try one out. I think you will be impressed by this new innovation in the casting reel design. I don't think this will be the last we hear of the T-Wing design and I will be surprised if we don't come across some T-wing knock-offs at Icast 2012.