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"