Monday, January 28, 2013

Fish Tales: How Rapala Killed the Wiggle Wart

This is an argument that seems to come up over and over again both on and off the water. The elusive "vintage" Storm Wiggle Wart is a legendary bait that seems to be increasing in demand and price as it's legend grows.. Why? you may ask is a bait that is still being build causing such a stir on fishing boards and eBay alike.. well it all leads back to 1991.. the year Rapala killed the Wiggle Wart

The following story was used with permission from fellow Dobyns team member Pete Mathews, In this short excerpt Pete provides some awesome insight into the changes to the original Wart made by Rapala as well as how to spot the real thing

The Crime:

In 1991 Rapala purchased Storm and took over the manufacturing. They literally destroyed the mold and made a few key changes that in turn made the bait less effective. Other than destroying the original molds, they started using a lighter plastic that was less dense, so the bait floats up faster when you pause it. In cold water, that's not what you want. They also started using a steel rattle instead of a lead rattle. It produces a different sound than the lead and I'm no scientist, but I would think crawfish would be making a dull, subtle clicking noise in cold water (lead) instead of a higher pitch, louder noise (steel).

Knowing what you have:

Figuring out if you have a pre-Rapala or post-Rapala wart is pretty easy. The older baits have "wiggle wart" printed on the under-side of the bill, and the newer baits say "storm." Also, the older baits have a distinct ridge or rough spot down the's where the two halves of the mold were jointed together. A lot of people think that ridge/imperfection takes the balance of the bait away from center, which in turn makes it hunt back and forth when you have it grinding through the rocks.

If you find an old one in a good color, buy it. If you find an old one in one of the "phantom" colors, definitely buy it. If you find an older one that's a crappy color (basically anything that isn't craw colored), buy it and get it repainted. There were several shad patterns that have a clear body, and if you find a good painter they should be able to re-create those phantom patterns.

To learn more  about the elusive Wiggle Wart and the changes made to them over the years, check out Pete's full article entitled Wiggle Warts old vs. New check on his website (HERE)
If you have any cool bait realted History or stories feel free to share them with us

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Test Drive: 13 Fishing Black Betty Rod & Reel Review

I truly did not know what to make of all the hype that surrounds 13 Fishing and their Black Betty ice fishing reels. I for one am a "don't believe the hype" kinda guy, but I'm also the first in line to give new rods, reels (or any equipment really) a test drive. So, that being said this past off season I picked up a Black Betty combo and have been dreaming of ice ever since.

I'm going to start this test drive off by giving you a little background on 13Fishing, as they are a still a newcomer on the rod market having only opened their doors for the first time back in 2010. They have since exploded onto the scene showing up at ICAST 2012 and on every fishing related board you can imagine.. they even understand the social media side of marketing and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and more. They  bring a fun playful approach to getting their product seen, and so far I like what I see when it comes to their line of Ice Fishing rods.

Ok, enough with the introduction lets get into the test drive.

The Black Betty ice fishing combo is 13 fishing's initiation into the fast growing "straight-lining" market . This is where you would usually expect to see a quote like "this ain't your daddy's reel" but in all honestly, that's exactly what it is. 13Fishing has bucked the trend of over designing their reel trying to catch fisherman and instead and developed a bare bones stripped down reel that feels great in your hands and catches what is was meant to catch.. fish


The Black Betty reel is really a thing of beauty, the longer drop down neck allows you to comfortably pistol grip the reel and it sits perfectly balanced with the rod. The aluminum frame and graphite rod blank make this combo nice and light, yet very durable.. I was not worried about dropping it while making the mad dash for a flag.

13Fishing may have stripped down the innards of this reel, but they made sure they spent the money where it counted. Including an over sized handle know. This is great for those cold days on the ice in which you need to reel with gloves on. Some other reels out there have not yet grasped the importance of this, or if they have, the reel sells at a premium.

The Drag control on the Black Betty will work it's way into both the "Pro" and the "Con" section of this review. On the Pro side, the drag is easy to loosen and gives the Black Betty the best drop rate of any of my 6 straight-line combos. Many of the competitors reels require that you hand pull line off the reel to keep up a good drop rate on your jig or spoon, not the black Betty, it has the ability to almost free-spool down the hole when loosened.

I was a bit weary of the metal (aluminum) body of this reel, but so far I have found that it stays nice and loose even in cooler temps. With less gears, and mechanisms there is less places for water to get in and freeze up while on the ice.

If I was snowboarder they would say that I fish "goofy" which just means that I spent a lot of time reversing the reel direction on every reel I have ever purchased. So for me the ease or making this switch needs to be covered. Statement: the Black Betty was the quickest and easiest change over of any straight-line reel I have owned (nuff said)


Nothing is perfect, and there are a few minor issues with this reel. Lets start off with the obvious, the smooth cork drag will take some getting use to for anglers that have never really used a fly reel or  are use to some of the more expensive straight-lining reels currently available. It took some playing around for me to find my sweet spot, and I still found myself adjusting it while on the ice (trying to get a fast drop but wanting support when the fish hit).

The line guide bar can also mess with your drag if you are not careful. Yes there is a little wrench you can use to tighten/loosen the guide bar, but it is not something I will carry on the ice with me, and again I found that the line guide loosened forcing my to hand tighten which in turn tightened my drag.. (this may be confusing to follow, but if you own one of these I bet you know what I'm talking about)

I'm on the fence to whether or not to include the price point of these combo's into the "con" section of this review. Not to long ago spending more then $30 on your ice fishing rod/reel would mean you were a rich man, but nowadays you can spend upwards of $80 on a rod alone (Thorne Bros) and easily drop another $30 on a matching reel (my wallet agrees with me). But the Black Betty reel is a very stripped down version of what other companies have brought to the table, yet the reel is still priced up with or above some of the competition. Is it worth the $59 price tag, my answer is yes

The Wrap-Up

The Black Betty rod and reel from 13 Fishing has really been a pleasure to fish it, it's stripped down look and feel make it durable and trustworthy even when fishing in some of the nastiest conditions a Canadian winter has to offer.

I spent the majority of the time here focusing on the Black Betty reel, but feel I should also give the rod it's due. I have been fishing with the 24" UL combo and find the rod to be highly responsive yet sturdy enough to hand lighter weight spoons and heavy tungsten jigs. I like the length and it's feel while in my hand. I see some more Black Betty combos in my future

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dobyns Rods January Tip of the Month: Rod Stress

(photo of Gary Dobyns borrowed from the gang at Tackle Tour)

The Dobyns tip of the month for January 2013 comes from washington state team member Doug Lane, and really can be considered two tips...

Just because you see the Pros boat swing a fish doesn't mean it's not hard on a rod blank. A significant number of blank failures are the result of improperly boat swinging larger fish. The practice, often called, "bouncing" is not only hard on fish, it's hard on a rod blank if not done carefully. Never isolate the stress on the upper section of the blank where the diameter is thinner. That will result in breakage more times than not. The stress placed on the thinner diameter upper third portion of the blank is meant to spread the stress of the load on the blank over a larger segment of the blank. That's what permits the rod to flex in the first place. Note where the flex of the blank shuts off and always avoid grasping the blank above that location. Dobyns rods are made of the highest quality materials in the industry but that won't prevent a failure if the angler chooses to boat swing larger fish and does not use the proper technique.

Dobyns rods provides crankbait rod models to meet every cranking application. Those anglers who seek the fullest level of senstivity in a crankbait rod, but desire the parabolic action found in quality glass rods can find the exact model they need in the champion CB and CBRM ( Randy Macabee ) series. Anglers who prefer the softer more forgiving action of glass can choose from the Champion 704CB Glass for finesse crankbaits to the 765CB glass for deep divers. No matter what attribute you are looking for, graphite or glass/composite, Dobyns rods provides the specific model to meet every bass angler's needs. If you have questions about any of the Dobyns crankbait models call and talk to the staff to help pick the perfect material, length and
action to meet your needs.

Remember if you want to catch each tip of the moth as they are posted head on over to the Dobyns Rods Facebook page (HERE)  and click "Like"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Breaking the Ice 2013: Plan "C" Jacks Lake

With work and family obligations at an all time high over the holiday season my first trip out on to the ice was later then I had hoped, and was almost postponed again when this recent warm front hit us.

This year as always  "Plan A" for first ice was to head up to Ottawa and meet up with a group of fellow ice members. The aforementioned obligations got in the way and the planned trip never took place. (sorry guys)

"Plan B" was to head up to Lake Simcoe this past weekend in search of those world famous jumbo perch. As of Thursday we had a local report of good ice (6inches) and great fishing (buckets'o'perch). So on Thursday night I packed all my gear and made plans with a buddy to hit the ice on Saturday after a day long Tattoo appointment on Friday. Being diligent I monitored the local boards and some of the videos posted by local crazies (you know who you are). As of 4pm on Friday afternoon all looked well for Saturday morning.

Bright an early on Saturday Aaron (aka Airs24) and I jumped in his ride ready to make the 1hr 20 minute drive to Simcoe. As we hit the road I continued with my due diligence and started to review some local reports.. to my surprise things had drastically changed, and not for the better. Ice condition warnings were posted all over the boards stating simply "Stay off the Ice". Being smart ice anglers this made us turn around and make some alternate plans.

Plan "C" was to head to Apsley and give Jacks lake a work out. This lake is always frozen by early Jan and cars and trucks are usually driving all over it come the end of the month. Not wanting to waste too much more time or gas we made the call to a local lodge to see if they had any update on conditions. Reluctantly the let us know that yes their are guys fishing and that their was about 6 inches of ice in the main bay. To back up this I also made a call to the local bait shop (Stone's) and they confirmed what the lodge owner said.

Things were looking up, next stop was the bait shop to load up on pin-heads (Jacks Lake crappies eat these up) and then onto the Ice. When we entered the shop a startled owner asked "where you guys headed" and we proudly said "Jacks Lake". He then proceeded to explain  that this morning he sold some minnows to a guy headed to Jacks only to have the man come back a hour or so later stating that the ice was not good and that he turned around. They also stated the local OPP (police for you non Canadian readers) were at the launch turning guys around.. after this he promptly filled our bucket with minnows.. and we made the decision to keep on

Once we arrived on Jacks Lake we were pleasantly surprised to see well over 20 anglers out on the ice fishing. Not one to be careless we awaited a husband and wife team that were just leaving the ice as we pulled up, once off we stopped them to check on conditions. They explained that they had 6-8inches in the spots they were fishing (over 20-30ft of water). They also mentioned the fishing sucked, but that has never deterred us.

Now confident that we would be able to stay on top of the ice, we unloaded our gear, strapped on our ice picks and began the trek out in search of crappies.

We started off fairly shallow in 24ft of water, looking for a weed bed that in past years has always held fish. Usually smaller crappies 8"-10" but in larger quantity then in the deeper water. We pounded hole after after but where unable to come across this fabled weed bed. Using our graphs we watched for changes in structure and for any fish movement. Our first 3 stops resulted in zero fish marked, and no weeds (?)

As we continued to move parallel along the shoreline we were stumped as to where the weed bed vanished to, and even more importantly where the fish were? A decision was made to start working in shallower and to try to find spots under the 20ft mark. This is unusual for Jacks and not something we had tried previously. Once we hit the 17ft mark we pounded more holes and began a search and destroy mission that turned into a search and not find mission.

After working these holes for as long as we could stand, it was time to test out deeper water. Using the navionics app on my IPhone  we looked for the drop and started to drill holes in 30-35ft of water. When the fishing started we noticed one change and that was we were actually marking the odd fish, nothing constant, but we could get fish to rise up off the bottom and a few would cruise in around the 25ft mark.. now this is exciting.

Once we started to mark fish it was not long before I iced my first 2013 fish.. a perch and not exactly jumbo. He was sent back down the hole as a sacrifice to the gods of fishing, apparently they also thought he was kinda small and they were not appeased.. this was the only fish we landed today.

All in all my first ice trip of 2013 was not what most would consider a success, but to actually be able to get out on the ice, stay above the ice, and land my first first fish in lucky 2013 has me marking this day down as a "plus". Sure the fishing could have been better, but I got to spend 5 hours on the ice fishing with a buddy in weather well above freezing, and I got to break in 3 new rods.. to me that is a good day

Friday, January 11, 2013

Teach a kid to fish...

This is an older Blog article that I wrote for a different source (WFN) back in the spring of 2011. I never shared it with my readers here so I thought I would now and include a short update  along with some newer photos

It is hard to pinpoint what you consider to be your greatest day out on the water. For me personally the best memories don't always include days with record fish, but instead it may be the person I shared the boat with, or the place I actaully got to fish.

If I had to select one day, I decided to go for a day that was not all about me, but more about my 5 year old niece (and her even littler brother. I will start of by telling you that they know Im a fisherman, at times I wonder if they can remember what I look like, or the sound of my voice, but the one thing they do know is that I fish. Anytime these two kids pass any lake (or puddle), anywhere in the world they ask their mother " Do you think Uncle Robbie is out there fishing?".

I have always looked on my job as a fisherman uncle to be the one to introduce them to the sport I know and love. Yes Im proud to say I gave them each their first fishing rods.. a barbie rod for her and a Star Wars rod for him, and Im even prouder to say that I was with them when they caught their first fish (and many more after that). I seem to be digressing here, so I will get to the point, and that point being "my greatest day on the water"

A couple years ago now, the park my family rents a cottage in, held their annual kids fishing derby. My niece 3 at the time wanted to enter and I was honoured to be her adult of choice to fish with. The derby was perfect for small kids, running 30 minutes per age group in a pond stocked with decent sized fish

She fished her heart out over that 30 minutes and caught many fish, one that eventually won her first place and what turned out to be her first ever trophy. The look on her face when we landed the fish (and when she was handed the trophy made my day, and I think she has been hooked on fishing ever since. To this day this is my favourite trophy win and Im glad to share it with her.

and the trophy goes to...

I included this picture as it has always made me laugh. Not even two years old this little guy watched closely to his sisters accomplishment and grabbed her rod to copy her. I think as his sister gets more and more into the pink and frilly things in life, this little guy will be my protégé  (see below)


Ok, now for some updates, and some updated pics. My Niece and nephew still love to spend as much time on the water as possible, and still love to fish. My goal has been to teach them about water safety, fishing safety, as well as proper fish handling. Teach kids early not to be afraid of fish and how to properly handle them can make all the difference in the world.

My Niece, Nephew and I continue to enter the annual Kids fish derby and have yet to reclaim our title, but we have a blast, catch fish and really what else matters. Below are a collection of images from the most resent derby

As my niece gets older and turns to the more girly things in life, her attitude towards fish has not changed much, although she does spend less and less time wanting to touch the fish (or put on worms).

I love the above photo, it gives you the allusion that he is actually listening to me while I school him on the best place to cast his worm.. when really he just wants me to shut up and fish

This fish was is his personal best (to date) and the story behind it still makes me laugh...

Wanting to get some extra distance from shore my nephew asked me to cast for him, so I obliged and then handed him back the rod. After a few minutes of no action his interest was waning and he hand the rod back to me to hold for him. Moments later the bobber dipped below the water and I set the hook, handing the rod back to him to reel.. well lets just say Star Wars rods are not meant for fish much larger then a perch so he struggled a bit and asked he to help reel it in. Just as I get the fish out of the water and into my hands, my nephew turns to call to his mom and this is what he said.. "Look Mom, Look at this big fish I just caught... All by myself"

This last pic is all about learning patience, waiting for the blast off whistle (or bull horn) will come in handy later in life. I know it was hard on him, the worm was on our hook, and the water just inches from our feet, but when we finally heard the whistler this look of boredom quickly turned to excitement.. on both our faces

Monday, January 7, 2013

Test Drive: IMA Roumba with some help from Paul Mueller

One bait that surprised me this past season is the Roumba from IMA baits. This wake/subsurface bait provides you with  things that many other shallow water hard baits don't or simply cant... that includes size, stealth and some seriously crazy action.

Lets start off by talking size, although the Rumba only comes in at 3 inches in length it makes up this shortfall in it's girth (insert joke here) and it's weight (just over 1/2oz). The wide body gives this bait a great profile in the water and is one of the main characteristics behind the baits erratic action in the water.

When it comes to the baits performance, you may be surprised to hear me use the word stealth, yes it is large and it is heavy, but it fishes like a ninja and will catch fish unaware, and force them to strike. The Roumba can be fished above or below the surface but I personally prefer to keep it on top. Quick jerks or taps with the rod tip will give the Roumba a seizure, and in turn drives fish crazy.

I have heard the Roumba called a "search" bait, and I guess I can agree with that, but not in a traditional sense of the word. I don't spray cast this bait over open areas of water looking for fish, but instead use it to find fish in areas fish like to hide.. the Roumba is a "go get 'em" bait. Cast it over or around various forms of structure and watch as the fish come out of hiding to come get it, kill it, and eat it.

I love to slow crawl the Roumba over submerged timber or make it dance on the roof of a weeded. This bait has replaced the Manns Baby -1 that I previously used in these situations.

I have started to carry 4 with me on the water (3 of them you can see below) and will be adding a 5th after I watched Paul's video (see below). The Bone and BlueGill colours are a must have in your tackle bag.. this last color is a "fisherman catcher" just way to cool to pass up but does not add much that the other two havent provided. The Roumba can be purchased in a Rattling and non Rattling version, me I like the rattle, so most of mine are Rattlin' Roumbas, this adds some weight, and makes it a bit less "ninjay" (pronounces NIN JA EE, and yes I just made that word up)

Hey, If you don't want to take my word for it, check out the below video from fellow Dobyns team member Paul Mueller..

to see more of Pauls videos click HERE

Last but not least If you are looking to get your hands on some IMA Roumba's here are some links to some of the best places to get your hands on one.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cult Groups in Bass Fishing - The Rebuttal

Yesterday there was a funny little post on the "Fish Strong" website entitled "Beware.. Cult Groups in Bass Fishing" being a forum and blog Junky I read it, and came away with a few glaring mistakes (or omissions) that I would like to pass back to the author of the article.

Before I get to the rebuttal I will start off by stating that I am a proud member of the Cult now and forever known as Dobyns rods, and I do take exceptions to some of the comments printed in this article/blog. The last statement in his short photo heavy post states "Remember it's all in good fun" but that's just this authors way of glossing over the fact that he is clearly taking a shot at two companies he does not like very much, using them as examples in what is a much bigger problem, and that's not cool, and it is not exactly objective (but then again, that's not what he was going for), so when you read the below, please remember this is all in good fun

One of the only things that this author got right, was that yes there are "cult" like groups in the world of Bass Fishing, and there always will be.  Anglers like any other sports athlete are proud of the equipment we use and don't mind sharing it with the world (except when it comes to prize baits, then we are kinda sneaky). Here are some of the areas in which the author made a mistake when tackling the issue off "cults" in fishing.

Mistake #1: The author decided to make his point by focusing on two companies, and not the actual problem in general. I would argue that Shimano or St.Croix Rod users and Ranger or Nitro Boat drivers are just as cultish as Dobyns  or Bass Cat owners, the difference being, the two companies he has choose to pick on are making a strong push in the industry and the two he left alone are the old guard that no-one wants to piss off.. well that's not very fair is it?

Mistake #2: In the big picture the problem here is not so much the cult following some companies receive but in fact  it comes down to Anglers not knowing how to pose a proper question on a forum, as well as guys taking advantage of these questions to help them amass high posts numbers as some kind of status symbol. So instead of focusing on the fact that many forum members respond to a question with short answers like "Dobyns" or "Bass Cat" Lets focus on teaching the masses how to use a forum rather then complain about the companies being supported (in many cases these companies are not driving the push, and cant help that their product is popular)

How many times have you been on a forum and seen a question like "what rod should I buy?" the short answer to this is, you can't answer that question, you don't have enough information to answer it, so in turn the thread gets filled with quick hits like "Shimano", "Dobyns", "Powell", "Abu" and so on. Who's fault is this? (A) the Company being supported? (B) the person posing the question? or (C) the person answering the question? well if you said B and C you would be correct, yet for some reason the author believes this issue to be the Companies problem. (confused? I know I am)

 Another issue you find on forums and boards are Anglers  offering their 2cents in an off topic kind of way. For example, If the Question is "I have the Chance to buy a Ranger or a Bass Cat boat, which should I choose?" The response should never be 'Nitro" or "Stratos" if it is then you are part of the problem, but again the company you support is not (still confused?)

Mistake#3: It is obvious to me, as well as many other readers that this "Beware..Cult" blog was written to disparage two companies and the anglers that support those companies, not to actually address an issue of Cult like followings, so why not state it like it is, instead of hiding behind a comment like: "remember this is all in good fun", let your readers know.. "here is what I hate about Dobyns and Bass Cat.

The Wrap Up

To me the Fish Strong article reads very much like a what a Boston RedSox fan would write about the New York Yankees and their fans, or vice versa. Yes that blog post that had potential to address some real issues, that cause me to cringe when on forums, but instead turned into a tongue in cheek bashing of two companies and the anglers that support them.

If you would like to check out the original article it can be found HERE

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Larry Nixon joins the Dobyns Rods Family

Im a baseball fan, and my Toronto BlueJays have made some pretty impressive off-season moves, but nothing they have done can top what Gary Dobyns has been up to, as today he unveiled the newest member of the Dobyns Family.. Legendary Angler Larry Nixon

Larry has over 30 years (sorry man) of pro angling under his belt, mixing it up between the B.A.S.S and the FLW tour. Between these two circuits Larry has amassed over 100 top 10 Finishes, 18 tournament wins that include a win at the Classic and broken the $3million dollar mark in wins. Always know as  the utmost of gentleman, he will be the perfect fit into the Dobyns family, on the water and in the rod room where he will be providing input on the new line of Dobyns rods (always looking to add and improve)

Again I wanted to take this moment to welcome Larry (I can call him that now) to the Dobyns team and I can only hope he looks as good in orange as I do...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Whats Hot for 2013?.. The Elite Angler Academy

Yes, I decided to take some time away from my baby (this blog) over the holidays and instead spend that time with family and friends (and shovelling snow). I kept an eye on the world wide web looking for new products or new ideas that will help start 2013 off with a bang.. One thing that really caught my attention was this very cool new Idea from fellow Dobyns team member Clark Reehm

"The Elite Angler Academy"

Bass Master Elite Pro Clark Reehm has come up with a very cool new idea. The Elite Angler Academy  takes a traditional guided trip and turns it into an angler enhancement program that has been designed to teach anglers advanced fishing skills, and not to just focusing on catching fish.

Confused? some of you may be,  so here is a small snippet of Clark explaining the concept:

On a typical day we will spend the first 1-2 hours at breakfast in front of
 a laptop learning how to manage waypoints and how to use available technologies to find and target fish holding locations. I will teach you how to utilize this information to take your "map study" to the next level. Most of my customers have commented that they feel like they get their money's worth even before we hit the water due to this in depth break down.

After that, we will hit the lake to apply the concepts that we learned over breakfast to learn how to break down and read water efficiently and to discuss ways to pattern fish without even catching them. This is an invaluable skill for any tournament angler that scouts and prefishes for events. I teach how to take the fishing out of prefishing. There will be a strong emphasis on Side Imaging and how to get the most out of your units regardless of which make or model you have. Image interpretation will be a constant theme throughout the day as well. I teach the nuts and bolts of the technology, not the individual bells and whistles associated with Humminbird or Lowrance units.

As far as the fishing part of the day goes, we will focus on as many different techniques as we can to try to maximize the learning time on the water. If there is a particular bait or style of fishing that you would like to work on, we can incorporate that into the day as well. Again, this is not your typical guide trip where we will pull up to places just to catch fish

I'm a big fan of this idea, too many anglers take guided trips with high level guides (even pro's) and don't learn a damn thing, they just fish to catch fish (not that there is anything wrong with that) But imagine you want to learn, want to spend the day on the water with a pro, this concept will force you to see what you are doing wrong (or right), and give you an in-sight into what it takes to be a pro.

Clark is the perfect guy to pull this off, he is a very informative, professional and still likes to have a little fun.  So  If you are interested in learning more about the Elite Angler Academy here is a link to the website (HERE) and if you want to learn more about Clark you can check out his fairly active Facebook page (HERE)