Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to Keep Busy in the Off Season: Part 2 Rod Storage

In part 1 of this mini series we took the time to cover organizing your inventory or "arsenal" and planning for the daunting task of ordering and re-ordering your gear for the new season. Part 2 we focus on  the proper way to clean, maintain and store your Rods during the off season. Like a good bottle of wine your rods will age better if treated properly, so here are a few tips to keep your gear in peak condition

1) Strip'er Down

First things first, when your season is officially over and you know you have no chance of hitting the water before spring, it is time to strip down your rods and reels. I personally believe in storing my rods and reels separately which means the first part of my process is to remove all reels from the paired rod. Once the reel seat has been loosened I don't fully tighten it back down, just one or two twists to stop it from sliding but not actually putting any undo pressure on the reel seat.

Once reels are off, I like to give my rods a once over, inspect all the eyelets/guides looking for any damage that may have occurred. Sometimes using your eyes is not enough, run your finger around the guide looking for anywhere it may catch or rub. If you feel something abrasive there is a good chance that your line will also rub on it when fishing (not only effecting your casting but also the lines durability).

Tip: If you have large fingers and have a hard time with this process then try using a soft material like wool or cotton Q-tips and run it through the guides and look for any pulls or catches

2) Clean'er Up

Once you have inspected the rods, it is always nice to give them a loving sponge bath.. seriously. Just some hot water and soap (not boiling, but hot) and give the rod a once over to remove any of the grime left over from the past season. once wiped down and dry it is time to store them.

Tip: If you are a superstitious angler and had an amazing season I will forgive you if your bypass this step, but if you had a brutal run (like I did) your want to clean the stink off your rods whenever possible

3) Properly Store

Rods should be stored in a rod rack (whenever possible), horizontal or vertical it does not overly matter, but the main thing you need to avoid is leaning your rods for an extended periods of time as it can effect the action by imparting a slight bend in the blank. I understand that Rod Racks are not always feasible in every space, so make due with the room you have. I also try to avoid storing my rods in areas that see extreme temperature changes or possible exposure to animals.. the roof of a garage for example.  I have seen one too many chewed corked handles to think that is a good idea

Tip: If you are a Rod Glove user during the season, then why not store your rods in them as well? it lessens the chance your rods will be banged around causing chips or damage to the tip, guides and/or blanks

(Image courtesy of Dobyns Team Member: JJ Patton)

4) Asses Your Arsenal

It is always a good idea to take time at the end of each season to asses your current line-up or rods and reels, as your skill set changes so will your rod requirements... some rods that worked for you two years ago may spend most of the season on the rod rack nowadays. If the rod is no longer getting use you have three choices, you can donate or pass it along to a friend or a teach a kid to fish program, your can continue to store it as part of your collection, or you can sell it off, and use that money to help pay for a rod that will actually get used. I know in some circles this is blasphemous, but personally I believe in selling or trading rods that get no use. I know their value and refuse to sell them cheap, but if it means a shiny new rod in the boat I will part with a rod that is no longer part of my game... think about it

Stay tuned for part 3: Reel storage and maintenance

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rapala Scatter Rap.. A Marketing Campaign Win and another Angler hooked

I don't know about you, but I woke up this morning to a very interesting email from Rapala announcing the launch of their all new "Scatter Rap" series of baits, I opened the email (like I always do) and was immediately confronted by a face shot of the Scatter Rap (see above) in all it's glory. This crazy looking lip had fully caught my attention and not a moment too soon, as I, like most of you am quick to delete this kind of email if it can't catch my attention within seconds

Rapala not only caught my attention but got me "scrolling" and before I knew it 10 minutes later Im still reading and watching videos on the Scatter Rap, a bait I know I will soon own a few models of.

I love how Rapala focused the add on the bait itself and did not get all caught up in "saying to much" the images and videos speak for themselves,  Ike and Al Linder can speak to Anglers like no copy writer ever could.  The Videos are short and concise but ensure you get the important points. I love that a separate video was shot for each bait in the series, I'm a countdown minnow guy, but not a shad rap guy, so showing me how a shad-rap swims does nothing for me, and would have turned me off, but instead I watched the videos on the baits I use, and was then interested enough to go back and watch the videos on the baits I don't usually throw. The Videos include what I like to call the money shop which is a down view shot of the bait swimming next to a tradition bait (no scatter lip) it really shows the watcher how well this bait will hunt and how different it is.

In case you are not on the Rapala Mailing list, here are a couple videos from the advertising campaign.

Not everything in this short campaign could be considered a win for Rapala, the baits themselves are not going to be available for a few weeks, and that is a pet peeve of mine, as after  reading the email and watching the videos I already planned a trip to my local tackle shop to make a purchase this weekend, but then noticed they are only available in pre-sale.. I like many in my generation have a short attention span, and there is a good chance I will see many great new baits over the next 3 weeks while awaiting the launch of the Scatter-Raps, so I have to wonder, 3 weeks from now will I still be as excited about this bait? only time will tell, but for now, all I can say is congrats and thanks to Rapala for getting this ice locked Canadian Bass fisherman excited for the upcoming season

To check out the full email campaign click HERE, it looks great on PC's and Smart Phones alike

If you are into the pre-sale scene then you can head on over to the following sites and place your other today:

Tackle Warehouse (March 7)

Land Big Fish (Late March)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Test Drive Frabill Straighline 241 Rod & Reel Review

This is officially my 3rd rod test drive of the 2013 season, all 3 have been straight-line combos and all three have their pros and cons.. that statement definitely applies to the Bro Series 241 by Frabill.. one of the first Frabill products to let me down over the past few years


I have been impressed with the production of Frabills ice rods over the past few years, their quality continues to go up along with the available options. Many of their recent rods are comparable to early Jason Mitchell rods (prior to the move to Clam) and are worth the $$ that most stores are asking for them. The quick tip series is my favourite (followed by the beefier ice hunter series) The QT have a nice soft responsive tip yet enough backbone to pull monster panfish out of the depths . The red beaded tip is a great option in place of a standard spring bobber and gives you the visibility you want without sacrificing tip 
The reel on the 241 combo is a bruiser, and easily one of the strongest straight-line ice fishing reels I have used. It's all metal frame and spool provide strength and durability. The drag system is pretty decent but can get a bit clunky at times. The Metal frame is not as much of an issue as you would suspect and I have to admit I liked the way it felt in my hands even at colder temps. It is a nice size and overall the balance of this combo is pretty good (not great, but a good solid B+)


The biggest con to this rod is the price point, this baby will hurt your wallet coming in at  an average cost of between $69 and $81 depending on which side of the border you are ordering from (and we haven't talked shipping yet). ..It is a nice piece of equipment but it isn't worth the asking price (not by a long shot)
If you read my articles with any regularity you will note that I fish right hand retrieve or "goofy" as I like to call it. This is on all reels, spinning, bait casting, and yes straight-line. This mean that I spend a lot of time switching all my reels over when I first purchase them. The Frabill 241 is the most awkward, and most time consuming of all the straight-line reels I own.. not only does it require a screwdriver but it requires more patience then I will ever have. God forbid you need to make this change when on the ice, as there is a good change your fingers will fall off prior to getting the job done.

Above I mentioned in passing that the drag on this reel can get a bit clunky, well that goes double for the retrieve, at times this reel can sound like a garbage disposal chewing up a beer can. It is that bad, and at times the reel sounds like it is going to come apart in your hands.. it doesn't, but the sound alone has made my put this rod down a few times and opt for a quieter model.

I have no issues with this rod at all, it is a quality stick, well build and is close to perfect, but Im a staunch promoter of ice rods without reel seats.. this one is well placed but I prefer my hockey tape (I'am Canadian you know)

If I have not scared you off with this less then enthusiast review on one of the most expensive combos on the market, then you may be interested to know where you can get your mitts on one.. check out the below links, these rods are on sale in most areas so grab one now and save your self some change

Where to buy:

Fish USA

Reeds Sporting Goods


Monday, February 18, 2013

Dobyns Cast for Cash back for 2013 (Ontario & Quebec)

After a successful introduction in 2012 the Dobyns Cast for Cash is back for 2013.. just like last year this is not Tournament specific offer, but instead a  great program open to tournament anglers fishing in a series with 50 boats or more (In Ontario and Quebec)

So go ahead, contact a local Dobyns dealer, and put your hands on some new rods for the 2012 season. I guarantee you will not find a better quality or balanced rod on the market today. 

Canadian Dealer List

PaddleTales                   Winchester On,
Pro J Fishing Tackle     Toronto, On
Fishing World                 Hamilton, On
Jig Masters Outdoors     Matawa, On

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Test Drive: Genz Ice Spooler Rod & Reel Review (Clam)

To be honest I had all but given up on Clam rods & reels about 3 years ago. The quality of the product was dropping rapidly (the reels always sucked, but the rods were decent). But this year when I saw the Clam or Genz Ice Spooler I thought I would take the plunge and give then another shot.. the review of my experience on ice with this combo is a mixed one and the reverse of what I would have expected.

If this test drive was a Clint Eastwood movie it would be called "The Good, The Ok, and the Ugly" always wanting to end on a positive note (when I can) Im going to start this test drive off with the Rod..

The "Ugly":

The rood that accompanies the ice spooler combo suffers from some of the same issues I experienced with my last couple clam/Genz rods.. for example the guides on my rod do not match up, sure I can adjust them by hand but they continue to slide or twist.

Taking into consideration that this rod was designed for panfish I still have to say I found it on the flimsy side. I was hoping to use it for Gills, Perch and Crappie yet it did not handle well in the test drive and was the reason I lost a multiple mythic lake Simcoe Jumbo Perch.. the rod could not keep up and it felt dead or unresponsive in my hands.. I could not feel the fish, where it was going or if I was moving it at all. 

The "OK":

 Not taking action of the rod into consideration I have to say this rod and reel combo feel really nice in your hand, they are well balanced and sit comfortably. It actually gives you a false sense of comfort when you start fishing only to be obliterated when you actually get a fish on and the rod lets you down

The reel itself I have mostly good things to say about (see below) but one of the things that is only "ok" is that unlike the comfort you get when you first put the rod and reel in your hands is the lack of comfort you get when you start to reel, it feels cheap and flimsy, the plastic rubs and you start to worry "how long will this reel last?" 

The "Good"

Dont get confused by the above comments, the Ice Spooler reel feels cheap when you first palm it, but overall it is a well built (yet simple) straight-line reel. It has a good drag system and allows for better drop rates then the other straight-line reels I have been lucky enough to test drive. It pairs really well with the Clam ice line I bought a couple season back and have not used as I found it to be a coily mess.. who knew Clam would release a line that only worked on straight-line reels years before they released a straight-line reel.. now thats thinking ahead.

I really like the extended neck (or handle) on the reel as it helps with palming , as well as the overall balance (again this is a perfectly balanced combo). Another perk is the ease of with you can switch the retrieve, as mentioned previously I fish "goofy" and thus have to spend time switching over all my reels, this one was easy, here is a link if your having issues..


The Results:

As stated above this test drive is a mixed bag, and I feel that although the concept and idea of the ice spooler was headed in the right direction and has many things going for it, overall it has been stifled   by cheap manufacturing and shotty workmanship..  the reel itself is a great little panfish reel and if sold separately I would be willing to use it on another rod... just not this one

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fish Tales: Fishing with Kenny

I have a feeling that this post could easily turn into a mini series, because it seems that every time we step on the boat (or ice) with Kenny weird shit happens, and usually to him. This past weekend in Simcoe Kenny experienced the "luck of Irish" although Im not really sure if he is Irish, he does have red hair.. (or use to anyways)

#1:  Slip'n & Slide'n

When we first arrived at Simcoe we began the process of unloading and reloading our gear, Kenny was carrying his rods as well as his shiny new Marcum camera, after taking about 10 steps he slips and falls, sending him and his gear flying...

Possible Outcomes: Broken rods, a damaged camera, a broken hip (as I said Kenny is old, so hey it is possible!)

What did happen?: Nothing but a bit of a bruised ego. Yes Kenny and his gear both lived to laugh about what would be a ominous start to Kenny's day on the ice

#2: The case of missing Marcum

for transportation to our hut rental we were piled in a snow mobile pulled train of ice huts, it was a tight fit and we shared the ride with a few groups of angler from various parts of Canada and beyond, the ride was a bit cramped but much better then the long cold walk we are use to experiencing.

Our stop was the first on the route and we hopped out excited to start the day. Once in our hut we began to break out the electronics, and that's when I we watched Kenny begin to Frantically look for this Marcum camera.. we know he had it (see above) but it was now nowhere to be found. After a thorough search we came to the conclusion that it was left on our ice hut train ride.. 20 minutes or more had passed since our stop and it was now time to test the honesty of ice fisherman...

Possible Outcomes: We don't like to admit or think about it, but yes even in the sport of fishing there are liars and thieves, this camera is worth $600, and part of me wondered if we would ever see it again

What actually happen?: Using the number provided in our hut for emergencies we called "Steve's Fish Huts" and explained the issue. He then tracked down his driver who searched the ice hut train and then turned around to return Kenny's camera

#3: The Mystery of the Ice Hole Magnetics 

If you are an ice fisherman you have experienced the black hole like power of an "ice hole" it seems no matter what you drop on the ice, keys, pliers, fish you name it, they always find a way to slide down a freshly drilled ice hole. With this in mind I will tell you that the ice holes cut out at Steve's fish Huts (see below) are large enough that you could easily loose a person...

After we had been fishing for about an hour I watched in slow motion as Kenny made the move to grab his cooler from under the bench, as he bent down his glasses slid from his face and made the long slow journey down to the floor of the ice hut bouncing once and taking a mid air turn toward the magnetic pull of the ice hole

Possible Outcomes: Ice is hard, so the probability of Kenny's glasses loosing the battle with the ice or the hard wood flooring of the ice hut was a high risk, even more of a possibility was that he would lose them down the hole never to be seen again ( other then on his Marcum camera)

What Actually Happened?: After taking their bounce his glasses slide along the edge of the ice hole an teetered there for a moment before coming to a full stop on the edge of this huge black holes

As you can see Kenny appears to have firmly planted an horseshoe up his ____. He did battle with fate three times on our trip to Simcoe and won out each and every time.. this is not always the case as you will read in future instalments

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Photo Journal: Lake Simcoe in Search of Perch

This has been an odd year for me when it comes to time on the ice. With the fluctuating weather and ice conditions along with family and work obligations I have not been able to hit the ice as much as I have wanted to.. We even had to cancel the annual "Boys Icefishing Weekend" which has become a bit of a tradition over the past few years (and usually takes place over SuperBowl weekend). Luckily enough although we could not make a weekend out of it, we were all able to get together this past Saturday and hit the ice on Lake Simcoe.. famous for jumbo perch as well as a decent white fish and laker bite.

Aaron (or @airs0024) was the man in charge of setting up this trip and he made the right choice by calling "Steve's Ice Huts" out of Port Bolster, I wont turn this post into a paid advertisement but I will say this was an incredibly well run outfit, warm, comfortable and on fish all day long. 

Our day started early, Aaron and I were on the road at 4:20am and after a quick stop at Tim Hortons for   coffee we picked up Brad (@rabidsponge) and his dad Kenny. Back on the road we made the 1hr 20 minute drive to Lake Simcoe where we met up with the team from Steves Fish Huts

We were all loaded into what looked like an ice hut train pulled by a snow mobile and were dragged out to what they called "The Party Hut" this thing was monstrous (see above) and already fully warmed  up with with a propane stove.  Yes, we were ice fishing in style!

It was not long after we dropped our lines that we realized we are on one hell of a perch hole, both my Marcum LX7 and Kenny's Marcum 825c were lit up all day long,

Aaron beat us the punch and landed the first perch of the day and then followed it up with the first Cisco of the day. I then hooked into a monster perch that man handled my new clam straight-line rod and quickly worked himself loose. Pissed for a short time I got back into the game and quickly broke my skunk with a smaller perch. It was not long before we were all on the board and the pace heated up, each of us easily averaged 20+ fish an hour which put our total day at well over 600 fish.. thats what Lake Simcoe produces.

The biggest fish of the day was caught by Aaron and weighed just under 1lb.. (thats my hand as a bit of size reference). It was the only real monster fish we landed, but we pulled out dozens of eaters that were all dropped back down to swim another day.. this day was for fun not for food (although we kinda regretted it afterwards)

While on this hunt for perch we also ran into a few Ciscos, these are not in season on Simcoe so I have no pics to show, but since this was my first cisco catch I would be remiss not to bring it up here. They were amazing to watch as them came in out of nowhere and surrounded then almost stalked our baits and then one after another they hammered them, it was a 4-banger and each of us had one on at the same time... then they were gone, and we did not see another one for the rest of the day.

The below pic shows how nice our window was to watch both the perch and that round of Ciscos. It was my first time fishing in a cut-out like this and I loved every minute of it

As usually when on Simcoe we also got a visit from the MNR, friendly as always they checked our licenses and asked about the days catch. Simcoe is an important fishery and Im glad they are out in full force. I cant remember the last time I fished on Simcoe and was not visited by an officer

Our days wrapped up at jsut after 4pm, the team from Steves Fish huts where promptly on time to pick us up and get us back to civilization, they had over 20 huts out there in perch spots and from what we could see from the other groups being picked up the fishing was good across the board. Again I cant say enough about Steves ice Huts, they did a great job and they will be seeing me again 

I have to close this one off in a fashion, an early morning start to the day, then nearly 10 hours on the ice made for a long day, it was not minutes into the ride home that Brad was already taking one of his famous mini naps.. "what Im not sleeping".. Busted!


After getting back from Simcoe I checked in with fellow Dobyns team member Derek Brzezicki who was also spending day on Simcoe ice, he and a few other members of the Dobyns crew where in deeper water doing battler with Lakers.. now they may not have had a 600 fish day, but you gotta admit, they had a great day.. nice fish boys!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to Keep Busy in the Off Season: Part 1

Like any sport there is a lot of preparation that goes into getting ready for the upcoming season, whether is it physical,mental or at times financial we all have a routine that keeps us sane over the long winter months and keeps us sharp and ready for the next season. In this 3 part series we will look at some ways to keep busy in the off season. In part one we will talk about Inventory management and prepping your arsenal for the next season

Step 1: Taking Inventory

I know this can be somewhat painful, but at the end of each season I pull part all of my tackle boxes, and bags so I can get a good look at what I have left.  By looking over my arsenal I'm mentally going over the baits I used, lost or simply threw away... Not only is this a good visual reminder as to what baits worked for me (or didn't) but it also allows me to begin the process of planning out my purchases for for next year.

Step 2: Make a Wish List

Creating a wish list or grocery list is very important, it keeps you focused and ensures you don't get caught up by all those shiny baits and loose site of the big prize. It's easy to walk the aisles of your local tackle shop and grab the hot new you have been drooling over, but when it comes down to it, will you remember what size hooks your out of? or what size tungsten weights you need. This is where lists come in handy.

Some websites like Land Big Fish provide helpful tools for creating and maintaining a wish list. Their website allows you to add items to your shopping cart and then turn that shopping cart into a wish list to be purchased at a later date. On the LBF site you can create and maintain multiple wish lists and even name them.. I currently have wish lists for "terminal tackle", "soft baits", "frogs" and one just for hot new baits I may want to try. When Im ready to place my monthly order I simply go through each wish list and add items to my cart.. this ensures I don't forget something I needed (or more importantly "wanted:)

Step 3: Financial Planning

Planning your re-ups or purchase schedule for the new season is not only a good financial move but also a tactical one.

On the financial side of this coin, not all of us can afford to drop hundreds of dollars at a time on fishing gear, so by scheduling or breaking out your purchases over the coarse of the off season you will lessen the stress placed on your bank account and still have the ability to stock up on key items like line, hooks and tungsten. All three of these items have a couple things in common, they get used up fast, and they carry a heft price tag. Line as an example can easily average $20 a spool, and a typical angler may refill a single reel multiple times a season..multiply that by the number of reels in your arsenal and you can see where Im going with this.

Buying early can also be used as a tactical advantage, how many times in July or August have you walked into a tackle shop in search of a bait only to stare at an empty shelf? once is too often in my opinion and thus began my goal to begin stocking up long before the ice melts on my favourite lakes. I buy my baits before the season starts and thus when the rush begins Im already stocked up and fishing while other are cursing.

The painful part, is having to open your wallet and spend that hard earned cash. Ill admit it, Im a shopper and I love to track down and buy new gear, but I do have a mortgage so proper planning (like the above) is key. I follow the above plan religiously and get to spend my season on the water,  not in the Bass Pro Shop (well, not as much time in the Bass Pro ShopStep 4: Spend your Allowance wisely

Step 4: Spending you allowance wisely

No matter how much spending money you have the goal here is to spend it wisely. Keeping up on what companies have which baits and where you will find the best deal is very important. I believe in spreading the wealth and thus I place orders with multiple tackle shops both local and on-line and buy what I need at the best prices I can. Shipping, duty, taxes and import fees play a big role when ordering on-line and choosing who I will buy from. Watch how and with what provider the company will be shipping your order with.. As a Canadian I will advise you to avoid companies that ship UPS unless you want to pay crazy fees even on the smallest of orders (on average I paid an additional 30% on top of my order when shipped via UPS)

Tip: Watch for free shipping offers,  many on-line retailers will offer free shipping if you spend a minimum amount of $$.  These are great ways to get more bang for your buck and spend that money on baits and not on UPS. (Canadians get shafted by these offers more often then not, but the Bass Pro Shop has now started offering free shipping into Canada)

All in all I hope this gives you some ideas/suggestions on how to plan out your inventory and purchases for the upcoming season. I have personally have orders queued up for Feb, March and April