Thursday, September 26, 2013

Test Drive: Daiwa Tatula Casting Reel

As our industry grows and expands I knew it would only be a matter of time before big name companies started to bang out high quality gear that would not only attract pro level anglers but would have a price tag that could make them affordable to the weekend warrior. Daiwa is at the forefront of this revolution bringing not one but two new series of reels to the table, both under the $200 mark

In need of some new reels earlier this season I picked up a couple of the Daiwa Lexa spinning and bait casting reels, both of which I quickly became a of, but little did I know, Dawia still had another trick up there sleeve, Project T aka Tatula, was introduced to the public back in May with a series of videos (found HERE) over a 10 week period leading up to ICAST 2013. During that time we got a few sneak peaks at a reel that took some of the best features from various other Daiwa models and combined them into a nearly perfect reel that wont break the bank. ($149)

The team at Daiwa was kind enough to give me the chance to test drive this reel prior to it being available to the Canadian market (scheduled for a November 2013 release), and here is what i found... 

Weight & Size:

Weighing in at 7.9 ounces the Tatula may not be the lightest reel on the market today, but I don't think there is a single feature I would tweak/change in order to shed a single ounce. Too many reel companies (and anglers) are putting the much focus on the weight of a reel over it's actual performance. If you don't make a durable high performing reel, does it matter how much it weighs? 

The one knock I have heard on the Tatula is its size. In other reviews I have heard it called "a tad wide" or "harder to palm". This may come down to personal preference, but for me it is the perfect size for my hand (see top image) which means its is comfortable, yet beefy enough to leave me with confidence in its fish handling power


Daiwa is a company that does not rest of their laurels but in turn uses past success and failures to continue to move forward, the T-Wing system is the perfect example of this. Introduced a couple seasons back on the Ballistic series of reels the T-Wing had some positives and some downfalls, Daiwa took this feedback and improved upon the system using the new and improved T-Wing in the Tatula. I for one was a fan of the original T-Wing (and still use my ballistic reels), but Im much more impressed with the systems performance in the Tatula.

The big difference being that the T-Wing is engaged for casting, allowing for long smooth friction free casts with even the lightest of baits (yes even un-weighted soft plastics). Once your start the retrieve the T-wing disengages thus improving its ability to lay the line unilaterally back onto the spool... can you say best of both worlds? 

The below image shows you the T-Wing in both retrieve and casting mode. HERE is a link to an image published by Daiwa to help better explain the importance of the T-Wing system 

The Retrieve:

I think if there is one area that the Tatula impressed me the most (other then its casting ability) it has to be its incredibly smooth retrieve. Daiwa did not have to look far when naming it "Air Rotation" as there truly is no better way to describe the feeling then "air"... it feels weird at first, almost like there is nothing happening.. yes its that smooth

Another big perk to this reel is the oversized handle. coming in at 90mm the handle on the Tatula gives you more torque and leverage when battling big fish in heavy cover. The paddles or knobs are also oversized, they fit very well in your hand and don't put as much pressure on your finger tips as most reels. (I usually use reel grips on all my reels, but the Tatula does not require them, nor would they fit)

Strength & Durability

From the frame on up, every little detail that Daiwa put into the Tatula was done with strength and durability in  mind. Starting with the 2-pc aluminum body that offers rugged longterm durability, but still allows the reel to be light weight.

The Tatula is equipped with Daiwa's UTD or "Ultimate Tournament carbon drag", rated at just over 13lbs UTD offers more power then many other reels in ints price point (or higher).

The brake adjust range on the Tatula may cause many anglers some early confusion. Unlike most reels that offer adjustments from 1-10 the Tatula's brakes range from 1-20.  Once on the water and a few casts in, you should be able to quickly and easily find your personal sweet spot on the dial. I also really like that the brake dial is slightly recessed, on my own reels I find that the way I grip the reel puts my hand in position to accidentally adjust the dial while fighting a fish.. this is not the cause with the Tatula

So there you have it, and early test drive report on Daiwa's Tatula bait-casting reel. I know the minute these bad boys are available for sale in Canada I will be adding at-least two to my reel arsenal. I highly recommend you put your hands on one, but fair warning, you wont truly get a feel for what this reel can do unless you get it on the water

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall Fishing.. What you should know (Part 1) : Grass, Rock & Wood.. the holy trinity

Fishing in the fall can be both highly rewarding, and highly frustrating, often the difference between these two results can be very small. Here is part one of a two part series on what it takes to be successful in the fall...

In this first section we are going to focus on talking about the various types of structure we as bass anglers target, and in doing so I'm often reminded of the kids  game "rock, paper, scissors", you know, grass beats rock, but rock beats wood and so on and so on.


This is pretty simple, when fishing grass in the fall, your main objective is to search out "green" or living grass. As the temps drop the weeds begin to wither and  die off,  along with all the oxygen they provide. Bass tend to hold to or just outside living "green" grass. This serves two purposes.. oxygen and cover for ambushing prey.

When fishing grass in the fall I like to work the 1-2-3 punch of  a Jig,  a spinner bait, and top water. The Jig I will often fish on the outer edge of the weed and up to 3ft inside the remaining bed. The key here is to downsize from your bulky summer jigs and opt for a slower fall rate. Swim jigs or finesse jigs are great for this presentation.

When fishing a spinnerbait my goal is to cover water, and entice an active bite. I start off by slow-rolling the spinnerbait along/across the weed edge, and then I will fish a larger portion of the bed as long as there is enough water to keep my blades above the weeds, but not so high that it turns into a wake bait. I don't spend a great deal of time searching the whole bed unless I get a couple early fish.. then like most anglers I may be there all

Lastly Top-Water is a great way to fish weed beds in the fall. To be successful its all about the noise.. so put away those quiet walking baits and break out the poppers and/or  buzz baits.

Buzz baits to me are the quintessential  Fall top water bait, they are loud, and can be run at various speeds, but they work best in the early to mid fall while the fish are still fairly active and willing to chase down baits, but as the air and water temps drop your going to want to put them away and break out your favourite popper (may I recommend the Deps Pulsecode)


I'm more of a visible structure fisherman, so timber and weeds are my first and second priorities when bass fishing, but as the seasons change so must we, and rock points and gravel shoals are a good place to look for fish as the water temps dip. 

Many anglers falsely believe that rocks are for smallmouth only, sure rocks are home for many bruiser smallies,  but as the season moves on, you can and will often find largemouth bass cruising rock structure in search of bait fish, because of this I change up my approach slightly by including a medium (to deep) diving crank bait in the mix 

Obviously crank-baits are the ultimate in bait fish imitators, so it is important to match the hatch and to use a bait that will get you down deep enough to make contact with the bottom from time to time. stirring things up is a must and will help ring the dinner bell for these cruising fish

Top Water would be my second way to tackle rock piles, like with grass I find that buzz baits and or poppers are your best bet, and to be honest I usually stick with poppers over rocks, don't ask me why as it just comes down to personal preference.


I left wood till the last because i find it to be the most unpredictable of the three. (Wood for the purposes of this article includes submerged timber, floating timber, partially submerged timber and docks). Why is wood the most unpredictable target in the fall?  because it's success relies on the its proximity to grass (green) and or rock... so maybe its not as unpredictable as I'm leading you to believe?

Wood in the fall is not used by bass for the purposes of shade, but for ambushing prey. So when fishing timber or  docks in the fall, I'm more apt to focus on the edges and trying to draw our aggressive fish. The best way to do this is (in my opinion) is with swim jigs and spinnerbaits.

When flipping docks and timber with a jig, I'm looking for a nice slow fall, to achieve this you can either downsize your jig (1/4oz) or up size your trailer. Fall is also the time of year you are more likely to find me trying out various jig colours. In the summer months I stick with black, black and black, but in the fall I will start to break out the browns and oranges. Try multiple casts to various points, being sure to make contact with the wood whenever you can.

Spinnerbaits I will use in two or three ways. If fishing docks I will run them along both sides of the dock (the entire length of the dock) and I will cast them at a 45 degree angle off the front corners. This gets me a hair under the front lip of the dock to help draw the attention of any fish that may be holding a bit deeper in. When fishing a spinnerbait on submerged timber the key is to cover all sides of the timber and bang into and off of it as much as possible

Remember both timber and docks can bring you success in the fall, but you need to be aware of your surroundings. If there is no live vegetation near by, there will be no bait fish and no reason for the bass to use this timber as an ambush point.

Thanks for reading part one of this 2 part series on Fall fishing.

Monday, September 16, 2013

When Punching with the big boys, always bring your skirt!

I dont know about you, but when Im flipping, pitching or punching baits, Im always trying to walk that fine line between a bulky profile (to be easily seen) and a streamlined body, to slip between the cover with ease.. how do you get the best of both worlds? thats easy, put on a skirt!

Punching Skirts are not a new thing, they have been around for years, but many anglers choose to ignore them and Im not sure why? similar to a jigs skirt a punching skirt really beefs up your baits profile all the while allowing you to downsize or streamlining the bait you are using. I often pair a jig skirt with a worm bait (ribbon tails are a great choice)  or longer thinner flipping baits like the Reaction Innovation "Kinky beaver" seen above. The Skirt gives both of these baits a nice large profile on the fall and rest, yet it still allows them to slip through holes in the slop or pads.

think of a jig skirt like it is an accessory for your baits. It allows you to impart more action, as well as add or change colors. Like a jig trailer I find it is better to use a skirt that matches up with your bait, but offers some subtle color changes.. above Im using a "donkey punch" or light pumpkinseed coloured kinky beaver paired with a pumpkinseed and purple highlighted skirt.. I think they mach up well

Tip: Look for Jig skirts with a nice thick rubber ring (see the red in the above pic). This projects your knot from banging up against your weight and any structure. thus increasing the durability of your rig

Just because they are called "punch skirts" doesn't mean thats there only purpose, really they can be used in any situation in witch you would normally throw a jig, but want the comfort an enclosed hook, or to be able use a larger bait (jig trailers only go so far). Many anglers when learning to throw a jig quickly get frustrated by having to rip it through the grass due to the exposed hook, baits rigged with a punch skirt offer the same profile without this irritation.

Tip: Think outside the box, as stated above punch skirts aren't just for punching anymore, you can pair them up with a variety of baits. It you are feeling adventurous try rigging one up on a texas rigged swim bait, the paddle tail and skirt combo call fish in from miles around.

Dont take my word for it, get out on the water and give a punch skirt a try, you won't be disappointed, and remember, real men fish with skirts!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Toray BAWO Super Power "Finesse" Braid Fishing Line Review

The sheer number of braided lines currently available to anglers is mind numbing, yet each year more and more lines continue to hit the market, each one touted as he next best thing,  but trust a guy who spends way too much time and money testing lines, when I tell you that very few of these lines live up to the hype.  Why, well not all braids are created equal and like with various fluoro and mono lines some brands just perform some techniques better. Toray Bawo Finesse braid is one of those rare lines that performs very well in both finesse and power technique situations

Toray Power Finesse braid is an 8 Stand braided line that ranks right up there with one of (if not the) best braids I have ever cast. No matter if I'm chucking hollow body frogs or flipping 1/4oz jigs this braid provides long smooth casts, flips and pitches

When you first get your hands/fingers on Toray Finesse braid you will be surprised how limp or supple it really is. This comes down to the fact that it is not coated with any of the crap you find on many other braids, sure this coating may hold in the color a bit better, but it gives your line that stiffer feel (a good example of this is Power Pro line) Toray is non-coated, not only does this improve your casting distance but it also removes that dreaded "braid vs. guides" sound that like nails on a chalk board hurts anglers right down to your teeth.

Note: Due to its incredible thinness I actually started using Torays 40lb braid for techniques that in the past I would normally have used the 20lb size of another brand braid. This gives me extra strength, while still taking advantage of a thin supple line that allows me to feel everything, and allows my bait to fall naturally 

Power Finesse is available in 10-66lb strengths. Unlike with other braids I like what I see quality wise in the small sizes (20lb) right on up to the 66lb for flipping and frogging. I find some other brands do one or two sizes well, but start to fall down when they get into either the larger or small diameters. This is not the case with Power Finesse 

Toray Finesse Braid is only available in what is known as "filler spools" of approximately 82 yards, I have heard this talked about as a "con", and I disagree, this smaller size removes any chance that Im going to fill an entire spool with this quality line and end up wasting the line that gets chunked up with use. We have all seen what the lower half of a spool of braid looks like at the end of the season, its not pretty, and although that line has not actually hit the water it has been thoroughly used and abused (why do that to a quality product)

Last but not least is the "white markings" that show up ever meter throughout the spool. These marks help add a bit of visibility to your line above the water and work well as a guide when changing baits. This may not be what they were designed for but I use the white marks as a frame of reference when as That first meter of line  coming up from your bait takes  more abuse on each cast then any other portion of the spool. It often comes in-contact with rocks, timber and various other structure you are banging your bait off during the retrieve. When it is time to re-tie I use check the last meter of line for nicks and frays. If I'm fishing timber and rocks I will often cut off that last meter each time I retie. (like with any braid the color will bleed with use, this will darken the white areas but they are still clearly visible on the spool or above the water.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Looking Back 2: A Photo Journal of my Fishing Past

This is one of those throwaway posts to be honest, Im in Italy tight now taking in the sights and food.. so I thought what better time then to throw out a "FlashBack Friday" post like people don on Facebook and Instagram. So here goes.. more memories from my  "fishing past". 

These pics may not make you laugh as loud as the pervious journal.. my dads 70's hair is no-where to be found. What these pics do show is my growing love for the sport and how I became hooked at a young age.. they also show I had poor choice in baseball teams (a yankee and Texas Rangers fan!)

These shots were taken over a span of a couple years at various locations. The top image is at a friends cottage,  and that Bass was a personal best at the time, and looks much smaller then I remembered. I caught it while in a paddle boat and quickly paddled to shore to show off my catch to my parents and some family friends

Image #2 was taken at yet another family friends cottage. I still remember getting up early everyday, getting dressed and heading down to the dock to meet the day. This photo was taken by my mother who also got up early to photograph me

Last but not least the above photo was taken after a day on the water with my grandfather. Trout was the species of choice in my area.. oh who quickly I grew out of that. Check out that Texas Rangers cap in all three pics (i still have that hat) and im sporting a Nolan Ryan shirt.. still my baseball hero

thanks for reading, and Ill be back next week

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Wear Sunscreen - Life Lessons for a Tournament Angler

Many of you may remember a Chicago tribune newspaper article from 1997 that was entitled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young". If  not, you may at least remember the song it was subsequently turned into entitled  "Wear Sunscreen". If you have never read , nor listened to it, then you need to stop what your doing read it, then come back and read my take take on these life lessons for a tournament angler.. I apologize now for my poor yet blatant attempt recreating this article.. sorry Mary

"Wear Sunscreen, If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The Long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proven by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advise now..." - Mary Schmich

Not all of those who win cheat, but all those who cheat loose

There will be days that you will be beaten by anglers who are better then you, There will be days you are beaten by anglers who are not , and there will be days when you are beaten purely by yourself!

Have fun

One bite can change your entire day, that bite may come at 7:01am or it may come at 2:59pm, and sometimes there may be very few bites in-between, make each bite count, hook-sets are free

Have a game plan, even if you don't end up using it

Don't worry about the price of gas, run the lake until your time is up or your tank is empty


Shake hands with your competitors, share in there success and  maybe one day they will be sharing in yours.

read fishing magazines, you will learn more for the articles then all the pretty pictures

Always enter the "big fish" pool, like the lottery you never know when it will be your turn, and when your numbers do come up, you better hope you played

Don't let memories of past catches effect how you fish today. Memories like Fish tales are often embellished.

You only opponent is the fish themselves, don't worry about who you are fishing against, chances are they are not worrying about you

Fishing partners are like spouses, so pick one you enjoy being being with, in good times and in bad (In the early days the bad times may come often)

Pre-fish,  even just for a few hours, as simply being on the lake will provide you with more valuable information then you can get any where else

Everyone looses a fish now and again, you are not alone.. move on

never believe the weatherman, and trust me on the sunscreen...

 - This article was influence in part by the sheer genius that is ""Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" by Mary Schmich, please do your self a favour and ready her original article, not only does it provide valuable life lessons, but at the same time it will give you a good laugh