Friday, January 31, 2014

Test Drive: Abu Garcia Veritas ice Rod & Reel Combo - Review

I can't believe it took me this long to get to my first "test drive" of the 2014 ice season. But as you know I don't take these things lightly and really wanted to put the Abu Garcia Ice Combo  through its paces prior to stepped up to my pedestal. 

Abu Garcia has enjoyed some great success with their line of Veritas rods, so much so that they decided to introduce an ice model. I was very intrigued by this combo when I first saw it, and even more so when i handled one in a local shop. I'm not a Abu guy, Ive never owned an Abu rod or reel prior to this combo, so you can believe me when I tell you that this review is truly my first impression .


The Abu Veritas Ice rod is build with some of the same characteristics that made its big brother popular, It's well built, highly flexible (move over uglystick) and has a great grip for jigging on ice. I like the weight, the length and the powers that this rod is available in (though I have no idea why they list the rod length in feet and not inches like every other ice rod maker) 

Available in Ultra Light, Medium Light and Medium powers the Abu has lined itself up as a great pan fish rod for perch, gills and even slab crappies. I put mine to the test on both pan fish and smaller walleye and have no concerns with it's performance.

The Reel that comes on this combo is better then most stock reels. For those that know me, you know I'm not one to buy combo's but instead pair a Tica Cetus reel with a nice rod, in this case I decided to give the combo a shot and I was impressed with the drag and overall performance.. that being said if I was to buy a second one, it would be a rod only.

In my use of the combo thus far I get the feeling that it is very durable, which is great for ice rods that get beat up slightly more then open water rods, this is even more important for an all white rod that may get stepped on from time to time (yep that happened) 


In all honesty I didn't really come across all that many cons when it comes to this ice fishing combo other then the price.. coming in on average at $49 a combo Abu has priced themselves to compete with Frabill who in all honesty makes a better ice fishing combo.

The Vertias Ice combo is closer in comparison to the rods made by Clam, that retail between $19-$29 a combo. The reel on the Veritas is nicer then the ones that come with Clam ice rods, but not enough for me to shell out $49 (CDN) when I can take my pick of Frabill rods for similar money

I'm also not all that sold on a "white" ice fishing rod, check out the above pic of the walleye , if not for the black guides this rod is nearly invisible on snow and ice. It your a dead-stick angler or like to set up rods on a tip-down or slammer this rod is hard to see from any distance

Where to Buy:

Abu Garcia


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Learning to Fly: The Trials and Tribulations of a Rookie Fly Tyer Part 2

Unlike most new years resolutions it is almost a full month into 2014 and I'm still working towards my goal of learning the art of fly tying.. I'm taking it slow and steady attempting not to simply copy what I see but actually learn how to tie..In this installment of Learning to Fly I'll walk you through the last two flies I tied, and what I learned and where I fell down

Fly #2: Stretch Tubing Scud

The scud may not see much time on the end of my fly line, but this great larva imitation may see some time on the ice this season. It has a great fall for a small bait and pan fish will eat it up all winter long

The Good: This was a confidence builder for sure, the scud introduced me to two new techniques or skills.. applying rubber and the use of a head on the fly. Both were extremely easy to work with and held together well on the first attempt. I quickly banged off a few scud not even needing the instructions after the first attempt

The Bad: Not to much to complain about, if I was going to knit pick my work I would say I need work on my finishing. As you can see from the images of the scud it has a few frays and strays. I'm guessing this will come with time, but for now I'm happy with my scud abilities

The Ugly: No uglies to report on this fly, I had fun tying what seemed like a very simple fly, and I cant wait to start using them

Tips & Notes: When tying a new fly don't just tie it once and move on, like when attempting anything new the key is repetition.. tie multiple flys and you will be more likely to remember the techniques when you need them again.. after you tie the first fly "by the book" switch things up and try new colours or add ons you will start to see what material and colors work and which don't

Fly #3: Foam Beetle

This is a fly I was not overly interested in tying when I say it in the book, but the minute I saw the finished product i was sold.. a thing of beauty if I do say so myself.. this is going to drive the sunfish, gills and perch crazy this coming spring

The Good: tying a foam beetle introduced me to adding pieces or parts to the hook of my Flies. Foam was a great material to start out with as it is easy to handle and manipulate. The Foam beetle also requires you to twist and apply peacock hurl, this was a fun technique and looks great on the hook.. this fly shines in the right places

The Bad: It took me a few attempts to get this fly right,  my first attempt was much looser in both the body and the foam back. This unfortunately allows the foam to shift slightly from side to side and will not make for a very durable fly. On Attempt #2 I dramatically improve the overall tie and was very happy with the outcome.. material is snug and it feels much more durable

The Ugly: Again no real "uglies" to this fly, its pretty straight forward and the keys to success are ensuring you apply the right about of pressure to keep things snug

Tips & Notes: I'm starting to learn that the sizes and measurements in the Wapsi manual are only there as a guideline and not as rules. When tying the the Foam Beetle I found that the foam thickness listed was too big for my liking so on attempt #2 I cut back a bit for a thinner profile. When using foam I found it was easier to use an X-acto style knife on a cutting board then it was to cut a straight line with the scissors.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Breaking the Ice: Lake Nippissing 2014 - Photo Journal

The 2014 Ice fishing season has been a long time coming for me, as January 17th is officially the latest my season has ever started, and it had nothing to do with ice conditions, just time

The wait was well worth it though as my buddies and I made the long trek to lake Nippissing to spend the weekend in one of Rob Hyatts ice fishing bungalows,  where ice fishing done right..  

It was a snowy 5 hour drive to Nippissing but when we arrived Rob and his team were ready for us and quickly helped us load up all our gear and get out to start fishing.

We rented a 4-man bungalow, they were nicely equipped with bunk beds, lanterns, propane heater and a double burner for cooking.. two BBQ's were provided outside and were put to some serious use.. there was also an outhouse and a outside urinal to keep us boys from peeing on the side of the hut.

no running water (though drinking water was provided) and no electricity, so card playing was a great way to kill the evening after the night bite died off

As for the fishing the bite was a bit tough.. or should I say light. We geared up with automatic fisherman's, and HT riggers, but at times the bite was so light it would not even trigger these fairly sensitive devices.. above Aaron is staring into his hummingbird screen and attempting to coax a jig bite.

Above one of my automatic fisherman units is rigged up for the walleye bite. I often avoid using the float that comes with the unit wanting an immediate reaction when a fish hits. to learn more you can see my review of this device  HERE

It's funny that this group of friends is very split when it comes to ice fishing electronics, above you can see Brad working his Vexilar FL20, while below Aaron is focused on a Humminbird.. Me I'm a Marcum guy.. LX7 all the way

Looks like these boys are reaping their flashers in matching colours as well, Brad in Vexilar red and Aaron in Humminbird blue

I had a few issues with my LX7 on this trip, as it was a bit tricky to get started, it is on its way back to the nice people at Marcum for a check-up

First fish of the trip belongs to Brad, and although it was a smaller (non-keeper) walleye it is always nice to break the ice.. this fish came while jigging

This pic was strictly taken to get that crazy ATV in the background, this was owned by another hut operator on Nippissing and was driving all over the place.

Kenny (the old guy) landed fish #2, another small walleye that lived to swim another day.. with two anglers on the board that left the race for last to catch a fish down to Aaron and I, and he who catches the last fish is officially the fish filleter for the weekend… oh the drama

Aaron was responsible for our meal on night one, and went with his standard meal of chicken wings, who can complain about chicken wings? lets hope the hot wings don't create a line-up to the outhouse

Day 2 started out looking pretty amazing, and within the first hour we had 4 flags tripped and two fish landed..

yep, that's me with the first fish of day  and my first of the trip and It got me out of fish cleaning duty, and all before breakfast!

Being the early bird of the group I usually take breakfast duty, but when chasing walleye on the ice, the fish come first, so each morning we set up our tip-ups and once day-broke I then turning on the BBQ and got the coffee brewing… breakfast sausage on the grill

My first walleye came on my new AubuGarcia ice series rod, I was jigging and put the rod down to check my second line.. moments later i noticed the rod was half in the hole and I had to make the mad dash back to grab it and set the hook.. from them on it stayed in the automatic fisherman when not in my hand

Shortly after my fish, Kenny hooked into his first of the day and second of the trip… the morning bite was officially on

Aaron was officially the last to break the ice, and since he is officially the "walleye guy" in our group you know he took some ribbing… now that we all bend a rod it was time to find some more eaters in hopes that we could get in a nice on-ice shore lunch

In the afternoon the wind picked up, driving some of us (mostly me) indoors to the warmth. I also took advantage of the cool title ultra-sensitive set-up Rob Hyatt had rigged up in his huts.

While in side I kept warm with a little hot chocolate and some Irish creme liquor.. not a bad way to keep the chill out.

Some of the boys stuck it out in the cold, and shared fishing tips, here is a good pick of Kenny sharing some info with Aaron.. Kenny was the most successful angler on this trip, landing more walleye then us as well as a surprise fish you will see below

Brad brought his ATV with us on this trip to ensure we could move around if required, it was also a great way to monitor the daily snowfall.. this little dusting was nothing compared to what we ran into on our way home

The Rob Hyatt special tip-up, Rob continued to push these babies on us, and I finally cracked and gave one a shot. They are ultra sensitive and detective every little move you minnow makes on the hook. I can't stress enough how lite the bite was over this weekend and if we used these all day we may have been much more successful

Marking fish on screen all afternoon I was having a hard time getting any to commit, so I decided to downsize my bait a bit and see what would happen...

after down sizing I ran into a few eater-sized perch, a great addition to our fish fry, these babies are always a blast to catch and even better to eat.. and now i know what i was seeing all morning

Speaking of Fish Fry's, our night two meal was cooked by Bradley and while he prepped it Aaron was put to work cleaning fish, and i broke out the butter and fish crisp to fry these babies up.. yep I'm still drooling

While settling down to our nightly card game of "asshole" aka "President" Kenny's automatic fisherman was set off and sending us all into a frenzy. The fish was not hooked when it tripped the rod, so we dropped a flasher down to see if we can jig him back up, we immediately marked a fish on screen and watched as it came up and slammed Kenny's minnow/buckshot combo…..

The result: Kenny's first ling, or burbot, or eelpout or whatever else you may call it. This was the fist one I had ever seen up close and personal and now I was dreaming of hooking my own (though not sure I wanted to unhook one)

Not a bad way to end the night.

Day 3 (Sunday) was only a part day with us scheduled to head for home around 11:30am.. so breakfast was served early in a heavy snowfall that  kept us all cooped up in doors trying to stay dry while packing up.

Kenny started the morning off right with a nice little walleye that was quickly followed with one of my own (see below)

I love walleyes this size, they are great fun to catch, and always look amazing

My last catch of the trip was also the oddest, imagine my surprise pulling in this 4-legged creature known as a mud-puppy. Sure it's one to scratch off the list, but I don't think it was ever on my list

With that out trip was officially done, all that was left to do was to make the long trek home in what was quickly becoming white out or snow squall conditions.

here is a nice father/son pic of Kenny and Brad, next to our nicely gift wrapped ATV.. this tarp lasted maybe 20 minutes prior to be ripped apart on the highway… just prior to the pins coming out of the tail-gate and the ramp dragging on the highway, yep it was an eventful ride home

What a horrible drive home, 6+ hours of single lane zero visibility, much credit is do to the driving ability of Kenny who got us all home safely

Lets end this Photo Journal off with some great scenic shots from our trip…..

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bass Geek Part 4 - The Winter Horder

noun - slang

1. An expert or enthusiast (a term of pride)
2. A person who is pre-occupied or knowledgeable about Bass Fishing
3.  A person that stocks up (or hordes) fishing gear during the winter months to avoid shortages and/or the summer rush

How to become a Bass Geek Part 4:

There are many way a Bass Geek can  spend the winter months.. aka "The off season", but one true way to spot a Bass Geek is by looking for the guy buying up all his favourite baits in January, while all his friends are buying ice fishing gear (not that there's anything wrong with that). Yes, I am that guy, but come Spring while you are running from store to store looking for your favourite bait in your favourite colour, I'm fishing in a fully stocked you can be too

Step 1:  At the end of the season take some time to look through your collection of baits, see what you used up, whats missing and what you need more of, make a mental list, or even better a physical list of what you need and begin checking things off.

Step 2: Continue to visit your  local shops,  keeping an eye out for end of season, off season and early season sales. Many stores don't want to house these baits all winter long and you can score a good deal loading up early.

On-line stores will often be better stocked then most local shops, watch for their inventory levels start to climb as the season approaches (like you they are stocking up early in hope of Spring sales).  Popular products that are often out of stock during the season due to high demand, can easily be found during the winter months. A great example of this is the Live Target bait ball, from the moment it took the ICAST 2013 award for best in show hard bait you knew it would be hard to get your hands on.. my local shops don't have them, and the on-line retailers were out of stock.. but come early Jan I had the pick of the litter and was able to add some to an order I was placing.. out of sight out of mind.

Tip: Constant monitoring may be required for "new" baits, as not all 2014 products will be released early, so to avoid the rush check websites often and watch their new product sections for baits you may have missed

Step 3: Take your time, since your the only one shopping there is no need to break the bank buying all your terminal tackle at one time.. I often add one or two items at a time, its not unusual to see me leaving a store with a single bait.. this also keeps the wife happy, a $300 Bass Pro Shop bill may be quickly spotted but $10-$20 will fly under the radar (a no my wife won't read this)

PS: It's a long cold winter, and as an aspiring Bass Geek it is your duty to act like  a squirrel and horde as much as you can in preparation of the up coming season. Believe me when i tell you this little off season effort is worth it's wait in gold come spring

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 a Year of Change

2o14 represents the year of the horse in the Chinese calendar, for me it is a year of change.. a change of goals, a change of objectives and a change in attitude (that part comes mainly from a change in fishing partners). what does the year of the horse have in store for you?

"Horse can give people a ride to their destination therefore horse is not only a symbol of traveling but also a sign of speedy success"

What's not to like about that statement? Travelling is a goal of mine this year, way too often I get caught up fishing the same lakes over and over again, and although this often bring success, it's not ranked up to high in the learning scale.. so this year I will plan to fish 5 new lakes over the course of the season, this includes I have never fished or haven't fished in 5+ years.. this should help push my boundaries and make me a better all around angler.. remember "the home lake disadvantage" 

"Horse likes to complete with others, the pursuit for their freedom, passion and leadership"

as a tournament angler competition is in my blood, but after a falling out with my long time angling partner I find myself looking for a new home in 2014. This is a good thing, I feel a renewed passion and freedom after being bogged down in a boat with someone that I no longer enjoyed fishing with, and if you can't enjoy a day on the water, then you know there is something wrong. This is not meant to bash my former partner as there is a good chance he felt the same way about me (he's wrong, but oh well) and all and all it was time for a change. I wish him well but won't miss the mood swings, anger issues and unwillingness to change (not to mention the boiled eggs and protein bars). Its a shame when a person can write off a friendship for a chance of perceived glory

"Horse hour in Chinese horoscopes is from 11am to 1pm. Sunshine generates lots of heat during horse hour therefore the horse is connected to heat, hot, fire and red"

Tell me, this is not a an omen, the horse hours fall right in that prime morning to early afternoon slot that sees the fish really turn on. You can still enjoy that morning calm, and take advantage of the early afternoon heat. This year I will make sure all my trip take into consideration the Horse hours

"Horse is intelligent animal. Horses need to be trained to become useful. Humans can make horse famous, without human guide the horse is just wild animal." 

To me the above statement is about learning, and more importantly shared learning. You can only teach yourself so much before you need to look to others for help. In 2014 I will strive to keep my ears and eyes open both on and off the water, and look at ways to improve my knowledge and skill level. Sometimes that means sharing a boat with someone new, and other times that means leaving your favourite bait at home and forcing your self to try something new

I don't know about you but I'm excited about 2014, and can't wait for the Bass season to kick off. see ya on the water

The above bolded excerpts/quotes on "The Year of the Horse" were borrowed from:

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Learning to Fly - The Trials and Tribulations of Rookie Fly Tyer - Part 1

As if I don't have enough on the go already, between working, spending time with my family, writing two blogs and articles for various website not to mention fishing as much as I possible can.. I have now decided to attempt the fine art of fly tying

Bear with me on this one, as a fisherman you would think that I have the patience for an endeavour such as this, but to be honest Im pretty hard on myself and always think I should be further along then I actually am.. case in point immediately after opening my fly tying kit (Wapsi Beginners Kit) I flipped thru the learners guide and began attempting to tie one of the harder patterns in this fairly entry level kit.. Who needs to read up on the techniques, the knots or many other terms that help a beginner learn the process of tying a fly.. not me!.. yeah, well obviously I was wrong and quickly learned that in order to progress I was going to have to read, and I was going to have to start at the beginning and learn some basic patterns, thus slowly working my way up.. being a man Im not overly fond of this approach, but Oh well, I guess I will give it a shot

Please Note: this is not a "how to" series on fly tying it is simply one rookies experience what worked what didn't and where to go from here.. read on

Fly #1 - SanJuan Worm

Ah, the good old SanJuan worm, the most basic of all fly patterns. You now see why I attempted to skip this pattern opting for a harder and much prettier fly. Yes it  doesn't look like much, but then again I'm not sure if that's not the point. The SanJuan worm allows a rookie like me to learn a couple basic.. but key components to tying any fly without worrying about some of the more advanced or should I say frustrating techniques

The Good: tying the SanJuan fly I was able to get comfortable with the Jam knot, used to attached your thread to the hook.. Though I will admit after watching a few you tube videos I realized I was doing this slightly wrong.

 I also got in some practice with a hitch not often used to finish off a completed fly. Many places or resources were pushing me to use a Whip tool and Whip knot, but since my kit did not come with a whip tool for now I will be tying hitch knots, again I can see the pro's to picking up a Whip tool, but since my goal here is to learn the basics I think I will stick it out by hand for now (lets see how long this lasts) 

The Bad: My biggest issue when trying my first fly was bobbin control. Im still learning the ropes as to how far away the bobbin should be from the shank of the hook. Often times I found I left the thread to long and lost control of my wraps. The thread would also catch on the hook point from time to time fraying and or weakening it.

The Ugly: Not to much went drastically wrong once I started from the beginning. My cockiness can be seen in the top image, that brutal looking display was my first ever attempt to tie a fly.. it included wrapping feathers, wrapping wire and many other things I just wasn't ready to tackle.

Tips: From one rookie to another videos are more help then images, forums or how-to guides. Being able to actually watch someone repeat what I thought I knew, cleared up some early misconceptions.

Up Next:  Rubber Scud

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

BlackWater Toray Fishing Line: The Best 1 - 2 Punch for Drop Shot Fishing

At times it takes all the planets and stars aligning at the just the right time for an angler to gain confidence in a new technique.. The planets/stars I reference are: The right rod, the right reel, he right bait, and the right line.. if just one of these things keys are missing you may be missing fish and loosing confidence.

Over the past few seasons I have been playing around with "drop-shotting", at first I had issues picking it up, mostly due to confidence in what I was feeling, so I tried out a few different rods and found what I consider the best drop shot rod on the market.. the Dobyns DX742Sf. Once the rod was in place I was able to pair and balance it with the right reel.. a Daiwa Lexa 2000 Spinning Reel.. after that things started to fall into place, and I was now able to feel out the bite, but something was still missing.. THE LINE.. and this past season I finally found the perfect 1-2 punch to complete the ultimate Drop Shot combo

Toray BAWO Super Finesse Braid + Toray BAWO Super Finesse 100%  Fluorocarbon 

You may have already ready my past review on Toray Super Finesse Braid (found HERE) but if not you may not be aware that although this braid has a light weight name (Finesse) it packs a major punch and is one of if not thee best casting braid I have ever tied on. Toray Finesse Braid is a round 8-Strand braid that makes the perfect main-line for drop-shot fishing, by offering you a nice limp yet highly sensitive line that will still provide you with a solid backbone when setting the hook in any depth, not to mention it casts a country mile (when required). These are things that most mono or fluorocarbon can't offer you

But.. This doesn't mean there is not a place for Fluorocarbon lines in drop shot fishing because there definitely is… as a leader.. and no Fluorocarbon is better suited to this technique then Toray Finesse 100% Fluorocarbon. This line is the ultimate in  finesse fishing, its dainty enough to fool the most paranoid fish but like its counter part (Finesse Braid) it is deceptively strong.  I put it through it's paces this past season and was highly impressed with how well it allowed me to present my baits and at the same time  how the power was always there when I needed it. All in all this line is very supple, and easy to handle thus making re-trying a breeze.. and when attaching braid to fluoro on or off the water, you want a line that is easy to work with, and keeps its strength at the knot (something that all Toray lines are known for)

By pairing Toray Finesse braid (as your main line) with Toray Finesse 100% fluorocarbon (as your leader),  you get the best of both worlds. The strength and dependability of braid and the stealth and finesse of fluorocarbon. This combo has completed my ultimate Drop-Shot set-up and has given me the confidence to break it out in the toughest conditions.. try it, your be glad you did