Friday, February 28, 2014

All dressed-up: Tips & Tricks for Feather Dressing Treble Hooks

I don't know about you, but when it comes to my top-water bait arsenal, feather tipped treble hooks are must.. and if my favourite bait companies don't provide one, that's OK, Ill just make my own!

Whether I'm updating the stock hook that came with the bait, or trying to add some additional flash and flutter, a  feather dressing on both poppers and walking baits is a great way to improve that baits overall performance, here are some tips to take into consideration when dressing your own hooks, or purchasing pre-dressed hooks.

White is nice, but a splash of colour will go a long way.

My biggest beef with stock feathered trebles is that for the most part there is very little originality and almost all the readily available hooks come in a wide selection of white, white and if your really lucky white and red.. Don't get me wrong I'm not knocking white  or white/red, they are proven fish catching colours and have a place on some baits.. like the hand dressed IMA Skimmer on the top of this article. But if I'm fishing baits that are predominantly dark colours, I always attempt to make the carpet match the drapes if you know what I mean.

Check out the below X-Rap Pop as an example of how to take advantage colour matching. I chose olive green fathers to accent the back and head of the bait and a single aqua feather and some pearl flash to match the side and belly colours. This treble is now an extension of the bait giving it some nice flash and flutter without looking out of place.

Tip: I won't attempt to give you tips on feathers, because there are so many out there and the quality varies from company to company. What I would recommend it making your first purchase or two from a shop that will allow you to actually open and see what the feathers are like. Nothing worse then dropping $30 on feathers you can't use.

Tip: If your buying your feathers from a craft store or other non fishing vendor be sure to check the package to ensure the dye used will hold up in the water, there is nothing worse then watching your hard work bleed out after the first cast

Flare & Stack to Increase Profile

Depending on the size of your bait, and in turn the size of the treble you are dressing, you may want to bulk up the feathers, by stacking, layering and/or tying the feathers higher up the shank. A good example of this can been seen on my Duo Pencil 110 (below). As you can see the feathers really flare out almost hiding the hook entirely from view. This was accomplished using two of the techniques listed above.

The first method used was stacking, when looking to bulk I look for fuller feathers and/or stack two feathers on top of each other prior to tying them to the hooks shank. Tying them flat on top of each other will add bulk but not flare, if you want flare try to work with the feathers so that the tips are opining in slightly opposite directions allowing them to curl out and away from each other.. flare achieved.

Tying the feather higher or lower on the hook will also give your bait a bit of a different look. The further down the shank the longer the tail will be, and the further up the more bulk you'll get around the hook itself.  Bulk can also be effected by how hard and where you bare down on the feather.

Tip: Once Ive added all my feathers & flash I take a look at the profile, if I want to tighten things up (reduce profile) I will give it a couple tight wraps right where the feathers meet my thread base prior to finishing off the tie.

A Little Flash will go a long way

When dressing treble hooks it is very rare for me not to include some form of flash. I personally keep 3 main colours on hand at all times and in all honesty that really should cover me for almost any bait that gets thrown my way.. White/Pearl, Black, and some form of  Green (preferably dark).. my brand of choice is Krystal Flash although I will go outside the box if need be.  Krystal Flash contains thin round strands instead of the flatter strands offered by other brands. If you check out the below pic of the two Live Target walking frogs, you can quickly see the Krystal flash on the yellow frog, but I bet you don't see the flat stands I used on the green model… and if you did notice them you can see that they don't reflect as much light as the round flash.

Tip: When applying flash I often purposely leave it long while tying and then trim it to my taste after the hook is completed. Try not to get to caught up in making everything even, I like having a few long stands and some shorter strands, it has a more natural look to it.

Tools of the Trade

There are a few basic tools that will make your life easier when tying trebles, they are not expensive by any means and they will reduce your frustration level ten fold. The first tool is a vice of some sort, the idea being that it will securely hold the hook in place while you are tying, it does not have to be fancy, it just needs to do the job.. entry level Vices can be found for as little as $20 in many major retailers

Next up is your Bobin, it is by far the best way to apply thread to a hook, I have seen guys attempt this by hand, and you simply can't get the same consistent pressure or accuracy. You can find bobbins as low as $5 and there is no need to spend over $10 on one (in my opinion). 

Thread and Glue will also be required upon start-up, and don't just raid your wives sewing drawer for this stuff, actually head to a fly shop or jump on line and buy a thread and glue designed to hold up to a battle with fish and the elements

That's that, these tools will get you started, there are many more you can purchase, like tiny little scissors, bodkins and even whip finishing tools, but you won't need these to get started so don't waste you money on the.. you will need you cash for feathers and flash 

for those interested how to videos and step by step tips on how I tie my trebles are coming soon

Monday, February 24, 2014

Team Dobyns Shows up big at the 2014 Bass Master Classic: Paul Mueller 2nd Place Finish

(Picture courtesy of Photographer: Mike Suchan)

If you spent your weekend watching the Olympics or even the Daytona 500, you may have missed out on one of the most exciting Bass Master Classic in recent years.. highlighted by a last day surge that gave (all around great guy) Randy Howell the title in his home state.. but if you are more interested in hearing about underdogs then the storey of Dobyns rods own Paul Mueller may be more to your taste.

Paul, a guide from Connecticut  qualified for this years classic and came into the event  as a relatively unknown angler.. to the average fan that is, but not to his fellow fisherman. Paul has long been know for his smarts on the water and how well he can pick apart a lake and know exactly what needs to be done in any given situation.. if you haven't already be sure to check out Paul's extensive video collection on you tube.. found HERE

Ok, back to the Classic… Paul had a fairly disappointing day 1, weighing in 3 fish for 9.10lbs, leaving him in 47th place. On day 2 the buzz on and off the water heated up when Paul showed off some of his fish while waiting to weigh in (see above image). Tipping the scales at 32.03lbs Paul set a new classic five fish record and jumped all the way up to 5th place by the end of Day 2.

I don't know about Paul but I sure as hell was nervous for him on day 3 while I and the rest of Dobyns Nation were waiting on word of Paul's final bag… a nice 24.11lbs, bringing his Classic total to 66.08lbs just 1lb shy of stealing the lead from the events eventual winner Randy Howell.. heart break? no, Paul is the ipitimy of class on the water, on the stage and in life, this is a proud moment for him and all those who consider him a friend (myself included)  

Congratulations Paul, on a well fished event

be sure to check out's article on Paul found HERE 

 (Paul Meuller Photo courtesy of  Photographer: Darren Jacobson)

Lets not forget about the other men in Orange at the classic, both Patrick Bone and Tim Johnson proudly represented Dobyns Rods.

Patrick finished with 31.4lbs in 33rd place, and Tim bagged a 20.10lbs good for 46th place. This was a tough event, both these men finished higher then some pretty well know B.A.S.S anglers, like Mike Iconelli, G-Man, and Skeet Reese.

(Patrick Bone Photo courtesy of  Photographer: Darren Jacobson)

(Tim Johnson Photo courtesy of  Photographer: Darren Jacobson)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Learning to Fly: The Trials and Tribulations of a Rookie Fly Tyer Part 3

Finally I'm starting to tie some patterns that interest the fisherman side of me as well as the student. Remember I'm not a trout fisherman (yes really) and for the most part once I get my feet under me I will be trying mostly for bass and various panfish.. polly caddis is a fly that I have had on-water success with in the past.. now if only i could tie one?

Fly #4: Polly Caddis

   The Good: Tying this fly was a nice confidence boost for me, up until this point most of the patterns I had been tying were fairly basic, and a caddis has that little something extra and I expected to struggle with it more then I did . All and all  I was fairly successful on my first attempt and by the second attempt I felt like an old pro.. the actual tying of this fly was the easy part compared to mastering a few of the new techniques like dubbing and proper trimming of wings and the head.. by the end I felt like Edward scissor hands and if I kept going the fly would end up being bald

(a pinch of dubbing, too little? too much?) 

The Bad: I had some struggles when tying this fly for the first time, the majority of which were "dubbing" related (see the Ugly section below) but when it comes to minor hiccups there were only two. The first being that I actually broke my thread right as I was about to complete the finishing knots, this was the first time that had happened to me, and believe me it was the most frustrating thing I had encountered to date. The Second thing I was not all that excited about was trimming the wings, I found the material provided just didn't do it for me and it needed some working to make it look anywhere near realistic  
                                                                         (wrapping thread that contains dubbing)

The Ugly: I teetered back and forth on whether or not to put this in the bad section or here, but since I did kind of struggle with the dubbing I thought it should be listed as an ugly. Applying dubbing to your thread is not a hard technique but it is an awkward technique. I struggled at first with actually applying the dubbing it would break apart or separate into clumps while I attempted to tie the fly. This was overcome by simply using less and applying more pressure to the dubbing as I added it to the line.. the book explains the amount required as "a little" or "tiny" I find comments like this frustrating and would like to see them explained better to rookies like me.. the good thing here is that dubbing is not really wasted and can be placed back in the package

Tips & Notes: if it is your first time using dubbing you may want to practise applying it to thread prior to tying a fly.. get use to how much is required and how to keep it tight on the thread. Overall I enjoyed working with dubbing and I love the look of it on a finished fly, but i know now that i used way to much, and that a little goes a long way.. excess dubbing will effect the durability of the fly as it can not be as tightly wrapped  

 (This was my second attempt, other then not matching the thread to body material Im much happier with the overall tie)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Great Finds: The 2014 Toronto Sportsman Show

As you know I had the opportunity to work the Toronto Sportsman show this year, and while there I took opportunity to nose around a bit, and I came away with three new products that i can't wait to try out on the water…

BioEdge Fish Attracting Scents

Although you may not have heard of BioEdge they have quietly going about the business of making all natural and very power fish attractants since 2007. Their line-up includes over 30 different scent options in  both potions (oil) and a Wands (semi-solids). As mentioned previously these scents are all natural and are made from  concentrated oils, the wand (kinda like a glue stick) is filled with the same concentrated oil as the potion only with a solidifying agent added in. I love the variety provided by BioEdge and that fact that the wand will help me keep the stink off my fingers

I will be giving the Frog and Crawfish scents a serious work out this coming season, and plan to use the Frog potion on all of my soft plastic frogs, and the Frog wand on the bellies of my hollow body frogs. As for the crawfish potion it will spice up some of my jig trailers and I may even soak up some jigs.

To learn more be sure to check out the BioEdge site, but leave your self some time, there is a serious amount of scents to browse through,

AR-Frog by AR Lures

As a die-hard frog fisherman I will admit I have had my eyes on these frogs for awhile now. They always sat in my shopping cart while placing orders with Land Big Fish or TackleWarehouse and when the cost of the order got out of hand they usually end up getting bumped off.. but while at the sportsman show there was not shopping cart and I finally pulled the trigger on one.

all AR-Lures baits are hand carved, hand painted and high quality… they are made of wood, and are durable with some great action in the water. I'm really looking forward to working this frog in the sparse cover this coming season and feel that the design will offer up great movement and a good hook-up ratio. You can find AR-Lures quite easily in both the US and Canada, check out their website for a list of distributors.. HERE 

MegaBass Pop-Max

Another bait Ive had my eye on for awhile now the MegaBass Pop-Max is a mean looking popper with 6.. count 'em 6 chambers that allow water to move through the bait and gills making this one of the most unique poppers on the market today.

Pricey yes,  the Pop-Max  comes in at a hefty $19 a bait, but that's what sportsman shows are for.. finding and buying baits you can't get at your local shop. In my opinion this bait is worth every penny of its $19 price tag in looks alone, and if it produces half as well as I expect it will.. I'm a happy man.

ask me again when I lose my first bait and I may have a different response  

Kamooki Lures

A Canadian company to watch, Kamooki blew the roof off the show with their line of currently unavailable baits aptly names "The Smart Fish". These killer baits will be great in place of standard blade baits when fishing smallies or even better as an ice fishing jig for walleye

Smartfish are designed as a head down, hook up bait  weighing in at only 2/5oz it  sinks incredibly fast for its size and moves well in water. The part that really blew me away was how well they move while dead-sticked, even the smallest current will keep the Smartfish moving, side to side.. these baits will get eaten!

Check out this short video I shot of the smart lure in action at the sportsman show, HERE. To learn more on Kamooki and the smart fish, check out their website HERE

If your on your way to the Spring Fishing and Boat Show this weekend, be sure to search these baits out, you will be happy you did.. Other then the Kamooki Smartfish all these products can be found at Pro J Tackles booth along with a full one up of Dobyns rods, Daiwa reels, and a brand new shipment of Bull Shad Swimbaits from the master Triton Mike Bucca

Friday, February 7, 2014

Scratch one off the bucket list: The Kingston Canadian papers are filed!

Im about to scratch a pretty big item off my bucket list, or as I like to call it my "bucket-mouth list" and in all honesty I'm a mix of excited and nervous all at the same time.

Fishing the Kingston Canadian open has been on my to-do list for a while now, not only is this event in my own backyard, but it is loaded with an impressive collection of some of Canada's most well know anglers (and a few american ones too). Not to mention this event is by far the biggest test I have set for my self when it comes to tournament fishing

As a small town angler who grew up fishing the Kawarthas, and then later honed my skills on the various lakes sounding the kingston and the Bancroft area, Ive never really spent much time focusing on big water, so this in itself will be a new challenge for me, combine that with the fact that this event draws in the highest level of competition and you have the recipe for an event that I just can't pass up.. so I didn't

Thanks goes out to those anglers who have previously fished this event and have have already offered their support and advice... I may just have to take you up on those offers.. now the preparation begins (insert Rocky theme music here)

If your looking to join the field for the 2014 Kingston Canadian open, click HERE to find the rules and registration form, and if fishing in the open is not for you, don't forget about the opportunity to sponsor a solider portion of the event HERE

As always special thanks I could not have done this without the support I get from my various sponsors including: Eikon Device tattoo Supply, Dobyns Rods, Daiwa Reels, BlackWater/Toray Fishing line, Optimum Baits, El Grande Lures and the VRX line of products

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Toronto Sportsman Show - Feb

Feb 6-9 2014 - Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place 

The Toronto sportsman show is a right of passage into spring, its a anglers version of groundhog day (minus Punxsutawney Phil), except this show never sees its own shadow and spring is always on the way!

I'm very excited to have the opportunity to work the sportsman show this year, and I'm already asking my wife for an advance on my allowance to ensure I don't leave the show empty handed (only empty wallet'ed)

If you are taking in the show this year, I would be remiss if I didn't recommend a couple booths you should check out. The first one being the Daiwa booth, if you have not seen or heard the hype surrounding Daiwa's line of Tatula rods and reels then you surely must have been hanging out with Phill in his groundhog hole, because these bad boys are on many "best of" lists from last season, including Tackle Tours and mine. By swinging by the booth you will get a first hand look at the Tatula as well as the rest of Daiwa impressive line-up.. you know Zillions, Steez, Lexa and so on

Daiwa can be found at Booth #1648

The next booth you should stop by is that of Pro J Fishing Tackle, why? you may ask, well its simple, after you purchase yourself a Daiwa Tatula there is no better rod to pair it with then a Dobyns, and Pro J will be fully stocked with a huge assortment Dobyns rods… you know the deal so I won't turn this into a sale pitch, let me warn you though, once you put a Dobyns rod in your hands,  you'll never be the same

Pro J Fishing Tackle/Dobyns can be found at Booth #1641

I will be working the show both Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday, so if your in the area be sure to swing by and say hello.  Check out the below link for a copy of the shows program and floor plan.. and enjoy the show