Protect Your Baits, spend 10 bucks and save $100’s

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There are spoons, and then there are spoons when it comes to walleye fishing.  Some companies take their time and paint their lures right, and then there are some that have a reputation of their paint peeling or chipping off.  The same can be said of spinner blades.  Some box stores carry some great looking blades, but they are mass produced, and at times, some corners are cut along the process.  Whether they are saving time or money, you just need to protect your investment.  Some companies like Big Eye Custom Lures, I completely trust the paint jobs, they never chip and the cranks have held up for years!

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For 10 bucks you can pick up a 4 oz bottle of CS Seal Coat at most places that sell lure paint supplies.  Is it the best on the market, that’s up for debate in some circles, but for this purpose, it works well. You can put a top coat that will protect hundreds and hundreds spoons and blades.

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The nice thing about buying the jar, I can just get a small paint brush at a hobby shop, and quickly coat each spoon. Some color patterns like Confusion and Bumble Bee are classics, and I want to keep them around for a long time.  They take about an hour to dry, so hang them in a safe place.  You want to avoid excess dust or even pets while they are curing.  If it is damp or cold, it might take longer to dry.

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Like my spoon box?  Stole it from bass fishing!  This Plano box is actually used to store bass fishing style spinnerbaits.  I like it for a few reasons, one I don’t have a lot of spoons, so a big bulky box didn’t make sense for me.  The second reason is that the dividers will hold 10 or 12 baits. The last reason I really like it is that each divider has a locking arm that comes down and holds in the baits in place.  Doesn’t matter if they bounce around, they never come loose, win/win!

Copyright, 2015

 

 

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The Right Sunglasses: Protection and Catch Rates

When it comes to fishing, eyewear is not a fashion statement, those glasses truly are another tool in the box that will help improve your success rate!  And, they help protect your eyes against the sun’s harmful rays.  The latter probably shouldn’t be the second factor in choosing the right shades, but hey….this is a fishing website!

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Recently my good friends at Wild Michigan Outdoor Radio teamed up with Costa del Mar as an official sponsor of the show.  Awesome for them, with the host, Duran Martinez, it is a great informative show about all things outdoors in Michigan.  Plus, this is a product that I can firmly get behind because I have been wearing Costa products myself for years.  There are so many styles that fit your face to cut down on the glare of the sun, and they offer many lens colors to match up with your style and location for fishing.

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Green to the left, blue to the right, which glasses are right for you and why?  These are my two pairs of Costa del Mar’s.  The model I like the best for me, is called Brine.  These are a large fit, which wraps around my noggin cutting down any glare on the water, and gives you the UV protection that you want to consider when choosing your own.  Added bonus, at least for myself, this model also has three small vents on each side of the glasses, for a guy who produces a lot of body heat….great feature!

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The first pair I purchased is the blue colored lens on the right in the picture above.  This shade is made for big water fishing.  With its grey base and blue tint, it helps me read my Church Tackle planer boards a piece of cake.  In the brightest morning sun, as your boards disappear in light across the water, these glasses cut down the glare so I can see everything! Another great example was last weekend while looking for mudlines and clean water on Lake Erie.  For running cranks like we were, it was important to drift the boat in and out of the soup.  Never would have noticed the subtle differences in the water clarity at a distance without my Costa’s.

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So my big water fishing is covered with the blue, I got those first because I do most of my fishing on Lake Erie, but I love fishing in the Upper Peninsula for pike, muskie and smallmouth bass.  In the lakes I fish, a lot of the trees throw shadows over the lake edges.  The greens from the trees reflect upon the water, negating most of my edge from wearing the blue lenses.  Here comes into play my latest purchase, again I went with the Brine’s for the fit and vents, but went green when it came to choosing the lens’s tint.

They have a copper/amber tent that really cut through the different shades cast down on the water from trees.  They also make picking out underwater weedbeds a breeze.  If you have ever worn straight amber tinted shooting glasses, you know what I mean with the brilliant greens they pick up.  With the copper blended base, I can see bass and toothy critters hiding out under lilies and make my casts accordingly!

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If you are looking for a great pair of sunglasses for fishing, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest taking a good, long look at the models available from Costa.  Find a local retailer on the website and see which is the best fit for you.  If you are older and have a hard time reading your linecounter reels, no problem, they even have models with  reader powers available. Do you wear eyeglasses, and need a full script, they have that covered too. Find one of their full feature eye centers,  and those are listed on the website.

Copyright, 2015

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Log Books, must have in any arsenal

You can have all the tackle in the world, the best equipment around, and the latest information available on the internet, but when all else fails to put fish in the box, nothing beats personal experience.  Memories fade, but when you have written down, the facts stay forever.

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I can be as bad as the next person, I used to have log books all over the shop and house. Local ice fishing, tourney ice fishing, fishing in the Upper Peninsula, perch on Erie, walleye on Erie and Saginaw Bay, article ideas, but they were never handy when I wanted to write something down.  This spring, I found an old book rack behind some buckets in the shop and decided to organize things up a bit.  Still pretty sure I have to track down a few more books, but this is start.

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Sandwiched in between some reading and notebooks, I have some composition books that I use for log books.  Before the kids go back to school, they have sales at Walgreens or Staples type places, and they are cheap.  They work out great for what I want.  Just for an example, I used to have one book for Lake Erie walleye fishing.  That one filled up quickly, so I expanded.  Now I have one book for March, April, May…etc.

The cloud cover, the wind and wave direction, air and water temp….it all goes in the log books.  Types of lures, how far back behind the boards, did the bite turn on when the sun peeked out….those are the little details that will make years of fishing more productive.  Oh, and boat speed, cannot forget boat speed, it’s a crucial factor in success.  Outside board, middle or inside, and if you can, remember just how far you had them away from the boat, too.  Every little detail can make a difference.  I would even add, what kind of board was I using, did I catch the fish on the sides of the boat, either using Church Tackle’s TX-22 or Walleye Boards, or were they caught pulling behind the boat using the Stern Planer TX-007.  Snap weights, keel weights, split shot…to tell the truth, I could probably write-up three more paragraphs with the types of details that go into the books, but you get the gist.

These are the facts, they don’t change with daily reports on a forum, these truths will become self-evident, year after year, because you can pattern the movements of fish, season after season.  Added bonus, it is kind of fun to relive past fishing experiences also. You learn from the bad, just as well as the good ones.  It is all down to be reread and if you wish, even shared with your fishing buddies!

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Books and Videos, Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Reports | Leave a comment

Lake Erie Water Temps: Still Crankin’

While Lake Erie’s water temps are either approaching or hovering right (+/-) around that magical 50 degree temperature mark, the walleye are telling anglers that they still prefer crankbaits when trolling.  Quick note for those who don’t know, or anglers just getting into trolling for walleye on Lake Erie, 50 degrees is the mark where the fish tend to start wanting crawler/spinner rigs over crankbaits.  It is an arbitrary mark that serves as a guideline of sorts, because depending on the mood of the fish, they still might take cranks over the mark, or the reverse, they might want meat before the water reaches 50′.  This past weekend proved that they wanted the cranks!

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In this picture, you can barely see the diving lip of a crankbait, not that you can tell what kind of lure it is!  This walleye inhaled the bait, and with both of the VMC #4 treble hooks buried inside, it was not going to get loose.  In fact this is the first walleye I have caught while using Rapala’s Deep Diving Husky Jerk (size 12), in Purpledescent.  Not a surprise though, with all the cranks in the arsenal, sometimes it takes longer to get some of the baits in the water.

JDHJ-12 Silver Shad

JDHJ-12 Silver Shad

 

Although, all the fish we marked were located near the bottom in 20 feet of water, all the fish we caught were suspended, or rushing up four to six-foot to nail our baits that we were running between 12 and 14 ft down in the water column. All our other fish came on Big Eye Custom Lures, custom painted Deep Husky Jerks, size 12’s.  Actually, they all came on one color, Lime Attack!  This color pattern started out hot last fall, and continues to produce this spring.

Lime Attack, 2nd row from the top

Lime Attack, 2nd row from the top

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These Rapala’s had our 8 ft. St. Croix trolling rods doubled over and the  Church Tackle TX-22 boards getting pulled back on both sides of the boat.  If you strictly pull light weights, cranks or spoons behind a diver, the TX-22 is the right board to use.  If you like to change up weights, and go a little heavier, then the Walleye Board should be your choice,  it is just a more versatile board to have in the boat.

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End result, caught some pretty good fish including a 7 pound male, top five fish came in at just over 30 lbs.  Pretty good for this time of the year out on the lake for the depth we were fishing in.  We ran the baits 45 ft back for the DHJ-12’s, and 65′ back for the Jointed version which swims a bit shallower than its non-jointed relation.  They definitely wanted it at a slightly faster speed than the weekend before, 1.5 to 1.7 mph worked the best.

Copyright, 2015

 

 

Posted in Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

2015 Spring UAW Walleye Tournament

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UAW Local 3000’s Recreation Committee is hosting their annual spring walleye tournament on April 26th, 2015.  The tourney will be located once again at the Lake Erie Metro Park, where the entrance is located near the Bottom Line tackle shop on West Jefferson.  This is a well run event, and for those who enter, there will be a fish fry after the weigh-in.

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Each boat that enters must have one UAW member on their team.  It is $25 per person, with a limit of four people on each boat, and you must have a valid 2015 fishing license.  Winning weight will be based on a five fish limit to be weighed in no later than 4:00 pm that Sunday, no exceptions.  All fish must be caught that day, during tourney hours, which starts with the launching of boats at 7:00 am.  Check in time is between 6 and 7:00 am, and if you plan to register the day of the tournament, you have to be signed up before 6:30 am.  There will be a big fish prize offered, and if one member of the boat enters, then all members of that boat’s team must also enter the contest.

This tourney is open to all UAW members, not just members of Local 3000, and you do not have to be a Ford employee.  I have fished this tourney several times, the fishing is great during this time of the year, and everyone has an excellent chance of doing well.  The fish dinner is excellent, and talking about the fishing after the fact, even better.  Hope to see a good crowd this year!

If you have any additional questions, please contact either George McKinnon (313.727.4191) or Mike Gonzales (248.752.0823).

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Community News, Lake Erie, Tournament News, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Snap and Trolling Weights: under the surface there is always a time and place!

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Inside this old blue Plano lure bag, I keep all my trolling and snap weights organized.  There are days when one works better than the other.  One system works better with cranks than with spinners, in my experience that is. All in all though, it’s always good to have them on the boat, because different wind conditions and weather will dictate which is most effective.

BPS weights and 1/4 oz bottom bouncers

BPS weights and 1/4 oz bottom bouncers

Of all the weights in my bag of tricks, I would have to say I have been most loyal to these fish-like weights from Bass Pro Shop.  Loyal might not be the correct term though,  more so, that over the years, these baits have been the most effective in the water.   I use these with my crawler harnesses, and depending on the depth of the water, I might use the half ounce, 1 or 2 ounce ones.  They are also made in a 3 oz weight, I just never picked them up, but have that size covered in the next picture. You may be able to tell from the picture, that I have attached duolock snaps to the ball bearing swivel and snap that comes standard.  The reason is simple, if you do not close the factory snap, even when just changing out the harnesses, they can easily fall off and land in the bottom of the boat, and occasionally in the water.  It’s a precautionary thing and doesn’t take anything away from the effectiveness of the set-up.

Also in this box are some 1/4 ounce bottom bouncers.  Why?  Because I caught a 10 pound walleye inside Brest Bay with them!  While running East to West inside the bay one day, my outside Church Walleye Board jerked back and sank, and after bringing it back in, this was on the hooks.

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I cut off the bottom portion of wire on the bottom bouncer, because I was going to use them strictly for trolling up in the water column.  At the end I gave the wire a small upward bend,  just in case the lead ever slipped down.  They never do, but the whole piece of mind thing came into play.  It also made them easier to store in my 360 sized trays.

Custom painted Rednek weights

Custom painted Rednek weights

You can get these trolling weights at a number of local shops.  Should say,  you can get these baits online from a number of stores that are in the area, along Lake Erie. But, if you want to get the dive curves for them, or take a look at all the stock colors available, you can go to the Rednek Outfitters page to see for yourself.  In this tray, I have two and 3 ounce weights.  I wanted some 3’s, and 2 oz has always been an effective weight, so I picked up some more.  The unique thing about the Rednek’s that they have an eye for a belly treble hook.  It is true that I have had fish bite down on my Bass Pro weights, but can I say I have caught walleye on the Rednek’s?  I cannot, and a single silver bass doesn’t count in my book either. But one day, you never know.

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Inline weights, bead chains or the keel variety, in my weight bag, these are the last of the set-ups that I like using with crawler rigs.  One reason is that these three items all have one thing in common, some type of swivel that helps avoid line twist while using spinner presentations.  I use a simple duolock snap from my mainline to the bait, so it is key to have a rig that already has the swivel built-in.  My small selection fits into a 3500 sized tray and goes in the front pocket of my tackle bag.

Church Tackle Snap Weights

Church Tackle Snap Weights

Although discontinued by Church Tackle, these snap weights have a definite place in my weight bag, specially in the spring and the fall when crankbaits are the preferred bait of choice….of the walleye that is!  During a Google search, I found that there are some unpainted kits, or components still out there available to purchase.  They went up to 3 ounces in weight, and would take your lure right to the bottom if you desired to.

Pencil Weights and Lockjaw Snaps

Pencil Weights and Lock-Jaw Snaps

In deep water, sometimes you just need to go heavy, and in this tray that means 4 and 6 ounce pencil weights.  After talking to some tourney friends last year, the old hamster wheel started turning.  At first I searched for heavier snap weights, pretty much a non-starter though.  Then it sort of hit me, snap weights themselves look pretty much the same as a pencil weight.  After a short search, I found Bottom Dwellers Tackle website, and the sizes I wanted to run to increase my options.  At .48 and .72 cents per each size, it wasn’t a bad deal money wise.  In order to use them with a line clip, I went through some of my snaps in the shop and found some larger ones in a  #7 size, and used them to clip right onto the weight.  From there it would be easy to attach to my clips, and to change out sizes when I needed to while on the water.  If you want to try this with the pencil weights, the duolock snaps are fairly inexpensive, and you can get a pack of 25 at a reasonable price at places like Cabela’s or Bass Pro.

500-0The Lock-Jaw clamp from Church Tackle,  the thing is basically indestructible and will never shake loose while trolling or bringing in a fish, no matter what the size or species!  When I wanted a beefier snap for running these heavier weights, it was a no brainer which snap I was going to get.  You can see the eye at the bottom, that is where I attach my snap/weight combination.  From there all you have to do is let out the desired amount of line to determine running depth of the lure, clip on the line and start fishing.  There is a built-in post inside the top of the snap, run the line under that, and then twist the lever closed, it’s not going to go anywhere.  Worried about your running depth with these weights, talking heavy metal here folks, you can dial it in quickly on your own.  At slow enough speeds, your line will be practically vertical down throughout the water column.  If you are off just a bit, remember this, walleye look up while eating most of the time, and when you buzz their heads, it’s all good.

2 oz bell sinkers

2 oz bell sinkers

Sometimes old school just works best, so I keep a few 2 ounce bell sinkers in one of the side pockets for running on a 3-way swivel.  Could I have a bigger selection of weights? Sure I could have, but the whole thought process of creating this kit bag of weights was for running on big water.  On Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and the Bays de Noc,  2 oz just makes sense, go heavy or go home kind of philosophy. At the bottom of the 3-way swivel I have either a 12 or 18 inch leader down to the weight, and then on a pre-rigged foam roll, I have eight foot leads ready to attach while using cranks.  My harness snells are already that length, and I can shorten them if need be, but have found that in most cases, being farther away from any hardware (terminal tackle or lead) works best.

You can build your own weight/dive bag easily enough, and any old tackle bag will do.  Before going shopping for something fancy, just see what you have already, and then accordingly pick up what you need.  I found that the 360 sized Plano trays worked best for me, but any brand will work.  The 360’s are an odd size when it comes to cranks, so I have lots of empties after organizing the lures into the bigger 370 sized trays.  The new kit will not take up much room on the boat, and you will never regret keeping your gear organized!

Copyright, 2015

 

Posted in Bays de Noc, Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Saginaw Bay, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Metal Marine Bubbles

IMG_20150407_1346013933Recently, in fact on the last ice fishing trip of the year out onto Lake Erie, my minnow bubbler died.  I looked at a lot of brands, but kept coming back to the Metal Marine products.  It made sense, because the one I had, I  bought in 2002, that means my $15 investment back then lasted 13 years.  The price went up a little bit since then, but the manufacturer also made some improvements over the years.

Must admit, I am digging Amazon Prime

Must admit, I am digging Amazon Prime

 

The main reason I bought my first one was that it would last roughly 85 hours while using two D cell batteries.  The quieter version lasted maybe 40 hours if memory serves correctly.  The new product will last around 100 hours on the same sized pair of batteries. Plus, unlike the original version, it will also operate on a single D cell battery.  That is nice in case you only have one left in the house, or perhaps keep a single one for back-up while fishing.  Also, this unit is much, much quieter than the original aerator from 2002.  So all in all, quite happy with my purchase and bring on the spring jigging season!  Here is hoping I get another 13 years out of this purchase.

I am still looking into rechargeable lithium batteries, but need just a little bit more research before pulling the trigger on that idea.

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Bait | Leave a comment

Making and Painting Walleye Jigs

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When pouring jigs, I head up the stairs of the shop to my “craft” area.  I have a table all set up for making my jigs. A  20 pound Hot Pot, large house fan for exhaust, an old soup can to catch any excess drips and all my molds.  You can see in the picture above that there are some flames coming out of the top of the hot pot, that’s just wax burning off, it helps to raise the impurities to the top, and then I can skim them off into an old metal coffee can.

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In this case I poured some Walleye Jigs from my Do-It Mold.  Notice how shiny and bright the lead is, this is important when I start talking about the different finishes/paint that I am going to apply later.  It really works best with the line of “candy” powder paints from TJ’s Tackle that I like using.

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The last couple of years, the “ice” minnows in the Fin-S Minnow line-up from Lunker City have been really effective when jigging the Saginaw River,  Detroit River and all the way down into Lake Erie.  My favorite minnows have been Emerald, Blue and Purple Ice, so I wanted some jigs that would match up to the baits.  Using a pearl powder bait, that I infused with silver flake, I created a base coat for the jigs.  Then I applied the best colors in the selection to match the backs of the plastic minnows.

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Quick side note:  Half the fun of using powder paints for coating the jigs is that you get to mix and match, and be creative.  Down here on Lake Erie in the spring, one of the most effective colors on the hair jigs is John Deere Green.  TJ’s Tackle, is taking my basic formula, and it should be available soon on their website.  As I mentioned above though, I wanted an “ice” finish, so I added some silver flake to my pearl white paint, and the results were great.

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In this picture, you can see my John Deere Green on the left, with a black and blue flake on the right.  Although the JD Green is effective with a lot of baits, I wanted to match it up specifically with Fin-S’s Fire Tiger Firetail, 4 inch minnow.  The black and blue flake will go nicely with my black, 4 inch,  Wyandotte Worms.

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Last, but not least, we get back to the reason for the shiny new jigs working best with some of the candy colors…

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Candy Yellow, when applied over freshly poured lead will give you that Anti-Freeze look that works so well when walleye fishing.  Jigs or blades, AF works, and it can help you match up with this Chartreuse Sparkle Fin-S Minnow.  Besides the bright finish, I sprinkled some Blaze Orange powder paint over some of the back side of the jigs, others I dipped the bottoms in.  That is all part of the process, experiment a little bit to find out what the fish like the best.  In all though, it boils down to what you as the angler feels the most confident in.  Regardless, that hint of hot orange, goes with the Firetail on the minnow, and that is the goal I was trying to achieve.

 

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After getting the jigs hot with a heat gun and applying the powder, its time to cure them in the toaster oven for 20 minutes at 350′ degrees. BUT, before they go in for the final bake, make sure you have the paint cleared from the eyes of the jig.  This process is tough enough ( I use a small nail, and sometimes have to hammer it clear) before curing the jig, but nearly impossible after they come out of the oven.  After they are finished, you have a nearly chip proof finish, perfect for bouncing off rocks and zebra mussels!

If you are just getting into the whole powder painting scene, go to TJ’s Tackle for all the self-help videos they have.  The guys have a full line-up, and every video will help explain the process so an angler at any level will benefit from watching.

Copyright, 2015

Posted in Bait, Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Lake Erie, Lure Making, Product Reviews, Saginaw Bay, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

What Comes First, The Rod or the Reel?

Last night I brought down a few boxes of jigs and my jigging rod setups in preparation for walleye fishing the Detroit River and Lake Erie.  While I was busy checking my line and putting on new fluorocarbon leaders I thought of a question to pose this morning, which comes first, the rod or the reel?  Meaning if you were going out shopping to get a new setup, which would you pick out first?

For anyone thinking of getting a combo at the local box store, I am going to toss that notion before we even get started.  Not that there aren’t some adequate combinations available, but I find them to be rare.  My opinion is this, the customer generally pays the full price for the reel, and then about 10 to 20 bucks for the chain brand rod.  I have found that there is a pretty good reason they are letting these rods go on the cheap, because they are cheap!

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I fish with St. Croix rods, and the old adage of, “You get what you pay for.” really holds true.  The Premier series is good, the Avid rods are better, and the Tournament Walleye series is a big step above.  I have had all three, in one size or another, and would suggest if you have it in  your budget, take a hard look at either the Avid or Tourney Walleye rods. Someday, I would like to step up and get a pair of Legend Elite rods, still saving, but I can dream in the mean time.

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Now since I am jigging, I want the quickest rod tip I can get, so I have two really good choices in each series, that will work best on the river and lake.  For the river, I am using the shorter 6’3″ MXF, and for the lake, which is just a bit different in approaches,  my rod is the longer 6’8″ MXF.  What does MXF mean?  It is the abbreviation for “Medium Xtra Fast”, and these rods do everything I want in the two locations.  Can I mix and match sizes for each location, yes, in fact when I fish two rods at a time, I use the short rod in my left hand and the longer rod in my right.  Jumping the gun just a bit, but when it comes to the reels, I feel comfortable reeling with either hand, so my handles are on the opposite sides.  If my left hand rod gets bent over, I can drop my opposite rod, and start reeling with my right hand.

So…four paragraphs later, you probably have guessed, that I prefer to get a good quality rod first, before purchasing the reel.  My philosophy is that you have to feel the fish before you can reel it in.  Another reason to get the rod first is this, if you buy a reel before the rod, you will have a harder time to getting the two to balance out.  Or to word it better, if you get the reel first, it might be harder to match up with a rod with the attributes you want for that style of fishing you want to do.

A reel should balance to the point where you don’t notice it while you are jigging.  In other words, it shouldn’t like you just spent four hours at the gym and fatigue is setting in. Depending on the brands and their way of numbering the size of the reels, in general terms, you should be able to find a reel to work with your jigging rods in the 1500 to 2500 size range.  When I bought my Legends, I went with Daiwa’s Procyon reel, a 2000 size for the 6’3″ rod, and a 2500 in the same series for the 6’8″ rod.

Each company is different, just as each series of reels within brand names differ in weight. It really pays to take your rod into the store, and try a number of the reels out on the rod before making your final purchase.  This is your setup, so make sure you get the balance between the two that works best for you!

Copyright, 2015

 

Posted in Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Memorial Tourney for MAC on the Maumee River

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There is going to be a tournament April 18th (2015) on the Maumee River in Ohio, it is a memorial tourney held in honor of James R. McAllister who passed away this past winter.  James left behind a wife and two little girls.  The event is a fundraiser, which the funds will be used to set up college funds for the children.  For each two person fishing team, the entry fee is a $50.00 donation to help the cause.

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There is more information as far as rules, and a form for the teams to be filled out on the Facebook page that has been set up for the memorial event. You can copy and paste this link to your browser, https://www.facebook.com/events/779759915442797/ or click on this link to go to the page.  MAC’s Memorial Tournament  There is a link on the page that allows you and your team to make your donation through PayPal.

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Copyright, 2015

Posted in Community News, Maumee River, Tournament News, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment