It is that time of year again when people look back and reflect on their experiences over the past year. The funny thing is, I only look at the five months that we refer to as bass season here in Southern Ontario to determine the type of year I had.
Well, it’s safe to say that 2011 was a great year for me. I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time on the water, which translates to plenty of chances to experiment and learn.
With all that time spent on the water I was able to use many great products. Here is my chance to share with you a few of the products I enjoyed using this past season.
1. Abu Garcia Veritas Series Rods
I have to admit, I am a bit biased when it comes to Abu Garcia. Some of my earliest and fondest memories is of me fishing with my cousin’s old red Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5000 reel. From Abu Garcia Revo reels to Abu Garcia Vendetta and Veritas series rods — I am an Abu Garcia guy, through and through.
The Veritas series rods have been consistent performers all season long. They are well-balanced with the Revo series reels and allows the angler to fish all day without fatigue. Moreover, while the rods are extremely sensitive to detect the lightest of bites, they are also very resilient — even after being out on the deck of a boat all season long the rods show little wear and tear.
Looking at the specs you will see they are well-built with quality components and features that will aid you in all your fishing adventures. From the 30 Ton graphite blanks infused with nano technology to the titanium alloy guides with SiC inserts, the rods are an exceptional value at the very affordable sub-$100.00 price point.
My favourite feature of the rod is the blank exposed reel seat with the aluminum locking mechanism. This provides a solid connection between my reel and rod and also allows me to have direct contact with the blank so I am able to know what is happening at the business end of my line.
From the weekend recreationist to tournament anglers — I am confident if you get one in your hands and you won’t be disappointed.
The Bottom Line: Exceptional Value — With quality components and features, these rods perform spectacularly at a price point that can’t be beat.
For more information on the Veritas series rods visit the Abu Garcia site here: Veritas – Abu Garcia.
2. Strike King KVD 1.5 and 2.5 Square Bill Silent Crankbait
This lure got a lot of publicity in 2011 because it produced the biggest bites for Kevin VanDam en route to his fourth Bassmaster Classic win. I am also pleased to report that I, too, have had a lot of success with this lure throughout the season. Waking it along the top to bouncing it off of submerged cover, fish took this lure with conviction.
As with many Strike King products, the crankbait is very reasonably priced and it has stood up to regular usage. Even after consistently banging it off of rocks and submerged trees, the lure continued to hunt and deflect with plenty of action, which in turn translated to some big bites.
My favourite aspect of the bait is not what it has, but what it doesn’t…and that’s a rattle. There were times I would throw a square bill with a rattle and not get a hit, but once I switched to the silent square bill there would be a fish on the other end.
There are plenty of other square bills out on the market all with different characteristics and actions, so I am confident that this square bill will complement your current arsenal if you don’t have one already.
The Bottom Line: Great Value — Solid components and great action (this lure has a wide wobble, it deflects erratically), it is an excellent complement to your square bill arsenal.
Favourite colours: Chartreuse Sexy Shad, Orange Belly Craw, Chartreuse Black Back, Gizzard Shad
For more information or to see the available colours visit Tackle Warehouse here: Strike King KVD HC Square Bill Silent Crankbait
3. Pflueger Supreme XT Reel
Although I mentioned earlier that all my set-ups are with Abu Garcia rods and reels, I have to admit there is one reel in my arsenal that is not an Abu Garcia and that is the Pflueger Supreme XT. That being said, this reel has earned its spot in my line up with its high quality components and even smoother performance.
Looking at this reel you will notice a theme — lightweight. The body and rotor are made of lightweight magnesium, the handle is made of lightweight carbon, and the knob is made from EVA foam — the 2500 series reel weighs a mere 6.3 ounces. What is even more impressive is the super smooth, sealed carbon fiber drag system which is essential when battling football bronzebacks on Erie.
I have the reel paired with the Abu Garcia Veritas series spinning rod which makes for a good-looking, lightweight set-up. Not only does this reel come with two spools, it comes with one designed to be used with braid. The braid specific reel has rubber inserts to prevent slippage when tying braid directly to the spool itself which I found to be convenient — no need for backing anymore.
The Bottom Line: Good Value — High quality components, solid construction in a lightweight package this reel is a solid performer. At about a $150 this reel isn’t a budget reel by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re looking for a solid performer in a good-looking package this is the reel for you!
For specifics on the Pflueger Supreme XT reel, click here: Pflueger Supreme XT
4. Strike King Rage Tail Toad
Now I have had a lot of success with Strike King’s Rage Tail series of baits especially with the Rage Craw, but since I enjoy topwater action from time-to-time fishing with the Rage Toad is quite simply…exhilarating!
If you like fishing the Zoom Horny Toad, you will love fishing the Strike King Rage Toad. The twin Rage Tails put out more vibration and noise as it violently churns up the water similar to a buzzbait.
Like a few other Strike King plastics, the Rage Toad is infused with coffee bean granules and oils — the bass seem to like it, but even more so I am tempted to take a bite or two myself.
I have fished this bait in open-water, around heavy cover and docks, and even in pads where I would throw other soft-bodied frogs. The Rage Toad shines when fished with a steady retrieve. I rig it weightless on a 5/0 a superline offset EWG hook tied to 50-65# braid on a Medium-Heavy or a Heavy rod.
The Bottom Line: Good Value — When the bite is on topwater and you want heart-stopping, explosive strikes this is the bait for you! It is a little pricier than the Zoom Horny Toad, but the plastic used is quite resilient so you will get a few bites out of each one. There is nothing subtle about this bait it churns, it vibrates, it gurgles — and if that’s what the fish want they will choke it!
Favourite Colours: Black Neon, Green Pumpkin/Chartreuse, Pearl
For more information or to see the available colours visit Tackle Warehouse here: Strike King Rage Tail Toad
5. The Rod Glove
As a co-angler, I do not have the luxury of keeping my rods tucked away in a rod locker and even if I did I would still use this product. The Rod Gloves not only help protect my rods, guides, and line in transit, but it helps to keep me organized as well — the various colours allow me to colour-code my different set-ups. For further organization, you can also use the Technique Tags that are offered through VRX Fishing Products, the makers of The Rod Glove.
Different lengths, styles and branding for both casting and spinning rods are available.
The Bottom Line: Great Value — If you want to protect your investment and keep organized this is the product for you. Subtle differences like a tapered tips, multiple lengths and sizes for both casting and spinning rods definitely make this product stand out from the others. This should be on your shopping list if you transport your rods in something other than a rod locker.
For more information visit: The Rod Glove
Honourable Mention: Jackall Crosstail Shad
Now this bait has been around in Japan since 1999 as it was the very first soft plastic bait designed specifically for drop shotting. Regardless of how long it’s been around, it is an essential part of my drop shotting arsenal — the fish cannot resist the subtle vibration and quiver of these baits.
Depending on the situation I may employ a slight lift and drop technique, but what I do most often is nothing. I hold the rod as still as possible and allow the Crosstail Shad to vibrate and quiver as it suspends — this is what the bait was designed to do. This technique has proven to be deadly on clear water fisheries like Lake Erie.
The only downside to these hand-poured baits is they are extremely soft and not as resilient as some other brands — you will lose a few, but I would rather catch fish than just wet my line.
The Bottom Line: This is one drop shot bait I am never without…period!
Favourite Colours: Purple Smoke, Purple Winnie, Green Pumpkin Pepper
For more information or to see the available colours visit Tackle Warehouse here: Jackall Crosstail Shad
Well, these are only a few of the products I was fortunate enough to use on a regular basis this summer. There are so many great products out there and I look forward to write about a few of the other ones I have had the pleasure to use. Stay tuned as I will be providing more in-depth reviews of fishing related items through the year — it’s a long winter!
May your New Year be filled with big bites and heavy sacks! Thanks for reading — see you in 2012…