Tales of Old.

I got in this morning to an old piece of paper with a note slipped through the shop letterbox. The elderly gent, Mr Bannerjee runs (or used to run I think) a fly fishing company and pops in from time to time to let me know whether he’s catching any fish on the river (Camel or Fowey I think). Although this old photo of a salmon was actually a Norwegian fish, the letter enclosed (initially to him) was from a lady who ran the North Cornwall Museum and Gallery in Camelford in 1994. I don’t know whether it’s still there? Anyway, Mr Bannerjee had donated some old gut-eye salmon flies to the museum and the lady – whose name was Sally Holden – had included this picture with her thanks. This was Sally’s mother with a fish that her father caught in 1949! Proper job!!!!!!! If only the Camel held fish like this. It’s always nice to hear about tales like this from days past. The fishing must have been incredibly special.

Salmon

Spro Bottom Jigs – In Detail.

Every so often, a product comes along that genuinely is a little bit different from the norm. A product that makes fishing easier and simplifies our tackle choices.

In the shop over the past 12 months, the one thing that everybody has been asking for more and more is weedless jigheads. Getting hold of anything but a few sizes has always been really tricky though, and most manufacturers don’t make them in a lot of the sizes that anglers really want. The hook sizes or weights are always too big or too small.

Now though, Spro have come up with the perfect solution! And it’s more than just a weedless jighead…

They basically consist of a round ball lead with a slit running through the middle. In to this is inserted a very tight “paper clip” type bit or wire. The fit is very tight so it doesn’t move. On to this you can mount any hook that you choose – whether it’s a size 6 weedless hook, or a 6/0 straight shanked Aberdeen. Or anywhere in between! They’ll be most popular with weedless (worm) hooks, but the point is that you can use any hook you like! The wire that runs through the centre is fine enough to accept all normal hook types with ease.

Here’s how they work:

Spro Bottom Jig wire

Spro Bottom Jig Step 2

Spro Bottom Jig inserting

Spro Bottom Jig

Spro Bottom Jig rigging

The other thing about this style of link is that unlike standard weedless jigheads where you try to push the soft plastic up against the lead itself, the fact that there is an articulated gap is a good thing when flexibility/movement of the lure in concerned. Just one type of retrieve that this benefits is an idea that I first came across a idea few years back when I started playing with the Fish Arrow lures. One of their videos showed a lure being nose hooked on a wacky style jighead, and then fished with a constant wiggle of the rod tip (I’d always done this a lot with LRF to be honest, but this jighead style adds another dimension). With the lead sat away from the nose of the lure and this twitching motion, it really gets the lure rolling and moving in a way that you can’t achieve with a standard jighead. Check it out below (jump to about 50 seconds):

Inexperienced anglers may look at it and think to themselves, “that looks weird” (with the gap between head and plastic). If you think about it through, as soon as you turn it even just a few degrees off side-on, the gap disappears. From a fishes point of view a) they don’t seem to care anyway (certainly the excellent TT Snake Head jigs prove that point), and b) they’re not going to be sat looking at it side on, even if they did care. They’ll be underneath it or behind it.

That said, that is just the “bonus” feature… Of course, the Bottom jigs will be ideal for all of your standard types of retrieve as well! With sizes going down to just 1.5g, they will suit you, whether you’re a bass angler who fishes shallow, rocky ground, or a perch angle
r on the canal! And stepping up eventually (through 3g, 5g, 7g, 10g, 14g) to 18g weights, they will cover most of what we do – especially from the shore!

I’ll certainly be using these a lot these year, even for Wrasse fishing. The only time I would choose a standard jighead through preference to one of these would be when I’m swimming a lure back with more aggressive, darting twitches (where the fixed nature of the head will get the lure darting more effectively). Or when I need to use more than 18g.

You can now check them out on the website here: Spro Bottom Jig.

Spro 2015 – Part 4: Soft Lures

Lures are another critical factor for every company these days. Much of Spro’s older ranges are based around what I would call more “traditional”, freshwater aspects of the sport. A lot of the lures look simple. And big. Proper pike lures in a lot of cases, I think. They have some lovely bits within the range though. Like the rods and reels, we’ve not sold a lot of Spro lures previously in the shop. Partly because of the fact that they felt so pike orientated to me. When you look through past catalogues though, they just weren’t as good looking as they are now. I suppose this isn’t necessarily just a Spro trend these days. All of the main manufacturers are starting to realise that lures need to look better (to us – anglers) than they ever did before. It doesn’t matter whether they work any better or not; when one manufacturer launches something that looks real (and works), everybody else has to follow. They don’t get a choice.

Spro soft plastic lures

I must admit, seeing all of the Spro lures in the wall in Holland it’s hard not to like them really. Just the way they’re displayed even. That’s how I want my shop to look! In a weird kind of way it would be a shame to mess it up with other colours and brand names. Ideally I’d like to own a supermarket with an aisle for every brand. They just look so rubbish when you start having to mix them up due to lack of space! Like the rods and reels though, there are various lures in the range that I personally have no interest in. As excellent as I’m sure the lures are, I’m not a big lure, pike angler, so (sorry to those folks) I’m not going in to detail about those kinds of lures here. Spro are renowned for the likes of their bigger BBZ and crankbait models though. They speak for themselves a bit. On the smaller end of the scale though there are some real beauties!

Being used to dealing in high end Japanese equipment my standards and expectations are high. However, I appreciate now more than ever that there is a time and a place for long casting, expensive (some would say) lures, and in some situations there is just no point in splashing top dollar. That’s actually where brands like Spro come in to their own. I’m talking hardbaits here, of course. On narrow canals for example, or on any freshwater venues surrounded by tree roots and branches you don’t need supreme casting distance, and you’re constantly aware that you’re going to snag a lure from time to time. It’s a bit different to when you’re out on the north coast of Cornwall with a gale howling in your face and waves crashing around (you’ll appreciate the casting and stability benefits of a £20 lure then!).

Anyway, I digress. What Spro do (like most mainstream European manufacturers) is provide a range of quality lures that fit perfectly in to the middle price range (as I see it). Small hard lures all under a tenner, and packs of soft plastics for anything up to about six or seven quid. Freshwater anglers are fishing lighter and smaller right now than they ever have done, particularly for Perch. Being based in the Netherlands, they are surrounded by Pike, Perch and Zander, and as a result the lure ranges are biased in this direction. They have (sea) bass over there too, and the lure range is starting to include a couple of good value options for these too. I’ve caught bass on their various soft plastic lures before anyway, so we obviously know they work. The simplest thing is for me to get straight on talking about various standout lures that I liked and will be stocking, rather than babbling for ages.

SOFT LURES (Hard Lures in Part V)

Spro Bony Shaker 80, 95, 140

I’ve always loved this type of lure. I catch stacks of bass every yea
r (there’s a 140mm version available that I’d use for that), but it’s the two smaller sizes that I loved the most! The 80mm version especially. As a dropshotting lure this will be superb. Amazingly soft, you can see a video below to give you some idea.

lure3

While the two smaller size will make great dropshot lures in particular, the 140 has potential for bass. Rigged weightless and weedless, it will cast far enough, and action through the water should be absolutely superb.

 

Spro Arrow Tail 80

I can’t deny, this lure is almost exactly the same as the epic Ecogear Grass Minnow L. I must admit though, I prefer the colours available from the Spro range. Check them out on the Spro website: Spro Arrow Tail 80. Being designed in Europe, the colours are more natural on the whole, but also include some great traditional perch colours – or versions of them. I love the one below especially. I’ve caught loads of bass on the Ecogear version (very often copied these days), so I know these will catch almost anything.

spro_arrowtail

 

Spro Komodo Shad

This isn’t a new lure for Spro, but one I’d completely ignored before the trip. I look at them and see just a nice ‘normal’ USA moulded soft plastic. Perhaps not one I’d have initially been drawn to though. They don’t look all that fancy. The benefit of seeing there (and any product) in the flesh though, and perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about working in fishing, is when you surprise yourself. Many anglers out there will already have fished with and appreciated these. However, they’re newer to me, and I just love the softness and feel to them. They’re a lot nicer than I thought they’d be. I especially love the 60mm size! These will catch perch all day every day, but will also suit LRF anglers. As you run through the different sizes there is something there to catch nearly any fish to be honest.

 

Spro Super Natural Baitfish 80/100

I’d never seen these in the flesh before either. Wow! How impressive they are though! Soft, and a lovely size too. I’m looking forward to fishing with them as I’ve not done so yet, but certainly they feel lovely and soft and like they will fish superbly well.

lure2

Spro Fat Papa 70

Again, from looking at the catalogue, this wasn’t one that initially grabbed me. It just looks too simple and cheap. Grab one out of the pack though and they’re really sort and the profile of them is very, very slim. I imagined them being fat and bulky, but they’re far from it. They’ll make a great big perch lure for this year!

Spro Fat Papa 70

Spro Shy Goby 100

The Shy Goby looks great! Anything Goby related is always going to go down well with wrasse anglers in particular, but they also have various similarities with freshwater mini-species too. In all honest, I wish that they were 3″ long rather than 4″, but certainly this size will be popular with some. With the outward sticking fins, they may not cast as well as some lures, but due to the nature of what you’ll likely be fishing for when using them, that probably doesn’t matter too much. Under the water they should make up for it with a huge presence – sending out lots of vibration as they pass through the water.

Spro Shy Goby 100

I think that gets to the end of my main favourites. There are lots in the range that we’ll be stocking in the shop this year now that I’ve seen them. Some are in already, so if you have any questions or requirements, give me a call, email or check the website and I’ll try and help you out.

Part 5 is going to be a bit of a beast of a report because the range or hard lures this year is brilliant.

Bass Fishing In Morocco 2013

Bass Fishing in Morocco

Earlier this year I came across a Facebook page about some guys bass fishing in Morocco (Lurestrikers Maroc). What was most interesting was that there were so many pictures of some really monster bass! Far bigger than anything I’ve seen in the UK. I mentioned in to photographer, Henry Gilbey back in May 2013 and it seems he too had come across the group. He’d also already had correspondence with their main man, Abdel Sabon.

Lure Strikers Moroc

As you can imagine, with its warmer waters the African country holds all kind of fish species that we just don’t have at home. However, it’s the similarities that are most surprising. Bass fishing in Morocco is not your only option. We saw some amazing Mullet and Bream on the coast, but the country is also known for its Pike, Zander and Black Bass fishing. Add to the lists the possibilities of catching Cob/Meagre, Spotted Bass, Bluefish, Leerfish and Morocco becomes a fishing holiday destination with massive and varied potential.

With the help and guidance of Lurestrikers Maroc, by December 2013 a group of us – six in all (myself, Henry, Jack, Neil, Charles and Paul) – where ready to head out there to try the (sea) bass fishingfor ourselves.

Even on landing in Marrakech we still weren’t quite sure where we’d be staying or fishing for the week. As a very experimental fishing trip (for them and us) we trusted in our hosts. Moroccan bass fishing reports over the last few weeks reported fish being caught on lures up to 11kg! That’s almost 25lb!!! Although we could never realistically pin our hopes on catching such an amazing fish during a week long visit, the average size of fish down there seemed obviously bigger than our own in the UK.

On pickup from the airport, with rods and bags loaded in to the Lurestrikers vans we headed out towards the city of Safi. The busy, bumpy roads were definitely an experience for me with so few travel miles under my belt. In darkness we didn’t get to see much scenery so obviously it wouldn’t be until the first full day that we’d get to sample the delights of the Moroccan countryside.

Home for most of the week was a simple but comfy little hostel within walking distance of a great little fishing spot – or series of them. Amenities may have been simple but we ate well (thanks to John!) and had everything we needed to survive the week.

The Bass fishing in Morocco seems never ending in terms of coastline. The mark below the hostel was no exception. With probably two miles or more of accessible, rough, rugged terrain to play with it was a really interesting introduction in what to expect of bass fishing in Morocco.

Morocco Bass Marks

The first mornings fishing was a great intro to what we could expect for the week. To be up before dawn while you’re staying on the edge of the desert is flippin’ cold! Coats, chest waders, long johns etc. seem like a good idea at the time…. Its a race to get them on almost…. However, its when you get to 9 or 10am and the sun reaches a point where it just tops the cliffs behind you that you start regretting your decision to load yourself up with thermal layers.

With beautiful hindsight, a personal sacrifice of body heat during the first few hours of the morning is forgotten in that very first second that the sun hits you. December provided us with really nice temperatures overall and was very comfortable at around 20 degrees C. Lugging around extra (swiftly removed) layers as you walk literally miles each day is not pleasant though. After exploring by myself and losing the group on the first morning, I spent a good amount of time wandering the bone dry cliffs before I found Charles hiding from the waves behind a rock… By the end of our week bass fishing in Morocco, Charles (Nelson) would come to be affectionately known as Charles “Splash” Nelson. The man knows no fear.

Charles hiding!

I managed to pick off a small bass on a Z-Man Scented Jerk Shad just to the right of where Charles was fishing before we headed up for lunch. The only fish photo I took all week. Waiting for that biggy!…

Small bass caught in Morocco
Littl’n.

Lunches were always good, whether we were at the hostel or on the road. “John” (below – that’s not his real name – although it was by the end of the week), the chef was always on hand. He did a great job.

john_donkey

Lessons were learned by the second day though and it became easier to travel lighter. More water, less clothes.

I won’t go in to explaining every day, as it happened, but what was blatantly clear was the potential that bass fishing in Morocco clearly has. I won’t lie – the bass fishing wasn’t easy during our trip – although I did catch every day. Abdel (Sabon) had a few great fish up to about 7 or 8lb and his experience certainly shone through. Personally I learnt a lot from him and from the trip. He’s as passionate about fishing tackle as I am! As were the group actually. I’d almost forgotten with time in the shop and such regular contact with ‘normal’ anglers, what tackle tarts some of these guys really are!

van_day5

Although the coastline could be considered similar to my own stomping ground of north Cornwall in places, the fishing was different. To make the most of it a few adjustments were needed. I caught more fish on soft lures than I did hard during the week, but all of my better fish (2-5lb) were on hard lures. Over rock.

day2_rocks1

Fish Behaviour

When bass fishing in Morocco, the number of baitfish in the water was absolutely insane compared to home. There were baby mullet and bream absolutely everywhere! Most no longer than 4″ long. From our limited experiences during just one week it seemed that despite the temptation to fish big lures for (potentially) big fish, the Moroccan bass were very happy with their regular and plentiful food sources.

Personally I had very few fish on any of my bigger hard lures during the week. Most successful were 120mm or less – in natural mullet/bream colours. Although Henry did very well on one day in particular on Cotton Candy patterns. It made sense really. These fish don’t need agitating or forcing in to snapping at a lure through frustration like they sometimes do at home. They want to eat stuff, lures included, as long as they look ‘normal’ and at least something like the mullet and bream that they’re hiding out, waiting for. They’re spoilt for choice and are relatively unfished for so they don’t need winding up.

Figuring out just how close to shore the fish were to be found was a game changer. At home I’ll often cast and try to cover a lot of ground. I’ve always had those times (like most of us I’m sure) where I’ll have a bass come up at the last minute and slap a lure just as its leaving the water. We put it down to a follow from distance or a stray fish and keep on blasting lures out. Bass fishing in Morocco has gotten me right back in to my hard lures again. It was great fun. I’ve fished with so many soft lures over the past few years that I’ve been bypassing or ignoring spots that would suit a hard lure in many instances. Loads spring to mind and I’ll be spending much, much more time on those in 2014 – with my lures (hard) in that backwash! Suspending and sinking lures were naturally very good at this type of fishing.

I discussed with Jack during the week about how we even older, traditional jointed lures like a Rapala J11 could be excellent here. Since you don’t need to cast far, the jointed action and deeper diving big will sit perfectly stable in the backwash as you just hold tension on the line – all the while sending out stacks of vibration.

One more corner…

I had one very memorable evening session. On the Wednesday I think it was. It was late in the evening and we were on our way back to the hostel from another mark further down the coast. We had a couple of hours till dark though. Naturally we parked up and set off as a group, on to a lovely, rocky, shallow stretch. I had a few casts in to the calm, clear water, but not feeling hugely confident I decided to walk to the northern side of the stretch, just to see what was around “the next corner” (and the next… etc). With dusk drawing closer I was pretty worried when I realised I had no headlamp with me. Probably 2 miles from the car, I knew that I’d have to turn back pretty soon just to ensure I could see where I was going.

The rocks were slippery and I was jumping through and between a mixture of giant boulders and shingle. What solid rock does lay around this coastline is weirdly potholed, with some sharp edges. It’s not easy even in broad daylight! Having already pushed it too far time wise, with the light dipping I peered my head over the top of the last point. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I laughed out loud and kicked myself for getting there so late as I stood in amazement at setting eyes upon what was most likely the best looking bit of bass fishing ground that I have ever seen in my entire life!

day3_afternoon_rocks

There were little rocky pinnacles absolutely everywhere, one after the other, each separated by just the right amount of water to get a cast or two in between. I literally ran at this point to get myself to the closest bit of water. I had to have one cast.

Big Fish!

From what I could tell the water was probably around 6 feet deep. I couldn’t see much around the rock to my left, but I had one of the little pinnacles directly in front of me about 20 feet out and more to my right in the denser field. The light had already dropped fast as I flicked out a Duel Hardcore Minnow in to the gap. It was just right. After a few turns of the handle all went solid before line started peeling off my reel at speed, and in the opposite direction! For a split second I laughed to myself again, just considering how perfect everything was at that moment in time; with there being time for only one cast; with me being the only one of our group that was going to see this sight; and a big fish on the end of the line!

After one run directly away from me which I’d managed to eventually stop, the fish then decided to go left. It was at this point that I began to regret chucking lures in tight spaces. I could feel the braid running over the left hand pinnacle as I heard Henry (the animal) in my head telling me I was a pussy for setting my drag at anything less than “MAX”.

I’ve not hooked a fish that big before. A bass anyway. There was no way I could pull it back around the corner once it had made it. After a slow motion twenty seconds of us going in opposite directions the braided mainline finally gave in.

What a rush though! Probably 30 seconds of complete madness and euphoria.

With the sheer excitement of the moment I considered tying on another leader and having another go. Sense prevailed though and I started what was to be a very hairy walk back along the rocky coastline. One cast, one monster fish. By the time I’d reached the next man, Charles, it was pitch black and I couldn’t see a thing.

I’d just lost what was very likely the biggest bass of my life, but I really wasn’t too disheartened or sad. I’m always optimistic that the same will happen again one day, just the outcome will be different.

On the same session I think that a few of the guys had headed south and pulled out a couple of small ones.

The week overall…

We fished a really nice variety of locations during the week thanks to the two Abdel’s. From extreme, rocky points to a beautiful, sheltered estuary – that apparently comes alive when the main coastline is too rough. It’s the perfect shelter for all those baitfish!

What fish we did catch all came from around any amount of white water we could find. Very much like the north Cornish coast, Abdel confirmed that this bit of the Atlantic coast fishes better when there is more swell to stir things up a little. We found the odd little bit (and caught fish there), but conditions were generally calm. Certainly this never helps things at home and it seemed the same here.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Morocco as far as water clarity went. Chatting to a lot of surfer friends who have been down there a lot they often mentioned the water being coloured up, but it was great that we got to fish in much clearer conditions than I’d expected. Always good for my confidence, being a bit like home.

As I said earlier, all of the larger fish were over shallow rocky areas. I had more fish over sand, but they were all small. The largest I had during the week was around 5lb, but this actually slipped the barbless treble after I’d beached it on a rock below me and went straight back. Most fish were up to around 2.5lb. I did catch every day though.

Lures To Take

The coastline and fishing locations are snag magnets! For any future trips that I make, bass fishing in Morocco, I will be narrowing my fishing lure selection. A couple of surface lures and a load of 90-130mm minnows in natural colours will suffice. Varying diving depths will be essential (deeper can be good for holding in the backwash), as will densities. I’d add a couple of packs of my favourite soft lures too. In natural colours! I’d might still be tempted to put one or two 150mm lures in my suitcase just in case rougher conditions changed things. I lost probably 8 or 10 hard lures (plus a good few soft) during by the end I was left scratching bright paintjobs off of any brighter less effective lures I had left in my box – just to dull them down a bit.

The Apia Dover 99F would be the perfect lure for Morocco. Stable, not too large and a great caster.

2019 update: I’d actually add a handful of metal jigs these days as Morocco would be the perfect place for blasting one out in to the surf.

Rods To Take

This is a 2019 addition . In 2013 I took with me a whole range of rods from 8′ to 10’+ but mostly just used a 10′ Yamaga all week. Rods have actually improved a lot since then and a rod of choice for the trip would now be the Tailwalk EGinn 106M-R. These have the length to make them perfect in the surf, but the lightness to easily cope with a light lure on a calm day. When you don’t want to travel heavy and pack excessively, this one rod does it all. Within reason.

As a backup I’d take an Apia Grandage 106MH. Rated to 50g and a far more powerful, robust tool than the EGinn, it will come in to it is own if conditions grow too rough for lighter lure types. If some larger fish show up too, this would be the one!

Other Stuff

The nature of the very sharp, rocky coastline means that slightly heavier, #1.5PE braids (30lb) can be useful. You’ll go through a bit of leader too. Make that 20lb+. Shimano reels in 4000 and 5000 should cope with all bass fishing in Morocco and match the above rods well.

It goes without saying that excellent footwear and/or studded wading boots are a necessity. You’ll be walking a LOT if you join the Lurestrikers guys, so be prepared for that. They are very driven to try and ensure you catch fish. We had to work hard for it (with their help), but we did catch even with conditions against us.

Chest waders weren’t essential and only really aided me on one occasion where Jack and I went extremely off-piste – too impatient to wait for the tide. I would have worn my waist waders through preference if I’d been able to take them and this certainly wouldn’t have hindered fishing in most places we fished. I’d have stayed cooler too. There was one short spell where we were stood in the surf for a little while. Charles wore neoprene bottoms for most of the week and got on very well with it (cag upper). He definitely put himself in the face of it and if he got too hot, obviously he only had to take a short dip. Water and food were provided.

Flights were easy, to Marrakech from Gatwick. Henry arrange those bits so all thanks from me to him on that part. Once we were in Morocco I didn’t spend a penny apart from what we owed Lurestrikers for their time, effort and accommodation. Everything was provided.

You’ll have to forgive my lack of actual ‘fishy’ photos with this report, especially since we did catch each day. It would be easy to take from perhaps this and other reports of the trip that we weren’t successful without seeing the fish involved. I caught fish every day. The best fish was probably just short of 5lb. I’d beached it while Henry jumped down to grab her but the lively fish managed to slip away from the barbless trebles and flipped back in. That day was probably my best with 3 or 4 fish. All over 2lb, just none (apart from the better one) worthy of photographing. Not too bad considering conditions weren’t with us for the week. ‘Potential’ was the key word I’ve come back with really. I would definitely love to return and fish with the guys down there again. Given the right conditions then I can see the bass fishing in Morocco being very, very good indeed.

You can check out the Lure Srikers Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lurestrikersmaroc

And if you want any more info from me, you can contact me throughthe website: http://www.artoffishing.co.uk

Over n out.

Ben

Spro 2015 – Part 3: Reels

If I’m really honest, we’ve always struggled to sell Spro reels in the shop. Previously, when you picked them up side by side with a Shimano (or whatever), the Spro model always felt heavy in comparison. No matter how smooth they might have felt, weight is a vitally important factor when customers are physically handling and comparing reels before making a purchase. Buying blind too, we sell far more Shimano and Daiwa reels than anything else we have ever stocked – just because they’re names that people know they can trust in. Buying something that you just don’t know much about, or haven’t read positive reviews for, just isn’t something that people do all that often. It’s the same across the board with all kinds of products really. Sometimes it’s a shame because while I may have tracked down or found a new product that I think is amazing, it can sometimes take customers a year or more to twig that something really is worth giving a go. The brilliant OSP DoLive stick (soft lures) is one example. We’ve stocked them for 5 years, and although we sold just about enough to make it worth our while keeping them in stock, it is only in the last two years that people really began to trust and believe in how brilliant they are. It is a completely random process sometimes. Sometimes all it needs is Henry’s say-so. Other times popularity for a product will come completely out of the blue. I can absolutely guarantee though that there are heeeeelluva lot of amazing products out there that people just aren’t aware of and will never know about because of a general (and natural) reluctance to spend hard earned monies on something they’re not 100% sure will be a good buy.

reels

We will always sell more Shimano reels than anything I think. Particularly online when people don’t necessarily have the benefit of playing with some of the reels mentioned below in the shop.

For those that do venture down to the shop one day, there are some brilliant new reels available this year that will sell themselves upon physical examination!

Spro have actually had an epic evolutionary advancement this year. Many of their older models remain (and I know we won’t be selling many of these), but their new models are lighter, smoother and better looking than any of their previous reels. All of a sudden, we have an extra range of reels in the shop that I expect we will sell as many of as the Shimano’s and Daiwa’s I already love.

Springing straight to mind are the Custom and Addiction models. Both are similarly priced actually, and for around £45-£60 they are both excellent reels. I like the handle design on each, and they’re certainly lighter in the hand than older Spro models. They may be harder to get hold of to begin with, but well worth looking at if you’re after a new reel in the price range. I think they’ll sell very well along side the likes of the new Addiction rods. Sizes run from an ultralight 1000 model, through to some larger 5000 sizes. Sizes I suppose are quite similar to the Shimano versions – just so you know what you’re looking for. Although I think the 1000 is perhaps just a smidgen bigger than the Shimano equivalent.

reels_addiction2

You can get your hands on these models here: SPR
O CUSTOM

There’s not actually too much more to say about them actually. They feel very well made, impressively smooth and are much lighter in weight than any of their previous models. Apart from the Hyperlite…..

reels_hypalite

The Hyperlite range of reels isn’t actually new. They were available last year too but it wasn’t until now that I had a proper play with one. Like I said, my impression of the Spro range (and almost anything not Shimano to be honest – under £100) was that they must surely be quite heavy. This is a really, really, really lovely reel though! Again, they’re not expensive either. I’ve only just checked the price list actually, and I’d convinced myself they were selling for around about £120. I’ve only just realised that they’re less than £80!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These could actually be the best value reels available at the moment. They look more expensive and feel it too!

reels_hypalite1

The Hypalite competes sits roughly in between the Shimano Aernos and the Exage. Although I think it feels lighter than either. I probably wouldn’t buy one if I was spending all of my time getting splashed in salt water due to the open spool design, but freshwater anglers will struggle to find better reels for the money! It’s also got some competition from the brilliant new Daiwa Exceler models. which will probably sell for about the same. I don’t know which I’d pick to be honest. It would have to come down to your own personal styling preferences I think. Both are super light and smooth. The fact that I am comparing the Spro with the Daiwa and Shimano’s though is credit enough.

These reels can be purchased here: SPRO HYPALITE

There is also a brilliant new model called the Soraia (the idiot I am, I forgot to get a picture). This is officially a saltwater model – although anybody who has chatted to me in the shop about “saltwater” models will know how dubious I generally am. I really think that most of the time, the more you spend the more corrosion resistant the materials become. That aside, this is a really nice reel. Again, lighter than previous models, and better looking too I think. There is actually something that differentiates it from “normal” reels though. There is no anti-reverse lever or option. the idea is that it means there is one less place for water and/or salt to get in! A good idea. The drag is a big one too. Inshore anglers should really like these. They’re all around the £45 mark! I think we’ll sell loads to be honest.

soraia

I keep stopping to think about which other reels I liked. The truth is that every one that springs to mind is a new model for 2015.

The last one that is lure relevant I think is the Venura. This is a top, top reel. Subtly stylish I think. Again I didn’t know how much they cost when I was playing with them. Retail is around £95. They are well worth it too. Very light and smooth, as by now I’d come to expect. It has quite a wide spool and big drag and head on I think it looks a really lovely reel! The design is subtly classy and black.
It doesn’t blow me away with the way it looks to be honest, but when I picked one up I was so, so impressed!

Oh, one other. In the much cheaper ranges, their new Reset range was impressive for around the £20 mark. Easily as good and better than anything I’ve seen for that money. And also the Urban reels are well worth a mention. I’ve started selling a few of these already as they actually give us something that is as good as the brilliant little Shimano Catana. The Urban is about the same money and every bit as good. We’ll sell squillions of these in 2015. However, if you can afford an extra £15 or so, upgrade to the Custom!

Their baitcasting reels are worth a mention too. I don’t think too many of them are new models necessarily, but one which is brand new is the RUFF. This one actually intrigues me hugely just because it’s priced so cheaply but feels a really, really nice reel. Time will tell how they fish when they become available early in 2015, but it’s looking likely that it may be possible to pick one of these up for under £40! The rods carrying the same name are also superb value. So you could be fully set with a brand new baitcasting setup for well under £100!

reels_ruff

Certainly there is a lot to consider within the range. Getting a good look at them this year has changed my impressions of them completely. I wasn’t a massive fan. Now I am. And I don’t mean that just because I’ve met the guys. I’ve actually remained impartial, despite sounding like I just love everything! There’s a lot that I’m not mentioning too. It’s not at all that it was bad kit, just kit that isn’t what I think we need right now in the UK.

So, in conclusion, we’ll concentrate in the shop this year around the models which I think are right and best suited.

In conclusion, these are:

  • Urban: Amazing value starter reel for less than £30.
  • Soraia: Saltwater reel. Again, just brilliant value for around £45. Will win lots of fans.
  • Custom & Addiction: These will be Spro’s biggest sellers this year I think. They’re easily the best value reels I’ve seen. Very evenly matched, you can take your pick pretty much on whether you prefer black and red or silver in your colour scheme! £45-55.
  • Hypalite: Freshwater loveliness. Super light and smooth. £75.
  • Venura: Very classy. Smooth and light. Brilliant. £95.
  • Ruff: Brilliant value baitcaster for anybody who wants to invest in either a setup they won’t use often, or doesn’t have the cash to spend big. You won’t be disappointed! £40.

To sum it up, I’m with everyone who has an understandable reluctance to try something new. Especially if you’ve experienced older models from Spro. They have always made some lovely reels, but I noticed the weight and people’s preferences just through being in the shop. 2015 is definitely different though. Do check some of these out! All of them come in sizes from 1000 to at least 4000 so they cover pretty much all of our lure fishing needs.

In part 4 I’ll be running through some of their lures for the upcoming year!!!! 🙂

Until then….

Spro 2015 – Part 2: Rods

Part two of my SPRO 2015 report (having just got back from Spro HQ in Holland, playing with the whole range of new products for the upcoming year) is all about their rods!

rodrack7

If I’m honest, I’d never been truly blown away by the majority of their rods in the past. There are some standouts for sure (Mobile Sticks and Micro Shooters to name but two), but there was a lot in the range that didn’t really interest me. I think I’ve said before in this report somewhere that when the 2015 catalogue arrived on my desk I couldn’t have been more excited by what I saw. Everything they lacked for me and the shop before was in there!

Let’s get straight to it!… (in no particular order)

rods_boost_main

The Boost Stick is one of their new ranges for 2015 and they cover everything from 7 to 9 feet and casting weights from 12g through to 60g as their maximums.

rods_boost1

I must admit, this is the one range of rods that I wasn’t expecting to much from. I was sure they’d be nice but I was expecting to be more blown away by others in the range and likely end up not stocking them.

Anyway, I was very, very wrong! Good job I persuaded Stu to let me go with him or I’d never have known… They certainly have their own place within the range and after my initial deliberation they could quite possible be the most popular rod of the year with our bass anglers!

Obviously they are not so refined, as slim or as perfect, but I actually look at them as a cheaper version of the Major Craft Skyroad’s. They have a level of stiffness to the blanks (lower down in particular) that will make them exceptionally easy rods to work hard lures with in particular. Surface lures too! The 8 foot, 30g model (MH) will be the daddy for that kind of fishing. For roughly £90 in the UK I expect to sell a lot of these next year. I would go as far as saying that I prefer these rods to anything we currently have or have had in the price range. I still love the softness of the tip on the Daiwa Powermesh X, but these rods will sit side by side with the Powermesh in 2015. They’re different in reality, although I’d likely buy the Spro with my own money given the choice today (if we were talking 30g rated rods). The 20g model will handle it’s rating as well, and become the choice for anglers wanting to fish a lot of soft plastics among their hard lures. If you do a bit of both, and don’t really fish plugs over the 20g mark (most of mine are well below) then this lighter option will be just the ticket! With a lot of 30g rated rods only realistically handling 20g, don’t be put off by the “low” (20g) rating on this one. It will handle it.

rods_boost3

The 9 foot options too will be good for anybody wanting more length. The 30g models will be very popular and the 60g models will come in t their own for rough conditions or long distance.

The casting weights on the rods feel pretty accurate to me. For example, if you are mostly fishing smaller hard lur
es and general soft plastics, the 20g model (M) will be lovely for it. If you’re chucking Xorus Patchinko’s every day though then the 30g model (MH) will be the one. Pike anglers will enjoy them too.

You can find them on our website here: SPRO BOOST STICK

I’ll likely not stock too many of the lighter or shorter models in the range. Not because they’re not good, but because anglers today (in the UK) looking at 12g and 15g rated rods have a huge choice of more refined options. It’s where the “Addiction” comes in to its own!……

rods_addiction2

For less money than the Boost Stick, the brand new Addiction range is a superb looking range of very modern rods! With a minimalist design, when you look at the specs in the catalogue the first thing you have to make note of is the physical weights of the rods. Even the heaviest – an 8 footer rated to 42g – only weighs 100g!!!

As a range it includes models from a stumpy 6 footer for the canal through to two 8 foot models. I struggle to pick my rod of the bunch (we’ll stock all of them), but I obviously have a liking for 8 footers as the 16g and 42g rated 2.4m rods would suit me personally.

The Addiction Crank Performance 240 is rated from 3-16g. In reality it’s perhaps a touch over rated, but not far off. It’s not got as much power lower down as some rods genuinely capable of whacking out 16g, but with a lovely fast, forgiving action it’s a perfect heavier LRF/light bass/longer perch rod! It will find very wide applications. This one is perfect with their 2000 size reels like the Addiction or Custom.

The Addiction Hardbait & Shad Performance 240 is a lovely all-rounder. Rated 14-48g you’d naturally think it’s a bit of a beast! Far, far from it, it’s a lightweight rod with a lovely action. It is however, nowhere near capable of chucking 48g. I’d compare it most favourably with an average 30g rated rod to be honest. I’ll need to have a cast with one very soon to get a better idea. As a 30g rod though, it’s an absolutely lovely rod for less than £90! I’d say not so suited to fishing larger surface lures, but ideal with everything else. Despite the high rating it will make a lovely bass rod for fishing with soft plastics even. I’d match this one with their 3000 size reels.

The range in general is just superb. We had the 6 footer (Addiction Micro Bait Special 198) matched up with a 1000 size Addiction and Custom reels and it was just such a precise little tool. You immediately imagine yourself bouncing a little plastic back along the bottom with it. It’s a proper little wand. Particularly for freshwater anglers, you’ll likely find what you need from within this range (when a level of finesse is required). Perch anglers in particular need look no further. Saltwater anglers will love the 8 foot models (heavy LRF or Bass). There are loads of models in between as well. This range will do very, very, very well for Spro this year! I’ll be recommending them a lot in the shop too.

You can find the range on our website here: SPRO ADDICTION RODS

To jump up a level from the Addiction, you’ll find the super sexy Hypalite. I’m sure I’ll be sounding like a walking sales pitch by now, but the rods really are that good in general. I’ve found literally nothing better so far in the respective price ranges currently being discussed. The Hypalite is Spro’s top offering, and even these are still in the very much affordable £120-£125 range.

This range is a bit more traditionally European I reckon (rather than the softer, Japanese rods I’ve become used to). Over the past few years, every European brand has started to look towards the ultralight/LRF market and rods have become lighter and softer. Any pike angler in particular however, will understand that it’s not all about softness and lightness though and agree that you still need a level of stiffness and power to ensure that hooks are set properly. On paper the Hypalite range are physically heavier than the Addiction’s, but the style of the rods is quite different. Components are superior (titanium guides for example) and styling makes them look absolutely lovely, but the rods hold much more power in the butt section. They’re thicker blanks. Throughout the range they blend sometimes soft tips in to the perfect amount of power lower down – either for setting hooks or playing larger fish. Beautiful things! Sometimes I think anglers can and do try to go too light at times.

I’m completely in love with the 5-18g rated Hypalite 76S Ex-Fast/ML. Seven and a half feet long, it is just perfect really if you’re in to any kind of lightweight salt or freshwater fishing. I lovely, light pike rod; an all-round perch model; the perfect bass rod for fishing light soft plastics, it’ll do a bit of everything really. I love the feel and balance of the handle. Not as light in the hand as the Addiction, but it has a quality, robustness about it and is superbly balanced. There’s not a rod in the range I couldn’t appreciate for different fishing situations. Some will even suit our inshore boat fishing perfectly too in the heavier ratings, despite them being designed for freshwater predominantly. Titanium guides won’t rust – which is a bonus in the salt!

The range is on our website here: SPRO HYPALITE

rods_insync2

The other range that has really come in to its own this year is the Insync 2.0. The Insync rods first came in last year and were a hugely freshwater orientated range of models. None really suited our shop at the time. The Insync 2.0 aren’t a replacement for the originals, but bulk the range out very nicely. As far as my bass fishing goes, I’m even more tempted by the 8 foot, 7-22g model of the Insync than I am by any other in the range. I’ve never been the most massive Tenryu fan (although they very definitely have their time, place and fans), but this rod reminds me very much of a lightweight Injection 78ML – my favourite of that range. It would be like a rod that Tenryu are yet to design (and is therefore different) but it has that very quick tip to it, plenty of power in the butt section and a little bit more length than an equivalent Injection. Getting past the “weird” concept of the Microwave guides (which doesn’t scare me personally), this model deserves a lot of success. Again, mostly with soft plastics but also with lighter hard lures in mind – I’m thinking of the 22g, 8′ version here. I would state that I think this model will be better with soft lures than hard
though. The casting weight is probably fairly accurate. It is just a lovely, light all-rounder! In fact, I’ve just run over to pick it up again. Zander anglers will love it too! Anybody fishing jigs from 3g to 12/15g or so (plus lure).

For rougher days or bigger surface lures, the next model up (also 8′, rated to 38g) makes a better choice. Between these two any bass angler would be very content, assuming you’re not fishing in the very roughest conditions. One for the pike angler too!

The range as a whole is quite big. They’re all impressive, and it includes some new travel models too. These were beefy rods, and there is no real “middle” option at the moment (i.e. 8′, 30g) but if you’re travelling overseas and are looking to launch big lures from the shore, the 9 footer rated to 75g is ideal. In reality it’s probably not quite that capable weight wise, but if you need a longer rod with a bit of power then they’re really nice rods!

You can buy them here: SPRO INSYNC 2.0

The Micro Shooter range have been around for a year now. We sell quite a lot already because they’re excellent rods! Suited mostly to salt or freshwater, they cover everything on the lightest end of the scale. Like lots of rods these days, I think the stated casting weights are a bit out (over-gunned), but the ML models in particular are my favourites – having slightly more power but remaining lovely and ‘elastic’.

They’re available here: SPRO MICRO SHOOTER RODS

The thing I’ve always loved about the Micro Shooter’s is there “elastic” action. As soon as I first picked one up, literally the only rod I could compare them to were the Nories Slow Retrieve range. The Nories are £400+ worth of perfection and the fact that these are similar in ways (obviously not quite so refined) makes them a standout rod along side any other rod from any other manufacturer. They’re superb! The “L” versions are rated to 12g officially (more like 8g in reality), while the “ML” versions are rated to 18g (more like 12g in reality). Both are really, really, really good LRF or perch rods. A bit soft for specifically targeting pike, but the ML obviously has the power to land them. They actually offer you stacks of length options between 7 and 8 feet to you can kind of buy the rod that really suits your personal preferences. I’d have two for myself and match the lighter 7’6″ model for harbours and lighter stuff, and the 8′ ML for the summer on the local headlands. Freshwater anglers can take their own picks. I highly recommend them though. Not everybody will love the white colour, but coming from a saltwater background where brighter colours are very much more accepted, I love it! It really helps if you’re fishing after dark too (being able to see the rod tip). Freshwater guys shouldn’t be put off.

rods_mobile

After all of that, there is obviously one range that I really wanted to see! The new, heavier models in the Mobile Stick range have massive potential. The Micro Game models within the range are absolutely brilliant rods so I really just hoped that the longer, heavier versions would be as good.

I’m glad to report that they are superb! (I know, like everything else I’ve mentioned so far!). The thing about the Mobile Stick range in general is that they feel just like 2 piece rods when you’ve set them up. I
‘d happily fish with any of them as my rod of choice, and not just treat them as a travel/convenience option.

Spro got the range just right on these. Three length options (7′, 8′ and 9′) in MH and H ratings. The lighter models are rated to 22g and the heavier options to 35g. Again, both are slightly over-gunned (like the lighter models all are) but this leaves us realistically with a 15g+ and 28g options now within the range. Brilliant stuff! The tips are tubular rather than solid like those on the Micro Game models. They actually feel lighter in the hand than most of the two piece rods on offer.

All of the available Mobile Stick’s are available here: SPRO MOBILE STICK

rods_triffic

Phew! Rods over! There are stacks more great options in there too – such as the brilliant Triffic dropshot rods – but those above are just the standout new models for 2015. I saw a bad review about them recently, but with an open and my own opinions I really can’t find a way of knocking them (for £40). They’re the best £40 dropshot rods I’ve ever seen. End of. They feel like they could be £70 worth to be honest. I’ve handled worse rods for more than that. I can picture myself using one of the 8 footer versions for bass after dark. With a 5g jighead and an old, trusty XLayer or something I’d be happy as Larry. I take a few of our customers out in the summer for the odd little taster session and will be having one of these to lend them for the soft plastic lessons. I have a choice as to whether I want to stock things or not. These are great rods and they’re available here: SPRO TRIFFIC DROPSHOT

Oh, I forgot to mention their RUFF range of baitcasters. With a matching reel, you could end up with a brilliant little baitcasting setup for under £100. They’re not available yet but hopefully will be early next year.

Just a quick rundown on their main models:

Triffic: An incredible rod for the money! By far the best of this style in this price range! I’d happily recommend them to anybody on a budget or who is just starting out.

Addiction: Softer action throughout (I don’t mean they’re not fast actioned though) which is what contributes to it’s ambitious casting weights. Pick the right one though and they’re incredible rods!

Boost Stick: These are incredible value. Fast actioned. For soft or hard lures, they fill our range when it comes to bass rods! Pike anglers will enjoy them too.

Insync 2.0: Soft tip and very powerful butt. Lovely for fishing soft plastics in the lighter ratings. Ignore your concerns about the new/different Microwave guides. The rods are worth buying!

Hyperlite: Somewhere in the middle. They look absolutely lovely! More of a modern-traditional freshwater rod. Sensitivity where it’s needed but with the power lower down for handling decent fish.

Think that pretty much sums it up. Like I said somewhere above, I have a choice as to whether I stock these rods or not. If there are better out there I will stock those instead or as well as those mentioned above. From all of the major brands though, I honestly don’t think I’ve seen or
felt better in the different price ranges of those mentioned above. I can’t say any more than for the millionth time say how impressed I am with what they’ve pulled out of the bag this year.

Reels next in part 3, coming soon! There are a few nice surprises there too! I just hope a few of you are finding these reports useful.

  • Part 3: Reels
  • Part 4: Lures
  • Part 5: Other Stuff.

 

If you have any further questions please feel free to get in touch (ben@artoffishing.co.uk).

Spro 2015 – Part 1: Introduction

I’ve just got back from a brilliant trip over to meet the men and women behind European fishing tackle brand, SPRO. Based in the Netherlands, I travelled with the UK’s distributor of the brand, Stewart Lister (Stewart’s Angling Services).

I’m lucky in a way that I’ve known Stewart for a lot of years, having matched fished together around Cornwall. And now that he has control of the SPRO brand across the UK, it’s super convenient having him based just up the road. No waiting on the post – I know if I need something SPRO I can just go and get it!

The brand itself has been available in the UK for a long time. It’s one of those European ones that I think has sat on the side lines a little but though – while anglers more familiar with Shimano, Daiwa et al stick religiously to what they know. Across Europe however (particularly in Germany and Holland) the SPRO brand is massively popular, and continuing to grow fast!

Spro

Mention “Gamakatsu” in the UK and most anglers will be familiar with the almost elite status that the brand has. Did you know that Gamakatsu actually own SPRO and that there are huge similarities between their product ranges? While Gamakatsu have that respected air of greatness about them, Spro are perhaps yet to find their feet as a mainstream brand in the UK. It will come though – or at least massively deserves to! The products are obviously designed for the European market (while Gamakatsu is more Japan orientated), and the result is a range of high quality products, produced at very reasonable prices, and specifically designed for the venues and fish that we target here.

Until this year (or next year – from now on), we’ve not stocked a huge range of Spro equipment. The jigheads have always been the best value out there, and their ultra-light travel rods have always been out best value, best sellers, but on the whole their range has been too freshwater orientated for our shop. Being based in Cornwall and surrounded by sea, obviously that is where our main customer base lies. Their 2015 range however, fills in literally all of the blanks! If I had said to them last year (and they were willing to listen) that we need “this”, “this” and “that”, what they have come up with is exactly what my list would have contained! Longer, more powerful rods for a start (to suit our bass anglers)! And longer, lighter rods too to suit the growing number of both light saltwater anglers and freshwater anglers looking for a 8 footers rather than 7’s. These types of rods crossover hugely well now between fresh and salt water.

I’ve been visiting a lot of trade shows during the latter part of this year. As a result, it’s been really nice to compare tackle across different brands. To be honest, I’ve mostly been looking at coarse fishing kit (a past and present love) but naturally I’ve seen a lot of lure stuff too. It’s been a huge benefit to me in that I’ve seen both a lot of kit that I expected to love even before seeing it (and did); a lot that I expected to love (and hated); a lot that I expected to hate (and loved!) and a lot of stuff that I just thought ‘d never give much of a look or thought (which I’ve been completely blown away by!). As far as stocking the shop goes, it’s probably saved me a fortune in buying duds, but it will also lead us in to 2015 with ranges of tackle that I can be superbly confident and happy with. Obviously our range will include far more than just SPRO, but this report is obviously about those products.

Back to the trip, we took a long thirteen hours to get over there. Once settled though we spent one and a half days meeting the guys involved (in Europe and
Japan), playing with pretty much the entire range of tackle that is permanently on excellent display in their showrooms, and seeing just how massive their warehousing departments are! Anybody who had any doubt about the place of SPRO in the market (as a big player) needs just to see the enormity of the operation they have there – with regular truckfull’s of fishing tackle arriving and leaving every single day! It’s an extremely professional operation.

On the way over I think we discussed items we particularly wanted to see. Like any anglers, Stewart and I are immediately drawn to what catches our eyes personally. This is always a nice starting point when it comes to stocking the shop, as it seems that most people think in just the same ways. Above everything else, I think the new “Addiction” range of rods and reels was high on the agenda, as well as the “Custom” reels and new models of their “Mobile Stick” travel rod series. There was just too much to list to be honest.

I’ll keep the exact details of some of the standout products for the further four reports to follow. This is the introduction obviously. Then we have:

  • Part 2: Rods.
  • Part 3: Reels
  • Part 4: Lures
  • Part 5: Other Stuff.

For today though, I’ll leave you with a few more pictures. They don’t quite show true enormity of the place, and for security reasons I can’t show anything of the huge warehouses, but hopefully these will give you an idea of where we were….

Rod report to follow in a couple of days. Did I like them?! Yes I did!

DUEL is here!

We have a lot of new product ranges arriving during the year ahead, but not many as exciting as the Duel stuff.

duel

Duel as a brand has been available in the UK for a long time, sold alongside their export brand, Yo-Zuri. They may have been dumped in the same bucket to a certain extent, but Duel is actually the parent company of Yo-Zuri, with the Yo-Zuri brand generally including their export product ranges. The Duel branded products are their true, Japanese range. Higher quality than Yo-Zuri, but affordable at the same time.

Duel are actually the World’s second largest lure manufacturer – behind Rapala. As a result of their size and associated production runs, they produce high quality lures at prices generally lower than equivalent competitors. Having said that, they’ve been expensive in the UK in years gone by and the range available has always been minimal.

However, from this year onwards there is a much larger range available to us, and the prices have all been reduced too!

I’m in love with the Silver Dog 90 surface lure already, and it will be a big seller for us this year. It’s worth checking out. The Hardcore Lipless Minnow 120 too is a brilliant, brilliant lure at a good price. There don’t seem to be many duds in the range actually. Plus, for me as a shop owner, I get a bit anal about things looking good on the wall. Not that it will ever help you catch more fish, but I love the Duel branding and how it makes the wall’s of the shop look good! 🙂

duel2

Before I go, check out the braids and leader materials too! Again, brilliant quality and value. I’ve been trying some of them out for the past 6 months or so and got on absolutely brilliantly with them.

See for yourself here: http://www.artoffishing.co.uk/duel

Our new website!

Good old Clint!
Good old Clint!

It’s nearly the end of March 2013, and while we approach another exciting year in Cornwall, it is also time for a clean start online.

We’re bound to have a few teething problems early on, and certainly there are things that we are going to be constantly working on to improve, but hopefully you’ll all like the new look and navigation for the new site. We design and build all of these kinds of things ourselves and its a long, hard process, so all we hope at the end of it is that people are happy with the results.

2014 really is going to be an exciting season for us. Mostly because we just love having new products arrive, and this year is going to be very much like that. We have obviously always been aware that there are some popular products out there that we’ve just not stocked before, or some that we have failed to keep in stock regularly – for one reason or another. 2014 however is the year where we are going to endeavour to keep our selection of stock high, and supply routes easier and more constant. Right now (March) it feels like we have less products on the website right now than we have at times in the past (our Spring sale’s cleared us out). Even just within the next few weeks though, we will see those product ranges rise. There are a lot of items right now that are out of stock, but at the same time it is also important for us to keep these on the site just so that anglers like yourself are aware that we do actually sell them and can get hold of them. There are a lot too that we’ve not had time to put up yet that we will be stocking as we go through the year. There are so many new products and brands coming this year! The truth is that we can get hold of most fishing tackle items out there, so it is always worth asking, even if you don’t see a particular item or brand on the website.

Anyway, I’m just finishing this article before we start pressing buttons to make the new site live.

Hope you enjoy…

Ben & Jo.

LRF: I’ve bought a starter kit, what now?

So, you’ve taken the plunge and invested in a small but perfectly formed collection of bits and bobs to get you on your way. Multiple species await but you need advise on where to start, right?

The way that LRF sometimes gets talked about, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is a complicated thing to get in to. The truth is double-sided…

It is actually VERY easy to get in to, to try, and to catch fish. That’s why it is the perfect aspect of our sport to get more and more kids involved; dare I say it, even wives and girlfriends?! Jo would never consider bass fishing with me but is 100% up to the idea of catching fish from a comfortable harbour wall.

The only time that it potentially becomes complicated is… if you make it that way. It really is just as complicated as you make it for yourself – and by ‘complicated’ I really just mean ‘technical’. Not everybody will have the inclination to switch between 3 and 5lb lines for example to achieve perfect presentation of a small lure; set up a fancy rig; or switch from a size 6 hook to a size 8 for the same effect. We’re all different (despite the fact that we have a common goal) and my advise to begin would be to start simple and just see how you get on. If you call me in the shop and say, ‘Ben, I just want the minimal kit I can get away with so that I can give it a go’, I could pretty much guarantee that if you took my suggestions and put a lure in the right place then you WILL catch fish – without doing anything technical whatsoever! It’s child’s-play in all honesty, and that is one of the main appeals once you give it a go – it will take you right back to the good old days when you got really, really excited about catching fish – regardless of species or size.

Below I have set out some of the major steps I would recommend taking to get the best from your starter setup and to get you in among some fish. Naturally, some things will vary depending on your geographic location but on the whole, LRF’s simplicity means that these (or similar) should work for you.

TACKLE

Read my article titled “LRF: What tackle do I need to start?“. This should get you set up with the right equipment. We are always trying to find better products and improve the value of our starter kit, but I can’t recommend the tackle mentioned in the article highly enough. The article itself should explain why.

Whether you have chosen a fluorocarbon or a braided* mainline, with this loaded on to your reel, the process from here is extremely simple.

* if you are using a braided mainline then the first thing you will need to do is to attach a length of fluorocarbon ‘leader’. Just use around 2 feet to start – this will be fine. Here’s a good little link: Improved Albright Knot. One change I would recommend is to follow the knot as instructed, but do so by first doubling over the braid in to a loop (so that you are wrapping two strands of braid around the fluorocarbon rather than one). This will ensure that your fine braid knots tightly without slipping. It’s a little complicated but with practise should hold tight.

With reel attached to rod and line through rod guides you’re ready to attach your ‘rig’. You actually have loads of options, but I only recommend one to get you started – the jighead. This basically just involves you using a weighted hook with a lure of your choice (recommended around 2 inches in length). All you need to do is tie the jighead to the end of your line – and that’s it! With your lure attached, it’s just a case of casting out and using a simple style of retrieve. More on that lower down.

LOCATION

Where should you go for your first LRF session?

Look for easy access harbours, marinas or breakwaters to begin. Some
piers are also suitable, but not those that are too high from the water! Try to be fishing no further than 15-20 feet above water level. Ideally, get closer. Always consider what you will do if you hook a fish that is too large to lift (perhaps 1lb+). A bonus of such locations is that car parking can often be found close by which makes LRF far more accessible for a larger demographic of anglers than almost any other kind of fishing!

Water clarity can play a part. Clear water naturally makes things easier, but if your area lacks clarity, don’t be put off. All it means is that you may need to be slightly more careful with your lure selection and use those that are more heavily scented. This is where lures like the Ecogearaqua and Marukyu Power Isome come in to their own. Fish lures very slowly near to the bottom, and probably closer to structure and you will still stand a great chance of catching.

LRF can also be applied to deeper water rock marks, estuaries and some shingle beaches, but you will likely find that each of these will more productive in the warmer months. Tactics also vary. I’m sure I’ll cover more on those when things warm up a bit. LRF tackle can be fished in most locations around our coastline. Again, like I discussed in the ‘what tackle’ article, it just depends on the time and place as to what is most suitable.

If there’s water, fish it! And if you can grab a friend to go with you, do it! This is a super social way of fishing.

TACTICS

The best tactics to use do vary through the year, but in aid of keeping it simple, by far the simplest setup will involve is something along the lines of a size 6, 8 or 10, 2g jighead matched with half a Marukyu Power Isome worm (medium or large). With this you will be in with a great chance. What to do with it throughout the year varies, but I’ll keep it as simple as possible.

Winter:

In the winter, along with a slight shift in species (although we have been catching mackerel in January this year!), the fish are generally less active and the majority remain lower down in the water column (there are exceptions!). You may also find that the hours of darkness become the most productive. Day time can sometimes be hard – although you will catch. To begin, at night look for areas of water that are lit by streetlights. The lights will attract all manner of food and fish. The light isn’t essential but it will make your job easier while you find your feet.

So, let’s say you found a safe spot to fish and you’re casting in to say, less than 20′ of water with very little in the way of current…

1) Cast and allow the lure to hit the bottom – watch the line and the way it leaves your spool to judge when it is down – if you don’t feel it.

2) Pick up the slack line to regain contact with the lure.

3) With your rod tip pointing downwards and to the side, begin retrieving the lure as slowly as possible whilst keeping it from catching or tripping bottom. While fish are relatively cold and cautious, a straight retrieve (even with a straight tail lure that doesn’t appear to be doing anything) is often all that is required. Too much movement can be counter-productive. Keep it low and slow.

4) Should you feel a knock on the line, don’t energetically strike! Keep a cool head and keep slowly winding until you feel the weight of the fish, then slowly lift the rod and play the fish to the water’s edge. Small Pollack in particular have a habit of tail slapping a lure rather than eating it so you may feel knocks on the lure well before hooking one.

5) If the fish is small (you will have to judge this yourself) you may be able to swing it up and straight in to your hand. If it is larger then use either a landing net with a long handle, a drop net, or look for a safe position where you can reach it at water level.

Job done! Your first LRF fish is landed! This fish could be one of literally any species! It’ll be impossible to predict.

There are of coarse other things to try an
d another successful method could see you dropping a small lure vertically down the wall and to the bottom to tempt any number of bottom dwelling species. With time you will find that you are capable of targeting and catching multiple species from different areas of water in front of you – intentionally! Obviously fishing is of those things where you could really be doing one of any 5000 things, but the above should at least catch you a fish or two to get you started.

Summer:

In the warmer months, day time sport can be hectic. With the water temperatures higher, fish are more active and popular summer species like Mackerel, Garfish and Bass will provide good sport. Smaller species (and Wrasse) will also be active in close proximity to harbour walls and other structure. Night time can be equally productive – it tends to vary from place to place. Fish are more likely to attack faster moving lures and respond to more animated retrieves. A slightly quicker version of the winter tactic described above will still be very productive. This is the thing with LRF – you could easily just fish one single type of lure Ecogear Straw tail Grub or Marukyu Power Isome on a size 8, 2g jighead and catch fish all year round with one standard, straight retrieve!

Summer tactics can vary a little more because it will not only be the slow and gentle retrieves that work for you. Most things will! Better or more determined anglers among you will be capable of working out which methods catch you the better quality fish (more on that in a later article). Truth be told, even if you are inexperienced and are over-working a lure, active summer fish will often still be willing to play ball.

CONCLUSION

It would be all too easy to go in to numerous things for you to try. There are so many options, which is perhaps the reason why it can seem a little complicated before you give it a go? The UK is a big place and we all have our own different set of fishing conditions. The things that I have highlighted above have worked particularly well for me over the past couple of years or so and I believe the points to be a trustworthy starting point. Hopefully it all makes sense. Obviously everything here is aimed predominently at guys or girls that have very little LRF experience. Hopefully it will provide useful.

Ben