Category Archives: Product Reviews

Top Bass Fishing Picks from ICAST 2015

Not sure which items, lures, lines, rods, etc will be the long term winners or generate the most buzz this week, but based on the online coverage, here are the items I will most likely be trying this summer and fall as they become available.  In no particular order….

Terminator Walking Frog:  First off, I am a sucker for a good frog, hopefully this one fits the bill.  Especially since my go-to Frog from Evolve has been discontinued, I need a new lead frog in my box.  Here is what Randall Tharp has to say about it.

 

Randall Tharp new Frog by Terminator

Posted by Bass Angler Magazine on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rapala and Storm have had some really good track record of late on new baits, so I have a good feeling about this frog coming out under the Terminator label.  So far the pictures look pretty sweet!

Rapala Frog
New Terminator Frog!

Sunline Assassin FC:  This new Fluorocarbon from Sunline is touted as the Bee’s Knees!  We all know that Sunline makes great line and Assassin is supposed to have new P-Ion technology that creates a smoother surface and increase resistance to abrasion.  Based on Tackle Tour’s review, this will give you almost the performance of Sniper and Shooter but at a more competitive price point!

Sunline-Assassin_FC
Hopefully every thing that Sunline Sniper provides at a better price!

GoPro HERO4 Session:  Smaller is always better right?  Thinking this could finally be the lighter GoPro option to comfortable wear on my visor to add POV shots to my bass fishing videos.

gopro-hero4-session_small
GoPro Session should make a great POV camera

Big Bite Baits Swimming Mama: This actually appears to be a reboot of the Wave Worm Tiki Swim Bug.  The Tiki bug is not widely popular but a great bait, now with 1 more per pack and more colors, that is a good thing!

Big_Bite_Baits_Swimming_Mama
Swimming Mama should be great flipped or as a jig trailer

Nichols BPM Magnum Swimbait Head: I believe I have seen this on a flipping jig from somebody before, but this idea of pegging plastic horizontally with a tooth pick is pure genius, check out the video to see how it works.

Lock & Load your magnum swimbaits with this head!
Lock & Load your magnum swimbaits with this head!

Not a terribly long list, but I think these are some good ones.   Also, new for this year but before ICAST, check out the Dobyns Fury Rods, awesome rods for $109!

Best Valued Rod on the Market!
Best Valued Rod on the Market!

6 Strategies for Cold-Water Bass

How to Welcome Chilly Temps, Bag Both Smallies and Largemouths with ‘Jack of All Trades’ Bait
By Jack Busby

When the water temperatures plummet in fall, tournament bass angler Rich Lindgren employs numerous cold-water tactics, relying largely on one “jack of all trades bait” called the Kompak Craw for finicky bass in waters below 50 degrees.

“You can fish the bait a lot of different ways, depending on the situation,” says Lindgren. “I typically have rods rigged with the bait on a shaky head, football head jig, finesse rig, jika rig…just for starters. I like having one bait that I can fish so many different ways. Let’s me concentrate on fishing, not lure selection.”

SHAKY HEAD RIGGING

Lately, he’s been fishing Evolve Bait Co.’s Kompak Craw on a thin wire 4/0 EWG shaky head and says it recently out-fished the stalwart tactic of dragging tubes over rocks for fall smallmouth an impressive 13 to 1.

“Dragging tubes definitely catches fish—from the Great Lakes to southern smallie waters—but there’s something about the Kompak Craw on a shaky head that lights up smallmouth bass. Rather than a horizontal drag, a shaky head orients the bait at 45-degrees—mimicking a fighting craw or goby feeding on the bottom. A simple drag, shake and dead stick is typically how I fish it. More sitting, though, than shaking.”

The bait’s design lends itself to shaky head rigging, as there’s a bump in the plastic that holds the hook barb just barely under the plastic, eliminating the need to expose the hook. “Even during tough, short bites, hook-up percentages are super good.”

Lindgren says the shaky head routine is a go-to for cold, clear waters less than 15 feet deep. Anything deeper and he’ll fish the Kompak Craw as a trailer on a BassTEK tungsten football head jig.

 

FOOTBALLIN’

There’s nothing like knocking helmets with bass in deep water. Football head jig aficionados will tell you they live for the ‘thump.’ And while effective on deep structure bass all season long, the football head bite definitely comes alive in fall and early winter, typically around sunken islands, isolated rock piles, points and ledges in waters from 15 to 40 feet.

To find these high-probability areas, Lindgren says he studies digital GPS mapping and uses Humminbird Side Imaging to look for fish on these deep water spots, marking waypoints for precise casts.

“During summer months I’ll fish a BassTEK football head jig with large, flappy craw trailers, but as the water temps go down, you really need something subtle. Fish are moving slower and they won’t eat if it takes too much energy. The Kompak Craw is precisely the thing, whether I skewer it onto a football head jig with silicone skirt, or my favorite, a combination silicone and hair football head jig. Hair moves in a way that mimics life even at a standstill in cold water,” says Lindgren.

 

FINESSE JIG TRAILER

On natural lakes – especially those of the Midwest – Lindgren searches for remaining green weed clumps in 8 to 10 feet of water, relying on a finesse jig to slowly and methodically find willing largemouth bass.

“I’ll idle just off of weed flats, using Side Imaging to find isolated clumps, funnels and spaces in the larger beds. Again, I’ll mark waypoints and go back and strategically work those areas with a BassTEK tungsten finesse jig with Evolve Kompak Craw trailer, which pulls through the weeds without collecting debris. I have a rod rigged with blue and black jig and Leech Fleck Kompak Craw, and a rod with green pumpkin jig and Pumpkin Oil or Cali-Melon Red Kompak Craw.”

He’s also a big fan of fishing finesse jigs on reservoirs. “In fall and early winter, I look for areas of chunk rock and gravel around secondary points that transition into coves and creek arms. You can intercept a lot of fish in these locations with finesse jigs as bass move in and out.”

Cold water football bites can much more
subtle then when fishing in warmer water, so Lindgren relies heavily on
his Dobyns DX744C rods spooled with 16lb fluorocarbon to feel even the
most subtle bites.

 

NEKO RIG

A lesser-known, yet very effective, late season tactic is called Neko rigging. Basically a highly-refined finesse tactic that takes wacky-rigging to an extreme, it excels in shallow waters and around docks. Although typically used with stick worms, Lindgren says the Kompak Craw is perfect for the Japanese finesse technique. “I invert the bait, insert either a nail or small tungsten screw weight into bait’s head and run a weedless wacky style hook into the nose of the bait between the arms. When retrieved, the vertically-oriented bait puffs the bottom much like a cat – “Neko” in Japanes     in a litter box, hence the name.”

Lindgren says the Neko Rig is ideal for bottom-hopping shallow flats, shoreline cover and points, even when water temps are extremely low. “Especially in slightly stained waters, you’d be surprised how many fish you’ll find shallow in late fall and winter.”

 

PUNCH BAIT

During cold bluebird skies and cold fronts, bass will cling tight to cover – especially weed mats and clumps – for warmth. That’s when Lindgren turns to the Kompak Craw for punching right into the bedrooms of big, lethargic bass.

“Florida waters are a good example of where cold water punching can definitely pay off. And rather than using a bait that’s too obtrusive and can spook fish, the Kompak Craw is streamlined and punches great. It’s thick enough that it displaces water and fish know it’s there but it doesn’t flail; the appendages stay close to the body, moving just the right amount to draw strikes.”

Lindgren fishes the bait on a straight shank 4/0 flipping worm hook with weight stop and ¾ to 1 ½-ounce tungsten flipping weight, tied to 22-pound fluorocarbon for clearer waters or 50-65 pound braid in dirtier waters.  Spool that heavy line up on high speed reels and either a Dobyns DX795Flip or 805 Flip/Punch depending on how heavy the cover.

 

DROP SHOT

Yet another way Lindgren likes to fish the bait is on a drop shot, particularly over deep brush piles that he spies with his electronics. “I simply nose hook the Kompak Craw and let it flutter as I ply deep brush, barely shaking it, keeping my eyes on my Humminbird sonar, which I set to 200/83kHz for the widest transducer cone, with my chart speed jacked up all the way to ten. That refreshes data the fastest. It’s like sight fishing with my electronics.”


Good things from a small package

Hey all, just wanted to share with you a bait that is quickly becoming a go to bait for me.  It is something that I picked up last year to be a punching bait and now is proving to be more versatile then I could’ve hoped.  The bait is the Kompak Craw from Evolve Baits.  If you don’t want to read the whole blog post and have a short attention span like me, just watch the quick video.  I show several rigging techniques in this video.


For those that want every detail, keep reading!

Last summer, I had excellent results using the Kompak craw behind 3/4 – 1oz flipping milfoil on lakes like Minnetonka and others, honestly kind of what I expected based on first glance of the bait.  Then in September, I was looking for a follow up to my sweet beavers down in La Crosse to go back through areas and show the fish something new.  My eyes were opened to the potential of this dimunitive craw when I went through an area after going back and forth twice with a beaver only to catch 3 bass including a 4lbr on the Kompak craw on my 3rd pass and my partner not getting a bite on his offerings.  This gave me confidence to keep flipping this craw on lighter 3/8oz weights to wood, cut banks, etc and caught both smallmouth and largemouth.

Fast forward to November and December last year, where a buddy an I found deep schools of smallmouth on a river in 25-25ft of water.  Football jigs worked deep with just about any trailer worked until the water temps dropped into the 30s.  I then rummaged through my options to find a subtle trailer, after trying a couple, the Kompak craw became the deal on the back of a 1/2oz football hair jig.  I continued catching nice smallies and occasional walleye on the Kompak craw through the winter on a different winter location, by presenting them on 3/16oz EWG Football Shakey heads.

Fast forward again to this spring, fishing pool 2, getting a few bites but not what I was hoping or expecting.  After scouring a harbor with my usual offerings, I pick up a Kompak craw rigged on a Jika Rig and catch a 4lb fish plus several other bass in water that I and another boat just fished pretty hard.  Fishing the Kompak craw on the Jika rig and small texas rigs has been in a regular mix for me so for this year, catching bass on little lakes in MN, the Mississippi river from Minneapolis to La Crosse and all the way over to Lake Winneabgo.

There are a lot of good plastics and baits on the market and most of them have a time and place, but I think the Kompak craw is something for you to try, it is quite the versatile bait and the bass just seem to eat it!  Don’t take my word for it, just ask the fish!

Rich

A cooler worth the Investment

This year as I fished my tournaments, I had decided to try to utilize
campgrounds over hotels as much as possible to keep expenses down and
maximize potential profitability of tournament wins.  Keeping the
camping deal in mind, I don’t want to eat solely Peanut Butter
sandwiches and try not to do a ton of fast food, so having a good cooler
is pretty important for eating well and affordably.

There are
quite a few of these super coolers that claim to keep ice for a week or
more, so I figured I should do some research, they don’t exactly give
these coolers away.  After checking the features and design of all the
comparable coolers, I thought the Yukon Cold Locker from Igloo was the
choice for me.  When you think about it, why wouldn’t a company that has
been building quality coolers for more then 60 years understand what
consumers like us demand from a high end cooler.


My New 70qt Yukon Cold Locker

The solid
hinges, sturdy construction and tethered drain plug were some of the
highlights for me on this cooler.  I mean, who wants to loose a drain
plug on a couple hundred dollar cooler, what good is it then?  Check out
www.yukoncoldlockers.com to see all it’s features and how it stacks up against the Yeti.
Tethered drain plug
Two weeks ago fishing a BFL in La Crosse, WI was my
first camping trip with my new 70qt Yukon cooler.  With a little planning, I froze a
handful of small water bottles for my boat cooler, and a couple others
to keep in the cooler, plus dumped my ice maker out right before I left
and I was all set for a 4 day fishing trip and didn’t have to stop at
the local Kwik Trip and shell out $3 for ice every morning, not too mention the time savings.  The 70qt is about right for me, still a large cooler to accommodate everything I need, yet not too big to overwhelm all the space in the back of my tow vehicle.  I have no plans to try to pack and elk or a bear in this thing, so 70 qt is just right.  You can get these at several dealers like BassPro.com and Cabela’s.

The way I figure it, by camping at most of my events, which usually saves me $25 a night in lodging and $3 every fishing day on ice, plus not eating out, this cooler will pay for itself before the end of the year, plus my Diet Mountain Dews will always be ice cold!


My February Mystery Tackle Box UnBoxing Experience

I recently signed up for three months of Mystery Tackle Box.  Similar concept as Tackle Grab, or as I said before Fruit of the Month Club for Bass Fisherman.  For roughly about $15 a month, depending on your subscription plan, you get a box of bass fishing lures sent to you door every month.
Mystery Tackle Box

The idea is you get to try new stuff and the box is guaranteed to be worth more then your $15 investment, plus your shipping is included.  They also have an online store where you can buy more of the products you go in your box, so if you like them and catch fish, you can buy more.

So the following is my first un-boxing video:

All in all I feel like my box was decent value.  I was most excited for the Ish Monroe Biggie Square Bill crankbait, that clearly is worth about $9 alone.  The other stuff was a Stanley Jig, which is a decent jig but not for me, I pretty much only use tungsten jigs.  Then I got a couple partial packs of plastics, the Twin Menace seems like a cool bait, the other creature bait was fairly ordinary in my mind.  The box also came with quite a few coupons, so if it happens to be stuff you are in the market for, it could save you some nice change!  If you have not tried the Rod Glove products, give them a whirl, I love them and use them to protect all my Dobyns Fishing Rods!

Stay tuned, more videos in the next two months about my other boxes!


My Tackle Grab UnBoxing Experience

I recently had the opportunity to try Tackle Grab for a month.  The basic principle behind Tackle Grab is you sign up for a monthly membership ranging from $12-16 depending on how long you sign up and you get new baits in the mail every month.  Kind of like fruit of the month club, but for fishing.
  Interesting thing about Tackle Grab is that you fill out a profile, which asks you questions about the species, type and location of fishing you do most often to help tailor your tackle pack to your needs and wants.  Check out the following video to see what I got in my box.

All in all, I think the value that I received in my initial January box was worth more then the $15 box of single box membership.  I got a sample pack of two drop shot weights from Road Hog Baits, a Kahara Yajirobee 3 Blade ($15 value), some Optimum drop shot baits, and some Evolve Kompak Craws ($5) & a Yo-Zuri Pin Minnow jerkbait ($8).  So 5 things with a retail value around $30-$35.  It is all stuff I could use, not sure if I would have bought it all if I was shopping, but that can be a good thing as well.  The Optimum Baits Wacky Shads are solid, as I have used them before (comparable to Jackall pintail or cross tail shads) and I love the Evolve Kompak craws, I have actually caught smallies on the ones in Tackle Grab between filming video and posting this blog.

I guess the other unique thing, is you earn points every month for being enrolled, you also can earn points by doing reviews, referring friends and other activities, those points can be used to shop in the Tackle Grab store of additional items, either new stuff  you want to try or if you want more of the stuff you already received in your box.

Overall, if you are into trying new baits, and wanting to build your bait arsenal, this can be a pretty cool service for anglers.


Kompak Craw Review & Evolve Contest Winner!

Those that have been following along on the blog for the last few months, you are aware of some contests and product reviews in the works with Evolve Baits
Evolve

Of the samples sent, I was immediately attracted to the Kompak craw.  While I consider myself a pretty versatile angler, when permitted I will always look to power fish with jigs and soft plastics.  At first glance, the Kompak craw can seem pretty simple and unassuming as a craw bait.  Upon further inspection, there definitely was plenty of thought that went into this craw design.


Kompak craw pictured in Pumpkin Oil color


My first inclination was to put it behind a hefty tungsten weight and flip it around heavy vegetation.  The bait has a long body for it’s small stature, allowing you to put a large 4/0 flipping hook into the bait and it puts the point right in the back of the bait, where it should hook a large percentage of fish.  Also, there is a slight bias to the bait front to back where the hook point goes, allowing a little extra meat for you to hide a big hook point.  The subtle appendages also move enough water to get noticed in the thick cover.

A comparable bait that I like to use for similar presentation would be the old Yum Big Show Craw.  Although the soft yet durable plastic of the Kompak craw holds up much better then the Big Show craw.  So the introduction of the Kompak craw is welcomed in my boat, as it appears to be a better bait and Yum appears to have stopped producing the Big Show for the time being.  If you love to punch milfoil or other vegetation with a craw, this is a must try bait!


The setup I used to fish the Kompak craw was Punch rigged with a 4/0 Trokar flipping hook, 20-25lbs fluorocarbon, 1/2-1oz Tungsten flipping weights, and predominantly rigged on my Dobyns Champion 805 Flip/Punch rod, when I would fish it on the 1/2oz weight, I would drop down to my Champion 734C.


In practice for the Madison Chain event, the Kompak craw produced several bites and fish worked in milfoil and docks.  Our flipping bite fell apart during tournament, but I am excited to try them this weekend down on the Mississippi River!  I also hope to give the DarkStar swimmer as a go as well this weekend, check back in the future to learn more about the Swimmer and VibraGrub.

As for our contest winner……

Merideth Gifford is our big winner, so here is the selection of Vibra Grubs, DarkStar Swimmers & Kompak craws she will get a chance to tempt Oklahoma Bass with!

Hopefully Merideth will be posting some pics to my Facebook wall with here results soon!

Thanks again to Evolve Baits for their support of this blog, you can find most of their baits online for purchase here.



Fresh Baits Getting Bit in Florida

There are lot of newer baits and prototypes making several pros lots of money as of late.  Here are a couple examples:

Skeet Reese seems to have found his dominating form again.  While he caught plenty of fish on his name sake Pit Boss & a jig.  He claims that he got several key big bites on a new Berkley Havoc Sick Fish swimbait.

Photo by Tom Leogrande

Then the week before, the new Havoc Rocket Craw fueled his high finish on the St. John’s River.  Skeet tells us in this video that the bait was designed by FLW Pro Scott Suggs.

Photo by BASS & Seigo Saito

Back to the Big O, Ish Monroe dominated the field and the big fish on a new beaver style creature / flipping bait called the D Bomb from Missle Baits.


Ish used the D Bomb on a heavy tungsten weight with punch skirt and on a Medlock Jig.

Yes, the same Medlock jig that Brandon Medlock won an FLW tournament earlier this year and the year before.  Check out Monster Fishing tackle to buy the Medlock Jig online.

So if you are an angler that has to have the goods, might want to keep a close eye on some of these hot baits.  The D Bomb and Medlock jig are available to buy now and I expect the Sick Fish & Rocket craw will come out around July and ICAST.

 

Early Returns on Major League Fishing

I finally finished up watching first webisode of Major League fishing.  I signed up for the the $18 Bass Pass which either gets me all the events or you can pay $3 per event.  The first episode at the Challenge Cup at Lake Amistad was 114 minutes long, so for $3 you are going to get 8-10 hours of web coverage, pretty sound deal.  I got a basement of $3 soft plastics not getting used right now.

The format is pretty unique, preliminary rounds where top 4 move on & bottom 4 go home, real-time scoring shared with all competitors, penalties, 3 periods of fishing, cumulative weights & no limits, immediate catch & release, restricted fishing areas, no practice, no GPS coordinates,  I am sure we will find out more new stuff.

Cool Highlights from Round 1:
No Surprise KVD gets of to great start on a 6XD
Aaron Martens whines some
Jason Quinn does some work on Alabama Rig
KVD switches to what looks like MegaBass ITO 110 jerkbait late day, definitely not a Strike King Wild Shiner
Brent Ehrler & others spin out based on results from real time leader-board
Jack Link’s Sasquatch makes several appearances, always entertaining

But for me, the coolest things what to get an inside look how these pros break down water with only 15 minutes of scouting and make on the water adjustments.  If you are bass enthusiast or tournament angler, I say this is definitely worth the money!

Watch the podcast page, our next episode will break down the MLF in more detail.



Sneak Peak into New Zayta Rods from Dobyns

Dobyns Rods have risen quickly to become a very popular rod among casual bass anglers to the most serious tournament anglers alike.  Their roots are definitely on the west coast, but they have quickly expanded their market and popularity across the United States and beyond.

At last year’s ICAST they launched the Coalition Series and the Savvy Micro series and now this year they will debut the new high end Zayta Series rods.  These rods will incorporate 3M Nano Matrix resins to build a rod lighter and more sensitive then their popular Champion Extreme Series.  This 3M resin is used in other high end rods like G-Loomis NRX and St. Croix Elites.