What is Right and what is Wrong

As the sun rises you are preparing to make your first cast for the day. Picking up your rod your eyes focus on the target, a small dark pocket under a tree. The first cast into any spot has a little excitement attached to it and is always done with an expectation of landing “The One”.

The rod feels comfortable in your hand; you have done this so many times, and still focused on the small pocket you are standing up behind the steering wheel. Putting your foot on the trolling motor is followed by a smooth and accurate pitch into the target area. Slow sinking plastic bumps and bounces of the limbs of the underwater tree and then stops; or did it? A slight pull and you step back on the deck, dropping the rod tip and setting the hook with everything the moment allows.

The water explodes under the tree and it is game on. Pulling, tugging and manoeuvring him out from under the tree. You see him for the first time and after swinging him onboard you look at him like it’s the first bass you have ever seen.

This is the reason why we leave home at 04:00 and drive the worst roads, sleep in some dodgy places and freeze our arms off. We need to be honest… we are addicted.

After pitching and casting that bank to pieces, the life jacket comes out and the outboard whisks you off to another hopeful spot. Grass flats and lily pads invite a long cast. A popping frog jumps over them to see what lurks below. A longer rod gets picked up and it “hisses” as a power cast sends a lure travelling through the air. You start retrieving as soon as the lure hits the water. Two, three, four lilies crossed before the water boils up and something jumps on your presentation. Now the fight is on. “Turn his head” someone shouts; reminding you how you have lost a similar fight before.

A great bucket mouth comes from under the grass and acknowledges that the fight is over. Photos are taken, short videos are made and stuff posted next to your wedding photos on Facebook and Instagram for everybody to see. That is what fishing should be. There should be excitement when reversing your boat into the water and walking up to a farm dam as the sun comes up, rod in hand.

So after reading all of this and remembering those great days on the lake, with friends or your kids you look at all the rods hanging on the wall. Strange how a rod has its own personality. Now before you think I’m crazy, think about it. Every rod bought and fished and broken sticks in your mind. Good reels seem to always find their way onto a favourite rods and the time spent together.

So, should that not be the way that you buy gear. Buying really cheap obviously will have its own problems and disappointments, but buying something that feels right for you should normally be perfect.

The most expensive is not always the answer. I brought in some rods from the USA a couple of years ago and they were supposed to be the only thing you should use when fishing tournaments. Spending way too much and after all the trouble, having to admit to myself that they were horrible, I realized that I am comfortable using my current rods.

So, when a rod pitches straight, or casts a mile it sounds like you have a perfect fit. Yes, it is very nice when you can feel the bottom or the expression on the crabs face that you are passing, but it is not everything. Enjoy your fishing.

I watched someone cast an in line spinner of a R130,000.00 bass boat and life was good again. Those baits used to catch many fish in the past and we ditched them for the latest and greatest releases from all over the world.

Do what you feel is right; cast where you want to; cast what you want to and get rid of the bassin’ rule book and just enjoy being out there.

Written by Colin Wilmer

String Theory

We have all stood in front of a shelf in retail store looking at all the different options; yellow, green and even invisible ones.

The packaging becomes even more overwhelming because every box is better than the one next to it and offers so much more than last year’s model. Feels like we are buying cars. As you walk down the shelf you read the different descriptions and advantages and notice the price differences between the seemingly same products. Well, there are differences and it may not be what you expect. (No brands or labels will be discussed in this article because it is not the point of all of this.)

The application normally determines the choice of “string” or fishing line we will be buying, but this has been discussed at length, to death. Let’s just speak about application, for a little bit as a refresher and then never again.

For cranking – it was always believed that monofilament or copolymer was the best option.
For top water action – same thing … mono or copolymer.
For soft plastic worming – the belief was always that fluorocarbon was the one for that job.
Braid – never sure whether if it was best for top water action or awesome for worming.

Well, time to explain some things about fishing line to keep in mind when buying or choosing the best line to use. The most important things about lines are trust and feel. Think about it; if it does not feel right on your reel you don’t feel comfortable in casting.

Spinning reels (coffee grinders)
Choosing a line that does not drive you into the cooler box to find your inner peace. Why do we always get a line that twists and never gives you the distance you are after? There are many reasons for all of this.
Spinning reels work best with 10lb line or lighter and in saying that, the box or packaging, becomes important. In the world of line manufacturing, Japan normally produces a very high quality line and normally comes at a different price as well. The advantage of this is that you could probably get away with casting a 7lb line instead of a heavier 10lb line… distance sorted.
A higher quality line comes of the spool easier because they tend to be rounder in shape and lies better on the spool of your reel. In other words it does not flatten out and will give extended life span which improves the affordability of sometimes more expensive lines.

Bait casting reels
These reels initially were developed to cast a heavier line without all the line twists because spinning reels just could not do the job. Unfortunately bass do not lie in open water with no structure so heavier line was a necessity. Control and accuracy was a by product of all this development.

So many times I have seen somebody spend thousands of Rands on a reasonable rod and reel combination but then try to go as cheap as possible on line. This will only lead to frustration.

Now let’s get to the technical stuff that will hopefully help understand what line is and where it can fit into your fishing arsenal. (Ware has a specific gravity of one – as a unit of measure)

Monofilament or copolymer
These two normally have a specific gravity in the range of 1.2 to 1.24. This means that it is slightly heavier than water. In other words the line would float and stay in the top part of the body of water in front of you. So think of casting a soft plastic worm at a tree. The first movement of that plastic will be in an upwards direction because your line is still fighting its way down. This could be removing bait out of the zone and reduces chances for that much needed bite. So, if casting monofilament or copolymer on a Mojo-, Texas- or even weightless rig, just be very slow in moving the bait for the first time.

Another interesting fact is that this line can stretch up to 14%. Think about a 30m cast… this could be a stretch of 4.2 meter. How many times have you set a hook and before you start winding that monster in, he is off? We then blame the hooks, rod and even the position of Mars in relation to the jetty we are casting at. Meanwhile, our line had something to do with it.

Fluorocarbon
A good quality fluorocarbon normally stretches between 7 to 9% and has a specific gravity of 1.75. This means a better sinking line with much more sensitivity because of less stretch. This line does have a harder feel to it because the composition inside is different.

Tournament anglers flocked to this line because for so many years they believed that it was invisible under water and fish rate was picking up. The fish rate was picking up because the bait was presented more effectively in the zone. Instead of going up and out of the zone it was now being dragged through the zone for a longer period of time; obviously leading to more fish.
Be honest, does your fluorocarbon really disappears under water?

Braid
Braid has a specific gravity of 1.15 and is the real floater in the pack. The advantages of this line are different but used in the right applications it can be very effective. With almost no stretch and a very direct feel with low diameter it can be used in many applications. There has been for many years a need for something strong and thin enough to go onto a spinning reel and braid was born.

The strange part of all of this is that nylon based lines, like monofilament, copolymer and fluorocarbon, have many enemies which we need to keep in mind. The worst things for lines are UV-rays and water.

I trust that this insight on fishing lines will help readers buy and use the best string in the right way.

Written By Colin Wilmer

How Long is enough ?

So many fish, so little time is what we are all thinking when we are on the water. I always wonder how many fish were really under the boat or in the reeds while pitching or casting at them.

This would be great info to have but not make it a fair game, if we had to know. The most of us only have limited fishing time and we always try and maximize our catches for the amount of the time we have next to or on the lake. This makes us do things we should not do, like rushing to the water or rushing lures through the water at great speeds.

We always want more time, more time casting or figuring out the pattern, instead of fishing what is in front of us properly. Many times I have watched guys on the boat with me just over doing the casting thing. Many casts don’t lead to many fish and many fish don’t always mean quality fish. Let me explain the theory of everything.

So many fish caught over so many years and never catching the fish I wanted to catch. It took a long time to realize that I was catching the wrong fish in the right areas. Looking at a potential area is easy when it is visible in front of you and how many times have you said to yourself “there has to be a bass in there”. The best part of that statement is that you were right but not the best fish was caught of it. So we cast and within a couple of casts or first cast, we load up on the first taker and feel successful in the process.

For many years of tournament fishing I could not understand how the same guys came to the weigh in always weighing better bags. The answer is actually quite simple. These so called pro’s are doing what they are doing properly.

Some ten years ago I watched two Zimbabwean guys on Lake Darwendale, sitting in two wooden boats fishing for bass. I was on a bass boat behind them watching how they were fishing with the wrong rods and wrong line in the wrong spot and catching lunkers of 3 to 5kg. This stopped me fishing for about two hours just watching them, trying to figure this whole process. Everything we watched on ESPN and read was not being applied by these two guys but I would love to weigh those sorts of fish in a tournament.

They cast a 6 to 7 inch stick bait into a direction and then put the rod down on a wire bent rest on the front of their boats. They did this four times; yes four rods at a time were in the water, almost like carp fishing. They then proceeded to roll a very large newspaper and tobacco cigarette which they enjoyed for a half an hour or more before one of the rods loaded. Keep in mind, not moving or twitching or swimming to get a bite just leaving it in one spot. No weights or tricks, just patience.

The other experience I had was taking my wife fishing on couple of occasions and after a lot of trash talk on the way there I knew she would love to whip my behind. As with some ladies on the boat they fish hard till 10’o ‘clock and then start losing interest and just becomes too much hard work for a fish. They then start to do the following; after the boat has stopped in an area of your choice they cast next to you or around you. I would catch four fish out of an area, making twenty casts; they still have only made one or two casts. So many times the bigger bite comes on the slower fishing. Yes, they might lose the fish in the fight but she still got the better bite. I have driven back so many days knowing that the better fish were hooked, and sometimes landed, by my wife.

Slow the lures down to a standstill and work harder through the area. Everybody knows that if three guys on a boat catch fish, the biggest normally wins the day and bragging rights.

Guys are surprised when you tell them to leave the lure in the zone and some guys really struggle to “dead stick” a bait properly. Slowing it down means stopping it completely. Cast at the target, make sure you hit the bottom (whether fishing with plastic or a jig) and then just leave it. Bass are very inquisitive fish and it will take the bigger fish a little longer to react, but if they are there they will come and have a look.

A nice and easy technique to start this with is Texas rig, Mojo rig, or my favourite Shakey Head fishing.

Try it, it really makes a difference.

Written by Colin Wilmer

As Good as a Holiday

Maybe you’ve heard comments like: “I don’t through spinnerbaits or crankbaits because I just loose them”, or “I have never caught anything on them”.

These thoughts unfortunately lead to a mental block and sometimes stay forever. I have seen anglers cast the same baits over and over; no matter when or where they are fishing.
For example; conditions in the Vaal River change between seasons and water levels. “But last week (or in practice), I caught them on a fluke under that jetty and now there’s nothing!”
Yes but have you noticed that the water temperature has dropped five degrees and changed in colour?

Think about this for a moment …
Top water baits in the middle of the day in 25ft of water; is it possible or does it work?
Yes, because the water was clear, warm and bait fish where busting everywhere.

Fishing pink jerkbaits in crystal clear water at great speed; will this work? (Great speed means – if water runs over its back, you are going to slow). Watching Jerry Jooste win a Rust de Winter tournament with this technique made me doubt everything I thought I knew about bass fishing.

When last have you wacky rigged a Senko in 3ft of water, or maybe you have never fished a wacky rig before? That is like being a fly half that can only pass in one direction. Many bag limits were filled like this.

One of my favourite examples comes from a couple of years ago when anglers were preparing for national championships. The phones were ringing and the information turned into a great commodity. Only after nationals it was revealed that the most unlikely lure came back to shows its true value – the inline spinner.
The point I am trying to make is that the bass specie of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s were still caught.

So, thinking of this before leaving for a two day practise session a couple of years ago, I decided to remove everything that I normally use – all my trusty go-to-baits.
I only took spinnerbaits and left feeling so uncertain about what I was going to do. The interesting part of this is that for the first time I actually had to make it work because there was no other option. All of a sudden pitching accurately and retrieving speeds became a priority.
Some fish were caught and I had something new to “go-to” when things got tough. After doing this a couple of times I had confidence in this bait and couldn’t leave home without it.

I did the same using crankbaits, jigs and Shakey Heads with the same results. In fact Shakey Heads will now easily be the first bait I cast.

The one thing that does affect this mastering approach is when you are standing in front of the shelf in your local tackle store; how to decide which spinnerbait or crankbait to buy?

Spinnerbaits for example rely on good quality wire and swivels to make them function properly, so don’t buy the cheapest possible imitation and expect the same results.

There are also so many cranks that look alike with great paint jobs, but do they last, or do they really wobble, or roll like they should? This will influence your catch rate and could put you off throwing a specific type of bait forever.

Your tackle box, like so many other tackle boxes, has some “old timers” rusting away. Remember why you bought them in the first place. Maybe because it was the greatest thing to have then. Just replace some split rings, trebles and have a second look at the old faithful dying to go for another swim.

The worst part of fishing is when you know some anglers always get fish, no matter where they are. They go to your local waters and catch the fish you only see on social media. So, start over and trust your instincts.

Written by Colin Wilmer

Rapala MaxRap 17cm

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The Rapala MaxRap 17cm is by far my favourite multi species lure of choice. It is a long thin type lure with three sets of trebles. You can cast this lure about 60 to 70 metres. It has a very realistic swimming action. I normally like to retrieve this lure with a sweep of the rod but keeping a constant retrieve of the reel.

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The MaxRap is weighted with two metal balls which give the lure a bit more weight, a good swimming action and a rattle that will bring the fish in to investigate. These weight aqlso move to the front of the lure when casting and assist in getting the lure to fly aerodynamically thereby assisting with the dist you can throw it.

On this lure I have caught some memorable fish that I will never forget.  They include a shad of 6,2kg, a Black tip Kingie of about 6 kg and a beautiful Giant Trevally of approx 4kg. I would recommend this lure to not only shore anglers but also for those fishing deep sea.

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VMC Boat Hooks

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In my fishing career off the Ski boat has been very interesting as much I’ve been disappointed in quality of fishing hooks that are on the market today as all fishermen we all have a favourite hook types and brands which can be quite a heated subject between top anglers.J1

I spend a lot of time fishing off the ski boat for quality game fish species with live bait’s, thread baits and dead baits presented my different traces, my personal best hook has got to be the VMC Inox Stainless Steel 8117s live bait hook in the 4/0 and 5/0 two perfect size hooks for live bait fishing which the 4/0 I use in front of my trace and the 5/0 as my main hook as demonstrated in the photo with no5 wire in between the hooks and 700mm of the same no5 wire attached to the front hook which I finish it off with a no8 power swivel, perfect simple straight forward trace universal for Couta, dorado, tuna and wahoo this trace all depends on the size of live bait been used as I have many different sizes. The VMC 8117S is my number one live bait hook for many reasons, they never rust, always have a needle sharp tip which the tip does not snap off, good off set to the hook and most of all reliable and strong, the beauty of the VMC 8117S if you maintain washing off your traces properly and they are in good condition there should be no reason for changing and wasting traces.

J2

written by Justin Alborough.

Second favorite go to dip combo

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Most definitely one of my favorite combos are Mystic Spice, Turbo Garlic and Caramel Extreme. This will normally be the combo that I will start of the day at any venue like Bloemhof dam,Vaaldam, Koster dam, Roodekoppies and Olifantsnek dam. You can use redcard floats and garlic floats which combines well with this combo. Ladies and Gents make sure that you have these three Conoflex signature dips in your tackle boxes to catch those extra fish.

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Written by Andre De Wet.

 

Storm Gomoku Dense

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The Storm Gomoku Dense Fire Tiger had me blown away with my first outing using the lure.I was amazed with the distance that the little 6gram lure can travel with a fast sinking fluttering action, I tried a slow twitching action with a pause in between which didn’t work out that well for me as I increased my speed of retrieve i would be guaranteed a bump or rewarded with a quality small species of fish. The lure for me should be fished with no quick release clips at all as I feel the clips tend to disturb the action of the lure, one should tie a straight forward Rapala knot with Double X 20lb fluorocarbon leader. The beauty of this little 4,8cm lure it can be fished with ultra light tackle in harbours and estuarys targetting all types of spieces from Russell Snapper, Perch, little Kingfish, Rock Salmon, Springer as it imitates a perfect little bait fish.

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Written by Justin Alborough.

Shimano Spheros 6000

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It’s taken me some time to find a sutiable universal fishing reel for me to use in many types of fishing application from spinning off the surf using it on the ski boat for tuna and dorado and suitable for slow pitch jigging and high speed vertical jigging.My next bit of excitement will be using the Spheros 6000sw for light tackle fishing in the surf with a 11ft Shimano Surf Exage which will be perfect for targetting kob, stumpies, rockcod  and many other species.I’v got all the conferdence when fishing with my Spheros with the strength and ability to land bigger stronger game fish with the new cross carbon drag system which can be tighened to 10kgs I feel it’s very important to have a smooth drag as one will part there leaders and pull hooks from a good fish because of a sticky and worn drag.As for looks the reel really sticks out with awesome Shimano quality finishes, it is a perfect all round fishing reel tough,smooth when retrieving your lures at higher speeds making your fishing more comfortable with the aluminium and rubber handle.I’v loaded my Spheros with 20lb Sufix advanced 832 braid which the reel takes 275meters with a 10meters of 40lb braided leader and 1.5meter of 50lb Double X floracarbon leader the braid is layered just perfect on the aluminium spool giving me all the conferdence when casting bigger spoons and lures with no wind knots and allowing me to load my rod alot more giving me that massive distance.The Shimano Spheros 6000Sw is for me a very affordable reel on the South African market as for the quality you getting it’s a big winner as long as you keep your daily maintenance up you will never be disappointed with Shimano reels.

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Storm Arashi Flat 7

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This has become one of my favourite cranks lately. It offers everything I look for in a crank. But the most important thing, it is exactly what the fish want. My favourite colour is Tilapia. It resembles our baitfish accurately and looks so life like in the water. I also like the way it casts and doesn’t spiral into the wind. So overall I’m super chuffed with this bait and I look forward to catching many more fish on it. These are just some of the key features this bait offers:

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  • MULTI-BALL RATTLE SYSTEM tuned for mid-depth cranking delivers a variable pitch of both high and low frequency sounds
  • ROTATED HOOK HANGERS nests the hooks close to the body for improved action, preventing hang-ups and allowing larger hooks
  • SELF-TUNING LINE TIE is a free-moving design that keeps the lure tracking true, ensuring non-stop fishing action
  • CIRCUIT BOARD LIP starts right away at slow speeds and quickly reaches maximum diving depth. Extremely thin with superior strength and durability

 

My choice of tackle is a G.Loomis Cranking rod CBR 843C rod paired with a Curado 200I PG. I use 10lb Monofilament line or 10Lb Flourocarbon in most situations. The rod is a moderate action and allows forgiveness and this maximises hook-ups. This setup along with the Storm Arashi Flat 7 is really an all-round fish catching solution.

Written by Darryl Quinton.