Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Square Bills - A Useful Tool

As you may have guessed from reading my blog, I'm a Jig Fisherman first and foremost.  I fish jigs all year in a lot of different conditions and methods and I've become what I think is very successful. However as good as I might be at fishing jigs, I do have many other tools available in my tackle box for those times when I can't pay a bass to hit jig.  One of those tools in my box are Square Bill crank baits.  The Square Bill is a very useful tool that every bass fisherman should have in their tackle box.  Not only are they very effective at catching bass, but they are also a very useful tool in locating bass willing to bite. In fact Square Bills are able to locate bass that not even the fanciest fish finder will locate. Sometimes, and this is especially true in the bayous, it can be very tricky locating bass.  The bayous, as well as other bodies of water, have lots of spots and structure that look really promising, but not all of them will be holding fish, or fish that are willing to bite. A good Square Bill can be used to cover a lot of water and help you find those hidden bass that are willing to bite.

Locating Bass - On the bayous or even on lakes I'll pick out a likely spot that looks "Fishy" and then attack it with a Square Bill. On the bayou this may be a stretch bank that may be up to half a mile in length.  Using a Square Bill I can move down that part of the bayou pretty quickly and cover a lot of water in a short amount of time.  If there are bass there willing to bite I'm very confident that one will eat my Square Bill.  Sometimes there will be bass in a location that are not very active or they just aren't actively feeding.  This is when a Square Bill really shines as they tend to trigger strikes even from bass that are not actively feeding.  Once you catch one or two of these bass then you can go back and fish that area slower with a jig or worm and catch even more and sometimes the bigger bass.  Then there are days that once your Square Bill triggers that first bass to strike the whole group of bass will fire up and you will get many more bass that are willing to eat your Square Bill. I will generally fish an area with the Square Bill as long as there are bass willing to eat it.  Once they stop then I go back with the worm or jig to see if I can tease a few more into the boat.

How to Fish – You want to throw your Square Bill where it will be hitting some type of structure. Be it lay down timber, rocks or around old pilings you want it to be making contact with some type of cover. Square Bills are designed to bounce or deflect off of cover without getting snagged. Sure you are going to get one snagged from time to time, but that happens with even the most weedless baits. The point I’m trying to make is a Square Bill is most effective when it is bouncing off of some type of structure. That bounce or deflection is what triggers a lot of your strikes, even in bass that aren’t actively feeding. So throw it in there and bounce it off of that cover. As far as the retrieve goes I vary it a lot depending on how deep the structure is I’m fishing and also the clarity of the water. I generally crank the bait fast enough so it is hitting the structure to cause the deflection action. Every time it hits something and deflects I tend to pause the bait for a second before continuing my retrieve. That pause will get you more strikes than you could ever imagine. When the water is clear I will start out really burning the bait in the cover, making it deflect off of the structure very radically. If I’m not getting any strikes then I’ll slow it down some until I find what is triggering the bass into striking. Now when the water is cloudy or even muddy I’ll do just the opposite. I start out just fast enough for the bait to be hitting the structure and I don't want the bait to deflect as much.  The bass will be very tight to the cover and won't chase something very far.  The deflection and pause are still important but you want it to happen as close to the cover as possible.  If moving the bait really slow isn't working then I will speed up until I find what the bass want.

Picking your Color – I’m of the old school and always try to “Match the Hatch” when it comes to picking colors. What this means is I want my color to match the baitfish as close as possible in the body of water I'm fishing.  Sure all bodies of water have multiple types of baitfish, but generally speaking there is one that bass will be predominately feeding on during different times of the year. In the late Fall and Winter my first choice would be a Crawfish pattern. In the Spring or Summer I’m likely to fish some kind of Shad pattern. Now if the Bluegill are spawning I’ll go to a Bluegill, Sunfish or Perch pattern. I will be the first to admit matching the hatch doesn’t always work.  That is the reason for all those colors and patterns of Square Bills that don’t come
close to matching anything in nature. Some of these wild off the wall color patterns for some reason trigger something in the bass that make them strike. Also when the water is cloudy or muddy you will need to pick a color pattern the bass can see better. If they can’t see your bait then they likely aren’t going to eat it.

To Rattle or not to Rattle - Personally I prefer to have Square Bills with rattle chambers. I’m also picky on how those rattles sound. I believe a bait with rattles will get you many more strikes than a bait without rattles. Bass can hear the rattles and feel the vibrations coming from your bait long before they can see your bait. If they can hear and feel something coming then they will be waiting on it, and when it deflects off that branch they are under or the rock they are beside, Boom they eat it without even thinking. Now when the water is off colored or muddy those rattles are even that much more important.  The bass' vision is affected by the condition of the water so they use the sound of the rattling to locate your bait. For me having rattles in my Square Bills is a must!!

The Best Brand - The question of which is the best brand of Square Bill on the market will cause all kinds of heated discussions.  All fishermen have their opinions on which is the best and that is what they use. I am not trying to say mine are better than yours.  I'm just going to tell you what and why I like my preferred brand. My brand of choice is Bandit Lures and has been since the early 80s.  Yes I'm currently on the Bandit Pro Staff, but that only happened in the last year, I've been using their baits for 30 years.  I believe that Bandits have the best Wobble and Rattle chambers of any crankbaits I've fished in my 50 plus years.  As far as Square Bills go Bandit gives you three different models to choose from, the Foot Loose that dives to 1.5 feet, the 100 Series that dives to 5 feet and also their Flat Maxx Shallow that gives you a different profile in a bait that dives to 5 feet.  Then Bandit Lures has a unbelievable selection of colors and patterns to choose from.  Now I'm sure, there are other companies out there with good baits, but once I find something that works I stick with it, and Bandits have been working for me for a very long time.

In closing I'd like to say I hope this article has provided you with some helpful information.  Square Bills are a great tool to have in your tackle box and I hope you will use them and they will locate those hidden bass for you as well as they do for me.  

Until next time, Tight Lines and Take a Kid Fishing.

You can follow me on:
Twitter - @BHOAdventures

Also check out the great folks that help make my fishing adventures possible and the tackle I use and trust.
Stealth Rod Holders

Sunday, October 23, 2016

K-9 Fluorocarbon Line Review

I had seen some posts on Facebook about this new Fluorocarbon line from K-9 Fishing Products and decided to check into it some.  I've really been searching for a Fluorocarbon I liked but had not yet found one that measured up to all my expectations.  Most of the ones I've tried are too stiff or brittle for my liking or they just had too much memory to make them fishable more than a couple of trips.  Plus they all cost an arm and a leg at 20 to 30 dollars for 300 yards or less.  I found that K-9 Fluoro was 20 dollars for 550 yards and decided it was worth testing to see if it was at least as good as the other Fluoro lines I have tried. If it wasn't any better than the other Fluoro lines at least I could save some money.  I order a spool each of 17 and 10 pound test to try out.  I planned to spool my Worm Rod and my Football/Swim Jig rod with the 17lb  and spool my Crankbait Rod and my Spinnerbait Rod with the 10lb.

The line arrived on just a couple of days after I ordered.  The fast shipping is a bonus when you have to order a product that isn't in any stores locally.  That evening I got busy spooling all 4 rods to fish the next morning.  The first thing I noticed about this line is how soft or pliable it felt, far softer and less brittle feeling than any other Fluoro that I'd ever tried before.  It really felt a whole lot more like a good monofilament line than it did a fluorocarbon.  That was impressive to say the least but also worrisome as well.  There are 2 reasons I fish fluorocarbon line on worm and jig rods; first I want a line the fish can't see well and second I want a line that has low stretch so you can set the hook even on long casts.  Because K-9 Fluoro felt so soft to my hands I was concerned that it might not hold up in the hook setting department on my worm and jig rods.  There was only one way to find out for sure and that was to take it fishing.  If nothing else I figured I found a great new line for my crankbait and spinnerbait rods.  As I was spooling the line on my rods I also noticed that it didn't have a lot of memory like most fluorocarbon lines.  It wasn't all kinked and curly coming off the spool and that too impressed me very much. As I tied on my lures I also noticed how easy it was to tie good knots with this line. Now the real test of a knot is under fishing conditions to see if they hold when setting the hook.  I finished getting my rods setup and ready for fishing the next morning and was excited to give this line a try.

I got a late start but was on Dickinson Bayou by 9:30 that morning.  There were two goals for the day and that was to see if I could locate more bass for the tournament the following weekend and test out this new line. A small front had pushed through Saturday evening and I hoped it would not affect the fishing too much.  It was windy as I started fishing and this gave a good test to the castability of this new line.  The K-9 Fluoro pasted the castability test with flying colors.  It did take a while to locate a few bass willing to bite but I was finally able to locate some that were hungry.  Now these bass didn't have a lot of size to them which in this cases was a good thing for testing hook setting ability of the K-9 Fluoro.  It is much harder to set the hook when worm fishing on a smaller bass than it is on a bigger bass.  The reason for thais is when you set the hook on a small bass you actually move the bass and you might not be able to move the bass and get your hook embedded in their mouth good if your line stretches.  This was not the case with K-9 Fluoro as I was able to get good hook sets even on long casts fishing a worm on these small bass.  As you can see from the picture these bass were nothing to wright home about, but they did dismiss my concern that this line might have too much of stretch for worm and jig fishing.  One other thing I found out while worm fishing that day was K-9 Fluoro is also very tough.  The fish were in a lot of debris around the pylons of a train trestle and the K-9 handled very well.  In fact twice I got snagged and when I pulled to try and break off the hook actually bent and came free before the line would break.  This also proved what I stated earlier about the knots I tied.  The knot held and didn't fail when I was actually trying to break my line.  Needless to say the 17lb I was using worm fishing more than held up to my expectations.

I left the bass I found at the train trestle alone after catching a couple. I did not want too many of them to have sore mouths for the tournament the following weekend.  I also switched from fishing a worm and picked up my crankbait rod.  Again even though it was windy I didn't have any problems casting with the K-9 Fluoro.  It came off the reel smoothly and I was able to make good long casts even with the smaller crankbait I was throwing.  As I stated above I loaded my crankbait rod with the 10lb K-9 and it would get tested good.  One of the things about fishing brackish water bayous is you never know what will hit your bait.  What happened on this day was I found a group of good sized Red Drum, also known as Redfish or just Reds.  If you have never caught a Redfish let me tell you they are one of the hardest pulling fish that swims and pound for pound may be the hardest.  They put tackle to the test and in this case they put the K-9 Fluoro to the test.  A redfish the size of the one in the picture can really strip off some line, specially when it is 10lb test.  They also look for places to cut you off if they can like going around dock pylons.  The ones I found were around some docks and bulkheads and yes they tried their best to cut me off.  Well I'm pleased to say that I caught 8 or 9 of these line strippers on the day and didn't lose a single one and never retied my crankbait.  This really attests to the K-9 toughness as well as knot holding ability.  In fact I was so impressed on how well the 10lb K-9 performed I decided to load up my spinning setup with it when I got home.  I don't fish a lot with spinning tackle, but I wanted to have one ready in case I needed it for the tournament the next weekend.

Speaking of that tournament; my teammate and I went on the win the tournament.  We had a great day on the water overall, but it did start off very slow.  In fact it was so slow starting I did break out my spinning rod.  Once again the K-9 Fluoro performed better than my expectations.  In fact my spinning setup accounted for my best bass of the day which was the 2nd biggest bass of the tournament.  Only my teammate's beauty was bigger.  Another testament to K-9 line was the fact that we caught most of our fish on crankbaits. This wouldn't be much of a big deal except I used the same crankbait I did the previous weekend and I never retied.  I checked the line and the knot and saw no reason to retie.  That same knot held all day during the tournament through 9-10 bass and another 10 plus redfish.  By the way we do try to catch redfish during these Bayou tournaments because there is always a side pot for the biggest.  My teammate and I were so confident in our bag of bass we focused on the redfish for the last 2 hours of the tournament.  We caught a lot of them but our biggest fell 2 tenths of an ounces short of winning the pot.  One more note to attest to just how tough this Fluoro is and how well the knots hold I fished the Bayou again yesterday.  I took out a friend that wanted to catch some redfish and they were still there and still hammering crankbaits.  I know it was foolish, but I still had not retied my crankbait yet and really wanted to find out just how long the line and knot would hold up.  I ended up catching additional 5 reds on that same knot before running into a real brute.  Luckily we saw the fish before he broke me off and it was in the 35-40 inch class.  It was really my fault he broke me off.  To tell the truth this brute had completely wore me out, and I just wanted to end it as quickly as possible so I tightened my drag to try and get him to the net.  Guess he had another idea on how to end it and now he is swimming around with my crankbait as a trophy.  From the look of my line it appeared that the knot held and the line broke, like at a weak spot from all the previous fish running me around pylons and such.

In closing let me just say that I've found the Fluorocarbon line I will be using from now on.  This new Fluoro from K-9 Fishing Products met or surpassed all my expectation.  It is tough as nails, with great knot tying properties, has very low memory and it casts really well even on windy days.  To say the least I couldn't ask for anything else from a Fluorocarbon line.  Then there is the price that is really unbelievable.  Where else can you get 550 yards of Fluorocarbon for just 20 dollars?  Heck even if you don't believe me the price alone makes it worth doing your own testing of this new line!

Until next time, Tight Lines and Take a Kid Fishing.

You can follow me on:
Twitter - @BHOAdventures

Also check out the great folks that help make my fishing adventures possible and the tackle I use and trust.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fenix CL30R Camp Lantern Review

As a guy that has been in the outdoors hunting, fishing and camping for 50 years I know you need a really good light source out there from time to time.  When I say good light source I mean a real light that you can actually see things you are doing.  So I've had to wait 50 years for what I would consider one of the best lights I've ever had the pleasure of using.  I know that the package for the Fenix CL30R says it is a Camping Lantern but it is way more than that let me tell you.  This light will come in handy around your home if the electricity fails or even in a Hurricane or Flood evacuation kit.  It would be great to have one in your truck or car in case something happens out on the road on a dark night.  Then of course lets not forget having one for hunting and fishing. From a hunting standpoint it would come in handy for tracking your game or even field dress and skinning your game after dark.  From a fishing standpoint this baby has almost too many uses to count.  In fact I used it last weekend to get my boat ready to launch and also get everything in its right places for the tournament I was about to fish.  Oh and for you night fisherman this light will draw the fish too you.  I can't wait for the first good cold front to come through Southeast Texas because I have this crappie hole that I'm going to hit and this light is going to get used!!

There you have all the up front fluff about this light, but lets get down to the nitty gritty facts to back up all the claims I just made.  Here are just some of the features of the CL30R:
  • Maximum output 650 Lumens with a total of 5 different power settings
  • Powered by 1,2 or 3 18650 rechargeable batteries
  • Supplies portable power to recharge your phone, tablet or other USB chargeable device
  • Provides up to 35 yard diameter lighting
  • Waterproof to IPX-7 standards
  • Tripod socket for easy attachment to any camera tripod
 Before I get into more facts about the CL30R lets chat some about it's size and what comes in the package.  As you can see in the picture to the left this light is not very big at all.  In fact it will not take up much room in any of the applications I talked about above.  It can be where you need it and when you need it without getting in the way when it is not being used.  The package comes with three 2600mAh 18650 batteries, a USB charging cable with a Standard USB on one end and a Micro USB on the other, plus they add and extra gasket for the battery compartment lid.

I bet I know one question on your minds right now and that is how long will this light run before it needs to be recharged.  Well it will provide you with four and a half hours of run time on the maximum or "Turbo" setting that outputs 650 Lumens on a full charge of the 2600mAh batteries.  Think you need more run time on the Turbo setting, well all you have to do is upgrade to 3500mAh batteries and you get a full six hours of run time.  On the minimum or "Eco" setting which provides the perfect about of light for a "Night Light" this baby will run for 300 hours on the 2600mAh batteries and an additional 100 hours if you upgrade to the 3500mAh batteries.  Now you are not going to need max or minimum lighting all the time so the CL30R has three setting that are in between those.  I'm sure you will be able to find just the perfect setting for what every you are doing at the time. Now the other added feature about this great light is not only is it rechargeable from a Micro USB port, but it can be used to charge your cell phone, tablet or other USB chargeable device.  Using the standard USB port provided on the light you can connect your device to this light and get the power you need way off the beaten path or out on the lake.

Yes I have used this light for more than preparing the boat  for the tournament I spoke about last weekend.   The weekend before we had the whole family over for a back yard Barbecue, fire and s'mores eating event.  This event happened to turn into a perfect time to try out my CL30R.  It put out all the light we needed and more for the evening and night.  Everyone loved it and my wife now wants one to keep out at the barn in case the power goes out so she can tend to her horses. As you can see in the picture on the right,  from our back yard shindig the CL30R is a lot of light in a very small package. This light puts out as much light as even the best propane lantern and it is way quieter than any propane lantern.  Because the CL30R is rechargeable it will also be less costly to use than propane lanterns as well. Plus it doesn't get hot so it isn't a burn and fire hazard like propane lanterns and it can be used safely inside without the fear of carbon monoxide poisoning.

There just isn't a whole lot more I can say in closing.  If you haven't guessed by now I love this light, then let me state it here, I love this light.   It has just so many uses for an outdoors-man like myself, but it will have uses for just about anyone out there reading this review.  Even if all you need is a really good light in the house in case the power goes out, or you want a really good light in your evacuation kit, this is your light.   I mean look at the picture on the left if you really want a good idea just how bright and effective the CL30R can be for you. This light is 110% approved by me and I will be getting a couple more for myself and of course I have to get one for my wife out at the barn as well. Oh I almost forgot I'll also be needing one or two up at my deer camp cabin as well.  I do have to tell you the best place to order one of these lights is Best Light.  That is where I go for all my outdoors lighting needs.  They have the best prices and totally awesome costumer services.  So don't wait until you need a light like the CL30R, order one today because we both know that the time will come you will need this light.  You can also follow Best Light on Twitter at @bestlightio so you don't miss any of their great deals. OH and I have another reason to for you to order a CL30R from Best Light, you can get 10% off your order by using my special discount code - BHOFISH

Until next time, Tight Lines and Take a Kid Fishing.

You can follow me on:
Twitter - @BHOAdventures

Also check out the great folks that help make my fishing adventures possible and the tackle I use and trust.