WHAT SETS IT APART?
Last year, Shimano introduced the Curado DC reel with its I-DC4 digital brake control system designed to reduce the learning curve for anglers new to baitcasting reels, while raising the performance level for experienced fishermen. Now, Shimano expands the lineup of I-DC4 reels with the budget-friendly SLX DC 150 series. Essentially making it much easier to use a baitcaster, the digital brake control system utilizes a microcomputer to monitor spool speed 1,000 times every second and apply the perfect amount of brake to prevent backlash and maximize distance.
HOW DO I USE IT?
Built on Shimano’s established SLX low-profile platform, these reels feature a sturdy all-metal HAGANE body, A-RB anti-rust bearings and a tournament performance long handle. Models include the SLX DC150 and left-hand retrieve DC151 with 6.2:1 gear ratios (26 inches of line per rotation), the SLX DC150HG and DC151HG with 7.4:1 gear ratios (31-inches), and the even higher speed SLX DC150XG and DC151XG with 8.5:1 gear ratios (36 inches).
I’d love to tell you I never backlash baitcasters, but there are far too many witnesses, including several Elite Series anglers, who would put an end to such self-indulgence. I’ve tossed a few baits on Shimano reels with the I-DC4 digital brake control system and have felt the difference. I like the external adjustable brake settings, which allow you to match the amount of control to four scenarios from max distance for lengthy casts to max brake for those challenging shots like dock skipping.
Since 2011, one of the focuses of our Midwest Finesse columns has been to publish gear guides about all of the soft-plastic finesse baits that Midwest finesse anglers can affix to a small mushroom-style jig with an exposed hook.
Angler’s Choice of Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada, manufactures several soft-plastic finesse baits that Midwest finesse anglers can employ. One of them is the 4.0 Cross Hair.
To facilitate our endeavors, Dave McCready, who is the proprietor of Angler’s Choice, sent us several samples of the Cross Hair for us to work with, examine, and meticulously describe.
Our measurements revealed that it is 4 1/16 inches long.
The peristomium or mouth of the Cross Hair’s head is flat. The head is a quarter of an inch wide with a height of three-sixteenths of an inch, and its dorsal area and sides are dome shaped. Its ventral area is flat.
The end of the Cross Hair’s anterior section and the beginning of its posterior section are not demarcated with a clitellum. But the dimension of the posterior section, which begins about an inch from its peristomium or mouth, decreases gradually as it approaches the junction with its kite-shaped tail.
Near the anterior section’s junction with the head, Cross Hair’s torso is five-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about seven-eighths of an inch. Its sides and dorsal areas are dome shaped, and its ventral area is flat.
At the junction of the anterior and posterior sections, the torso is five-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about seven-eighths of an inch.
Two inches from the peristomium or mouth, the posterior section is three-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about three-quarters of an inch.
Near the junction of the posterior section and the kite-shaped tail, the torso possesses a width of one-eighth of an inch and a circumference of about five-eighths of an inch.
The sides and dorsal areas of the posterior section are dome shaped. Its ventral area is flat.
The tail is flat and three-quarters of an inch long with a thickness of less than one-sixteenth of an inch. Much of the tail’s dorsal area is flat, but it has a ridge or a fin, which runs from the tail’s tip to the junction with the torso, and this ridge or fin divides the length of the dorsal area in half. This ridge or fin is about three-quarters of an inch long, and it is slightly more than one-sixteenths of an inch high at its peak. The ventral area of this kite-shaped tail is flatter than its dorsal area. According to McCready, the tail’s ridge or fin act as a rudder, and it was designed “to give [the Cross Hair] a little more rigidity and help it track correctly in a drift or current.”
It is manufactured in these hues: Casper, Chartreuse Glimmer, Green Pumpkin, MG Purple Neon, MG Special, Morning Bomb, Morning Dawn, River Rat, Smoke Purple Silver Holo, Smoke Purple Silver Holo Irid Blue, and Watermelon Purple Neon.
Except for the words Angler’s Choice which are delicately embossed on the ventral area of the anterior section, the Cross Hair’s epidermis is smooth.
It is impregnated with salt and scent, and it is neutrally buoyant.
At the top is a Cross Hair affixed to a blue 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig. At the bottom is a Cross Hair affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.
McCready notes that the Cross Hair is Angler’s Choice’s “answer to the skinny drop shot worm.” A drop-shot rig, however, is a method that Midwest finesse anglers rarely employ. But when the Cross Hair is affixed to either a 1/32- or a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with an exposed hook, it should be an effective tool for inveigling largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass that abide in shallow-water locales. Its neutral buoyancy and flat ventral areas are features that Midwest finesse anglers have traditionally lauded. And when Midwest finesse anglers are wielding a Cross Hair, they will employ it with all six of the standard Midwest finesse presentations or slight variations of those retrieves.
I will admit that I’m late to the Ned Rig party. Largely due to the fact that I never “had” to fish one up until a few years ago. And most of the time I still don’t. But I’d be lying if I said fishing on Kentucky Lake did not get tough at times this year and the only thing I could consistently catch fish during some of those times was a Ned Rig. So I’ve been experimenting with different heads for fishing specific scenarios with Ned rig fishing.
One of the more challenging scenarios for a Ned rig is fishing around boat docks. An exposed hook on a little spiraling hunk of plastic can get your lure hung a lot. But while I was testing the Zoom Beatdown earlier this year, I rigged it up on a jighead my friend Pete Wenners sent me from his new lure company 5 Fish Lures.
(1 of 6)UNIQUE HEAD
The 5 Fish Lures Ultimate Ned Jig features an angled head design, bulbed collar keeper, but most importantly it has a thin wire weedguard to keep the hook off a majority of snags when fishing around docks and other sparse cover.
The Ultimate Ned Jig comes in 3 sizes—1/8 ounce, 3/16 and 1/4 ounce. It’s powder coated with a durable dimpled head that holds up extremely well fishing it on rocky banks. The Mustad 60-degree crosseye hook is sharp and strong and easily hooks bass on a reel set. The tapered nose reduces snags in brush and rock, and the flat base allows your Ned plastics to stands up on bottom.
(2 of 6)GLUE OR NOT
Originally, I put a drop of Super Glue on the collar of a Ned head, so I could fish one bait a lot longer with less hassle. But surprisingly the bulbous collar holds small ned plastics on the Ultimate Ned Jig extremely well even without the glue. You can sling it under docks, drag it on rocks and catch lots of fish on a single bait without having to rethread your plastic constantly.
(3 of 6)ACTION THAT CATCHES THEM
This head gives your Ned rig plastic a gliding fall, that apparently looks very natural to the bass. My biggest fish this summer came on a Ned rig fished around docks. Funny part was I had been fishing glide baits that afternoon and had turned two nice fish but didn’t keep either fish hooked up. Nature of the beast sometimes.
But as I fished down a long row of docks with the glide without a bite, I got to the end and noticed a ton of small shad clouded around the last post. I saw the water boil, so I reached down and picked up a Zoom Beatdown in Electric Shad on a 1/8-ounce Ultimate Ned Head. I pitched this Ned rig into the cloud, and as it was gliding to the bottom, my line snapped up off the water.
I reeled down and leaned into the fish and knew it was a good one. It ran drag out away from the dock and made a few big jumps before I landed it on 8-pound line. The fish ended up going 5-14 on my Rapala High Contrast Digital Scale.
That fish made me rethink my previous notions about only catching tiny fish on Ned Rigs.
(4 of 6)OPTIONS ARE GOOD
I’ve stocked up on a few heads I like for Ned rig fishing at this point. And the 5 Fish Lures Ultimate Ned Jig is one of my staples now. I like the 1/8-ounce size for fishing for bass near the surface like suspending under bait, schooling, and on shallow flat banks. I like the 3/16-ounce size for fishing more 45-degree banks and with lifts and drops. I like the 1/4-ounce size for fishing out deep on ledges, humps and channel swing banks.
I’ve fished the Ultimate Ned Jig in Kentucky, Arkansas and Missouri this summer, and it gets bit in a wide variety of situations. Instead of drop shotting like I normally do in July on Table Rock Lake, I instead dropped a 1/4-ounce Ultimate Ned Jig with Missile Ned Bomb to fish I was seeing on my graph suspended in the tops of trees and around floating dock cables in 30-40 feet of water. It was a very efficient way to catch bass and a great change of pace from how I had been fishing Ned Rigs.
Micah Frazier did a similar thing to win the St. Lawrence River Elite Series event this season where everyone else was dropshotting.
I fished the Ultimate Ned Jig on a shallow lake in Arkansas where the bass feed on a lot of small minnows, and I caught a bunch of bass there just straight reeling and popping a 3/16-ounce Ultimate Ned Jig with a Z-Man TRD MinnowZ on fish that were aggressively chasing small baitfish.
Here on Kentucky Lake, I’ve fished the Zoom Beatdown around docks, on points, on ledges and just going down the bank fishing with the 1/8 or 3/16-ounce Ultimate Ned Jig depending on how deep the fish were.
(5 of 6)DETAILS ON THESE UNIQUE NED HEADS
The 5 Fish Lures Ultimate Ned Jig has been hard to get if you don’t live around Table Rock Lake where the head originated, but as of last week they are now being carried online at Walmart.com. You can pick them up there in all three sizes, and they will likely be available online at other retailers soon. They come 8 heads to a pack for $9.49.
I know when I did the original Zoom Beatdown review, I had as many questions about this jighead as I did about the the plastic I was reviewing. So hopefully anglers can purchase them whenever they like online at Walmart.com
Catch Co. and the Googan Squad just rolled out two new hard baits. #Googantakeover! The all-new Googan Squad Hound and Googan Squad Blooper are two mondo catching topwater baits designed specifically by the Googan Squad.
Together, the Googan Squad and Catch Co. spent months working on these two lunker hunters and we’re jacked up to get these baits into the hands of anglers.
Each year, the Googan Squad spends hundreds of days on the water while pumping out high quality fishing content. Through these adventures, each Googan has developed a unique insight and understanding of different fishing styles and techniques. We leveraged this knowledge and created two bass kicking topwaters.
The Googan Squad Hound
The Googan Squad Hound is a slender bodied topwater walking bait equipped with 3 sticky sharp black nickel hooks. The back treble hook features a hand tied feathered which provides added flash and action.
With quick twitches of the rod tip, anglers can impart a zig-zagging walking action that looks similar to a dog walking back and forth on a leash.
When designing the Hound, we factored in the key attributes found in current topwater baits and combined those into one stellar lure. In addition to walking and spitting water like an absolute champ, the Hound contains an internal one-knocker style rattle that helps it call in fish from a distance.
When To Fish The Googan Squad Hound
Fish the Googan Squad Hound in 60+ degree water temperatures as this is when bass really start eating surface lures. You’ll want to fish the Hound around schooling fish, across main lake points, and near shallow water flats.
Also, if you ever notice birds dive bombing into a lake, chances are they are feeding on baitfish. Try throwing your Hound in these general areas. Where there are baitfish, there are usually bass. Remember birds can serve as great indicators on where baitfish activity is at.
Where To Fish The Googan Squad Hound
Fish the Hound when bass are actively feeding on baitfish, especially on cloudy days or low light situations. Leave a bit of slack in your line when working the bait, so when you pop your rod tip down it allows the Hound to effectively walk back and forth.
Bonus Hound Features
Googan designed, fish catching colors
Strong needlepoint black nickel hooks
Back feathered treble hook for added appeal
Tight walking action
Cupped mouth which creates a spitting/splashing action
High quality oval line ties
Googan Squad Blooper
The Googan Squad Blooper is a topwater popper with big fish drawing power mixed with Googan Squad swagger. Designed with a cupped mouth that provides a unique splash and “bloop” noise and a set of rumble strips on the baits belly. The rumble strips help add drag and more action.
Apply subtle twitches of the rod tip to make a quite blooping noise similar to the sound of a water droplet hitting the sink. Turn things up a notch with harder rod twitches for more of an aggressive sound and action.
When To Fish The Googan Squad Blooper
The Googan Squad Blooper is best fished in water temperatures of 60+ degrees. Throw your popper tight to isolated cover, over submergent grass beds, in shaded areas, and shallow water without surface grass.
Where To Fish The Googan Squad Blooper
Throw the Blooper for a slower, more subtle presentation than other topwater baits. It’s a perfect option during bug hatches when fish are actively feeding on the surface, under tree overhangs, and other shaded areas. When the water gets very warm and fish become less willing to chase, use this slower presentation.
The Crescent LiteTackle is the second in the line of fishing kayaks Crescent has developed over the last three years. At just over 12 feet, it offers a console-free deck, nice appointments and is a completely made in the USA kayak, including the frame style seat. I got to spend some time with one of the LiteTackle fishing kayaks last weekend in conditions that started as calm and ended with 20+mph gusts. All the details are below but before we get there, here is what Crescent says about the LiteTackle.
About the Crescent LiteTackle Fishing Kayak
In contrast to cluttered fishing kayaks on the market, the LiteTackle utilizes clean, refined design without limiting functionality.
The LiteTackle offers an open floor layout for casting and stand up paddling, a cockpit that fits a 55 gallon cooler to be used as an elevated seat, integrated accessory rails, one of a kind storage, and versatile bungee strap down systems. You can even clamp a trolling motor straight to the stern.
The LiteTackle sports a custom look, straight from the showroom floor. American Made and constructed of the highest quality resin available, the Lite Tackle is the best value on the market.
The patented hull design commands the water from flat to moving, allowing you to fight the fish instead of the kayak.
The Crescent LiteTackle is different than a lot of kayaks out there under the thousand dollar price point. It’s not imported but rather made in a factory here in the United States and is designed by kayak anglers, not recreational watercraft engineers. The appointments on the LiteTackle are on purpose and are utilitarian in nature with a touch of aesthetic flare.
The stability in this kayak is different than many models as it has primary and secondary stability while still including a significant rocker to keep the bow riding higher in the waves. What that means for the paddler is a kayak that won’t slip out from underneath them if they lean, and a better tracking kayak that efficiently channels water under the boat, not into it.
It is my belief that a good many people will be able to stand and fish from this kayak. At 34 inches wide and with no intrusion of a console on the deck, your feet can go where it feels most comfortable with no limitations. The open deck is also great for fly anglers needing a clean deck to strip line.
The storage hatch upfront is big and able to accept a lot of gear under hull which is great for multi-day river camping excursions. I found the front hatch to be watertight in my time on the water with significant wave splash.
The tank well holds a crate just fine with room to spare and the squared-off stern allows for the addition of a trolling motor if you so desired without having to buy additional pieces and parts.
The seat I found comfortable, adjustable and a vast improvement over the prototype seat which had less curve in the backrest. The handles and their placement on the LiteTackle are done intelligently by someone who has had to transport kayaks before The handles themselves are rigid and not the typical knuckle buster style.
Typically with a good tracking kayak, the paddler will experience sluggish turning. The Crescent LiteTackle is an exception to that. With a deep dig of the paddle, the kayak turns 90 degrees even with the wind. This lends itself to being able to not only perform in open water but in rivers as well.
Points of Improvement
I’d love to see future models with a deck mat. While the deck as currently designed is texturized enough to avoid slipping, a sound dampening mat would be a good addition.
In the front hatch, there isn’t currently a bucket so smaller items may slide around in the hull if the kayak goes off parallel. I’d like to see a bucket accessory for the 2020 models that is easily removable.
The only other real gripe I have is with the seat height. When seated, you get great performance in paddling because you are close to the water. This, in turn, might make it difficult for some folks to stand and sit while on the water without the addition of a stand assist strap. If there were a high seat position available that raised the seat four to six inches, that would alleviate most needs for an assist. I will say though, this will probably only apply to the heavier and taller paddlers of the kayak.
Final Thoughts on the Crescent LiteTackle Fishing Kayak
After spending several hours in the Crescent LiteTackle and having paddled almost every sub $1k kayak on the market in the last five years, I can confidently say the Crescent is at the top of the list for best in class. As a paddle kayak with a frame seat, trolling motor ready, stand and fish ready, fly fishing capable, made in America, and only $899, if you haven’t looked at this kayak, you should. It won’t fit everyone’s needs, but it will check a lot of boxes for a lot of people.
With the #kickplastic movement in full effect, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts are paving the way for everyone to stop supporting single-use plastic water bottles. In an effort to do so, the amount of purchasable reusable outdoor bottles has skyrocketed. With this increase in market quantity, finding the perfect water bottle that suits you has grown into more of a chore than ever. Luckily, we at Flylords gathered our top picks for which water bottles we feel meet the needs of anglers and explorers in any endeavor they pursue. Here are our top picks for which water bottles will stand the test of the elements (and look good doing so).
For this list, we based our decisions on 3 factors; durability, practicality, and price. While there may be some other contenders in the genre, we focused mainly on traits that would make this water bottle specifically useful to anglers on the water, as opposed to everyday usage. That being said, factors such as temperature control, ease of drinking, and material used were a large factor in determining what products DID and DID NOT make our list.
1. Kleen Kanteen
Classic Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Starting off the list is a strong top spot competitor. The Kanteen is noted for its “stronger than most” metal shell and is a refreshingly solid water bottle. On long hot days on the skiff, this bottle can keep ice in and heat out. However, due to its tall slender frame, it’s more likely to topple over and spill, so keep that in mind if wind rolls in. Overall, this water bottle is a worthy investment, especially when considering the price.
Image courtesy of Amazon.comNext on our list, we have the Camelbak Chute Mag water bottle. This bottle is designed with convenience in mind. With its magnetized handle, the cap can be stored right on the side of the bottle, and you never have to worry about losing it (you could even keep a few flies on there). Now, while not standing quite as strong as competing Yeti and Kleen Kanteen bottles, this vacuum insulated, stainless steel build is sure to keep ice cold and coffee hot all day on the water.
This water bottle is one of the lesser accredited brands but has been shining bright with its durable, as well as attestable water bottles. With its vacuum-sealed design, it will keep your drinks at the perfect temperature all day. Not to mention, If appearance is going to a be a deciding factor in which water bottle you’ll take on your next adventure, these bottles come in an array of designs and colors in order to perfectly match your preference. Coming in at one of the lowest prices for our list of insulated bottles, the Simple Modern Summit packs some of the best bang for your buck in the market.
A new spin on an old classic. The Epic Nalgene OG is all of what you love about Nalgene, a bottle brand that has stood the test of time, with some added twists. The built-in water filtration device removes 99.99% of Tap Water Contaminants, so no matter where you are, you can fill up and get moving. While this product is one of the least durable bottles on the list, it can still take a hit. Now, if keeping your ice-cold drinks ice cold is a priority, you may want to look into the insulated bottles offered by Yeti, Hydroflask, etc. However, if your focus is on filtration, and you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, this bottle is the ticket.
Being one of the most popular reusable water bottles on the market, there is a reason Hydroflask has made a name for itself. This bottle, with its stainless steel, vacuum insulated construction it’s one of the best in the game when it comes to temperature retention. With its sleek and streamlined design, it can fit in backpacks, fly bag pockets, bottle sleeves, or wherever else you keep your gear. Now, when it comes to taking a hit, the Hydroflask is of the less durable steel bottles mentioned, so if your traveling into uncharted territory, consider keeping a backup bottle in your pack. Also, because of its popularity and gorgeous design, this bottle will also run a bit higher than other’s that have been mentioned on this list.
Unlike any other bottle on this list, the Platypus SoftBottle serves a purpose of its own. For those who like to pack light, these 1-liter bottles can be folded up and stored anywhere. They can also be used as a bladder for an attachable drinking tube and kept out of the way for hydration on the go. While this bottle doesn’t have the durability, and temperature control technology of many of the other bottles, it is an excellent way to utilize space and stay unencumbered. Not to mention, each 1-liter bottle is just under 15 dollars, so you can pack a few and swap them out when empty.
17oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Also available in larger sizes like the 25oz, the S’well is a sleek, modern solution to the single-use plastic issue. Sitting at about the size of a traditional water bottle, the S’well is built to fit just about anywhere to be easily accessible, and out of the way. Built with a triple-walled construction, this bottle holds its own against some of the best-insulated bottles in the game. It is also surprisingly durable considering its seemingly delicate frame. This bottle may not be the first choice for many outdoor adventurers, but if you’re looking for a low profile reusable bottle to bring on the stream, don’t count S’well out.
20 Ounce Stainless Steel Filtering Water Bottle -BPA Free
When it comes to getting a filtering water bottle, why not go with the brand that revolutionized the game. This water bottle allows you to filter water anywhere, to make sure you stay hydrated and clear-headed no matter how long your out in the sun. Featuring a stainless steel frame, built on carrying loop, push-button lid, and built-in drinking straw this bottle may as well have come off of Batman’s utility belt. The only downside to this water bottle is its noticeable fragility (in comparrisons with our other steel bottles). However, with a little bit of care, this will be one of the most versatile bottles who will have ever owned.
Over the last couple of years, Yeti has made a splash in the outdoor industry, specifically in the Temperature Retention game. Sitting as one of our favorite water bottles, the Yeti Rambler is the workhorse of stainless steel canteens. Built with an 18/8 stainless steel body, a leak-proof triple haul cap, and a finish of Duracoat coloring to ensure no cracks or fading, this bottle is engineered to take a beating. If you’re looking for a water bottle that can stand up to any test you put it through and don’t mind spending a few extra dollars, make the investment and get yourself a rambler.
In closing, there are so many different water bottles on the market right now that do so many things. Depending on your style of adventure, as well as personal preferences, picking the right one is about what makes you happy. Now toss some stickers on your bottle, and get out there and go make some memories.
Specifications: built-in rattle, hard body; scale pattern; hard plastic ‘boot’ tail; two-part plastic lip; VMC Black Nickel Fine Wire hooks; 9 cm lure has been fitted with size 6 and 7 treble hooks, weighs 7 g and has a swimming depth of 0.9 -1.2 m. The 12 cm lure has three size 5 trebles, weighs 14 g and has a swimming depth of 1.3-1.6 m.
My verdict: this is another quality swimbait from Rapala, aimed at attracting perch, zander or pike, being available in 9 and 12 cm ‘baitfish’ sizes.
The scale pattern on the sides provide plenty of ‘flash’, the body profile matches a baitfish and the built-in rattle will alert any predators that are lying in ambush.
The biggest feature is its hard plastic ‘boot’ tail, which allows you to stop the lure in its tracks, close to features.
Cast them, twitch them, jerk them and pause them, and they’ll roll, ‘flash’ and then stop immediately, which is when a following predator is likely to strike.
You can ‘rip it’ back to the bank, to attract attention, but make sure that you pause it, too, to induce an attack.
Try to match the finish of the lure to the baitfish in your water. My advice is to use a 9 cm lure for waters that contain small baitfish and predators, but switch to a 12 cm version for waters that are stocked with larger baitfish and predators.
I’ve been really impressed with all of the Rapala lures that I’ve seen this autumn.