by Jody White
Built to FLW Tour pro Aaron Britt’s specifications, the iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer rod is a mid-priced spinning rod that’s specifically designed for tossing small swimbaits on light heads. If you’ve ever seen Britt on the water in an FLW Tour event, there’s a pretty good chance he’s got a spinning stick with a swimbait in his hands. With that in mind, the odds are good that he’ll be rolling with at least a couple of these rods on deck almost all the time.
I have used and liked iRod Genesis II rods in the past, but all my experience is on the baitcasting side of things. The spinning rod has a similar style and build, with bold green and black trim and no epoxy on most of the blank. iRod has had trouble with hook keepers in the past, but this one seems resoundingly fine. It’s a simple backward loop of wire down low, near the butt portion of the split grip.
The rod itself is 7 feet, 4 inches long, and it’s a medium-power, extra-fast-action stick. Of my spinning rods, it’s on the stouter side. That’s not a bad thing, but I think it bumps the rod out of the Ned rig range and firmly toward swimbaits, Senkos and the like.
Because Britt usually fishes small swimbaits on braid with a fluorocarbon leader, the guides near the tip are one size bigger than usual to better accommodate the leader-to-line knot. I never noticed it before I knew about it, but I like the idea a lot, and it certainly hasn’t caused any problems.
My only point of concern with the design of the rod is the foregrip. It’s big, with a lot of foam, almost exactly like the foregrips on the Genesis II baitcasting models. I’ve never once worried about it on a baitcaster, but a lot of my favorite spinning rods have little to no foregrip, and this is a departure from that. There is a ton of access to the blank at the reel, so you can get direct contact to it easily, but if you like to keep a finger on the blank above the reel it’s not super natural. Overall, I like how the rod looks, but I’d personally go to a smaller foregrip given the chance.
SWIMMING WITH IT
Most spinning rods have a pretty broad range of applications once you stick some light braid with a leader on them, but I went straight for a swimbait with this one. I figured if I was going to test it I should do it right from the start. I started with small stuff, like 3.3- and 2.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT swimbaits on 1/8- to 1/4-ounce heads, and I’ve had no regrets. At 7-4, the rod is a bit longer than the average spinning rod, and that helps on the cast. I rarely find myself target fishing with a small swimbait, so just being able to chuck it is paramount.
As far as feeling rocks, bass and the like, I’ve got no complaints there either. I will say that the 2.8-inch Keitech on a 1/8-ounce head is probably the smallest bait you want to throw on it. Not that the rod handles it poorly, but you can tell the rod loads and fires better with just a bit more weight. Britt designed it for a 3.3-inch bait on a 1/4-ounce head, and it certainly fits the bill for that.
VERSATILITY ISN’T LOST
I don’t know for sure, but I feel like most folks own one or two spinning rods and not a whole suite, so it’s important to be able to apply one in a variety of ways. That being the case, I think this rod can do a lot of things well. It’s perhaps not a killer Ned rig rod, but I’ve caught a pile of bass (and a few big sheepshead) on it with a finesse jig. Additionally, I really think I’m going to love it with a drop-shot on the ledges and up north in the summer. My typical workhorse drop-shot rod is 7-6, and from the feel, I know the Legit’s Finesse Swimmer is going to perform similarly.
I came into this rod as a fan of the iRod Genesis II series, and I’m still a fan. I actually haven’t caught a big bass on this rod yet, but I’ve bowed it up on a big brown trout and some slammer sheepshead, and it’s been great. As far as swimming things goes, I can guarantee it’s going to get a lot of work going forward. Swimming a little Keitech around is one of my very favorite things to do.
This probably shouldn’t be your only spinning rod, but if you’re looking for something a little stouter than the rest of your rods, I think you should look hard at Legit’s Finesse Swimmer. Ringing in at $149.99, it’s priced well, and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Series: Genesis II
Model: Legit’s Finesse Swimmer
Action: extra fast
Warranty: limited lifetime warranty
WHAT IS IT?
Old Town Topwater PDL Fishing Kayak
WHAT SETS IT APART?
The Old Town Topwater PDL offers big fishing performance in a compact, lightweight, easy-to-maneuver format. The ultra-stable Topwater PDL features the award-winning Old Town PDL drive which delivers the ultimate hands-free fishing experience. With instant forward and reverse (no cables to pull in order to go backward) and easy boat handling, your hands remain free to focus on the fishing. Not only is the Old Town PDL drive the easiest, but it is also the most reliable kayak pedal system on the market. The drive is completely maintenance-free and backed by an industry leading five-year warranty.
HOW DO I USE IT?
If you’ve spent any time in a tradiitional kayak, you know that the number one thing you are constantly dealing with is repositioning yourself in relation to the fish you are trying to catch. By having the PDL work just like a bicycle, you are immediately more free to worry about fishing, and less about paddling. It sounds like hyperbole, but it is a true game-changing experience going from the paddle to PDL.
Kayak fishing is pretty great to begin with, but not worrying about repositioning with the paddles takes it to the next level. The control and ease of use with Old Town’s system means you can sneak into places where the fish least expect you. If you are looking at the best experience fishing out of a kayak, this should be first on your list to check out. The Old Town Topwater PDL allows you to fight the fish, not your kayak.
WHAT IS IT?
Lew’s LFS Speed Spool
WHAT SETS IT APART?
The Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo saw Lew’s relaunch the LFS Speed Spool, a reel designed for the competitive weekend angler seeking quality equipment at an affordable price. Based on the premise of reducing size/weight without sacrificing performance this improved version includes a premium 10-bearing system with stainless steel double shielded bearings and Zero Reverse one-way clutch. Lew’s added the new P2 Super Pinion bearing supported pinion gear, which ensures precise alignment and stability for smoother operation and extended gear life.
HOW DO I USE IT?
The LFS Speed Spool also features a Durable Rulon drag system that can impart up to 15 pounds of drag. And providing the leverage needed for getting fish out of the thickest of cover, the Anodized bowed aluminum 95mm reel handle includes Lew’s custom SoftTouch paddle handle knobs. The redesigned Lew’s Speed Spool LFS baitcast reel is offered in right- and left-handed models with three gear ratios: 5.6:1, 6.8:1 and 7.5:1.
Fittingly, Lew’s chose the Bassmaster Classic — the sport’s most prestigious tournament — to relaunch the LFS Speed Spool. Makes sense, as this event continues to inspire anglers of all levels to pursue their dreams of bringing big fish to the big stage. The trend in recent years has been to produce a tournament-worthy reel in the sub-$100 range. Looks like Lew’s has done a solid job with a compact, streamlined reel that’ll help build those angler careers.
By Jason Sealock
After throwing the new Z-Man SlingBladeZ spinnerbait this spring, here are my thoughts on it.
(1 of 8) GOOD PROFILE
Most folks that have fished with me know how much I love a good spinnerbait bite. There is just something about rolling that thing along on a piece of cover and having a big bass roll all over it. So I was glad to take the new SlingBladeZ from Z-Man out when the lake started rising and putting shallow cover into muddy water this spring.
The SlingBladeZ features a minnow profile head with a very unique wider base they call StabilTrack that keeps the spinnerbait from laying on its side when it hits cover or is bumped along the bottom.
(2 of 8) STABILTRACK HEAD DESIGN TO KEEP UPRIGHT
The grooved cavity under the chin of the SlingBladeZ gives StabilTrack its balance and keeps the spinnerbait fishing upright throughout the retrieve. Most spinnerbaits that have a narrow minnow head design, have a tendency to roll over onto their side when they hit a piece of cover, and that is how a lot of hangups occur with spinnerbaits in general.
I was able to crawl the SlingBladeZ through flooded bushes, laydowns and even some clumped vines without an issue.
(3 of 8) UNIQUE WIRE FOR MAXIMUM THUMP
Z-Man incorporated a 17-7 stainless steel wire that has a very thin diameter. You want a thin wire to give a spinnerbait more thump and vibration. But you can’t have such a light wire that the spinnerbait mangles everytime it hits something or when you rear back and really sling it. Some spinnerbaits with too light a wire will actually open up so much that your knot can slip out of the r-bend.
But this low-vis wire holds up really well and really gives the spinnerbait a great shimmy in the water. That translates to a lot more feel when you grip the rod. In cold water, all you will feel of a bite is the thump stop on a good spinnerbait. The SlingBladez really transmits the what the blade is doing well.
(4 of 8) QUALITY COMPONENTS
Z-Man used custom electroplated blade with a jeweler finish to give their SlingBladeZ spinnerbait maximum flash. I think the blades will last a long time. They are quality from what I can tell with very good swivels and clasps. They didn’t cut any corners on the spinnerbait.
(5 of 8) GOOD KEEPER, O’SHAUGHNESSY HOOK, WIRE-TIED SKIRT
They have a good hook keeper to hold their Elaztech baits as well as traditional spinnerbait trailers. The 5/0 O’shaughnessy VMC hook seemed small to me but I think it’s how the hook sits in the body. It has a slight down turn to it which I found really locks down on the fish. I thought I would miss some fish but thus far I’ve been 10/10 on fish on it.
The skirt is wired tied. I thought it was a bit thin with the under strands trimmed, but you can flare it on the retrieve easily with a slight stutter or pause and now I’m thinking that’s why it was made that way so it could breath and pulse easier with the vibration from the blade and thinner wire.
(6 of 8) R-BEND ON WIRE KEEPS KNOT IN PLACE
The in-turned R-bend on the wire arm holds your knot in place well. I didn’t have any issues with my knot moving in the bend or wrapping as sometimes can be the case casting in the wind. The little gut turn on the R-bend also allows you to easily add a skirt collar there to hold your knot snug if you prefer as some spinnerbait anglers will do.
(7 of 8) CAUGHT SOME GOOD ONES SHALLOW PRESPAWN
I caught a handful of good ones the past few weeks on a very stingy Kentucky Lake. I’ve had about 10 fish on the SlingBladeZ now and have been impressed with how it fishes thus far. I’m looking forward to slinging the 3/4 more around when the fish move offshore in the post spawn, but for now the 1/2 ounce is a producer. I’m hoping for some rain now to dirty the water up one more time as the lake comes back up to have a few more fun catches on this spinnerbait.
(8 of 8) SMALL HOOK BUT HOLDS THEM WELL
You can find the SlingBladeZ at TackleWarehouse.com and most retailers carrying Z-man wire baits now. It has above average components in an $8 spinnerbait and I think anglers will be very happy with how it tracks and shimmies in the water.
Learn how to pack and protect your travel fishing rods while taking trips to the world’s wildest destinations and fisheries.
A Review of Rod Sleeves, Socks, Tubes, and Cases
From filling up the truck to flying with your favorite fishing rods, this blog aims to cover the different methods of protection that ensure your travel rod makes the trip intact.
***Keep in mind, you should always consult the rules and regulations of your airline prior to bringing any fishing rod or equipment along for the trip.***
Whether you’re a traveling angler or a fisherman looking to getaway, use the following advice to choose the best protection plan to bring your fishing rods along with you.
1. MHX Spinning and Casting Rod Sleeves
Storage made stylish, the MHX Spinning Rod Sleeve and MHX Casting Rod Sleeve protect your rods from damage and look darn good doing it. Each sleeve is designed to protect the blank, the line guides, and the tip of the rod during storage and transportation.
Not only can you easily store and shield your MHX rods, these sleeves are also engineered with a unique material that will neither mold nor mildew. Plus, the rubberized coating on the bell end is virtually impervious to hook penetration and greatly reduces tangles during transport.
Available in lengths for 6’6″ to 7’6″ rods, the MHX rod sleeves fit a wide range of fishing rods and come in two cool color combinations, black and gold or black and green.
Pick up your MHX Rod Sleeves right here!
2. Clear Creek Cloth Rod Sock
Designed for simplicity, organization, and value, the Clear Creek Rod Sock is a popular protection method for traveling with fly rods or even spinning and casting rods.
Starting with the material, each clear creek rod sock is made of an ultra-soft microfiber suede that keeps nicks and scratches away from your travel rods. Plus, with multiple compartments perfect for securing rods from 1-piece all the way to 4-pieces, these rod socks can hold just about any travel rod you own.
Each sock also features a flap and tie closure for added protection that can be used on its own or within a rod tube, but we’ll cover more of the rod tube method in number 5 below.
Check out the Clear Creek Cloth Rod Socks now!
*Since there are so many options to fit individual customer’s needs, these rod socks are special delivery items, so please allow for extra time on shipping.*
3. St. Croix Cloth Rod Sacks
The St. Croix Cloth Rod Sack combines a super soft cloth and separate sewn in compartments for a design that makes rods easier to pack up and more importantly, protects rods from damage.
This particular rod sack is made to fit most freshwater rods as well as many saltwater rods, excluding some surf rods.
The St. Croix rod sacks provide an extra layer of protection whether you’re traveling or storing your fishing rods.
See the St. Croix Cloth Rod Sacks for yourself.
4. Travel Fishing Rod Cases and Rod Tubes
As many anglers know, there is a bit of a difference between packing up your gear for a quick outing on the local lake, and preparing your gear to travel thousands of miles to reach your fishing destination.
So the question becomes, what works better in each circumstance, a rod case or a rod tube?
The St. Croix Traveler Rod Case
The St. Croix Traveler Rod Cases feature a durable 1000 denier nylon-covered P.V.C. with foam padded ends for rod tip protection and reinforced support for the handle.
The Traveler Rod Case also features divided nylon liners to separate and protect each section of your travel rod without having to add a rod sack.
There are two options for rod cases, either the Traveler Rod Case that fits the rod alone, or the Traveler Rod and Reel Case that includes a strategically designed pocket for the reel. The rod and reel case allows you to leave the reel in place on the rod and keep everything together in the same place.
The Clear Creek Rod Tube
Compact and durable, the Clear Creek Rod Tubes are perfect for protecting your individual rods whether you’re traveling locally or across the globe.
These rod tubes include divided interior liners that prevent scratching during transportation and reinforced seams that handle any rough-and-tough action along the way. With a crush-proof core, extra padding, and scuff resistant cap, each rod tube shields your travel rod while the rugged 1000 denier nylon water-repellent outer material keeps it nice and dry.
One key difference that makes the rod tube slightly better for flights and extensive traveling is that the tube’s flip top includes lockable zipper pulls. So while rod tubes and rod cases both work to protect travel rods from damage, rod tubes go above and beyond to keep rods safely concealed.
Clear Creek Rod Tubes are available in three colors; green, navy, and burgundy, as well as multiple size variations to ensure the best fit for your travel rod.
5. Combine Travel Rod Socks with Rod Tubes
If your fishing trip is taking you the extra mile, take the same precautions with your travel fishing rods.
In this case, the extra mile means beginning with a cloth rod sock, and then sliding your travel rod and the sock together into the rod tube.
Sure this may seem extra, but when it comes to protecting the rods you love, is there such a thing as too far?
This extra layer of protection is well worth it for extensive traveling or for trips where you don’t see who’s handling your gear or more importantly, how they’re handling it to begin with.
You can find all the rod storage and protection products above exclusively at Mud Hole!
Build Your Own Destination Travel Fishing Rod
With MHX Travel Rod Kits, you can build the same high-performance quality expected from MHX, but in the multi-piece construction that makes traveling much more convenient.
After all, what good is a travel rod, if the travel rod ain’t any good in the first place?
Learn more about building travel rods in our blog: Top 3 Destination Travel Rods
The MHX Travel Series allows you to build a packable travel rod without sacrificing its superior performance once you reach the water.
The water is warming up and gamefish are in a chasing mood so now is the time to start throwing crankbaits.
The various sizes and shapes of Karl’s Amazing Crankbaits will give you the versatility to run lures at various depths and around different types of cover. Karl and team worked hard creating these seven new crankbaits that you can use for fishing in skinny water or probing the depths of your favorite fishing spot.
Karl’s Amazing Baits: Baby Boy
This shallow diver excels at tricking panfish in streams and other shallow waters. It’s square bill prevents hang-ups in cover by allowing the lure to deflect off of objects. The Baby Boy is a great lure for kids and beginners to catch a wide variety of gamefish on light tackle.
Karl’s Amazing Baits: Golden Boy
This square bill crankbait is small enough to weave through bass hideouts without hanging up and its smaller profile can trigger strikes from pressured bass that have seen plenty of larger square bills. The Golden Boy can be banged into shallow brush and logs where it can bounce off the wood cover with snagging its hooks.
Karl’s Amazing Baits: Big Boy
The Big Boy is a big bodied (2.75 inches) power fishing crankbait for deflecting off of wood, rocks and dock posts to trigger strikes from big bass. The crankbait’s wobbling action produces plenty of vibration that allows bass to hone in on the lure in stained to murky water. It should be a go-to bait any time bass are lurking in shallow cover waiting to ambush baitfish.
Karl’s Amazing Baits: Shiver Crank
The round-bill crankbait dives to moderate depths making it ideal for catching prespawn and postspawn bass that are suspended or hugging the bottom in the 5- to 10-foot depth range. The lure can be cranked at a slow pace to tempt fish suspended in the water column or cranked at a faster pace to bump the bottom to trigger strikes.
Karl’s Amazing Baits: Deep Shiver
When bass move to offshore structure, the Deep Shiver is a top choice for probing the depths. The lure’s large rounded bill drives the Deep Shiver down to bass schooli/ng on ledges, humps and deep sunken brush piles. Its lifelike swimming action mimics the baitfish bass target on offshore structure.
Karl’s Amazing Baits: Thwacker
The Thwacker works great for all of the lipless crankbait presentations the pros employ. It can be ripped through aquatic vegetation, burned over rock riprap, yo-yoed over gravel banks or ran at a steady pace along boat docks. The lure’s vibration and rattles make it an effective lure in clear or murky water.
Karl’s Amazing Baits: Wedge
The diamond-shaped bill of this crankbait works similar to a square-bill crankbait in that the Wedge’s bill causes it to deflect off of cover. The Wedge will run shallow with a slow retrieve but can dive deeper with its streamlined body when retrieved at a faster pace. The lure is ideal for running over the tops of submerged grass or diving into stumps or the branches of laydowns sitting in deeper water.