Vibe Kayaks Big Gamble

Vibe Kayaks Big Gamble thumbnail

2019 is shaping up to be a big showdown year in fishing kayak manufacturing. New high-end kayaks from trusted manufacturers like Hobie, Jackson, and Feel Free are gaining some headlines but the real dog fight is further down the pricing ladder.

Since late 2017, large name kayak manufacturers have been promising more kayaks in the $999 and below price point. The former inhabitants of that space were big box brands like Ascend, Pelican, and Perception as well as import to dealer and direct to consumer businesses like Vibe Kayaks. Vibe put together a marketing strategy and leveraged a feature rich kayak for less money which appealed to many budget restricted anglers.

In 2015 the Vibe Sea Ghost had a clip in seat, was the typical rotomolded overseas cargo ship ordered kayak, and had a small following but when the changes for 2016 were announced, the market share made a shift. The 2016 Vibe Sea Ghost 130 had a frame style seat, center console, front hatch and probably the biggest selling point for anglers was an included rudder system (preinstalled) and a paddle. The price was set at $899.

In 2016, that price point was well below most premium competitors and with the included rudder and paddle, a more completely rigged kayak than the big box stores. Marketing and publicity followed and a community of loyal followers was built.

Vibe Big Gamble
The 2018 Vibe Sea Ghost 130 on top and the 2019 on bottom.

Fast forward to 2019.

Vibe Big Gamble
Headwaters Kayak price change announcement February of 2019

Now in 2019, the Vibe Sea Ghost is reported to be increasing in price to $999 and aside from changing the aesthetics of the front hatch, handles and utilizing a different hatch on the center console, the Sea Ghost 130 is relatively unchanged and thus the gamble. Oh and one other thing, it no longer comes with the free paddle.

Vibe Big Gamble
Paddle no longer included

2019 has already seen a lot of premium, Made in the USA  kayak manufacturers filling the $999 price point. The Bonafide RS117 is now available, the Nucanoe Flint has been a player in that price point for a few years, the Jackson Bite is rolling in at $799 and the Crescent Lite Tackle at $899. Consumers also have options from Johnson Outdoors with the Old Town Topwater 120 at $999 and the Topwater 106 at $899.

Bonafide RS117 $999

From an economic model, the trajectory of this collision at the sub $1000 price point is fascinating. Premium brands established more expensive kayak models, built their brands as solid, well outfitted, Made in the USA kayaks for years and then utilized those skills, relationships, and dealer networks to hear, design, and meet the demand for the $999 or less market. Vibe, on the other hand, was more of a need-based uprising. Few vendors existed in the $800-$900 price point with those options so Vibe became the default choice. That is no longer the case.

Jackson Bite
Jackson Bite $799

2019 will be a real showing of what the consumer really wants. With so many kayaks to choose from and Vibe, staying relatively the same, raising their price to $999, will the new growth for Vibe continue or will the Jackson, Bonafide, Nucanoe and others take a lion’s share of that new plastic business?

The other question that will be answered this year is this: Can Vibe maintain its organic growth from previous customers?

Crescent Lite Tackle
Crescent Lite Tackle $899

Additionally, will their current kayak owners be tempted to look at all the other options, some for less money and a bigger name?

Old Town Topwater 120

Vibe has gambled big for 2019 and the consumers hold all the cards.

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Catch, Release, & Remember: Interview with Ty Hallock

Catch, Release, & Remember: Interview with Ty Hallock thumbnail

Everyone likes to remember that fish. The big fish. The first fish. The fish you caught on a dry fly after the perfect cast.

The way it used to be done meant killing that fish. If you caught an impressive trout, killing and mounting it was the way you remembered your feat and your trip. This fell out of fashion as time went on and anglers became more conservation conscious. As technology advanced and cellphones became common, on the stream photography became simple.

But with fish mounts falling out of style and smartphone pics lacking luster, how can you remember that fish?

If Ty Hallock is your guide, you can get a custom painting of that fish.

Hallock is the head guide at Casper, Wyoming’s Ugly Bug Fly Shop. Primarily fishing on the North Platte, he rows clients through some amazing scenery en route to putting them on spectacular trout water. And while the fish and the rivers are certainly noteworthy, his talent for recreating those moments is special among fly fishing guides.

“Five or six years ago,” Hallock recalls, “there was a ton of snow the weekend of the Denver Outdoors Show. There wasn’t really anybody there and we were getting bored in the booth. I took two big Cliff boxes, ripped the stickers off, and drew a brown on one and a rainbow on the other with Sharpies. I sold both that day.”

This wasn’t his first foray into art. He has always drawn, and has always drawn fish. “I was in South Dakota for college, so I drew a lot of warmwater species. I also was big into ornithology, so I was drawing a lot of birds.” And in that time he’s used everything from pencil to acrylic to watercolor, “but,” he says, “Sharpie really pops and is exciting for people to see.”

Getting the quality results that he produces didn’t just come from using any marker on whatever surface. “There were literally years of experimentation to see what works the best. I used all sorts of different materials, different markers. Some surfaces are more porous and suck up ink, others can sit for a week and still wipe off like you just colored them.”

Although he still dabbles in other mediums, Hallock has found his groove with Sharpies on plastic. The originals can be framed and hung just like any other artwork, but he also does cooler wraps, fly boxes, and more. Cliff boxes, his first fly fishing canvas, is perhaps the painted product that he is best known for. But there is a particular subject matter of his that is unique.

“It all started because my wife hates plain white backgrounds,” Hallock says. “I was working at a wildlife refuge and was drawing ducks. She didn’t like the ducks by themselves, but I didn’t want to do a full background. So I’d add a few elements next to the ducks. A few years ago I had a client who caught a nice brown trout. I had a picture of her holding the fish, and I drew it leaving in her hands and painted fingernails. There are also some water droplets coming off the fish. She loved it, my wife loved it, and I thought it looked pretty good. I really like the way it gives the fish perspective and motion, and the picture a little personality.”

Artwork like this goes beyond a small, digital photo when it comes to remembering that fish. To have your fish on your fly box or your cooler or your wall lets you revisit that moment whenever you want. And while Hallock creates custom pieces for people all over the country, he often gets to go from the guide boat to the studio to be a part of that process for his clients. “It is pretty cool to help land the fish and then think about how I’m going to paint it later,” he says. “And I know that my client will get to have that fish and tell a story – a catch and release story – over and over again.”


Interested in a Cliff fly box, Yeti cooler wrap, or custom piece of artwork from Ty Hallock? Head to his new website here to shop and see more samples of his work.


This article originally appeared on Casting Across – a website devoted to the quarry and culture of fly fishing.

New Satellite Hot-Spot Lets You Stay Connected Anywhere

A new, super portable way to stay connected no matter where you travel is now available. Developed by a team of engineers with a passion for the outdoors and travel, Somewear Labs, released their hot spot device after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Via Somewear Labs:

“Somewear Labs, an emerging leader in adventure communication technology, is pleased to announce the arrival of the Somewear Global Hotspot: a dependable, simple to use, satellite communication hotspot that pairs with iOS and Android devices to deliver a range of off-the-grid communication services. Somewear provides straightforward and reliable 2-way communication, weather reports, location sharing, and much more when you’re far from home. Somewear is now available for regular online sales and delivers in time for the 2018 holiday season.

The Somewear Global Hotspot utilizes LEO satellite networks to ensure dependable connectivity anywhere in the world. Somewear works with iOS and Android phones via Bluetooth LE connection to provide 2-way communication with SMS text or email via an easy-to-use mobile app. Working off an integrated lithium polymer battery (with micro-USB charge port), Somewear can send up to 1,000 text messages on a single charge. The low profile, IPX7 waterproof device (submersible to 1m for up to 30min), is a quarter of the size and less than half the weight than leading satellite hotspot and phone technologies making it easy to take wherever you go.

Image from Somewear Labs

Somewear is also a stand-alone emergency transmitter that can be activated without connection to a phone. When a user pushes the SOS button embedded directly on the device, a distress signal is transmitted with GPS coordinates and user profile information to local emergency response, so they know who to rescue and where exactly they are located. Somewear also facilitates 2-way communication between emergency response and the distressed users as well as geo-tracking, if the victims are on-the-move or drifting in open water.

For Somewear Labs CEO, James Kubik, the arrival of Somewear represents a leap forward in personal satellite communication devices. “Satellite communication has long been thought of as clunky, slow and downright frustrating, and this launch changes that. Somewear’s software first approach to satellite communication has created the most seamless satcom experience available. We’re starting with the digital essentials of communication, navigation and local information to ensure people are informed and safe no matter where their adventures take them.”

Each device retails for around $350, and full product specs can be found on the Somewear Labs page, here.

Source: Somewear Labs, Somewear Labs Vimeo.

Images from

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Fly Fishing, Sales Pitches, & a Little Orange Thingy

Fly Fishing, Sales Pitches, & a Little Orange Thingy thumbnail

I love a good sales pitch. In fact, one of the things I enjoy the most at fly fishing shows is hearing people hawk their products. But after riding the circuit for a while, I start to say “no thanks” when people ask if they can show me how their gizmo will surely help me land more big fish.

When I have two kids in tow? Its a hard pass.

After a frenetic morning of visiting booths, sticker collecting, and politely asking to place the thousand dollar rod down, I was in no mood for more product demos. Primarily because patiently watching an adult conversation is the absolute last  thing my six- and four-year old wanted to do. That was about the speed of most sales pitches, and rightfully so. Gear X is 50% more fishier than the last generation and 75% fishier than the previous model. Not riveting content for the kindergarten crowd.

Just as we were about to leave the show, I heard the common refrain: Can I show you how this works? I was forming the no thanks when I realized that he wasn’t talking to me. He was talking to my sons.

Continue reading “Fly Fishing, Sales Pitches, & a Little Orange Thingy”

2019 Shimano Antares 70 Reel Review

The New Antares 70 is Shimano’s latest flagship reel. We took it out on Clearlake and put it to the test against some BIG bass! How did it do? Is it worth the money? Let’s find out!

The key features of the reel are a smaller, streamlined, Magnesium Hagane body. MGL Spool III for reduced inertia and amazing performance, even with light baits. X-Ship and Micro Module Gearing give the reel that buttery smooth feel and SVS Infinity Braking makes quick adjustments a breeze.

What does all of this mean to you? It means that you’re about to pick up the smoothest casting reel you’ve ever experienced. It will cast light baits with ease but turn around and throw heavy baits a country mile. If you’re looking for a top of the line reel that will make fishing even more FUN this is as far as you’ll ever need to look!

We have been blessed to purchase a variety of nice equipment over the years and no other reel has had the smoothness and feel of this Antares. In the video we said pre-ordering was available (and it is) but as of this writing there are actually a handful in stock at the link below!

Shimano Antares 70:

We recognize that a reel of this caliber isn’t for every angler. There are anglers with all kinds of needs and budgets. With that in mind here are a handful of our best “bang for the buck” casting reels at a variety of price points.

Chronarch MGL:

Curado 150 DC:

Curado 200 K:


The Bait you saw catching all the fish in this video is an LV-500 in “Ghost Minnow” color with upgraded hardware.

Lucky Craft LV-500:

Gamakatsu EWG Size 4 Treble:

Owner Size 3 Hyperwire Split Rings:


Need Apparel? Tacticalbassin Gear is in stock! Get your hats, hoodies, and sunshirts by emailing

antares 70 web.jpg

Behind the Brand: Sierra Nets

Behind the Brand: Sierra Nets thumbnail

In the latest Behind the Brand, the Flylords team caught up with Greg Madigral. Who is the owner, founder, and the sole net builder for Sierra Nets. Greg is an U.S. Army Veteran who takes a passion in handcrafting these nets for his customers. We wanted to learn more about these unique nets and what goes into the production of them. Check out the interview below to learn more about Sierra Nets

Greg Madigral showing off a resident rainbow in Utah

Flylords: Tell us a little about yourself and where your passion for fishing comes from?

Greg: I’ve been married for 23 years to a wonderful woman and no kids-Just my beautiful black rescue labradoodle who is my studio mate.  I’m a U.S. Army veteran who grew up in Idaho in a fairly rural and humble household of eight. Fishing was something we could do that didn’t cost much money. Since those early days, I’ve always been captivated by nature. It really doesn’t matter if it’s the beach, the open ocean, the mountains, or just a city park, I’m always seeking out and fascinated by the natural world.  Fly fishing just happens to encompass so many of these aspects all rolled into one beautiful sport.

Photo: Gabi Suggs

Flylords: What inspired you to start the business?

Greg: Throughout my 30s, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was wasting away my life working for others. My wife and I traveled quite a bit and I got a taste of just how much is out there to explore. Along came the great recession and I was laid off. This sparked a three-year search for a new path in this life. I was already an accomplished woodworker with many pieces of furniture and three fly fishing nets under my belt. I knew that if I put my mind to it I could build the best nets the world.

Photo: Gabi Suggs

Flylords: People consider your nets works of art, where do you get the inspiration for your net designs?

Greg: The designs are typically born from a particular piece of handle wood I am dealing with.  My nets have evolved over the last nine years with a noticeable difference in design, detail, & aesthetics. First and foremost, the goal of my designs is to meet the customer’s specifications and then to exceed their expectations! So, some of the ideas come from my clients. I really like this scenario because it pushes me to move outside my box and try new things.  Other inspirations come from famous workers like the Greene & Greene brothers and Sam Maloof.

Photo: Gabi Suggs

Flylords: Tell us about the collaboration between you and your clients?

Greg: This is an interesting part of my business. I have clients from all over the world and from every walk of life. On one end of the spectrum, some want me to create a masterpiece completely of my choice while others specify practically every detail of the net. The latter is more common and I work one-on-one with clients, usually over social media, phone calls, or email, to banter back-and-forth until we come up with a suitable design. Some clients have even sent me their own custom hoop shape or artwork to inlay into the net. I consider this a privilege and an honored to work directly with the client.  Their heirloom net becomes more important to them since they help design it and makes the overall process of a custom net commission more enjoyable for both of us.

Photo: Gabi Suggs

Flylords: Why do you think the majority of your clients are fly fisherman/women?

Greg: I can count one hand the number of my clients over the years who only fish conventional gear. I believe the reasons behind this pertain to the storied history of fly fishing.   Fly fishing has many traditions and lore which will likely never go away. One of those traditions, alongside catch and release and fly fishers’ conservation efforts, is carrying a wooden net.  Also, many of my fly fishing clients tend to be over 30 and are looking for something to pass down to their next generation of fly fishers they’ve been mentoring. Fly fishing is one of those things that tends to run in families.

Photo: Gabi Suggs

Flylords: Tell us about some of the other fly fishing accessories you make

Greg: Sierra Nets makes a line of beautiful accessories made from the same gorgeous woods found on our nets. On just about every net, a client asks for one of our handmade latigo leather, wood, and carbon fiber magnetic net releases as well as one of our net safety lanyards. We also offer beautiful handcrafted bison leather or canvas cases to protect the net & to keep it from getting caught on things during transit.  I also designed and build my proprietary dual vehicle rod holder that comes in pretty handy when getting on or off the water. I don’t think I know any fly fisherman who hasn’t broken a rod in the car door at least once. I also offer custom turned premium figured stabilized reel seats and stabilized reel seat blanks.

Photo: Jeff Brown

Flylords: Your materials are beautiful, where do you source them?

Greg: This is a common question I get. The answer is: From many different places!  Some of my woods are locally sourced urban hardwoods that I or friends obtain. Occasionally, I’ll receive calls to pick up trees that are being felled the same day. I also buy wood from specialty wood suppliers both local and online or even on eBay or social media. Some of the woods are even gifted to me by people I meet who don’t know what to do with it or want it to be used for its best and highest purpose.  Regardless of where I obtain it, sourcing wood is a passion of mine, and I take both the environmental and aesthetic considerations of it very seriously.

To get your hands on one of these handcrafted nets you can check out or give them a follow at @sierranets.

Sierra Net Testimonial:

“Fly fishing has taken us to the most beautiful places the states have to offer. When we go fishing we always take our Sierra net, it belongs in these places, netting gorgeous, giant cutthroat. Greg’s Nets are truly pieces of art in their own right. They’re one-of-a-kind beautiful, reliable, and stand the test of time. Our net will last generations. One day we’ll  pass it on to our son Sage, along with the countless memories of every fish its held.”-Gabi Suggs (Pictured Left)



Check out these other Behind the Brand features:

Behind the Brand: Early Riser Coffee Roasters

Behind the Brand: Rent This Rod

Behind the Brand: Denver Outfitters



How To Rig Swimbaits – Best Set Up To Land More Fish

Knowing how to rig swimbaits will help you catch more bass when you are out fishing. Here are the details of one of the best ways to rig a swimbait, so you don’t miss as many fish. Included in this post are all the gear, tackle, and some video clips of how this awesome swimbait rigging works. Get Stoked!


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Underwater Footage | Bass Eating Jerkbaits and Swimbaits

Spring is your best opportunity to catch a new personal best bass. The big fish are up shallow looking for food and getting ready to spawn. The key to consistently catching big fish is finding the baitfish. If you find the food, you’ll find the biggest bass. In today’s video we discuss the 7 baits that you should have ready to go for those big prespawn bass.

Underwater footage gives us amazing insights into the underwater world. Its amazing how fast these fish move, how aggressively bite and conversely, how quickly they lose interest. Watch closely so you can identify the “triggers” that caused these fish to feed.

Always ensure that you have a bladed bait (A-rig, spinnerbait, underspin), or flashy bait (Jerkbait, Fluke, Squarebill, Glide Bait) ready to go during the Spring. Keep an eye out for subtle swirls, shoreline cover moving, or flashes in the water to alert you to the presence of baitfish. Find the bait is more than half the battle. Once you’ve located bait, the bass are sure to follow!

Below is a breakdown of the baits in the video as well as the baits we recommend for each category.


Revenge Deep Runner:

(Blue Shad, Shad, Purple Metallic)

-Nichols Motherlode:

(Blue Crystal Shad, Silver Flake Shad, Bombshell Shad)

-River2Sea Bling:

(Abalone Shad, I know it)

Alabama Rig (A-Rig)…

-Umbrella Flash Mob Jr:

-G Funk Cali Rig:

-Matt Allen Swimbait Head (1/8 oz):

-River2Sea D-Walker:

-Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper:


Owner Flashy Swimmer 1/4 oz 5/0:

Keitech 4.8 Fat Swing Impact Swimbait:

Soft Jerkbait…

Zoom Super Fluke:

Reaction Innovations Shiver Glide:

Gamakatsu 4/0 Superline Hook:


Shallow- Lucky Craft Flash Pointer:

(American Shad, Aurora Black, Crystal Pro Blue)

Medium- Jackall Rerange:

(Hasu, Silver Shad, Holo Minnow)

Deep- Megabass Vision 110+1:

(HT Ito Tennesse Shad, M Shad, Ozark Shad)

Glide Bait…

S-Waver 168:

(Light Trout, Warden Hitch)

Squarebill Crankbait…

-Lucky Craft 1.5/2.5:

(American Shad, Live Threadfin Shad)

River2Sea Biggie:

(Abalone Shad, Gizzard Shad)

6h Sense Crush 100:

(4k Shad, Threadfin Flash, Shad Greens)

Overall Combo that will throw “most” of these baits…

Rod- 7’2″ Medium Heavy Zodias:

Reel- Curado 150 DC HG:

Line- 50 lb Power Pro Maxcuatro:

Leader- 15 lb Maxima Ultragreen:


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REVIEW: NRS HydroSkin 2.0 Forecast Gloves

REVIEW: NRS HydroSkin 2.0 Forecast Gloves thumbnail

NRS Hydroskin 2.0 Forecast Gloves Review
The best time to test some cold water gear is when it’s cold and you are actually on the water fishing. Cold weather kayak gloves that don’t inhibit fishing are always high on the search list from November through April across the US. I recently had occasion to test out the NRS Hydroskin 2.0 Forecast gloves when the weather was spitting on the river and temps stayed in the low 40s all morning. The Forecast Gloves run $45.

Before I get to the goods and areas of improvement, let’s see what NRS says about the Forecast gloves.

NRS Forecast Product Details

NRS HydroSkin 2.0 Forecast Gloves deliver the warmth of 2 mm neoprene with convertible thumb and fingertips to give you extra dexterity for fishing and knot tying.

  • Tips of the thumb and first two fingers can be slipped out for tying knots, working camera controls and other fine motor operations. Hook and loop patches hold the glove tips out of the way.
  • 2 mm neoprene provides warmth on cool boating days.
  • Grippy silicone palm pattern for paddle and oar control.
  • A fitted, stretchy slip-on wrist cuff makes the glove easy to put on and take off.
  • Pairing snaps on the wrists help keep the gloves together.

NRS Hydroskin 2.0 Forecast Gloves ReviewSpecs

Weight: 3 oz
Material: 2 mm neoprene
Seams: Single needle with high tenacity thread
Taped Seams: No
Palm Material: Silicone palm pattern
Wrist Closure: Fitted cuffs
Gender Sizing: Men
  • Convertible tips on thumb and first two fingers
  • Wrist pairing snaps


The Good from the NRS Forecast

As advertised, the Forecast is a good cool weather glove. The silicone grip allows good paddle control in wet conditions. I also appreciated the warmth it provided. It’s important to note, this is not a waterproof glove. It uses the body’s natural heat to warm the moisture between the skin and internal neoprene. While this might keep your hands a bit wet in the river, it does keep them warm.  Water molecules conduct energy (heat) 25-40 times faster compared to air molecules. The Forecast gloves are made of small closed neoprene cells that are filled with air which provide insulation against cold water by trapping heat in. The thicker the neoprene, the warmer the glove will be because it has more heat-trapping insulation.

NRS Hydroskin 2.0 Forecast Gloves ReviewThe fitted cuffs are good for paddling because they limit additional water entry and because they are elongated if you are in a jacket with untapered sleeves your skin isn’t exposed around the wrists as it would be with a normal glove that only covers to the base of a palm.

I appreciated the foldable fingers for the thumb, index, and middle fingers in the Forecast glove and that there was a mechanism to hold them open for tying knots. I also really liked that NRS chose 2mm neoprene. Much thicker would feel clumsy and the dexterity in your fingers you sometimes need for certain fishing techniques would be much harder to obtain.

Some Thoughts on Improvement

The way the fingers are held open with velcro is great until you forget. I was on the river for about 10 minutes and had the fingers closed because I was paddling upstream for a stretch. My nose was itching and so I reached up with the glove and used the back of my hand (in the glove) and regretted it. I scratched my nose with the abrasive velcro. Ouch! For future versions, I’d love to see a different way to secure the fingers back. Heck, even a full mitt that can fold back might be a good solution.

Not to harp on the velcro but it also loved to catch on my fishing line while I was tying knots. The seams on the outside of the gloves did this a bit too. I use a few knots that I use all 10 of my fingers to tie (at least out of habit, not as much necessity) so having fold back options for all of the fingers would be cool. I’m sure with some practice I could get better but first trip out I found myself pulling my gloves off a couple of times to complete more complex knots like an Alberto braid to fluoro join knot.

NRS Hydroskin 2.0 Forecast Gloves ReviewFinal Thoughts on the Forecast Gloves

These are good gloves now and should serve you well when water and air temps are 30-55. What I am really hoping for is a revision for next Fall which moves away from the velcro.

Other Cool Weather Options

If you are looking for something a touch thinner, like 1mm for winters in Florida and Texas, you might look up the NRS Fusion gloves.

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2 Brother’s Love Of Fishing Helps Get Them Through Hard Times

Trout fishing trips to The McCloud River was something Paul & George enjoyed before trips to the hospital. It got them through tough nights spent in a hospital bed. And it’s something they’ll share for the rest of their lives. Anyone who’s ever bonded with family or friends over the outdoors should take 7 minutes to watch this video. Then go fishing.

George is a buddy of mine, a guy who loves fishing enough to have it in his Instagram handle, for reference. His brother’s had a tough go of it, being in and out of the hospital way more than anyone his age ever should be. But, as Orvis described in this video, fishing helped get them through.

Family and fishing are two of the most important things to many anglers in our community. We need both to really enjoy where we’re at in life. And, often times, we fish with our family. Some of my favorite memories fishing are with my dad and grandpa and my closest friends. Maybe I’m just sentimental, but that’s why this story really hit home.