Product Reviews

Product Review: Werner Camano Carbon Bent Shaft

Here is a link to a review my Dad wrote about his Werner Camano.

Product Review: Ardent Apex Grand

Ardent Apex Grand 

Over the last couple of weeks I have been using an awesome reel from Ardent.  This is the real deal when it comes to casting and smooth action.  Here are my initial thoughts on the reel, how I rigged it up, and what I think of it after use. 

Product Specs:
Ardent Apex Grand
  •   7.3:1 Gear Ratio
  •    Helical Aircraft Aluminum Gear
  •    Dual Breaking System
  •    12+1 High-Precision Ball Bearings
  •     5.9 Ounces
  •     Strike SystemÔ Drag System
  •     Power Carbon Fiber Handle

Easy Adjust Dual Breaking System

Initial Thoughts:
When I opened the box and held the Ardent Apex Grand my first thought was that it was LIGHT.  Weighing in at 5.9oz. it is the lightest low profile bait caster that I have used.  The next thing that stood out was the large carbon fiber handle.  This handle has huge cranking abilities. 

Large Spool holds plenty of floro

Rigging the Ardent:
Since it is the winter time, I knew I would need a good crankbait/jerkbait reel.  I spooled the reel with 12lbs fluorocarbon and put it on my St. Croix 7' Medium/ Heavy crankbait rod.  The fast 7.3:1 gear ratio is perfect for jerkbait fishing and as long as I cranked slowly it was good for my crankbaits. I was pumped to get this reel out on the water. 

Photo By: Rob Choi 

Using the Ardent:
My first trip with this reel was to a small local reservoir for bass and pickerel.  I had my Ardent rigged with a Spro Little John crankbait in a Spring Craw color.  I took a few practice cast at the ramp to adjust the breaking system.  The brake system is super easy to adjust, and after only a few casts it was ready to go.  The fishing was slow that day, and I fired off a ton of cast with this reel.  I never heard a single noise, and never got tired from holding it.  I caught a few fish with it, including a chunky bass.  The drag was super smooth when I was fighting the fish.  On my next few trips I was primarily fishing jerk baits.  The quick gear ratio was perfect for picking up the slack line after each jerk.  I caught a few pickerel and small bass on the jerkbaits, and once again never had an issue.

What I Like: 
After using this reel several times and catching some good fish I can tell you that this reel really impressed me.  The thing that stood out the most was how smooth it is.  It is definately the smoothest reel in my arsenal.  I can cast crankbaits and jerkbaits a mile with this and even under sub-freezing conditions, there were no issues.  The smooth drag also impressed me.  Many crankbaits have very light-wire hooks that pull easily, so having a smooth drag is very important.  Unfortunately, due to our winter weather I was unable to test the Ardent Apex Grand in the salt.  All indications are that it will make a great redfish and speckled trout reel for topwater and jig fishing.  I do not know how well it will hold up in the salt but I plan on putting it to the test.   

Product Review: Kokatat Bahia Tour PFD

 A lot of folks will pick up a new piece of gear, use it once or twice and then write a review.  These are helpful, but I wonder how some of these products hold up over time.  About a year ago, a Kokatat Bahia Tour PFD arrived in the mail and I immediately put it to good use, so now let me tell you about this quality product, including how it has survived a year on the water.
Brand new
          The first thing I noticed with the Bahia Tour is that it had a lot of storage with three pockets.  Each pocket has a D-ring for tethering your stuff and there is a nice anchor point on the front left.  Reflecting material on the front and on the back shoulders is a nice safety feature.  I chose the Mango color; in general I like bright colors for all of my safety gear.  If I get in trouble I want to be easy to see and easy to find.
            When I first tried the jacket on it took a few minutes to get it adjusted to the right fit, with 8 adjustment points, it is easy to get just the right fit.  The front zipper is heavy duty and easy to use and the jacket is very comfortable.  The high back fits perfect with the seat in my Jackson kayaks.
Tricking the Bahia Tour Out
            The Bahia Tour is ready to go right off the rack, but I always add a few pieces of safety gear to my jackets.
Additional safety gear

            I always have a radio and smart phone with me on the water.   My Cobra HH350 VHF fits in the long pocket on the right side and I use a small Velcro strap to attach it to the D-ring.
My iphone lives in a life proof case in the left pocket.

            I do a lot of night fishing for striped bass and speckled trout, so I like to add an emergency light to my PFD’s.  In this case I used an ACR light I picked up at a local boating store.  The light runs on two AA batteries and was easy to attach with two Velcro straps. (If you add a light to your PFD, make sure you can reach it when you are wearing the jacket.)

An emergency cutter in the left pocket and a whistle on the zipper with an s-clip and I am ready to hit the water.

A Year Later
            Well after a year of hard use in fresh and salt water, I can report that the Bahia Tour has held up great.  Every zipper is still as smooth as the day it arrived and all the straps and buckles are still as good as new.  It is a little dirtier and it smells like fish, which is a good thing for a kayak fisherman.  I have made a few changes over the last few months.  First, I changed phones and an iphone 5 in a life proof case doesn’t fit well in the front pocket.  I’ve moved my phone to an X mount from RAM mounts on my kayak.  I have also added a Gerber River Shorty Knife to the front anchor.

One Year Old

            I am super pleased with my Bahia Tour PFD, if you are looking for a quality kayak fishing PFD that will give you years of good service, give the Kokatat Bahia Tour a try.

PowerTeam Lures
Bass Attack Pack

Now that the water is warming up and everyone is dusting off their kayaks, it’s time to start restocking your arsenal of freshwater soft plastics.  Since there are thousands of different shapes, sizes, and colors to choose from, deciding on what you are going to buy can be tough.  However, if you are looking for a good quality soft plastics kit to get you started this season look no further than the PowerTeam Lures Bass Attack Pack. 
I bought this kit and decided to put it to the test against winter and prespawn bass under numerous weather conditions and on several different lakes to see it this kit would pass the test, and let me tell you, it did and with flying colors!

The Bass Attack Pack comes in two different color options: lighter blues/browns and darker browns/greens/junebug colors.  I chose the darker kit based on the water color I normally fish. The kit includes each of the following:  6” Gators, 7” Ticklers, 5” Sick Sticks, 3.5” Food Chain Tubes, and 3.5” Craw D’oeuvres.  It also includes terminal tackle like: Pea Heads, Tick Shakes, FCT Tube Heads, and 2/0 EWG Hooks.  Hog Tonic capsules are also included in the kit. 

6” Gator
The Gator is a lizard style soft plastic.  These baits can be killer during the spring time while the bass are spawning.  A lizard looks like a salamander which is a natural predator and bass won’t hesitate to attack one near a bed.  I have had success pitching a Gator on to a bed, but my most successful method has been a Carolina rigged gator.  For those who don’t know what a Carolina rig is, it is normally a ½-1oz. egg sinker that is above a swivel. On the other end of a swivel is 2-4feet of 10lbs fluorocarbon leader.  Slowly dragging a Carolina rig with a gator near a spawning flat will drive the big females crazy. 

18" Bass on the Gator 

7” Tickler
The 7” Tickler is the perfect worm for shakey head fishing.  This bait rigged on one of the Tick Shake heads is hard to beat when the fishing gets tough.  On days after a wicked cold front has moved through, this may be the only bait that catches fish.  I like working this bait over long main lake and secondary points, as well as on ledges.  The key to using this bait effectively on slow days is to work the bait extra slow.  Most of the time I won’t even move the bait once it hits the bottom, I will only shake it.  Even the most finicky bass will be tempted to eat this worm and don’t let the size fool you; I have caught bass from 10in to 20in on this bait.
An early prespawn bass couldn't resist a 7" Tickler 

5” Sick Stick
This bait is by far my favorite out of the kit. The 5” Sick Stick is a soft stick bait style plastic that will catch bass any time of year under any conditions.  I have fished it in so many different ways and have caught fish every way I have tried.  If I had to pick one way to fish this though it would be weightless on one of the EWG hooks that comes with the kit. This rig will catch bass of all sizes, all year.  The retrieve is simple; just throw it out and let the bait sink, then use a jerk, jerk, pause cadence to bring it back in.  Vary the length of the pauses, depending on the water temperature.  The colder the water the longer I pause.
One of many bass caught on a Sick Stick

3.5” Food Chain Tubes
The Food Chain Tube is an excellent bait for bedding bass in the lakes around Tidewater VA.  I will rig the Tube with the FCT Tube heads that are included in the kit.  I use this bait when sight fishing for Largemouth’s guarding beds.  I will pitch the tube directly on top of the bed and let it sit there until it gets the fish’s attention.  Once the fish locks on to it hop it a few times.  This should drive the fish crazy and make it eat the bait. With the hook being exposed, it helps with hook ups too.
 Spawning Bass can't pass up a Tube!

3.5” Craw D’oeuvres
The Craw D’oeuvres are the most versatile bait in the kit.  You can Texas rig them, Carolina Rig them, jig it, use it on a shakey head, or use it as a jig trailer.  I have caught fish using each of these methods, but using this bait rigged on a Tick Shake has produced the most fish.  During the late winter, and early spring, this produced some of my larger bass fish.  Slowly hopping this bait along the bottom mimicking  a crawfish produced the most action. 
Big Winter time Pig on a Craw D
Add Ons:
Even though the Bass Attack Pack is ready to fish now, I have added a few pieces of terminal tackle to fully equip it.  Some of these things are: Bobber stoppers for Texas rigging, some bigger worm hooks, and a few bullet head weights in assorted sizes. 
The PowerTeam Lures Bass Attack Pack is an awesome kit that is good for beginner and experienced fisherman alike.  You can pick up a kit at Appomattox River Company and on their website. 

Spring is here and its time to go out and catch yourself a HAWG!!!

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