Tagged in: outdoors

how to pick the right fishing rod

How to pick the right fishing rod: Length, Power, and Action

Growing up with little to no fishing experience and catching the fishing bug later in life, all of this information has come in handy when selecting the right fishing rod for me! Thanks to our friends over at fix.com and writer Mike Cork, here is an article to show you how to pick the right fishing rod.

Having the proper equipment is as important in fishing as it is in any sport. With a wide range of bait options and techniques, rod manufacturers have developed rods to cast specific baits farther and more accurately. They’ve also balanced these capabilities with other factors to give the angler an advantage over a hooked bass. A truly effective fisherman or woman can now pick the perfect tool. The correct rod for a given situation allows anglers to cast baits accurately, work baits properly, detect more strikes, and set the hook to land a fish.

Lure Choice

Selecting the perfect bass fishing rod starts with lure choice. A hammer can drive a screw, but is it the most effective tool? Using a flipping rod to fish with crank baits would be just as difficult. While you could cast a crankbait with a flipping rod, the distance, accuracy, and ability to land bass may suffer. Knowing the different parts of a rod – and how they affect casting and fighting a bass – is the first step in selecting the proper rod for the job at hand.

When selecting a baitcasting or spinning rod, there are three things to consider: power, action, and length. The right combination of power and action allows longer and more precise casts with a given lure or technique. Add in the proper length and the combination provides effective control over a hooked bass. All three elements will also prevent angler fatigue.

Rod Selection - All About Rod Power
Source: Fix.com

 

Power

Power is the amount of pressure an angler has to apply to make a rod bend. Heavier action rods require more pressure to bend, while light action rods bend much easier.1 Rod manufacturers categorize rods as light, medium, or heavy. In some cases, there are in-between levels such as medium/light or medium/heavy. Higher-end rod companies categorize rods with a number system to describe the power rating, usually one through five (one means light action and five means heavy action).

Rod Selection - All About Action
Source: Fix.com

 

Action

The action describes how and where the rod blank flexes when a force is applied. Or, the action is how easily and how far from the tip a rod will bend. Actions are similar among most rod manufacturers. However, the terms rod manufacturers use to rate these actions can get confusing. Many companies use the same three categories as they do for power ratings: light, medium, or heavy. Other manufacturers use variations of speed to describe action: moderate fast, fast, extra fast. Variations of “fast” better describe how quickly the rod stops bending and transfers power to the blank of the rod. An extra fast (or heavy) action rod will bend three to four inches before transferring power to the blank, which is considered quick. A moderate fast (or light action) will bend nearly a third of the way down the rod blank, which is considered slow.

Action balances the power of the rod for casting and fighting bass. The rod’s action influences how it casts, how sensitive the tip is, and the rate at which it transfers the hook set to the bait at the end of the line. A lighter, slower action will cast lighter baits while a heavier, faster action better suits heavier baits. The action is also useful when fighting a fish once it’s hooked. If you use baits with treble hooks, a lighter action will give when a fish makes a surge, which prevents the hooks from pulling free. However, a lighter or slower action also makes it more difficult to set the hook when a fish strikes. Typically with treble-hooked baits, an angler wants to lean into a strike rather than set the hook. A heavy action allows an angler to drive a hook into a fish’s mouth. Heavy or fast actions better suit baits with single hooks, including a spinnerbait, jig, or Texas rig soft plastics where a strong hook set is required.

To explain how the different power and tip actions improve casting baits and landing fish, let’s compare two bass fishing rods specific to techniques: first, a rod used for fishing crank baits and second, a rod used for fishing spinnerbaits. Both baits have different aerodynamics for casting, and different hooks used to land a bass.

Crank Baits

For crank baits with treble hooks, an angler needs a variation of a medium power and action rod. This lighter action will flex more, which allows for better hook ups when a fish strikes and prevents a fish from pulling loose after it’s hooked. Treble hooks have shallow throats, leaving very little space for the hook to penetrate the jaw of a fish. Treble hooks are designed to grab the skin inside the mouth of a fish. Most crank baits have at least two treble hooks (three hooks on each treble). This gives the angler six chances to get a hook stuck in the fish’s mouth. The medium power and action rod will bend, allowing a bass more time to take a lure deeper into its mouth during a strike. This action also bends when a bass surges or jumps, which again prevents the hooks from tearing free.

A lighter action rod also aids in casting by loading (flexing). When an angler pulls forward to cast, the weight of the lure will flex the rod’s tip. This action builds energy in the flex, called load. The load is then released when the rod comes forward and stops when the bait releases, which allows for a longer cast. Action needs to be balanced with lure weight. A light lure will not flex the rod tip to help casting unless it’s a light action. However, it is possible to overload the rod when casting. And a lure that is too heavy for the rod’s action will prevent the rod from using the load properly. For heavier crank baits, select a heavier action. A good rule is to use the lightest action possible to effectively cast the bait.

Spinner Baits

When fishing with spinnerbaits, use at least a medium/heavy power rod because of the larger single hook. When a bass strikes, a strong hook set is necessary to drive the large single point hook through the jaw of a fish. This may require quite a bit of force. Since spinnerbait’s subpar aerodynamics negatively affect casting distance, you need to balance action with a variety of factors. The size of the bait is the most controllable element. Similar to the crank bait rod, a lighter action will allow for more load and longer distance casts. However, spinnerbaits can get heavy and if the action is too light, the rod may become overloaded, which decreases accuracy. A medium/heavy rod with a fast action provides a great balance for most spinnerbaits up to half an ounce. When fishing baits greater than half an ounce, an extra fast action will provide better casting.

Rod Selection - Which Rod to Choose, When
Source: Fix.com

Length

The subject of rod length can lead to debate among anglers. Gary Dobyns, owner of Dobyns Rods, designs a slew of bass fishing rods. “A rod’s length should only be limited to an angler’s ability to use it,” says Dobyns, who would use a 9-foot fishing rod if bass tournaments allowed it. He says longer rods pick up more line on a hook set, which can help if an angler is caught out of position for a good swing. Longer rods can also make up for some of anglers’ errors. “A longer rod is also better at balancing applied pressure against the surges and jumps of a hooked fish,” he says.

In a nutshell, the longer the rod, the more control an angler has over a fish.

Rod Material

Today’s fishing rods are made from two materials: graphite and fiberglass. Graphite is the lightest and most sensitive of the two. However, fiberglass still has applications in the fishing industry. When using baits that require a rod with a medium or lighter action, fiberglass provides the necessary parabolic bend (meaning the bend of the rod is similar throughout the length).2 Graphite is stronger, more sensitive, and more expensive than fiberglass. A graphite rod, due to its lighter weight and greater sensitivity, is the better choice in most cases.

Line guides

Line guides are nearly as important as the rod’s blank. Quality guides enable anglers to detect strikes transmitted through the fishing line to the rod blank. Line guides range in quality from good to great. The price of each quality level varies tremendously. Micro and standard line guides are the two basic sizes for freshwater casting rods. Micro guides are very small line guides normally used on fly-fishing equipment. In recent years, micro guides have made their way to the casting rod industry, claiming an overall lighter, more sensitive rod. Manufacturers claim anglers can cast further with these guides. A rod with micro guides requires more guides on the blank, so is typically more expensive. Guide size is a matter of opinion. Choose the size that works best for you. Since proper guide placement is vital, examine the rod before purchasing to ensure the guides line up.

Reel Seats

Reel seats are very basic and there aren’t many options. Many anglers prefer a reel seat that allows them to feel the blank with their finger when holding the rod and reel (a cutout on the bottom of the reel seat exposes the rod’s blank). Determining the best reel seat is purely angler preference. Some reel seats are wider than others; trigger placement will vary, along with seat nut size. Hold a variety of rods to find the reel seat that is most comfortable for you. If a rod isn’t comfortable to hold, the perfect combination of length, power, and action is irrelevant. Pay attention to the shape of the grip on spinning rods (some spinning rods don’t have grips). Always test out a reel on the rod you’d like to purchase to see how the combination feels.

Rod Handles

There are a variety of rod handle types available: cork, EVA foam, or a combination of the two. Some anglers prefer the feel of cork to EVA foam. Both are very light and easy to grip. Proper handle length depends on the type of casting. Longer handles help with heavy baits and long casts because they allow an angler to use two hands to generate a lot of load and forward force when casting. For short casts with lighter baits, short handles allow for one-handed or roll casting to targets without getting in the way. Handles also come in split grip, pistol grip, and full grip so an angler can adjust to the type of casting. Full grip handles are best for casting heavy baits or for long distances where two hands are required. For lighter baits or close target casting, choose a split grip or pistol grip. The lack of material in the split grip or pistol grip can reduce the overall weight of the rod. With less material on the handle, manufacturers advertise a split grip handle as more sensitive.

Purchasing the correct rod can be an overwhelming process. But if you stick to these general guidelines, you’ll be in great shape. With the perfect rod, the catch of a lifetime is just a cast away.

 

waterproof speaker

Waterproof Speakers to keep the music going when wet!

With summer heat baking most of the country, I find myself being in and around the water every weekend! I might be kayaking, paddle boarding, or just relaxing at the beach and I’ve found myself wishing I had a better music source. However I’m not one to run the risk of trying to keep something dry around the water.  My rule is don’t take anything that can’t get wet along when you’re on the water. I’ve seen countless phones get ruined, speakers sink, and this could all be prevented.  Now there are cell phone cases now that are completely waterproof but I generally just use a dry bag. The issue is that I like to use my phone to play music.  Well my problems are solved with the creation of bluetooth waterproof speakers.  Now not all of these are made the same and a good water proof speaker is going to cost you between $50-$100.  You’re going to want to invest in a good speaker rather than throwing your money away at a “splash-proof” speaker that sinks and dies the first day out on the water.  Here are 4 different waterproof speakers that are perfect for the active lifestyle out on the water.

Miccus eXtreme SPX7: $50 This could be considered a base model bluetooth waterproof speaker. It has a battery life of 6 hours but realistically playing music at a decent volume it’s only going to last 5ish hours.  It comes with a handle to attach it to your gear, a bicycle mount, and a suction cup.  Careful with the suction cup, if it doesn’t have a good suction it could slide from the area you mounted it which could lead to damaging the internal components. This is meant to be waterproof and not necessarily your bang around speaker.

MediaBug Summit Rugged Water-Resistant Speaker: $65 Ok so this one is one the list because it is borderline waterproof. Key words water-resistant doesn’t mean take it swimming. However it does the job for most uses on the water.  The attachable key loop lets you attach it quickly and easily.  It uses advanced technology which I won’t get into which lets it have better sound as well as increased battery life: 14 hours! Another cool benefit is that the device actually can charge your phone as well. Even though its not water-proof, its got some great sound and cool features.

ECOXGEAR ECOXBT Rugged and Waterproof SpeakerBest Speaker $78 This has the best of both worlds and then some!  A 10 hour battery life, rugged frame, high end clear sound and of course fully waterproof!  This also has a waterproof mic for hand-free calling as well! Another benefit is that the speaker is not strictly bluetooth, there is a wired listening option as well. This is our choice for waterproof speaker!

NYNE Multimedia Aqua Floatable Waterproof Speaker: $100 This is the most expensive version but yet seems to fall short in certain areas. It does shine in others. It is designed to be a floating speaker or shower speaker. It isn’t your rugged outdoor bluetooth waterproof speaker and may not last if left in the elements. The output on this speaker isn’t as praised as some other speakers.  The strap that comes with is great for hanging in the shower though. Just not sure if it’s worth the $100 price tag.

 

These are just some choices to get you out on the water and enjoying some music at the same time.  This way you don’t have to stay dry to keep the music going! Do you have a favorite waterproof speaker we didn’t mention? Leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

winter fishing tips and tactics

Winter Fishing Tips and Tactics

Many of us don’t like to let a little cold weather stop of us from enjoying the great outdoors. Who doesn’t love fishing year round?! Well we present to you some of the best Winter Fishing Tips and Tactics presented by Fix.com.

Fishing through the winter months can be very rewarding for a number of reasons. Cold temperatures keep fair-weather anglers home and hunting seasons lead many anglers to trade lakes for the woods. Winter is also the time of year when most freshwater species group up. The result: more fish for cold-weather anglers. During the coolest months of the year, preparation, research, and the proper tackle can make for memorable fishing trips.

Pick the Perfect Spot

The first step in a successful fishing trip, no matter what species is being targeted, is to know where to go. The internet has a wealth of useful tools to guide anglers to fishing meccas. Department of Natural Resources or Wildlife and Fisheries websites are great resources for information about local lakes, and will detail what types of fish they have to offer, what times of the year provide the best angling for certain species, and any creel limits.

If the impoundment is run by the Corps of Engineers, a visit to their website provides lake levels and current flow predictions. Both conditions can affect safety and success. Very high lakes or ones experiencing overflow conditions will limit your chances, especially during cold-water months. Avoid a lake or river with high current or predictions for high current. Not only will the fishing be difficult, but elevated currents can also be dangerous and generate debris in the waterway. Look for lakes and rivers that are in normal winter condition and have a stable or natural current.

With a quick online search, it’s easy to find catching information as well. Most lake marinas have a website with up-to-date reports on which species are biting the best. Internet fishing forums are another good resource. Check out Ultimatebass.com for national information, or utilize regional websites such as TexasFishingForum.com. They can save you hours of fruitless effort.

Find the Right Time to Go

While many of us have to plan fishing around work schedules, the weather is another consideration. A look at the forecast can narrow down which days will be more productive. Keep in mind that, while the best fishing conditions may not be the most comfortable for anglers, some conditions are sure to improve catching odds. Weather fronts affect the activity level of all freshwater species. In general, fish are more active prior to a front and less active after it. Whenever possible, optimize your chances by planning fishing trips just prior to the passing of a cold front. Since, however, most anglers are limited to fishing on the weekends, regardless of the weather conditions, here are some tips for fishing post-front conditions.

Low barometric pressure always precedes a front. After the front passes through, the barometric pressure will be high, bringing winds from the north or northeast and preventing clouds from forming in the sky. This will create picturesque days but not always the most fruitful fishing conditions. The bright sun, however, can be used to anglers’ advantage. During winter months the sun’s global position is further south in the sky. This allows it to shine very strongly on northern banks. A northern bank also prevents the cold, north wind from hitting the water. Wind protection and bright sun mean the water will warm faster during the day in these areas. For this reason, concentrate efforts on these northern bank lines.

During the winter, the best fish-catching times are typically between 10 am and 4 pm. That’s not to say a couple won’t bite at daybreak and dusk – they will just be few and far between. Take the opportunity to sleep in and enjoy a more comfortable fishing experience with the warming day.

Winter Fishing Tips - Choosing the Best Location
Source: Fix.com

Gather Your Equipment

In general, winter fishing puts extra strain on fishing equipment. After determining where to go, make sure all your equipment is up to the task. To start, make sure the reels are in good working order. A reel bearing that was noisy or stiff under warmer conditions will completely fail in the cold. Old grease and oil will thicken, making reels difficult to use. To prevent frustration, clean and lubricate them. That way, when the perfect fish is hooked, you’ll be able to land it. If you’re not comfortable disassembling and cleaning reels, repair shops will perform this service for around $25 a reel – money well spent.

Cold winter conditions will make monofilament and fluorocarbon line difficult to manage. A line conditioner such as KVD Line and Lure, Reel Magic, Bass Pro, or Ardent will keep the line supple and prevent line twist, helping reduce backlashes and tangles. Use this same conditioner on rod guides to prevent water from freezing in them. Water from fishing line collects in the guides of a rod and, if it’s cold enough, will freeze and eventually stop the line from passing through the eyelet. Lastly, since it’s winter, there’s no need to worry about fish getting tangled in vegetation. Smaller diameter lines are just fine and will help prevent the effects of twist and stiffness.

Winter Fishing Tips - Use Gear to Stay Warm
Source: Fix.com

Choose the Best Bait

Lure choice in the winter months can be difficult; however, a few basic tips will greatly improve success. Live bait is the best choice, because it will react to the water naturally. Typically, anglers work artificial baits too quickly for the winter conditions. Both forage and predators are cold-blooded creatures and the cold water slows their metabolisms, making them move slowly. Bait that moves unnaturally quickly will turn fish away. Anglers trying to mimic these forage species should slow down their presentations to a methodically sluggish retrieve. Most anglers simply can’t fish slowly enough with artificial baits to accurately mimic the speed and movements of forage during winter temperatures. Live bait will be more enticing. Minnows or shiners are a great choice; so are live worms. However, they somewhat limit the species of freshwater fish that may bite.

Select artificial baits with hair and/or feathers. These provide more action in cold water than soft plastic baits, which get can stiff and lose the built-in action when water temperatures dip below 50 degrees. Hair and feathers don’t respond like this to cold water and, instead, maintain excellent action with little movement. Hair and feathers also move with water currents. Even when an angler imparts no action to the bait, it can still move very naturally, remain in the strike zone of the fish longer and mimic live prey.

If catching fish on lures is the goal, choose lures that will catch multiple species. Shad, herring, or yearling sunfish/perch will be the primary winter forage for all freshwater species, so match these forage species with lures. Most other forage species, crawfish, and other vertebrates will be hibernating and will emerge only after an extended warming trend. Soft plastic baits, including straight-tail worms, grubs, and tube baits, can be very effective. Choose colors that mimic the winter forage: anything white, silver, or transparent in color will work well, especially if they contain colored flakes. Hard baits such as crankbaits, spinners, and spoons can be very suitable on warmer days. Color choices for these baits should include chrome, silver, or gold.

In winter, it is important to use a reduced lure size. Cold temperatures drastically reduce a fish’s metabolism and the fish don’t need to feed as often. Smaller prey is easier to catch and digest. Presenting something small and slow best mimics the natural feeding habits at this time of year. Baits in the two- to four-inch range are perfect. If the goal is to catch the biggest fish in the area, use three- to four-inch baits, but if the goal is to catch the most fish possible, select baits in the two- to three-inch range.

Winter Fishing Tips - Choosing the Best Bait
Source: Fix.com

Stay Safe Winter Fishing

The most important tip for winter fishing is to be mindful of the weather and respect the conditions. Dress in layers, have a good game plan, and tell someone your timing and itinerary. If you should run into trouble, you’ll need help as soon as possible. Notifying a friend or family member of your location, expected travel route, and expected return time will help speed up the search process should something catastrophic occur.

With some planning and mindfulness of the conditions, you can have some of your most successful fishing adventures during winter months. Research your waterway, make sure your equipment is in good working order, and select multi-species lures or live bait, and you will be on your way to some of the best fishing our great country has to offer.

 

Source: http://www.fix.com/blog/winter-fishing-tips/