Monday, October 22, 2012

Tackle Update - The Advantages of Seaguar

2013 is slated to be the biggest tournament season for me to date. I've worked very hard to get myself here but thanks to my family and sponsors, I'll be competing in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Everstarts and PAA Tour in hopes of qualifying for the tour level in the next few years taking a giant leap in a dream I've had since I was a little kid.

To some this may not be a giant deal, to me it's everything. 

Preparation starts now cause to compete at this level successfully you need to be at the top of your game on all levels. Of course tackle is as important as any when it comes to preparation and to me the most important piece of tackle in my entire arsenal when throwing it all on the line is line. No pun intended. It's the one thing that can make my biggest dreams come true as well as the one thing that can smash my dream and allow it to all disappear in a second. Sounds deep but it's true. It's the one piece of tackle that gets no thanks but is easily the most important. Everyone loves the quarterback but doesn't even know who makes up the offensive line, yet they're the ones insuring the quarterbacks success as well as his health. 

My line is the same way and I'm absolutely meticulous with what I put on. I've done endless amounts of research in this department and by far my best choice is Seaguar. For starters, I'm a fluorocarbon guy but I wasn't always. I started throwing mono then graduated to braid but after understanding the benefits of fluorocarbon and giving it an honest chance, I switched and started throwing fluoro 95% of the time. In fact, the only time I didn't was when I was throwing topwater. This worked well for me, however with some of the new advances in Seaguar's lineup, I'm more of an 80% fluorocarbon guy, 10% braid and 10% monofilament type of fisherman. Why the change? I'll explain.


Seaguar has numerous lines of fluorocarbon available and honestly there's a place for all of them in my boat. When I look for fluorocarbon there are certain areas that I look at and that's diameter, break strength, abrasion resistance, manageability and price. Price to me is the least of my worries when it comes to these issues and don't get it twisted, I'm by no means made of money at all, it's just that fishing at the level I fish at and considering what's on the line at that level I want the best money can buy. However, when it comes to other anglers especially ones that may have other priorities, price is very important to consider. 

Seaguar offers all kinds of fluorocarbons at all different price points. At the entry level you have Seaguar Red Label, which is on the inexpensive side of fluorocarbon and then you have Tatsu which is definitely on the more expensive side of things but offers it's buyers a lot compared to the competitions elite brands.

One of Seaguar fluorocarbons's most prized characteristics is it's line diameter compared to it's pound test or break strength. Comparing Seaguar Red Label, their entry level fluorocarbon to Berkley 100% fluorcarbon their premier fluorocarbon and you'll see that on 20 lb. test Seaguar's line diameter is .016 in. compared to Berkey at .017 inches. This may not seem like a lot but it's giant in the world of fluorocarbon. Also consider that Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon is sold for $24.99 for a 200 yard spool of 20 lb. test where Seaguar Red Label sells for an astonishing $11.99 for a 200 yard spool.

The other reasons I choose Seaguar Fluorocarbon for the majority of my fishing is it's virtually invisible under water which is key in fishing heavily pressured lakes that we are accustomed to fishing on a regular basis. It simply gets more bites. As important, fluorocarbon sinks where mono and braid float. When fishing almost any presentation with the exception of topwater, sinking line is key to getting the bait down in the strike zone and not effecting the baits natural presentation. 

The last and as I said most important attribute is it's overall break strength and lack of stretch for hook setting power. Fluorocarbon doesn't have much stretch, it has some but not much. In fact, my favorite lines from Seaguar, InvizX and Tatsu are very hard lines but have just the slightest amount of stretch needed to insure a good hook set. I want the hardness for two reasons, similar to tungsten, harder is more sensitive and gives me better feel of what my bait is doing every second as well as assists in detecting bites. Secondly, hardness also lacks stretch, it has just the right amount of stretch to absorb shock when setting the hook and enables the hook to penetrate the fishes mouth but is not too hard to where it will pull out of the fishes mouth. 


As I said, braid used to be my go to but since has taken a back seat to fluorocarbon however with the advances Seaguar has created to it's Kanzen line, I now find myself using it more and more. The key attributes to Seaguar Kanzen Braid is it has zero stretch and it floats. I want this for a few different reasons such as when I'm dealing with an abundance of heavy vegetation or structure that has lots of cover that could pose a threat to my line. I will always have on heavy braid when I'm throwing a frog, one because I want my line to float and not sink and two because I want zero stretch line that Kanzen provides to insure solid hook sets and gets the fish to the boat in the heaviest slop imaginable. I also want heavy braid when I'm flippin' heavy cover, as I said before I always prefer fluoro and will always try to get away with using it, however there's just simply a time when braid will benefit me more such as when I'm flippin' heavy matted vegetation or when I'm dealing with nine pounders chillin' in mesquite trees on Lake Falcon down in Texas. You simply don't want to bring a knife to a gun fight.

There's also a place for braid on the total other end of the spectrum, I'm talking about finesse fishing. When it comes to spinning rods and finesse presentations like shaky heads and drop shots, I find braid to be invaluable. This may sound odd but it's true. When using spinning rods I almost always use 15 lb. Seaguar Kanzen Braid as my main line and attach a 8 ft. leader of 8 or 6lb. Seaguar Tatsu Line. This offers the best of all worlds. Braid doesn't twist like fluorocarbon does and you don't have to be well experienced to know that fluoro on a spinning rod can be a nightmare when it comes to twist. Also the extremely small line diameter of braid allows me to cast the bait further and with longer casts I need the zero stretch to ensure strong hook sets. Now include the positives of fluorocarbon to dismiss the negativity of braid by tying a 6 to 10 lb. fluoro leader. This will give your line the sinking qualities, make it invisible underwater and add shock absorbency to your set up. The only negative is knowing a good knot to attach the two lines and for that you'll simply want to use a Seaguar knot. Watch for my soon to be released video on "how-to" correctly tie a Seaguar knot. 

Some anglers also like braid for topwater, which is obviously much better then fluorocarbon but I still prefer monofilament.


I honestly don't use it much but when I do there's nothing better. As I mentioned above, I prefer mono for topwater and nothing's better than Seaguar Senshi Monofilament. I employ this line for all my open water topwater fishing because it floats, has stretch and gives the bait the best action without tangling up with the treble hooks that are so often used on topwater baits. 

I use heavier action rods than most, even with my topwater fishing and mono gives my line that stretch it needs when bass engulf my spook. Also, mono is far more manageable than braid in that it doesn't tangle to hooks nearly as often as braid does which is very important to me considering the more efficient casts I can make in a day results in more fish I put in the livewell. Another prime example that most bass fisherman have experienced is when bass are schooling on bait fish in open water. Your window for success is very small as you wait for the fish to explode on shad and then quickly heave your bait to all the commotion. If you're late, you miss the action or even worse you chuck your bait perfectly but the braid wraps around the front hook turning a "walk the dog" action into a "limping dog" action and blows your opportunity. Not this guy, no more,  I've been there done that and tying on 15 or 20 lb. Seaguar Senshi puts more fish in the boat. Period.

There's also a few more examples of when I'll use mono and one good one is when I'm fishing current and throwing a carolina rig. I'll always use fluoro as my main line but when there's current I'll opt for mono as my leader. This is important because when fishing current you want your bait to stay up in the flow to look as natural as possible and mono provides that perfectly. Fair warning though, mono doesn't have the abrasion resistance that fluorocarbon has so it's just imperative that you are constantly checking and changing your line as need be.

Last but not least, I also use monofilament when the water I'm fishing is very cold, usually in the dead of winter. For instance, when the water is in the 40's or cooler I usually find myself throwing jerkbaits to entice a bite. I usually need to pause the bait for a long period of time to get a lethargic bass to grab hold. Sometimes in cold water, fluorocarbon will sink a little more than it should and actually hurt my jerkbait's presentation by slowly sinking the bait during the pause instead of allowing it to suspend perfectly in the water. This is when using mono will allow the bait to sit in that deadly suspended position needed to convince bass to feed.

I hope this provides a better understanding of which lines to use in any given situation and why Seaguar is my line of choice when the money is on the line.  


Monday, October 8, 2012

Tackle Update: Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch

The future is officially the present as Lowrance, leader in all fishing and water electronics has just announced the new HDS Gen-2 Touch! Everything has been upgraded into what is sure to take the fishing world by storm and why wouldn't it? It's bigger, more efficient, faster and comes with far more options. Do to it's revolutionary touch screen, the need for buttons is unnecessary providing more room to stretch out the screen making the new Touch units available in larger 7, 9 and 12 inch models.

Days before Lowrance officially made their announcement I got the opportunity to partake in an early training session held in northern Minnesota on Mille Lacs Lake. I'm always impressed with the advances that come out of the Lowrance think tank but even I had to admit that I was partially skeptical. I've used touch screen for some time and also know how not user friendly it is when wet, knowing the conditions I put my equipment through, getting wet is the least of it's worries. My questions were instantly answered when not only does it work perfect wet, the new screen is so crystal clear I could see the finest of details.

The touch screen also makes the units extremely efficient as you don't have buttons that activate different menus, instead you just simply touch what you want to do and open up that exact function. Oh yeah, LSS is now internal to the unit and not separate, meaning you get the whole works including StructureScan right out of the box.

Saving the best for last, Lowrance has added an underwater camera plug and play option. This is what impressed me the most as I've spent hours upon hours underneath dark blankets trying to see the lakes floor without that annoying glare that comes with a cumbersome underwater camera. Now you simply plug in the exportable camera and drop it down to see a perfect crystal clear image of what's below on your unit itself. No more glare.

I'm very excited to be sporting the new Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch on my boat for the 2013 fishing season! At this level, I need every advantage I can get and Lowrance has got my back!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

NABC World Championship

Mississippi River Pools 4 & 5, Red Wing, MN

I'm a numbers guy. Plain and simple, I'm cut from the cloth that believes the numbers will never lie. So there should be no denying that when you give me odds to win 20K out of only a 30 boat field, I'm pulling out the big guns. 

This was the case for the NABC World Championship held this past week on the Mississippi River. Good buddy Rich Lindgren and I had been licking our chops for this tournament all season, in fact it's the sole reason we signed up for this series. Not like we didn't know the competition would be fierce but why else would a guy put himself through the rigors of tournament bass fishing if this kind of event didn't get your blood pumping? Our stretch of river is just awesome. It's a rat's nest of a fishery where if you learn to navigate it's treacherous waters you can be rewarded with a beautiful mixed sack of rogue smallies and donkey slough largemouth. 

Life leading up to this tournament was nothing short of stressful and this tournament meant even more in that for the first time in the past 2 years, I got to fish free of any other distractions other than where to find fish. Something I took for granted a few years back and something that was taking it's toll on me. My wife Bri and I had decided that we were to up and move south to the hills of Tennessee and both had to make the commitments that came with such goals. Days before practice for this derby and I was on the road moving my family to our new home nestled in the hills of southeastern Tennessee. 

Now back in Minnesota, I was ready to do what I love to do. Practice started descent enough though my original feelings were that the lack of current was going to make for a tougher tournament than I was expecting. Rich and I practiced separately but both managed to slowly piece together the puzzle. My goal the entire time was to try to stay ahead of the fish. Recently I've noticed that when I don't have a good tournament I was usually having a good practice, too good. So when things change a day or two before the tournament I was having trouble adapting and would find myself watching checks be awarded  instead of taking mine to the bank. 

I knew the seasonal transition of these fish and also took into consideration the weather forecast calling for high winds and a pretty substantial cold front of the year. Even though I wasn't smoking the bass everyday I was still managing a few bigger bites and felt that with the cold front and stiff north winds, I was putting myself in position to have winning bass coming to me. Rich on the other hand had about the same practice but was finding fish that were a bit more stable in that these areas didn't depend on current but they had bait and had fish. The potential for a big bite was definitely there but a limit of keepers was more realistic. The only negative about Rich's areas was that wind could really shut them down. Combine these two practices and I was starting to think we were looking pretty good.

Day one of the championship started with strong winds and dropping temps in the low 30's. Rich got us across the big lake with relative ease. Our first stop yielded two smallie keepers with Rich bagging the first keeper on a soft plastic and I did the other with a 1/4 oz. Outkast Swim Jig (Chartreuse and White). Basically this area was a very small underwater point where the bank transitions from large chunk rock to smaller round rock and mixed gravel. Smallmouth were using the shallow jetty to push up shad. 

With much of the lake being a complete washout do to the high winds we hopped the pond and started running some high percentage main river spots and put together a small limit rather quickly before slumping out in the afternoon. With winds picking up even more we decided to get across the lake safe and try to pop a cull or two on some traditional urban river spots up in Red Wing. I did manage one small cull on a rip rap wall with a Biovex Stay 80 Jerkabit (chartreuse shad) and missed another good one that I failed to get a good hook into on a Outkast Swim Jig. 

In the end we managed a small limit of 10.34 pounds and was sitting 18th overall. Not the start we were looking for but was still semi optimistic that we could really get 'em on day 2 and would shoot up the leader board.

The next day was colder yet and the wind still strong, though not as bad as it was the day before and crossing the pond was no real big deal. The frigid morning started slow for us and it took a few hours to boat a keeper but just after Rich failed to hook up with a bruiser smallie, my Biovex Stay 80 jerkbait got choked by a doozer of a smallie. My GLX got a solid workout as I finessed the big bronzeback into the net to what resulted in an easy 4 plus pound kicker. I leaned on the Stay 80 Jerkbait all through practice and the tournament. I was throwing the jerkbait on a G Loomis GLX Crankbait Rod (855 CBR) with a Shimano Mentanium Mg DC7 reel on 12 lb. Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon. I've experimented a long time with different setups trying to find the best all around package for jerkbait fishing and there's no question that I found the best.

Now with a little steam working in our favor we started making quick but well thought out decisions and slowly put together a descent limit. We were mostly catching main river smallies but Rich did manage a nice green one of a laydown. 

With only a hour or so to go, we opted to hit a large sand drop that Rich had located in practice. Great call too as the smallmouth and largemouth as well as sand bass were using the drop to school on shad. Even the birds were working with the schooling predators to keep the shad at the surface. Rich was throwing a lipless crankbait and I was throwing my Biovex Stay 80 jerkbait and we were whacking 'em on every cast. The bite  was so good we were netting a fish with another one still in the net! Doubles were the regular. We did make a few small culls but it was just a matter of time before we laid back into another kicker. We both managed to break off on good fish earlier in the day so we were definitely casting for redemption. Unfortunately, time ran out and we had to finish the run back to weigh in. 

We had a much better day but still fell shy and weighed in a 5 bass limit for 13.21 and a two day total of 23.55 pounds and finished in 15th place. I also had big fish of the tournament with a solid 4.4 pound brownie. We knew we were in the hunt and dropped bass really made it sting just an bit worse. It's imperative that big ones make it to the livewell. We fished hard and scrappy, left it all out there and in the end just fell short. I'm happy cause I know we fished our hearts out and made good decisions, nine times out of ten we would be on the top. That's fishing. 

In the end I'd like to congratulate all teams that qualified for the shoot out and the ones that showed the rest of us how it's done. The crew that puts on the NABC tournament trail are top notch and I highly recommend this trail as one of the premier events in the Midwest. 

Open road ahead of me once again. Tennessee bound!

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