Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nantes Tackle Show 2009

Last weekend the 19th, 20th and 21st of Febuary saw annual tackle show in Nantes take place. This show is my Mecca, I look forward to it like a child looks forward to christmas, I litterally cannot sleep or think of anything else in the lead up to this weekend. Six of us took the ferry to St Malo where we stayed the night and in the morning Pierre (our man in Granville, Normandy) arrived in a hired mini bus to drive us all down to the show. My stomache was starting to turn, I get myself so worked up with the excitement knowing I will be soon surrounded by the most modern gear for salt water lure fishing, it is rather sad that a grown man can get butterfies over bits of carbon and plastic.

We arrived Friday lunch time and headed straight in. The show straight away seemed to be a good one, the stands and test tanks with crowds of eager anglers watching and learning.

We had a quick look around and sarted to notice some really nice gear. The thing with France is they have a huge market for soft plastics and we hardly saw any plugs being tested, which is a shame for the guys that still need to learn the different techniqus of working a lure properly. One thing I did learn was "twitching". Its not a new technique by any means but its new to me, and I can see the potential in it too. Basically you have a lure that is plug shaped, some have lips some don't, and you just wind it, twitch it and then give the lure slack line and it will flutter down like an injured fish falling through the water, it looks so good. These lures are solid and weigh anything from 25 to 40g, they cast a long way and I know of a few reefs and runs where distance is important. One of the french guys was saying (and he showed us the photos) how he was using a twitcher on day from the shore and he caught 3 bass in 3 casts, all 9lb in weight each!! He recons you can get these things to cast 100 yards too. A very handy lure to have I think.

This short video I made is poor quality but it is awkward to keep my camera on the lure when I cannot see the view finder, but you can see the fluttering effect of the lure as it sinks.

I also learnt some great ways for working soft baits with and without weights. Here is a video of one of my heros, Charles-Henri Canto, working a Mother Worm along the surface with a weedless set up. Again this will be so handy for me in situations where there is seaweed rising to the surface and the bass are below in the shallow water.

Here he is again with a lip weight on a Mother Worm, I was impressed how good it looks with the slightest of twitches. I recon for my vertical jigging work on my boat I will use this finnesse aproach over some heads, I am sure it will tease a bass into attacking it. The great thing with always fishing with my mate Bob is we cover different aspects whilst stood next to each other. If he is on the surface I will try a diver or a softie, and again if he is making quite fasts jigs with his vertical jigging gear I will try a more subtle approach. You can also see how when casting a weighted softbait it looks very life like on the retrieve, with bounces and jerks of the rod. Yannick, the MD of Ultimate-Fishing was telling me how when he fishes at night with softbaits he will really slow everything down, really slow and leave the lure rest and then the slightest of twitches and let it rest again. I can't wait to try it, I think I crank and wind far too fast when I lure fish in the dark so I am looking forward to some new tricks to be used this season.

I was simply stunned again by the way Ultimate-Fishing continue to push and push the fronteers of modern lure fishing, these guys just will not sit back on their laurels, you see they are all anglers as well as businessmen, even the girls in the office go out fishing and taking photos of the team whilst fishing too. The Ultimate Tenryu rod range has grown once again, there are now about 50 red beauties to choose from, from the lightest of lure rods right up to heavy verical fishing rods that will tame anything including GT's and big Tuna.

I was privileged to be able to meet the managering director of Tenryu-Japan Mr Naoto Shiozawa and the Tenryu rod designer Mr Sandy Saida, both of whom were of course absolute gentlemen and so knowledgeable when it comes to rod design I felt like I was a child in front of his teachers. I spoke with Sandy alot, this man is so respected in Japan for his knowledge of carbon fibre and glass, he really wanted to design me a rod range for the UK market but I told him to hold fire for a year or two as the rods we already have available are way more advanced than anything we have used before.

The guys from Ultimate made us all very welcome and showed us some amazing products and how to use them. Remember this is a public show and anyone can go to it and meet these guys and they are there to share their knowledge. Do youself a favour and get down to Nantes next Febuary it really is out of this world if you are seriously nto your lure fishing.

New lures have been ordered, I cant wait to get my hands on them and as they start to arrive and as I get to fish with them I will post some pictures and my findings.

Look at this sight, a row of red beauties that I couldnt leave alone, they are truely stunning to hold and the action on all of them is perfect.

Some of the new soft baits I am getting in, these really caught my attention. They seem to be halfway between a Slug-Go and an Xlayer, a bit firmer than an Xlayer and a bit softer than a Slug-Go, their action is brilliant too.

One great lure that I found at the show was the new Tackle House Feed Shallow 110. The original 128 Feed Shallow has become a classic lure and I am sure its little brother will soon become a must have lure too. I will post some better pictures and findings when I get some in a few weeks time, I can't wait to try them.

We all had a great time and like I say if you are wanting to go next year then keep an eye on my blog as I will post all the details when they are available.

Here are a few more pictures of a very memorable weekend. Here is the managering director of Ultimate Yannick showing off a light rod for Zander and Perch fishing. You should never do this with a normal rod...it could snap, but just look at that little thing bend.

Here is Henry and Neil playing with a baitcaster and softie....they did manage to work out how it worked...after a while.

Neil putting his new Megabass rod through its paces

Me and Stanley, he is the frenchman that first introduced me to modern lure fishing, my mate and a dam fine angler.

Me and my brother Dougie making a wish at one of the pools

Neil being presented with a Megabass hat signed by legend ITO himself, this hat is priceless and was given to Neil by the Ultimate team for his continued work and support he puts into Megabass products. It actually brought a tear to his eye.

And here is the Jersey team (well one english TV presenter too) that made the trip down there, we will be back next year and I already cannot wait. Watch this space as I start to get some of these new products through and start to fish with them

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rigging some soft baits

Here are some things to be getting on with whilst the weather is bad and you are in doors.

It's the time of year when I am bored but excited that the new season will be upon us soon. My friend "St Ouen" (local Mr Soft himself) came round and went through a few tips for me to get going. I have done a small bit of soft bait fishing but I want to get into it a bit more this year as the potential is vast.

I grabbed a few packets of the soft plastics that I want to start my season with and we set about rigging them up. One thing I do know is you should rig your gear up before you go, as when fishing these baits you can go through quite a few, either through loss or damage.

First I decided to rig some Madness Mother Worms simply with some Xorus 20g heads.

Firstly, look at the shape of the head you are going to use, and cut your bait to the shape of the head, this sounds easier than it is and I am sure it becomes easier the more you do it. What I also do (as I am not that good at judging the gap) is make a mark with a black marker pen to where the hook will come out.

Thread the hook into the worm, making sure you keep it as straight as possible, and make sure you don't start the hook going in too low on the worm, you do want a good ammount of the gape of the hook showing.

Get the bait up to the head, make sure it is straight and you are happy with it and then glue it with super glue or a favoured fast setting adhesive. If the bait is coated in an oil or scent wipe it off around the area you are gluing or your glue just wont adhere to anything.

I then set it aside and finished the packet, it doesnt take long once you start.

Next up were some Megabass Giant Xlayers mounted on some football heads, which I call egg heads, these ones were actually Lunker City 3/4 oz heads.

Once again I marked where the hook will come out with a marker pen. These heads come with a ribbed sleve to hold your soft bait on. If the soft bait is thin around the ared that is near the leadhead then you can cut the ribbed lead away with some side cutters and glue the bait directly to the head.

Althougth the bait was being held in place fine I added some glue seeing I had it open.

Next up I wanted to rig some Xlayers on weighted hooks, I want to use these in quite calm water either twitched over some oyster beds I fish or near the surface over the top of some heads.

The thing with weighted hooks is you can't just thread them through like a normal hook because the weight will stop you. So the best way to do it is to make a hole for the hook with the point of the hook first.

Turn the hook around and work out where the hook will come out. I didnt need to mark these as there was a rib on the worm and I could line it up with that as a marker.

Push the hook through so it comes out nice and flat against the top of the bait.

For storage and also to fish these weedless so you can get your bait right in there amoungst the snags, just pull the point of the hook back a bit and sink it in the bait a mm or 2

Et voila, ready for next month.

Next up Mr Soft showed me an ingenius way to help stop a soft bait from movong on a hook without glue. This one is a Slug-Go mounted on a Decoy 6/0 hook, and we have buried the knot inside the bait too. Push the hook through, turn it around, work out where it goes in and where it comes out

Then the trick is to push a piece of 80lb mono right through the bait and through the eye of hook, then trim the mono off very close, this locks the hook into the soft bait. Very clever, I like this trick.

Next we just threaded a few different heads on plastics just to fill mt box a bit, here is a Megabass Spindle Worm going on a Xorus Jig Head. The Spindle worms are coated in a very oily scented solution that will not let your glue set, so wipe it off and mount some up, these shad/worm hybrids are amazing in the water.

There is a groove in the top of some plastics for where the hook should lay in, this helps when fishing snaggy places, it acts like the weedless point I showed earlier, but here your hook will just lay in a shallow groove.This method is used when you rig the worm with a texasposer style hook like I did earlier with the Slug-Go, with this jig head though the hook will be very pronounced.

Next we rigged a few hooks with cone heads. This is a way of adding weight to a soft bait but not using a lead head. This is a Madness Father Shad, a Xorus 6/o hook, a 15g cone head and a float stop.

Just rig the hook as normal then slide a cone head down the line. You can put a bead between the hook and cone head but I didnt with this one. Add the float stop, you can also use a sliding stop knot made out of power gum or mono, just make sure it doesnt go through the head. If it does then you can just put a bead between the cone head and knot. This method acts like an articulated head, it is cheap and easy to use. I will be doing more rigging soon so I will take some more pictures and show you when I do. I am waiting for some atriculated heads to arrive and some more plastics.

We rigged a few more and called it a day, here are some Xorus Sayori Shads on different Xorus Heads, there is even a Storm ell on a head in there, I am sure it will work well and these are very cheap and available everywhere.

Oh yeah, one last thing we did, if you are getting bites on the end of the lure and the fish are missing the hook, Paul showed me an easy way of adding a stinger in the tail. A doubled piece of strong braid is looped over the eye of the jig, them simply tuck the treble towards the tail and hopefully you'll find out whats been nipping you.