Review: Varivas Gran Hooking Master & Monster Class weedless hooks

Varivas Gran Hooking Master and Monster Class weedless hooks

In my opinion the Hooking Master (heavy wire) and Monster Class (ultra heavy wire) weedless hooks by Varivas Gran Company are an absolute must have for the tackle box of any lure fisherman wanting to fish Texas rigged soft plastics over snaggy ground.

They are very strong and hold their sharpness really well making them ideal hooks for the speciment Bass and Pollock angler. The extra wide gape is perfect for fishing a wide variety of soft plastic baits including larger baits for wreck or reef fishing. The smaller sizes are great for chucking out a Texas rigged worm or sandeel into rocky weedy gulleys.

The extra wide gape of these weedless hooks allows me to hook up bigger soft plastic lures like shads

I have not had the pleasure of hooking into a fish big enough to bend these hooks out as yet, but after forgetting to reset my rig a couple of times I have been snagged up in the reef and they don’t bend out easily, I have 40lb braid on my offshore jigging reel and the braid snapped before the hook bent out with plenty more strength in it I’m sure.

I tend to fish with larger, chunkier shads and minnows that require the extra gape to ensure that the hook is adequately exposed when a fish takes the bait. Often when I target Sea Bass, I spend a lot of time stalking fish in shallow snaggy swims, when I get a take I want it to be well hooked.

wide gape weedless hooks

I have tried out the Hooking Master hooks (available up to size 5/0, and 10/0 for the Monster Class hooks) and I can easily hook up my chunkiest plastics with total confidence. The picture above shows a size 5/0 heavy wire hook (on the left) and a size 6/0 ultra heavy wire hook (on the right).

These hooks are available at a really good price, £2.95 per packet from Veals. I highly recommend these and I have selected them as my go-to hook for most of my lure fishing.

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Review: Rokk – Adjustable Fish Finder Mount for Railblaza Starport

Scanstrut Rokk Mount Review

Spring 2015 has been quite a quiet one in regards to kayak fishing, good conditions have not coincided with time off work. Therefore I have found quite a bit of time to tinker with my kayak, swapping out fittings and making improvements to the layout of the cockpit.

I eventually found time to fit my new Garmin Echo 501c fishfinder that I got for Christmas, and have been out on the water a couple of times with it which has been fantastic. The only issue that I encountered (which was a bit of a stinker) was that my previous fishfinder mount failed on the second trip out. With that lesson learnt, I have been looking to swap out my fishfinder mount with something far more reliable.

I am really pleased to be able to try out one of the Scanstrut Rokk Mounts for my Garmin Echo 501c. The Rokk Mount fits Railblaza StarPorts making it the perfect solution for me as I have several StarPorts installed on my kayak, including a TracPort 350 Dash intended for my fish finder and other devices. For those of you who don’t have a Railblaza StarPort installed, you can fit a StarPort really easily, or the Rokk mount is also available with screw on mount to attach straight onto your kayak.

Scanstrut Rokk mount for Railblaza StarPort

When ordering the Rokk Mount, it is important to note that there are several top plate designs available to fit the base of your fishfinder. I needed the RL-502 top plate which fits Garmin GPS MAP 400-600 / Echo 100-550 / Echo Map 50s; Raymarine Dragonfly & Dragonfly 7.

The Rok mounts, tilts and rotoates in all directions-then locks tightly into position

As soon as I un-boxed the Rokk mount, I could immediately tell that it had been built to last years. Here are the full product specifications:

Set & forget – Metal on metal, ball and socket system gives smooth,secure adjustment.
Zero loss of clamping force over time.
Fully versatile and easily adjusted – Simply unlock, reposition, lock again.360° of rotation. 270° of tilt.
Locking design ensures high clamping force with minimal user effort.
Extreme marine durable materials – Corrosion resistant marine grade aluminium,316 stainless steel and
glass filled nylon.
Super tough – Engineered to withstand high shock loading.
Quick fit – Supplied with complete fixings for your installation.
RAILBLAZA StarPort base – Offers a unique, portable mounting option.

The Rokk mount is very compact, this individual top plate is made to fit the Garmin Echo series

The Rokk mount unfortunately doesn’t come with a free packet of crisps, the photo illustrates the size of the Rokk mount. I was quite surprised at how compact the unit was, I expected it to be much larger (by my interpretation of images I had seen online). Deck space on my kayak is at a premium, and so the compact size is definately a good thing.

The picture shows the RL-502 top plate attached to the Rokk mount with a hex screw, the underside of the top plate has a square shaped recess where the Rokk mount fits into tightly and then the screw holds it in place. The top plate cannot rotate on the screw at all.

The screw holes on the top plate are aligned perfectly to accomodate the Garmin Echo base. Scanstrut include all of the necessary screws and fittings to attach the Garmin base onto the top plate (all nuts and bolts are marine grade stainless steel) – I actually opted to use some black nylon nots and bolts to attach the Garmin base, because they are black and I can cut them down flush to the nut.

The Rokk mount is very well constructed, pretty much indistructable

The StarPort attachment allows me to fit the Rokk mount in any of my onboard StarPorts. I placed the Rokk mount at my feet on the Railblaza TracPort 350. By adjusting the Rokk mount, I can get the Garmin head unit to sit forward by about 3-4 inches – just far enough to allow me to reach the Garmin control buttons.

With the Garmin set up and installed on the Rokk mount, I can press any of the buttons, move the fishfinder around, rotate it, tilt it, and turn it. With just a small turn of the white tightening knob, the Rokk mount clamps down hard and holds its position perfectly.

Verdict: I cannot praise this product highly enough, its completely bomb proof, and the perfect solution for my fishfinder mount. I have tried other brand products which have failed me, but this little beauty is so well constructed I have total confidence in its performance. Another top product from Scanstrut. The Rokk Adjustable Mount for Railblaza StarPort is available for around £55-£65.

Visit the Scanstrut WebsiteClick Here
Rokk Mount Technical InformationClick Here

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Review: Hoggs Neoprene Lined Field Boots

I have been looking for decent Wellington boots for so long now, actually nearly a whole year. Why so fussy? Well its got a lot to do with the grip more than anything, to me that’s just as important as them being waterproof. The kind of places I like to go are usually near rocks or cliff tops and so a good foothold is vital for safety. So I have been searching and searching for something that allows me to walk on slippy grass verges, seaweed covered rocks, or muddy shingle slopes without taking a tumble every 5 minutes, as sure footed as a mountain goat (hopefully)!

The search is over, and I am extremely pleased to be able to try out some of these Neoprene lined field boots by Hoggs of Fife.

Hoggs Field Sport - neoprene lined field boots

Specifications:

  • 4mm high-density durable neoprene lining for extra warmth and comfort
  • Removable cushioned EVA insole with memory foam inserts for excellent shock absorption
  • “XSTrek” high-performance compound Vibram® outsoles for class-leading grip, abrasion resistance, comfort and durability.

Natural rubber field boots lined with neoprene

To put these boots to the test I took them along to a local spot I know near Portreath. The walk begins at Battery Hill where the South West Coastal Path heads steeply up a muddy gorge onto the cliff tops. About half a mile on, past Ralph’s Cupboard, and deviating from the footpath slightly the boots held grip really well down the grassy verges and then onto the rocks in an un-named cove (one of my secret Wrasse fishing marks). The scramble across the boulders was hard work because it had been raining and so they were extra slippy, and I began to find real confidence in the boots although they are not strictly designed for this type of use.

At the other end of the cove are some fantastic rock pools and I paddled through them to the deepest parts where you can often find a good sized crab or two. I was only wearing thin cotton socks, but the neoprene lining of the boots was doing a fantastic job of keeping my feet warm in the cold water. By tightening up the gusset straps a little more, I was able to pull my feet out of the mud water without losing a boot.

Side gusset with fastener for easy access

I was quite surprised (and relieved) at how well the field boots performed when the waterline was only an inch from the top. Some boots that I have used in deeper water collapse inwards at the top under the water pressure letting water in, but the Hoggs boots are made from quite thick rubber, and with the addition of the neoprene lining, they keep their shape well.

TIP: when I have been wading in salt water, I always wash down boots with freshwater afterwards, this prevents any degradation caused by the salt water and keeps them in good condition longer.

I am really happy with these boots and although they are designed as “field boots” I have tested them over various difficult and often unpredictable terrains with great results. Check out the photo below that shows the grips that I am so impressed with. The soles are Vibram XS-Trek which have been designed for stability and comfort, and the motto that is printed on the label states “tested where it matters”. Anything that keeps me upright whilst clambering around a rocky Cornish shoreline is definitely worthy enough to achieve a “test – passed”.

Hoggs field boots have really good grip

The boots maintain a classic “field boot” look and will be perfect for my hunt days in Autumn and Winter as-well as my coastal exploration trips throughout the year. These boots are available to buy at Fife Country for £75.00 – click here

 

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Review: Snowbee Raptor LRF rod & Kuroshio reel

Snowbee Raptor lrf rod and Kuroshio reel review

So “LRF” is apparently a thing, and has been for quite some time. Back when I first started fishing (now I’m making myself sound old), it didn’t really have a name – messing around with tiny lures (or bait) using a ridiculously light rod that would bend double under the strain of an 8oz trout was an experience I sought after as a young lad, in the streams back up home in Yorkshire.

The sport now known as LRF means that fisherman (grown adult men) are not at all embarrassed to pull out a 6-7 foot rod and start flicking out lures in search of some amazingly fun sport…and why should they be?

To further my interest in LRF, I wanted to kit up with a good quality rod and reel for the job. To be able to cast ultra light lures and work the lures effectively through the swims, I needed super light tackle. Snowbee make some fantastic light spinning rods in their Raptor range. I have been fortunate enough to be able to try one of their Raptor 4-12 gram rods and also one of the new Kuroshio spinning reels.

Snowbee Raptor LRF rod

Specifications:
The Raptor 4-12 gram rod is a two piece 7ft 2 inch rod, and the slightly heavier of the two rods in the micro range. The top 40cm of the rod is constructed of solid carbon allowing maximum flexibility and with single leg guide rings this rod is designed to be ultra lightweight and sensitive.

Out of the rod bag:
When I first took the Raptor out of its mesh rod bag (a nice touch by Snowbee),  I was a little nervous of how fine it was, I gave the rod a good flex and immediately began to see that although the tip was ultra sensitive, the whole blank curved up really nicely giving an indication of hidden power.

I gave the rod a few light whips through the air, and a wobble or two (as I always do with a new rod). The Raptor has a glistening dark blue/black sheen on the blank, with contrasting silver logo detail and silver guide rings that have really pleasing profile, and so tightly whipped / sealed. – my excitement was growing.

Snowbee Raptor LRF rod rings

The top section of the handle screws down the reel seat nice and tightly, and the upper portion of the lower EVA grip saddles the reel seat, this gives a neat grip area around the reel that is comfortable to cast with over and over again. The rod butt is nicely shaped and tapers out at the very end to form a good profile for easy grip.

Although the rod is only 7ft 2 inches, the reel and grips are really nicely positioned for comfort and control, I have quite long arms but the Raptor fits inside my forearm really nicely (perfect for effortlessly flicking out lures).

Snowbee Raptor reel seat

Snowbee Raptor rod butt

Kuroshio SK-2000 Spinning Reel
Snowbee’s full range of Kuroshio reels range from the SK-2000 up to the SK-5000 model. I have been fortunate enough to be able to give one of the SK-2000 reels a spin, which fits and balances the 4-12 gram rod perfectly.

Out of the box this fishing reel oozes with quality, the uber elegant Japanese design of the new Kuroshio fishing reels is more than just pleasing to the eye. I especially love the design of the handle and Japanese logo detail at the base of the foot stem.

The reel feels fantastic, with smooth and positive movement. I tested the bale arm which feels solid, little effort was needed to turn the handle with the 5.1:1 gear ratio to re-engage the bale arm (with a pleasing metallic click).

Constructed from precision cast aluminium with CNC machined aluminium spool, hub and handle makes it strong and really lightweight (262g/9.3oz) perfect for LRF and light spinning!

The reel has a satin black powder coated finish gives the reel maximum saltwater and chip resistance. The gears and mechanics are made from stainless steel and brass. This is really crucial to me, my style of fishing involves a lot of climbing over rocks and sometimes the rod and reel will take a dip in the water en-route, a reel that will not quickly corrode from the inside out is a truly valuable asset.

Snowbee Kuroshio reel

As you can see in the picture above, the reel is loaded with braided line, Snowbee sent me a spool of the 7kg / 0.08mm Tuf-Line XP, which is a rounded mutli-filament braid. The spool holds 137m of line which filled the SK-2000 spool perfectly, I backed the spool with 1 turn of tape to give the braid a foundation to grip into, and gave the reel its first bit of action loading up the line.

Snowbee Kuroshio reel loaded with braid

Lets go fishing!
With the rod and reel set up, and a selection of Snowbee “Stinger” lures as bait, I headed up to one of my local rock marks on the North Coast (near Newquay). The mark produces Wrasse, Pollack and the occasional Bass, and has some nice deep pools and boulders to work lures through.

I took it easy with the first cast, to make sure I didn’t get any wind knots in the braid.  The soft plastic “Stinger” grubs are only about 5 grams and I loaded it up with a 5 gram cone shaped worm weight (so 10 grams of weight to cast).  Even my cautious first attempt sent the lure flying a good 30 yards. The retrieve of the reel is perfect for this style of fishing, I like to vary the speed when using lures, but the 5.5.1 gear ratio allows a fairly rapid retrieve when needed.

The action of the rod is truly effortless, the blank is springy but powerful for its size. I snagged the lure in some weed a couple of times and bent the rod double, luckily I didn’t lose the lure but it allowed me to appreciate the potential for some serious fun if I hooked into decent sized fish using this light tackle.

With an easterly wind blowing, the odds were stacked against me but I had a couple of bites (nothing landed though). The combination of the lightweight lures, braid and lightweight tackle made the bites easy to detect. It was probably only a tiny Pollack but by the way the rod tip whipped round it might as well have been a 12 pounder – tremendous fun!

Verdict:
So my ambition to try out a really good quality LRF rod and reel has definitely been fulfilled. When it comes down to lightweight fishing tackle I think that it can be difficult for some manufactures to get the balance right – but Snowbee have nailed it with this rod, Raptor Rods are really well made with great action and attention to detail. The RRP for this rod is £88.99 and I feel that is a great price for such a fantastic piece of kit.

The Kuroshio reel looked and performed amazingly well. Although I am using the SK-2000 for LRF, the reel could easily be used for slightly heavier lure work and I am looking forward to trying it out for Bass and Scad later in the year (+ of course they make the Kuroshios in bigger sizes too). It retails at £119.00 which is more than I paid for my last spinning reel, but the design and the materials are top notch. A spinning reel is on the go constantly and needs to be built to last! This set-up is gonna be getting some serious use over the summer!

All Raptor Spinning Rods come with the Snowbee Original Purchaser Lifetime Guarantee.
Check out these links to the tackle on the Snowbee website.
Raptor Spinning Rod
Kuroshio Spinning Reel

Posted in Fishing and Hunting | Leave a comment

Review: Fitting a Scanstrut deck seal to a kayak

Scanstrut deck seal review - fitting to a kayak

As part of my kayak build project, the installation of my fish finder requires me to run cables from the cockpit of the kayak, through the plastic and into the hull cavity. This fitting needs to be watertight as I regularly launch the kayak into surf and I definitely don’t want any water leaking into the kayak (for obvious reasons).

I came across this deck seal by Scanstrut. The deck seal comes in 316 stainless steel with options for 16mm to 40mm connectors. I went with the 16mm “mini” version as I only needed to route two thin cables. – click here to see it on their website.

The deck seal looked well constructed, with the two halves (screwed together) fitting tightly. In the box, Scanstrut provide 4 x rubber grommets (or “cable glands”) to accommodate for a variety of cable diameters, they also included a non-drilled grommet which you can drill yourself if the others aren’t the right size.

attach the lower part of the deck seal over the hole using self tapping screws

Fitting the deck seal was far easier than I had expected. After I had decided on the position, I drilled a 14mm hole through the plastic and stuck the adhesive waterproof ring around the hole. The base section of the deck seal (pictured above) was fixed using 3 x self tapping screws (included with the kit).  The screws held really well, no additional fixing was required – it felt solid.

feed the wires through the hole and secure the rubber grommit

The cables were passed through the hole (easy), and then I fitted one of the rubber grommets. The grommets are designed to have a split from the hole in the center to the outer edge, this is so that you can bend it outwards around the wires and then close it up again.

Getting the right hole size is crucial to it being watertight, I tested mine after the installation with a hose pipe (all good!).

The final step is the attach the outer section, to do this you need to push the rubber grommet (with the wires running through) into the recess on the inside of the outer section. Its a really tight fit (to keep things watertight), I found it easier to push it in with a bit of wood doweling, but don’t use anything sharp as it might damage the rubber.

Once the grommet is located correctly, just screw on the outer section – hey presto! The deck seal looks really neat, and I m 100% confident in the fitting.

screw the upper part of the deck seal in place - job done!

Overview:

  • Watertight installation
    Tapered bung forms watertight seal. All units are supplied with a closed-cell base seal – 100% waterproof. All models have been IPX6 and IPX7 tested and approved.
  • Easy and Reliable Installation
    Captive nuts make for easy assembly and also allow reliable repeat installations. Each unit supplied with both pre-drilled and blank inner seals to make your installation as easy as possible.
  • No need to remove cable connectors
    Split-seal option does not require connector removal during install
  • Multi-functional Dome shape
    Aesthetic dome-shaped profile provides a stronger, impact-resistant design (no sharp edges to hit your foot on!) and outer dome provides additional water shield.
  • Your Choice of Materials
    30% Glass-filled Nylon – UV-stable, hard-wearing or 316 stainless version available
Posted in Kayaking, Outdoors | Leave a comment

Abbeyhorn Priest – handmade from real stag antler

Abbeyhorn make these hand made stag antler priests

This handmade priest from Abbeyhorn is crafted from real Scottish stag antler, the priest is a great shape to hold as its curved profile fits nicely in the palm. With it being made from natural stag antler, it has the semi-rough texture which helps stop it from slipping out of a wet hand.

The size is around 24cm long, so it fits easily inside a jacket pocket or ruck sack. I just pop it into the spare rod holder in my kayak.

I have been wanting to get a priest for a while now, and at around £36.00 its a bit of a luxury item to have. The craftsmanship is superb, this would make a really nice gift for any keen trout or salmon fisherman. – buy it here.

stag antler priest for killing fish humanely

Abbeyhorn uses Antler from Scottish Red Deer, which is one of the largest of the deer species in the UK. It is sourced as a natural by-product of the Scottish deer farming industry.

Only the stags have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each year, usually at the end of winter, as part of their natural life cycle.

real stag antler priest made by Abbeyhorn

Abbeyhorn makes use of a variety of natural materials to bring you their extensive collection of items. The raw supplies are sourced ethically from renewable resources, often recycling a ’waste’ product from the meat industry and as a result preventing it from ending up in landfill. The majority of their finished products are biodegradable and/or recyclable, making a truly ecological product.

Check out their website – http://www.abbeyhorn.co.uk

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Giveaway: Win £60 Vouchers for Go Outdoors

Giveaway - win £60 vouchers for Go Outdoors

Getting geared up for outdoor activities is so easy at GO Outdoors, this month we are giving away £60 worth of vouchers to one of our lucky readers. The vouchers can be spent at any of their stores.

Go Outdoors have a huge range of outdoor gear including brands such as Rab, Berghaus, Vango, Outwell and Craghoppers – Enter below to win these vouchers.

How To Enter (3 Easy Steps):

  1. Just leave a blog comment below, describing your favorite UK camping destination (and why)
  2. Then follow Stu N Dumplings on Facebook
  3. Using the Rafflecopter App below, register your entry.

+ Get more bonus entries and more chances to win by sharing and following.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

UK Entrants Only, winner will be picked at random and contacted for delivery address after competition has ended, if winner does not respond after 7 days a new winner will be drawn. No cash alternatives.

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The Totally Awesome Interview – with Mike & Graeme Pullen.

The Totally Awesome Fishing Show

I first discovered “The Totally Awesome Fishing Show” on YouTube back in early 2014 whilst looking for Pollock fishing tips. I was really pleased to find that there were so many episodes to watch, covering all the species that I try and target myself here in the UK. How long has the “Totally Awesome Fishing Show” been running now, and where can new viewers see your show?

MIKE: It’s funny you say that, out of all the videos we have done (now over 288), that Pollock fishing video is well up there with the most fun fishing we’ve ever had on the show. Just one of those days where everything went right and we were enjoying the stunning scenery of Ireland and a great days fishing.

Two of more than 20 Pollock caught on lures in small boat in Courtmacsherry bay in Southern Ireland

Before we started we hadn’t even thought about setting up a YouTube account. I set up the website in August 2011 www.totallyawesomefishing.com for dad to post some fishing articles and pictures as this was his main interest at the time. I then thought about doing a video. With dads experience of photography it wasn’t exactly a huge step to go onto recording videos. We ended up buying a small HD camcorder for £100.

Our first ever video was carp on paste baits and it was uploaded on September the 3rd 2011. It didn’t receive very many views at first, but we kept on making the videos anyway so that we could embed them into the website. Within the first month we only had 229 views and 1 subscriber!! As I write this we now have over 57,000 subscribers and over 10 Million views. But after about 3-4 months we noticed the channel getting a lot more attention and suddenly we hit 1,000 subscribers and that was it! We threw everything we had at it then, but it didn’t come cheap. We bought new camera’s, editing equipment, spent time and money getting to places but looking back now, 3 years on, it was certainly worth it.

I really enjoyed the episode where you visited my home town of Newquay, and went out fishing on the “Peganina” – Can we expect to see you guys in Cornwall again sometime soon, and what might you be targeting here next? (eg: sharks perhaps, or Gilthead Bream?)

GRAEME: The Peganina holds some history for me as I know it was associated with Porbeagle sharks off the North Devon coast. This was the first time I had ever fished from Newquay and although the weather was a horror story of wind, I could still see the potential for a possible big shark. The blue sharks will be offshore, no problem catching those. But it looks like nobody has tried fishing for the Porbeagles inshore.

The water is nice and clear down there and I understand they have some good inshore Bassing. I only went down there on a whim last year as I was fishing out of Minehead doing shore films, but if I am in the area, I will definitely drop in again (maybe not in the middle of the tourist season!).

I know that you love small boat fishing, but have you ever done kayak fishing, and is this something you might cover in future shows?

MIKE: We do love the small boat fishing, I know that Graeme will not be getting in a kayak as he can’t swim. Personally I have great interest in it, and it is certainly something I will be looking into in the near future. But I don’t want to rush into it as I know that safety is hugely important. So I’ll be doing my research and getting some experience with proper kayak fisherman first! But yes, it is something we will be covering, watch this space…..

You guys seem to have all the luck when it comes to catching loads of fish (and that’s why I watch the show!), but do you have your fair share of blank days like the rest of us?

GRAEME: Yes we do have blanks! For instance our “Pike on a Bike” episode on Mike’s new “TA Outdoors” YouTube Channel took 4 sessions to complete! We cycled miles to try and find fish. For sea and trout it is rare to blank but depending on the angle our story takes, we sometimes make it hard for ourselves. We don’t like blanks, but you have to take it on the chin like the rest of the anglers. Generally, if the conditions aren’t looking good, we won’t go. We need good weather for fishing, but we also need good weather for filming.

The Totally Awesome Fishing Show is always highly informative and also really entertaining to watch. I bet that filming the shows is really great fun. Do you have any funny stories about things that haven’t gone quite according to plan (that didn’t make the final cut)?

MIKE: What makes our show so special is that we leave in a lot of the hiccups and stuff that we didn’t plan. It’s very much ‘shoot from the hip’ and I think that’s what people enjoy. It makes the viewing more realistic; it certainly makes our life easier when it comes to editing! Most of the time there is no planning whatsoever, we just turn up, rig up the rods, cast out and then think “right, what’s this episode going to be about???”. We don’t fake anything for the cameras and we try not to do tackle-ramming, just telling people what we genuinely use.

We did have one mishap at the Southampton Boat Show. The boat we were filming pulled away from the mooring but left his mooring rope trailing in the water. In an effort to stop it jamming in the propeller, dad leaned over to haul the rope out and a £300 camera slipped out of his pocket straight into the water! My own damage report, I thought it would be a good idea to capture a hockey ball being hit past the camera. Unfortunately, it hit the camera direct and smashed it to pieces, lesson learned!

It is really refreshing how you are often happy to use really basic gear on The Totally Awesome Fishing Show, for example a tiny rod and reel set-up, or DIY terminal tackle made from coat hangers or plastic spoons. You regularly prove that you don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest gear to catch fish – but what are your most treasured items of fishing tackle that you would never want to part with?

GRAEME: Yes you certainly don’t need expensive tackle to catch fish. Nice if you can afford it, but not a necessity. It is more important to learn about fish habits and techniques for catching. If you gave Tiger Woods a second hand set of golf clubs, he would still beat the pants off everybody else! I have a 50lb fenwick honey-coloured glass trolling blank that I had built with a customized curved butt, coupled to a 50w Shimano Triton trolling reel. I have caught a lot of big fish on that, Sharks and Marlin, so it has a lot of personal memories. I also have an 80w reel with a curved butt rod that I took a lot of Blue Marlin with. I had them built specially and the butt on one has gold anodizing (not real gold!) the only one of its kind in the world. I also have a Shakespeare Ugly Stik that has been snapped several times on trips abroad and it’s still catching big fish. Mike even had a 140lb Tarpon on it in the Florida Keys. On the fly fishing front I have a Penn gold medallion fly rod that I have caught many double figure Trout on, including Rainbow Trout over 20lb.

totally-awesome-catches

Fishing conservation is of up-most importance, angling is about both catching fish and also enjoying the outdoor surroundings, do you have any advice on good practice for any new anglers just starting out, to help preserve our fishing waters?

GRAEME: Even if you like eating sea fish, there is no reason to take everything you catch. If you are hungry, unless you are starving, just go to the supermarket. Plenty of fish there on the fishmongers wet slab! We try to return as many fish as we can on film, and only keep a few for our Totally Awesome Cooking videos. Although much of our Trout fishing is catch and keep, I have always been a keen promoter of catch and release trout fishing. You have to release them really quickly because they don’t keep out of water well in warm weather due to low oxygen contents.

Have you caught any record breaking fish on the show, or what are your top PB’s?

GRAEME: I had 3 world records many years ago in the IGFA line class records. For Carp, Trout and Pike (obviously all now broken!). On the filming front, Wayne Comben’s huge Thresher Shark which we put at between 400/450lbs was far in excess of the current British Record. But we had no intention of killing it just to claim a record. We had HD footage of it, it was tagged, like all our big sharks and we got to touch the fish.

The monster Six-Gill Sharks

My claim to fame on the really big scene, is I have caught 8 sharks over 1000lbs, one was on my 80lb standup rod and thigh pad. The largest being 1500lbs. That was a Six-Gill shark. I also had a 600lb six-gill that I tagged in the Canary Islands recaptured a year later, so it shows tagging works. I have also tagged a Bonnethead shark in the Florida Keys, flown home, then returned back to the Florida Keys many months later and caught the exact same shark. I should be doing the Lottery!

I have been fishing for as long as I can remember, and I try and get my kids involved as much as possible, but they are very much “fair weather” fishermen, and only interested when we are certain to catch (eg: when the Mackerel are around) – Do you have any advise on easy, fun, beginner fishing (eg: Light Rock Fishing “LRF”) that would be a good first experience for new anglers?

MIKE: Good question, and I think the first and most important thing is to be enthusiastic. If your son/daughter catches a fish, you need to let them feel the excitement. Go over the top with it, even if it’s a fish under a pound. I’m a full time PE and Geography teacher, and I teach children ranging from 5-13 so it’s my job to be enthusiastic. If you turn up and you don’t enjoy the fishing, then your child won’t enjoy it either.

It’s best to not go into detail with them about what pound line to use, what sized reel or what the latest lure/shad/spinner is. They don’t care about that, focus on the fish itself. Give them information about the species they just caught, they are much more interested in the fish then the gear they used to catch it! I would highly recommend LRF. It’s a great way to encourage children into the sport. However, personally I would use LRF gear but with bait on the hook as opposed to lures. They will enjoy the enticing ‘nibbles and bumps’ on the line. Once they have caught a few fish on bait, then maybe introduce the lure fishing. But definitely, focus on the small species and numbers as opposed to big fish.

Congratulations on hitting 10 Million views on YouTube!, what kind of things can we look forward to in 2015 on The Totally Awesome Fishing Show?  

MIKE: I have plans for a new series already, which I will hopefully be starting to film soon. I won’t give away anything here as with all TAFishing stuff, we like it to be a surprise! You never know what you might get each week. Might be fly fishing, might be river fishing, or it could be beach fishing. We are hoping to get the boat “Hi-Sea-Drifter” out on the water for the sharks again. We’ve had the biggest sharks now for 3 years in a row, hoping to make it a 4th.

We are also hoping to organize a big fishing get together with all of our fans! If people want to stay up to date with what we do then our facebook is probably the best to see what we are up to. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/totallyawesomefishing

We never imagined things getting this big! It’s humbling and we’d like to thank all our subscribers and those that follow our show. You are the Awesome Army and you guys ROCK!

YouTube Channel link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TAFishing

10 million views on Youtube - thank you

Posted in Fishing and Hunting | Leave a comment

Video: Tips on how to use and read a fishfinder

I really wanted to share this fantastic video with you. The video below was produced by Rob at www.cornishshoreandkayakfisherman.com and gives some really useful guidance on using a fishfinder on a kayak, and how to read the sonar signals correctly. He also includes tips on some settings that are useful (and some that are not).

I think that the main points of interest from this video are:

Split Frequency function on Garmin Echo sounders – the ability to split the screen in two and use the dual beam (77/200 khz) transducer to give two views of varying scope and detail.

Using colour definition to determine the density of an object (eg: rock, sand, weedy bottom, or objects suspended in the water column).

Fish identification – using colour, size and changes in the image to identify shoals or individual fish (+ setting them apart from floating weed)

This is a very informative video (a “must see” for anybody new to fishfinders) – I also recommend checking out the other helpful fishing videos on his Youtube Channel

Posted in Fishing and Hunting, Kayaking | Leave a comment

Strange stone structures on the Roseland Coast in Cornwall

Portholland beach on a cold November morning

My trusty Ugly Stik rod with a RedGill weedless lure - ready for action

Stones carefully placed to form an arch across two boulders

A perfect dome made from beach stones

Amazing archway and stacks built from beach stones

White stone stack and driftwood sculpture

Posted in Cornwall Life | Leave a comment