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

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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

Using a carp rod for sea fishing

A Carp rod works just as well for sea fishing

I decided on buying a heavy carp rod for general shore fishing and larking around with, and after seeing many Mackerel fisherman using them for feathers, my idea of using a carp rod as a good multi-purpose sea rod was confirmed.

I chose the Banshee Carp rod by Total Fishing Gear, with a slim carbon blank, superb fish playing actions and available with heavier test curves that are more than capable of casting big distances. I went for the 3.5lb test curve which has enough guts to lob out a decent sizes bait (whole squid, crab, or Launce) and 3 ounce lead with no problems.

  • Good for casting weights between 2-4 ounces, and therefore great for feathers or heavy lures from the shore.
  • Lightweight tip for bite detection when bait fishing
  • Long enough to handle most rock fishing venues, and also beach fishing.
  • Can be purchased at a good price.

So far I am really pleased with the performance of the rod, and have landed strings of 5 x hard fighting Mackerel with no problem at all.

Posted in Fishing and Hunting | 1 Comment

Fishing spots for Sea Bass in Newquay

one of my top fishing marks for big bass this year

My fishing season for Bass is almost at its end for this year (maybe), and so I don’t mind sharing this one with you.  A few people turn their nose up at this place because its such an obvious fishing mark and usually gets hit hard by the tourists during the summer. But I have hooked into more big bass on Towan Headland in Newquay this year than anywhere else. I wasn’t lucky enough to land them all but they all gave me a hell of a fight on both light and heavy gear.

If you haven’t fished this mark before it is definitely worth a look  The photo above shows the south side of the headland which is more sheltered from the surf. There are quite a few easily accessible rocky platforms that are easy to fish. There are also lots of Mackerel around and a few Pollock when the bass are not biting (there are no guarantees with Sea Bass).

On most of my big takes, I have been using lures, and one in particular did the business on this mark – The Tsunami Slimwave 56gram in Silver. This lure casts like a rocket, it sinks quickly but you are casting into deep water from the Towan headland.

The Tsunami slimwave 56 gram lure has been a killer for sea bass this year.

The method that I used was to cast it, let it hit the water and pause for 6-7 seconds before a slow retrieve. Be careful of the rough ground (I lost a few of these lures retrieving too slowly). I have also bought the 84 gram version of this lure for jigging from my kayak, but it also comes in a smaller 28 gram size.

Posted in Fishing and Hunting | 1 Comment

The best anchor trolley kit by H2O Kayaks

Fitting an anchor trolley system to a fishing kayak

As part of my fishing kayak build project, I decided to install an anchor trolley system to my Concept Explore, running down the port side of the kayak from bow to stern. This would be used for an anchor, with the intention of installing a half anchor trolley on the starboard side for deploying a drift chute.

Drilling the first hole in my beloved kayak was slightly nerve-racking (the thought of it still haunts me to this day). So as I plan to buy attachments to install, I always like to know about the exact fitting sizes and all of the associated bits and bobs.

My plans to install an anchor trolley was handled in exactly this way, I did a lot of research online to find the best anchor trolley kit, one that included a good length of cord to reach full length of my 12 ft kayak, and also the having best quality components and fittings. The anchor trolley kit from H2O Kayaks is the best kit to buy for the job and includes everything that I needed including some very detailed instructions for installation. The kit costs £21.95 from H2O Kayaks including the expanding rubber well nuts (my preferred fastening).

H2O kayaks make a complete anchor trolley system kit

Each kit includes:
9 x Metre Braid 4mm Trolley Line (8 Plait Polypropylene Break)
1 x 40mm Nylon Round Rigging Ring (Diameter = 40 mm Rim = 10 mm)
1 x Zig Zag Cleat
2 x Nylon Pad Eyes
2 x Stainless Steel 6mm Snap Hooks
2 x Stainless Steel (316) Pulleys with nylon sleeve
1 x Mounting Hardware Pack Including 6 x Well Nuts with stainless steel screws

The pulley is made of marine grade stainless steel

The fittings are all strong and well made

Verdict: The installation only took my 40 mins, the installation instructions are well written and as this was my first installation proved incredibly helpful. I now have a very secure anchor trolley that will last for years. When I need to buy the anchor trolley for the other side, this is definitely the kit that I will buy again.

Visit their websitewww.h2okayaks.com

 

Posted in Fishing and Hunting, Outdoors | 1 Comment

Review: Concept Kayaks “Explore” – A serious fishing kayak

My personal criteria for a serious fishing kayak

Over the last 6 months I have done a great deal of research on YouTube and kayak fishing blogs into exactly what I need to look for in a serious fishing kayak. This is a one-time purchase that needs to be perfect for my fishing ventures big and small. By checking out the set-ups of many other kayak anglers (and suffering some serious kayak envy). I had put together a list of top criteria in my head to base my kayak shopping around.

Top criteria for me is a fairly large kayak (in terms of both hull volume for stability and also storage space), hard wearing build and materials, and also with the potential to modify (added extras and accessories in the future like fish finders, GPS, anchor trolley etc). The kayak also has to be very stable, but with the ability to glide through the water efficiently.

Concept Explore Review- serious fishing kayak

The Concept Explore kayak looks the business

The Concept Explore kayak ready to launch on her maiden voyage

First impressions
Wow! The Concept Explore was stood alongside other high end fishing kayaks in the showroom, and my eye was drawn straight to it. It certainly looked like the kind of vessel that would handle the fishing expeditions I have been dreaming about for so long. There is plenty of room in the cockpit (good for the long hauls) with plenty of leg space and lots of storage. Lets take a look under the bonnet.

Kayak  Specifications
Length = 365cm (11’11”)
Width = 78cm (2’6″)
Height = 33cm (1’1″)
Kayak Weight = 27kg (60lbs)
Max Load = 150kg (331lbs)
Colours = Yellow / Sand / Forest Camo

A large storage well at the stern with bungee webbing cord

A large storage hatch at the bow with lockable lid

Storage
The thing that immediately caught my eye was the mass of on-board storage space, which included a large storage well at the stern (36″ x 18″) with zig-zag bungee cord fastening, this will easily carry a large fishing box, anchor, and an additional dry box /crate. In front of the seat there is a large centre console (with Scotty compatible fittings for instruments and attachments), and a large oval shaped sealed hatch at the bow with tons of usable space and a large lockable lid (including fitting to attach a large dry bag). Storage was high on my list of priorities, and the Concept Explore certainly provides enough to hold all of my fishing gear + with a maximum weight load of 150kg, enough to store my catch too.

Centre console has a useful storage areas for fishing tackleExtras and Accessories

  • Multi Function Centre Console (for mounting Scotty rod rests and accessories) – The console itself runs through the middle of the leg area (measuring 28″ x 7.5″) with 7 x star shaped “Scotty Compatible” holes, aswell as a number of re-enforced screw holes for attaching additional rails or brackets. It also has a cup holder (very useful for an avid tea drinker like myself), but also a useful storage area for various bits of fishing tackle. The lid of the centre console is held firmly in place with straps with a handy storage area underneath (for more fishing tackle, phones, keys etc). The design of the console is really intuitive with space for any instruments you may need to add, and positioned to allow easy access without it getting in the way when paddling. There is even a measuring scale (in cm and inches) to measure fish size.
  • Carry handles on sides, bow and stern (side handles are centre balanced which allows single person to carry one handed). The front and back handles are useful for lifting the kayak onto the trolley wheels.
  • Kayak trolley (available separately)
  • Flush mounted rod rests (with covers) – The rod rests are easily accessible, although I only use them for storing rods in transit. When fishing I like to use a rod rest that sits in front of me. The centre console will easily hold a number of rod rests.

concept-explore-fishing-kayak-22

Rudder system
The Concept Explore also has a rudder system, also seen on other high end fishing kayaks. The rudder system is controlled with foot pedals, and helps with maintaining direction in conditions where the kayak is turning into the wind (also known as weather cocking). Normally the kayaker is forced to paddle furiously on one side to keep the kayak straight, but the rudder will allow extra control over the steering.

The rudder can be raised or lowered when required using the haul lines situated on the right hand side of the kayak. The rudder system is well constructed and can be assembled in minutes ready for use. I was a bit concerned (as it was a new gadget that I had never used before), but I sat in the kayak and pushed the pedals back and forth for a few minutes, with some of my previous kayaking experiences in mind I decided that a rudder system was definitely a good idea.

The rudder system can be raised or lowered to assist steering in windy conditions

Handling and Comfort
The kayak performed even better than expected. I took it out for its maiden voyage from Porth Beach across to Newquay harbour and back. I am 6 feet tall and weigh approx 95kg (quite a lump). With all of my gear the load would be around +120kg and I have been close to the maximum load on smaller kayaks before (impairing their glide through the water). But the Concept Explore sat in the water really nicely, and steered through a cross-wind (approx 15-20mph) with no problem at all. Half way across the bay the wind was a little bit stronger with a bit of chop to the sea, the Explore cut through it just nicely, but I decided that it was an ideal time to test the rudder system. The rudder worked exactly as expected and after a couple of minutes getting used to the pedals for the first time, I was able to perfectly counter balance the push of the wind and maintain my course without having to paddle furiously on one side.

At 30 inches wide, the Concept Explore felt really stable in the water. I stopped paddling for a while and allowed the Explore to drift sideways into the waves. I sometimes end up in this position while drift fishing and this is the point where you are most likely to get tipped by a wave. Compared with other kayaks I have used, the stability of the Concept kayak is loads better, and as the kayak was sitting relatively high in the water I didn’t take much water over the sides.

The positioning of the 6 x scupper holes in the cockpit of the Explore allows the water to drain downwards to the lowest point (the foot area), with the ability to plug them up if preferred meant that I had a very dry ride. Many times I have had to sit in a puddle of water in other types of kayak (especially if the kayak was sat very low in the water). I found that the adjustable foot pedals can be finely adjusted to the perfect position, and can be easily tweaked whilst out on the water. The “Ultimate” kayak seat that I got with the kayak is easily fitted and feels very comfortable, although made of lightweight material, the padded back and seat felt very plush and offered enough support to lean back into the seat whilst paddling. All round an extremely smooth and comfortable ride.

The width of the kayak offers great stability and plenty of room in the cockpit

Manufacturing and materials
My number 1 priority (over and above storage capacity) is quality construction, after all I will be putting the kayak through some tough conditions and it will get something of a battering while travelling to some of my favourite bass fishing spots (not to mention the occasional bump or knock when putting it on the roof rack). Concept Kayaks are rotation moulded from the highest quality LLDPE (linear low density polyethylene). LLDPE is very durable and is impact resistant, unlike HDPE (high density polyethylene) which is prone to denting and cracking (also used to make plastic garden furniture which I break all the time). After speaking with the manufacturers, they confirmed that LLDPE was indeed the best possible material for the construction of kayaks, of which they sourced the very highest quality LLDPE from ExxonMobil. This was used to make the hulls of all of the Concept Kayak models.

The LLDPE used to make the Concept Explore also contains UV inhibitors to reduce UV damage while the kayak is being used (which will degrade plastic over the years making it brittle), I will still store my kayak under cover though when not in use.

It should also be noted that all of the metal fixings in the Concept Explore are made of 316 marine grade stainless steel (suitable for use in both freshwater and seawater). I have seen other kayaks that claim to use “marine grade” stainless steel where in fact using 304 which can corrode over time when exposed to salt water. There is also no use of rivets at all (which have been known to come loose and cause leaks over time).

Concept kayaks are very well built and they offer a lifetime guarantee on the hull of the kayak

High Quality Build – Lifetime Warranty
Concept Kayaks offer a lifetime warranty on the hull of the kayak as standard (which speaks volumes to me in terms of confidence in their construction). The Concept Explore kayak comes with a moulded serial number that I used to register the warranty on the website. The kayaks are individually inspected before being shipped as part of a stringent 10 point check and comes with a certificate of quality assurance. (I can’t argue with that).

Verdict
This is certainly not just any old leisure kayak (with a rod rest stuck on for good measure), the Concept Explore was designed specifically with the serious touring fisherman in mind, and when put alongside some of the other high end fishing kayaks, the Explore still ticks all of the boxes for me. This kayak is built to the highest quality, with many years of experience poured into the R&D at Concept Kayaks who are based right here in Cornwall.

Price isn’t the main consideration for me when choosing a good quality fishing kayak (this is a serious hobby for me), but the Concept Explore retails at £358 (at the time of publishing this), which simply cannot be ignored when comparing to prices of other kayaks of the same specifications, and so out of my £500 budget, there is enough change to buy some more fishing tackle. Win Win!

Useful Links
Concept Kayaks Website
The Outdoor Hub (where to buy the Concept Explore)

Posted in Fishing and Hunting, Outdoors | 8 Comments

Review: Rob Allen Scorpia – a fantastic speargun for beginners

I have always been into any kind of fishing or hunting, and was recently introduced to spearfishing by some friends. They were having far more luck sub-surface than I ever had with my trusty old fishing rod. With that in mind, and having watched a lot of inspiring spearo videos on YouTube, I was more than happy to give it a go. The exciting prospect of bagging a few decent sea bass for the table was beginning to grab me (failing that, perhaps even just a flattie or two).

spearfishing for seabass in Cornwall

Not wanting to spend a fortune on equipment (as a beginner), I was looking for a speargun that would perform as well as my growing abilities required. After a lot of research online, it was apparent that Rob Allen’s design of speargun would be sturdy and strong enough to handle the rough ground hunting in Cornwall, while packing enough muscle to fire a strong straight shot at a fast moving sea bass.

After chatting to the guys at Spearfishing.co.uk and getting some valuable pointers,  I am also incredibly fortunate to be able to review a Rob Allen Scorpia 90 beginners speargun. The Scorpia series are built with the same high quality components as other top of the range models and use the same 16mm bands. Priced at £89.99 for the Scorpia 90 (prices vary for other sizes) – it is perfectly priced for the beginner spearo.

Rob Allen Scorpia "beginners speargun"

Rob Allen Scorpia Series – Specifications:

  • Single 16mm band
  • Available in sizes 50 – 110 cm
  • 6.3mm tri-cut stainless steel spear
  • Aviation grade aluminium barrel 1mm thick
  • Mechanism manufactured from glass reinforced nylon
  • Single wrapped heavy duty shooting mono – 2mm thick with 400lb breaking strain
  • Low profile muzzle available (Free upgrade worth £19)

My first impressions as I unwrapped the Scorpia 90 is of an extremely well made bit of kit. Constructed from aviation grade aluminium, it feels very rugged but also light enough to hold up and aim with one hand. The terrain that I will be fishing is rough Cornish coastline (boulders and kelp), and so a speargun that allows one hand free is essential as I can steady my stance whilst simultaneously taking aim at passing fish (a technique that may need some practice, but it’s good to start off with the right gear).

The handle and trigger mechanism (including safety catch) feels sturdy with a positive click and a strong hold on the spear end. Being made from glass reinforced nylon it will not corrode. I “false fired” (without loading the rubber) and replaced the spear into the trigger catch several times until I was 100% confident of its reliability (solid). By placing the spear on the floor (or a nearby chair) and stretching out the line, it is also clear that the length of the mono line provided (in addition to an outstretched arm + length of speargun) gives a substantial range of fire. The handle also has a moulded reel mount which may come in handy when I start hitting big enough fish to let them run.

Rob Allen Scorpia - trigger mechanism

I opted for the low profile muzzle which allows the addition of and extra band if required. By flexing the rubber a bit (but not loading it out of water, as this is extremely dangerous), I can immediately feel the potential power capability of the single 16mm band.

The Rob Allen Scorpia 90 speargun with single 16mm band

How to Load the Rob Allen Scorpia 90 speargun:
Loading the Rob Allen Scorpia 90 speargun for the first time was a little daunting because it raised a few questions in my mind about whether I was setting it up correctly. My questions were kindly answered by the guys at Spearfishing.co.uk and a quick demonstration confirmed that it was as straightforward as I had originally thought.  Loading and setting up the Rob Allen speargun is actually very simple and neat, with a very small amount of practice required to get the chest loading technique nailed.

  1. How do I load the speargun correctly (without busting a gut)? -> The chest loading technique is widely recommended in the spearfishing world as the easiest and safest way to load most spearguns. (look it up on YouTube)
  2. Should the line run on top of the speargun when loaded? -> The mono line cannot run directly on top of the spear, as it would obstruct the notch in the spear (where the wishbone sits and catches the spear) – The line should run slightly to the side of the spear (but not underneath), with the crimped loop sitting on top of the spear at the trigger end.
  3. Should the line run over or underneath the speargun rubber at the muzzle end? -> The mono line comes out of the end of the muzzle (alongside the spear), running down over the top of the rubber (neatly near where the rubber is held into the muzzle).
  4. How does the line catch work? (situated underneath the trigger mechanism) -> The line is neatly held back along the length of the barrel with the line catch, as the trigger is pulled the line catch simultaneously releases the line.
  5. Will the crimped end of the monofilament line catch on the speargun muzzle when I fire it? -> Although the crimped end of the mono line sits pointing forward on top of the spear, when fired should not catch on the muzzle. The sheer speed of the spear firing out of the muzzle combined with friction from the surrounding water pulls the crimp and loop backwards so that it is free to pass through the muzzle.  (no problem)

Verdict: The Rob Allen Scorpia 90 ticks all of the boxes for me, it is an extremely well designed speargun and is produced without cutting corners and compromising on quality. At only £89.99 it is very competitively priced and you get all the power and versatility you will need to see you through your first couple of years as a spearo. The full range of Rob Allen spearguns and spear fishing accessories is available at www.spearfishing.co.uk (the UK’s Official Rob Allen Dealer).

Check out their video below which gives some great advice on choosing the right speargun.

Posted in Fishing and Hunting, Outdoors | 5 Comments

Review: Asics Mens Gel Volt Running Shoes – Hitting the coastal paths

Asics Gel Volt running shoes - hitting the coastal paths in Cornwall

My running schedule began late this year, partly because I felt that my old routes were boring and flat, and probably weren’t pushing my fitness level enough (or maybe those are just excuses for being lazy). I have spent many a weekend throughout spring exploring parts of the Cornish coastline, of which there is over 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path that is fantastic for off road running. The twisting pathways and sharp gradients offer me a new dimension which will allow me push it harder than ever this year.

Having the correct footwear is essential  for ample support and cushioning from foot impact, and having a good grip is the difference between a strong confident stride or slipping over and twisting your ankle on one of the many slopes or boulders en-route.

I am delighted to be able to try out these Asics Gel Volt Lightweight Running Shoes from M & M Direct. Out of the box the trainers look great, the colours and design is really appealing, and goes with my black running shorts. More importantly they feel extremely light (only 325 grams for one of my size 11’s), but they don’t feel skimpy. The AHAR rubber cushioned sole (with an impressive tread grip) is substantially dense, and the overall composition of the shoe feels really sturdy.

Asics mens running shoes are great for support and grip

For their maiden voyage, and to put my new Asics through their paces I picked a mixed terrain route. It was a 7km road, cliff path, and beach run (including an incredibly steep hill). The first thing I noticed was how smooth the road running felt, usually after the first mile I can feel small impact pains in my lower back but no pain was felt at all while wearing the Asics Gel Volt shoes. After a good start I was able to get my breathing pattern synchronized with my stride… and away we went!

The run was gruelling (as planned) and the shoes felt great throughout, the lightweight upper dried really quickly after I ran through pools of water, and I had every confidence in the grip.

Asics running shoes are perfect for running along the coastal paths in Cornwall

Verdict: The Asics Gel Volt shoes are fantastic for both road and rough terrain running, and are currently my favourite running shoes,and well worth the price of £69.99. With the quality you would expect from Asics, the lightweight upper, well cushioned sole, and the ample tread, they allow me to be the mean running machine I strive to be.

Thankyou to M and M Direct for sending the running shoes for review, check out their website for a great range of running shoes and sports gear at great prices. For lots more helpful information visit their running guide here.

Posted in Outdoors | 2 Comments

The ultimate crab and lobster trap

catch your own crabs and lobster using a trap

Catching crabs has always been a major fascination for me. One of my most successful methods was using a hand line from a harbour wall, and with a few “tried and tested” modifications to the baited end, I found that I could fill my crate with crabs quickly without losing my bait. With the use of an old onion bag or other fine netting, I created a little bait bag (weighted with a stone) and tied it to the end of the hand line. This way the crabs nipped onto the bag (containing a mackerel fillet or something equally stinky), and I could pull them up, sometimes 3 or 4 at a time.

Fold-able crab and lobster trap for leisure anglers

Taking this on to the next level, and being able to catch crabs and lobsters for the table has always been on my agenda. Using a traditional lobster pot is just not practical (as they are large and heavy) and so I was over the moon when I discovered this portable / fold-able lobster crab trap from Castnets. This really opened up new opportunities for me as it folds up and fits onto the back of a kayak easily, or can be taken out and anchored on a low spring tide and collected the next day.

The folded crab and lobster trap easily fits on the back of a kayak

Perfect for:
Catching crustaceans like crab and lobster for the table
Catching crab for fishing bait
Fit perfectly on the back of a kayak.
Can be easily carried (very lightweight)

Priced at only £24.99 from www.castnets.co.uk this trap is the perfect solution and is far better designed than many other traps that I have seen. The trap can be assembled very quickly (60 seconds) and holds very strong with a good volume inside (90cm diameter). The four one-way entrance holes are large enough to allow large spider crabs and lobsters with little chance of escape. All you need to do is bait the trap with a bit of fish and anchor it to the bottom with a lead weight (I use an 8 oz weight in calm sea).

Verdict: The ultimate crab and lobster trap is well designed, sturdy and well priced. I have done quite a bit of research and this is definitely the best one around. I’m looking forward to cooking up some nice juicy lobster!

In addition to setting this trap, I will also be on the lookout for crabs and lobster whilst free diving here in Cornwall.  Check out my post here.

Posted in Fishing and Hunting | 5 Comments