Concept “Explore” fishing kayak – All rigged up and ready for action!

The "Exp;ore" by Concept Kayaks, rigged up and ready for the open sea

This post is long overdue, basically I just wanted to show off my pride and joy. Rigging up this kayak has kept me busy over the last 12 months, and has given me the means to get out to sea and into some really fantastic fishing. The picture above shows her rigged up for drifting / lure fishing for Bass. With a small box of choice lures, two rods, and my Garmin 501c fish finder, travelling light like this means I can get out quickly and start fishing.

I posted a feature here about 12 months ago which talked about the features of the Concept “Explore” fishing kayak (fresh out of the factory). Since then I have tweaked and fiddled with it, adding various parts and accessories and now it has evolved into the monster fishing machine that I have dreamed about.

Rigged up with two lure rods to target Bass in Cornwall

Not quite as clean and shiny as it was when new but still in fantastic condition. Me and this kayak have been through a learning curve together. A few bangs and scrapes, a couple of items lost overboard (lesson learned), and also a good number of changes to the fittings and accessories (before I found the layout that worked for me).

I have lost count of the hours I have spent thinking about the layout of the kayak. I have learnt that it pays to travel light and take only what you need. The kayak could take the weight of extra tackle with no problem, but it soon becomes chaos aboard when a decent fish comes onboard and there’s too much stuff laying around.

At the bow of the kayak is a useful carrying handle, and the front end of the anchor trolley system

The anchor trolley system (by H20 Kayaks) runs the full length of the port side (see picture above). This is used for a drift chute (aka Drogue) – I do a lot of drift fishing and IMO a chute is an absolute must have for sea fishing. I have fixed it as near to the front as possible to ensure that I don’t sit at a funny angle to the wind, sometimes I position the chute at the back of the kayak when lure fishing which puts the wind behind me and makes casting much easier.

The front storage hatch gives access to the area where I store my fish finder battery

The front storage hatch gives access to the area where I store my fish finder battery. The battery goes in a dry bag that is held in place with sticky sucker pads – simple but effective! I also installed my transducer in this hatch, it is attached to the inside of the hull using Marine Goop. I cut up some kids foam play mats to make a well to hold the transducer within a reservoir of adhesive goop.

The picture below shows the TracPort Dash 350 by Railblaza, I mounted this onto one of the StarPort HD mounts which is much more sturdy than the normal round StarPorts as it has a bigger footprint and a screw hole in each corner. The TracPort holds my Garmin Eco 501c fish finder mounted on a Scanstrut Rokk Mount, I have also added two 75mm G-Holds which make handy rod rests when I’m changing bait or unhooking a fish. The TracPort comes with 3 x sliding ports where I can mount other Railblaza accessories.

Garmin Echo 501c mounted on kayak using Rokk mount and Railblaza attachments

kayak rigger up for trolling for Bass in Cornwall

kayak centre console with rod rest and bait table

I do a range of different fishing for various saltwater species and the fittings I have chosen can be re-positioned using Railblaza StarPorts. A great feature on the Concept Explore is the centre console. It comes with a number of attachment holes designed for Scotty accessories and there are a selection of moulded screw holes that I’ve used to attach Railblaza StarPorts in various positions. The centre console is held in place with two sturdy straps, the top of the console can be removed where there is a storage area underneath where I keep a few “emergency” lures (for when the going gets tough).

The DIY wooden bait table was made out of a chopping board attached to a Railblaza Rotating Platform with nylon screws. I often strap my box of lures to this table when I’m not using it for cutting bait.

The picture also shows a single rod holder in position for lure fishing and trolling, I am able to move the bait board closer to me (near the compass) and then mount an additional rod holder on the other side. I often fish a baited rig on the bottom (in the rod holder) and jig or lure fish with another rod in my hand.

If there was one thing I would change about the design of this kayak, it would be to have some flat horizontal spaces on each side to attach some gear tracks (for rod holders and devices). This is definitely not a big issue as there is plenty of space onboard but would be a “nice to have”.

Compass and Garmin hand held GPS- the navigation zone

One final attachment that I intend to add to the centre console will be a small device holder for my Garmin Etrax 20 GPS, this will be located alongside the compass (in what I am now calling the “navigation zone”).

2 x flush mounted rod holders are located behind the seat

Rod holder with spinning reel

The Concept “Explore” comes with 2 x flush fitted rod holders that are located behind the seat, mainly I use these for storing the rods when I am paddling to a mark, they are also good for trolling and I often troll a lure out behind me. It is important to remember to leash your rods so they don’t disappear over-board if you get a good bite, there are plenty of pad eyes fitted to the “Explore” for fixing things down.

For winter/bait fishing I plan to fit some RAM rod tubes to the kayak using adapters that fit inside the flush mount, this will allow me to position two rods pointing forwards (one on each side of my seat), and will free up some space on the console for bait preparation (and un-hooking monster fish).

Rear storage area

The rear tank well gives me some great storage space and is mainly used for putting my catch. I often put a large cool bag (attached in place with the bungee cord), this keeps the fish fresh and stops gulls or seals pinching my catch while I’m not looking (it’s happened quite a few times). The rear well has two scupper drainage holes with bungs. There is also room for my flask of tea and a box of sandwiches (just as important as anything else on-board).

kayak cockpit area with seat and pedals for the rudder system

I have a rudder system installed (which comes as standard with the Concept “Explore”). The rudder system improves paddling in windy conditions. This is controlled with the foot pedals and is deployed using a pulley rope. The pedals are adjustable (depending on your height). I don’t use the rudder system very often but its good to have when conditions turn bad.

The best fishing kayak for sea fishing? - quite possibly

So there you have it, my fishing kayak build so far! The Concept “Explore” is a really well made kayak and has been really easy to adapt to the way I fish. The materials and components used to build the kayak are top quality and as far as I’m concerned, the “Explore” is every bit as good as any of the other kayak brands out there. If you have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions about my fishing kayak build, please feel free to leave comments below or contact me.

Visit the Concept Kayaks Website

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Review: Thule Kayak Carrier 874 and Roof Bars

Ready for action, the kayak is safe and secure

Travelling to my favourite kayaking spot involves a 20 mile drive to the south coast of Cornwall. I only live 10 minutes from the north coast but 95% of the time its too rough to launch and the south offers much safer fishing options. I don’t have the luxury of a trailer for transporting my kayak so my only option is to attach the kayak to the roof of my 4 x 4.

Before I got my hands on my Thule system I tried a number of “make-shift” solutions. Strapping the kayak straight onto roof bars often ended up with quite a lot of movement in transit regardless of how much i tightened the straps, and on one occasion the kayak nearly slipped off of the roof going around a tight corner on a windy day. I also tried using pipe lagging wrapped around the roof bars, this gave a bit of extra grip against the hull, but my instincts told me that it wasn’t going to be optimal, especially in poor weather.

I have now just fitted Thule SquareBars in conjunction with the 874 Kayak Carrier system. Even as I was un-boxing the components I knew that this was exactly what I had been looking for. I fitted the roof bars quite wide apart giving ample support more towards the bow and stern of the kayak (a lesson learned from experiences with my previous set-up). The kayak carrier system would then support the kayak and stop any movement in transit.

Thule 150cm roof bars and rain gutter brackets for Mitsubishi shogun

Thule Kit.
For this installation I needed the following Thule kits. No other tools or parts were needed which I was pleased about.

Fitting to the Vehicle.
Assembling the components literally took me 15 minutes, the roof rack brackets slide onto the ends of the square bars (through an obvious square shaped hole). When you fit it to the vehicle it tightens down onto the rain gutter and the roof bar at the same time. I opted for the 20cm high brackets for the reason that the 15cm brackets only just clear the roof but don’t leave enough of a gap to fit the kayak carrier brackets. The Thule square bars are constructed from 2mm galvanised steel, they have a maximum recommended load of 100kg (which is more than enough for a large kayak).

Kayak carrier brackets attached to Thule square roof bars

Thule kayak carrier 874 brackets have adjustable rubber pad that holds kayak in place

The kayak carrier system is really well designed, with really sturdy fittings. The thick rubber pad that makes contact with the kayak is textured to improve grip and is supple enough to shape to the contour of the kayak. The angle of the pad is also adjustable with 3 settings to suit a wide range of different kayaks. The kayak carrier brackets also tighten down with a threaded bolt which can easily be tightened with your hand (even with the kayak in place). This is really handy for last minute adjustments to the support, to get a tight fit against the hull.

Getting the kayak onto the top of the vehicle is quite a chore on a high sided vehicle, but I have worked out a system that makes my life easier, and with less risk of me dropping the kayak. Instead of fitting all of the kayak carrier brackets, I only fit 2 of them (front and back brackets on the far side of the vehicle). Then I lift the kayak onto the roof bars and attach the remaining two kayak carrier brackets afterwards (while the kayak rests on the roof bars). This allows me to position the brackets with the kayak in position, and it also means that I don’t have to lift the kayak onto the roof and over the nearest kayak carrier brackets in one go. To unload the kayak I just do this in reverse.

Thule also provide a pair of straps with the kayak carrier kit, these are long enough to double around the roof bars and over the top of the kayak at each end. The buckles are strong and grip really well. They also have rubber shields that slip over the buckles, this stops the metal from damaging the windows and paintwork when you are strapping down (nice touch!).

The kayak is strapped firmly in place by the Thule kayak carrier

Kayak carrier pad with Thule strap holding kayak in place

Thule have another system called the “Hydroglide” which has a built in load assist. This allows you to slide the kayak over the two rear pads and onto the roof, this is worth considering if you think you will have trouble lifting your kayak on and off.

Test Drive.
Even before I began driving to my launch site I was really confident that the Thule Kayak Carrier was going to keep my kayak firmly attached. I took the usual route, with a bit of wind and rain to add another dimension to the test. Keeping an eye on the kayak for any movement I was able to take corners at my usual speed with no movement or slipping of the kayak whatsoever. The Thule Kayak Carrier proved to be absolutely solid (as expected).

Verdict.
Many thanks to Thule for sending me this system to try, it is much safer and efficient than anything I have tried before. The quality materials, design of the components, and an obviously large amount of R&D time invested by Thule makes their kayak carriers so good. If you want to transport a kayak on the roof of your car, and you want a safe and easy to use solution, investing in a purpose designed system like the Thule Kayak Carrier 874 is a total no-brainer.

Visit the Thule website and see their full range of water sports carriers here.

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Review: Sufix Gravity 2 Fast Sinking Braid

Sufix Gravity 2 Braid Review

I am reasonably new to using braid for my fishing, but with 95% of my fishing being lure fishing I gave it a try about a year ago when I got some free braid with a reel that I bought. I have tried a couple of brands over the last 12 months which have been OK but nothing that has compared to this Gravity 2 braid by Sufix. It spooled up like any other braided line, but upon the first cast and retrieve I immediately noticed the difference.

I have been using this braid for 2 months now. The first comment I would like to make is that I have not yet had a single wind knot using the Sufix braid! (an issue that I have suffered with other lines, despite their claims at being resistant to wind knots). This line is so much easier to work with and hasn’t suffered from loose loops falling off the front of the spool, even when cast into the wind and retrieve line without tension. Off to a great start already, and I haven’t even covered the main features of the line.

Sufix Gravity 2 braid spools onto a fishing reel really nicely

The Gravity 2 line by Sufix is a fast sinking braid, which for lure anglers is a great thing especially when using lightweight soft plastic lures that sink slowly anyway. I normally use a 18-24″ fluorocarbon leader which sinks very quickly, and I can clearly see the Gravity 2 braid sinking very soon after it hits the water (1-2 seconds). This allows me to stay in contact with my lure as much as possible.

In addition to the very pleasing performance of this line, I can definitely vouch for its abrasion resistance. I fish some extremely rough and snaggy ground, (there is no other way to find sea bass here in Cornwall), and when I change lures I tend to put the rod down and sometimes accidentally trap and rub the line against the rocks. There is no sign of abrasion damage at all, never had a break off on the line. If it can withstand the way I fish, I just cant fault it.

Features:
  • Constructed of 2 Gore Performance Fibers and 2 Ultra High Molecule PE fibers for fast sinking
  • Improved sensitivity and bite detection
  • Quicker and more efficient hook-sets
  • Very high abrasion resistance
  • Easy handling, long and accurate cast
  • Extreme strength, minimal stretch

Sufix Gravity 2 fast sinking braid sinks as quickly as Fluorocarbon line

I am really impressed with the Sufix Gravity 2 braid and although I have only tried three or four other braided lines for comparison, this line is by far the best braided line for my type of fishing that I have used so far.

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Review: Wüsthof Grand Prix II Fillet Knife

Wüsthof Grand Prix II Fillet Knife Review

I love to bring home a fish or two for the table, and over the years I have attempted a number of seafood dishes which usually go down well with the family. Although the fish were always tasty and fresh, I have always had difficulties with preparing and cleaning the fish to a “restaurant standard”, even with plenty of practice some of the fillets looked as though they had been hacked up by a blind woodsman.

Different species of fish can be wildly different in terms of anatomy, with different bone structures to consider and thickness of skin. It really pays to have the right tools for the job, specifically a really good fillet knife. A sharp, flexible fillet knife will allow you to cut and de-bone fish with minimum wastage and there is less risk of you losing a finger while doing it.

I have used the Grand Prix II Fillet Knife by Wüsthof a few times now, and it is absolutely superb! This is a 7″ fillet knife and is perfect for the preparation of all of the fish that I eat, Mackerel, Sea Bass, Pollock, Cod, and Sea Bream. The knife is very comfortable to hold, and the blade is designed perfectly for cutting fillets with minimal effort, and also for precision cutting around bones.

Wüsthof was founded in Germany over 200 years ago

Product Highlights:

  • Precision-forged from a single blank of high carbon stain-free steel
  • Full tang that is triple riveted to the handle for precise control
  • Precision Edge Technology (PEtec) yields a blade that is 20% sharper with twice the edge retention
  • Tempered to 58⁰ Rockwell
  • Specially developed polypropylene handle, designed for comfort and control
  • Full bolster and finger guard

The Grand Prix II Fillet Knife is one of Wüsthof’s full tang blades and is precision forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel. The picture below shows the very thin flexible blade with a little pressure applied, this allows precision cutting whilst manoeuvring the blade as close to bones as possible (to avoid wastage) through the contours of the fishes body.

This fillet knife has a very thin flexible blade used for deboning and filleting fish

One of my all time favourite eating fish are Mackerel. I enjoy catching them because they fight so well, and they taste amazing pan fried in a bit of olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. I used the Grand Prix II fillet knife to take the two sides off with very little effort and probably the best fillets I had ever cut.

Filleting Mackerel properly

Starting at the head I cut through the skin on the back and down each side just behind the pectoral fins. Then I cut into the fish and when I felt the resistance of the back bone I turned the blade and cut towards the tail, using the blade to feel my way along the length of the back bone.

The sharpness of the blade meant that cutting could be done with very little pressure (no hacking or sawing required), therefore I could really concentrate on what the blade was cutting, and I could feel exactly where the bones were situated. The end result was two perfect Mackerel fillets, very little wastage, and I still had my fingers!

The 7″ blade is also suitable for larger fish, I have also filleted a 6lb Cod that I caught (approx 60cm in length) with this knife, no trouble at all. Cod are a little trickier to prepare then Mackerel because they have a rib cage that needs to be cut around and thicker skin to be removed. I would be more than confident to tackle a 10 or 15 pounder with the Grand Prix II, if I could ever catch one!

Cutting a side of Mackerel with a fillet knife

How to fillet a Mackerel, two perfect fillets ready for cooking

The Grand Prix II fillet knife performs incredibly well, especially when I compare with some of the knives I have used before. The blade is very durable and allows me to confidently fillet fish. I can now transform my catches into fine tasting (and fine looking) table-fare. The Grand Prix II Fillet Knife costs £84.00 and is available to buy here.

Although Wüsthof knives are dishwasher safe, I prefer to wash my fillet knife manually and store on a knife block. This keeps the knife from being tumbled around with other items in the cutlery tray or drawer. Wüsthof also make knife sharpeners to maintain a clean and sharp edge to the knife, I prefer to use a sharpening stone (or Whet Stone) for my knives.

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Review: Kirkbeck Fishing Bag by Chapman Bags

The Kirkbeck 14 is a compact canvas and leather bag that is perfect for fly fisherman. It is manufactured in the UK by Chapman Bags

As a roaming fisherman, I tend to spend as much time on the move as I do actually fishing. I like to travel light to make life easier when I am hiking to my fishing marks, and scrambling through undergrowth and over rocks. With this in mind, I am quite specific when it comes to selecting fishing luggage, paying attention to storage space, materials, and finally if it looks good then that’s an added bonus. Fisherman are not usually known for their fashion sense, but I really appreciate a traditional style fishing bag that is well made.

Chapman Bags, based in Carlisle, have been making traditional shooting and fishing bags since the 80’s. They have a huge range of bags made from canvas, leather and tweed, all manufactured in England. I chose one of their Kirkbeck 14″ bags (as shown in the pictures) in the “Khaki” colour. I also opted for the white waterproof rubberised bag liner.

The Kirkbeck 14 has a large netted pocket on the front that will hold fly boxes and fishing accessories

The Kirkbeck bags are made from waterproof cotton canvas with leather trim and solid Brass buckles and hardware. I also love fly fishing for Sea Bass, and so the Brass fittings will endure exposure to salt water without spoiling. The adjustable shoulder strap is also made of canvas, and is nice and wide, making it comfortable to carry (even when wet). The British leather trim is well stitched and finishes the bag off perfectly. In terms of looks, the Kirkbeck 14 is very pleasing to the eye, now lets look at it from a practical perspective….

The main compartment (full width of bag) is the perfect size for the assortment of fishing tackle and fly boxes that I carry, with room for a small drinking flask of Earl Grey and a sandwich too. There is also a small (5″ x 6″) slip pocket on the inside, this is designed to hold your fishing license, and would probably fit a few small fishing accessories too.

In the front of the bag are two 6″ wide bellowed pockets, perfect for more fly boxes (or another sandwich), and the military grade cotton webbing creates another generously sized pocket that is almost as big as the main compartment. A great deal of storage space is available on the Kirkbeck 14.

The waterproof interior can be clipped into place to protect the contents of the bag from water ingress

The optional rubberised waterproof lining just clips inside the main compartment on 4 x Brass poppers, this can also be detached if preferred but I think that it would be an advantage to keep it in place.

The Kirkbeck 14 costs £139, with the optional waterproof liner costing £16.00. The bag is perfect for my needs, I love the traditional satchel style and it is the ideal size for the tackle I need. The materials are also very high quality, with fantastic craftsmanship. I really recommend this bag to any fly fisherman, or lightweight lure fisherman looking for well made fishing luggage. If you are looking for something a little bigger, the Kirkbeck 16″ has the same features for £149.  Also check out the full range of fishing, shooting and lifestyle bags on the Chapmans Bags website.

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Review: Saltwater Bento Swim Bait – Lures by Lunkerhunk

SalwaterBento swim baits by lunkerhunt imitate small baitfish, the best lures for sea bass

I have been building up my arsenal of soft plastic lures over the last few months and I have been on the look out for lures that imitate small bait fish really accurately, arguably the best kind of lures for predatory fish like Sea Bass. I came across the Lunkerhunt website and they have a really good range of soft plastics that are aimed at Bass fishing in the US and Canada, but I was really thrilled to find their Bento swim baits range including their new 5.5″ Saltwater Bento that fit my criteria for a being a potentially great UK Sea Bass lure.

The image above shows (from top to bottom) – Saltwater Bento 5.5 inch “Maui Maui”, Saltwater Bento 5.5 inch “Mackerel”, Saltwater Bento 5.5 inch “Anchovy”, Swim Bento 4.5 inch “Parrot”

Soft plastic lures with holographic core and realistic eyes tend to trigger more bits from predatory fish

These baits looked good enough for me to eat and I simply had to get my hands on them to try them out on the Sea Bass and Pollock in our UK waters. The lures are incredibly life like, with a holographic core running the length of the body section, and a keeled “shad” style tail. These lures also have very realistic holographic eyes which I believe also helps triggers bites too. My success rate using lures with eyes is noticeably better than without.

These Lunkerhunt saltater swim baits can be rigged on a weedless hook

I will be fishing these into really snaggy rough ground marks, and so I have Texas rigged them up using Varivas Gran Hooking Master weedless hooks with a 14g cone shaped worm weight. Size 5/0 or 6/0 hooks fit the 5.5″ Saltwater Bento, and size 2/0 or 3/0 hooks fit the 4.5″ Swim Bento.

These soft plastics are very soft and so they have a really nice natural action. I prefer to fish them on a slow straight retrieve from the rocks or shore, as the rips and undercurrents tend to take the lure and make it “work”, but I am also looking forward to drop shot fishing these lures from the kayak over shallow reefs this summer – I will post catch reports soon. Huge thanks to Lunkerhunt for sending me these lures to try!

Posted in Fishing and Hunting | Leave a comment

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: Banshee Tri-Tip Boat Rod by TF Gear

Banshee Tri Tip Boat Rod by TF Gear

After a lot of on-line research, comparing different brands, and prices I finally got one of TF Gear’s  Banshee Tri Tip boat rods to play with. I’ve been on the look out for a boat rod for kayak fishing and I really love the fact it is 3 different rods in one. The Banshee Tri-Tip rods offers me the durability to cover all the types of inshore fishing that I enjoy at a really great price.

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Out of the bag
This rod comes with a 30 inch Duplon handle/butt section and 3 interchangeable tips of varying size (10, 20, and 30lb class). All top sections have bright fluorescent Orange tips which looks fantastic against the dark blue Nano Carbon blank. The reel seat is strong and well made,and tightens right down (without fear of threading the screw), and the guides are smooth lined and really well constructed. Although TF Gear are effectively giving you 3 rods for the money, they haven’t skimped on quality at all.

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I did bend tests using all three tips and all were extremely responsive and progressively stronger with a great action throughout, with enough muscle in the lower section to apply pressure on bigger fish when needed. I would even be confident doing some reef jigging with the 10lb class rod.

Specifications

  • Versatile Tri-tip design
  • Custom locking reel seat
  • Super slick guides
  • High quality Nano carbon blank
  • The most versatile boat rod ever
  • Length: 7’6′
  • Rating: 10, 20 & 30lb
  • Sect: 2+2
  • Price: £69.99 at Fishtec

High visibility tips
Usually my rod is in my hand when kayak fishing, but i sometimes put the rod into a rod holder and the orange high visibility tips on the rod tips are especially useful in low light conditions (early morning or late evening sessions).

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10lb class
This rod has the most sensitivity and is perfect for jigging for squid, or fishing baited feathers for Black Bream and Garfish. It has enough muscle to handle Codling or a decent Bass. It also casts a 30 gram lure really well too. This is my go-to rod for general spring/summer fishing.

20lb class
Perfect for all round fishing, bottom bait fishing for Plaice or Turbot, or jigging for Pollock over rough ground. It has the guts to pull up decent sized ray or strap Conger too. I’ve hauled up some good codling on this rod too with no troubles, with enough action to still enjoy the fight. I also tried this rod while drift fishing the bottom with a 4oz lead, the tip doesn’t go crazy when drifting over a rippled sandy bottom (no false bites), but shows any real bites clearly. This probably my favorite tip of the three.

30lb class
Great for heavier jigging over a wreck, or bigger baits for Bull Huss and Smooth Hound. I don’t do a lot of big bait fishing on the kayak but we do have a number of inshore wrecks to fish around the Cornish coastline that are worth checking out for larger Pollock and the occasional Ling.

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Verdict
I have been using this rod for a few months now and I am really pleased with it, its definitely a keeper and is so well made it will last me for years. I have bought TF Gear rods in the past that are still serving me well even with heavy usage. Fantastic rods and well worth the money, I really like this brand.

One more thing don’t forget to check out their TF Gear Babes Calendar here, a must have item of décor for the fishing tackle shed!

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