Review: Shimano Baitrunner 8000 OC (Oceanic) Fishing Reel

Review of Shimano Baitrunner 8000 OC Oceanic fishing reel



I have put together this feature to cover Shimano’s Baitrunner OC fishing reels, also referred to as the Shimano Oceanic USA Baitrunner series. An absolutely brilliant reel for the money and arguably one of the best medium sized fixed spool reels for all round sea angling. Definitely one of my favorites.

I have been using Baitrunners for fresh water Pike fishing for many years, the sound of the Baitrunner clicking when a specimen Pike picked up a whole Mackerel bait and ran with it was music to my ears on any day of the week. When I moved to live on the coast of Cornwall I continued using my old Baitrunner reels for both shore fishing and kayak fishing with great results. I am really pleased to be able to try out one Shimano’s 8000 Oceanic reels to show you guys why I’m such an advocate of the Baitrunner series when it comes to sea angling. As well as being constructed from anti-rust saltwater resistant materials, the OC release still contains a lot of the features that have made the Baitrunner a household name, and also feature advances that are going to take this iconic range of reels well into the future.

Some of the upgraded features include a machined handle, a replaceable spool clicker, Varispeed Oscillation to provide a perfect line lay with braided lines, and Propulsion Line Management to increase distance while casting. The Baitrunner lever moves towards the body to stop any accidental gear changes, and with three double-sided, shielded stainless steel bearings and an anti-reverse bearing, this range continues to dominate the bait fishing reel market. Available in four sizes from a compact 4000 size to a powerful distance casting 12000 version to cover a wide range of fishing preferences.




Putting the Baitrunner 8000 OC to the test

I spooled the reel up with 17lb mono mainline and took it out with me on a number of fishing expeditions to test its durability and performance.

Bait fishing from the rocks – Using a medium weight beach rod and 40lb shock leader, I have used the 8000OC reel for bait casting from the shore. I use a 4-5 oz gripper lead on a pulley Pennel rig targeting bigger species like Rays, Codling, Bass, Smoothhound & Conger Eels.  The reel can definitely handle it, and I have cast in excess of 120 yards with this set-up (more than far enough to get my bait among the fish). On one busy session, I landed over 15 fish in two hours, the reel didn’t show any signs of weakness and gave me everything I asked of it. I use the Baitrunner when the rod is on the tripod, this will stop my rod going in if a decent fish hits my bait, and if i’m not watching the rod top the Baitrunner will give an audible clicking sound to signify a bite.

Surf fishing for Bass – When I surf fish for Bass I use quite big baits, and I need to be able to cast quite accurately. The 8000 OC reel delivers this for me effortlessly, and in quite harsh conditions. In these situations, the Baitrunner feature is excellent. Just engage free-spool mode by flicking the switch backwards and dial in enough pressure to just cancel out the tide. The fish can then move off after taking the bait and you just lift into it and it’s hooked. If I put my rod down for any reason, I can leave it in free-spool so a big take won’t see my rod disappearing into the surf. When surf fishing there is high chance of the reel being exposed to salt water and so the anti-rust properties are important. I always wash down my reels in freshwater anyway, but it’s good to know that the Oceanic series are built to resist saltwater corrosion.

Lure fishing from the rocks – I like to use the 8000 OC reel with one of my heavier spinning rods for casting medium to heavy weight lures (25-50 grams), I usually target Bass (and there are some large specimens to be caught from various rock marks in Cornwall). The constant casting and retrieving of the lures is where this reel shows it’s worth, I can easily cast one of my 2oz jigs a good 80-90 yards and accurately too. The 8000 OC is fitted with minimal bearings: three Anti-Rust ball bearings plus a one-way roller. Despite not being crammed full of bearings, operation is silky smooth. Anti-reverse can be switched off and the handle is of a very similar design to the Shimano Navi reels. I have never experienced wind knots or any line bedding into itself on the spool, I can quite literally cast and retrieve all day long with consistent reliability. I would suggest looking at the 4000 OC reel for use with lighter rods/lures.

Jigging for cod from the kayak – I do a great deal of kayak fishing, more so than shore fishing.  I occasionally drop a bait to bottom on the drift, but a majority of my kayak fishing is jigging lures over reefs and wrecks for Cod, Pollock and Bass. The 8000 OC performs just as well as any boat multiplier for this in my opinion. The gear ratio is 4.8:1 – which lessens the need use the rod to ‘pump’ heavier fish – with a recovery rate of 91cm per turn it does a great job of quickly retrieving fish from the depths. The Baitrunner is great for bait fishing, either out on the sand flats or fishing the creeks for Gilthead Bream, being able to pop the rod in the rod holder on free-spool will allow a hard fishing fish to run with the bait without me losing my gear to Davey Jones’ locker. I also find the Baitrunner really convenient for quickly letting out a bit of line when handling a landed fish, much easier than un-tightening the front drag and then restoring it back to the same setting.

Estuary fishing for flatties – In addition to some of the heavier fishing I have done with the 8000 OC reel, I am not opposed to a lazy Sunday afternoon on the estuary flats with light gear targeting the flatties. The size of the 8000 OC works brilliantly, making it incredibly easy just to rig up, cast out with no nonsense, put the rod on the tripod and wait for a bite.  The reel also does a great job when float fishing in the harbour for Mullet.



Packed Full of Features

  • Model Number: BTR8000OC
  • Weight: 590 grams
  • Gear Ratio: 4,8:1
  • Line Capacity mm/m: 0.35-340 / 0.40-230 / 0.45-180
  • Line Capacity lbs/yards: 17-250

Hypergear – The precision engineered main Hypergear transmits more power from the handle to the rotor. Designed to exacting tolerances, it requires less effort but returns more retrieve torque with vastly reduced component wear.

Varispeed – Good quality line lay is the most important feature for precise, long and accurate casting. Shimano’s Varispeed system consists of two specially designed gears. One is oval and the other is square shaped. Shimano has been able to make these two shapes fit perfectly together – the result is a perfect parallel line lay and improved fishing precision.

Power Roller – The special grooved design of the Shimano Power Roller significantly reduces line twist and is a big advantage when using thin mono or braided lines.

AR-C Spool – Shimano AR-C spool is patented spool design with an angled spool lip. This design enables the line to leave the spool with less friction and in smaller coils resulting in longer more accurate casts. AR-C spools are proven to reduce backlash and wind knots when using braid.

Lubrication Port – The reel has a small oil lubrication post that enables direct lubrication of the inner workings of the reel with approved Shimano lubricant.

Waterproof Drag – Using special protection gaskets, the drag is protected against the intrusion of water for more consistent drag performance.

Floating Shaft – The key friction area on most fixed spool reels is where the spool drive meets the pinion. Shimano designers have overcome this by reducing a large percentage of surface area contact and incorporating bearings on either side of the shaft. The resulting design leaves the shaft in a floating position, considerably improving efficiency and longevity.

Baitrunner System – Baitrunner was a breakthrough in big fish angling – a feature that has proved so beneficial that it has become a standard on big fish reels. Baitrunner is a level located on the rear of the reel that allows the reel to be set so that line is released in controlled free-spool.

DynaBalance – Dyna-Balance reduces wobble during the retrieve by counter balancing the rotor to enhance sensitivity and smoothness. By using computer balancing, Shimano are able able to redistribute the rotor weight to eliminate vibrations.

XT-7 – XT-7 is the original Shimano composite reel material. Used on mid-prices and budget reels and spools XT-7 is reliable, robust and lightweight.


A very affordable Baitrunner (RRP £154.99) that’s still packed with unique Shimano performance features such as AR-C line management, cold forged aluminium spool, Baitrunner and a lightweight XT-7 body. This reel is a true workhorse which can be used for both freshwater and saltwater applications. I highly recommend this reel to any saltwater fisherman fishing UK waters, this reel will perform really well for both bait and lure fishing, either from shore or boat.

Notice: The 8000OC reel was supplied to me by Shimano for the purpose of this review, all opinions are my own.

Posted in Fishing and Hunting | Leave a comment

Rigging up the kayak for trolling – Installing my Yak Attack Zooka Tubes

Mounting Yak Attack Zooka Tubes on kayak

I have been thinking about changing the rod holders on my kayak for quite some time now, but it has taken me a while to decide on the best solution and also how and where they would be fitted.

The layout of my kayak was previously set-up with a rod holder situated on the center console between my legs, it was also placed quite close to me with the intention of using it whilst drift fishing, this gave me a handy place to put my rod when unhooking fish when I was fishing jigs over a reef, but wasn’t ideal for trolling lures because it got in the way when I was paddling. It served it’s purpose without any major issues, but still meant that I was limited to using only use one rod at once.

Single Railblaza rod holder mounted on kayak center console

I spend quite a lot of time paddling to my favorite fishing marks, and why not troll a lure or two on the way to try and pick up a Bass or two? After seeing Rob’s set-up at I decided that having two rod holders in front was definitely the best option, which would serve me for both trolling lures behind the kayak and also drift fishing baits with two rods.

Another part of this idea would be to mount the rod holders on each side of the kayak, rather than on the center console which would give me the advantage of being able to free up some space in the kayak for easier paddling, or unhooking big fish (fingers crossed).

After further research on the internet, I decided upon a pair of Zooka tube rod holders made by YakAttack in the USA. I decided to go with the static surface mounts which are the most sturdy option with no risk of the rod rest moving around (if I got a take from a good sized Bass). I got the model featuring the 4″ and 8″ extension arms which would allow me to position the rod holders quite high up away from the water, and keeping the rod butt clear of my feet. The Zooka tubes came with RAM Mount surface mounts with plungers, for easy adjustment while out on the water.

I fitted the surface mounts using 4 x M6 x 25mm marine grade stainless steel bolts, with penny washers on the inside of the hull to spread the pressure of the nut (to avoid cracking the plastic). The RAM mount bases have a good sized footprint and far more sturdy than mounting the rod holders on a RAM Ball. I drilled 6mm holes for the screws and applied a good blob of marine silicone to seal before I tightened down the nuts.

trolling lures, kayak fishing for Bass

trolling lures over reefs in Cornwall for Bass

I am really pleased with this outfit, I gave it a flight test and trolled a shallow diving plug and a Savage Gear Weedless Sandeel about 5 miles really comfortably. I didn’t pick up an Bass that day but I did pick up a couple of Pollock over a reef close to shore (about 20 feet deep) on the Sandeel. I experimented with the different positions that I could adjust the rod holders and found the perfect setting for trolling and also some good positions for when I put out some baits on the drift (I’m really looking forward to Cod fishing this Winter) – Tight Lines!

Posted in Fishing and Hunting, Kayaking | Leave a comment

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!

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Giveaway Rafflecopter: WIN Hoggs Strathmoor Waterproof Gloves

Rafflecopter giveaway - win Hoggs Strathmoor waterproof gloves

Getting geared up for outdoor activities is so easy at Fife Country, this month we are giving away a pair of Strathmoor Waterproof Gloves to one of our lucky readers.

A waterproof and breathable glove, in hardwearing sueded microfibre. With reinforced palms, anti-slip gripper dots, adjustable wrist strap and snug fitting wrist cuff. Fife Country have been making fine outdoor clothing and footwear since 1888 – Enter below to win these fantastic gloves.

How To Enter (3 Easy Steps):

Just leave a blog comment below, naming your absolute favorite item of clothing by Fife Country. (Quick Tip! – browse the Fife Country website for inspiration – CLICK HERE TO VISIT).

  1. Then “LIKE” Stu N Dumplings on Facebook
  2. Using the Rafflecopter App below, register your entry.
  3. + Get more bonus entries and more chances to win by sharing and following.
  • Like Fife Country on Facebook
  • Follow Stu N Dumplings on Twitter
  • Tweet about the competition

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&Cs – 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.

grip texture on palms and fingers

Secure velcro wrist fastening

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder – See more at:

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Review: Didriksons 1913 Ivar Men’s Jacket

Review - Didriksons 1913 Ivar Men's Jacket

Choosing a jacket to stay warm and dry in Cornwall has proven to be a challenging feat. Braving the howling wind and sideways rain of the North coast can be soul destroying, many a carefully planned Sunday walk has been aborted at last minute due to weather conditions, with me retreating to watch the countryside from the warmth of my car. The things that I look for in a good jacket are for it to be 100% waterproof (100% means 100%!) and also have great windproof properties.

I was not necessarily looking for a big chunky warm jacket, as I prefer to layer up for more effective body heat management, and a more lightweight jacket can be rolled up when not required and stashed away in my rucksack.

The Didriksons brand caught my eye, they have been making weatherproof clothing since 1913, starting out with their range of workwear for Scandinavian fisherman (they should know a thing or two about weather, I reckon). The Ivar men’s jacket is styled on a traditional M65 military jacket, with four front pockets and a roll away hood, practical and functional – exactly what I was looking for.



  • Fabric – 75% Cotton 25% Polyamide Weave, Laminate, PFC free WR Finish
  • Waterproof – 100% – 8 000 mm, ISO 811:1981, all seams taped.
  • Windproof – 100%
  • Beathability – 20% – 4000 g/m²/24 h, ASTM E-96 BW STANDARD.
  • Warmth – 30%

I have worn the Ivar jacket out on a number of occasions this Autumn, and it feels really comfortable and well fitted. It is worth mentioning that this jacket is not build for warmth, there is no insulation to speak of, and that is intentional. When I wear this jacket, I layer up underneath, with Merino base layers and fleece mid layers – top it off with a wool hat and thermal gloves. The Ivar jacket performs brilliantly in the wind and rain (that for which it was designed) – I got caught out in some heavy showers whilst lure fishing out on the headland and when it stopped rianing I was still dry (and happy). There was no sign of any water seeping through at all – Brilliant!



  • Adjustable Cuffs – Sometimes it is necessary to reduce the amount of loose cuff fabric in order to contain the heat inside the garment. Adjustable cuffs are easily adapted to the size of your preference. There is enough room on their widest setting to pull over a large glove, then I like to tighten the cuff down tight to prevent heat loss.
  • Adjustable Hem – The adjustable hem helps you adjust the garment and keep the heat inside.
  • Adjustable Waist – Sometimes it is necessary to get rid of a loose fit or want to keep the heat inside the jacket. An adjustable waist lets you easily adjust the size after your demand.
  • Chin Guard – To avoid skin irritation from the sometimes rough zipper a chin guard protects you.
  • Inner Stash Pocket – The inner stash pocket doesn’t fasten up but has a very large capacity, I like to stash my hat in here, but will easily hold more.
  • Sealed zips and storm flaps – The sealed zips keep the wind and rain out, with extra protection from the storm flaps that fasten with brass poppers.
  • Media / Device Pocket – The garment has a storage pocket with cord opening for use with your radio, phone, mp3 etc. There is a little opening to route my headphone wires through.
  • Roll Away Hood – By attaching the inside flap to the loop on the back of the hood, it will transform into a “collar”.




Although quite simple in style, Didriksons high quality weatherproof fabrics and best in class manufacturing standards makes the Ivar jacket standout to me,  a true match for the coastal storms I am heading into for my fishing and walking adventures this winter. RRP – £245.00

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Review: Concept Glide 1+1 All-Round Kayak – Introducing my kids to the sport.

The Glide 1+1 is the ultimate all-rounder and perfect fishing companion

I have been a strong supporter of the Concept Kayaks brand ever since I got my hands on their Concept Explore which was quickly promoted to my main fishing kayak. Now that my sons have shown an interest in kayaking I have been looking for a kayak that will allow me to take them out on the water (firstly onboard with me, for obvious safety reasons), but also something that they could use solo when they are ready. Although they share my enthusiasm for fishing too (in small doses), I really just want them to experience being out on the water, exploring, having fun in the surf, and enjoying some of the best outdoor experiences that Cornwall can offer, + if we can take a fishing rod along too, then that’s a bonus!

Concept Kayaks launched their newest model the Glide 1+1 this year, and I was thrilled to be collaborating with the brand again to try out the new model and it’s unique seating design. Potentially the Glide 1+1 was the perfect solution for taking my kids out (introducing them to the sport safely), whilst also doubling as fantastic little fishing kayak.


  • Adjustable/ Removable Foot Rests – these are a slightly different design to the ones on my Concept Explore, they have a sturdy construction and an easy to use mechanism to unlock and re-position
  • Lockable Forward Hatch with Storage Liner – The front storage hatch allows access to the inside of the hull, the red storage liner is useful for storing small items and is easily removable.. I really like the design of this hatch cover and the moulded drainage gutter that allows water to drain quickly away from the hatch recess.
  • Large Rear Storage Area with Integral Bungee – Rear storage is generous for a a kayak of this size (approx 580 x 380mm) with well positioned scupper drainage holes and high quality fixings holding the bungee in place. This will easily hold a few good fish (6-7lb cod) or a large dry bag full of gear.
  • Four moulded-in Carry Handles – These are an improvement on the screw in handles on other models, the side handles are positioned really well to balance the kayak when carrying with one hand and their recessed design means that they don’t get in the way.
  • Paddle Retainer and Moulded-In Bottle Holder – The paddle retainer is also well positioned behind the seat, but within easy reach. The moulded cup holder on the centre console is also handy for keeping small bits of fishing gear.

Lockable Forward Hatch with Storage Liner

Four moulded-in Carry Handles

  • Dimensions (LxWxH) – 305 x 81 x 36cm (10′ x 2’8” x 1’2”)
  • Weight – 23kg (50lbs)
  • Max Load – 145kg (320lbs)
  • Colours – Glacier / Lagoon / Sherbet / Sunrise / Tropical / Forest Camo

The Glide 1+1 layout has been designed to comfortably fit 2 people seated together, rather than a conventional tandem kayak where you would be seated 1 front and 1 back. The main seat is positioned in the standard position but with a second moulded seat directly in front (between the legs of the main kayaker). At first I thought that this might make paddling difficult, but it works really well, the Glide 1+1 is quite wide anyway (81cm), and there is plenty of room between for your legs for a small/medium passenger. I have my paddle set to around 225-230cm in length and I can easily get the blades in the water at both a steep or narrow angle without the passenger getting in the way. I can also teach my sons how to paddle themselves with close supervision and without any mishaps.

The seating positions actually let the Glide 1+1 kayak sit much better in the water, therefore the Glide 1+1 performs really well on the water, being very comfortable to paddle and also very stable – as opposed to my experiences on a standard tandem design (with an adult and small child aboard) that ended up being quite unbalanced (front to back) and dragging a lot in the water at one end.

Large Rear Storage Area with Integral Bungee


The great thing about this kayak is that it comes with rod holders already fitted (as if I wasn’t going to seriously consider the potential for fishing!). Four flush mounted rod holders, two behind the seat (for storing rods in transit), and two in front (useful for trolling lures), plus a central mounted rod holder which I would use most often for drift fishing baits on the bottom. The central rod holder is fixed into a Scotty / RAM Mount compatible deck mount which comes with the kayak, allowing the rod holder to be easily removed when we don’t need it.

4 Flush Mounted Rod Holders

The pictures below show where I have swapped the deck mount out and installed a Railblaza StarPort HD deck mount, it has the same footprint as the factory installed base mount and fits the pre-installed screw holes perfectly (I used M6 x 15mm marine grade stainless steel machine screws). This allowed me to fit a spare Railblaza Rod Holder (surplus gear from my Concept Explore). Or could easily hold a fish finder.

Although I don’t intend on fitting a fish finder to the Glide 1+1 kayak quite yet, there is plenty of space on the centre console to fit one, and I can stow the battery, transducer, and wires inside the hull with access through the front storage hatch (a fitting project for the future).

Removable Central Swivel Rod Holder

The design of the hull allows the Glide 1+1 to perform really well in the water. We tried it out firstly on Porth beach in Newquay on a really flat day (it was pretty much like a mirror). The Glide 1+1 is really easy to paddle and quite literally glides (as the name would suggest). Turning the kayak was really easy too (even for a small 10 year old on his own). This kayak is perfect for exploring between rocks and caves, and because of it’s ease to paddle, ideal for longer adventures too.

My second outing was a trip out of Portholland (one of my fishing venues), the surf and wind was up and I went out solo this time (I took the kayak to its limit I reckon). Although the swell looked a bit hair raising, the Glide 1+1 did me proud and performed really well over and around the waves. The smaller size meant it was quicker to turn, allowing a safe but swift ride through the surf, it was much easier to correct my angles when waves were coming from the back and the side. Well positioned scupper holes allowed the water to drain away quickly, all in all it was a really fun and safe ride. The Glide 1+1 is really quick to paddle and really easy to catch a wave to surf back to shore – a bit too advanced for my 10 year old at the moment, but proving the potential of this kayak as a great all rounder for family fun, as well as a fishing vessel.

The ultra-stable hull shape and kayak length is what give this kayak its name


The Glide 1+1 retails at around £395.00 which is a good price for such a well equipped and well designed kayak. There are various colours and bundles available to buy from Outdoor Hub. The guys there are really helpful and definitely know their stuff about kayaks, it is well worth dropping them a line for further advice and information on the Glide 1+1.

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Review: Grubs Frostline – Insulated Wellington Boots

Grubs Frostline Boots Review

In the words of Ned Stark “Winter is coming”, although down here in Cornwall its more of a 4 month long windy rain shower, we don’t usually get frost and snow thanks to the mild climate (something to do with the Gulf Sream). But with all that rain comes plenty of mud, and that’s why I wanted to prep up with some decent lightweight (+ insulated) wellies for wading through muddy fields to bring the horses in, or walking along the South West coastal paths (Cornwall is still beautiful during the Winter months).

I chose a pair of the Grubs Frostline Boots (in the Black colour to match my riding Jodhpurs) – The thing that appealed to me the most about the Grubs boots was the fact that they were insulated and the product description detailed the grips as having a really good purchase on slippy ground (even going downhill). When they turned up this was so true, the grips were really impressive and I was already confident that the Grubs Frostline boots were a good choice.

The Grubs Frostline Black Boot has a TRAX sole pattern, with small lugs front & rear to provide good 'push off' grip and a prominent heel for 'braking' grip

I wore the boots out on a Sunday walk to give them their test flight. A stroll along the coastal path (along the Roseland between Portholland and Portloe) – it’s quite a hilly (and muddy)  stretch and the perfect terrain to slip onto your backside if you don’t have your wits about you (or a decent pair of boots on this particular day!).

The boots performed superbly, I comfortably hiked the 3 mile path through muddy bogs, leafy quagmires, over wet rocks, and down wet grassy banks. There was a couple of hairy moments, but I didn’t slip over (whereas my friend did, lol) – The sole is described as having a TRAX sole pattern, with small lugs front & rear to provide good ‘push off’ grip and a prominent heel for ‘braking’ grip. I was really impressed with their performance.

It barely occurred to me that I was wearing new boots at any point during the walk as there was no rubbing, I managed to completely avoid a foot full of blisters aka. “new boots syndrome”, this could be attributed to the soft insulated lining and the 6mm Nitrocell inner sole in the foot bed.

When I got to the beach at the end I went for a bit of a wade in the sea to wash the boots off. The upper part of the boots are made from a high grade neoprene material, inside the upper boot is a layer of mesh that traps air for added warmth.  I submerged the boots in water for over 20 minutes up the logo and no water soaked through the boots at all – waterproof test passed 100%.

insulated to withstand temperatures down to -10 degrees centigrade

Super-dri lining to keep your feet warm and dry

Verdict: The Grub Frostline Boots have really comfortable fit, the upper neoprene upper seems narrower than regular rubber boots and fits against your leg more snugly. The boots are also really warm, being suitable for temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius they will withstand any conditions that I will ever see in Cornwall. The grips alone make these boots worth buying in my opinion, they really are superb on wet, slippy muddy terrain. The Frostline Boots retail at £56.95 with Free Delivery on UK mainland (Excellent!) from Grub Boots Online.

They also sell a few other models of boots including the Frostline Sport (suitable down to -30 degress), the Workline (with steel toe caps), and also their Rideline Equestrian Boots. It is well worth contacting the guys at Grub Boots Online or the parent company with any questions, they were extremely helpful to me with advice on the best boots for my personal usage.

Overall I am really impressed with both the product and the service!

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Review: Cooking my catch with the Scanpan 32cm Professional Fry Pan

Review- Scanpan 32cm Professional Fry Pan

I’ve been doing pretty well on the fishing front over the last 12 months, with some great catches including Mackerel, Cod, Bass and Pollock. I almost always manage to catch something that is worth bringing home for the table and over time I have been getting more interested in perfecting the cooking of my catch. The thing that was holding back my hidden cooking skills was the fact that I didn’t have the necessary cooking tools. The first item being a good fillet knife (this has now been solved) – but a really good fry pan to cook my catch was the missing element in the equation.

Getting my hands on one of Scanpan’s Professional Fry Pans has been a turning point, how good can a frying pan be? Well the Scan Pan has answered that question for me, my days of scraping burnt bits off the bottom of my old Tefal claiming that it “adds to the flavour” are long gone!

Professional frying pans feature ceramic titanium coating which to me sounds pretty convincing and looks great on the specifications, but after trying it out I am feeling pretty blown away by how well it performs. The technology allows fat free frying (without sticking), and a non-stick finish that is incredibly hard wearing. You can even use metal cooking utensils and it wont scratch the coating!

Scanpan Professional frying pans feature ceramic titanium coating

Pan fried Mackerel fillets - cooked to perfection with a crispy skin

Cooking fillets of fish in my old frying pan was a total nightmare but using the Scan Pan professional fry pan is completely different ball game. The key to a perfectly cooked Mackerel fillet is getting the skin nice and crispy without overcooking the meat (this also applies to Sea Bass). The skin wont go crispy if there is too much fat in the pan, the Scan Pan doesn’t need any cooking oil or fat adding so you can cook fish like Mackerel in their own natural oils (shown in the picture above).

Getting that perfectly cooked fillet that I mentioned can be achieved by only cooking the fish skin side down (now I’m giving away my secrets). Its not like cooking a steak where I do 3 minutes on one side and then flip it over for another 2 minutes. The picture above shows how the fish is cooking through nicely from the bottom upwards, whilst getting maximum contact on the skin to make it perfectly crisp. You need a really hot pan for this (good heat conduction) and the Scan Pan does this astonishingly well. The fillets in the picture need another 45-60 seconds (when the pink turns white they’re done).

The heat distribution of the Scan Pan is truly excellent, when i’m cooking 8 x fillets at once they all cook evenly whether they are toward the side or in the centre of the pan, so I don’t need to swap them around and constantly check which ones are browning and which ones aren’t.

The pan handles are made of cast stainless steel

The Scan Pan handle is a feature that is definitely worth mentioning – on the hob it just doesn’t get hot. The handle is constructed from hollow cast stainless steel which reduces heat conduction – this idea seems quite logical and straight forward to me and I’ve seen similar handles on other pans before (but they still get a bit hot despite their claims), the big difference is that it really works on the Scan Pan even when I’ve been using it on the Wok burner (to get some serious heat going for flash frying) – Awesome!

The only time the handle get’s hot is when its been in an oven or under a grill, but Scan Pan provide a neat little handle to use, so you can pick it without burning yourself – Solved!

Hollow stainless steel handles induct less heat and stay cooler

The handle fixing on the Scan Pan looks very sturdy, and being made from stainless steel I don’t anticipate it corroding and the fixings coming loose any time in the near future – 3/3 I’m really impressed with this handle!

Can be used on all hobs except an induction hob

I’m no Gordon Ramsey (apart from the occasional profanity), but I am coming to appreciate that cooking food is so much more than making it “not raw”. Using the Scan Pan professional Fry Pan for cooking the fish that I catch has allowed me to create dishes that I feel proud to put on the table. It is available to buy at at the RRP of £119.00 – yes its 5x more than a regular frying pan that I might find at Tesco, but 100x better – In a completely different league and I proudly show it off to my friends and family (my mother in law is clearly planning on pinching it).

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Review: Buck Splizzors – Multitool for fishermen. A cut above the rest!

Buck Splizzors Review - multi tool for fishing

Over many years of fishing, I have become an accomplished expert in the destruction of cheap fishing tools. Have you ever heard the saying “buy cheap, buy twice”? Well I’ve definitely learned the true meaning of this over the years and I’ve learnt it the hard way. My fishing shed is graveyard for crippled pliers, bent disgorgers, and countless pairs of rusty scissors (usually missing their handles) among an array of various other items that just didn’t have the muscle for the job.

With another season of summer lure fishing approaching, I was on the look out a decent pair of fishing pliers once again, this time something that would also be good for taking out on my fishing kayak. After searching online for a while, I discovered Buck Splizzors on Buck-Store. I had’t seen anything like these before and going by the spec they certainly seemed to fit the bill.

  • Scissors and needle nose pliers in one
  • Full length scissor blades, 10x edge to edge pressure of normal scissors
  • Replaceable blades (included)
  • Heavy duty rubber grips – very comfortable to hold in both left and right hand
  • Bottle opener
  • Lanyard hole
  • Strong nylon sheath with holding strap

Splizzors are made from 420HC Steel which Buck use for all of their knives and tools. This makes the Splizzors really hard wearing and corrosion resistant.

The best braid scissors I have ever used combined with needle nose pliers

Bottle opener and lanyard clip

A day out fishing on my kayak was the perfect opportunity to properly field test the Splizzors, using jigs and lures targeting Bass and Pollock over the inshore reefs around the south coast of Cornwall. The very first thing that attracted me to the Splizzors was the fact that they are multiple tools in one. Any kayak fisherman will know that things can get a bit chaotic with bits of tackle attached all over the place , especially when a decent fish comes onboard. A pair of Splizzors allows me to have my pliers, scissors and crimpers in one place when I need them.

The needle nose pliers are exceptionally sturdy, when I checked out these Splizzors online I admittedly had some doubts as to how strong they could possibly be, but these doubts quickly faded away whilst wrist deep in a large Pollock’s mouth effortlessly pulling out a large barbed hook! Whether I’m taking a fish for the dinner table or returning it to live another day, I like to unhook them quickly. On a good day I might be unhooking a fish every couple of minutes and the rubber grips are really comfortable to hold, even with wet slippy hands. The movement of the pliers is really firm and positive, held together and pivoting on a proper “no-nonsense” centre bolt. My Splizzors have become my go-to tool for unhooking, especially trebles.

Unlike any other scissors I have used, the blades are micro-serrated which contributes to their cutting ability. Buck Splizzors cut braid like a hot knife through butter, with clean cuts every time, no frayed ends, and no tension needed – so now I can easily snip off lengths of line whilst sat on the kayak and also cut my tag ends to perfection. They also come with a free pair of replaceable blades (located inside the back of the sheath), the blades simply screw into place and add yet more potential life span to this tool.

Crimping tool for securing fishing rigs

The braid scissors can but any thickness of fishing braid

Needle nose pliers are excellent for un-hooking fish

The Splizzors came in a strong nylon sheath which also holds them in place with a strap and strong popper fastener. The sheath easily fits on my belt, or when I’m out on the kayak I attach it to one of the straps on my buoyancy aid to prevent them getting lost to Davey Jones’ locker.

The Splizzors come in a strong nylon sheath which can be attached to a belt or kayak strap

The idea behind Splizzors came from USA Bass fisherman Bill Lowen with input into the design from Mark Davis and Brandon Palaniuk. Splizzors are a multi tool for fishermen designed by real fishermen. With 3 years in the making they wanted to make sure that Splizzors were of the best possible design and build before they were released. I’m not usually a geek when it comes to tools, but I could really appreciate the effort that has gone into them when I got a pair in my hand. Buck are so confident in the quality and strength of Splizzors and they offer a FOREVER warranty – I can’t argue with that!

The price at Buck-Store for a pair of Splizzors is around £89.95 , with an extra £5 discount if you use the voucher code “FIRSTORDER” – I think this is a fair price to pay for several tools in one and hard to beat when it comes to quality. I am really pleased with my Splizzors and recommend them for both kayak fishing and shore fishing. Awesome!

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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

Posted in Kayaking | 5 Comments