Tag Archive: reel

How to use a downrigger for fishing in a Wavewalk kayak

By Chris Henderson

Fishing Kayaks of Gig Harbor, WA

One of the most important aspects of fishing is delivering your lure or bait to the exact spot where the fish are. This is a considerable challenge when the fish are suspended at a certain depth in the middle of the water column. Mostly this occurs because fish are cuing in on water temperature. If your fishing method involves trolling then there is no better tool for getting the lure to that precise depth than a downrigger. Basically it is a heavy weight on a pulley with a reel with either or depth counter (or like mine one turn is one foot) to determine how deep you are deploying your weight. You attach your mainline to this weight via a clip. The clip releases your line when you have a fish on, or when you pull it out of the clip. Since the mainline is released it is just your fish on the line, the weight is reeled up later when you reel up the downrigger.

In addition to using the counter your downrigger ball shows up on your fish finder, so you can see exactly where your lure is in relation to the fish on the screen. The Wavewalk’s unique catamaran design allows me to mount the downrigger so that it goes down the middle. This makes it easy to stack, which is putting two mainlines on a single downrigger at two different depths. Of course if you motorize your kayak you will want to have it mounted so that it goes over the side.

I hope that this video helps explain how we use the downrigger on a Wavewalk and lets you determine how you might use it too!

Happy fishing.


More kayak rigging, fishing and bow duck hunting with Chris »

Topwater Fishing

By Jeff McGovern

This is a republication of the original article that Jeff contributed to our website in 2007

Fishing with a topwater or surface lure is lots of fun.  Out of a W kayak, it’s down right exciting, since you are so close to the action.  The equipment required is fairly simple and there are many topwater lures to choose from.  For the purpose of this short article, we will look at hard baits (also known as “plugs.”)  These are lures made of wood or plastic that float on top at rest.  When fish attack them, it looks like a giant hole just opens on the water and the bait disappears.
The basic types are:
walking, popping, minnow, and prop baits.  These lures have been around for years and still consistently catch large numbers of fish.  There are variations, but these are the ones most commonly available.  All four types can be used in freshwater or saltwater and for a large variety of game fish.  Let’s take a look at a few examples.

WALKING BAITS

The best example is a Zara Spook.  A newer version is the Spit’n Image. The angler provides the action this lure has on the water. This plug looks like it could have been carved from a broom handle, and, indeed, the originals were.  Worked properly with a side to side wiggle, fish will blow them right off the surface in their effort to grab them.
This bait requires practice to use.  The angler must work their rod hand wrist and turn the reel handle in cadence to create the walking motion.  It will wear you down at first, but the results of practice time are well worth the effort.

Walking baits

 

POPPING BAITS OR POPPERS

These lures are just plain fun.  With a large exaggerated mouth on them they pop and gurgle when the angler pulls their line.  Some of the cupped mouths on these baits throw water a few feet in front of the plug as they move.  Classic examples are the Chug Bug and the Rebel Pop-R series plugs.  To work these lures, you cast out to a likely spot and let the lure settle down.  Then “pop it” and hold on for the strike.

Popping baits

 

MINNOW BAITS

These lures are best represented by the classic floating Rapala minnow. The history of this lure could fill a book-suffice it to say it’s every bit as effective today as it was 40 years ago.  These lures have a slim profile and resemble a minnow.   They have a small clear plastic lip that allows the lure to dive a short distance on retrieve. Their life-like wiggle is very attractive to game fish.  To work the bait, throw it out let it sit for a moment.  Then begin a slow retrieve, briefly pausing from time to time.

Minnow_baits

 

PROP BAITS

These lures are some of my all time favorites.  Propellers are located at the front and/or back ends of these fun lures.  Simple to work, they are represented today by the Devils Horse, Tiny Torpedo, or, in handmade excellence, by the Lil Zip from Sam Griffin. They can catch fish just sitting there.  The moment they are moved, they get crushed by aggressive game fish.   Work them by throwing to a likely area and allowing the bait sit until the water calms down from the splash.
Then begin working the bait back in short, soft jerks until you find a pattern the fish like.

Prop baits

 

Photos: Jeff McGovern

 

The equipment you use for topwater water fishing can be any that throws the lure properly.  Spinning, casting, or spincasting gear will all work just fine.  Line sizes can range from 8 to 20lb test (depending on the angler’s preference) and good old monofilament line is fine for these lures.  The best piece of advice I’ve ever had for fishing topwater lures came from Sam Griffin himself.  He told me “give the fish time to read the menu.” In other words, fish them slow for the best results.  This is the best way to start out– you can always speed things up later if the fish are ready to order.
So, this season, try a topwater water lure and prepare for excitement.

 

Copyright © Jeff McGovern, 2007 – 2015

Read more about Jeff’s kayak fishing trips and observations »

Saltwater Gear Maintenance

By Jeff McGovern

Kayaks are king in saltwater flats fishing. You can get into places that even the finest flats boats have trouble accessing. You have no fuel expense and the maintenance on the kayak is far less than any motor powered craft. However, saltwater is not kind to equipment of any type, so unless your gear is properly cleaned up after every trip, it will wear out quickly and be ruined.

Cleaning equipment for fishing gear

The process begins on the water in the way gear is handled.  Lures should never be replaced in the tackle box directly after use.  They need to be placed in a separate plastic container that is for used baits only.  The small amounts of saltwater on the lure can be transferred into your tackle box as baits are changed out and that small amount ruins a box of lures in very short order.
Once you arrive home, the baits in the plastic container need to be cleaned.  My own method for taking care of this is to add a squirt of baby shampoo to the container and fill it with tap water.  A few shakes, a simple brush off with an old tooth brush to get the crud, a tap water rinse and the lures are finally hung to dry before replacing in the tackle box.  The reason for the recommendation of baby shampoo is that it rinses fully in cooler water and it has no other substances in it other than simple soaps.  It won’t harm your tackle and it’s inexpensive.

Washing off saltwater from the deck gear

All equipment from the day should be cleaned up as soon as you get home.  The boat is easy: some people just spray it off and put it up.  I take a few extra minutes with mine and use a soapy water wash down with one of the all-in-one car wash products.  My paddles, net, anchor, and other on board gear is done at the same time and allowed to dry before being stored.  Stainless rigging such as on my anchor trolley will rust in time with continued saltwater use if I don’t clean it each time.

Hand washing the lures

Rod and reel are ruined if they are not thoroughly cleaned after saltwater use.   There are different ideas for this process, but the one I use has kept my gear in working order for years.  I have rods and reels pushing 40 years old that are still fine, work great and I owe it to my cleanup methods.  I start by clipping the line and removing the leaders.  The line is then secured to the spool clips or, in the case of bait casters, to the reel frame.  Reels are removed from the rods before cleaning.  The rods are wet down and washed off using the car wash cleaner and mesh scrubby.  It’s light cleaning not a harsh scrub and will not damage the guides or wraps on the rods.  Once rinsed, the rods are put aside to dry.

Cleaning the plug

The reels are washed off using the baby shampoo on a wet wash cloth.  The idea is to just wash the reel off, not soak it.  Rinsing is done with another wash cloth and tap water.  Do not spray off the reel – it forces salty material into the reel and destroys it from the inside.  Once the reel is rinsed off it gets a spray of furniture polish.  It won’t hurt anything (including the line.)  After the spray down of furniture polish it is wiped clean.  At this point, lubrication of the parts (like the level wind worm gear on the bait casting reel) can be done before storage.

Take care of your gear after every trip and it will last for years.  Put it up without cleaning and you’ll be the tackle store’s best customer..

Jeff

 

Copyright (C) Jeff McGovern, 2007-2015

Read more about Jeff’s kayak fishing trips, tips and observations »

Frozen Jeff Kayak Fishing at 206 Bridge, Florida (Movie)

Here’s a new, short video from Jeff, who’s thawing after a long, cold winter:

That superb fishing rod is a new Emmrod, and the reel is a Qualia.



Choosing a bait caster

By Jeff McGovern

drawing of Jeff fishing

Bait casting is a powerful, accurate fishing system—but, without practice, the pursuit is frustrating.  The first thing to do is to decide which rig to purchase.  Bombarded with ads from every direction, making the right choice can be difficult.   I’ll try and give you a place to start.
First, do not be swayed by all the hype you see on TV and in the magazines.  There is no magic reel that will never backlash or add huge distances to a cast.  Those things are the result of how you develop your angling skills and how well you set up your individual reel.  The key is to start with a proven reel design that fits your hand and match it to a good rod you can handle easily.  It really is all about the fit and how the outfit feels to you.
There are two basic types of bait casting reels: low profile and round.   Low profile reels are sleek and racy looking.  Good examples are Shimano, ABU, and Daiwa.  The round reels are taller and have round frames.  The same reel companies previously mentioned have reels in that class as well.
The prices range from 60 dollars to over 500 dollars.  Now we need to address the confusion of deciding how much you need to spend to have something that works.  I have some simple suggestions, based on my own experience, to make this easier.  I normally recommend for a beginner a basic reel in the 60 to 140 dollar range.  Good examples are the ABU round reels, such as the C3 series with the 4500 or 5500 reels. These are found at most sporting goods stores and will cost you 60 to 80 dollars. Make no mistake about reels in this price range– they work.  You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a nice reel.  I use them regularly and have no problem catching fish.  The basic design has been around for decades and proven to catch fish anywhere in the world.  Mine have been around a long time, cared for properly and some are now approaching 40 years old.
One last important reel issue is which hand you will use to cast.  Most casting reels have their handle on the right side.  The standard casting method is to cast right handed, then switch the outfit to the left hand to reel in.  It sounds complicated at first, but becomes natural within a short time with practice.   More and more reels are now becoming available with left hand retrieve, so you don’t have to switch hands.  If you are just learning to cast, practicing with using either hand can be a real advantage.
Now that you’ve found your reel, you’ll need a rod to match.  Again, the same price range of 60 to 140 dollars will get things started.  Don’t go overboard on heavy actions and big long handles.  A great starting point is medium action, rear handle of no more than eight inches or so, and a total rod length of 5’6” to 7’.  Get the size you are most comfortable with.  You don’t need a long rod to cast far.  The longer rods are harder to transport and somehow manage to find car doors and tree limbs very easily.  Try out the rod on the reel at the store and check the feel.  There are many rod companies to pick from–just be sure it’s a known brand so, if there is a problem, you aren’t stuck with a lemon.  Your tackle store can help you with the brands best suited in your area.  You can also check out the catalogs from Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas.   These firms have additional in-house rod brands that are superb and well covered with guarantees.
Line is the next consideration for you new bait casting rig. Look for a line rating of 10 to 20 lb test.  The best line weight for beginning bait casting is 12lb test. Start with a premium mono line. Don’t buy cheap line.  Use well known brands: Berkley, Stren, Sufix, or YoZuri.  There are others, but these are nationally distributed and easy to find.  A solid basic product that is universally available is Berkley Big Game 12lb test.  I use this line and have been happy with it for years.  For teaching purposes, I use a version called Solar that has a fluorescent green color.  It’s easy to see and manage while learning, and relatively inexpensive.
Now you have gotten the rig together, spooled on the line.  Time for casting practice to begin.  The best place is not on the water, but on the lawn.  Buy some of the plastic practice plugs and try a little “lawn bassin”.  It’s a great way to learn and helps you practice the casting part instead of the fishing part.  I do this daily at home just to keep my casting eye in shape and it pays big dividends on the water.  Start with a ½ ounce practice plug and tie it on your line with the canoe man’s loop knot.  (Check the archives for my previous article on knots.)
Casting is a learned process.  Become familiar with the instructions that came with your reel on how to use the casting brakes and spool controls.  Start with easy tosses and progress as you get comfortable.  Don’t go for distance–go for accuracy.  A small plastic bucket is a great target to begin with.  Keep at it and learn to control the outgoing line with your thumb.  In no time you’ll be casting like pro and hitting right where you need to catch the big ones.

Jeff

Low profile reel
Low profile reel

Round reel
Round reel

Reels and hat
Reels and hat…

Casting plug
Casting plug

Short fishing rod handles
Short rod handles

 

Copyright © Jeff McGovern

Read more about Jeff’s kayak fishing trips and observations »