Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sufix Braid/Pflueger Arbor reel first impressions.

A few months ago the Outdoor Blogger Network posted an opportunity to receive a free package of Sufix 832 Advanced Superline.  I threw my hat in the ring and learned a few days later that the random number generator had smiled upon me.  There was much rejoicing.

A couple weeks later (but before I received the Sufix line), OBN posted another opportunity to receive a Pflueger Arbor spinning reel.  Wouldn't ya know it, I got lucky again and soon had a new reel on the way to use with the new line.

Some time later, my first package was waiting for me on the porch:

Had no clue what strength to get so I got the equivalent of 10lb test mono.  Hopefully its  not so thick as to scare off the fish.
Knowing line visibility is key when fishing soft plastic type baits (which is when I have my limited success fishing for bass), I chose the Neon Lime version.  They weren't kidding about the "neon" part:

I've never really used braid before (maybe twice for a total of 2 hours or so) so I don't know what I should be looking for when initially critiquing the line.  It's thicker than I imagined but then again I did ask for the 40lb test version, which is super strong (the wire cutter part of two different pairs of pliers had trouble cutting through on the first squeeze).  However, I've realized that for anything besides topwater type baits, I'll have virtually no choice but to use a flourocarbon leader or the fish are bound to see the bright green thick line tied to the lure.  It doesn't really matter how strong the line is if my knots are garbage or the flouro isn't strong.  

Just last night, I got the Pflueger reel via Fedex:

It sure is purdy.

8 bearings.  That sounds like alot right?  
A good fit for my big meathook.  Notice the big handle.
First impression on the reel:  This is the nicest reel I've ever used.  (This coming from the man who regularly uses a $20 shakespeare setup bought at Walmart, so take that for what you will.)  The handle is super smooth and everything fits really tightly.  The only mechanical weirdness occurs when the handle is turned the wrong way.  Even with the anti-reverse on, the handle just starts unscrewing itself from the reel.  Not a problem as long as you've used a spinning reel but I wouldn't want to pass it off to my niece or another kid.  I could just see them reeling the wrong direction and the handle coming off.  Bad new bears.

The box/website advertise "Braid ready spool!"  but after tying an arbor knot and trying to feed the line onto the reel, I found that braid likes to slip.  Even on a "braid ready spool" After some googling, I found that a layer of electrical tape around the base of the spool allows the line to bite in and slip less.  It seems to work and hopefully the line won't snag up on it somehow.  Not a big deal as I turned up alot of anglers having the same problem with their reel.  It's just a minor gripe that the reel is advertised as braid ready but is totally not braid ready without some tape.

Those are the only "problems" I had initially with the reel.  The max drag (carbon fiber drag!) is 10lbs so I'm planning on cranking it up and putting the Sufix/14lb fluoro/double uni knot to the test.

So I got the line spooled onto the reel (which is mounted on a $30 Berkeley Amp rod found readily at Gander mountain) and got about a pole's length of fluoro tied on the end.  My plan for this setup is to document EVERY single fish caught.  Every trip I have that produces a fish will be tagged with "Sufix/Plueger" and eventually I'll put together a compilation in the Review section of the blog.  After a few outings using the setup I'll do a conventional review for each product individually to pass judgement as well.

My job changed my schedule last week so I now work Saturdays and have Thursdays off.  Kind of a mixed blessing as working the weekend sucks but I now have a designated Mark-day that I can use for whatever outdoor activity my heart desires and not have to worry about plans my wife made or family get-togethers.  I'm stoked.  I'm heading out in a little bit to take care of some paperwork so I can start school again this fall.  After that, if weather permits, I'll go and do some testing of the new setup and hopefully get some fish documenting done.  Expect to hear more soon.

I was given the Sufix line and Pflueger reel in return for an honest review of each product.  I have no existing business relationship with either Sufix or Pflueger.  I realize this isn't really a review yet so I probably don't have to put up this silly disclaimer.  However, I'm not down with FCC violations so better safe than sorry.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back to Bait-sics

My father's birthday is in the first week of June.  Father's day (as I'm sure you know) is the third weekend of June.  The last few years, we've made the second weekend of June a Father-Son fishing weekend.

For those who didn't read about last year's trip or have forgotten, last year we traipsed around lake Carlton in Morrison, IL and stopped briefly at the Coleta Trout Ponds, all with no signs of fishy life.  A big double skunk.

So this year, we went back to what my dad knows:  Carp fishing.

Long-anointed "The Carp King" by  his brother, my dad is most comfortable sitting by the Rock River fishing with corn on the bottom.  So that's what we did.

Relaxing on the banks of the Rock
We started a little late, around 10:30, in Rock Falls, IL.  No big hike to a secret spot, no scouting out prime locations.  Just put corn on your hook and cast into the eddy just past the boat ramp.

After about fifteen minutes of chewing the fat, it was fish on for the Carp King.

Putting a good bend in the Abu Garcia. 
Dad uses a medium action rod for a better fight with the fish so it wasn't clear how big his catch was until he got it up near the shore.  Not his biggest catch but a catch none the less.

All fish were released unharmed.

Some ten minutes later a carp came calling on my line.  As soon as I set the hook it started thrashing out of the water, shaking it's head and roiling the surface of the water.  It was a chore to keep the rod high enough to keep tension and get up off my ass at the same time.  The carp would get within about 3 feet of shore and surge out a few feet.  After doing this about a half dozen times, I finally got him beached onto the shore and proceeded to pose for crappy carpy pictures:
Way to cover half the fish with your beefarms doofus.

  You can see it a bit better here:

If I had to guess it was about 8 or 9 lbs but yesterday wasn't about measuring fish, we were just having a good time.

After that the bite slowed down a bit.  Luckily, my 17 year old sister showed up with her fancy camera and sunglasses:

If she had taken the picture a half second earlier, you would have seen like a million pelicans.
Sometime during the time we were messing around with sunglasses and taking pictures, I must've gotten a bite.  When I picked up my pole to check my bait, there was something tugging at the other end of the line.

Felt bigger than the last one.
Unfortunately, I didn't set the hook well enough.  The fish took two monstrous runs and on the second one, the hook popped out.  Would've been a good one.

Dad can't stay out too long so our outing only lasted about two hours but it was one of the funnest outings of the year so far.  Certainly less frustrating without having to figure out what lure/presentation to fish in which stretch of water to maybe entice a bite.  I think I'm going to work some more bait fishing into my rotation.  There are a couple lakes around here that hold some big old carp/catfish.

It was good to get out with my dad too.  He and I didn't get along too well in my teenage years and we still have a differences but it's good to put that aside at least once a year and just catch some fish.  Happy Father's day everybody, hope you get to take your dad/kid fishing this week!