This week, I finally got to test some of the new items:
1) 7 foot Shakespeare Ugly Stik:
I tried using it casting for pike / walleye / bass, but wasn't too thrilled. I then mounted a 40 series baitrunner reel that had previously been on a 6.5 foot Rhino rod. Idea was to land some big carp on it. The difference was noticeable. The extra 6 inches helps when you're short like me and have to keep your rod high up to avoid having them cut your line in the rocks. Biggest fish landed on it in 2 outings was a 24 lb carp. Looks like it's going to be designated as a still fishing rod.
2) Penn Slammer baitrunner reel:
I use relatively cheap baitrunner reels made in China. Though they get the job done, I was eyeing a few models to upgrade to before winning the contest. When I won, I jumped to the next level, choice was either a Shimano of the Penn Slammer. Most reviews favored the Penn, so I went with it. It's a nice gold colored saltwater model, 50 series. Needless to say, I was dying to receive it. When it finally arrived, it didn't fit properly into most of my rods. Luckily, my buddy had a new 8 foot saltwater Uglystik he wanted to get rid of, I was more than happy to take it off his hands. I had a free spool of 65 lb test Power Pro he had once given me, I spooled it up as my "big bottom feeder" outfit.
Finally hooked a decent carp on it, as well as a couple of nice channel cats. I was very happy with the reels performance in comparison to the cheap ones I've been using. The baitrunner doesn't jam every 3rd or 4th time you set it, and when the fish run, it doesn't sound like the reel may explode any second. Everything is ultra smooth, has a nice clicking sound to let you know a fish is running with your bait, very useful on darker nights.
3) 8 foot Shakespeare Ugly Stik - Saltwater series:
Got this rod as the Penn Slammer baitrunner reel didn't fit on my other rods properly. I am quite happy with the 6 foot Ugly Stik as a casting rod, as well as the 7 footer as a still fishing rod. The 8 foot "beefed up" version packs a lot more muscle, yet is still wobbly enough to where you don't feel as if your holding a broomstick. Fighting my first carp on it, I noticed the bend in the rod being more than the bend on my 7 footer. I was expecting a much bigger fish, but once I landed it, I realized it was the same size. I later confirmed this when hauling in some channel cats while night fishing.
4) 65 lb test Power Pro:
I've been quite satisfied with the 50 lb Power Pro that I've been using in the rock covered shorelines of the St Lawrence River. The 65 lb version seemed even tougher, and proved itself up to the test. My first carp on that line went straight into a rock pile where the line got wedged in the rocks. Yanking it free while fighting a 15 lb fish didn't managed to snap it, I landed the fish shortly after. Let on, I hooked 2 channel cats with that line. First one dove into the rocks. Again, I manage to horse it out and land it, a decent 8 lb channel catfish. Second one was trickier, I was actually fighting the fish while being wedged in the rocks, going back an fort putting extreme pressure/friction on the line's outer core. Eventually, it gave and snapped, saw the fish splash the surface as it did.
5) Gamkatsu Circle hooks:
My first time using these, they works wonders when fishing bait at the bottom, really taking the guesswork out of figuring out the precise moment to set the hook. Resisting the urge to set while they are playing with my bait, I let the big cats run properly before touching the rod. As they ran, I engaged the reel by slowly cranking it. Fish on, perfect hookset each time. The Gamkatsus are quite sharp out of the package, an extremely strong, leaving no change of the fish straightening them out during the fight.
6) Heddon lucky 13:
2 of my favorite topwater lures are the Pop R and the Heddon Zara Spook. As the Lucky 13 is somewhat of a mix of both, I picked up a couple diffrent sizes to test. After testing them, the larger size (about 4 inches) is my preference. I displaces lots of water when popping it, and has a semi walk the dog wiggle when jerking it, which also causes it to dive about 8 inches below the surface. Though I was targeting gar, I hooked a few nice largemouth bass up to 4 lbs on it as well. Bass opener up North is next week, can't wait to cast it over their nest to get their reaction.
All this new gear has given me something to dream about over the summer months, and makes the conquest for each species more interesting. Best of all, it was free!