Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Catch: Mangrove Jacks on a Kayak

It's the day before New Year. I decided go out one last time before 2011 ends. I wanted to fish really early to catch the outgoing tide but too much beer and the cold made me want to stay in bed a little longer. My original plan of 4am fishing became 6am. Still, it was a bit dark and I was hoping the jacks would still be out playing.

Lucky me, after paddling for 15 minutes, I got a fish on my second cast and then another 5 minutes later. They were not too big but perfect for steaming. But then the locals noticed the commotion and decided to park their boats near me and started chatting. As soon as they started asking questions, the bite died down. I am not sure but the jacks seem to notice if there are people around. They are also shy when the sun started to shine.

Thinking that the fishing was over, I paddled back upstream to my launch point. On the way back, I stopped near a fallen log and casted one more time before calling it a day. It's a good thing I did, As soon as the lure touched the water, a fish slammed it. Two hours of fishing and I managed to catch 3 jacks. My last three fishes for the year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Snakehead Fishing from Shore and from a Kayak

A few days before Christmas, fishing in my favorite hole was terrible. During that time, it was unusually cold and windy. The drop in temperature may have pushed the snakeheads (haruans) into hiding. I have been fishing since the 23rd up to the late afternoon of the 25th and had no luck. Not a single strike or even a trailing fish. It was frustrating.

Then on the 26th of December, the sun shone bright and the wind has died. I decided not to fish in the morning and waited for the water to heat up for a bit.

After lunch, I loaded my kayak on the bed of my pickup truck. I figured that with the kayak, I can fish the entire marsh area. If there still no snakeheads, I can transfer to the estuary in the late afternoon when the tide comes in.

When I got to the launch point, I unloaded the kayak and rigged to start fishing. A lot of passers by gave me a puzzled look. The locals probably took me for a fool --- a strange man with a strange outfit and gear, riding a strange boat, and fishing on the heat of the midday sun.

For the first two hours, still no fish. I can see some fishes timidly trailing the lure but none are actually committing to strike. I switched to different sizes and colors of lures but to no avail. I checked the water and it seemed still too cold that I remember it.

I decided to paddle to the shallow areas thinking the water over there may have heated earlier than where I was located. The problem is, the shallows have thick vegetation so paddling may be a problem. I struggled to paddle the kayak over lilies, kangkongs, and lotus leaves. When I arrived in a spot where the water seemed to be warmer, I started casting away. For the first few casts, I got some strikes but they easily threw my hooks. An hour later, I caught and released a couple of fishes. Not too big but fun nonetheless.

When the heat was too much to bear, I decided to go to shore and rest under a shade for a while. After a quick re-hydration and rest, I left my kayak and waded near the bank and fished some more. I was lucky enough to catch and release a couple more.

Here is a short video of the trip. The video cam in my kayak is too close to my back so I will be making a few modifications on the camera mount. Next video is on my favorite estuary. Hopefully a Mangrove Jack will show some interest. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Small Piece of Heaven

Last weekend, me and my family went to my wife's hometown to visit her ailing grandmother. We hurriedly left very early Saturday and arrived at around 10am. My wife's grandma is 97 and everyone adores her. A few days ago she suffered a stroke. Two to be exact. Her previously lively demeanor was gone after those episodes. Seeing her bedridden and unable to walk nor talk really made everyone sad.

One thing I really love about her is that she absolutely enjoys it every time I come home with a fresh fish for her. As soon as I arrive home, I go straight to her room to show my prized catch for the day. Mostly, pargo (Mangrove Jacks), a few kitoks (Jack Crevalle), and an occasional dalag (haruan) for her pesa.

This weekend, she barely recognizes everyone and hoping to show her some of my catch wasn't really possible anymore. 

A couple of weeks back, I had to rush to my home province because my father was taken to the hospital because of an almost stroke-like episode. I stayed in the provincial hospital for a week. Once he was strong enough to travel, I took him to Manila for further tests, he again stayed for a few days in the hospital. It was a stressful event. After he got out of the hospital, it was my wife's grandma who was rushed to the hospital. It was indeed a stressful time.

I could not bear see her at that state. It just sucks the life out of me. I had to detox and flush out the stress that was building inside me. I went out that same afternoon and tried to fish for haruan. My goal was "detox" and at the same time catch a couple for her possible last pesa on earth before moving on.

Aside from myself, there was a really thin lady who was also fishing the marsh. I saw her struggling to catch something. Her long thin bamboo pole snagged on a kangkong root and snapped in two. I can see from afar that she was, like me, was stressed out and almost losing hope.

I was lucky enough to catch 9 good sized haruans. I took home three and gave two large ones to the lady. The rest I released. I just felt she needs help. She was surprised and asked why I won't keep all of the fish. I said I need only a few. She said she will sell the fish so she could buy milk for her baby. What she said made my heart sink. Things that we take for granted was a big deal for other people. I think my wife's grandma would have been proud of the gesture.

That day the weather was gloomy and rain clouds threatened with rain. Still, even with the nastiest weather or during a difficult time, this small piece of heaven that I treasure so much always calms me, either through a fish or something else -- gives me strength to move on with life.

Gear used: Majorcraft Slicer 682H, Daiwa Millionaire Bay Casting Special 103L, Powerpro 20lb Braid, Sufix Superior 30lb Mono Leader

Friday, November 4, 2011

All Souls' Haruans and Mangrove Jacks

Last Summer of 2010 was probably the hottest dry season that Zambales has encountered.  It was so dry that my favorite Haruan spot had dried up and the Haruan population was literally decimated. The once wide expanse of marsh land was reduced to an arid grassland. When the rains came last June and the months after that, the marsh slowly began to fill with water.

The long weekend of All Soul's Holiday last weekend was a perfect time to test the marsh once more. We left Friday night and arrived there at around 2AM Saturday. The original plan was to fish the estuaries using my kayak during early mornings and late afternoons and in-between, fish for Haruans and on my last day, go trolling. Unfortunately, high tide occurs late at night and I am not so keen spending the night on an isolated estuary all by my self at night, on All Soul's day :-). I don't want to meet a real Mamaw at a time like that.

I did try kayak fishing for Jacks on the first day during daytime but after catching only a couple of MJs, I abandoned kayak fishing. Paddling during outgoing tide is too much work for just a few takers. Instead, I decided to concentrate on Haruans. I am actually glad I did. From an arid grassland, the rains helped transform the area into a recovering marshland. Water triggered the recovery of small baitfishes --- tilapias, walo-walo, gurame, etc. With the spread of baitfishes, Haruans seemed  to have bloomed out of nowhere. After days of fishing (2 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon), I managed to catch, photograph, and release 21 Haruans. In addition, I was also fortunate enough to land 3 table-sized mangrove jacks (1pc 500grams and 2 pcs 750grams).

Undas 2011 from Hibiki on Vimeo.

The arid grassland slowly turned into an aquatic heaven. It still has a long way to go before returning to its former state but it's getting there. I sure hope it would. The only hurdle that it needs to go through is the coming dry season. I hope it wouldn't dry up again like what happened last year.

One thing I also realized during the Undas (All Soul's Day) fishing is the use of a Heavy topwater rod or frog rod. I always notice that American anglers have these stout, stiff, and long frog rods when they are fishing for bass using frog lures. I always thought that they are overdoing it. Before, my rod of choice for haruan fishing was just an 8-17 or max of 10-20lb 6ft to 6'6" Medium rod. I always thought that it was the perfect frog rod. I was completely wrong. For the first time, I tried my Majorcraft Slicer 12-25lb Heavy rod (almost 7ft) in Haruan fishing using frog lures. Boy, it was revelation. That was the perfect Heavy-cover frog rod that I should use. The American anglers were right on the money when frog fishing. The powerful, long, and light rod was perfect for the needed hook sets and the power to pull the fish out of heavy weeds. Before, when I was using lighter rods, I always lose fish due to poor hooksets and if I did manage to hook one, I almost always wade to where the fish is for fear of breaking the rod if I muscle it away from the weeds.

When I started using the Slicer 12-25lbs, I was always 100% on hooksets and I can easily pull fish and weeds out to shore no matter how far they are. No more wading.

To top it off, the Heavy but light rod was also a perfect rod for topwater saltwater fishing. So, the next time you buy a frog rod or a top water salt rod, get a 7ft or longer rod and leave those light rods for jerkbaits and spinners. You will feel the difference.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Team Daiwa Advantage 4000A Upgrades

It took me a while to get the needed upgrades for my recently acquired Team Daiwa Advantage 4000A. It's not yet completely upgraded but it's almost done. 3 upgrades out of possible 5 is good enough for now.

I upgraded the Drag Washer to Smoothdrag's Carbontex. The set I ordered is Carbontex F62-7101 which cost me $9 per set excluding the shipping -- which is very minimal (around $2-3). The stock washer is some sort of oil impregnated felt fabric which is good, relatively smooth and strong. Because of the oil, it resists water from reaching the bottom of the spool. But after upgrading to Carbontex, you can feel the improvement in smoothness. Right now, I installed the washers dry and later on, I will put some Cal's drag grease to improve smoothness and water resistance.

After the drag washer, I replaced the plastic bushing in the spool shaft. High end Daiwa reels have ball bearings as stock component. TDA, Caldia, Freams, and other Real Four entry level reels all have plastic or aluminum washers instead of bearings. I got a bearing from a fellow angler. It's an SARB bearing from Shimano and fits the TDA spool bushing perfectly. The bearing in the spool really improved the smoothness of the drag. The Carbontex washer increased the drag range and the spool bearing will help in this increase in drag. The bearing is 12x8x2.5.

After the spool bearing upgrade, I also upgraded the lame knob to an all aluminum round power knob (Size M). I initially wanted the Tuna Max knob (Size S) but when we tried installing it, it would not fit. The screw was not able to reach the tip of the shaft. I visited Alex's Tackle and saw a couple of Sea Hawk knobs Size M. Matt, the owner of the store, convinced me to take the Sea Hawk knob to test fit it. It's a good thing I did. The knob has a replacement shaft and two stainless steel bearings and the price is less than half of the Tuna Max knob (no shaft or bearings included). The Sea Hawk knob was a perfect fit although I was only able to use 1 ball bearing because the TDA stock handle is designed for single bearing knobs only.

And here is what the reel looks like after the upgrade. The only noticeable difference is the cool round power knob.

In terms of appearance, it looks like a true light jigging and light popping reel because of the knob. The internals (drag washer and spool bearing) supports that look. I matched this reel with my DIY Okuma Sentara popping rod.


Next step is to upgrade the handle. I wanted a Caldia KIX custom handle so I can use an additional bearing on the knob (2 bearing knob). After that, I want to replace the bushing in the end of the main shaft. This will make the reel a double-bearing supported shaft. This will increase the smoothness even further.
The total cost of the three upgrades, around P1,800. The cost of absolutely manhandling a 2kg Mangrove Jack, priceless.

I can't wait to try it again this coming weekend. Hopefully, there are some GTs playing somewhere in Zambales. Who knows, maybe I will get lucky.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fishing Before the Storm

Typhoon Pedring (Nesat) entered the Philippines last Sunday afternoon and made landfall the following day Monday. It was really annoying when you have a fishing trip planned and then a storm will appear all of a sudden. It was also odd that in the past weeks, a storm always appear every weekend. We could not fish on weekdays because of work and for the past weeks, we couldn't even fish on weekends because of these typhoons. That Sunday, myself, my cousin JB, and Miko just can't accept that and we decided to push through even when there's a storm coming.

We decided to leave early to make the most of the clear weather. The plan was to bolt when the storm arrives -- and we expected that to happen in the afternoon. We got to the spot 6am and immediately rigged as soon as we parked the car. We were so pumped because we really need to maximize the short time to fish. But even though we got there early, the swell started to appear and the dirty water has mixed with the clean water on our fishing spot. From those signs, we feared that fishing would be tough.

And tough it was. We casted almost all imaginable lures we had and caught nothing. I lost 2 brand new madai jigs, one brand new squid jig, and another casting jig from rocky snags. Not a single bite for the most part of the morning until around 2pm.

Then past 2pm, the tide came in, and it cleared the water for a short while. The clear water triggered feeding, and we decided to use baits instead of lures. The change in tactics proved successful and we were rewarded with an almost-1kg grouper and two of these 2kg+ Mangrove Jacks.

Even when the typhoon appeared over the horizon, we continued to fish with baits but unfortunately, no bites after that. At around 5pm, heavy rains and strong wind battered the spot we were on and after a few minutes, we were soaking wet. We decided to call it quits while the roads going back to Manila are still passable.

Because of the rain and traffic, we arrived in Manila past 9pm. The trip was worth it and we will be coming back. The next time, I will be bringing my kayak with me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Downsizing Leaders at Aling Nene's Pond

Last weekend, I took my wife and kids to ANP for a half day of fun fishing. Because crispy fried tilapia are my kids' favorite (next to KFC's Snack box), my diabolic plan was to coax my kids to join me fishing so I can also fish myself. I told them that they can catch all the tilapia they want. They fell for it and nagged my wife until she wasn't able to refuse. Little that they know that the real plan was for me to try my three-hundred-peso Eagle Claw fly rod (from HMR) on a few famous ANP bangus.

My wife and kids had a blast. They caught more than three kilos of tilapia. They also consumed a ton of chichiria and week's worth of food from the ANP canteen. Unfortunately for me, the plan backfired. Not only did I pay for all they caught and ate, I also got zero bangus, zero dalag, and not even a nibble from a hungry apahap.

My only catch that day was a scrawny tilapia on an DIY bread fly.


Like all self-respecting anglers out there, I scheduled another trip --- this time I came prepared. I got a few batches of bread fly using the cosmetic foam as the imitation bread. I was convinced that the bangus would fall for it instead of the hard foam that I used the last time. Not only that, I also came alone. This is to maximize my fishing time and minimize my expense. :-)

Like almost all evil plans, things do not turn out as you would expect. The bangus fly was a bust. Not a single bangus paid attention to it. It was complete waste of time. Although I threw more than 10 kg of stale bread as chum, not a single bangus came even close to taking a look at my immitation bread fly. Even tilapias did not pay attention to my new fly.

So, instead of wasting my time on fly fishing for bangus, I took out my trusted BC rod and reel and casted lures after lures after lures and like the weekend before NADA! Not even a fish following my lure.

So I became bold and downsized my leader from a 30lb mono to an 8lb flouro. On almost all my trips at ANP, I was always using heavier leaders -- from 15-30lbs. But this time, and probably out of desperation, I was convinced that the fishes in ANP have become smarter and can see better. They are also better fed nowadays as almost all the ponds in ANP were recently seeded by tilapia fries. And under those situations, I was convinced that going light would be the best option.

So, I took out my Momoi flouro which was originally for eging and tied on a meter or a meter and a half of it into my 15lb main line. I tied on my favorite lure and casted parallel to the banks of the ponds. Not long after that I got a massive strike. I was instantly worried that my leader would not hold. It was a good thing that I was using a light reel with a light drag to play the fish better. After around 10 minutes, I was able to land this fat 2.3kg Snakehead.


My spirit got a jump start after the catch and went back to try for some more. Unfortunately, the weather turned and rain poured non stop. I tried to wait it out but the rain wouldn't stop. When lightning came with the rain, I decided to called it a day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Team Daiwa Advantage and Light Jigging from a Pier

The Team Daiwa Advantage (TDA) reel is not very popular among anglers here in Asia. But not known to many, it is one of the better quality Real Four reels released by Daiwa in the US. This is especially true for the Size 3500A and 4500A. What's so special about these two reels? If you are familiar with the very popular Caldia KIX JDM reels, you will immediately see the resemblance. That's because they are almost exactly the same reels. Almost, because the TDA has one more bearing compared to the Caldia KIX. The TDA has a ball bearing on the roller instead of a bushing (in Caldia KIX). The first batches of TDA are all made in Japan, similar to Caldia KIX 3500 and 4000.

When I was looking around eBay, I found a Made in Japan TDA. It's almost new but with a small nick in the paint job. Understandable for a display reel. The good thing is that it is Japan made, very smooth, and never been used. Plus, it's 1/3 of the cost of a Caldia KIX.

As soon as I received the reel, I upgraded the spool bushing into a Shimano SARB ball bearing. Giving the reel additional smoothness in its drag. I plan to use it for light popping and jigging, I already rebuilt a popping rod from an 8ft Okuma Sentara Surf Casting blank and it looks ok with the reel. I sure hope it will also perform well. All I need to do is finish the wraps with flex coat. Hopefully, it would be ready by this coming weekend.

Going back to the reel, I tested it for light jigging on a pier in Puerto Azul one weekend. A few weeks back I got myself an Expert Graphite 8ft rod from Kenny's Tackle Shop from the South. It's a bit light for the reel but it did ok for testing that weekend. We were supposed to leave 3am but the rain was terrible, we ended up leaving 4am. Our estimate was that the trip which was just 56 kilometers from Manila, will only last 45minutes to 1 hour. But because of traffic, it took us almost 3 hours.

When we got to the spot, it was raining heavily and the water was stained from river runoffs. It was practically raining every half an hour. I tried topwaters and spoons but no takers. I guess the water is too dirty for the fishes to see the lures. I then switched to a skip bunny and got a small Bagaong (Terapon). Then the rain intensified and no more bites on the bunny.

I tried a few japanese jigs and no luck on most of them. Then I tried a 60gm blue jig and not long afterwards, I got a huge bite. It was an awesome strike. The fish pulled line like it was a bruiser. I really enjoyed the smoothness of the TDA's drag and how it's clicker sounded when the fish pulled line. The only problem was the net. Nobody remembered to bring a landing net. I was positioned way up in the abandoned pier and there was no way I can use my lip grip without going down the rocks near the breakers. After I was able to tire the fish after about 5 minutes, I went down near the water to reach it. I was able to see the fish after it surfaced. It was a Mangrove Jack and I estimated it to be above 2kg based on its length and girth. As I was reaching for the fish using my lip grip, the fish surged downwards and managed to pull the hook. It was absolutely disappointing. To make things worst, we heard a series of loud thud from the horizon and saw a few small bancas congregating from where the sound came. No doubt, they were dynamite fishers who were taking advantage of the cover of the rain. As soon as the dynamite fishers started with their massacre, the fishes all over the surrounding seemed to have disappeared. No bites and not a single sign of feeding fish.

At around lunch time, we noticed that the rain clouds were approaching from the horizon and we hurriedly put on our rain gear. We were barely able to put on our rain gear when it rained like hell. Our rain coats were barely preventing us from getting wet because the rain was falling on a 45 degree angle. We really thought that the rain would never stop. We almost gave up and were preparing to pack up and go home. After almost an eternity, the rain stopped. And, to our surprise, no more dynamite fishermen. At the back of my mind, I really hoped that the storm got them and sank their boats.

I went back to the same spot where I had a hookup and tried the same jig and slowly bounced it near the breakwater. At first, I thought I got snagged but then there was a strong pull. I knew immediately that it was a sizable fish but not as big as the first one. After a few runs, I managed to land it but not after getting wet while lipping the fish. It was not a Mangrove Jack. It looks like a red snapper but it was short and thick. 1.5kg.

After that, my cousin JB managed to catch a half-kilo grouper on jerk bait and I got another small Terapon on jig. After that, no more fish.

At exactly 4pm, we left Puerto Azul and drove back to Manila. The traffic had gone worst. Our 56km drive lasted for almost 4.5 hours. That's similar to driving Manila to Subic back and forth. We should have gone to  Subic instead. We don't think we will go back to Puerto Azul for a while. The traffic is not worth the trip. And there appears to be a really high pressure from illegal fishers on the area. Maybe sometime in the future, things will improve -- I hope.

I really like the TDA 4000. I will replace its bushing near the pinion with Ball bearing to make it a double-bearing supported pinion. This will improve the already smooth cranking power. After that, I will replace the cheesy knob with an aluminum power knob to make it more suitable for light jigging and popping. I will post all the upgrades on a separate thread.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Upgrading a Daiwa Saltist

I have been wanting to post this since I bought my Daiwa Saltist 20H but somehow I always get sidelined with other things. Anyway, here it is and I hope it will help other anglers who are using the same reel.

When Daiwa said it's Saltist is a full metal reel, it's not entirely true. There is one plastic part -- a spool shaft bearing. But that's not a problem. Mine had one which I upgraded to a Corrosion Resistant Ball Bearing (CRBB). In addition to that plastic part, I also upgraded the crappy drag washer to Smoothdrag Carbontex and some Cal's Drag grease.

The process is pretty simple, first remove the non-handle side plate where the centrifugal brakes are located. Then remove the spool. Then, remove the power handle and then then the drag star. Once the drag star is removed, remove the screws on the handle-side side plate. If you look inside this side plate, you will see a white plastic bushing that supports the spool shaft. I removed the retainer spring and removed the spool tension knob from the other side and pushed the bushing out from that side using a q-tip or small screw driver. Once removed, I replaced the bushing with a 3mm x 8mm x 4mm CRBB that I got from the spool of another Daiwa Reel that I upgraded to Abec 7 Ceramic. I oiled the bearing and then pushed the bearing in, and then place the retainer spring back to the original position.

Once done with the bearing upgrade, I then removed the drag washers. The first generation Daiwa Saltist reels have felt washers and they are rough and dry and can damage the metal washers. Aside from that, these washers are jerky under load. The best upgrade is to replace those washers with Carbontex washers. I ordered mine online from The second generation Saltist reels have carbontex washers on the main gear but the washer under the main gear is still the old felt material so you need to upgrade that to Carbontex.

Before installing, I  put a thin coat of Cal's drag grease (also available at on all the drag washers. I cleaned the rest of the internals and then sprayed a thin coat of Silicone oil for salt protection. I just made sure that none of the oil got into the drag stack. Silicone oil is very smooth and slippery and can reduce the drag rating if it gets into the washers.

After oiling the bearings, I then re-assembled the reel.

In about 15minutes, I'm done.

What can I say about the reel? It's now all metal! Except of course for the paddle on the power handle which can be upgraded to an all aluminum round version. The reel is very smooth, solid and versatile. The centrifugal brakes allow you to use this reel as a Surf casting reel for throwing baits long distances. The only complaint I have about the Saltist is that it doesn't come in Left hand versions. It feels tougher than Shimano's Torium or other similar Shimano offering. Toriums are full of plastics and despite that fact,  they are still so overpriced. After heavy use, you can feel that the reel with plastic parts will lose smoothness. For me,  you can't beat the Saltist at that price.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Eging (Squid Fishing) in Subic Bay

This coming Monday is a Public Holiday in PH and that means it's a long weekend and lots of time to fish. We were planning to go to Calatagan Batangas to try Anglers' Hideaway fishing pond and also to fish the nearby reef. Fellow anglers would like to test popping the reef while I would like to try eging or squid fishing as I recently acquired a size 1500 Team Daiwa Advantage reel and got a couple of Japanese egi jigs from overseas courtesy of Shakespear (Chris). Unfortunately, a typhoon also got interested with the long weekend and made it's way from Mindanao up to North. By estimate, it would arrive in Batangas Saturday and fishing will be impossible. So we cancelled the Batangas trip and hurriedly decided to to further north to Subic to avoid the storm. My estimate is that the storm would not arrive until the afternoon of Saturday.

To get more fishing time, we left Manila 2am and arrived Subic 4:30. When we got there, the signs of the impending storm is all over. The moon is barely visible due to the rain clouds. Bong, Miko, and RC quickly got to work and chucked their DIY poppers using 8ft popping rods and size 8000 Shimano reels. Me, I started with micro spoons, jigs, and poppers. No takers on any of the poppers and my micro lures. To make matters worse, I kept on getting tangles on my braid because I again overfilled the spool. After removing excess line, I got to tune the reel. By 8am, still no signs of fish. No feeding activities whatsoever.

By 10 am, we only got a small bagaong and a couple of small trevallies. I decided to abandon other lures and concentrated with Eging. At first no takers on the squid jigs in natural, blue, and purple. I remembered the tip from the Yozuri youtube channel to use pink when the day is cloudy and the water is turbulent. I got my small pink jig and after 5 casts, a solid pull and squid on.

On the same spot squids kept on attacking the jig but most of them are small and all I landed were pieces of tentacles that got pulled out from the squids. By lunchtime, it started pouring and the water turned cloudy. By then, the squids stopped biting. If there was no rain, there could have been more squids landed. At around 1pm the rain poured without letup. We were so drenched and decided to call it a day. 
After the trip, I got one trevally (released) and four squids for my wife.

The squidding combo I used was a Daiwa E-GEE 80ML and a Team Daiwa Advandtage 1500 loaded with 15lb powerpro and 12lb Yozuri Flouro. I realized that the eging-specific gear really improves the chances of catching squid as it imparts the correct action to the squid jigs. The really light flourocarbon leader is also an advantage. I was using 15lb but the recommended is around 6-8lbs. Other anglers who were with me tried casting squid jigs on the same spot but got no takers. They were using heavy leaders and slightly stiffer rods. Another thing, the size and color of squid jigs are important depending on the condition of the area. It is possible to catch them without eging-specific gears but there are higher chances with the correct gear. I will again try eging hopefully in Batangas. I just hope the weather will cooperate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When Will It Stop?

Buying rod and reels, that is.

A newbie will ask what gear would be a good starter kit and people would instantly advise that a 2000-2500 spinning reel matched to a 6'6" rod should be the best starter kit. After the first kilo of fish caught with the new gear, the newbie will go berserk and go on a shopping spree for rods and reels, which most often than not, will rarely be used. Spinning reel, then baitcasting reel, trolling reel, then jigging reel and so on and so forth. After a hard look of the accumulated rod, reels, accessories, and tons of lures,  the guy/gal will realize that he/she doesn't have a single clue how the stuff performed because, after a few use, he/she has not caught a single shit of a fish --- and that is a fact. Which is a good thing for prospective buyers lurking on fishing forums.

The reason I rant about this is because that is what exactly is happening to me. It seemed that after a few weeks or months of purchase, I wanted more. When I was just starting, I got this el-cheapo spinning reel from local shop. After a while, I got hooked to fishing and bought a couple of JDM spinning reels. Then, I got exposed to BC and sold my spinning reels and got myself an Abu Revo SX. Then I realized that I need a salt-worthy casting reel, and bought a Revo Inshore. Then, after a few weeks, I convinced myself that I need a heavier gear and got a total of 3 Avet reels in less than six months. Got myself a couple of SX reels and one MXJ. Then without even using them, I sold them all. I got a Daiwa Saltist 20H and a matching rod. After buying the combo, it sat there rarely getting time on the water. Then I got a few Curados and some Daiwas. Then, just a few weeks ago, I got back to spinning combos. Kinda odd since I vowed not use a spinning reel a year back.

Before all of these reels, I was using the el-cheapo Daiwa Apollo 4000 reels and matching Apollo rod, I was happy catching fish once a week with that gear. But then I got exposed to a few fishing forums. That's when things got really out of hand. True, I learned a lot from forums but I also started the never ending obsession with new gears. Maybe forums on fishing are driving this sickness? If I stop visiting forums, will the obsession die down? I wonder.

I remember a story from another angler way back. He heard a theory from a Malaysian angler explaining the behavior. It goes something like this.

Anglers will obsess on buying gears when they get limited time on the water.

That makes perfect sense! Combine that with too much time on forums and you will get an armchair angler with almost no time on the water, buying gears left and right!

So, if you feel  that you are starting to become obsessed on gears, stay away from the computer, go out the door and fish!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Eging and Ultralight Jigging in Subic Bay

We went to Subic over the weekend. Even though the weather is less than desirable, I gave eging and fishing using light lures a go.

First try was eging. I had so many problems with the spinning reel. I think I overfilled the reel with braid or the reel is not made for braid so it does not cast properly. Everytime I cast, the line gets terrible backlash. Imagine that, backlash on a spinning reel. I used up most of my fishing time fixing the tangles.

Anyway, I was able to get a squid using a Blue 2.5 Yozuri Egi. I actually got three hookups but the other two got away.

Then it rained for the most part of the morning. Somehow squids stopped biting when the rain started. So, I shifted to a 20gram jig and caught three kitoks. I need to get real spinning reel in the 1500 size and some 6 or 8lb braid. This eging and ultralight jigging/popping thing is getting addicting.  :devil:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trying Out Other Tactics (Ultralight Jigs and Poppers)

I'm an avid fan of baitcasters, that's for sure. But like most anglers, I started out with a spinning combo. After a few years of using nothing but overhead outfits (BC), I am beginning to realize that I am missing out some of the fun enjoyed by spinning reel fans. Among them are the use of really light lures (sub-5gm lures), weightless plastics, and eging (squid game).

When I heard of the sale at Fish and Dive, a JDM rod and reel shop here in Manila, I grabbed the opportunity and got myself an 8ft PE .6-1.2 rod purposely built for eging or squid fishing. At 50% off, the Daiwa E-GEE rod was a steal and I just can't pass up on the chance. Eging rods are really rare here in PH and the only other way to get them is from this shop, which I can't afford if on a regular price, or by ordering online. I still don't have a matching reel but getting the rod is the hard part. There are plenty of reels locally available. The only problem is the cash. It's a good thing my daughter has a decent ultralight spinning reel that I can borrow.

A week after getting the eging rod, Bong, our fishing mentor, got himself an eging rod with a matching reel -- A Daiwa Neoversal and a Team Daiwa Z 1500 reel -- all JDM. He got it really cheap from a Japanese surplus shop. After hearing about his recent purchase, I convinced him to go out and try our gears. Unfortunately, eging spots are quite far so we decided to try a relatively near river just up north of Manila. But instead of eging, we tested these rods with other applications such as ultra-light poppers, spoons, jigs and finesse plastics.

We left just before 5am and arrived at the spot almost 7am. We immediately tried the small spoons and poppers. And, it was an instant blast. Small predators just can't get enough of the very small lures. Bong got some bagaong (Terapon) and a mangilo bidbid (Ladyfish) using 2inch poppers while I got a nice sized Kandule and a bagaong on a 1.5 inch spoon. Aside from being able to throw light lures, the beauty of the very light and long rod is that you can feel every small nibble and bounces on your lure. I know some BC fans may frown on the small fishes on very light gear, specially spinning gears, but I began to appreciate the absolute fun we got from using them.

In between using the light spinning gears, we still got to cast bigger lures using our trusted casting outfit. At the end of the day, I ended up with 2 threadfin salmons (pics to follow).

Next stop --- squid fishing (eging) and asohos or bakoko fishing (whiting and bream) , either south or north (Subic perhaps). We can probably cast some small spoons and poppers in between. It's really good to have light spinning rod and reels in your arsenal especially when fishing salt. It's an absolute fun to use.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recon Trip Up North

Together with Bong, Mikko, and Rich, we did a recon trip to Bulacan River up North a few months back. The trip was organized with the invitation from Irving. 

There are very little paved road going to the area --  some areas have worn down asphalt a quarter of the way to the spot. The rest is a dusty dirt road, and when it rains, it's practically impossible to get to. Anyway, we got to the place by boat. Probably an hour's boat ride from the main town. We were very lucky when we arrived, threadies were active. You can hear exploding water when they feed on mullet. Some are almost feeding on the banks.  It's basically sight fishing if you want to target the threadfins. 

When there's feeding on an area, I had to rush to the scene and throw my favorite topwater. I was running all over the place when there's feeding but in most cases, I always arrive too late. Fortunately,  on the late afternoon, the threadies got bolder and they don't leave the area after feeding. Then one explosion on the water occurred near my spot. I immediately casted my lure to the spot. After a few twitch, the fish took the lure. The problem is, the strike occurred too near the banks where there are a lot of bamboo snags. I fought the fish for a good two minutes but it dove under the bamboo poles and wrapped the line. I had to call the boatman to check if he can retrieve my lure and the fish. When he got to the snagged lure, the boatman dove under the poles and got only the lure. No more fish. I swear it was a big one because my Revo Inshore was not able to stop it from diving down the snag.

I then changed posts and move downriver a bit. I saw a threadie gave out its location. I casted and in one swoop, it swallowed the lure.  This time, the spot I was in is on a very steep bank. The fish was able to angle me and swam so close to the bamboo poles sticking out from the bank. I had to reach out with my rod using one hand to get a good angle on the fish and prevent the line from fraying from the bamboo poles. And then the unthinkable happened --- fish made a very strong dive. The Majorcraft reel seat was slick when wet and in one dive, the fish was able to yank the rod from my hand. I froze for an instant, fearing that I lost a brand new rod with a Revo Inshore. Luckily, when the rod and reel fell into the water, it snagged from another set of bamboo poles  preventing the fish from pulling it into the deep. 

Without thinking, I jumped down the water's edge even it was about 5 feet from where I was standing. I grabbed back my rod and fought the fish. I still had to climb the last set of poles at the edge of the fast running water --- the fish keeps on diving near the bank. The spot where Rich was taking the video is where I first fought the fish --- where it took the rod from my hands. Anyway, here's what happened after that.
 Shy of 2kg. This is the fish that almost took away my Rod and Reel.

Photo and video courtesy of Richard

At the end of the trip, Miko got Mangrove Jack and Richard got a Threadfin. It was a very nice trip considering we hardly know what to expect from the place. It was a very challenging river and finding the perfect time is not easy. This was actually my 2nd trip there. My first was with my cousin JB last year. We were invited by fellow anglers from the North who frequent the spot. At that time, despite a lot of strikes, I basically got skunked. My cousin JB was a little luckier. He got a Bikaw (a juvenile Threadfin Salmon) using live bait. Lucky for me that I was able to hook up twice on the 2nd trip. I hope to revisit the place with a perfect timing --- perfect enough for us to hook a wild Barramundi. I hope sometime soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Few Upgrades on an Abu Garcia Revo Inshore

This reel is a must have for all lovers of low-profile reels for Saltwater fishing. Absolutely fantastic in terms of corrosion resistance. This is the type of reel that you can use in Salt repeatedly and would not worry about rinsing it. Casting distance is not as good as a Curado but it's trouble-free. Backlash is minimal. The drag, when new, is fantastic.

But, it is not bulletproof and needs to be upgraded in time. For my reel, I made some modifications that I would like to share. First is the replacement of Drag Star and clicker. The second is the replacement of the Drag washers. Third, is the addition of 4 ball bearings in the paddles. The last one, which I failed to do, is the replacement of the stock spool bearings with Ceramic ABEC5 or ABEC7 bearings.

Here are the internals:

Drag washers were upgraded to Brand New Smoothdrag Carbontex.

Stock drag washers of all Revo reels are also made of Carbon fiber but the material that the manufacturer used is inferior compared to Smoothdrag. They do not last long. After a year or so, they will flatten and lose drag strength. In addition, only the three main washers are carbon the washer under the main gear is made of felt paper.

Stock Drag Washers:

Smoothdrag Carbontex

Carbontex can be ordered from Here you can see the fiber mesh of Carbontex. The fibers are obviously thicker, stronger, and smoother.

In addition to the three main washers, you will get a thick Carbontex washer that will replace the felt washer under the main gear.

Drag star and clicker were replaced.

Because the stock washers of the Revo series will wear down fast, you will lose drag as you use the reel especially if the reel is used on larger fish. The tendency is to tighten the star further. Unfortunately, the stock drag star is made of aluminum. In the end the threads will strip.

Fortunately, I found a better replacement. The star drag from Abu Garcia Silvermax. You can see the insert is sturdier. The clicker was from Silvermax as well. Because the Drag Star of Silvermax is a bit taller, you will need the clicker assembly from Silvermax to get a perfect fit. You can also use the stock Inshore clicker but your Drag Star will sit a bit higher.

Stock Drag Star:

Bushing on the Handle Paddles Replaced with Ball Bearings

There are four bushings on the paddles of the handle. You can replace them with stainless steel ball bearings. The size is OD=8mm, ID=4mm, and 3mm thick. After replacing, the handle will be as smooth as a Revo STX or SX. But, you need to make sure that they are Stainless steel. Otherwise, they will rust when exposed to Saltwater. I did replace my paddle bushings with ball bearings and it was soooo smooth. Unfortunately, the ones I got were not Stainless Steel bearings but rather the Chrome Steel type. After a few outings in Saltwater, they corroded so I needed to take them out and return the bushings.

Ceramic Bearings on the Spool

Now, if you want to improve the casting distance, you might want to try upgrading them to Ceramic ABEC5 or ABEC7 bearings. Here are the dimensions:

ID 3mm x OD 10mm x Width 4mm
ID 5mm x OD 11mm x Width 4mm

You can order them from or or ebay. After the upgrade, it can outcast a stock Curado, that's for sure.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rod Review: St. Croix Premier PC60MHF

I forgot to add this when I did a review of the rods that I used last February.

I had this rod for less than a year before I sold it. This was my first relatively expensive rod (more than $100). The rod was very light and very strong. The odd thing about this rod is that somehow it has fewer guides compared to other similar length rods like Shimano Clarus. I am not sure if this is negative or not. It didn't appear to have a consequence in performance whatsoever. It just looked awkward when it bends --- the line gets too close to the blank.

The other not so desirable part of the rod is the length of the butt. I personally think that it is a bit too short. A rating of 10-20lb should have a longer butt section than what it has. When fighting a big hard running fish, you'll struggle to get a grip from the butt. When casting double handed, you'll struggle to grip the end section of the butt. If you are used to single-hand casting, it wouldn't be a problem.

Still, it is strong and light. I can recommend the St. Croix Premier Casting rod especially if short butt sections is not an issue. Personally, I would prefer the PC66MHF -- the 6'6" casting rod. Same specs but with a longer butt section.

The biggest I caught using this rod is a 3.5kg Lady Fish. Lady fishes can run really long and fast especially on the first few minutes of the fight. After a long run, it also has a tendency to jump more than once. The rod handled the fish extremely well. It absorbed the runs and multiple jumps without pulling the hooks or breaking. The only problem is that I was struggling to get a good grip on the short butt when fighting the fish. Other than that, it performed great and I am sure that the rod can handle bigger fishes with ease if given a chance.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Family Fishing in Valenzuela

School's out and before heading out to the province for the Holy Week, we still have a few week-ends to kill. So, I came up with a plan (translate=scheme) to get the family to join me fishing. My youngest was eager to join me but the wife and the eldest are wary of a scheme being brewed by yours truly. Actually, in all honesty, I really wanted to teach my kids how to fish and hopefully they will learn patience and appreciate nature.

To seal the deal, we went to Alex Tackle and got 2 Okuma Sefina + Shakespear Ultra Light Combo last Saturday. (The Okuma Sefina review will follow :-)). After purchasing, I rigged the reels with 9lb Sufix mono and prepped some Bangus rigs. As for me, I brought a few lures to test. (I realized that the regular lures we use in ANP are no longer productive).

Our plan to leave 6am turned an hour and a half later. When we got to the pond, there were just a few anglers. I saw some familiar faces like Roselon and Emil. We planned to take the farthest floating hut but it was already occupied when we got there so we settled with the bamboo kubo near the house. So, I baited the spinning reels and then gave the girls a quick lesson in casting. Not so long after, my youngest had been hauling juvie tilapia one after the other. She got bored with the small catches so we shifted to bangus fishing. My eldest joined in and after a few casts, she got our one and only Bangus (milkfish) for the day.

Trying to give pointers on casting and waiting for the bite.

The fish kept wriggling while my daughter squirmed in fear.
At around mid day, bangus fishing slowed down and my kids were back trying to catch tilapia. Since the kids got the hang of baiting and casting, I decided to rig my small Daiwa Baitcaster so I could test a few lures from Mikee and a couple that I got from eBay. While I was tying the leader, my youngest gave out a loud shout and said "I'ts a lobster! I got a lobster". True enough it was an Ulang the size of a small lobster. Amazing, it tried to eat an earthworm intended for tilapia.


After the big "lobster", the bites slowed down so we decided to take our lunch. As usual, the food in ANP is amazingly cheap and good. My wife was amazed and even agreed that fishing there was cheap and relaxing. After lunch, the girls decided to rest and I got out to test my lures under the blazing mid day sun. I started on the farthest section of the pond and made my way back to the huts. No takers over the far end of the pond. I guessed the stories that the Barras are extra wary of lures and can only be caught on live carp feeders are true. Just before giving up, I switched to a chrome colored floating jerkbait from Rapala. I remembered the Youtube videos on working floating jerkies on the banks to avoid snags. I casted repeatedly near the bank and then made some quick jerks. Then, unexpectedly, wham!  A barra took the lure almost near the surface. You can see the wake it made when it hit the lure. I never had the chance to set the hooks. The fish set the hook by itself. After around 5minutes, I landed the 2.25kg barra.

I am now a believer of the floating lure technique on banks used by Aussies. I guess they really work.
At around 2pm, we packed up and took home a few tilapias, a small bangus, and the Barra. I cleaned the small fishes and had the barra filleted from my suking fish monger.

As for the "lobster", it is now my girls' pet named Larry.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Curado 201E7 Love and Hate

Last July 2010, I bought myself a Curado 201E7. This is especially noteworthy for me because I haven't felt real love for Shimano reels, not yet at least. The first reel I had from them was a Technium 2500 spinning reel and the quality is not really that great. It was so smooth when I first got it from the store. It looked great and felt great. But somehow, after a month or so, it started to get rough. The materials can easily be noticed as cheap. You will notice this especially if you service your own reel.  I just thought that maybe because it was subcontracted by Shimano. (No disrespect to all things that were subcontracted. I understand that its about economics and nothing else.)  I decided that the next Shimano reel I should get should be a Japan made reel or none at all. So after that reel, I became a Daiwa fan for a long time. After a few years, I got introduced to baitcasting and the reel that taught me to baitcast was an antique Shimano Bantam reel. It was made in Japan. It was old but it was hot. So hot that it convinced me to get rid of spinning reels and convert to baitcasting. I transitioned to Baitcasting outfits and I bought a few Abus and a bit of Daiwas. Then Curado came to my mind. It's made in Japan, very popular among anglers in the US, and it's relatively inexpensive (especially in eBay). So, July 2010, I got myself a Curado 201E7 from eBay. I said to myself, It's Japan made, it's popular. I think I am going to love it. Then the reel arrived. I picked it up, opened the box and played with it. After about an hour of trying to get a feel for the reel and matching it with my rods,  it somehow felt off. I don't know why. It just didn't felt right. So, a few hours after getting the reel from the courier, I sold it. The next morning it was out of my hands.

After a few months, I was able to purchase a Citica. Unfortunately, it was also not a very hot product in my opinion, even when it is made in Japan. It is understandable because it's relatively cheap.It still a best value reel. Unfortunately, it was not the Shimano for me. So, after less than a month, I sold it as well. Even after tuning it with Scorpion bearings and all.

Then, my trusted Abu Revo Inshore failed. The drag star stripped. I fixed the problem with a Silvermax drag star and clicker assembly. With this, I lost confidence again on a subcontracted reel (Abu Garcia Revo series reels are made in Korea. Abu Garcia Salty Stage Orra (the Asian equivalent of  Revo Inshore) is made in China.) That's it, I said to myself. It's made in Japan for reels or none at all. It doesn't matter if I have to wait long to save some cash. It should be worth it --- like my Daiwa Sol and Millionaire.

I needed a backup reel for my Revo so I again looked to Curado as the relatively cheapest Japanese reel that I can afford which has a lot of following from hardcore American anglers. I again looked to eBay and got myself a new Curado 201E7. To be honest, it still don't know what to make of it. I tested it yesterday with my Clarus rod and tried frogs and WTD. It still doesn't feel right. I don't know. I cannot make the frog and the stick baits move the way they should using this reel. Maybe the retrieve speed, the width of the reel, the plastic side plates, or the width of the spool which makes me touch the spool all the time when retrieving. I just can't figure out what the issue is. At least it can cast great. No doubt about that.

Anyway, I will try again. Maybe after a couple more use, I can get a feel for it. If not, it's going back to the trading post.

Here's the dilemma. What other low profile reels are out there that are Made in Japan, good for Inshore duty (including Saltwater), has a good reputation, and comparable price with Revo Series, aside from Curado, and Citica?  I don't think there is anything else.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Choosing a Rod and Reel according to Alan Tani

This is by far the best advise that I have read so far. The most common mistake that I usually do is that I almost always buy the reel first before I buy the rod. I usually end up selling the reel because I cannot find the correct rod for it. I now believe that it should be the other way around.

This article from Alan Tani explains why.

Selecting a rod - "The Wand Picks the Wizard, Mr. Potter."
by Alan Tani from

To establish the proper rating for a rod, here is the procedure....

1. Place any reel on the rod with any heavy line (it does not matter). run the line through the guides and tie the water jug at the end. place the rod in a holder of some sort so that the rod butt rests at a 45 degree angle. now add water or weight (cut a hole in the jug) until the rod bends to the desired flex that you want.

I usually look for the rod tip to bend until the tip is midway between the top of the arc and the butt cap of the rod. you may desire more or less. it depends upon the type of rod and your personal preferences.

2. Now measure or total up the weight. let's say that you have a medium weight rod that flexes to a desired amount with only 10 pounds. you have now determined the proper drag setting for your rod.

3. Now choose a line weight. different people have different preferences. you might typically fish as heavy a drag setting as 33% or as light as 25%. anything more risks line breakage. anything less is wasted unless line abrasion resistance is a concern. admittedly, i fish some rigs as heavy as 50% and others as light as 12%. let's just say that we will stay within average parameters. with a desired 10 pound drag setting at a 33%, you need a 30 pound mono.

4. Now chose a line capacity. typically people look for 300 of line capacity. what fish can take a 100 yard run on you if the drags are properly set? that is the length of a football field. why in the world would anyone want 500 yards of line for fish under 60 pounds? in the vast majority of situations, it is lack of confidence and low drag settings. very few fishermen actually check the drag settings with a scale. i'm sorry that this is so harsh, but unless the fish is larger than 5 times the line weight, i see no reason for getting "spooled." in open water, you typically fight a 40 pound fish with only the first 100 yards of 40 pound mono. in moving water or fish up to twice the line rating, that fight might occur in the first 150 yards. i use 300 yards for smaller tuna, 500 yards for the big ones.

5. Now pick the size of the reel. are you fishing with straight mono or spectra with a mono topshot. what ever the situation, you pick the size of the spool to fit the required amount of line. and make sure it can deliver the required amount of drag and still maintain good free spool.

I think you can use a digital scale instead of a water jug.
This is especially applicable for Lure anglers or light tackle anglers like us. The rod will determine how many casts you can make for the duration of your fishing trip. Too heavy a rod or an unbalanced combo will tire you quickly and will not cast properly.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gear Talk: Abu Garcia Revo Inshore

This is a tough reel --- at least in terms of corrosion resistance.  I bought it 2 years ago and still hasn't shown any hint of corrosion. It's safe to say that it is reliable in the salt but it has some problems. On its first few months, the titanium coated line guide pops out while casting. I had to put super glue to fix it. It has happened twice already. The first glue I used was a Super Glue from Mighty Bond. A month later, it popped out again while casting. I then used 2 part 5minute clear epoxy. So far so good. It's holding quite well. Another issue with the reel is the finish. It gets scratched easily compared with a Revo SX. Another issue is the Drag star, it's crappy. At first, the reel was steadily losing drag pressure. I noticed that the threads on the drag star was showing rounding. Then eventually, it gave out. Almost all the threads stripped. I noticed that the material was not suited for threads ---  it's susceptible to stripping. The hard part is getting parts for it. I had to email Purefishing to get the part. After a month, the reseller here contacted me to give me the prices of the parts. During that time, I already found a solution. I bought the star, spring washers, the base of the washers, and clicker from a thrashed Abu Garcia Silvermax. You will notice that the thread in Silvermax drag star is made from hardened stainless steel insert. It sure looks stronger than the stock drag star of the Revo Inshore. Currently, it's holding well and the drag pressure seems to be holding quite well. Just a note, it is not 24lbs as what the manufacturer claims. More like 15lbs at the most. If you have a Revo reel that is losing drag, check the drag star thread. I am sure that its slowly stripping away.

What do I like about the reel? It can withstand the salt even when I'm too lazy to wash it. The Revo SX doesn't have that resistance to Salt. Another thing, it has the line capacity needed for inshore fishing. The downside of that capacity is that it is not a great caster because of the deeper spool. But this can be fixed by replacing the spool bearings with Ceramic ABEC7 bearings. Another plus for the reel is the long handles for extra cranking speed and the power handle for extra torque in cranking.

A 7.7kg Barramundi caught on Revo Inshore. The lure I used was a Duel 3D 3inch Suspending Jerkbait.
Would I recommend this reel to anyone? Yes, but be prepared to replace the drag star. It will eventually strip.  I hope that Abu Garcia will upgrade the reel and replace the crappy drag star with a stronger metal insert to prevent stripping. They can also replace the main shaft with a shaft that has bigger threads for more power. They can also upgrade their drag star design to what Shimano has. And lastly, they can replace the housing of the line guide with aluminum. That plastic base is too crappy for a reel with this price.

Would I buy another reel from Abu Garcia? Yes, but only those reels that are made in Sweden. The same applies to Shimano and Daiwa reels. I will not buy a Shimano or Daiwa reel if it is not made in Japan.

Abu Garcia reels (Revo) or even Daiwa (Saltist, Apollo, Regal, etc) and Shimano (Technium, Alivio, etc)  that are made in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, or China, appears to have been made with poor materials. I agree that Quality control may not be a factor anymore because these Japanese or American companies probably have strict quality control for their products that are being made overseas. But the problem is the poor quality of materials that were used --- the metals, graphite, and plastics used to be specific. The aluminum frames, drag star, and side plates seem to be prone to stripping, cracking or warping. The "stainless" bearings, springs, and washers are prone to rusting. The plastic/graphite parts chip, crack, or suddenly compress. From experience, these things rarely happen on Japanese reels such as Daiwa Millionaire and Daiwa Sol or Swedish reels such as Abu Garcia Classic Inshore, 4601/5601C3.

Addition: Abu Garcia and Daiwa should talk to their outsourced manufacturers. They should insist that if the material is aluminum, as those in Drag Stars, they should use coarse threads instead of fine threads. Aluminum is an exception to rule that fine threads are stronger than coarse threads in nuts and bolts. A better solution is to use stronger metals instead of aluminum, such as brass or stainless shafts and thread inserts. They can use fine threads for strength without fear of stripping if the material used is not aluminum or similar soft materials.

Gear Talk: Abu Garcia Revo SX 2008 Model

The Abu Garcia Revo SX 2008 is the first Baitcaster that I ever bought. Way back then, I was an avid spinner fan having grown old without knowing anything else other than spinning reels. Then came Bong, my Haruan Hunter master. He introduced me to Haruan fishing, the use of lures, and the beauty of baitcasters. He started me into BC fishing using a really old but well preserved Shimano Bantam reel -- which was a righty, by the way. After a week of use, I saw the merits of using BCs against spinning reels and decided to buy myself a decent combo --- a lefty. It was a really perfect timing since Gordon of Fishing Buddy, a popular tackle shop here, offered his very first Abu Garcia Revo SX for sale. I believe I was the first who bought this only lefty reel on stock. This reel is awesome. Casting was not perfect due to the defect on the brake magnets (weak magnets). Backlash is a regular occurrence because the brake was not really functioning. That defect taught me how to thumb the reel properly. After I got the hang of  thumbing, I was able to cast accurately and with good distance. I caught a lot of freshwater and saltwater fish with this reel. The drag was awesome and the build and materials were comparable to a really expensive reel. And, it was absolutely smooth. It's paddles in the handle has 4 ball bearings (2 per paddle) giving it it's noticeable smoothness. So smooth  that Bong got so convinced he got his own Revo SX.

This is 5kg Barra I caught with the reel. Only one of the many Barras caught with it.

The reel does not have a drag pressure of 24lbs as stated by the manufacturer. It's more like 10lbs at the most. But the drag was really smooth due to the carbontex washer that was used. It was so smooth that an 8kg barra was no match to it. It's finish is so tough (aside from looking hot), I barely noticed any scratch on my reel after 3 years of use.

Would I recommend it? Yes, if you are patient enough to learn how to thumb the reel. The 2008 models are selling cheap in eBay. If money is not an issue, get the Revo SX 2010 model with Swept handle and an improved magnetic drag. You can't beat this reel.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Gear Talk: Baitcasting Rods that I have tried

There are very few selections of quality rods here in the Philippines. If you want something of quality, you have to order online and spend extra for the shipping and customs tax. Here are some of the rods that I have tried.

Majorcraft Basspara 662MH
Medium Heavy, 6’6” 10-20lbs Fast Action 2pc

I’m not sure what to call it---  Majorcraft is a JDM company but this rod is Made in China.  Fortunately, like a true JDM Majorcraft rod, the craftsmanship is superb even for their cheapest line (this rod). Once you hold it, you might feel that the rod was over-rated especially when you wiggle test it and check the bend of the tip. It felt more like an 8-15lb medium rod rather than a Medium Heavy. In the field, casting was outstanding. It was rated to cast up to 1oz lures and when I tested it, it actually did so with ease. Maybe I really got used to American rods that felt stiffer. Maybe, this is what a MH rod should really feel like. Anyway, I matched the rod with a Shimano Citica 201, an Abu Garcia Revo Inshore, a Daiwa Millionaire 103L, and a Daiwa Sol. So far, it’s perfect pair is the Sol (freshwater) and the Millionaire (Salt). I was able to land a 1.7kg Threadfin Salmon from a boat on a relatively deep water. And,  to be honest, I really felt that the Salmon was like a weak fighter. I finally realized that the rod was actually absorbing the fish’s powerful surges. It’s not that the fish was weak but the rod played it with so much ease. My only complaint with the rod is it’s tip. Somehow the tip sits too low and the line actually touches the blank when the rod flexes. Oh, well, I just have to replace it with another taller Fuji tip when it gets busted. I hope I can land  something on the upper limit of the rod like a Barra in the 8 to 10kg weight or a 5kg Threadfin. If the rod survives them, then the rod is a really good buy.

Majorcraft Slicer 682H
6’8” Heavy 12-25lbs Regular Fast 2pc

It’s my first Japanese rod and the way it was constructed is truly different from American rods. I bought this for heavy topwater lures and deep diving plugs. It’s a perfect match to a Citica, Curado, and  a Revo Inshore with 30lb braid. It’s a magnificent caster. Even with a so so caster like the Revo Inshore, you can still throw those medium lures at an amazing distance. The setting power is absolutely fantastic. I was originally fanatic of 1pc rods but then I started trying the multi-piece JDM rods. There is no discernible difference in performance compared to a 1pc rod. Maybe 5 years ago, 2pc rods are really crap. I have been using 1pc rods since the start a few years back and after using these Japanese 2pc rods, I can honestly say that they are at par or even better than their 1pc counterpart. And, they are easy to transport. I think the new friction joints have really addressed the issues with 2pc rod sensitivity.

Like the Basspara, I was able to land a 1.6kg Threadfin Salmon but this time it was from the Shore. Being a heavy rod, you can feel every surge of the fish. But in the end, a fish that size is just no match with the rod. One drawback on the Slicer’s design is its Reel Seat. It’s too slick when wet and when you don’t hold on to the rod tight enough, a fish can pull your gear away from you in a snap. Probably because the reel seat is not an exposed blank design and the finish is glossy instead of matte which made it slicker when wet and gives it a higher profile when the reel is seated. The solution is to get a low profile reel like a Citica or a Curado or an Inshore. Round reels may not really feel good on this rod. I sure wish I can tussle with a mamaw (monster) with this rod. Together with the Basspara, this rod is now my primary kayak rod and I am hoping I can test its power soon. My take? It’s relatively expensive but the craftsmanship is superb. If it survives a monster, then it is a really good buy.

Shimano Clarus 6’ Medium
CSC60MA 6’ Medium Power, 8-17lbs ¼-5/8 lures, 1pc. Fast Taper

I lost count of how many fishes I have caught with this rod and it hasn’t failed me since the day I bought it 3 years ago. I have used it for Snakehead fishing in heavy vegetation, Toman fishing for brutes (5.7kg), and for saltwater fishing for jacks and groupers.  It’s latest victim, a 3.5kg Mangrove Jack on close quarter battle, using a Citica with 30lb braid, 35 mono leader, and locked drag.  I absolutely pumped the rod with no fear of breaking it. This is my go to rod and my absolute favorite. The biggest fish that I have caught with this rod is an 8kg+ Barramundi. Lately, I am not using it very often because I'm afraid that if I break it, I don’t know where I can get the same rod as a replacement. It’s really hard to get this rod here in Asia. I highly recommend this rod – for its price and for its unparalleled performance. I sure wish the Shimano distributors here in PH will get us a couple of these. The same 1pc 6' 8-17lb and a 6'6" 1pc 10-20 MH. I will be the first one to line up for these rods.

Fenwick HMG
6’6” Medium 10-20lbs 1pc

When I first held the rod, I felt that it was a really nice rod. The finish, the guides, the seat, and the grip are all nice and evenly matched. It even balances with my round and low profile reels without problems.  It even held up great on a 2kg Grouper on its first outing. Unfortunately, it’s blank is not really hot. The blank split open parallel to the grain of the graphite while on its 2nd week kayak fishing. I was glad that Purefishing Malaysia replaced the rod without extra cost. But then after using the replacement rod (same exact model) while snakehead fishing, it again broke, on the same spot. A clean break. So I tried again to haggle for a replacement but nothing happened. So instead of wasting my P4,200 that I spent for the rod, I just repaired the rod using a 1 inch solid fiberglass tip as an insert and a 3inch piece of graphite as a sleeve then put epoxy over the repaired area. So far so good and I was able to catch a few Barras in the 1-1.8kg range. If you want to repair a broken rod, try visiting this link The author really knows how to repair a rod. Would I buy another Fenwick HMG? No, not really.

All Star Select 
1 pc, 10-20 lbs, 7'

This is a very nice rod in my opinion. The blank looks and feels sturdy and guides are made from quality components.  The blank appears to be almost similar to the Lemax Platinum or Tica TC4 blanks. My only complaint with the rod is the length of the rear grip. It could use a couple of inches addition in length. I use two hands when casting - both for short or long rods. I need to have an extra length in the butt section for leverage. If you rarely cast with two hands, this rod is a winner.I haven't caught anything big with the rod --- only a couple of Barramundis in the 1.5kg range so I can't really tell if this can handle a run from a powerful fish.

Lemax Platinum PL80 MHC2
8' 2pcs, Medium Power Fast Taper 10-25lbs, 50grams max lure

This rod's blank is really nice. Very sensitive and can cast really far. It's good for poppers, skip bunnies, and large spoons. I caught a couple of 2kg Jacks using this rod. The only regret that I have for this rod is its weight --- it's butt is so heavy. It's really hard to balance it with a decent reel. We thought that the grip were causing the excessive weight because it's made of a rubber compound with some cork bits. But when Bong opened the grip to replace it with a nice cork grip, he found out that the butt section was not made of graphite. It was made from metal. It was joined together with the blank making up for the length. Too bad, you cannot fix that kind of problem with a nice cork grip and reel seat. So, I sold it. It's just too darn heavy. If your game is baiting and waiting, this rod should do fine. For casting, that's a different story.

Tica TC4 6’ Medium

The blank felt really nice but the grip and reel seat was crappy. The reel seat was literally falling apart. So I sold it after a few months of use. It’s a good thing I did because I heard from others that theirs broke for no apparent reason.

Abu Garcia Conolon 6’6”
10-20lb 2pc

It’s top-heavy and has crappy reel seat and a very short grip. You will have a hard time balancing this rod with a decent reel. And, its reputation of breaking hounds it wherever you go.

Berkley Lightning Rod 7’ H
7’ 2pc 12-25lbs rod

I really liked this rod. It casted good and felt good and it was really sensitive for a heavy casting rod. I liked it until the upper section  broke in half while I was retrieving a 3/4 oz spoon. Purefishing Malaysia sent me a replacement rod --- an Abu Conolon with no extra cost. At least I got a replacement, even though the replacement rod was not really what I want.