Monday, March 26, 2012

Eging (Squid Fishing) in Subic

Together with my wife, kids, and our dog, we visited my father-in-law in Subic last weekend. My other agenda was also to do some eging. My goal was to visit my father in law, drop off my kids and wife, have lunch and be in the fishing spot by 1pm until 3pm -- the perfect time for eging according to the tide table.

We left Manila at around 8am, reached Subic and 10:30 and then did our visit. But then, I was requested to do some other errands, like buying a beach chair --- I was using my trusted pickup truck where the chair will fit. Anyway, after so much running around Subic, I finally was able to reach the spot at around 1:30. Not too bad. But then, the wind was howling and I have been getting a lot of wind knots on my spinning reel. After a lot of clipping line (I had to reduce the amount of braid to prevent back lashes), I was able to get some eging action.

First lure, a size 2.5 blue Yozuri lure, which was my favorite. Four or five casts later, I snagged an abandoned fishing net. Poachers! After tugging the lure to unfree it, the jags pulled from the body of the lure. It can still be salvaged, a thick coat of epoxy should fix it. I tied on a Yamashita in Pink. Size 3.0. The sink rate was about 3sec/meter which was ok. After about half a dozen casts, I got a take. It's a good sized squid, probably 250gms. I had no net at that time and when I lifted the squid, the lure pulled free and the squid fell on a rock near the water. It gave a big push by squirting water and ink and it managed to land on the water and escape.

Anyway, at least I know that pink was the color they like. Tried a few more casts and a got solid take while the jig was almost near the surface. It was a strong pull and I knew it was a bigger squid. I can hear my reel's drag clicking. By the way, when eging, you need to set the drag low so when you get a strike, and make a hook set, the jig will not rip the tentacles out from the squid. Unknown to me, there were three small kids watching me as I was eging. When I lifted the squid from the water, it made a really strong squirt of water and ink into the sky that it literally rained with blank ink. The kids ran screaming while trying to avoid getting inked. It was hilarious.

I went on with casting until 3pm and lost the pink Yamashita jig due to a snag. I also lost a JDM jig due to a snag. I plan on getting cheaper jigs so that I when I lose them, it wouldn't be too expensive.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Upgrading a Daiwa Zillion PA/PLA Crazy Cranker

I got a really good deal on a Daiwa Zillion PA/PLA Crazy Cranker from eBay. I really wanted this reel since two years ago but wasn't able to afford one. Luckily, bidding was not that aggressive so the price was kept low.

Like all Daiwa Zillions, the Daiwa Zillion PA/PLA Crazy Cranker need to have the basic upgrade to super-tune it. Among these upgrades are Carbontex Drag upgrade, worm gear bearing, and a JDM swept handle so that you can put 4 ball bearings on them. The US version has riveted paddles. This means that there is no way to remove the paddles to replace the bushings. But because the replacement handle is too expensive ($100+), it will take some time before I get to purchase one. By the way, if you will use the reel in saltwater most of the time, it is actually better to have a bushing in the paddles. If you want bearings, you need to have the ones with extra protection from salt (CRBB bearing). Those bearings are not cheap. Each will cost you Php600 each. That's Php 600 x 4pcs = 2400 or $50. For the meantime, a carbontex upgrade and worm gear bearing would do.

The Daiwa Zillion PA/PLA Crazy Cranker is the most powerful Zillion because of its gears. It has a 4.9:1 gear ratio that is built for deep diving crankbaits and heavy bottom baits/lures. I decided to get the Crazy Cranker for heavy plastic swimbaits, big spoons, madai, and tenya jigs in Saltwater. Because all Zillions are equipped with corrosion resistant bearings, using them in salt is not a problem.
The Daiwa Zillion PA/PLA Crazy Cranker Gear Set. From the size of the teeth, you will know that this reel is all about power.
Due to the slow gearing, it's a bit painful to use on top water fishing such as frog fishing and WTD lures. The solution is to get a 6.3:1 gear set and pop it in when you need it --- It's like having two reels for a price of one. For this article, I will be upgrading the gears to 6.3 and the drag washers to Carbontex. The worm gear bearing that I currently have is "geary" (not smooth) so I decided to skip this for the meantime. By the way, it's 5x8x2.5 in size in case you would like to know.

I got the JDM Zillion HLA 6.3 gear set from Plat is my favorite online parts seller for Japanese reels. They have excellent customer service and they will go the extra mile to get what you need. I highly recommend this store.

Parts from Plat. Excuse the discoloration in the gears. I have been using this gear for a few weeks before I took the pictures.

I also got Carbontex Washers from Actually, this was for my TDA 4000 Spinning reel. The size was pretty close so I decided to try it for the meantime.

To get started, remove the side plates, the retainer screw, the handle nut, the handle, the drag star, the clicker assembly and the tension springs.

Then remove the three screws holding the handle-side sideplate. After doing so, pull out the big bearing near the shaft and then remove the side plate.

Next, remove the old 4.9 gear and drag assembly and the Yoke and Yoke springs. The pinion should come out together with it. Here is what I will be replacing. The felt drag washer and the powerful 4.9 gearing.

Pop in the 6.3 Gears, the carbontex washers, and then reinstall the yoke and yoke springs with the 6.3 Pinion. Once done, oil and grease the parts and then install them back on and you are done.

Now, what can I say about the Daiwa Zillion PA/PLA Crazy Cranker? Simply, amazing! It's smooth, very powerful, and it's an excellent caster. The Magforce Z brake is fantastic and I can cast against the wind without problems. The internals are top notch. The only plastic part inside is the yoke and it appears that there are no cast aluminum parts inside it, almost all are either brass or stainless steel. It's saltwater safe. So far, after a month of use, no corrosion issues.

When I am going fishing for mangrove jacks or threadfin salmon using topwater, I pop in the 6.3 gears. When I need to go bottom fishing using madai or inchiku or even big spoons, I install the 4.9 gears. No need to buy two identical reels with different gears.

I was asked earlier why I chose 6.3:1 instead of 7.3:1 gears. The 6.3:1 is a general purpose gear. Not too fast, not too slow, and most specially with enough torque. I believe that whenever you increase the gear speed, the torque of the reel goes down. I have tried the 7.1 gears from Curado and from other Daiwa reels and the torque was not for me.

Next upgrade is a Worm Gear bearing and hopefully a 4-bearing handle.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Accurate Boss XTreme BX-400N + Crony Prodigy: BC Rod and Reel on Steroids

This year, I decided to get myself a "light" rod and reel for blue water. I wanted to take the opportunity this April -- Holy Week in Marinduque - a small sleepy island south of Manila - to fish off shore and hopefully try to catch some heavy weights.

First consideration is that the reel should be able to hold at least 300yds of 50lb braid. The drag should be around 8-10kgs. It should be really sturdy and can withstand hard punishment. It shouldn't be too expensive and last, but not the least, it should be lefty. There are too little options to choose from really. The brands and models that offer left hand retrieve are Daiwa Saltiga Z, Jigging Master, and Shimano Ocea Jigger, but they are too expensive for me. There are mid level reels like Trinidad, Torsa, Saltist which is good and affordable but aside from not having left hand retrieve, Asian-made reels have bad reviews from different sites. There is Avet SX and MXJ but they also have bad reviews - the drag design design destroys bearings when on high drags. I considered spinning reels like Saltist 4500 or 5000, Saragosa, Soron STX, Stradic, and Sustain but after much thought, big spinning reels just doesn't appeal to me.

Then I saw this ad from a local forum. I did a week's worth of research and decided that this is it. An Accurate Boss XTreme BX-400N Lefty. 40lbs/400yds of braid, an estimated 15kgs of drag and higher  (according to write ups). The drag is so smooth, it felt unreal. According to the Accurate website, their drag design is patented and cannot be seen from other reels. It has twin platinum drag plates and twin oversized carbontex-like drag washers. The reel was machined from solid aluminum --- not cast aluminum, and it's made in the USA. It's actually cheaper than the top of the line brands and it comes with 400yds of 40lb braid free.

It's as small as an Abu Garcia 5501C3 reel but the Accurate Boss XTreme BX-400N is almost thrice as tough and powerful. It's like a Daiwa Saltist 20 on steroids. The slow crank at 4:1 is made for bottom fishing and jigging. According to reviews, Accurate Boss XTreme BX-400N outclasses the Daiwa Saltiga 20. Another good thing about BX-400N is that I can buy a 6:1 gear set from for less than $50. If I needed a faster retrieve, I can just install the gear set and I am good to go. It's like having a 2-speed reel when needed.

The rod I got for it is Crony Prodigy 601MH, 20-50lbs and 60-180gms of lure. All Fuji components. 6 ft, butt jointed and boy, it was sooo light. It's as light as my Shimano Clarus 6ft 8-17 baitcasting rod. According to the Chinese manufacturer, the blank is made by Toray. I heard that it's the same blank manufacturer for high-end JDM rods. At first glance, it looks like ordinary blank but if you look at the blank on an angle with sunlight, it looks like it's marbled -- like there is an additional layer of carbon material. I tested it on a 4lb dumb bell and it picked it up like it was nothing. I know it can lift even heavier loads. It's true that I absolutely know very little about jigging rods and I hope this is a good buy. Anyway, I got it with a 20% discount from Fishing Buddy and with it's price, it's really hard to resist it.

The combo is absolutely perfect. It's like they were made for each other.

Next stop, testing it on a real fishing situation in April. I got some heavy madai jigs and knife/butterfly jigs. I just hope that I get lucky.