Thursday, January 29, 2015

Edge First Strike EFX 714-1 Casting Rod

My first G Loomis was an NRX 893c. I had high expectations from this rod but after trying it in actual fishing, I was a bit conflicted on whether it's performance justifies it price. I was really unsure if it was better than my other rods or not. Perhaps it is too long  (7'5"), or the blank is not really too sensitive, or maybe its Tackletour review may not be applicable to all. I honestly am not sure.

When I heard that that Gary Loomis is back to build a new breed of rods after selling G.Loomis to Shimano,  I imagined his new creations may be at par or possibly even better that his old One of the rods he released is called Edge First Strike EFX.  According to initial reviews, it looks different but has that Loomis feel and quality. When given a chance, I said to myself I'd try one of these Edge rods for frogging, saltwater fishing, and maybe for bottom contact fishing for bass.

Just recently, I was able to acquire an Edge First Strike EFX 714-1. It's a 7'1" 12-25lb, Fast Action rod rated for 1/2-1.5oz lures.

When I first held it, it did not felt like an NRX or a GLX. It actually felt like one of those JDM Regular Fast rods with serious backbone. Nonetheless, it felt suitable for top water fishing. It might do well for casting those frogs and other top-water lures (spooks, poppa dogs).

On its first outing, I used a Boze Sumo frog. When a nice snakehead lunged at the frog and dove for cover, the rod managed to wrestle it out of the weeds and I was able to lift it out of the water, weeds and all, without fearing that it will snap. Now that's awesome power. I also tried other lures and it actually felt nice for jerkbaits and spinnerbaits. Casting was smooth and it really lobbed those lures with confidence. It doesn't feel strained and it sure felt that it can handle more.

The rod grip is made of graphite and it takes a while to get used to. Although the handle is well made and fits really nice, It feels a little slick when it gets wet.

For t-rigs, it may be a stretch, but I need to try it when I go bass fishing - perhaps next week.

If it is lacking in the sensitivity department especially during bottom contact fishing, which I will find out on my next bass fishing trip, I might replace the guides with Fuji Titanium-framed Sic guides and top. The blank is nice but the guides may be frowned upon especially here in Asia where Fuji SIC is the preferred hardware by casting enthusiasts. The idea of replacing the guides with TiSic might sound crazy because those guides are really expensive. Luckily, I got a great deal when I purchased the rod and after upgrading the rod with TiSic, this will still end up cheaper than its online price.

Feb 9, 2015: UPDATE - I went on a bass fishing trip over the weekend (Largemouth Bass and Peacock bass). I tried the rod for T-rigs and C-rigs and it was disappointing. It lacks sensitivity for bottom contact fishing as I cannot feel anything. I tried different sinkers and still it was a dud. I also tried 2 different reels -- a Daiwa Sol and a TDZ IZE Custom Color 103HL with carbon handle but I felt that the sensitivity was not there. Maybe I am asking too much out of the rod.

I also tried the rod on Peacock bass and I managed to hook a couple of 1kgs. I casted jerkbaits, spinners, and a 5gram jig head with a Eco Gear Grass Minnow. Peacocks loved the Grass minnow and and a Bassday Jerkbait. I was able get a couple to commit. The rod performed flawlessly during the cast, retrieve, and fight.

All in all, it is a decent topwater (frogs, spooks, mirrolures), spinnerbait, crankbait, and a jerkbait rod. Will I replace the guides with TiSic? I still might replace them to find out if it will enhance its sensitivity and/or balance.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Studying finesse jigheads and softplastics at the School of Fish

Finesse style soft plastics has always intrigued me. Whenever there's a chance, I always check out Youtube videos from Australia about tiny soft plastics on jigheads. They use  tiny jigheads with 1-2-inch soft plastics to catch bream and flatheads. After getting myself a light tackle combo, I promised myself that I will try this on local bakoko and flatties. 

A  months ago, I collected a few jigheads. Some are pasalubong from friends and a few from local stores. They were Java sticks, Charley Brewer's slider, 1.5inch Powerbaits and other soft tails that I think were suited for the application. I didn't want to go overboard and start spending a lot on these plastics unless I have tested them. Anyhow, I got the gear and collected a few baits and the only thing remaining is to try them in our local waters. I know that juvenile groupers love them but I was hoping to try them on bakoko, flatties, buwan-buwan, and other fresh and brackish fishes.

I initially wanted to try this in Pampanga Delta but the area was ruined after the recent typhoons. The river delta has been heavily silted and the area is now so shallow and layered with thick mud. And if that wasn't bad enough, I broke one of my light rods before I could use it,

I got a replacement rod recently and to resume my plans, I headed to Irving's school of fish to learn to work these finesse jigheads and tiny plastics. On the first drop using a 3-gram jig and a 1.5 powerbait, one of the red tilapias gave first blood. Not bad. A tilapia was fooled by hopping the jig at the bottom.

I threw a Java stick and had a solid hookup. It ran for a few meters but the hook came off. My guess it that a dalag fancied the bait. I casted again on the same spot and got another hookup. I was right, it as a dalag.
I had a few more strikes but none connected. i figured they were small barras or tilapias that kept pulling the plastic from the hook. I switched to a green swimbait and used a heavier jig, casted in the middle and felt like my lure snagged after a few retrieves. I was trying to free the snag when something suddenly pulled drag. I thought it was a bigger barra. It turned out that it was a big mama tilapia. Almost a kilo.  I thought to myself that this finesse jig/plastic is turning out effective in SOF.

Just before 1pm, I got another solid hookup. It was a barra. I think it was more or less a kilo in weight. Just before I can land it, the hook unbuttoned. Casted again on the same spot got another barra. It's a bit smaller but fun on light tackle nonetheless.

After this  fun outing, I decided to look for more plastics to add in my arsenal. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My New Favorite Fishing Style - Light Tackle Fishing

A few weeks back, I decided to acquire a light tackle setup to expand my target species. As you all know, fishing recently has been very tough in the Philippines -- weather, overfishing, too many competition with too little spots. There are a lot of barra, haruan, bass, threadfin, toman, and what have you and the problem is, local anglers competing for the same thing on the same spot.

I think this was caused by increased popularity of fishing through the Internet. As more and more people are taking on the hobby, coupled with the fact that our local waters are continually being neglected, the competition has become really tough for a declining number of usual targets.

The first time I noticed light tackle fishing was through the exploits of Joseph Gueco and company. Their style was an adaptation from Japanese finesse fishing techniques that is slowly getting noticed in the Philippines. Our avid Japanese angler-mentor Naks Nakamura is partly responsible for this increasing popularity of the style.

Finesse fishing or light rock fishing, AJI, or Mebaru style in saltwater, are some of the names that are associated with this technique. The principle is very simple, everything gets miniaturized. The line, rod, reel, and most specially the lures are shrinked. PE 0.6 max line (that's around 6lbs braid that is thinner than a human hair), 0,5-7gm lure max, shallow spools that holds 200m of that thin stuff.

Contrary to my old belief (and I honestly think that majority of local anglers are thinking the same), light tackle does not necessarily mean small fish. The range is wide. from the smallest juvenile grouper up to an almost 3kg Queenfish or Jack Crevalle. This flimsy rod and almost invisible line can take it. To be honest, I was worried at first. I had this feeling that I will lose the fish, beit small, because the line will break, the rod will snap and whathaveyou.  But this belief was blown to bits from what I recently observed. Light tackle can handle small fish and also big ones. And the best part is, you will feel the same excitement similar to handling a monster. It doesn't matter if it is a small juvie grouper or bagaong or even a 2kg+ queenfish. The excitement is multiplied 4 times over.

I can say for certain that this is my new favorite style of fishing. Yes, I still like dalag or toman or pargo. But light tackle is pretty awesome and because of my recent battles using this technique, I might skip my dalag or pargo sessions for a while.

My last catch for 2014. Over 2kg. It completely mangled one of the treble hooks. Only one barb was holding on. The light drag on a finesse reel made sure that it gave line before the barb gives out.

Mid-sized Queenies. I lost a lot more because of drags that were too tight. I realized also that these small ones prefer a certain brand of micro stick baits.

A couple of over-2kg Queenies. The fight was absolutely fantastic. 

When the queenfish bites are off. I swithched to small jigheads tipped with 1-inch minnows. The bites from juvie groupers were instant and exciting. I lost count of how many I landed.

Hopping a 3-gram jighead is a killer for groupers.

The only problem is you have to be alert and keep them from dragging your line under the rocks.

A medium-sized black spotted grouper that also fell for a hopped jighead.

My first fish on light tackle and from my kayak. The queen fish is almost 3kg. What a fight. I almost lost this when it dragged the kayak near the buoy.