Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tict Upsetter S772M in action

Here is a short video of the great little Tict Upsetter S772M muscling in a nice atlantic wrasse over some rough ground.

Please watch in HD.

I will be doing an "in depth" review of this rod later on, but this is a nice short peak at the action of the rod.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ito Craft Emishi 50S - lure review

Continuing the series started with my last post, here is the 4th place in my "top 5 trout lures".

As the title suggests, it is the awesome Ito Craft Emishi 50S.
Ito Craft is one of those small Japanese manufacturers that just blows you away with the quality of their products. Whether we're talking about minnows, spoons, rods, nets or custom reel parts, everything is just top notch.
Even though the "modern day" Emishi is no longer made from balsa wood, but from plastic, it still fishes extremely well and catches tons of fish in the process!

Length  -  50mm
Weight  -  3,8 g
Type     -   Sinking
One thing that sets this lure apart from the others in my list is the "hand made" feeling to it.
The painting/foiling technique is the same as the one most accomplished Japanese lure makers use for their hand made wood minnows.
The paint patterns are simple but extremely well and cleanly executed. Quite a few colors to chose from which is also a plus.
The finish holds very well to repeated impact with the rocks and to the sharp hooks scratching against the body of the lure while playing a fish.
The treble hooks are extremely sharp and hold on to the fish very well  (don't know exactly who makes these hooks, al I know is that they are custom made for Ito Craft).
I know that some people had issues with the lip of these lures breaking, but I had no problem with that, and believe me, I have put these lures through some horrible stuff!


This is one easy to work lure!
The Ito Craft Emishi flashes, darts and twitches like mad regardless if you are fishing it in a fast stream or a lake (or even saltwater for that matter).
You can totally see and feel that this lure has been refined over the time during hours and hours of  testing.
Once you stop the retrieve, the lure begins to flutter on the fall, which is also a great thing when the fish are curious but less aggressive, encouraging them to bite the lure after the stop.
It casts like a bullet thanks to its heavy weight and compact body and gets quite fast to the desired depth fluttering on its way down.
But, just like the IMA Issen 45S, the down side for this lure is that it is really aggressive and flashy, and this won't work in any kind of condition. Most smaller fish get really cautious around it and it's quite rare to actually catch something small on it (not necessarily a bad thing most of the times).
Doesn't seem to work really well on high pressure waters where the fish are used to seeing lures and fishermen except when the water is still cold and the bigger fish are actively feeding.


Again, this is not an easy lure to get your hands on.
Stocks usually are quite low even in the shops that sell them on a regular basis, and the price is not necessarily small either.
There are some Japanese shops that sell them at a very decent price, but when you add the shipping cost and taxes, it's no longer as decent as it seems.
Otherwise the price for one of these lures on the European market is anywhere between 25 and 30 euros (Ouch!).

Bottom line

As I said, the Ito Craft Emishi 50S is one of the best trout lures out there. Not the most versatile, or the most easy to get (even if you are prepared to pay the premium price), but one of the best none the less.
With its great design and finish, with its excellent quality and mouth watering looks, this is a lure that no trout fanatic should leave out of their boxes!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

IMA Issen 45S - lure review

With the start of the trout season slowly creeping up on us, I decided to make a list of my top 5 trout lures so far.

I will dedicate one post to each lure, and will try to post them in an order that makes sense.

Now bare in mind that this is based mostly on personal choice, style of fishing, personal results and it is strictly tied to the waters I fish here in Ireland.

That being said, I do believe that the River Dodder, for example, makes up for a perfect testing ground. It has all you could hope to encounter on a "trout water" - from shallow fast running water, to deep waters with strong currents, to flat calm almost no-flow areas. And depending on the time of the day or the time of the year, you will find fish feeding in all of these places. So I do get to test lures in a pretty wide array of conditions.

But getting back to rating lures, my number 5 is the amazing IMA Issen 45s.

IMA is best known for their seriously awesome salt water lures like the Sasuke, Komomo, Salt Skimmer (and the list goes on and on), but less known for their trout lures. But I do believe this will change quite soon judging by the success people had with the Issen or with the Sukari (the other trout lure in their catalog).

The Issen 45S comes in some jaw dropping colors (we must not forget it is an IMA lure), from very natural looking to some that look like they belong in a 70's disco. But they all have something in common - they catch fish!

So let's get to it!
Length   -   45mm
Weight   -   3.7g
Type      -    Sinking


Only a quick glance, and you'll be able to realize that this is a premium Japanese lure.
Extremely well designed and executed, with lots of details and a high quality finish.
Plenty of colors to chose from - which is also a great thing. Also the lure has a really good impact resistance so the colors will stay on the lure even after multiple bounces off rocks (which will inevitably happen on a trout river).
The IMA Issen comes equipped with high quality single barbless hooks that are extremely sharp and hold on to the fish really well.
Another thing that impresses me is that the eyes for the hooks are on a swivel, which means a better hook up rate and less chances for the trout to use leverage to pull the hooks when it's jumping and shaking around.


This is a lure that will cast great thanks to the compact and heavy body. You'll be able to make long and precise casts, and this, a lot of the times, will make the difference between catching trout or not.
The flat body will dance and flash, attracting fish from a great distance even in slightly colored water (as a matter of fact this is the first lure I'll try when the rivers are swollen and the visibility is poor).
It is really easy to work this lure, even though you'll need a rod with a bit more power on the tip, especially when fishing in stronger currents.
It has great balance in the water so you'll be able to fish it across or along the stream without worrying that the lure is not working properly.
In my opinion the only downside is that this is quite an aggressive lure, and a lot of the times, especially when the water is warmer or the fish are not very active, it will spook them out. So it is not the most versatile trout lure out there. But it does what it's designed to do and does it really well!


Now we all know that premium Japanese lures are not what you would call cheap. Neither is the IMA Issen. A trout lure that is around 20 eur in Europe cannot be considered cheap. There are loads of other great lures on the market that cost quite a bit less (even Japanese ones), but in my opinion this lure is totally worth the extra money.
Another downside is that the IMA Issen is not so easily obtainable off the European market. Even shops that are focused on selling only trout gear don't seem to have it in their stocks.
But if you are willing to shop on ebay or directly from a Japanese shop, then you will be able to get this lure quite easily and at a decent price.

Bottom line

The IMA Issen is a great lure to have in your fishing arsenal.
It looks great, casts great, fishes great and catches fish! What more do you need?
It is not a cheap or easy to get lure, but it is totally worth the extra effort.

Definitely a lure I would never leave at home when in search for trout!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Smith Dragonbait Trout rod review

It's been 3 years since I've been doing all of my trout fishing with this absolutely amazing piece of equipment that is the Smith Dragonbait Trout 6' rod (because this is the version that I'll be reviewing in this short post).

I am not going to say that this was my first option, or that I have jumped on it as soon as I saw its jaw dropping photos in the Smith EU catalog. Especially considering the price tag. But after a couple of months of scouting the internet, weighing options and making lists of pros and cons I knew I had to have it!

And I am so glad I decided to go for it!


Length: 6' ( 1.82m)
Weight: 104g
Lure weight: 2-8g
Line weight: 2-6lb
Action: Fast


There is not much to say about the design except that is absolutely fantastic.
Awesome paint job, great attention to details, custom winding checks, burl marble wood, great quality cork grip, translucent tread on the guides, everything is spot on!
It almost looks too good to go and fish with it... Almost. 


As soon as you pick this rod up and have a waggle with it you can tell that the blank was specifically designed for twitching and jerking minnows. The tip on this rod is absolutely perfect for that! 
Fast, with just enough power to efficiently make a heavier minnow twitch, dart and flash in strong currents, but soft enough to pick up the slack line in between jerking motions or softly animate a lighter and more subtle lure.
The middle section of the blank has plenty of elasticity to temper and tame the most hard fighting trout, while the butt section of the blank is just raw power. This rod punches way above its weight when it comes to fighting big fish.
Being a fast blank with a quick transition from the lively tip to the powerful middle section, casting with it takes a bit of time to get used to. It will punish every hesitation, every wrong or clumsy move. But once you get used to it and learn to cast with confidence, it has pinpoint accuracy!

The reel seat is a metallic custom one, with a fossil wood insert. Locks down pretty well from the beginning especially on the Shimano reels. On my Daiwa reel it took about 2 or 3 months of use until it loosened up enough to have the locking nut come all the way down and not leave a small gap in between it and the wood part of the reel seat (I am picky, I know).

The grip is made of AAA grade cork and gives a great grip on the rod (which is essential when you are twitching and jerking while having wet hands most of the time).

The rear grip is not made out of cork as one would expect but of burl marble wood, that first of all makes the whole thing look even more ridiculously good, and also helps to better balance your rod and reel combo since it's heavier and keeps the center of mass low on the rod.

The guides on the rod are probably the only thing that I am not 100% at peace with. At this price point I would have expected Fuji guides. Even so, they have SIC inserts, they're really light and work perfectly well. So my demands are more about the tag rather than the actual performance.
After all I had absolutely no issues with them so far.

I have used this rod with everything from small plastic lures and light jigheads up to 10g+ spoons and metal jigs and it performed flawlessly, but I have to say that the best way to fish it is with 4-6cm minnow jerks like Smith D-contact, DUO Spearhead Ryuki, Illex Timon Tricoroll, Zipbaits Rigge and so on. It is incredibly easy to make these lures come to life, and control them even in strong currents while still having enough power to properly set the hook when the bite comes.


This is a fast, light, well balanced, sensitive and incredibly responsive rod.
It will help you cast anything from a light weighted soft plastic up to a heavy sinking minnow without sacrificing distance, accuracy or control.
It will leave you the pleasure of fighting even a tiny fish but also give you piece of mind when a big fish is at the end of the line.

It is not remotely cheap but you will get exactly what you paid for, and then some.
Yes, the guides could have been Fuji, but that is something I totally forget about once I pick this rod up and start fishing with it!

Am I happy with my choice? Well, let's put it this way: if one day I would break it, I would probably order the exact same rod the next day!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Light Shore Jigging for Pollock

Shore jigging isn't the first method that comes to mind when thinking about pollock fishing. But it gained more and more attention over the last few years, and for good reasons!

For me, it seems to be one of the most productive methods of fishing when targeting this species.

Last week, since it was a Bank Holiday weekend, we took a trip to Connemara.

The weather was pretty poor - lots of rain and very strong wind. That meant I couldn't harass the wrasse, so I focused on trying to find the pollock.

Fortunately, they were around and willing to play!

The video I made comes to show you that when you thought you knew a bit about fishing, it goes out of its way to prove you wrong.

In this case, the best session I had was the one I expected the least! Low tide, mid day, strong Easterly wind, plenty of light and a drastic drop in the temperature. Not the best conditions for pollock by a long shot.
I didn't even bothered bringing my camera or my GoPro with me! I only had my trusty waterproof/shockproof little Nikon camera to save the day.

But what came next just gave me a well deserved slap.

Over 40 fish in 3 hours, ranging from one kilogram up to over three kilograms. No monsters by any means, but still good fun on the lighter tackle.

Using metal jigs seemed to be the best way to fish in the strong wind, and the fish agreed with me. The stars of the day were the APIA - Seiryu Jig, the Xesta - After Burner and  Nitro jigs. 
I also had a few good fish on the Yo-Zuri Crystal Vibe and River2sea Glassie Vibe slowly retrieved  along the drop-off.

Hope you will enjoy watching the video at least half as much as I enjoyed making it. 

Here it is!
(Please watch it in HD)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Wrassing in Connemara

Last year in August my parents came to Ireland to visit us, and since they are both mad about fishing as well, we decided to take a trip to one of the best parts of this country - Connemara. This way we would be able to do both, see some of the most beautiful places Ireland has to offer, and get to fish some of the most awesome looking shorelines.

Knowing that for some strange reason Connemara appears to hold no bass, the main focus was on Wrasse and Pollock. I already had a great weekend fishing in the area two months earlier, so I had an idea about techniques, lures and hotspots.

As soon as we arrived, we dropped our luggage, grabbed our tackle and  headed straight for the coastline. My dad and I started trekking alongside the rocky shore searching for a "fishy" looking gully.We found a stretch that was looking promising, and almost immediately we started having a few shy bites that only ruined our softplastics.

But as soon as the tide started pushing in, the wrasse came closer to the shore, and started furiously hitting the lures. And I do mean furiously.

I am pretty sure that these fish have never seen a soft plastic lure before, and the angler pressure on the area is practically 0, which explains the frantic and relentless bites that we got in the few hours we were fishing there. Usually if we missed a bite, we would get another one, and another one, until you either hooked a fish or the lure became useless.

Wrasse fishing Ireland Connemara
My dad with his first ever saltwater fish on a lure

Also these fish were fighting like crazy! A serious amount of effort and drag power went into stopping them and lifting them off the bottom. So much so, that no matter what hook we used (mostly Gamakatsu and VMC heavy wire) after 4 or 5 fish we needed to change them as they were getting bent beyond use.

I also avoided using my usual wrasse setup, as the 21g rated rod seemed a bit to light and fragile to wrestle these little beasts out of their underwater fortresses, so I went with a rod rated up to roughly 35g that I normally use for casting bigger lures for bass and pollock.

We ended the day with probably around 50 fish between the two of us and a big smile on our faces.

Wrasse fishing Ireland Connemara

Next morning we went out targeting pollock this time. I knew an area that was extremely productive last time, and as we soon found out it was still producing good numbers of decent size fish. 

It is a bit different from what you would normally call "pollock fishing" as we were using hardbaits designed for bass, in shallow, rocky areas that had a bit of flow, as the tide entered a small bay. So it was practically bass fishing for pollock.

Wrasse fishing Ireland Connemara
A serious bend in the Hearty Rise Sealite 7072 L

The rest of the day we all fished for wrasse in spite of the harsh wind and lashing rain. And how could we not be, when they were so keen on biting our lures as soon as they laid eyes upon them.  All four of us were catching fish on almost every cast.

The last day, I was the only one to go out fishing in the morning because of the approaching storm. When I got to the fishing spot, the waves were crashing furiously against the rocks, and flooding the lower areas that we fished the day before. But I found a small bay that had a huge rock sticking out of the water right at the entrance so the waves were breaking against it before entering the area I was going to fish.

The angry ocean gave me 6 fish in 10 casts, all on a Megabass Vision 110 SW. I also managed to improve my personal record for pollock with a fish that went above the 9lb mark.
Sadly, because of the bad weather, I didn't get the chance to take any decent photos, since I wasn't going to take my good camera out in the pouring rain. I also tried to release it as soon as I could because the fight took long enough even on the powerful setup (Major Craft Crostage 902M rod and Daiwa Certate 3000 reel with 22lb YGK X8 Upgrade PE line). After I watched the fish swim away strongly, I packed in a hurry and headed back with the storm rapidly catching up on me.

It was a really good weekend, with both - good and bad weather, with lots of fish, lots of new places discovered and an even bigger obsession with saltwater lure fishing!

It's only January but I am already planning the next trip up there.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

On the perch again

As cold weather settled in and the weeds in the canal dropped to the bottom, a new perch season started.

And oh, how it started. Amazing days on the canal, hitting perch after perch on small softbaits rigged on a jighead or drop-shot. 
I am not saying that I got tons of huge fish everyday and everywhere, I really had to work for it. But the rewards were there, and they made the cold, the rain and the wind much more bearable.

One particular day has stuck with me though, ever since.

It was one of those mornings, after just 3 hours of sleep, that I grabbed my tackle in a hurry and sprinted for the fishing spot, only to find out when I got there that I picked up the wrong reel!
As if fishing wasn't hard enough as it was!

Started telling myself, as I was rigging my set-up, that maybe it's a good thing.
That maybe it will force me to pay more attention to my fishing and make me think outside the box for a change.

Easier said than done, though. Fishing with a finesse UL rod paired with a 2500 size reel, 20lb braid and a 2g jighead was nothing short of a burden. Luckily enough, there was little to no wind that day.

Tied a longer monofilament leader than usual to help the lure travel more freely to the bottom and started "casting".
Even though the YGK 20lb braid is very thin for its strength, it's not the 3lb one that I am used to.
Lost all the casting distance, precision and control over the lure. But it made me pay a lot more attention to the line and what it visually told me about what happens to the lure underwater (a very important thing when fishing with jigheads is to never take your eyes off the line - it will tell you more about bites,  lure movement, and underwater structures than your rod, regardless of how sensitive it is, ever will).

After half an hour of messing around with different leader lengths, jig head weights and lure types, I finally came to a satisfying result and found the fish soon after.

Only a couple of small ones at first, but very welcome nonetheless, given the conditions.
Soon enough the bigger perch started to appear, and after 10 good ones, I got hit by something I thought to be a pike at first, only to feel the trademark headshakes a few moments after, a sign that I was into a nice perch.
Turned out to be the best this year so far at 45cm, and, boy was I happy! Snapped a few photos fast and released the beast back into the water. 

The 2500 size reel looks like it's going to squish the poor striped creature

The rest of the day went pretty decent, ending with a big pike taking my 2 inch softbait and giving me a few seconds of joy on the light rod before she bit trough the leader and took off with my lure (I only fish with barbless hooks, so I am pretty sure she lost the hook pretty fast).

In the end, I lost count of the fish that I caught, but I'm pretty sure it was close to 50.
Not bad considering the fact that I was using half of my bass gear to catch them...

After almost a year of using it, I still can't believe how good this rod actually is. Check details Here

The season it's only mid-way trough, so I hope that the 45cm mark won't stand for too long as "best of the year". Even if it means that next time I'll have to bring a 3000 size reel and 25lb braid.

I hope it won't come to this though...