ROMANA

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!



DESCRIPTION

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


DESIGN

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. 


CONSTRUCTION & PERFORMANCE

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.



CONCLUSIONS

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.