Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

Saltwater Bait Review: Monster 3X Soft Plastics

Over the last year I've been impressed with the saltwater baits I've been using from Treasure Coast Tackle. Based in Florida, these guys sell what they use. You don't get tons of hype and it's likely why you may not have heard about them. Until today.

I've ordered several of Paul Van Rheenen's Unfair Lures baits from TCT and love the action and ability to catch fish. When Erica contacted me about checking out the Monster 3X line of soft plastics I was more than happy to oblige.

Here's what I liked and what I think can be improved upon for each of the three styles I tried.

3.75" X-Move Shrimp




The Good:


This segmented shrimp bait has a ton of tail flutter and mimics a fleeing shrimp very well. The colors it comes in are the typical coastal colors you would expect. (In silty water try the chartreuse color but in clearer water look at the natural brown or moss.) As claimed, the baits are tough. You really see this when you penetrate the hook. The X-Move isn't like some of the competitors that have a sandy gum feel to them. This is flexible yet rigid plastic.

Improvements:


The issue I had with the X-Move was actually the segments. If I used a longer shanked hook or even just a larger jig head, the penetration point was in the segments which hindered the action. This won't be a problem in the larger 4.75" version but if you are fishing the smaller shrimp you have to size down on the hook. When doing that, you may miss some short bites. After some abuse from small sound trout after a few dozen casts, the tail can become a nub. Or maybe I need to work on my hookset. These also don't work well with jig heads I already have. I really like the Rockport Rattler jighead but it won't work with this bait. A no collar jig head is best.


3.75" Ultrasoft Shrimp



The Good:


This non-segmented shrimp bait has a realistic look to it and seemed to work best under a popping cork which gave it a little more action. The colors varieties are good.  As claimed, the baits are tough. You really see this when you penetrate the hook. The Ultrasoft is an even more durable option to the X-Move without the segments and has a super soft feel to it which should allow a few more seconds of retention when eaten.I really liked fishing this on a split shot rig to let the bait fall naturally with just enough weight to get it where I wanted. Try a sharp 1/0  offset worm hook.  

Improvements:


Collared jig heads are a no go here as well. The bait needs a little more action so varying your retrieve is more important with the Ultrasoft than with the X-Move. I'd like to see a thicker body too. This is a pretty skinny bait and won't put off as much disturbance in the water as a thicker bait. Feed it some fast food and I think you have a winner. Also a note, don't mix these baits with others, they'll color blend. 



3.75" Slimshad 



The Good:


This was my favorite of the three baits to throw. The Slimshad is versatile as it can be fished in fresh or saltwater and appeals to a wide variety of fish species (and snakes but that's a different story). White bass, black bass, redfish and trout all like the Slimshad. I used the pearl color exclusively and it slayed the fish. I paired it with a belly weighted hook to make it weedless and swam it through dang near everything. They come three to a pack and I still have two that haven't been used. This is tough material and the toothy trout and angry whites haven't torn it yet. Spend the $6 and you may have enough swimbaits for a month or more! The Slimshad doesn't lean side to side and swam true right out of the package. If you really wanted to get crazy, try a couple of the 2.75" Slimshads on a tandem rig under lights at night.

Improvements:


The only real problem I had with the Slimshad is getting scent to stay on it. More specifically getting a ProCure gel to stay on it. The bait isn't very porous so my guess is the gel eventually just washes off. It's really my only knock on it. If it came super impregnated with a menhaden smell, it'd be the most deadly bait in my arsenal.


Final Thoughts


I'm looking forward to getting back down to the Texas coast during the flounder run and test these out for the flatties. It will also be a good test as to durability. I'll make sure and report back in the middle of October. If you haven't tried them yet, it's worth the $20 to try a three pack of each of these. If you'd like a little help with that price use code : TEXAS7 at checkout to get an additional discount. Thanks to TCT for allowing me to help you out with that. Whenever I can pass a savings on to you, I'll do it.



Review: YakAttack VisiCarbon Pro


Today we take a look at the VISICarbon Pro safety light from YakAttack. I've been using the VCP for a little over a year now. It's been with me on pretty much every single outing I've taken. I couldn't say that about the light it replaced.

Review: KC Kayaks K12



KC (Kajun Customs) Kayaks is a kayak company comprised of four graduates of Louisiana State University. It's no surprise that their K12 design is thought of with the saltwater and skinny water fisherman in mind. Recently I spent a few days in one, a bit out of its element in a deep freshwater lake. At the same time I tested out two new offerings from KC, the white bass boat style seat and the metal support frame that goes with it.

The Good


This is a skinny water kayak. As soon as I pushed off from the ramp I could feel the glide. I wanted to try to turn and with one paddle stroke the kayak spun about 135 degrees. It was impressive. Paddling was an easy task as well. At 12 feet, the K12 tracks pretty well. It has minimal nose walk. Sitting up high in the upgraded seat you will want a longer paddle (probably 260 for most folks) and it will also help when standing and paddling.

Speaking of standing, the KC is pretty darn stable. At 34" wide with a lot of surface area on the hull, the K12 is one of the easier kayaks to stand in that I've tested. Having a higher seat makes that task even easier.

The other place where the K12 will shine is with fly fishermen. The deck layout is very clean and free of clutter. The additional non slip foam in the floor also helps you keep that stance while whipping a fly.


The Needs Improvement


It's no secret that I like under deck storage and this kayak has almost none. One hatch toward the bow gives you some access but not enough to store camping gear below deck. It does have large tank wells above deck where you could lash things down. A curious thing about that, though there are eyelets mounted throughout the kayak, there is no bungee included.

While the K12 is stable, it is also tall. Tall in the water and the ease with which it glides also causes it to be windblown. You will want an anchor trolley (if not two) if you plan to hold your position in any kind of wind.

Probably the most frustrating thing on the K12 was the included tracks. The seat is anchored to these tracks. Unfortunately the upgrade seat that mounts to the metal frame and then slides into the included track doesn't fit. The frame uses t-bolts and they wouldn't fit in the included track. I also tried my RAM rod holders which use t-blots and then my small screw ball mounts. None of them fit. The track was too small. I had to use some southern ingenuity to get the seat to mount and it didn't feel as stable as it should. If you are going to offer track, it has to work for multiple items.

Final Thoughts


For the fly fisherman, the flats stalkers and the river runners, this is a pretty good kayak for you. If you are going to be on lakes, you'll want to look into the trolling motor mount or go a different direction. Stability is pretty good so if you want to stand and fish, this could be a great option for you. It's not versatile enough for my uses but has a definite market out there. 

Review: Unfair Lures Rip-N-Slash





Florida is no stranger to Paul van Reenen's Unfair Lures but folks around the country are starting to discover these baits. Paul's Rip N Slash is perhaps his most popular. Demand is greater than supply so I had to wait almost a month for a new production to come off of the line. That might have been lucky. It could have been longer.

Last week I was able to put the lures to the test in some less than ideal conditions (wind, muddy water and a temperature drop) on the Texas Coastal Bend. Here is the verdict.

The Good


The Rip N Slash comes in several colors to meet the conditions. I chose a black and gold, chartreuse pearl and black backed color schemes to try to give as wide of an array as possible without having to buy each color. At around $8 each, the bait is priced right with other slash baits on the market and has better finish out detailing. The red frilled gills and large eye stands out on these baits. Add in the rattles inside and you can definitely get their attention. The Suspending Rip N Slash pulls through grass like a champ and didn't hug the shell bottoms like some other baits. Even in three feet of water it suspended like it is supposed to. I could cover a lot of water very quickly with the bait and the flash was pretty good even in the stained water.

Needs Improvement


The supply for this bait needs to be ramped up. Demand is growing as people across the country are finding the bait and what it can do for them. The Rip N Slash is currently made overseas. I would love to see production moved back to the United States. Currently it is available in the 70 model. A 90 is in the works (90mm) which will be nice for some variety for when conditions call for something else. Expansion into Texas would be nice as well. Tackle Town in Rockport would be a good start.

Final Thoughts


If you are fishing along the Gulf Coast this summer, the Unfair Lures Rip N Slash is an additional bait that will put fish in the boat. If you'd like to check them out or order some see the folks at Treasure Coast Tackle. Online orders (when the bait is in stock) are processed very quickly and ship out without delays. Their site also tells you when something is unavailable so you don't waste your time. If you'd like to save a little money, Treasure Coast Tackle gave me a code you can use as well. Enter TEXAS7 at checkout. 

Review: BPS Ascend FS12T



Bass Pro Shops has been selling kayaks for several years but took a new step this year which could change expectations. Previously only kayaks in the $1,000 range had a frame seat (think lawnchair style). That all changed earlier this year with the introduction of the redesigned Ascend FS12T. Here are my thoughts:


The Good:


The seat is definitely comfortable. This is such a vast improvement over the previous strap in seat that I had to mention it first. Stability is pretty good as well. I stood up without an assist strap and was able to rock back and forth.

The kayak paddles pretty well. Even in chop it avoids nose walking too much. The width is enough to provide stability but not too much to make it a barge in the water. This is not a kayak for the ocean but should perform well in small to medium sized lakes, rivers and coastal bays.

Possibly the best feature in the Ascend FS12T is the price. At the everyday list price of $549, this is possibly the best entry level kayak available under $600.


The old Ascend model.



Needs Improvement:


The first thing I would change is the deck layout. There are a couple of recessed areas that don't have scuppers or an ability to drain. I would also stop mounting the rod holder on the right rail. Pre-installed rod holders are rarely where the purchaser wants them, especially the non-flush mounted kind. This one is no different. It's right in the middle of the paddle stroke.

If you are using the seat in a forward position and weigh over about 150 pounds, putting pressure on the foot pegs can move the seat back into the furthest position. This isn't ideal for shorter adult paddlers but works fine for folks at or above six feet tall.

The finish out could use a little work as well. Some padding to reinforce the seat under the deck and a little less sloppy on the sealant around hatches would go a long way.

Final Thoughts:


All in all, the new Ascend FS12T is a great option for an entry level kayak. The frame seat at the sub $600 price point is breaking the ceiling of options for entry levels. This is definitely worth a test paddle.

From Dean Brown at Bass Pro Shops:

If you do have issues BPS has an Ascend Hotline for anyone with part issues.
417-873-5034
Just give them a call and they can help with replacement parts for Ascend Kayaks.
Ascend kayaks are made by Tracker Boats, right here in the USA.



A potential fix for the home DIYer to fix the seat issues can be found here:

http://vod.com.ng/en/video/6eDWWj96lqM/Ascend-FS12T-Kayak-Seat-Fix

Review: Hobie Quest 13





When most folks think of Hobie they think of the Mirage Drive. Did you know they also make kayaks you paddle? The Hobie Quest 13 is one of those in the Hobie paddle fleet and the kayak I'm breaking down today.

The Quest 13 is, as the name eludes, a 13 foot long kayak. At 28.5" wide it looks very similar to the Hobie Mirage Revolution 13, sans the Mirage. I've paddled the Quest 13 more than a dozen times in many different situations and it is definitely what I would consider a sleeper. You hear very little about it. Here is the breakdown:




The Good


The name Hobie has become synonymous with high end kayaks. The Quest 13 is no different in the quality but flips the script with the price tag. A Quest 13 at regular price is only $1149. Not only that but it comes with a nice two piece paddle ($150 if bought separately), an adjustable strap in padded seat ($100 separate) and large hatch covers front and back.

The Quest tracks pretty well and doesn't get windblown like some taller kayaks out there. Should you decide you have need of a rudder, Hobie has already pre-plumbed the kayak for a twist a stow rudder or after market to work with the foot rests.

Storage is very nice in this kayak. You have a large tank well in the back but you also have access to the entire under hull area for camping trips.

Because of the width and length of the Quest 13, it hugs the water and gets you to your destination quicker than most. The trend is toward wider kayaks but you lose speed as you get wider in most cases. The Q13 is a nice blend of stability and speed.


The Needs Improvement



The tankwell narrows a bit and ends abruptly at the round hatch. After the round hatch is a large flat area that is in essence, wasted space. I would like to see the hatch moved back to the flat area further back. Honestly you won't be able to reach the hatch while underway so moving it further back won't be problematic.

To help the Quest drain a little faster I'd like to see another pair of scuppers just in front of the seat and another pair in the tankwell. It can be a bit of a wet ride in heavy chop.

As with other Hobie reviews, I still am awaiting a better seat option. Hobie offers the frame style seat in the Pro Angler but only adjustable padded seats in the rest. It's time. All of the other major manufacturers in the US have upgraded seating options for paddle kayaks. It's time for Hobie to step up to the plate.


Final Thoughts


The Hobie Quest 13 is an overlooked kayak that offers a great paddling kayak package right out of the shipping wrapper. The price point is very competitive and for what you get, should be a consideration. The biggest issue the Q13 has is living out its existence in the shadow of the Hobie giants like the Pro Angler, Outback, Revo and Adventure Island. Next time you find youself at a Hobie demo day, ask to paddle the Quest 13. It'll surprise you!

Review: Jackson Coosa





Two years ago the Jackson Coosa caught fire and a buying frenzy ensued. As Jackson continued to release new models like the Cuda 12, the Big Tuna and the Big Rig, less attention has been given the Coosa yet for river rats everywhere, the Coosa is still a strong contender.

I've had more than a couple of adventures in a Jackson Coosa that have shaped my thoughts on where it exceeds expectations and what future improvements could be.

The Good



The Jackson Hi/Lo Seat is nice. The frame is comfortable, more ergonomic than in years past and allows you to keep fishing rather than giving in to back cramps and strains. 

The underdeck storage on the Coosa is amazing. River camping trips or stowing gear to run rapids is no problem. The large hatch in the front and nice sized hatch in the back make it easy to stow and retrieve gear. 
They also have reinforcements which enable them to be locked when you run into the store or overnight parking and don't want people getting into your stuff.

The Coosa is a shallow water kayak. Skimming through water only a few inches deep is no problem.

Fly fishermen should definitely think about this kayak. The open deck layout is pretty clean of excess gadgets and gizmos. The Coosa is a blank slate. 

The stern skid plate is really nice too. I had quite an ordeal happen going to fish with a buddy where my Coosa decided to escape. Lets just say that thanks to a removable skid plate my day wasn't ruined. If you'd like to read about it, click here.

Needs Improvement 


All of the videos I remember seeing that talked about rod stagers showed casting rods, not spinning. Spinning rods don't fit well in the rod stagers or the rod rest on the sides. I had to flip the reel skyward to secure it down on the side and the downward facing eyes on a spinning rod don't sit on the v style stagers. A groove in front of the stagers could accommodate those of us who like spinning gear on the river. It would cradle one of the eyes on the rod and keep it from sliding everywhere. 

Standard gear tracks should be available on the Coosa. Most folks are adding them after market and even if you don't use them, they don't get in the way. Make them recessed with three inches of room on each end to slide t-bolts in and out of the groove. I know the YakAttack Coosa has the orange poly track GT90 up front but you have to buy that color and package or you are on your own. 

I'd also like to see the recessed track in the back as opposed to the predrilled holes for a RAM mount. What if I don't want it in that exact position?  Give me some track and I can slide it forward and back. 





Final Thoughts


The Jackson Coosa doesn't get as much talk as it one did but it is a very nice kayak for running rivers, small lakes and ponds. In protected marshes it could also do well. The hard thing to overcome for the Coosa is wind. If you are in an area unprotected from the wind, it's going to be a long day. 

Stability is a big seller but it is important to know that what you see on TV or in pictures is not always the case. Each person is built differently and each has a different balance than the next. Just because Joe can stand in a kayak doesn't mean you can. Please demo this kayak and any others you are wanting to be able to stand and fish in. Guys like Drew Gregory who have been doing this forever and a day make it look easy. Test it before you buy it and you'll know for sure. 



New Products for Testing

With two new projects ramping up in the last 60 days, I am increasing the amount of testing I am doing. What that means for PPF and the other projects is more information on more gear for people to look over and decide if it is worth their hard earned money or not.

Over the next month I'll be testing out these products and possibly more:

KC Kayaks K12

Humminbird 598ci HD SI



Hobie Mirage Adventure Island



Lowrance Mark 5x DSI



JVC Adixxion Action Camera



Bass Pro Ascend FS12T







Kayak Gear Guru


As Payne's Paddle Fish has developed over the last two years, a couple of different paths have emerged. I have realized that there are topics that are umbrella like and should be talked about time and again. Safety is one of those. Other topics like gear are sought after as well but because of the format of my blog and so many topics to cover, gear reviews and kayak reviews often get lost in the shuffle.

This was an opportunity. For the last 11 years I've been in the kayak fishing game and have seen the emergence of the community. The sharing of ideas, products and rigging have allowed our sport to grow. Unfortunately, our sport is at a deficit when it comes to straight talk about gear. Most of the reviews that are out there only speak highly of the products. This is where Kayak Gear Guru comes in.

Kayak Gear Guru is a website where products will be talked about just as I'd tell you about them around the campfire. If a manufacturer doesn't want constructive notes on how to improve, they should stay with their staffers to do the reviews. If a product is great, I'll call it that. If it's not great, I'll tell you why, give points for improvement and then make a recommendation that is better.

New reviews will come out each Monday. In May there will be videos that accompany each review so you can see it, read about it and feel like you've seen the product before you lay out your hard earned cash for it. When buying a kayak we say demo, demo, demo. Why should gear be any different? You should at least see some pictures and get an overview video. Right?

If there is a product you'd like to see covered, let me know and I'll see what we can do. Not all products will be able to be reviewed (I'm just one guy) but we will try to cover the array of gear you want to know about.

Please go by the Facebook page and give it a like www.facebook.com/kayakgearguru and be sure to read some previous reviews already available on kayakgearguru.com While you're there you can subscribe (also on the right) and get an email when a new review is posted (no spam, I promise!).

On the right hand side, there is a list of upcoming product reviews. Make sure to tell your friends. When the video channel is ready to go, you'll be the first to know.

Thanks so much for continuing to help Payne's Paddle Fish grow, for your support in these new projects and for telling everyone you know about how awesome kayak fishing is. ------Chris Payne

iRod Genesis II Review


Fishing rod choices become harder for anglers as the market saturates with new choices each year. Complicating it even further are the marketing campaigns from every manufacturer in the country. It's difficult to know the real scoop on the rods you may not be familiar with and that's where I can help.

Dean over at Tightlines Premium Fishing Tackle had a new rod in the shop he wanted some feedback on and I readily obliged. The iRod Genesis II was the rod. The one he had for me to test was a 7' H Fast Action (IRG704C). With a couple of hours after work and a tournament over the weekend, time on the water with the rod wouldn't be a problem. 

Let's get to it, shall we?

The Good


With nine guides, a split grip of EVA foam and more than 14 inches of handle, the allows a good, comfortable grip for casting. The rod has good balance and is lightweight. In fact, this may be the lightest Heavy I've ever fished with. The components are of good quality and the blank has a nice matte finish.

The Needs Improvement


While it was easy to cast, I found the rod sluggish and not as sensitive as I like once the bait was in the water. Instead of felling sharp pings when coming into contact with rocks (I was throwing a 1/2 ounce swimjig) it was more of a dull thud. It was the same when a fish hit if I felt it at all. A few of the fish I was alerted to by watching the line (SeaGuar Invisx 12 pound test).

The sensitivity of this rod needs to be increased. I am not sure what blank is used in this rod but it is going to need an upgrade if they intend to sell them at $149.

After being in the truck and kayak, the eyes were starting to bend a bit. When I attempted to straighten them the epoxy made a cracking noise.

When I attached the reel to the reel seat I also noticed that the grooves on the tightening mechanism on the seat would grind a little bit. This could be problematic with extended use.

Final Thoughts


The iRod looks like a good finish but it's not a great fish. I've used Falcon and St Croix rods that cost less and were more sensitive. They had just as much strength. When you catch a sale or get a coupon you could also get a Kistler for the same price. The Genesis II feels more like an $89 rod to me. For $149 I expect better. 

Review: Wilderness Systems Commander 140

This winter I was able to acquire a kayak I've been eyeing for over a year: The Wildy Commander 140. I first demoed one last year at Fly Fish Texas in Athens, TX and had been thinking about it since that time. I've had several trips out on the water now and it is time to report in.

The Rigging


My Commander, nicknamed "Winter Soldier" by my son, is the 14 foot version with a front bow skirt and a rudder system. I've added a Lowrance Elite 5 fish finder, a Super Nova Fishing Lights LED light kit, several RAM and YakAttack accessories, a Bullwinkle mount, an anchor trolley and switches for the electronics. I move it from place to place with a C-Tug cart and transport it either via trailer or in the bed of my truck with a bed extender. It is the camo color offered by Wilderness Systems.

The Good


The Commander 140 is the second easiest kayak to stand on I've ever tried, just short of the Hobie Pro Angler (but let's be honest, that thing is a barge, like standing on a cruise ship). Because the Commander is a sit in/sit on hybrid, the point of balance for your body when standing is not your ankles, it is actually your knees because of the padded side rails. Imagine trying to extend your arm perpendicular to your body while standing. Now, in that extended arm, with just your fingertips hold out a six foot long broom handle with a tennis ball on the end from the opposite side. Now try it again, two feet closer to the ball with your whole hand. The second way is easier. Much easier. This is the same thing with the Commander. Using a support point closer to your head eliminates sway in your torso and allows you to balance better.

Standing isn't the only nice thing though. The kayak is spacious. I can store my BlackPak and C-Tug in the back without a problem. There is even enough space that I usually bring a bag of snacks and drinks to stow back there as well. In the main area, the seating options also shine. The lumbar support offered from the Wildy seat is good with adjustable leg straps, back rest straps and tensioners to keep the seat in place. If you need to get a little higher up just fold the seat back down and slide it under the Captain's Perch. The Perch is molded like a seat and getting up and down changes your angle and can also relieve stiffness after long hours on the water. If the Captain's Perch still isn't high enough up, just stand up and paddle.

In front of the main area is a cross bar for mounting items or carrying or resting items. This separates another front area that when you add the bow skirt with the mesh pocket can become additional storage that is not on the floor of the kayak.

As for tracking, the Commander 140 stays pretty straight when paddling and doesn't deviate course. For long paddles with wind, this helps your paddle stroke be more efficient.

So it is pretty easy to stand in, tracks well, has good seating options and ample storage space. There is one more thing that shines about this kayak: The Weight. Listed at only 68 pounds, this 14 foot kayak can be carried on your shoulder and has padding provided to do so. Going from Point A to Point B is easier than with most.

The Needs Improvement


As with most hybrid sit in/sit on kayaks, there are no scupper holes. You need to keep a sponge or pump handy if you are fishing in heavy chop or rain. With a bow skirt you'll eliminate most of the water that could potentially get in on normal paddling days. I also don't recommend this kayak for anything surf side but bay side adventures will be a great fit.

Another thing that is difficult is inside the side track you have these bungee connectors that can move back and forth to be tightened. The tightening happens with a hex key. The hex key is a size that isn't included in a normal $10 set at the hardware store so hang on to the key. I don't have mine and it's been a bear trying to find a size to match it. If Wildy could make a place, possibly under the Perch that had a couple of clips and a couple of the hex keys it would help. At least for me.

Bow and stern skirts currently need to be purchased separately but in the future it would be cool to see a retractable skirt integrated into the front and rear hatches. If you need it you extend it and if you don't it rolls back into its self on the hull. Think of it like those retractable window shades for cars.

It could also be a nice addition to include rod tubes for the main area. I currently store rods in my BlackPak and two on a Bullwinkle mount up front. Rod tubes would store a few of the rods out of the way of limbs etc and also not have them in the way of a sweeping hookset.

The final thing is maneuverability. Because the Commander 140 tracks so well and is long, it needs some extra effort to turn. It takes some extra strokes (as does any 14 foot kayak) to turn but the added rudder can greatly ease that burden. I don't see this as much of an area of needed improvement as a "just be aware of it" item if you don't get a rudder.


Final Thoughts

If you are in the market for a kayak you can stand in, camp in, store tons of gear in, and just all around enjoy, this is a kayak you should look at. With 450-475 pounds of capacity it will accommodate most paddlers and sometimes an additional guest. The Commander is stable and can make a long day of paddling seem short. I'd highly recommend a demo of one.

New Buzz in the Action Camera Market



A new camera company has emerged in the action camera market and their latest offering is creating a lot of buzz. WASPcam, which hails from Canada, has pushed the envelope in feature and price with two new offerings which just launched January 15th.  
The WASPcam Gideon is possibly the most feature rich camera currently on the market straight out of the box. The Gideon records HD video up to 1080p60 (and also 1080p30, 960p60 and 720p120), takes still-images up to 16MP and has built-in WiFi. You can connect the camera to your iPhone or Android phone for live viewing.
The Gideon sets itself apart with its wireless wrist remote, which connects to the camera via Radio Frequency, giving users a live viewing screen and remote control. The wrist remote connects from up to 15 feet away and also doubles as a watch.
In addition to the camera and wrist remote, the Gideon also comes with several accessories in the package. Two different camera mounts, fog inserts, waterproof and vented backs for the waterproof case, a wall charger and Velcro strap top the list.
Possibly the biggest surprise with the Gideon is the price. MSRP for the Gideon varies slightly based on the state purchased but in most markets it is $319.
As more of these cameras reach consumer hands, side by side comparisons of video performance in varying conditions will become more readily available.
 
 Piquing the interest of consumers looking for a value priced camera with plenty of options is the second new offering from WASPcam, the JAKD. 
The JAKD camera can shoot [email protected] or [email protected]
While it may not be ideal for video pros, the novice and intermediate videographers can enjoy capturing their adventures without wiping out the bank account. At only $139 in most areas, the JAKD camera is low on price and high on options.
The most impressive option that is included is the two inch LCD touch screen on the back of the camera. Additionally, the JAKD comes with a waterproof case, helmet mount, handlebar mount, wall charger and more. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the JAKD camera also has infrared night vision and auto loops when recording so if you didn’t get that shot you wanted in the first pass, keep it running and it will record over it!
 While I can’t make a formal recommendation because I haven’t tried the cameras yet, the specs and price point for each seem very appealing. For someone looking to getting into shooting some action videos, the offerings from WASPcam warrant a look. 

Review: The Malibu Stealth 12 Fish-N-Dive



When searching for a paddle kayak this fall, I had very specific criteria. I wanted lots of under deck storage, higher weight capacity, a wide boat for standing and casting and a decent rocker if I ventured into windy waters or out beyond the breakers.

The kayak I decided on was the Malibu Stealth 12. I have had it out a dozen or so times including a tournament for approximately 100 hours of on the water time.

The Specs:


Length: 12' 4"
Width: 33"
Weight: 55 lbs
Weight Capacity: 450 lbs
Features: Multiple large hatches including the gator hatch, a standing area for secure footing, Lowrance transducer ready mount and a livewell.

Some notes about the specs. The width feels wider than 33". Standing and sitting is a breeze because of the graduated hull design (not flat) that gives multiple levels of stability. The large front gator hatch, aside from offering roomy access to the hull interior also doubles as a child seat up front. The livewell is not pre plmbed save for a drain plug. This is easily done from a youtube video and a kit however. The transducer mount works great and was a solid fit.

The Good:


The Stealth 12 is pretty lightweight compared to other kayaks of similar length and width. This makes it easy to cartop or throw in the back of a truck. The gator hatch gives a cavernous access to the interior. Previous models had issues with water intake around the hatch but with a redesign, new buckle securing positions and a better seal, this has not been an issue in any of my outings. No kayak is watertight so less than 4 oz of water in the hull after eight hours on the water is a good thing especially in rough conditions.

The FND version has four flush mount rod holders pre-installed and work well. The specialized shock cord cleats throughout the kayak hold the bungees in place and keep you from getting snapped with the larger head on the cleat. There are multiple places throughout the kayak to mount rails and accessories which is nice.

The livewell is under a large oval hatch and also has a quick entry port in the middle. This keeps your bait from being able to escape when they see the hatch open. The hinge opens the hatch away from you so it's easy to access the entire space if needed. It does not come plumbed so you can use it as dry storage as well as long as you leave the drain plug in. Additionally, if you fit a screen in the drain hole you can keep bait in with fresh water without having to run a pump.

The rear tankwell is large and has room for a crate and a small cooler as well. It does come with multiple scuppers in the tankwell as well as the main deck so water has an escape point.

Needs Improvement:


The Stealth 12 needs to come with a standard seat and needs to have connection points at the hinge of the seat that will connect to the hull. The standard Crack of Dawn seat tends to slide forward, covering the lip of the livwell hatch causing you to have to adjust to get in there. Obviously padding on the lumbar and glute sections of the seat would be nice.

The back tankwell has no hatch installed. There is a circular raised section that I installed a 4" hatch to allow access for rigging and in case something gets wedged in the hull. It's a small change but well worth it in my opinion.

The side handles for lifting should either have longer straps or be rigid. The soft handles tend to pinch your hand up against the side wall when lifting with one hand and sometimes two. Rigid handles I think would be the way to go.

The black hatches in the middle of the kayak have a raised texture on them but the plastic can be a bit slick when wet. Putting an EVA foam in the standing section or offering aftermarket pre-sized foam with adhesive for the two sections where you feet rest would be optimal.

Final Thoughts:


The price point on this kayak (around $1100) makes it a great value for those looking to stand, fish rough water and be able to transport easily. It is not the fastest kayak on the water but handles different water types well. In smooth water it will be slower than most but where it really shines is in the rough water scenarios. The graduated hull and scooped rocker cut white caps and allows you to keep pace with most kayaks. The wind doesn't affect it like a lot of high walled kayaks and the ride is pretty dry. I'm using this kayak throughout the 2014 tournament season.

I will have the "Green Goblin" my lime Malibu Stealth 12 on display in the Mariner Sails booth at the Texas Tackle Hunting and Boat Show this weekend in Mesquite, TX. Come by and say hi!



Zooka Tube Thoughts

Luther Cifers from YakAttack upped the ante when he introduced the Zooka Tube this summer. A rod holder that can manage baitcasters, spinning reels, long pole or just about any other combination, the Zooka is proving to be one of the most versatile, rugged options for securing your fishing poles.

Past the obvious use, many folks, myself included are using the Zooka as a holder for a Park-N-Pole. An anchor trolley gives a lot of flex and using the scupper holes in your kayak can do damage over time when trying to stay put in wind and waves. The Zooka allows a very rigid mounting point to your kayak with easy in and out access for quick moves on and off anchor.


The Zooka also allows lots of flexible positions because of the RAM ball. The spherical head provides myriad angles to make sure you can choose what you need for best ease of use specific for your application.


Inside the Zooka are interlocking teeth, tightened by a wing style nut and fitted with an interior spring. This is my only gripe about the rod holder. The interlocking teeth offer too few angles and deep teeth that require a lot of unscrewing, separation and re-tightening  to set the angle of the tube. While on the water, this is tough and a bit scary.

 Utilizing an existing product I have had success modifying the Zooka slightly to make those slight adjustments quicker and less difficult. I have added a Scotty Slip Disc to the interior gear set. By placing this Slip Disc inside, I only need a quarter turn to loosen the tube find the exact angle I need and then re-tighten. This slight modification is low cost ($4) and gives further refinement to an already well designed rod holder.






The Zooka Tube is definitely worth a look. I have already replaced my RAM 2007 rod holder with the Zooka and have plans for an additional one in the near future. For about $30 you can add one to your arsenal and stop limiting the rods you can take with you. This newest offering from YakAttack will fit almost all of them.


Astral Brewer Version 2.0 Review

Sometimes as a blogger, you wonder if anyone is actually listening. Page views are fine but I look at it like conversations. I wonder if I gave the people reading something memorable, useful or entertaining. With the reviews that I do, I wonder if the companies are listening. I know for sure that one of them is.

A year ago I ordered a pair of Astral Brewer kayaking/all purpose/water shoes. A real hybrid between night on the boardwalk and river running shoes, the Astral Brewer looked great, had amazing features and was to be my last kayaking shoe purchase until I wore them out. During the review period, actually, the very first day, my hopes were dashed by blisters. An awful exposed seam in the toe box was causing me problems. I bought some nylon socks to wear the shoes with and the blisters stopped but honestly, who wants to wear socks with kayaking shoes? Probably the same guys that wear socks with flip flops.

A few months ago Astral contacted me about the review. They knew of my review and wanted to see what I thought of the new revised Brewer. I happily agreed and a few days later, I had a box waiting on me when I got home.

I quickly tore into the box, pulled out the black and white shoes and sunk my hand deep into the interior. Strangely, though I should have expected it, the previous harsh seam was barely there in the new version. I took the shoe, still on my hand, out to the garage and found the previous Brewer pair, a charcoal and green , and did a side by side interior feel test. It was worlds different. That's all well and good but I don't really have baby soft hands. I needed to put them on my feet.

A charcoal Brewer on one foot and a black one on the other, I walked around outside, sans socks, and causing the neighborhood to have Punky Brewster flashbacks. After about three minutes of this, I took of the charcoal shoe, Version 1.0 from Astral. Blisters were on the verge. The black shoe though, this Version 2.0, it felt great. My foot was comfortable, it wasn't slipping, and the interior and exterior traction were great as always. I went back in the house, retrieved the mate shoe and paired them up on my feet. I went back outside, walking around for a while and my wife comes outside and tells me to get in the house. I look crazy pacing and looking at my feet apparently.

The next step was to do some water testing. I'll spare the finite details but I put them through sand, mud, rocks and trees with no issues. I washed them thoroughly after four days and started the daily wear test. I wore these new Brewers everyday for five days, without socks, all day. I even wore them to church. After five days, they didn't stink, my feet didn't hurt and I had talked to dozens of people about my footwear choice.

Success!!!!

I have since worn these shoes at almost every outdoor opportunity and even on a couple of dates. This Brewer, Version 2.0 as I am calling it, is what I expect (demand?) in a water shoe. Astral has gone out of their way to prove they listen to the consumer. They want you to love these shoes. I can tell you after a few months of kayak fishing in them, I do. 

Checking Out The BlackPak






                               
Before the gear heads start saying their amens and the frugal home DIYers start condemning a price tag, I want to implore you to read the rest of this post. I want you to understand why I bought what I did. Am I saying that everyone needs this tool? Need is a strong word. I am saying that I enjoy the heck out of mine and can’t imagine not having it. Let’s get on with it.

 On deck storage for fishing gear has historically been limited to milk crates or other tubs until recently. Late last year we started seeing teasers and eventually the final product called The BlackPak from YakAttack. A 10 year vet of using milk crates as storage on my kayak had me scratching my head about whether this new storage container for kayaks warranted an $85-$125 price tag (depending on the features you order.) I read up, made a few phone calls, watched a couple of videos about it and decided I needed one. Luckily I was able to get in on one of the first orders from HOOK1 and Chad Hoover got it sent to me post haste. 15 minutes after I received it, I had it put together. For the next couple of days I continually changed the configuration, added some LED lights and got it ready for the maiden voyage. I haven't fished without it since that first trip. 

I could spend the next 1,000 words talking about what the BlackPak can do but several of those things can be duplicated by a milk crate. As the title graphic says, "This Ain't No Milkcrate". (I realize that's a double negative so before you email me about grammatical law, relax a bit. Pulitzer isn't calling anytime soon.) 

Let's get right to the good stuff. These are the things that a BlackPak gives you that you can't get out of a milk crate. (Unless you basically mod it to be your own BlackPak) 

Enclosed protection from the elements. 
Protect those soft plastics from direct sunlight. While not water tight, the BP deflects most rain, splash and other intrusive water. If water does get in, it will quickly find the exit via the drains in the bottom corners.

Keep all your stuff enclosed.
Drop a 1/4 oz bullet weight into the BP and it'll be there when you get home. Same thing for hooks, split shot, worms, lures and more. Do the same in a milk crate and well, good luck. If you happen to have lures loose, they won't find their way out the sides, get tangled on items outside the crate pressed up against it or latch on to the many open gaps. Solid on all sides, everything stays inside but the water. 



Rigging readiness. 
The BlackPak has top rails that are ready to add on GearTrac or rig straight to it with a long t-bolt. The top, bottom and sides are all made of very sturdy Starboard that you can mount something directly to. It is pre-drilled on both sides to attach the optional rod holders and because the lid is inset you aren't bumping rods in the rod holder. The top rail also adds a nice lip that allows you to mount LED lights under to keep them away from water, knock out direct light at night to your eyes but still illuminate the BP. I drilled a couple of additional holes and added an on/off switch. One last thing about the top rails, they come designed with hooks so that your bungee in your tank well can secure it. No need to buy additional straps, mess with stretch hooks or any of that other mess. The BP is really only limited by your imagination and fits in almost every sit on top kayak. You can also bungee it down to the back of lots of sit ins as well.  

Sturdy.
This is not a cheap plastic Tupperware box. I've seen guys over 250 pounds (262 according to the video) standing and JUMPING on the BlackPak. Chad wants to make sure it is sturdy so he tries it. Don't believe me? Go here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/27862020/highlight/314104
The BlackPak is super lightweight yet rugged and durable. You aren't going to find that for $4 at WalMart. 


Have you ever tried to make something like this yourself? Some guys can. When I say some, I mean very few. Most of us can zip tie some stuff together to make an enclosed box, sure, but to make it this sturdy, without exposed openings in the sides and corners, with rigging hooks and top rails and just the material alone you are going to spend a nice chunk of money. I did some rough calculations for 1 18" X 18" piece in black at 1/4" thick. That's $13.50 without shipping or taxes. Check it here: http://www.tapplastics.com/product/plastics/cut_to_size_plastic/king_starboard/526
You would need 6 of those. You'll have to find some way to do corners on your own. For purchase, shipping and taxes, just the sides of this are going to cost you $102.68. Better not mess up. That's for the basic sides. You don't have top rails, rod holders, corners, hardware, bungee etc to finish this out. For $85 you could get the base setup and come out ahead. See what I'm getting at here? You can make a copy but with the same quality components, it will cost you more and look and function much worse. You come out way ahead with the deluxe model for $125 too and did I mention it's also available in white now? 

I realize some folks don't have the money or want to spend the money and that's cool. But if you think you will duplicate the BlackPak by scrapping together some plastic around a milk crate, you should think again. Just because a wagon has four wheels doesn't mean it's a Ferrari. 

If you want to see one in person and are in the Dallas area, check out the Mariner-Sails show room. They are located at 11110 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, TX  75229.

If you aren't in the Dallas area but are ready to order one, go here: http://kayakfishinggear.com/yakattack-blackpak.aspx



  

Coming Monday


Paddle Battle

If you've been looking for a paddle for under $150, today's Paddle Battle is for you! Two candidates take the stage today that I have been paddling with for about 40 hours each. While the price is the same, these paddles offer very different features. Here is the tale of the tape:




The Aqua Bound Manta Ray Hybrid is a lighter paddle with bigger blades. Bigger blades however, do not always equate to more efficiency in the water. The abXII blades are stiff but I would not say rigid. You can curve the tip of the blade a bit. This is not unexpected as lighter paddles often have less rigidity and thickness in the blade, not always, but usually.

I liked paddling with this paddle. I used it to push off a few times from shore and it didn't snap or give too much. It did flex which gave me pause at first but I soon realized it could handle it. Paddling I felt like the water movement was good and efficiency was where I needed it to be. In the high seat position of the Native Slayer I could really reach the water and not have to concentrate on my stroke as much because the blades are so big. In the Malibu Mini-X, sitting low I was able to skim the water without having to dig and it still moved me right along. I did prefer this paddle in the higher seated positions.

The Werner SkagIt FG IM is a little heavier than the Manta Ray but is a rigid bladed paddle. The SkagIt worked amazing for pushing off, standing and paddling and many other uses. Where it lacked was in surface area. When in the Slayer, I had to concentrate harder on my paddling to make sure I was getting enough paddle surface in the water. I didn't need as much surface area but it was a retraining exercise. When in the Malibu, the low seat paddling was a breeze. You are at the perfect position for the paddle to work at its highest efficiency and can straight up move in a low seat kayak.


I liked both paddles. They both had cool ferrule features that lesser paddles just don't offer. Both had an area they shined in. For paddling an elevated seat kayak, I would recommend the Aqua Bound. For a low seat, I would get the Werner.

If I needed a paddle for both situations, I would choose the Manta Ray because almost all other things being equal, the weight is 5.25 oz less. That makes a difference on the water, especially for long trips.

The best way to choose the right paddle for you is to demo, demo ,demo. Ask a buddy to borrow his, go to a demo that a local dealer is having or even just go into the store and hold one. Making an informed decision is always the best way to go. Both of these paddles are available at Mariner-Sails in Dallas. 

The Next Kayak Review(s) Announced and "The Truth"

I asked and you responded.

The next kayak to get a full review from Payne's Paddle Fish will be the Native Slayer 12.

But wait! There's more!

In addition to the Native Slayer 12, I will also be reviewing the Native Slayer 14.5

To add to that, I will also be testing the new front hatch cover for the Slayers and some other cool products after they are released in May.

First, I want to say thanks for all of you that voted in the polls and left comments and feedback. Whether it hailed from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or the Texas Fishing Forum, your voice was heard. This won't be the last of the reviews either.

I would also like to introduce a new title for the reviews. The reviews that are on this sight will be branded as "The Truth. All of it."

I won't hide flaws. I won't gush unless it's worthy. If you have a product you can send me or I can pickup that you want reviewed, please let me know. Just understand that you will get valuable feedback that has been developed over a longer period of time than most. I spend a minimum of 40 days with a kayak and a minimum of 40 hours on the water in addition to another 20 in the garage and on the rack. I film, take pictures and thoroughly go over all the details.  And you'll get the truth. All of it. If you want it public, I can do that. If you want private feedback, I can do that as well. Just let me know.

I will pickup the Slayer 12 on April 20 and have it until the end of May. After that I'll pickup the Slayer 14.5, hopefully the front hatch and should finish up by the end of July. I'll be able to give feedback along the way with both but won't do a full review until both kayak terms are completed. Yes, that is a long time.

I realize my review turn time is longer than most but I want to give you a thorough, thought out analysis of the pros and cons, not a weekend of paddling to give buyers advice.

Thanks for reading, commenting and recommending the Native Slayer.




Final Thoughts on the 2013 Hobie Outback



Below you will find my thoughts, the good with the bad. Being an ambassador for Mariner-Sails allows me to speak freely about kayaks regardless of brand and to offer what I feel is advice to both consumers and the manufacturers. I am very grateful for their support.

Some people may agree, some may not, but these are my thoughts.

For the last several weeks I have been field testing a 2013 Hobie Outback from Mariner-Sails in Dallas, TX. Mike from Mariner installed the rectangular hatch in front of the seat and I installed two , 4” GearTrac GT-175Rails. Other than that, no modifications were performed to this kayak. I fished in this kayak eight times, all trips were over 4 hours in length and all were recorded on video so I could go back and review.

I originally chose the Outback because of a trip to Lake Fork. I knew with March weather, it could be rough. I didn’t want to be limited by just my paddling strength and liked the thought of speed and less fatigue that the Outback represented. I needed to be able to rig it out with my fish finder, a Lowrance 5X-DSI, fit my BlackPak from YakAttack in it and past that, just be able to fish and put the kayak on top of my Ford Escape.
With all of these criteria met, I picked up the Hobie Outback in early February, rigged it out and got to fishing.

The Good

The Outback is light enough to cartop by yourself. At least for me it was. Anything under 75lbs is typically able to be put on top of a car or SUV. Some folks are stronger, have load assist bars etc and can do more but if you have a factory rack or foam blocks, 75lbs is a pretty good threshold. The Outback comes in under that. My rigged weight was 74lbs.

Though not advertised as such, you can stand and fish in this kayak. The platform is not quite developed to promote it but I stood and fished a crankbait out of this kayak with no problems. At 33 inches wide and just over 12 feet long with a tunnel hull, the Outback is very stable. I sat side saddle, stood and even disembarked by walking straight up the centerline to the bow. With increasing demand for stable, standable kayaks, this one should be on your list.

Outbacks come with a rudder already installed and have tiller steering. For those of us who brace with our feet, this is a great feature. I spent an afternoon trolling for hybrids by pedaling the Outback while enjoying a large soda. Not a lot of platforms offer hands free fishing. Another nice feature to the rudder is being able to stay on a line with the wind blowing. All rudders offer this but a tiller style is easier in the wind for us “bracers”.

Mirage Drive
The Mirage Drive comes with standard fins that are upgradable to turbo fins which are narrower and generate more power. While the option is nice, don’t think it necessary to immediately upgrade. The standard equipment will move this boat well.

The draft on the Outback is much shallower than I thought. With the fins spread I was able to fish in less than a foot of water multiple times in many conditions. If you remove the Mirage Drive, the kayak is limited only by your poling ability. I crossed over a stretch of water standing and poling the Outback at Lake Fork that was four inches deep.

The back well storage is large. I pack a lot of things when I fish. Typically, the added gear weighs another 60-80lbs. It has to go somewhere and above deck is where I like it in freshwater. I was able to store everything behind my seat and still have room for a small cooler if I wanted.

The front hatch is a nice size. While not the largest of front hatches in the market, the Outback has enough clearance to stow rods, paddles and other gear below deck. The sail post just in front of the hatch also gives easy access to install a fish finder or other accessory post if you don’t plan on sailing.

The Outback seat is not your normal seat. Usually strap in seats are flimsy and give you about a four hour max seat time before your back wants to leave the country. Not this seat. With adjustable support via air intakes (you just twist) I had no issues fishing six or eight hours without a shoreline exodus.


The Bad

These are the things I see as needing improvement for future models. Not everyone will agree but these are what I encountered.

The tunnel hull offers great stability in the water. It makes it very difficult to transport with other kayaks or by itself while upright. You cannot stay rigged when transporting this kayak. The hull causes it to lean to one side which means all of your gear will shift and your rods are at a funky angle. I suppose you could fix this with PVC, a trailer, Hydro Glide pads from Thule or something of the like but it still remains a nuisance. Lots of preplanning has to go into transport.

Straight gunwales are at a minimum. The longest GearTrac I could add to a front gunwale was four inches. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for adding accessories and made me think long and hard about where everything would have to go. A straight eight inch section of space would be nice (that’s NOT in the recessed areas by the handles).

Move the rear carrying handle already. People have complained for years that the rear carrying handle is hard to get to and covered by the rudder in the stowed position. I don’t want the rudder flopping around while I’m loading and I don’t want any more scratches and cuts from fighting the rudder while carrying the Outback. Move it to an offset position on the back and front, four inches from where it is and problem solved.

The Outback is able to be fished standing up currently but is not designed for it. Steal six inches of the back well and move the seat back to add a flatter, larger surface just in front of the seat. And while we are talking in front of the seat, make the rectangular hatch standard so you can fit a paddle and larger gear underneath.


Summary

The Hobie Outback shines as a fishing boat. It is a nice hybrid between the sleek, fast Hobie Revolution and its battle cruiser brother the Pro Angler. If you want a kayak that is able to be car topped, transported via cart easily, is versatile enough for almost any water and comes with tons of features built in, this is a great choice.  




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