Category Archives: Fishing Product Reviews

Garmin Striker Cast GPS Review

Frank Sargeant, Editor
from the Fishing Wire

Garmin Striker Cast GPS—Castable Sonar For the many anglers around the country who fish from shore, piers or docks, it’s always a bit of a mystery how deep the water is within casting range, what structures are on the bottom, and where the fish are in relation to that structure. Without a sonar/GPS screen to tip you off, you’re fishing blind.

Garmin’s Striker Cast GPS puts fish-finding technology into the hands of these anglers, at a very affordable price. It provides quality sonar and GPS on any smart phone.The whole system is encased in a hard plastic housing about the size of a tennis ball. The unit turns on when it’s immersed in water, and links via Bluetooth to your smart-phone once you download the Striker Cast app. You attach the device to your fishing line, cast it out to the water you want to check and presto, a sonar screen appears on the phone.

The Striker Cast is about the size of a tennis ball. It can transmit to your phone from up to 200 feet away.

The device weighs about 3 ounces, so it’s not something you’re going to throw on your light action spinning rod. And it would be easy to pop your line and lose the Striker if you got a dead-stop backlash on a hard cast. I tied it on with 65 pound test Spider Wire braid on the heavy duty snap swivel, just to be sure—that braid will hoist a couple of concrete blocks, so it’s not going anywhere.
Here, a bass hanging over tree limbs on bottom at 8 feet shows clearly. Note the water temperature and depth digital readout on the upper left.

You don’t really cast the Striker—it’s more like lobbing a tennis ball, unless you put it on a 10-foot surf rod. I used a heavy action Shimano Sienna 7-footer and a 4000 size reel that would whip a kingfish, and it was about right.

Manipulating the rod, reel handle and your smart phone all at once is a challenge unless you have three hands. The way I worked it out was to hold the rod in my right hand, the phone in my left and also lightly hold the reel handle. I then rotated rod and reel to retrieve line—it sounds more difficult than it is once you’ve made a few casts.

As with any sonar, the faster the transducer moves, the more the terrain and fish below are compacted, while the slower things move the more they are stretched out. Thus, a foot-long bass going slow under a fixed transducer can look like a 40-pound pike. However, you quickly learn to adjust. The system automatically sets range and gain, or you can adjust both manually at the tap of a virtual scale.

Bottom shows red/yellow, water blue, fish and structure also red if large, yellow if small or scattered. The screen has digital depth and water temperature readouts on the upper left.

The unit also has a very accurate GPS system which allows you to map the area you are graphing. Walk all the way around your favorite pond, casting every 50 feet or so as you go, and it draws a chart of all the water you can reach, complete with depth profiles. You can name and save this, and you can also share it publicly. (I suspect that’s a function not many serious anglers will use!)

The chart was made by repeated casts with the Striker Cast. The opening at the center was where the author walked around a creek, so there’s no graph of that area.

The transducer is not like your boat floating over a fish, which usually flushes anything shallower than 10 feet in most lakes. Fish are not aware of it, and in fact I had a catfish come up and bump it apparently to see how it tasted. So, you can graph an area with a couple casts, spot fish, tie on a lure that gets to their appropriate depth, and hopefully connect.The Striker Cast would also be very useful for ice fishers—it’s compact, easy to carry, and would give you a quick read of what’s happening at each hole you open.

After saltwater use, you’ll want to rinse the connections thoroughly before hooking it up to the included USB charging wire—corrosion is not your friend. I wished the charging LED was a bit easier to see or had an alternate color when fully charged, but that’s a minor inconvenience. The battery lasts 10 hours with a full charge.

Here’s a useful video that teases out the many functions:

The Garmin Striker Cast GPS goes for about $180, and it’s sized about right for a stocking stuffer.

Check it out here:

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line Review

Product Review

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line


Sunline Fluorocarbon Line comes in 17 different types for different applications. Its entry level line, Super Fluorocarbon, is a good choice for general fishing.  At the top end, Super FC Sniper, is for the tournament fisherman depending on every strike for his living.

Fluorocarbon is a very low visibility line with little stretch. It sinks, so it is not suitable for all lures, for example topwater lures do not work well with it.

A variety of the types of line are for specific situations.  Dostrike FC is designed for fishing bladed jigs. Crank FC is made for fishing crankbaits. Both lines are designed with some stretch for those baits.

The Night line is made to be visible when using a black light at night.  The Super FC Green Sniper has green color in it to help the fisherman see it above the water but is much more visible underwater to fish, too. Flipping Fluorocarbon has colors to be visible to the fisherman and is abrasion resistant.

I started using Sunline Fluorocarbon years ago after doing a Map of the Month article at Lake Lanier with Eric Aldrich.  The first stop, he lowered a drop shot bait to the tip of a blowdown in 30 feet of water. When he set the hook, he sawed the fish back and forth several times in the limbs and landed a three-pound spot.

I said he must be using heavy line for dropshot but he responded it was five pound Sunline. I thought it was a fluke to land that fish, but later in the day he did the same thing in a 35-foot-deep brush pile, sawing back and forth then landing a 3.5-pound spot.

I figured if five-pound Sunline line would do that, I could tow my boat with 12-pound line.

I fish a jig and pig on 14 pound and a shaky head on 12-pound Super FC Sniper or Super Fluorocarbon. It holds its knot as well as any fluorocarbon and I have never been disappointed in it. I think I get more strikes with fluorocarbon than I would with other line when fishing slow moving baits.


Sunline Fluorocarbon Line is more expensive than many other fluorocarbon lines.

Fluorocarbon line does not stretch like monofilament. When I switched to 12-pound fluorocarbon, I broke my line several times on the hookset until I loosened the drag enough to slip a little on the hookset.

Fluorocarbon is also notorious for knot slippage. With Sunline and any other fluorocarbon, if you do not tie a good knot suitable for fluorocarbon you will lose fish.


Sunline fluorocarbon line lists for $19.99 to $39.99 for a 165 to 200-yard spool. Bulk spools are available at slightly less per yard for some types of it.

Costa Helps Vets with their Freedom Series

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing WireLong known for high-quality, on-water eyewear, Costa® Sunglasses recently released the Freedom Series, highlighting the brand’s partnership with Freedom Fighter Outdoors (FFO). If you’ve been needing an excuse to splurge on some admittedly fairly pricey Costa’s, their assistance to FFO might be just what’s necessary.
The Freedom Series glasses feature many of the most popular Costa frame styles in patriotic-inspired colors, and support Freedom Fighters Outdoors’ initiative to help get veterans out on the water and participating in recreational outdoor activities.

Costa offers the series in both glass lenses—which are more scratch-resistant and also somewhat clearer than polycarbonate–and the poly lenses, which are lighter and also more shatter-resistant. I personally have always liked glass lenses for the clarity, plus glasses used in a center console tend to get the heck scratched out of them bouncing around on the dash if they have plastic lenses. Costa says their glass lenses are 20% thinner and 22% lighter than average polarized lenses, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer.  The models with glass lenses are somewhat heavier than some other brands just because Costa builds their stuff to last, but they’re not so heavy that you notice the weight on your nose or ears. The hinges, for example, are not only stout stainless steel, but they’re inset inside the durable composite frame. This not only protects them from salt spray and the resulting corrosion but adds reinforcement at the point where most glasses eventually fail. 

The blue mirror lenses are among the best choice for bright sunlight and flats or offshore fishing—minimal color distortion, good fish spotting and the polarization and mirroring greatly cuts glare. If you’re strictly a flats angler, you might like the amber lenses better because they tend to make vegetation and fish “pop” in the shallows, but the blue mirror gives things a light gray cast that seems natural after you wear it a few minutes.

A very useful feature on all Costa glasses is that they provide exact measurements of all their glasses on their website, so you know in advance how they’re going to fit if you buy them via the internet. For example, the Reefton version we checked out has an overall width of 129.2 mm and a bridge width, that is across the nose, of 15 mm.

The lenses are 63.5 mm wide, 42.3 mm tall, the ear pieces 112 mm long. They’re designed for those with large heads. They also make other models that are smaller, better fits for young anglers or for most women.  I like that the ear pieces are curved to grip the contours of the head, but have relatively little drop behind the ears. To me, this design stays on well and is easier to take on and off than those with a pronounced drop in the ear pieces. (I always put CablZ eye glass retainers on my sunglasses before wearing them the first time—saves losing them overboard, plus I always know where they are when they’re not on my head.)

The ear pieces, like the nose piece, are made of a “sticky” composite that helps the glasses stay in place, even when you’re sweaty.

The Freedom Series includes 16 frame styles across the brand’s lifestyle categories. The line ranges in price from $179 to $279, depending on frame and lens combination—pricey, but the company is known for standing behind their stuff.  (I also like that Costa does their bit for fish and fisheries habitat through programs that include producing a collection of frames made from recycled fishing nets as part of its Kick Plastic initiative, as well as partnerships with conservation groups and the shark research organization OCEARCH.) 

For more information on the new frames and the full line of Costa sunglasses, visit

Learning Fish Behavior from A Garmin Panoptix

I  have learned a lot from my Garmin Panoptix I installed last November.

This system is a sonar that shows a live picture of what is underwater on the screen, much like shining a spotlight at night shows what is in its beam.  And it shows movement as it happens, not as a line on the screen like older units.

One of my first surprises was how many fish are down there. I see schools of crappie and hybrids and clouds of baitfish suspended over deeper water this time of year.  And I can see fish moving along the bottom, probably catfish and carp.

Fish hovering around stumps, rocks and brush, or holding right on a drop off, are probably bass.

And there are lots of them. But seeing them does not mean they will hit my bait.

Time after time I see my bait move through them and they ignore it. Even worse is when I watch my jig fall on the cast or hop it and see a fish come up to it and follow it back down but never hit it. That does make me change colors, size and baits more often.

When I see fish in brush or on other cover, it makes me make more casts to it. The first tournament I used my Panoptix I saw what looked like fish in a brush pile in front of a dock. Normally i would hit a brush pile two or three times with a bait then move on. But seeing fish in that one made me make multiple casts and I caught a keeper on about my tenth cast!

I have always heard bass move tight to cover in muddy water.  In November and December, Jackson was very clear and I could see bass holding just over rocks and other cover, and they would slowly move around it. But after the rain Jackson muddied up and now I see bright dots indication bass right against the rocks or down in the brush.  And they don’t move, they just sit there.

I know a bait cast out and sinking will swing back toward the boat, and to get it to go straight to the bottom I “feed” line to it as it falls.  That is important when trying to get you bait to the bottom under docks and down to brush.Watching my bait swing back toward the boat as it falls amazes me.  A half ounce jig with a twin curly tail trailer cast on 14-pound fluorocarbon line makes an arch back toward me no matter how much line I feed to it.  It moves back toward me about a foot for every five it falls, so if I cast to a brush pile 20 feet deep I have to cast at least four feet past it to get my bait to hit it.

Another confirmation of fish behavior is the reaction of fish as my boat gets near them. Fish holding over rocks and brush will slowly sink down into it as my boat approaches. In clear water it is very noticeable. Bass over cover 20 feet deep started sinking down into it when my boat got within 30 feet of them.

I saw this happen many times when i moved in to try to jig a spoon or use drop shot. N ow, after seeing it happen, I will try to make very long casts in clear water!

I am just exploring lakes with my Panoptix and hope to learn a lot more in the coming months.

St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Crankbait Rod Review

You can cast a crankbait on any rod.  But you will be much more efficient, make longer casts, the bait will have better action and you will land more of the fish that hit if you use the right one for the job.

    My St. Croix Avid medium action rods do a good job with smaller crankbaits, but do not work well with the huge ones that are so popular now. A few years ago, I bought a St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Crankbait rod at a Georgia Outdoor Writers Association auction, and got it for a fraction of the list price.

    It is a fantastic crankbait rod, casting quarter ounce crankbaits easily but handling the biggest one-ounce ones I own.  Both will fly further on it than any other rod I have, even with the same reel and line. 
Its action makes this possible. 
    The action of the rod also makes it easier to land bass on a crankbait.  Bass are notorious for throwing a crankbait, often because the hooks tear holes in their mouth and allow the hook to pull out. A rod that is too heavy adds to this problem, tearing holes when you set the hook. 

    The St. Croix had a medium power moderate action, meaning the rod bends over its whole length, and allows a cushion when setting the hook. Most rods now are graphite, but those fibers are stiffer than fiberglass.  That is the reason St. Croix uses it in their crankbait rods.

    Jamie Koza, owner of The Dugout bait and tackle store in Atlanta and a tournament fisherman, says the
St Croix Mojo is the best crankbait rod he has ever used.  And both is kids, Carter and Rose Lee, tournament winning high school and college fishermen, both love them.

    The St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass crankbait rods sell for about $150 and come in a variety of lengths and actions to suit your needs.

American Hero Speed Stick Rod Review

I won a Fig Rig rod in a Top Six tournament at West Point years ago. That northern company and made muskie rods but decided to get into the bass market.  This six-foot six-inch rod was the most sensitive rod I have ever used for worm and jig fishing.  

    I broke the rod several weeks ago and, unfortunately, the company is no longer in business. So, I went looking for a replacement.  I ordered a St. Croix rod but needed one fast and I went to Berrys Sporting Goods to see what he had.

    After looking at several rods Jim showed me an American Hero Speed Stick rod.  It felt good even though it is a seven-foot rod and I really wanted a shorter rod for skipping baits under docks.  The medium heavy, fast action was right, though, and I got it.

    After using it several times and catching a few fish on it, I am very happy with it.  It cast half ounce jigs and Texas rigs with a three sixteenths ounce sinker well, exactly what I wanted it for.  I can skip ok with it and it has good sensitivity for feeling bites on those baits.  The seven-foot length gives me good leverage when setting the hook.

    The rod weighs more than my St. Croix rods but cost less than $100, about half the cost of my St. Croix rods. Usually the more expensive the rod the less it weighs. 

    It serves my needs well and I am very happy with it.

Hydrowave H2 Review

Hydrowave H2 Review

The TH Marine Hydrowave H2 is a unit that plays a sound through an underwater speaker that is usually mounted on a trolling motor. The sounds it plays are supposed to represent sounds that make fish feed. The Hydrowave H2 has a variety of choices of sounds, from crawfish on gravel, one of my favorites, to deep bait to blueback herring, a good one on herring lakes like Clarks Hill and Lanier.

Does it work? Honestly, I do not know, but I always have it playing during tournaments.

Many of the pros I have done Map of the Month articles with for Alabama and Georgia Outdoor News swear by it, even those not sponsored by the company and have to buy their own units. That means a lot to me, the ones not sponsored using it.

One experience indicates it does work. While fishing a club tournament at Lake Lanier during the herring spawn, I stopped off a seawall where the spotted bass had been schooling. There was no surface activity at all.

When I got up front and put my trolling motor in the water, with the Hydrowave H2 playing the herring spawn, the water off the seawall exploded with several big spots chasing baitfish. Like a dummy, I had not picked up my rod first, and by the time I unstrapped it and was ready to cast, the fish had disappeared. From then on I have my rod ready to cast when putting the unit in the water.

I have had my unit for about two years and have done well in many tournaments when the fishing was very tough. It gives me a little extra confidence when it is on, always an important factor.

The unit is not cheap, costing about $400.00. Is it worth it?

My old unit died last week, out of warranty that last one year, but I ordered another one to replace it. That is how much I believe in it. Since I was replacing an old unit, they did give me a good discount on the new one.

Frustration with My Minn Kota Ulterra

In April, I decided to celebrate finishing chemo and radiation by buying a new trolling motor. I have wanted the Minn Kota Ulterra for several years. My old one worked fine but was a little hard to turn, and my old back did not like pulling it in by the cord.

The Ulterra self-stows and self deploys. You tap a button on the foot pedal twice and it goes into the water. Tap it once and it comes back in. And it has spot lock, a feature that allows you to tap another button and the motor will keep you within a few feet of the spot where you tapped it.

It also comes with a Bluetooth remote to control the motor. You can sit in the back of the boat and use the trolling motor. A commercial for it shows a man by himself backing his boat in the water and letting it float off. After parking, he goes to the dock, has the remote deploy the motor and drive it to him on the dock. Very convenient.

Striper and hybrid guides especially like this feature. In their center console boat they can stay in the middle of the boat, within easy reach of all the rods out, and control the movement of the boat.

I got the motor, had it installed and took it to

Jackson Lake to test it. The foot pedal was very different, but I thought I would get used to it. I loved the self-stow and spot lock just from playing with them.

The motor worked fine the next weekend in a tournament, but the foot pedal was very frustrating.
For 45 years I have used a cable drive trolling motor. Guiding the boat did not require any thought. It was an automatic act for years, just like driving a car.

The new pedal uses a motor to turn the trolling motor. That is nice in some ways, but the pedal has no “feel” like the old one. I constantly turned the boat in the wrong direction and had to look at it all the time to control it, distracting from my fishing concentration. And the buttons were placed badly, it was way too easy to hit the stow button when trying to turn the motor with my heel.

I started to hate it on that trip and my feelings about it got worse.

The next weekend in a tournament, the spot lock feature and remote would not work. When I got home, I sent an online message to Minn Kota support and they told me to take it to Riverdale Marine, an Authorized Service Center. I did, and the control head was replaced.

Everything worked great for eight trips, and
I was starting to get used to the foot pedal. Then, in the Potato Creek Logan Martin tournament, at my first stop Saturday morning, the motor would not deploy. I sat there not fishing, fooling with the motor, for 30 minutes, missing the best fishing of the day because of the motor.

Then, it finally deployed and I was able to fish for a few hours. But the motor acted crazy, trying to stow when I was not touching the foot pedal or remote and doing other things it was not supposed to do, all on its own. I managed to catch two fish under those frustrating conditions.

Sunday morning in the tournament it worked fine for a couple of hours and I caught three keepers. When I decided to move, the motor would not stow. I was stuck in the down position and I was about four miles from the weigh-in site.

I started idling back to the ramp with my three fish, messing with the foot pedal buttons and remote. It finally stowed, and I ran to the ramp area and fished the last few hours with a crazy motor, doing weird things, but I managed to catch one more keeper.

When I got home I had it taken off my boat, fearing to try to use it again. I sent another message to Minn Kota support on their web form and got no response for three days. I started posting my message to them on social media.

That got attention and I received a call from Minn Kota. I explained all the problems and that I did not trust the motor, even if it was repaired and did not want to use it again, even though I really needed a self-stow motor for my back.

The representative offered to swap the Ulterra for an Ultrex, a non-self-stow motor that cost about $450 less – but with no refund of the difference in cost, not to mention sales tax, shipping and irritation.

The next day I called him back and left a message, asking them to swap the lemon motor I bought for a new one of the same model and cost, since I really needed the self stow. Several people said they had the Ulterra and had no trouble with it, so I thought maybe I had just gotten a lemon, and was willing to try again.

So far, no response.

I am looking at all options. There are a lot of other brands out there.

St.Croix PS60MHF Premier Spinning Rod Review

I like this St Croix spinning rod

Like many fishermen my age, my first rod and reel was a closed face Zebco 202 with a matching rod. It was frustrating to use because the line jammed inside it so much.

When I was 16 I got a new-fangled Mitchell 300 spinning reel with a Garcia rod. It was a heavy outfit, and had problems all it own, but it was a big step up. I used it even after I got into a bass club in 1974, it was one of my two rods and reels back then .

Over the years I replaced it with better spinning rods and reels. But I almost stopped using spinning equipment years ago when I got baitcasting outfits that would handle light baits.

For the past couple of years I have been using one of my old spinning outfit to skip weightless Senkos under docks, but the old rods just were not right. I like a short rod for skipping baits and these were less than six feet long, but the action was too light to wrestle bass past dock posts.

A few weeks ago I got a St.Croix PS60MHF Premier six foot medium heavy fast action spinning rod. It is just what I wanted. The fast action tip skips a light bait easily, but the medium heavy weight gives me the control I need to keep bass from hanging me up.

To clarify some terms:

Rod length is pretty obvious. But the other terms can be confusing.

Rod action is how fast a rod bends from the tip. A fast action rod has a light tip that bends easily. A medium action bends less, and a heavy action bends little. Lighter actions are best for lighter baits. For heavier baits, heavier action is needed.

Rod weight is how stiff the rod is. A light weight rod is usually lighter in heaviness, but mainly it bends a lot, often from the tip to the butt, in a parabolic arch. A heavy weight rod will bend little even at the tip. Again, a lighter weight rod is better for lighter baits but the heavier the weight is, the more “backbone” you have to control the fish.

The six foot length is short compared to the seven foot rods many use, but I like shorter rods for skipping. They have a little less leverage, but many of my cast are sidearm with rod tip point toward the water, and the shorter length helps me avoid hitting the boat and the water on my casts.

I have used this rod in several tournaments and caught enough fish on it to know it is just what I wanted. It helped me catch fish at Sinclair and place 4th in the Flint River Bass Club tournament.

The Premier Family of rods come in both spinning and casting, with various lengths, actions and weights to meet most needs, and sell for about $140.00

Disclaimer – I got a discount when I bought this rod. But no discount is big enough to make me say something good about a product I don’t use or like, and I would never reccomend something I do not use with success to anyone else.

St Croix Rod Review – Rod Weight Makes A Difference

My favorite all around rod –
Croix Avid Mediaum Fast seven foot rod – AVC70MF

Image from St. Croix Rods

Fishermen have their favorite rods, it is largely a matter of personal preferences. My favorites are St. Croix Rods. They have a model for any fishing need, and I have several in different models, weights and actions.

I won a St. Croix rod at a tournament in Wisconsin back in the early 1990s and fell in love with it. The Avid model seven-foot, medium weight, fast action AVC70MF is the best all-around rod I use. It works well for topwater baits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. I also use it successfully for small swim baits and underspins.

The next year I bought two more Avids but didn’t pay careful attention and ordered the medium heavy weigh AVC70MHF, a lucky accident. I used them for throwing the shaky head and jig and they were perfect. I seldom lost a fish on any of my three rods.

I broke the first rod and St. Croix replaced it under warranty for $50. They did not even ask how I broke a two-year old rod, but I am sure I hit it on the side of the boat working a topwater plug based on where it broke, cracking it.

I managed to lose one of the second two I bought, a whole nother story of my stupidity, and ordered two more of the medium action. Since I was mostly fishing shaky heads and small jigs, one of them was dedicated to the small jigs. I kept fishing a shaky head on the medium heavy weight rod.

After losing several fish on the jig, I quit throwing it for a time. I finally realized all the fish I lost were on the medium weight and had not lost fish on the medium heavy rod fishing a shaky head, I ordered another Avid AVC70MHF medium heavy weight fast action rod a few months ago. Since then I have not lost a fish on the jig, including a 4 pounder at Guntersville and many other keeper fish.

Rod weight makes a difference! The slightly heavier weight helps set the hook on the jig and shaky head where the lighter weight is fine for other baits. I fish both shaky head and small jigs on those two rods every tournament now and use the medium weight for most of my other baits.

To clarify some terms:

Rod length is pretty obvious. But the other terms can be confusing.

Rod action is how fast a rod bends from the tip. A fast action rod has a light tip that bends easily. A medium action bends less, and a heavy action bends little. Lighter actions are best for lighter baits. For heavier baits, heavier action is needed.

Rod weight is how stiff the rod is. A light weight rod is usually lighter in heaviness, but mainly it bends a lot, often from the tip to the butt, in a parabolic arch. A heavy weight rod will bend little even at the tip. Again, a lighter weight rod is better for lighter baits but the heavier the weight is, the more ?backbone” you have to control the fish.

I also have a Mojo Crankbait rod and it is perfect for casting big crankbaits, and small ones for that matter. Jamie Koza, owner of The Dugout Tackle shop in Atlanta and well-known tournament fisherman, told me it is the best crankbait rod he has ever used, and I agree. I bought the Mojo Crankbait rod at a Georgia Outdoor Writers association auction, and got it for a very good price.

St Croix rods are not cheap but are all quality rods with a great warranty. But they make a series for most any budget, from their Bass X at about $100 to the very top end Legend Family, made for the deadly serious bass fisherman, at around $420. The Avid Family model I love is about $180 – second only to the Legend, and their Mojo Family is about $130. Their Premier series is about $120.

St Croix makes quality spinning and casting in all the above models and have models for saltwater, salmon and fly and even ice fishing. I have a St Croix Premier spinning rod and five Avid casting rods and the Mojo now, and have ordered a Legend jig rod – just gotta try it out.

Disclaimer – I get a discount from St. Croix but would never use so many of them – at any price – if they did not work for me. I would recommend any fisherman try the St Croix rods in the model and action that they like.