Category Archives: Fishing Product Reviews

St Croix Avid Casting Rod Review

What is the best all-around casting rod for bass fishing?

Some of my St. Croix rods


In my opinion, the best all-around casting rod for bass is the St. Croix Avid Series seven foot medium fast action rod. I fish spinnerbaits, topwater, jerkbaits, swim baits and crankbaits on that one series and action rod. The Avid Series is reasonably priced for a quality product. If I could have only one rod, that would be it.

I like a little heavier rod for shaky heads and small jigs, so I use the same rod, but in medium /heavy fast action. My hook-up rate with baits that require a strong hook set is better with this rod than with the medium action rod.

The seven foot rod gives plenty of length for long casts and for fighting fish. It is light weight enough to fish all day without tiring me too much.

If all my rods were destroyed in a fire or some other catastrophe, I would start out with two medium heavy rods and three medium rods. I could rig a shaky head and a jig on the heavy rods and a spinnerbait, crankbait and topwater on the medium rods to cover almost all situations i am likely to face on Georgia and Alabama lakes.

St Croix offers a good warranty, with repair or replacement of any rod with a defect. Even if you damage and break your rod, they will replace it for a low price. I have never had a problem with defective rods but I have broken them. It is easy to hit the side of the boat when working a topwater or jerkbait, and they can crack them. The damage may not show up until later when you load the rod up landing a fish but that is the most likely way to break one other than something stupid that shows up immediately like slamming the rod in a car door. Even that is covered.

A St. Croix rod will last you a life time with no problems.

I Love/Hate My New Minn Kota Ulterra Trolling Motor

Minn Kota Ulterra Trolling Motor with 360 scan bracket


I ordered a Minn Kota Ulterra trolling motor from MyGreenTackle.com. Their service and price was great, the chat person gave me good advice, their prices are competitive and there is no sales tax or shipping fee. The motor arrived in only two days. BUT, I was too excited to really check. Took the motor to be installed and he called me when he got ready to hook up the power.
My boat is wired for 36 volts and the motor was a 24 volt. Glad he noticed before hooking it up!

I contacted MyGreenTackle and they confirmed they shipped the wrong motor. Since it was already hooked up I decided to see how it preformed. It has more than enough power for my boat, and I can use the extra battery for accessories only, solving several problems. Decided to keep it, and MyGreenTackle refunded the difference in price, but I am worried about reserve power.

There was another problem I did not anticipate. I have a Humminbird 360 scan that I love, but there is no way to mount the transducer to this motor since the shaft slides. And my 2016 sonar units are too old to use the Chirp transducer built into the motor, so mounting the old transducer is a problem, too. I could order a newer unit for sonar, and may do that eventually.

I contacted Minn Kota and was told there is no way to mount the 360 transducer and they do not make an adapter. That is strange since both Humminbird and Minn Kota are owned by the same company, but I guess that is big business.

Fortunately, through a little searching I found that Cumberland Crappie makes an adapter for the 360 transducer as well as a bracket for mounting other transducers like Lowrance to it. I got both and got them put on. And although the resulting rig looks crazy, it works so far.

I have used the Ulterra in two club tournaments now and I love/hate my new Minn Kota Ulterra Trolling Motor.

I ordered the self stow unit since I have back problems and it hurts bending over and pulling in a trolling motor. And I really love that feature, as well as being able to trim it up and down easily when in shallow water. And I think I will really like the remote control feature when I get used to it.

I think I am going to love the spot lock, too. It worked fine the first time I fished with the new motor but the second time I could not get it to engage. I will study the manual and hope i am doing something wrong. It would be just my luck to have a defective unit.

I hate the foot control. It seems the buttons were placed in the worst possible position, especially for someone who has been using a regular foot pedal for 45 years. I have hit the button to stow the motor dozens of times when using my heel to turn the motor. And I am used to resting my heel on the back of the pedal and raising my toe when releasing the power button. That starts the stow function and I hve to quickly hit the lower button to stop it and get it back down. I make that mistake constantly.

There is no “feel” with this foot pedal, either. I have used the regular pedal so many years it is an unconscious effort to keep the boat going like I want it to. Now, I constantly have to look at what the motor is doing, very distracting while fishing.

Another thing I do not like is how high the head sticks up while fishing. I hit it repeatedly while trying to side arm cast and skip baits under docks. I hope I can adjust it lower.

Maybe I will eventually get used to the new system.

If i could go back, I would never order an Ulterra for a bass boat. I would stick with the Ultrex, even with my bad back.

Why I Will Never Buy Walmart Batteries Again

For many years i have run Walmart Batteries in my bass boat, using from one to four depending on the boat. They were relatively inexpensive, you could trade them almost anywhere if you had problems, and I could get from two to two and one half years service from them.

My current boat, a Skeeter ZX 225, has a cranking battery, a batter for accessories like deptfinders and aerators, and two trolling motor batteries for the 24 volt Motor Guide trolling motor. I started using a different battery for accessories a few years ago when my boqt would not crank, the aerators had been running all day and I had stayed in one creek all day. I vowed that would never happen again.

In November my two Walmart Batteries were drained the first day of a Top Six tournament on a very windy day. That night a windstorm blew a tree down on the power lines going to my campsite so my batteries didn’t get fully charged. I was dead in the water by 9:00 the next morning. Since the batteries were about 30 months old, and I usually got from 24 to 30 months from Walmart batteries, I replaced them and the third battery too.

By the first tournament this year, only 13 months later, those two batteries would not hold a charge for more than half an eight hour tournament day. I took them in but they tested ok. They would hold a charge but were useless for a trolling motor used all day.

Even worse, last fall, less than a year after putting a new Walmart battery in for accessories, it started falling after about six hours. It was running an HDS 8 unit up front and an HDS 10 on the console and most of the day the console unit was on standby. Both aerators were also running. Again I took it in and it tested ok – and it will hold enough of a charge to use as a cranking battery in my Ford 1510 tractor.

I knew better but got another Walmart Battery for the accessories in November. In February it would not hold a charge for an eight hour tournament day running just two depthfinders and two areators. i had to use jumper cables to keep aerators running until the end of the day. Early in March I would fish all day in the wind at Eufaula. When I came in the two Exide Batteries I put in this January would be down to 90 percent charge. After a couple of hours they would be at 100 percent and still be at 100 percent the next morning.

The five month old Walmart battery would be down around 50 percent when I came in, the point where the depthfinders started failing. It would charge back to 100 percent overnight with my three bank on board charger and a stand alone charger hooked to it. But an hour later, after taking the stand alone charger off, it would drop to only 80 percent.

I put another Excide battery in today for accories! I will never buy another Walmart Battery.

Costa Galveston Sunglasses Review

I like my Costa Galveston sunglasses and they work well for fishing. They are very comfortable, even after an eight hour tournament.

Costa Del Mar Galveston sunglasses are good fishing sunglasses. The Galveston model sunglasses are polarized with very clear lenses. Their light weight helps when wearing them a long time. They are fairly expensive sunglasses, but worth it.

An old saying states: “You get what you pay for,” meaning if you buy cheap products you get poor results. That is often true in fishing and some expensive equipment does not give good results. But there are lures, rods, reels and even boats that are not expensive but give good results. For years I felt that way about sunglasses. Cheap ones were just as good as more expensive sunglasses.

I received a pair of Costa Sunglasses to try out several years ago. Costa released three new styles of sunglasses that year and I was offered a chance to test the Galveston style, the one that seemed most suited for the kind of fishing I do most often. They have large square shaped lenses that let you see better on the water while covering your eyes. The lenses are set “frameless,” which means they have no bottom or side rims.

This makes them lighter, and the pair I tried are very light, something extremely important when wearing them nine hours straight as I did in the tournament the second Saturday in January.

The ear pieces are straight and don’t hook over your ears. I worried a little about that, fearing they would slip off in the boat, but the soft, non slip ear pieces stayed on and were comfortable. The nosepiece was soft and comfortable, too, and it is adjustable to fit your nose.

My pair are polarized with copper colored lenses that work well in the bright sun. The glasses are amazingly clear and everything looks very sharp through them. I could see underwater cover like stumps and rocks better than with other glasses I have tried. In the spring I have been able to see bass on the bed better than in the past, a combination of the lenses and color of these glasses

The glasses cost around $175 so they definitely are not cheap, but if you take care of them and put them in the case that comes with them when you take them off, they should last a very long time. I am definitely happy with mine. You can check them out at www.costadelmar.com and also at authorized Costa retail outlets.

Have You Watched Costa’s Geobass Shows?

I have been enjoying watching Costa’s Geobass series of videos posted online.

In this series, four guys travel to exotic destinations to try to catch bass. But they consider any fish named bass a bass, including saltwater species, so it is not just black bass, although they do go after trophy largemouth.

The videos are fast paced and fun to watch, and they do catch fish. They use fly rods only and tie their own flies to suit the situation. They are like any group of fishermen, picking at each other and having fun.

They go to such places as Christmas Island, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and many others

Check out these videos – I think you will enjoy them.

Boat, Motor and Trolling Motor Equipment I Use

I like and use the following boat, motor, trolling motor and other related equipment

Steel Cable Trolling Motor Pull Cord

T-H Marine G-Force Trolling Motor Replacement Handle and Cable

T-H Marine G-Force Trolling Motor Replacement Handle and Cable

Endorsed by B.A.S.S. Elite Pro Gerald "G-Man" SwindleRugged nylon jacketed stainless steel cableLarge comfortable cushioned grip handleThe G-Force Trolling Motor Replacement Handle and Cable from T-H Marine is a giant step forward in trolling motor replacement release and lift systems. Endorsed by B.A.S.S. Elite Pro Gerald "G-Man" Swindle, the G-Force Handle is a rugged, nylon jacketed stainless steel cable with a large comfortable cushioned grip handle. The last thing a tournament angler or any angler needs is a broken rope and handle. And as trolling motors become more powerful, complex and heavy, this is a real concern. The G-Force handle eliminates this potential problem. Fits most trolling motor models and makes. Comes with a hook-n-loop strap to secure to the motor shaft while underway.







yamaha Water/Gas filter separator

High Water Creations Tackle Tags Review

If you are like me and most bass fishermen with a bass boat you have many plastic boxes of plugs and worms in your boat. They fit in racks and stand on end. Most of us write on the end what is in them. That works, but the writing is often hard to see. And I never seem to remember what pound test line I put on a reel or when I put it on, too.

A local fisherman has come up with a good solution. His company, High Waters Creations, makes Tackle Tags. The Line Label Series is a set of stick on labels in high contrast colors that come in a wide variety of pound test. And it also includes month labels. Stick one of each on your reel and you will instantly know the information you need.

Their Hard Bait and Soft Bait Series are the same high contrast stick on labels for those kinds of baits. Stick the Crankbait label on the end of the box and you instantly know what it contains. The label even has a picture of the bait to help. Soft Bait Series include worms, craws, swimbaits and other common baits we use.

If these labels sound like something you can use, check them out on their web site at http://www.highwaterscreatons.com or email them at info@highwaterscreations.com.

Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifer Baitcasting Reel Review

Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Baitcasting Reel – List price $99.99 – often on sale for significantly less.
Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Baitcast Reel
buy now

A few weeks ago during a club tournament the level wind on one of my favorite baitcasting reels started sticking on the side when it started to reverse. I have had this problem on several reels over the years. With heavy use the paul that moves back and forth in the screw and moves the line guide wears and sticks. Everytime in the past it was a simple matter to get it replaced but my repair shop could not get one for this reel. So I needed a new reel.

I had heard some good things about the Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifer reel so I checked online and they were on sale for $79.99. The reviews there were very good. I have a media discount card – disclaimer, I get 25 percent off on Bass Pro Shops branded items – so I drove to the Macon Bass Pro Shop. Unfortunately for me, the sale ended the day before I went, so with my discount I got two of the reels for about the sale price that I missed.

I put the reels on two of my rods, replacing the broken reel and changing out an old round reel on another rod. That Saturday my bass club had a youth tournament at Jackson Lake and a club tournament on Sunday at Lake Oconee, so I got to test them out under tournament conditions.

Both reels were great! I cast a chatterbait on one and a crankbait on the other. I had spooled both reels with 14 pound Bass Pro Shops Excel Monofilament Line. Bass Pro Shops Excel Monofilament Line - 1 lb. Spool
buy now

I have used this line in the past and it is a very good line for the price. I got a 120 yard spool for $10.99, a little less with my discount.

Goth reels, with just a little adjustment, were easy to make long casts without backlash. They were very smooth during the cast and retrieve. And the drag with smooth and easy to adjust to the tension I wanted for the rod and bait I was using.

Bottom line is, I will definitely buy more of these reels to replace some of my older reels.

Stanford Lures Cedar Shad Crankbait

In an earlier article I mentioned a plug bass pro Bobby Padgett uses to catch fish on the ledges at Eufaula. A company in Columbus, Stanford Lures, is making the Cedar Shad. They also make the Hog Caller spinnerbait you see in local stores sold by another company.

The Cedar Shad is carved out of Western Cedar, runs about 10 to 12 feet deep and has excellent colors. It is guaranteed to run true right out of the box. Most crankbaits need tuning before they will run right but the Cedar Shad doesn’t. I expect this company to sell a lot of quality lures that are made in our state.

Crankbaits are excellent lures year round. Bobby Padgett’s favorite time to use them is May through the fall when the bass are stacked up on ledges and deep structure. He says his type fishing is feast or famine, catching either dozens of good bass or nothing.

I really like crankbaits this time of year. I am usually looking to catch one or two fish, just to place in a club tournament. Crankbaits fished slowly around rock or wood cover in shallow water will usually pay off in a few strikes even on the worst days.

Its tough deciding whether to go fishing or hunting this weekend. Doe days are open in Spalding County and other counties toward Atlanta. Other counties do not have doe days until Thanksgiving, but bucks should still be moving. I need a couple of deer for the freezer, but catching bass sounds good, too. This is a great time of year!

Fishing Apps for Smart Phones That I Like and Use

There are many fishing apps for smart phones on the market. I don’t play games so I am not really interested in the games available – I use apps that actually help while fishing.

Weather plays an important past in fishing, and I always check the hour by hour forecast, even if it is often wrong. But while on the water rain or a thunderstorm can change things fast, and lightening can endanger you. I like to know if a storm is headed my way, and how intense it is. So I have a weather radar app, MyRadar, shows real time radar. You can see the intensity of a storm and the direction it is moving. I can either put on a rain suit or head for cover, depending on what is coming.

I like the Solunar Tables, which predict feeding times based on moon and sun position. They don’t always work, but do give me an idea of what to expect. I have seen them most accurate when fishing riprap, one of my favorite places to fish, so I like to know predicted times the fish should bite best. One on my phone, ISolunar, not only shows major and minor feeding periods, but sunrise, sun set, moon rise, moon set and other information. You can set it for the area you are fishing and look ahead to the day you will be fishing.

Two eBooks that I wrote are also on my phone. Key to “Catching Clarks Hill Bass” and “Keys to Catching Lake Lanier Bass” are lake specific, with lake maps, GPS Coordinates and descriptions of ten spots to catch bass each month of the year. But the books also tell the baits the local expert uses on each hole, how they rig and fish them, and other information that gives you general tips on bait rigging and use.

Do you have fishing apps on your phone? If so, share them in the comments section below.