Monday, June 13, 2016

Modding, but...

Well, once again my interest in posting about something is apparently waning. I've done several mods to my kayak, but not shared them.

Why not?

Mostly because what I'm doing seems so basic that I'm sure it's all been done before. I wired some lights to my bed extender on my truck for night time driving. While an amazing feat for non-mechanical me, not exactly earth shattering kayak hacking.

I also managed to rig up a solution for a few other things:

*The removal of my T-bar handle and rope, where I always got lures stuck.
*A DIY solution for storing anchor rope and the anchor.
*The perfect placement ( finally, after two years of not liking where they were) of my rod holders.
*An answer to my paddle leash always being in the way.

But these aren't really things I think anyone would be interested in, since my kayak is a "minority" version of a plastic boat that few people have and my hacks on said boat won't be something most can duplicate on their boats.

Always searching for something to write about, never quite finding that thing that I love. Maybe I don't really love anything? LOL :)

On a side note, they just released the .fish domain name.

OwlJones.Fish sounds pretty good, but right now it's $40 to get that for a year. So, yeah - no thanks.

When it comes down, maybe I'll snag that and just write about anything and everything under the sun - or just about fishing for bream with #18 and smaller nymphs. Or cats.

We'll see...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

No Fishing


Well, it's another day of not fishing around here. I was really super excited this year to get back into it, but I haven't been nearly as often as I'd like. I guess that's the price you pay for being a grown up.

Bought a new little rod and reel the other day at Academy Sports, which has quickly become my "go to" store for fishing stuff and ammo. Our Academy just opened about three months ago and I've already helped them pay the light bill every month. I think the people in this town will be happy not to have to drive all the way to Bass Pro (40 minute drive) from now on. Academy's prices are better anyway, and it's easier to find someone to help you if you need it.

Anyway, I bought the little 5 foot ultralight spinning rod and reel combo, but haven't had a chance to use it yet. Hopefully when the next full moon hits, I can find some bream on beds and give the little rod a good work out.

The combo is Pfluegler (sp?) (too lazy to go look) and I guess we'll see how long it holds up to kayak fishing, banging around, rubbing on trees, etc. I don't mean to be, but I'm usually pretty rough on gear. This little guy was on sale for $44. UL action, 5 ft long and a 5 ball bearing reel. I'm really more of a Shimano guy, so I figure if the reel goes I can add a small Shimano reel for about $30 later on. Should be fun for small bass, trout and bluegills. I actually have a draft of a post saved entitled " 'Gills of Summer" but so far I haven't been able to get out there after them really. Soon though. Summer is just now starting, so there's still time. Man, this year is flying by...

Crappy Instagram Pic #1


I tried to use a short 7 foot tenkara rod from the kayak the other day, but it was just a mess. I had a 15 ft. reach and that was too short to keep from spooking the fish in the clear water of Lathem Res. Visibility there is usually around 4 ft. unless it's recently rained and the fish would spook every time I made a forward cast. I was planning on using my traditional fly rod and reel, but accidentally picked up a reel pouch that had nothing but a spool inside it! Ooops.

If I'd had a longer tenkara rod that might have worked, but dealing with the line between paddling or moving around would probably still be a pain.

If I can't find bream bedding the next time we get a full moon, I'll have to just take that little rod trout fishing I guess. :)

Crappy Instagram Pic #2


If I can find a way to get a free day to do it.

Anyone got any fish tales from recent adventures?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Striper Fishing Tee


Got back to designing a few tee shirts this last week. One for the club and one just for me. Need to sell two more of these before they'll print.

Designing them is easy enough, but getting them in front of people without being a total spammer is a trick I've yet to master - and I won't just randomly spam people. I hate that crap.

So anyway, thought I'd throw it up here, too just in case someone stumbles by and likes it.




https://teespring.com/new-wake-up-call

Striper Fishing and another Drowning on Lake Lanier


So, I've been fishing out of my kayak now for about three years now, if you include the year it sat in the garage and never got wet once. Oh well.

I'm about to get into striped bass fishing, which is going to be quite a change from what I've done the last 20 years or so; which is fishing for small trout in mountain streams. The lure of striped bass is very strong around here, as we have one of the country's premier freshwater striped bass fisheries in Lake Sidney Lanier.

A lake with miles and miles of shoreline - most of which is ironically irrelevant because of the depth of most of the lake.

It doesn't help that the local kayak club I'm in ( L.A.K.E.) is almost exclusively focused on stripers.

I've been avoiding striped bass fishing since I got my kayak, mostly because I was under the impression that it took a ton of specialized equipment to go after them. But then, there's Klag. 

Klag, AKA: Dave, is a striper fishing machine - and he doesn't use any fancy bait take with an 02 system or any of that stuff that most people feel like they need to fish for stripers with bait.

As someone who fished for largemouth bass with lures and for trout with flies for over two decades, I was surprised to find that most kayak anglers who fish for striped bass use bait. Then, I knew next to nothing about striped bass, and I still don't know much - but thanks to the great people in L.A.K.E. - I'm learning alot - and fast.

Striped bass kayak anglers use bait ( blueback herring, shad or small panfish) in our lake during fall, winter and spring. In summer, some people still use herring, but keeping them alive becomes difficult, thus the use of some of that complicated bait tank rigging I was talking about before.

So many anglers, including the fish catching Klag, go to jigging spoons and bucktail jigs to tempt the schooling stripers. In summer, the fish school tightly around bait balls and at specific depths due to needing to find the optimum oxygen levels in the summer lake water. This concentrates them and apparently makes for some stiff competition among large schools of fish. A jigging spoon jigged or retrieved quickly toward the surface is supposed to bring rod jarring strikes, according to Klag - and he should know. ( See pics below).







I'm going to twist his arm and get him to show me some of his jigging spoon techniques in just a week or two if this weather gets hot enough - and it looks like it will. We're in the low 90's today and I think summer is officially here in north Georgia. Enjoy Klag's pics and I'll post up some of my own hopefully, soon enough.

On a sad note, we've had another drowning on Lake Lanier. A young woman went missing a few weeks ago and they just found her body on Saturday. Authorities are ruling it an accidental drowning. Multitudes of people visit Lake Lanier each year, and because of the large numbers of visitors, boaters, swimmers and in my opinion a rampant disregard for common sense, we have many deaths here on the lake each year. Wear your PFD. I am going to beat Klag with a 7 ft. striper rod if he doesn't start wearing one.

It's not about freedom. I am all for freedom. I am all for less government regulation and fewer laws and rules - but I come to the PFD argument from this point of view -

If you don't want to wear one, that's fine for you - but you should think about the people in your life who love YOU. If you won't wear one for their sake, then I have to question how much you really care about them. One cramp in a leg or accident while boating and you could leave them without you forever.

For me, it's not worth the extra comfort of not wearing the PFD, to risk causing the people who love me that kind of anguish and pain.
( Yes, even I have a couple of people who love me. :) )

Wear your PFD.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

So maybe this isn't going to be a blog all about modding/hacking your kayak. Maybe this is just going to be a blog about loving kayak fishing.

And day glo orange tiger striped paddles.

Why not?

:)


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Roto Grip Review and HACK!

Welcome to the very first Product Review on YAKHACKER.COM! Let's dive right in!

PRODUCT: Roto Grip Paddle Holder
RETAIL PRICE: Aprox. $14.95 ea.
MANUFACTURER: YakAttack 
FITS: Most T-bolt / Mighty Bolt Trac Systems
AS SHOWN: Hacked to fit a NuCanoe Frontier 12 SOT Kayak


The Roto Grip kayak paddle holder is, without a doubt the coolest looking paddle holder on the market today. It looks like something that might have fallen off an X-Wing Fighter and it's design is pretty effective.

Purchased at Austin Kayak, the paddle holder retails for $13.99 each - but we found that you'll need two for most applications if you really want to take advantage of the "lock down" capabilities of this product. If you have a really flat deck on your kayak you can probably make do with just one, but in most cases, we're going to recommend you buy two.

T-BOLT NOT VISIBLE / TRAC NOT INCLUDED * PHOTO FROM YAKATTACK.US

On most kayaks, this paddle holder is a "plug and play" unit. Just attach the holder to the trac like you would any other trac-ready accessory. However, I ran into a problem with installing it on my NuCanoe Frontier 12 that was no fault of the Roto Grip itself. It was the NuCanoe's high gunwales.

The trac system on a NuCanoe is well below the gunwale on any of their models, thus when placing the Roto Grip in the gear trac, the paddle shaft is well below the sides of the boat and the paddle blades hitting the gunwale prevent the use of the Roto Grip as designed. As a matter of fact, the height of the NuCanoe gunwale is so great that the shaft of the paddle wouldn't even come in contact with the Roto Grips at all.

YOU CAN SEE HERE THAT THE TRAC IS ABOUT TWO INCHES BELOW THE TOP OF THE GUNWALE


Thankfully, a solution wasn't too far away. A great hack was found by posting on the NuCanoe forums, where member "cdh4088" had already worked out a solution. The best part about his solution was that it used the existing hardware already on the Frontier 12's gunwale and required no new holes! Always a plus!

cdh4088 used a simple L-shaped piece of aluminum to fabricate the solution. The bracket was secured under the tie down point, replacing the stock hex head bolts with longer 1/4 - 20 X 3/4 bolts from the local big box store. The hacked brackets did work without the longer screws, but when kayak rigging for fishing, the less you can leave to chance the better!



For my own Frontier hack, I used some pre-made, galvanized L-brackets from Lowe's. I had to bend them quite a bit here and there to get them to fit, and they don't look nearly as slick as cdh's - but they'll do the job. I'll be adding those longer bolts as soon as I can get back into town and pick them up. The Frontier 12 ( luckily ) has two tie down points on each side of the kayak, spaced toward the front and rear of the boat, allowing me to place the brackets there, instead of drilling new holes. An optional mount would be to use two 4 inch trac sections on top of the gunwales, but those run about $12-14 each, and I wanted to keep things simple and - well, CHEAP!

You may also notice that I hacked the Roto Grips themselves by replacing the stock padding where the paddle sits with a small cut-to-fit piece of blue Sea-Deck brand decking material. I had a sample of this material and it seemed a bit softer than the stock rubber padding, allowing for a quieter "lock down" of the paddle shaft into the Roto Grip.




OK, so all that said - how good are the Roto Grip paddle holders? 

Well, first a disclaimer: I haven't tried any other aftermarket paddle holders, but I have looked at plenty of them online over the weeks before I purchased the Roto Grips. All the other plug and play options seemed to use a single point connection to secure the paddle and I was really looking for more than that. With the Roto Grips purchased as a pair ( $13.99 each, bought from Austin Kayak ), they offer me two options.

Option one, used as a paddle rest. 

You don't have to completely "lock down" the paddle each time you want to use it. When I'm actively fishing, I seldom push the paddle shaft all the way into the holders. The Roto Grips in tandem do an amazing job of just holding the paddle when it's placed on top of the holders. It's fast and quiet to simply put the paddle on top of the Roto Grips. They don't go anywhere and are quite secure - and best of all, when I need to pick up the paddle to make an adjustment, I don't have to "pop" it out of the holder, potentially creating sound waves that might alarm shallow water fish.

Option two, used as a paddle holder. 

Pushing the paddle fully into the Roto Grip paddle holder secures the paddle shaft with a reassuring "click." The wheels rotate and "lock in" the paddle so that it can't be bumped out of the holder under normal circumstances. I suppose you could accidentally knock it out of the holder, but so far I haven't experienced anything like that. Once the paddle is in the Roto Grip, it's IN the Roto Grip. You have to purposefully take it out by force. Not much force, but still - by enough force that you're not going to bump it with your elbow and knock it out. Remember, I'm using two Roto Grips in this application. YMMV with just one. ( If you're using just one, let us know in the comments how it's working for you.)

So the overall rating for the Yakattack Roto Grip paddle holders?

( We'll use a 1-10 scale on this site, with 10 being the ultimate endorsement of quality and approval )

Roto Grip gets a solid 9. 

The only thing we think could be better is that the plastic used to make the "Y" part of the holder could be a little more stiff. We're thinking RAM mount material here - but then, if it were it might be $29 instead of $14 and here at Yakhacker.com we give extra bonus points for affordable gear!

YakAttack makes solid product across it's line, so it's no surprise that the Roto Grips have garnered such a high rating from us. We think any kayaker would love them, although you may have to do some small amount of hacking to get them to fit your particular model of kayak.

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Comments? Let us know what you think!