The age old question with a fishing twist: What's your favorite color?

Family discussions at my house always gravitate toward fishing. Almost every time, color and style comes up. We fish a lost of soft plastics in our family. They are versatile, fairly inexpensive and produce every season of the year. The styles and colors however, are diverse.

My brother loves to throw a Junebug colored Yum Dinger. He especially likes to throw these when he can find it in the 3" variety but now they're almost all 4". I'd call him crazy but I've seen him consistently put fish in the boat.

My Dad throws a lot of different baits but if I made him choose one, and he could find it, I'd bank on the 4" Berkley Power Worm in Camo. A close second would be a sandworm.

For me, it's a 4" Hag's Tornado in Watermelon Chartreuse. Is it any wonder I do a lot of finesse fishing? My whole family does it and has for decades. 

So if we fish the same waters primarily,together much of the time, why different color preferences?

Catches and Confidence.

I feel like I could catch Moby Dick on a 4" Hag's in WC. I have consistently put fish in the kayak. If I have a skunk day going on, I know I can catch fish on it. The first time I thought it could happen and it did, the confidence started to build. As I repeated the cycle and it continued to be true, it became known to me that I could put a fish in the boat with this bait. I proved it again on Friday. No fish the first three hours. Switched back to my confidence bait and bam, two fish in 10 minutes.

I have seen my brother catch what had to be every fish off of a bank on his bait. The same for my Dad. When I try to use their colors the results are underwhelming.

The cool thing is, it might be a color on a crankbait at a certain lake. I know a guy like that. He has won a lot of money (some of it mine) on a Central Texas lake with one particular color. He knows it's special too because that is a secret color only a few know.

I have another buddy who has a particular style and color of trailer he uses on spinnerbaits.

Call it hocum, voodoo, confidence or coincidence but I bet if you think about it for two seconds, you have a color you always go back to.

So, what is it? Let me know here in the comments or on Facebook.

“As no man is born an artist, so no man is born an angler.” 
― Izaak Walton

At one point in my life I fancied myself an artist. I would craft sculptures out of bronze, plaster and found objects. I would paint for hours only to decide to white wash the canvas and start over. I studied art in college and earned a degree from it.

The hardest thing I had to do to learn to be an artist was to learn how to get my tools to do what I wanted them to. Anyone can buy a chisel or paintbrush and create something. It may or may not be successful as art. Fishing is not so different.

I can buy the exact same equipment as the top angler in the country but I most likely cannot match his angling prowess. What's the difference? Preparation, study, practice and a dash of natural ability. So many people have great dreams but are afraid to wake up and do something about them. Chasing your dreams can be fun but it is work. Hard work. Walton had it right. Everyone can get lucky or fish a short lived pattern and appear to be good but even Ernest Hemingway said "Anyone can be an angler in May."

Those anglers on the big stage, the ones whose names are on your gear, they work their tails off to be there. Not one of those top anglers woke up at six years old and started slaying fish on highly pressured public waters. Not one.

What does that mean?

You really can be whatever you want to be but you have to be the first to invest in it.

Chasing your dreams can mean staying up late, studying, preparing, working on your craft, learning the ins and outs of every spring, gear and guide of your equipment. You have to invest in you. When you stay up late with whiskey and cigars, decide you'll work on your craft later, study maps later, retune that bait later, you postpone your dream. You make a choice every morning what to do.

Confession time.

I would love to work for a kayak industry company, traveling the country preaching kayak fishing, safety and even wet a line in some new places. Do you know why I haven't?

I'm scared.

I don't know if it would replace my current income. I don't know how often I would get to see my family. I don't have answers to lots of questions. Is it even possible?

I don't know if that dream will ever become a reality. Whose fault is it? Mine.

I have found a new love. I am chasing a different dream right now. I am finding ways to preach kayaking without succumbing to my fears. I try to reach as many people as I can through this little blog that keeps growing each week thanks to readers just like you. Though it doesn't pay the bills, it doesn't keep me from it either. The throngs that are joining kayak fishing each week right now give me great hope that the world is realizing what many of us have known, that kayak fishing is AWESOME!

Whatever your dream is, plan to put in more than you ever hope to get out of it. No man is born an angler.  

photo via Chad Hoover
ICAST is proving to be a surprise factory as normal but one of the hot chatter items this year hasn't been much of a surprise at all. The Wilderness Systems Thresher (prototype) has had three videos released already showing off its ability to climb the surf and handle foamy chop. A few photos have surfaced as well.

Every day a few dozen kayaks get listed on Craigslist, fishing forums, and Buy/Sell/Trade lists. On these lists are people with buyer's remorse, listing these kayaks as "never seen the water" or "only used twice" or some other variant. If you follow these tips when you get ready to purchase, the chances of you having to flip that kayak to try to get your cash back will be lessened significantly.

Having lived in Texas all my life and kayak fished all over this great state the last 11 years, it's time that I let you in on my favorite hot spots. These lakes may or may not be places you are familiar with but you will definitely want to add them to your list. If you are searching for black bass out of the kayak, try these lakes.
Turtle: Also known as flipping a kayak while you are in it

The idea of falling out of a kayak is the exact reason why people either:

#1 Don't/Won't buy a kayak

#2 Buy a particularly wide kayak

This is nothing new. People don't buy any floating vessel only to end up bobbing beside it shortly after launch but maybe they should try it.

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.
Have you ever wanted to install a fish finder on your kayak but really dreaded drilling holes, snaking wires and having a permanent electronic fixture? Luther from YakAttack heard your concern and earlier this year released the Cell Blok, an all in one box to mount to a rail that will hold your fish finder, battery and transducer cable.

Known as the engine of a kayak, the paddle plays a more important role than most people realize. Having used several different types of paddles over the last 11 years, I have discovered what I like and what I don't like, what I need and what I don't need. The Bending Branches Angler Pro meets a great deal of paddlers' needs and wants. As always though, I have a few suggestions.

The Good

I have the 240cm Angler Pro with the sea green blades. I chose the sea green, which is more like a chartreuse, for visibility and in that area it does wonderfully. Even in low light conditions the blade sticks out on the landscape especially when slicing through the air.

Sunset and the AP still bright

The fiberglass blades and carbon shaft measure in at 30 ounces which is even lighter than it sounds. Coming from a Carlisle Magic that was over 36 ounces, this was a big change. At 30 ounces, fatigue is greatly reduced but that's not the end of it. To get maximum efficiency, you have to have a tough rigid blade that can move water. The 104 square inches of surface area on the blade is the reason. For mid to high angle paddlers this is going to be very important to maximum your paddle stroke. After several miles my shoulders still feel pretty good and I can make better progress into a stiff headwind. The Angler Pro really shines in every day use and paddles under six miles. Since most paddlers are mid to high angle, this paddle fits the bill for a great majority of the population.

Needs Improvement

My greatest fear in going to a paddle with fiberglass blades was shattering it on the rocks pushing off. I can say it has not done that. I've been as rough or rougher with it than all the other paddles I've used and it has done wonderfully. The one fall back you get is a little bit of "fuzziness" on the edges and a couple of small chips. After almost five months and a dozen trips, the fiberglass is starting to feather just a very little bit on the edges. Bending Branches makes a product to help with this called Rockgard that is applied to the wooden paddles. A version of this for the fiberglass paddles would be great!

Some fuzziness on the edges and a couple of small chips

The other glaring issue is weight. Another manufacturer is selling a paddle that is 7 ounces lighter. While higher in price (about $150 more), anglers and paddlers both understand that a long day on the water demands light and efficient. An even lighter version of the Angler Pro called something like the Angler Air or the Bending Branches Whisp would be beneficial. Something lighter than 25 ounces can be the difference between six miles and 10 miles at the end of the day.

Final Thoughts

I do love this paddle. Do I wish it were lighter? Sure but I also wish my bank account were more full but in both situations, I am thankful for what I have. This is a tremendous upgrade for most folks. The Angler Pro retails at $300 and comes with camo or sea green blades. Check it out at your local paddle shop today!

Going to work!

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. 

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.