VANISH TRANSITIONS FLUOROCARBON LINE

Reviewed by: Capt. Mike Schoonveld

There is one major reason to select a fluorocarbon line when fishing. It’s less visible to fish than traditional monofilament and braided line. Time and again, line visibility has proven to be the difference between making a catch or not, or making a great catch or getting marginal results. There are other, more subtle reasons for paying extra for fluoro-tech line, but they pale compared to the invisibility factor.

But for guys like me who prefer to use high-visibility lines, I relied on fluorocarbon only as a leader material. There was no “best of both worlds” until the line-scientists at Berkley figured how to combine their “Trans Optic” technology – originally available in only in monofilament – into their fluorocarbon line. Berkley’s Vanish fluorocarbon line has always been one of my favorite “invisible” fluorocarbon lines. Transition is essentially the same chemistry except it’s a “highly” visible to humans in a boat but invisible to fish in the water. I use the word “highly” instead of high because compared to other hi-vis line, such as the bright fluorescent green, yellow and orange monofilaments, it pales. Still, compared to clear fluorocarbon line, it is more easily seen.

What happens is above the water, light from the sky causes the line to take on either a solid gold color, or reddish gold tint (either color is available), similarly to how clear/UV lines charge up to glow with a bluish tinge when in sunlight. Once in or under the water, as the sunlight is filtered out, the line abruptly loses its gold or gold/red color and it performs as a regular fluorocarbon line. I particularly like it on downrigged lines since it gives anglers reeling in a fish just enough awareness of the downrigged lines to allow them to guide the fish past them and into the net. 

Many anglers are reluctant to go the hi-vis line with fluoro-leader route due to their unfamiliarity with tying a good leader knot, the potential for failure in the line-to-leader knot or they don’t like the way leader knots pass through the rod’s line guides. Vanish Transition Fluorocarbon gives anglers all the advantage of fluorocarbon line and a bit of the advantage of fishing with a hi-vis line. It’s available in strengths fro 4 to 20-pound test. Widely available at retailers, online outlets or at www.berkley-fishing.com.

PERFORMANCE FABRIC SHIRTS

By Capt. Mike Schoonveld

Not long ago, during the summer months, most Great Lakes fishermen pulled on a tee-shirt if the day came with a prediction for warm weather and sunny skies. Then, if they were worried about too much sun or wanted to shield themselves from the sun’s UV rays, they slathered on a layer of SPF 50 sunscreen on their arms and hoped the fish wouldn’t notice the smell on their hands. They also hoped the sun-salve they slathered wouldn’t sweat off or wear off and that most of the sun’s rays wouldn’t penetrate the cotton or cotton/poly blend from which the tee-shirt was made. Then “performance” fabrics were invented.

Shirts made from performance fabric are thin (thinner than most cotton tee shirt material), have a slick, silky feel to them and they “perform” a couple of useful functions besides hiding the fisherman’s belly-button. First, they carry an industry standard UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating of 50, meaning only 1/50th of the sun’s rays penetrate through the fabric.  (A cotton tee-shirt has a UPF of 5.)  Another “performance” factor of these shirts is how they seem to me more comfortable on a hot, sweaty day than wearing a tee shirt or even going bare chested.

Think of how “sweat” works. When we get hot, we perspire. The perspiration, when subjected to the air, evaporates and as that happens, it cools down the skin – keeping us more comfortable. Okay, now put on a cotton tee shirt, work up a sweat and what happens? The cotton absorbs the perspiration faster than it can evaporate. The shirt gets wet and stays wet. The cotton holds the moisture, it doesn’t evaporate, your skin doesn’t cool. You just sweat more.

Performance fabric is made from “plastic thread” so the fibers of the fabric don’t absorb moisture. The weave of the fabric is “engineered” to be woven just tight enough to actually suck moisture into the almost microscopic space between the fibers through capillary action. As that happens, the water can evaporate and will actually evaporate faster than it would from exposed skin. As the moisture evaporates it cools and the material against your skin feels cool – never damp.             

I had a few performance shirts in my fishing apparel last summer which were noteworthy, so please read the next few blogs.

SCALES PRO PERFORMANCE POCKET TEE

Reviewed by: Capt. Mike Schoonveld

The first thing which caught my eye when I saw the Scales long sleeve performance Tee was it had a pocket!  I love pockets on a shirt because I always have stuff along with me which needs at least a temporary spot to be stuffed, at least temporarily, quickly and close at hand. It could be my cell phone, a pair of reading glasses, my wallet, a pair of line clippers, a candy bar….  You get the picture.

So I singled out the Pro Performance Pocket from all the other brands for the breast pocket, but when I looked closer, there were several other selling points. First, they aren’t made from any particular plastic thread, they are made from recycled plastic water bottles. I probably don’t drink a gallon of water annually of bottled water, but from the pallets full I often see at stores, I must be in the minority. Knowing at least some of these bottles, once emptied, are recycled and put to a better use makes me happy.

Better than that, these shirts are stain proof. The coating Scales puts on the plastic thread woven into their performance fabric delivers a durable, long-lasting repellency which is guaranteed against fish blood and other liquid stains for a year.

I often return from a fishing trip looking as though I’d participated in a ritual killing spree, between the blood the fish slop on me when I’m removing the hooks and the fish blood I slop on myself at the filleting station. Throw in a few drips of coffee on my way to the lake, a smear or two of catsup on the way home. I’ll give that guarantee a workout.  So far, after several ritual killings, their guarantee is holding.

In the sun, the Performance Pocket Tee performs as it should. It’s cooler than a short sleeve cotton tee, looks as good on me as any shirt and IT HAS A CONVENIENT BREAST POCKET for my stuff!  Find them online at http://www.scalesgear.com at amazon.com as well as retail outlets. 

GILL UV TEC ZIP TEE

Reviewed by: Capt. Mike Schoonveld

I love wearing camouflage clothes. That’s because camo is hunting clothes and I’m a hunter. It keeps me from being spotted by wary animals in when I’m in a tree stand, duck blind or dove field.

 I don’t wear camo clothes when I’m fishing. I don’t care if the fish spot me. By the time they’d see me, they’ve probably seen my mostly white boat, heard the noisy motor or have been spooked by the downrigger cables. Camo isn’t going to be much help.

Still, some guys (or gals) would wear their hunting camo at their wedding. I wouldn’t, but I would wear it on my boat if camo looked more nautical – or fishy. Now it does.

Several companies now make performance fabric shirts in fishy/nautical patterns so why not camo-up? The first one I picked was from Gill Fishing (www.gillfishing.com) – with a light, water-camo pattern expressed stylishly across the shoulders, front and back, as well as around the bottom of the shirt and the long sleeves.  I chose the quarter – zip collar model – EZ on and off, but more so to add comfort by being able to zip it tight when needed or zip down to loosen and get a bit more air-flow through the shirt. Available in men’s and women’s sizes and styles at their website, at retail outlets and at Amazon.com.

TRUETIMBER VIPER AQUA SHIRTS

Reviewed by: Capt. Mike Schoonveld

If you are one of those people who feel more comfortable in camo clothes than any other pattern but you know the camo has to fit the activity, True Timber Fishing offers several camo designs just for fishermen and women. Diehard camo lovers know a touch of camo used only as stylish highlight isn’t enough. To them, nothing short of an all-over pattern camouflage shirt is good enough. If that’s your mindset, look to TrueTimber Fishing for performance shirts with what I judge to be the coolest water-camo pattern I’ve found. TTF calls it Viper Aqua.

I looked to TrueTimber Fishing patterns since I often choose TrueTimber coats, jackets and other gear when I’m camouflaged for hunting purposes. The Viper Aqua garments are available both as total camo as well as those with camo/solid color styles.

Either way, True Timber uses a proprietary fabric designed to maximize the moisture wicking capability. I wore this shirt several days during the hottest days of the summer more comfortably than I would have in a cotton, short sleeve tee.  Look for True Timber select shirts and other hunting and outdoor clothing at Amazon.com and retail outlets or the full line of gear at http://www.truetimber.com.

CME TROLLING BULLET HEADS

Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD

I think there’s something extra special about catching a fish on a hand-made lure. I also enjoy making my own lures. Flip on my favorite tunes in my “man cave” get out the spoon blanks or trolling fly materials and before I realize it, a couple hours have slipped away and I’m restocked with proven favorites or perhaps I have some new color schemes or patterns to test on the fish, next time out.

I’ve also saved a few bucks – as long as I don’t punch a time clock my lure creation time. Time wise, even at minimum wage, I’d be better off buying lures from the tackle shop. As a hobby, however, I can probably make a dozen or more trolling flies for the price of one at a store.

There are plenty of places to buy the materials for making trolling flies. Heck, last year I made some killers from Christmas tinsel I bought at Hobby Lobby.

Regardless of where the materials are bought, the durability of the finished product is often only as good as the workmanship used to assemble them. I’ve seen demos and videos of fly tyers who rely strictly on Super Glue to hold things together. I’ve not had much luck with glue alone, so I first use thread to lash my flies to the hook or fly head, then add a touch of super glue.

That’s better, like wearing a belt and suspenders, but not full proof. I don’t know what the difference is, but lake trout can still disassemble a fly about 12 times faster than a salmon – even with a “belt and suspender” tied fly.

Now, however, I’ve switched to using Bullet heads are what form the head and the neck just below the bullet is where the banded mylar tinsel is wrapped, lashed and glued. Still, if the glue fails and a trout gets it’s teeth on the thread wraps, the fly material can just slide off the neck of the fly.

Not so with CME’s “flanged” bullet heads I tried for making my cave-crafted flies. The flange adds a slip-proof lip at the base of the neck to keep the lashed-on mylar in place. Even with lake trout, I’ve never had one fail. Now the trout just eat the mylar strands until the fly gets too sparse to use.

The flange-neck bullet heads are available in a wide choice of colors including glow and UV.  New for 2021 are eyed fly heads. Available online at www.cmetrolling.com.

FUB WOBBLER SPOONS

Reviewed by: Capt. Mike Schoonveld

Have you ever wondered why most spoon manufacturers only paint or tape intricate color schemes on one side of their lures but the opposite side is plain? Don’t the fish get to see both sides? I’ve never seen a slow-mo video of a spoon fluttering or wobbling along under the waves from a fish’s eye perspective, but I’m thinking the vid would reveal each side of the spoon would be visible an equal or nearly equal amount of time.

If that’s true, does it make sense to look at the paint and pattern on the front and be totally oblivious to the blank landscape on the reverse side? That’s a good question. But when the person who invented the Fub Wobbler Spoon pondered this he took the answer to a whole new level.

The tape, paint, stripes and spots on Fub Wobbler Spoons are applied to the concave side. The other, more convex side of the lure, the side most makers concentrate their work, is the bland, metal side on a “Fub.” That’s not the only difference.

Fub Wobblers are not made using the same or similar unadorned blanks used by other spoon “decorators” with the fancy color patterns on the “wrong” side. The blank itself is stamped into a shape unlike any other spoon I’ve ever used.

Is this good? Yes, no, maybe, sometimes, always, never? When the right lure, the right color, with the right action and the right fish come together at the right time, fishing fun begins. The Fub Wobbler can’t do anything about the right fish and time, but with three sizes, dozens of color patterns and a unique action, a few Fub Wobblers in your arsenal can be the key to fishing fun on your boat.

The “fubs” are available in some retail outlets in southeast Michigan or check out http://www.fubwobbler.com for all the available colors and online ordering.

LIVEWELL BUDDY

Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD  

         We pulled the boat up to the dock after a successful morning of fishing. Next stop? The fish cleaning station. Next chore, getting the fish from the livewell to the fish cleaning station. Grab the fish? Grab a bucket? Grab the landing net to turn it into a fish-hauling device? No, grab the Livewell Buddy.

            Cross a pool noodle with a rubber mesh landing net and the result is a Livewell Buddy. If you float the Buddy in the livewell while you are fishing, it’s just a matter of grabbing the ring at the top and lifting the catch out of the well. If the fish are free swimming, grab the Buddy from where ever it’s stowed and transfer the fish into it.

            How many will it hold? Since the bag of the Buddy is made of stretchy thermoplastic rubber, your guess is as good as mine. Let’s put it this way, my last trip to Lake Erie proved it will hold more than will fit in a five gallon bucket – more than I want to tote in one load. 

            Many fishermen are very competitive, even if it’s just fishing companions. So use the Livewell Buddy as a way to sort your fish from your partners. Just float the Buddy in the livewell and put some inside and others outside. Sort out the crappies from the bluegills, one person’s limit of perch from another’s.

            (Livewell Buddy hack for ice fishermen: Cut a hole in the ice the approximate diameter of the Livewell Buddy then float it in the hole. Now, the hole and the Buddy become the livewell to keep your fish healthy and alive while you fish, not dead and frozen in the snow. When it’s time to leave, just lift the Buddy out of the hole and head for the fish cleaning station.)

            Available at some retailers or online at http://www.anglersbest.com

  

RBC RENO ROCKER

 Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD

           I’d bet every Great Lakes Angler has at least one stickbait in their tackle box. Many, like me, have tackle boxes specifically devoted to stickbaits. Truthfully, I have more than that. I have one piece sticks, deep diving sticks, jointed sticks, bright colored sticks for salmon, metallic finished sticks for walleyes and plenty of them that will catch anything.

            I could say, “I’ve seen ‘em all – and fished with most every size and brand.” Been there, done there, all I needed was a Tee-Shirt.

            But wait, I now may need a special slot in one of those tackle boxes, or perhaps another whole Stowaway container for this new (to me) stick collection.  It’s the Reno Rocker.

            The Rocker was around for a few years and gained a loyal following in Eastern Lake Erie. That’s where I was first exposed to it, but by the time I got home and checked, they were out of production. Recently, Joe Renosky restarted his fishing lure company – Reno Bait Company and the Reno Rocker is back in production and I’ve started my personal collection of the Rockers.

            Of all the stickbaits I’ve ever used, this is the only one I know of to get it’s swimming action from what I call the “action plate.” Unlike molded diving “bills” which stick out like a duck’s bill on the front of the lure, or a “chin appendage” hanging under the stick to induce the wiggle the Rocker’s action plate is a separate shaped metal plate attached to what would be the line-tie loop on other sticks. The actual line-to-lure connection is a snap installed on the plate. 

            The position of the plate, the metal to metal connections along with holes drilled in the plate produces a sound unlike any other stickbait – and a sound fish apparently find attractive, based on my experience and those of many other “Renosky” fans. The plate is available in either chrome or copper plating.

            The color selection runs strong to more “natural” colors – metallics and subtle, realistic paints. The VM2000 patterns feature translucent exterior with a silver insert inside the lure to give the finish extra depth of color. 

            Check out the Reno Rockers – along with a full line of other more traditional looking stickbaits, crankbaits and other lures at http://www.renobaitcompany.com.