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Testing Holiday Times
  |  First Published: January 2010



I really enjoy Christmas and the holiday period. Not only because it allows me to spend more time with family and friends, but because I can get out on the water with my kids and try out all the new bits and pieces I’ve accumulated over the past few months. I mean it’s great to buy new gear, but until you have had a serious chance to play with it, it’s hard to get a real idea of how it will perform when put to the test.

This year, for once the fish and the weather have been reasonably cooperative over the holiday period and we’ve been able to give the following products a good old-fashioned work out to see how they perform.

So far, I’ve been more than happy with my purchases and I reckon the following bits and pieces represent some great value-for-money buys. If you’re looking to expand you tackle collection without breaking the budget, then there’s bound to be something here for you.

Reidy’s get the Bug

While Reidy’s have always been best known for their highly effective barra minnows, new owners Col and Karen Burdon have recently branched out into a different style of lures with the release of these new deepwater jigs

Marketed under the Reidy’s Sea Bugs label, there are seven new models in the line-up, including both ‘Swing’ and ‘Octo’ style jigs and they have been designed for offshore anglers who like to chase tasty bottom dwellers such as snapper, emperor and coral trout.

Now there is an ever increasing number of slow jigs coming onto the market in recent times, but what sets the Reidy’s range apart is the no nonsense nature of their construction.

Having his head well and truly around the rough and tumble of the tropical reef fishing scene has allowed Col to design these lures so they have no trouble standing up to the stresses imparted by the large and powerful fish they are likely to be eaten by.

I have been particularly impressed by the terminal tackle on these lures. All the models in the Sea Bug range are equipped with sensibly sized, very solid hooks, rigged on heavy duty cord.

While it may not look as subtle as some of the other brands on the market, the extra diameter of the nylon cord not only makes the hooking set up stronger, it also means that as they get worn or chewed on, they retain more of their original strength. And while no nylon will stand up to mackerel teeth, so far, I have managed to at least catch a couple of the sharp toothed ones without getting bitten off, even if it has left the lures looking a little chewed on.

The Sea Bug collection certainly offers anglers plenty of different styles to choose from too. They come in a range of sizes from a featherweight 30g right up to a whopping 250g, so there is sure to be one suitable for any depth or current flow.

Admittedly, there is only a limited range of colours available, with just four different patterns in the line-up, but that should be more than enough to let you find something the fish are keen on. Check them out at a tackle store near you.

StrikeBlack

Of all the articles I have written for QFM, few have generated more feedback than the topic of lure retrievers. Obviously there are plenty of other anglers out there who are just as keen to get their favourite lures back as I am.

Or could it simply be that the cost of the better lures would quickly send us all broke if we didn’t have a quick and effective way of getting them off the snags?

Having tried most methods of lure retrieval, I have to say I am a big fan of the pole type and have had a great run out of my multi-section, StrikeBack lure retriever.

Lately however, I have been trialing a snazzy new version called the StrikeBlack.

This retriever works in the same manner as the original, however the pole sections of the StrikeBlack are made of graphite, rather than fiberglass. This makes them considerably lighter than the original, which helps to make it much easier to use in the confines of a small boat.

The reduced diameter and increased stiffness of the poles also reduces the amount of drag on the retriever when working in fast currents, making the actual task of prodding the lure free much easier too.

While pole type retrievers are not exactly cheap, neither are the lures we use and it won’t take long for an investment in the new StrikeBlack to pay for itself. On average, I guess my retriever probably saves me at least two or three lures a trip. At today’s prices, that means it probably paid for itself after just a couple of outings.

Jelly Prawn Colour Scheme

Halco have just added a brand new colour scheme to their extensive line-up that they call Jelly Prawn.

Looking very similar to the real thing, it is basically a clear body with a just a slight overspray of light brown on the back. Depending on the angle you view it from, you will also see a myriad of tiny reflective particles which give it a very subdued yet sparkling finish.

Halco will be featuring the Jelly Prawn colour into their smaller lures in their lineup and they are sure to find favour with bream fishers in particular.

LureSavers

Speaking of bream spinners, these new split rings might just end up saving your bank balance if you enjoy using classy little hardbodies.

They are called Luresavers and unlike normal split rings, which are made of steel, these are made of titanium making them strong but very flexible. The idea being that if you get snagged, you simply grab the line by hand and pull hard enough so the Luresaver flexes open and releases the hook, thus saving your lure.

They come in several strengths and you simply match the Luresaver to the actual breaking strain of your line. As long as you choose the right ones, they won’t come undone on a fish, as you can’t put enough pressure on the line through the rod if you have your drag set correctly.

Because they are made of titanium, they aren’t cheap to buy, but as they have the potential to save you a few lures then it won’t take them long for them to pay for themselves.

For more information on these nifty little rings, log onto www.shiptontrading.com.au and check them out.

Reidy’s Big Ass B52

With the barra in our freshwater impoundments getting bigger and bigger each season, switched on anglers are responding by upgrading their tackle and equipment to give themselves a chance at these mammoth fish.

Additionally, they are starting to realise there are times when a bigger lure can offer at least a couple of advantages over the lures in a size you would normally use.

The main factor in favour of bigger lures is that they can be made physically stronger than smaller lures. They also have the ability to carry larger and correspondingly stronger hooks and rings without it killing their action.

As we all know, big barra are murder on trebles at the best of times so being able to fit stronger terminal tackle to your lure gives you a much better chance of landing that fish-of-a-lifetime when it finally comes along.

Reidy’s obviously had big impoundment barra in mind when they designed their latest offering, the Big Ass B52.

This shallow running mega minnow measures in at an impressive 18cm and while it isn’t actually that much longer than the Big B52, its increased bulk gives it the ability to carry three heavy duty trebles with ease.

As it will happily troll at around 6-7 knots, the Big Ass B52 can also be used as a bluewater lure and I’ve already had enjoyed quite a bit of success on the local mackerel population with it.

Anyone looking for a seriously sized minnow lure will find this one well worth adding to their tackle box when it’s released.

Value for Money Tough Tackle

There is some really top class fishing equipment on the market these days and if you have the money, you can pay plenty to get the very best. However, there is also some very affordable gear out there which will get the job done for quite a deal less.

One reel that falls squarely into the second category is this little XTX 2000C baitcaster. It’s built by Tough Tackle and it is exactly that.

It has five bearings, infinite anti-reverse, magnetic cast control, ported aluminum spool and a titanium line guide. It’s a low profile reel but it still packs a speedy 6.2:1 gear ratio and it holds around 150m of 0.30 line.

While the body is graphite the internals are brass and stainless steel and it is has the drag system and the guts to handle surprisingly large fish.

With all those features you would expect it to be an expensive little reel but that’s not the case. I picked mine up for under $60, which I think makes it exceptional value for money.

Anyone interested in getting into baitcasters or anyone looking to expand their reel collection without breaking the bank would be well advised to give one a test cast.

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