I slept in this morning. Saturday was a big day and its successes had left me more than content. I sat down with my morning coffee and reread my glx review. There was still some uncertainty in the assessment and the more I relived the previous days successes the more I longed to hit the water for round two. I mulled over some of my options and decided on a clean and quick session with no more than an 1-1.5 hours on the water.
I was after one more chromer and another shot at testing the limits of this blank. With the self imposed time constraints I knew where my best chances of pulling this off would be so I packed up the gear and headed to the river. It was now early into the afternoon and river traffic was minimal. Once again my preferred water was unoccupied so I dropped into the river and the hunt was on.
There was no easy participants but I stuck to my guns and methodically picked away. I was now at my limits on the bar and well into the middle of the river when I made a long throw deep into a slack water section. I mended my line and trotted back lightly on the float keeping my line taunt and my offering up off the bottom. The strike was violent and was not only visually confirmed but was accompanied by a firm tug felt through the entire blank.
The glx loaded up and the water exploded. My opportunity was before me. On the way to the river I had decided I was going to stand my ground and test the limits of this blank. I felt I knew enough about the rod to gamble a fish on it. So with some degree of confidence I went hard at this fish. Like all of the fish as of late this fish was hot and made some long deep runs. Each time I managed to stop and turn the fish.
The rod was in a full parabolic bend but never once bent into the handle as I had read on some of the previous forum reviews. It seemed to flatten out about 10" from the top of the handle. After a fair fight the fish made the bank and my day. It was one of those river bullet fall spawners. I have encountered a few of these fish this past season...They are long, lean with huge rudders. These fish really slam your offering and go ballistic once hooked.
The rod performed under this test and was actually quite enjoyable. I didn't feel underpowered on this fish but then again it was not a 8lb + class specimin. I still have mixed feelings on this blank but today was a move in the positive direction. The remainder of this outing failed to produce an additional steelhead bite but I did managed to root up a couple of handsome browns. It was a whirlwind session but quite enjoyable.
I learned a little more about the GLX and put a few more fish on the bank. The field trials will have to continue and I suspect the only true answer to my query will come with the spring runs in late Feb/early March. .
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Harv got wind of my venture and interjected with the offer to fish their blank all winter and make an informed decision as to weather or not this was indeed the stick for me. It's hard to turn an offer like that down and in no time I had the rod in my hands. At the same time, upon Harv's suggestion, I had arranged to demo the AVID and Frogwater.
After a full day of fishing this blank I can honestly say I understand why it has spawned so much controversy. This rod is not for everyone and with a hefty price tag one should understand their needs and desires prior to committing. For now this is the review I will leave you with. As this story unfolds I promise to update this report with further honest and accurate assessment on the rods performance.
Until then tight lines...
Thursday, January 26, 2012
The specs of this rod are as follows:
*length - 15'
*configuration - 3 piece
*power - medlight
*action - moderate
*blank construction - SCIII Graphite IPC Technology
*rating 6-10lb 1/4 to 5/8 oz
*guides - Fuji® Alconite® Concept Guide System with black frames.
*handle - St Croix Sliding Rings
*manufactured in USA
First off... going in I have to say I had been a fan of the big sticks for a while. For a few years I began to exclusively fish a 15' Frontier. In fact I loved that rod so much that I bought a spare blank to spin up my own personal tie. Life interjected and things seemed to change so I never got around to it. It's on the list though just need to find the time and inspiration. So... I was willing and eager to accept an offer to fish the AVID. My initial impressions of the rod were positive. The glossy slate grey blank offers up a very refined look. The Black Fuji Concept guides add stealth to the presentation and the blue-grey guide wraps add just a enough colour to complement the blank while keeping the package clean and mean. I like the Fuji Concepts and had used them on my 13' Rainshadow 1562IST build a few years back. They are very sharp looking guides and have been bullet proof for me. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the sliding ring handle configuration but I do understand it's purpose on factory rods. It does provide some flexibility for the end user to land on their personal reel placement location.
I didn't put the rod together until we made the cabin last Friday night. When I did I had my 15' Frontier beside her for an accurate benchmark comparison keeping in mind that I have a custom tie with a reduced guide count configuration. The first thing I noted was the blank butt diameter was larger on the St Croix.
The following are my findings... likes and dislikes of this blank.
-visually appealing...clean attractive finish and sweet lines
-Fuji concepts in black...very stealth
-3 piece design...breaks down nicely for transport
-action...nice semi parabolic bend
-power...inherent power of the big stick. There when you need it.
-butt diameter and overall taper
-number of guides
I'll have to admit I was a little disappointed with this blank from the weight and taper perspective. St Croix had the opportunity to take some readily available feedback from the Centrepinning community and really challenge themselves to put out a fair priced production blank that afforded some progression in this regard. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what everyone really wants in a big stick and it doesn't take much effort to drum up that feedback. Also to me it was a marginal step backwards from previous 15' offerings to the steelheading community. Now having said this...the blank fishes well. It is heavy and picks up the wind very easy but it certainly is nice with a critter on the other end. It wouldn't be fair to compare this stick to say a GLX as the price point difference doesn't even warrant the effort. In summary if you are looking for an affordable "brand new" 15' float rod with a lifetime warranty and can handle a minor workout over the course of your day this stick is for you. If you are already suffering from shoulder issues or are just plain soft stay away. This stick is for men!
You can read more about St Croix and their AVID series of rods via their website http://www.stcroixrods.com/
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
I had followed the introduction and evolution of Robb's reels online via forum chats but aside from holding Harv's Riverkeeper I had yet to fish one. The masses were quick to fall in love with Robb's artisan pin creation and thus it received rave reviews.
Got to busy yesterday for a reply,,,,work,work,work.lol
here a little history on my reels.
I've been making reels for myself since 1991, at first it was an attempt to have a larger diameter reel for fishing larger flows, and retrieving line faster, most reels where 5.5" or larger, at the time there where only 4.5" reels available to my knowledge.
I would use the reel a few times to find out what I liked and disliked, then sell to fund the next, I never did a clicker in those reels, as it was to much work, and I didn't much like the pawl and gear clicker that was the norm.
In 2007, after much discussion with the wife decided to purchase some quality machinery and start making reels as a hobby, I decided on a 5.25" reel to be my first run, but there was clicker problem!!!! After several attempts of recreating the same old clicker, a friend of mine said why not a motorcycle brake, and off we went,,, 8 months later and a lot of empty beer cans we had a very neat clicker design, and it worked well ,but was to big, so we took some weight out here and there, and made things smaller, then it was ready.
I made a run of 25 5.25" reels called the Riverkeeper, and they sold very well, but a lot pinners found them a bit big, and a bit heavy. So next round was to be a smaller reel 4 7/8's in diameter, same clicker, the reel was also called Riverkeeper, and wieghed in at 9.4 oz's I made 2 runs of 25 and again they sold well, but I thought they where missing a look on the back plate, so I ported it, and made 50 reels RK 2 meaning Riverkeeper Ported.
Shortly after I was done that run, a fella that had bought 2 of every run I made, asked if I could make him a reel that looked the same but even more porting and he wanted the reel to weight 8 oz's, he wanted the reel to fish Frogwater,,,,,hence the name, I made only one prototype, witch I still fish today, There are about 80 Frogwater reels in circulation, I'm planning on a run of 20 to take the Frogwater to #100 including the prototype, but i'm not sure what I'll do after that, Life has become very busy 4 kids 2 jobs and a honey do list as long as my arm,,,I call it my hobby that went crazy.
Visually the reel quite aesthetically appealing with current available color configurations of Black, Green, and Champagne. The front face porting and lines take inspiration from the likes of the Mykiss and John Milner Reels albeit different enough to have an identiy of its own. The fixed bearing cap looks handsomely familiar and would make Keith Snary himself smile. The key feature on the front face or spool are the handles.
The back plate porting is attractive and where form really meets function. Much of the reduced weight of the Frogwater comes from this addition that the original Riverkeeper model lacked.
If I had to choose one pet peeve I have with this reel it would be the inability to remove the spool effortlessly while on the river. I'm certain this was a conscious decision on the manufacturers part but there are times when the quick spool removal feature comes in handy. To many this is of no issue and I currently own reels with similar designs and manage fine.
The reel is simply a pleasure to fish and one takes to it readily as if they have fished it for years. Priced similarly to comparable pins in this category one would certainly be pleased with the their purchase and have a quality reel that would be handed down through the generations.
Reel specs as quoted from manufacturer:
-spool and back plate material - 6160 T4 aluminum.
-spool diameter - 4 7/8"
-spool width - .625"
-spool depth - .350"
-316 stainless steel accessories including the clicker disk, that is controlled by 2 stainless steel ball detents
-ABEC 5 stainless steel bearings ( German)
-overall Weight - 8 oz's
-colour options: Black, Green, Champagne
Robb Marquette and Riverkeeper Reels can be contacted via email at email@example.com
or by phone at 1-519-272-9881
Sunday, January 22, 2012
"January Slab Hunt". I must say the video was awesome. It certainly put a smile on my face and more importantly had me motivated to get off the couch and geared up to hit the river. I noticed there were 2 or 3 squirrels hitting the bird feeders hard this morning and I took this as a positive to indicate a somewhat warmer shift in the weather. I loaded up the van and headed for the river.
Prior to this trip I had made arrangements with Bruce Farrell from the Grey Bruce Outdoors board to demo a 15' St Croix AVID adorned with a Riverkeeper Frogwater Edition Centrepin. The gear is on loan for a limited time and I was anxious to put a bend in the big stick and run the Frogwater through some big river action. The day priors session spoke to the refinements of the reel but I really needed a fish or two to develop an informed opinion. I have been getting bombarded from my Michigan brethren to run the "Waxie" as they call it this time of the year.
The river was once again deserted. I had the run of the water below the coffer so I decided to start up tight with a black and red Norland special. I gave it a fair run and decided to switch it up prior to working my way down the drift. I adjusted my float and tied on a new #10 135 Dai Riki Scud to my 5.6lb Raven Flouro tippet. The maggots were looking me in the eye so I popped open the container and mulled around the sawdust for a big fattie. After two drifts tight to the coffer I threw out my third and started to shuffle sideways towards a gravel bar that protrudes out into the flow. Doing this I took my eyes off the float to concentrate on the substrate of the river when the rod was almost pulled from my hand. I set up and a very hot titanium steelie jumped a foot or so from the surface and screamed down river. The avid loaded up nicely and it was fish on! For a late January steelhead this fish was on fire and gave me a run for my money breaching the surface multiple times. From what I seen it was a purple buck in the 7lb range. I was cautions not to put the boots to this fish with the big stick as I was unfamiliar with the blank and the power it possessed. Just as I was starting to gain some ground the float flew over my left shoulder and the fish was gone. Anxious to evaluate the incident I collected the slack line and pulled the rig in for a close inspection. Fully expecting a broken leader I was surprised to see the knot had failed on the hook end. Disappointed
As expected the water splashed on the reel had locked it up solid and the rest of the morning was played out fighting an ever increasing cold wind with the big stick, frequent attempts to de-thaw the reel and another blown Steelie. Tight tolerance pins are works of engineering but can be ones nemesis during the frigid months. It's imperative to exercise every precaution practical to keep these pins clean and water free at these times.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
I had forgotten just how short these Arctic session need to be and left the river nursing my burning cold fingers and toes.
Today old man winter won a small victory but I will be back...
Friday, January 20, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Hope you find this helpful and at a minimum hope it brings a smile to your pathetic muggs.
cut n paste email...
Hi Fish Tales…
As per your request about my centrepinning rig…
I can tell you that you will need a 13’ float rod with an action suitable to the flows you are going to fish. Large turbulent flows require a stick with some backbone like an St Croix Avid in the 6-10lb line class or an 14’ IM8 Raven or a 15’ 3 piece Frontier or maybe the new Rainshadow XST in 13’ 6-10.
As for a centrepin reel go with the industry standard Islander IS float reel. Best all around production float reel ever. Will last you a life time and they are bullet proof and beautiful. Get a black one and roll cool on the river ;0) I have a gold, black and slate grey.
Now you may need to beef up your mainline depending upon the flows you are fishing and the size of critters you are after. If you do I’d go up to 12 or 14 max. The thing with Berkley XL is that it is cheap…very limp, casts great, strong as shit and cheap. I mean cheap because you will get a lot of line twist and need to replace your mainline a bunch of times like every 6-8 trips is what I do but it’s only $6 bucks a pop.
Next comes the rigging part…
Here ya go…depending upon your flow choose the smallest float you can get away with keeping in mind more weight is better for casting and you do need to see that f*cker when it floats down the river. But… fish can see giant bouy’s a mile away...right!!! eh!!! I only run Drennan floats and in particular I like loafers in 8gm size. I’m getting old and the small orange speck on the loafers is getting hard to see but I’m holding out until I have to switch because I’m a stubborn regimented pos and then it will be to a Drennan Piker or Zeppler about 11 gram size or less. These are not cheap but all other floats out there are Sh*t! Sh*t! Sh*t! Im not a balsa fan ;0)
Then comes the weighting system. So…you need to understand that you have to load up enough shot under your float in order to make it sit in the water column properly…without any weight the float will not work and it will just lay on it’s side on the water surface. Experiment here. Keep in mind that your offering at the end of your rig needs weight to get down to the bottom. I primarily bulk shot my rigs. Quick and easy…simply put 3 or so split shot of size req’d above your swivel on the mainline. Then adjust your float up your mainline for water depth that you are fishing and put your split shot under it to make the float work and voila..you are ready to fish. You can easily adjust for depth with this rig by sliding your float and split shot up and down the line as req’d. Some peeps stagger shot from the float down to the leader every 6” or so…those people also tend to be homosexuals. Kidding… not really…
Any questions? Clear as mud? Keep it simple…don’t over think it. Get your bait down, keep your line tight…set up on any abnormal float deviation.
Btw…I see you have fished the Situk in AK…I’m jealous…very jealous…I actually may hate you…joking…My rig would work perfect on that flow. 8 grm drennan perhaps a 12lb main line, 6-8lb flouro tippet and #8 or #10 scud or #6 jig hooks with marabou that would be a lot of fun!!! Almost booked a trip for this may…just may do it yet…who knows.
Hope I helped and didn’t offend,
OK now Haters...Start Hatin... Oh ya and in my defense if Arn and Norland can catch fish with this method there must be some form of legitimacy to it...those guys are useless.