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FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

2011 Buyer’s Guide: Bass edition

2011 Buyer’s Guide: Bass edition
Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning

In years past we've done our best to pick out some of the best new products released at ICAST for our Buyer's Guide. This year, we wanted more. We have compiled more than 100 products for this year's Buyer's Guide, making it our most comprehensive guide ever. Don't worry, we still weeded out the products that should be weeded out, but we've included all the new products that we would normally showcase later on in the year, allowing you to see all the newest products in one place. To help you with your holiday wish list, we have also kept up the tradition of spotlighting some of our favorites.



Reels

Daiwa Exceler 4.9 Power Reel
Crankbait anglers, meet the most powerful cranking reel on the market. While many crankbait-specific reels feature 5.1:1 or 5.3:1 gear ratios, the Exceler 4.9 Power Reel ratio was decreased to 4.9:1 to create more low-end torque. Although it might make burning a crankbait more difficult, it will significantly reduce fatigue while using hard-pulling deep crankbaits.

The reel features nine bearings, weighs in at 9.1 ounces and can hold 150 yards of 12-pound-test line, which will allow for long casts. Best of all, it retails for $79.95.

Abu Garcia Revo Premier Spinning
The frame on the Revo Premier is touted as 300 percent stronger than normal graphite and 50 percent lighter than an aluminum frame. How can this be possible? NanoShield technology. The coating doesn't add any weight, but it is extremely strong. This was demonstrated at ICAST by coating a normal straw with NanoShield and then hanging a 10-pound weight from the center of the straw.

Outside of durability, the reel features 11 stainless-steel bearings, a stainless-steel main shaft and hardware, and a sealed Carbon Matrix Drag system with 12 pounds of maximum pressure.

The reel comes in two sizes. The smaller PRM20 has a 5.1:1 gear ratio and holds 130 yards of 8-pound-test. The larger PRM30 features a 5.8:1 ratio and can hold 140 yards of 10-pound-test. Both sizes retail for $249.95.

Shimano Caenan
The Shimano lineup of low-profile reels is one of the best, if not the best, on the market. However, it seemed to be missing a reel between its higher-end Citica and midrange Chromica. No longer; the Shimano CaenanCaenan fills that void.

With the components of a high-end reel and the price of a midrange reel, the Caenan has an aluminum frame, weighs 7.2 ounces and has seven bearings. It comes with a 6.5:1 gear ratio for versatility. The spool holds 110 yards of 14-pound-test. But the real key is the price: $89.99.

Okuma Low-Profile Casting Reels
Okuma triumphantly entered the low-profile baitcasting market in 2009 with its high-end Serrano and Cayenne reels. Now it's making a serious push to reach all anglers with four new low-profile models.

Okuma took what it learned from the original launches and applied it to the Citrix, Alumina, Calera and Tormenta reels, while somehow decreasing the price - the reels sell from $119.99 for the Citrix to $59.99 for the Tormenta. The reels are all smaller and have lower profiles than the Serrano. The Citrix and Alumina still feature die-cast aluminum frames, while the Calera and Tormenta are built from graphite, which actually decreases the weight. The Citrix has eight bearings and comes in a 5.4:1 or 7.3:1 gear ratio; the Alumina has six bearings and a 7.3:1 ratio; and the Calera and Tormenta both feature a 6.6:1 ratio, with the Calera having five bearings and the Tormenta three bearings.

Quantum Smoke PT
The knock on Quantum reels has always been that they're heavy. Not anymore. The Smoke PT weighs in at a scant 6.2 ounces for the 100-size versions, making it one of the lightest reels on the market.

Inside its one-piece aluminum frame are top-end components like nine stainless-polymer hybrid bearings, a ceramic and carbon fiber drag system, and Infinite ACS II centrifugal cast control on the 150-size versions or Micro ACS II on the 100-size versions. Additionally, it features a titanium nitride-coated line guide and skeletal handle with EVA knobs.

The reel comes in five sizes (nine models, with right- and left-handed versions) and gear ratios ranging from 5.3:1 to 7.3:1. The suggested retail prices vary between $199 and $219, depending on the model.

Rods

Abu Garcia Verdict
Abu Garcia Verdict
Expanding its rod lineup, Abu Garcia released the new Verdict series for 2011. Verdict rods use titanium guide frames, graphite blanks and EVA handle material for overall lightness. Most interesting, however, is the extendable rod butt. The butt extends several inches for exact balance with various reels or for when the technique requires it.

Four spinning rods range in length from 6 foot, 6 inches to 7 foot in medium-light, medium and medium-heavy action. Eight baitcasting rods are available in lengths from 6 foot, 6 inches to 7 foot, 6 inches in medium, medium-heavy and heavy actions. The Verdict retails for $129.95 to $139.95.

Lamiglas Excel SM and CM
The Excel series from Lamiglas now includes several models with micro guides, the most notable being a spinning rod. Currently, the only spinning rod available with micro guides is the 7-foot, fast-action SM, which handles lures from 1/16 to 5/16 ounce. There are also two 7-foot, fast-action casting rods available with the guides. The rods are constructed with American Tackle Micro Lite guides, Fuji reel seats for casting rods, ergonomic Aero Comfort Touch reel seats for spinning rods and split-grip cork handles, bringing them in at less than 4 ounces. All are made in the United States. Retail price is $170.

e21 Carrot Stix Wild
Carrot Stix continues the trend of producing lightweight rods with telltale orange finishes with the introduction of its Wild series. The rods are made with semi-micro guides and a foam grip, like the original Professional Grade models, but the difference is the price. At $99.99, the Wild rods are $50 less than the Professional Grade rods, without sacrificing durability and performance. Carrot Stix made the price drop by scaling back a few of the nonessential frills, but you won't notice. The rods still come in between 3 and 4 ounces, with a new metallic orange look to boot. They're also backed by a lifetime warranty.

G.Loomis NRX
G.Loomis NRX Bass rods are the new top-of-the-line sticks from one of the industry's premier rod makers. G.Loomis markets the rods as 15 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than its previously high-end GLX rods, something attributed to the use of Nano Silica resins and "stiffer, lighter and higher density carbon." In short, the designers combined the most high-tech materials to create some of the lightest, strongest, most-sensitive rods available.

NRX rods are available in eight casting and five spinning variations. They are not technique-specific, although G.Loomis offers recommendations for matching rods to techniques on its Web site. Retail price ranges from $450 to $500.

Kistler Z-Bone LE
The new Kistler Z-Bone LE series carries the clout of legendary rod designer Gary Loomis and his North Fork Composites staff. Loomis and company created the Z-Bone rod blank, from which the rods are built by hand and tested at Kistler's Texas factory. To cut down on weight and increase sensitivity, Kistler adds Fuji "Tangle Free" Micro Guides, wraps the rods in an advanced lightweight "paper carbon scrim" (the material that holds the blank together), and leaves the rods "raw" with no added color or gloss finish (eliminating about 1/4 ounce). Z-Bones are finished off with a rubber marble cork handle that doesn't pit, doesn't wear and has a tacky finish. According to Trey Kistler, 18 casting rods and six spinning rods will be available in the series, which retails for $399.95.

Kistler also offers a custom shop where anglers can choose everything from handle material to adding a signature, and Kistler will turn orders around in two to four weeks.

Castaway Microwave
CastAway has redefined micro guides. Designers of the Microwave rod replaced the traditional first, largest line guide with a new Microwave guide, which is actually a combination of two line guides. A smaller guide is mounted so that it "hovers" in front of and on the same center axis as a traditionally sized first line guide. The result is a funnel that collects line as it comes off the spool, guiding it on a straight path out the remaining eyes. The rod casts more like a baitcaster, with the line "pulling" off the reel, rather than "pushing" through the eyes. As of August, there are six rods in the series, two freshwater and four saltwater. All are medium power in moderate to moderate-fast actions. Retail price is $199.

Lures

Damiki M.T.B. Noisy
A clacker is nothing new on a buzzbait, but this one perked up our ears. The clacker on the M.T.B. Noisy is a metal bead on a bent piece of wire that clings and clacks off the prop to make one of the loudest noises we've heard from a lure.
Damiki M.T.B. Noisy
The M-hull design forces the lure to track true across the surface at any speed, something many bullet-shaped buzzbaits have problems with. The lure is available in 10 colors and 3/8 and 1/2 ounce. Retail price is $7.49.

Terminator T-1 Short Arm Thump'r
The "bigger is better" mantra is finally reaching the bass market in terms of spinner blades. Muskie anglers have been on to the phenomenon for several years, while walleye anglers are starting to jump onboard. Now it's bass anglers' turn with the T-1 Short Arm Thump'r.

The lure's "Oklahoma Thump'r" Hydro Flow Blade emits gobs of vibration that, when combined with the shovel-shaped head, is great at both high and low speeds. This makes it perfect for night-fishing, but don't doubt it during the day, either. The lure is available in 5/8 or 7/8 ounce and eight colors that can be swapped easily via its QuickSkirt system. Retail price is $12.99.

Berkley Powerbait Split Belly Swimbait
The Berkley PowerBait Hollow Belly Swimbait took over the paddle-tailed swimbait market in 2008. However, the way the lure was manufactured meant high costs and a body design that didn't always promote the best hookups. The PowerBait Split Belly Swimbait remedies both problems.

Mold-injected for faster production, a package of four only costs $5.99. The PowerBait soft plastic also accommodates a slit in the belly to conceal a hook instead of it needing to ride outside the lure. However, the Split Belly still has the same seductive action at slow speeds as the original Hollow Belly. The lure comes in eight colors and 4- and 5-inch sizes.

Rapala ClackinRapala Clackin' Crank and Clackin' Minnow
Rapala has taken its Clackin' chamber beyond lipless crankbaits. The Clackin' Crank and Clackin' Minnow both feature the telltale metal discs on their sides that create one of the loudest rattles on the market when hit by a single, internal steel ball.

The Clackin' Crank is perfect for dirty, shallow water. Diving to 3 or 4 feet depending on the size, the lure's square lip allows it to deflect off cover. The smaller 2-inch size weighs 5/16 ounce while the 2 3/4-inch model weighs 5/8 ounce. It comes in 16 colors and retails between $12.99 and $14.99.

The Clackin' Minnow takes the proven actions of the X-Rap and Flat Rap and adds the rattle for a more aggressive presentation. The lure is available in two sizes (3 1/2 inches, 7/16 ounce and 4 3/8 inches, 3/4 ounce) and dives 3 to 5 feet. It comes in 16 colors and retails for $13.99.

Koppers Livetarget Hollow Body Frog
Koppers Livetarget Hollow Body FrogAny more real and this frog would croak. The LIVETARGET Hollow Body Frog continues Koppers' tradition for realistic lures. However, what we like most is the action. The Frog walks back and forth as only the best frogs do.

The Hollow Body Frog comes in four frog hues and two sizes. The smaller 2 1/4-inch size weighs 5/8 ounce, while the 2 5/8-incher weighs 3/4 ounce, which helps it make an impression on even the densest cover. The frog retails for $11.49.

Jackall Sierra Minnow 80s and I Shad
Most lures are designed to have some sort of action or swimming motion. We say "most" because these new Jackall products don't. The lures were built on the concept of I-Motion - the idea that baitfish swim in straight lines and don't move their tails violently like many crankbaits and lures do. Instead, just point the rod at one of these lures and crank it in, with the lure barely moving at all. It's an interesting concept, but it's one that many anglers across the country are embracing.

The Sierra Minnow 80S features a custom-wrapped treble hook to add to the technique, while the I Shad has a bulge in the end of its tail to keep it stable and a split-tail design to create small vibrations in the water. The soft plastic is also injected with two different salt compositions, with the top side infused with less salt than the bottom to make it heavier on the bottom for more stable swimming. Retail price is $14.99 for the Sierra Minnow 80S and $4.99 for the I Shad.

Power Team Texas-Rig Jig
This is one versatile craw-imitator. The large, triangular appendages flap and quiver on the fall or when dragged across the bottom. What caught our attention, though, was that it had its own skirt. The front of the lure looks like the back of a tube, or front of a "hula-style" body, giving this soft plastic the profile of a jig with the snag-resistance of a Texas rig.

The lure comes in 3 1/2- and 4 1/2-inch sizes and 10 colors. A pack of six retails for $5.99.

Strike King HC KVD Square Bill Silent Crankbait
Square-billed crankbaits are hot right now, and Strike King is taking advantage with its new HC KVD Square Bill Silent Crankbait. It has a tight wobbling action that deflects perfectly off cover. It is available in 1 1/2- or 2 1/2-inch versions, with both diving 3 to 6 feet, which is deeper than most square bills. The lure is available in 13 colors and retails for $6.99.

XCalibur Square Lip
If you're looking for a true shallow square-bill crankbait, meet the XCalibur Square Lip. It only gets down 3 feet, making it perfect for shallow flats and burning around cover. The detailing on the body makes it stand out from other square bills, plus, XCalibur offers a size for any fishery: 2, 2 3/4 and 3 inches. The lure comes in 14 colors and sells for $7.34.

Trigger X Big Moe
We don't know if it's better suited to be flipped into cover or dragged behind a Carolina rig. We just know anglers will like Big Moe.

The creature bait features five appendages - two curly arms in the front, a pair of flapping claws and a giant curly tail - that never stop moving beneath the water. The body is also just beefy enough to swim through cover without fear of the hook puncturing through the plastic and snagging. Plus, it features Trigger X pheromones.
The 6-inch lure comes in eight colors and retails for $5.49 for a pack of six.


Gear

Lowrance Elite Series and Mark Series
Lowrance enters 2011 with a pair of budget-minded electronics series packed with features.

The Elite Series includes seven versions of color units. Most notable to readers are the Elite-5 and Elite-5 DSI. The Elite-5 is a standard GPS-depth finder combo with a 5-inch, 480-by-480 pixel color screen. It has an internal GPS antenna, built-in mapping and is compatible with Navionics software. The retail price is $549. The Elite-5 DSI is identical in size and appearance, but instead of traditional sonar it is equipped with DownScan Imaging to provide picture-like images of what's below the boat. Along with Lowrance Elite Series
DSI comes the TrackBack feature, which allows the user to scroll back through previously viewed content. The retail price is $649.

The Mark Series depth finders from Lowrance are sonar-only, black-and-white units. Three models are available with a single-frequency sonar transducer, a dual-frequency sonar transducer or DownScan Imaging. Retail prices for the Mark Series range from $159 to $299.

Plano Waterproof Stowaway
Plano has introduced an enhanced version of the industry-standard StowAway boxes: the Waterproof StowAway. Utilizing what Plano calls the Dri-Loc Seal and three cam-action latches, the box locks down tight and seals out moisture to protect tackle from rust. Additionally, the tight fit keeps tackle Plano Waterproof Stowawaywhere you put it, so you're not left picking apart hooks and other tiny pieces.

The Waterproof StowAway is available in Plano sizes 3440, 3540, 3640, 3740 and 3741 to match many of the most popular tackle-storage products the company makes. Retail price is $6.99 to $14.99.

Minn Kota Talon
Forget complicated hydraulics. The Talon is an electric shallow-water anchor that runs on a boat's existing battery system. Vertical deployment and a nesting design when stowed give the Talon the fastest deployment and stow time in the industry. It's quiet, installs easily (to the transom, jack plate or motor) with a few bolts and can be removed quickly for storage.

The unit operates with the single push of a button, driving itself securely into bottom with three successive hits. It also has features to absorb wave movement or drive the spike additional times in current or rough water. Retail price is $1,299 for the 6-foot, 4-inch spike and $1,449 for the 8-foot, 4-inch spike.

Sufix 832 Advanced Superline
Sufix 832 Advanced SuperlineSufix 832 Advanced Superline is the first braided line to incorporate GORE fibers into its weave. The 832 Advanced Superline has seven Dyneema fibers and one GORE fiber woven together at 32 weaves per inch. The result is a consistently round, water-resistant braid with unmatched castability and abrasion resistance. It is available on 150-, 300- and 600-yard spools in low-vis green and neon lime in 6- to 80-pound tests. Retail price ranges from $19.99 to $69.99.

Frabill FXE Stormsuit
The FXE Stormsuit is designed for the most extreme weather conditions anglers encounter. It starts with a completely weatherproof, seam-sealed shell with a DuPont Teflon fabric protector and YKK Aquaguard zippers. The material was then molded by ergonomics experts for the movements anglers typically make. Throw in plenty of internal and external waterproof pockets, a hood and visor designed for a customized fit (with a vent to prevent the dreaded "parachute effect"), a completely waterproof crotch in the bibs, and padded knees.

The Stormsuit comes in two colors and small to 4XL sizes. The combo retails for $429 to $459, depending on the size. The bibs and jacket are also available separately.

Jay Kendrick Q&A

Jay Kendrick Q&A

I don’t want to come off cocky or overconfident, but I don’t remember having that feeling like I’d made it or anything. I never doubted I would. It was just a matter of time. Just like I have no doubt I’ll win an FLW Tour event. It’s just a matter of time, though I think that’s close. READ MORE »

Buddy Gross Q&A

Buddy Gross Q&A

I’ve never been one to watch all the tournaments on TV. I’m not a good spectator; I’d rather be actually fishing. Now my best friend and tournament partner, James Milling, he’s always watching them and keeping me informed. He shows up all the time with the latest and greatest fishing lures. He gets on me about it. READ MORE »

Tom Monsoor Q&A

Tom Monsoor Q&A

He liked to fish, but it was my mom, Lola, who loved to fish. Every chance she got she’d drag us out to go fishing. She lived to fish. In fact, to the day she died, she had a wooden, flat-bottom rowboat on Blue Lake in La Crosse. READ MORE »

2014 Buyer’s Guide: Soft plastics

2014 Buyer’s Guide: Soft plastics

No category of lure is as flexible as soft-plastic lures – both in action and in use. Not only do soft plastics move freely, even when deadsticked, but the range of their use is limited only by the angler’s imagination. READ MORE »

2-D sonar strategies

2-D sonar strategies

There was a time when experience almost always trumped equipment when it came to finding fish. If you wanted to be a better fisherman, you got out there on the water and paid your dues. You learned the spots that produced at certain times of the year, and culled the 90 percent of the water that was almost always void of bass. The last decade or so of fish-finding technology has changed the paradigm, however. Now anglers can buy a Lowrance HDS unit, cruise likely looking spots on any lake and literally see bass. READ MORE »

Swim-jigging winter grass lines

Swim-jigging winter grass lines

You can rip rattle baits through winter grass beds like everyone else, or you can offer bass something different: a swim jig. Veteran bass pro Ron Shuffield says a swim jig is one of his preferred cool-weather lures when bass set up camp on grass-line edges. It’s a lure that can be worked quickly, or dragged more slowly when conditions warrant a change-up. READ MORE »

Hog hunters

Hog hunters

A five-fish limit is the first measure of success and job one in a tournament. But it’s how you see that quintet shaping up that sets the tone for your performance. Is it an open audition where anything that measures will do, or do you want five stars that’ll rock any stage? READ MORE »

Never (hardly) ever lose a fish

Never (hardly) ever lose a fish

How many good fish do you lose in a season of fishing, whether it’s in a tournament or just when you’re fishing for the fun of it? If it’s more than you can count on your fingers, perhaps it’s time for some constructive self-criticism. Are the fish at fault, or are you? In case it’s the latter, we offer the following advice, observations and tips from some top pros regarding how to put the odds of landing a fish successfully more in your favor. READ MORE »

X Marks the spot

X Marks the spot

Two things stand out about winter bass fishing: The fish get a little bit pickier about where they want to be, and anglers don’t want to spend as much time running a bass boat around a frigid lake trying to find them. READ MORE »

Q&A with Andy Morgan

Q&A with Andy Morgan

I wouldn’t say it was a perfect season, but it sure worked out. I mean, it was a good year, but not a great year. I was surprised to even have a shot to win after Beaver Lake (he finished 68th). Honestly, it was never even on my mind until someone mentioned right before Chickamauga that I had a shot at winning it. READ MORE »

Last-minute holiday gift guide

Last-minute holiday gift guide

Naughty? Nice? Who cares – Christmas isn’t far away, and any bad behavior can be overlooked for a while as we celebrate the season with presents for those nearest and dearest. As is our custom, we’ve appointed ourselves Santa’s helpers and came up with a few gift ideas. We’ve also selected goodies that cover a range of price options. Regardless of their cost, the following gear, gadgets and clothing would make any angler beam with joy. READ MORE »

Boat Care 101: Simple do-it-yourself carpet cleaning

Boat Care 101: Simple do-it-yourself carpet cleaning

If there is one thing I hate worse than seeing a nice bass boat with a filthy finish, it’s seeing one with dirty carpet. I like to keep my stuff clean, but not just because it looks good. A bass boat is a huge investment, and the more you can do to protect that investment the better the returns if you ever decide to sell or trade it. READ MORE »

The Chilly Truth

The Chilly Truth

Not surprisingly, bass fishing has its own set of myths: Bass don’t eat topwaters when it’s sunny, big fish only eat big lures and so on. Winter fishing seems to take myths to a whole new level. Maybe the long hours in freezing cold numbs the mind as much as it does the hands, but one could write an article about how many myths there are regarding this chilly time of year – and whether or not they’re true. READ MORE »

Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts

If I use heavy-gauge hooks for flipping grass with braided line, why not use the same gauge hooks for fishing all soft plastics? READ MORE »

Sound effects

Sound effects

Though some anglers contend that rattling baits don’t necessarily attract strikes, and might even deter them, the preponderance of evidence favors the rattle crowd. Virtually every hard lure made nowadays – crankbaits, jerkbaits, stick baits and so forth – can be had in rattling and silent versions. READ MORE »

Guide to treble hooks

Guide to treble hooks

As a general rule, the treble hooks on the lures of most tournament pros aren’t original equipment. Less-expensive stock trebles are usually replaced with ultra-sharp premium hooks of the angler’s choice. READ MORE »

Dock cranking

Dock cranking

Well-honed casting skills are required to send a crankbait deep into the reaches of a dock. It can’t be skipped on the surface easily, but even an average caster can make a crankbait go where dock bass are likely to be if he employs a trick that Walmart FLW Tour pros Bryan Thrift and Wesley Strader call “driving,” or “steering.” READ MORE »

First Look

First Look

The following products were originally featured in the 2013 August/September issue of Bass Fishing magazine. READ MORE »

Drawdown tactics

Drawdown tactics

As summer winds down, however, things can change quickly on a drawdown lake – a reservoir where lake managers reduce the water level in late summer and early fall. Come practice for the EverStart showdown, Dan Morehead’s fish were nowhere to be found. In fact, despite the amazing pre-practice, Morehead didn’t catch a fish during the first day and a half of practice. The dropping lake and progressing season had caused everything to change. READ MORE »

All the right turns

All the right turns

Tournament fishing isn’t just about catching fish. It’s about making sound decisions based on experience and applying the proper strategies to make good things happen when they count the most. Of course, sometimes it’s just about trusting your instincts. READ MORE »