Divan Coetzee gets to grips with the popular Shimano Curado XG. With its wider spool for more capacity and versatility. Take it anywhere!
‘I’ve never been a fan of any 200 size baitcaster, the logic behind my disdain is simple. Personally, I have very little use for a 200 size spool, the exception being larger paddletails and swimbaits, that’s where it ends for me. Allow me explain… a 200 spool has a width of approximately 27mm, the average 150 spool measures about 23mm. If you think that 4mm doesn’t make that much of a difference, you are very wrong! It has a profound effect on casting, particularly lighter baits. If the line guide sits in either corner of the frame during a cast, due to the spool width, the line comes off the reel at oblique angles which causes unnecessary and unanticipated friction, which results in an overwind on an otherwise perfect cast, hence the fact that I’ve only used them for heavier applications.
Johan has been asking me to do a review for sometime now, I’ve been putting it off for awhile whilst waiting for an opportunity to put it to work. The idea was to actually catch a few good ones, and not just cast baits all day. The Mrs and I headed off to some private water East of Middelburg, I took only the one setup to force myself to fish the reel all day without the temptation of my other setups.
The XG model has a ratio of 8.5:1 and has a line pickup of 91cm – its fast! Generally, reels with high ratios typically lack torque, but the micro module gear seems to alleviate the issue, to the point that I’d be happy to use the 7 ratio for cranking. The XG only kicks out 11lbs of drag, it’s still sufficient though.
The venue we fished offers a 2kg average, so I spooled up with 17lb fluoro, not conducive to good casting, but I wasn’t going to make easy for the reel to pass the review. It would most certainly perform better with a thinner diameter fluorocarbon or even braid. That being said, it would be silly to spool 12lb on 200 model. That’s what the 150’s and 70’s are for. I left the VBS braking system and external cast control on 50% as per factory setting, and just played around with the spool tension knob relative to the bait I was casting. The reel had no problem casting spinnerbaits, jigs and chatterbaits, it did not enjoy the lighter stuff at all… perhaps with some fiddling it could be better, but not to the point where it would be able to substitute 150’s.
The torque ratio caught me off guard, I did not expect the reel to be a winch, but I pulled several 2kg plus fish to the point that I felt sorry for them. This reel is a well engineered machine, every Shimano fan should have one! They come in 3 different ratios along with the DC model.’
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Thank you Divan for penning up this cool and informative review all about the Shimano Curado XG. We are looking forward to more of this really good stuff. – Johan
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Considering colour in fishing: I’d like to revisit an article I wrote some time ago, it’s a great topic and evocative for many. Sentiment plays a major role in many cases, going with a particular colour based on previous experience even though the circumstances and conditions are different, or reverting to what you caught your PB on 7 years ago. Most of us are guilty of this in one way or another. The purpose of this article is to help simplify colour selection, especially for beginners or folks who need reassurance. My tackle box is unexciting, you’ll find Black, Brown, Green & maybe something June bug, Perhaps even a bit of white. I like to keep it simple. I have variations of these base colours but I don’t care much for glitter. The more you fuss over which colour glitter is best the less you focus on what could actually make a difference to your catch rate. Let me explain my reasoning behind colour selection: colour perception is relative to light penetration. When subjected to the depths, certain colours loose their integrity due to diminished light penetration. Scientists tell us that red is the first colour to be affected followed by orange and yellow. Green is next, followed by blue, purple and black. The latter three maintain their integrity at great depths, and still appear as their natural hue even as deep as 100ft depending on water clarity. At this depth, all other colours appear grey or a variation thereof. So in essence, if you were under the impression that you were fishing a Watermelon bait in 30ft guess again, It would likely be perceived as pale grey. An excellent example of this would be certain ‘red’ saltwater reef species, at depth they appear grey in colour, this is a camouflage mechanism. I’m sure everyone has seen some sort of underwater footage of reef fish. The three most common scenarios that you’ll face are, clear water, stained water and muddy water. My basic colour selection would be as follows, in clear water up shallow, I would start with Watermelon ( gold, red, purple, blue fleck – whatever) until I can no longer see the bottom, then I would switch over to Green Pumpkin, Black or June bug. For stained water, up shallow, I will start off with Green Pumpkin, and use Black and June bug as I move deeper. During low light conditions, I might consider a colour with good contrast against the dark water. Muddy water can be challenging so best ensure that your bait remains as visible as possible. It is recommended to use White (or counter shade) and black. It’s also one of the few scenarios where I prefer that my bait has some glitter. Scientists agree that the visibility of your bait is the overriding factor which determines whether a bass will actually commit to eating your presentation, not the shape or hydrodynamic signature of your bait. You can refine your approach in clear water by matching your bait colour to the immediate surroundings and cover. For example, if the area has lots of weeds then stick to Watermelon. If the area has rocks or timber , try Green Pumpkin perhaps. Keep in mind that any variation of the base colours will also do. With regards to hardbaits, if you consider what they are imitating, it’s simple. Any form of counter shade will do. If you are limited to only a few baits, I would recommend ones with a White belly and darker back. For stained and muddy water I might consider something with a bit of Yellow, Orange or chartreuse on it. Spinnerbaits are most popular in White in variations thereof. My clear water favourite is golden shiner and for stained water plain old white. For jigs, it’s just as simple – clean water calls for shades of Green pumpkin, crabs also happen to be brown in colour… for stained and muddy water, black/blue is hard to beat. If I’m swimming a jig, white is a great option. In fact, white is the most fool proof colour for any reaction bait whether it’s a hardbait, softbait or skirted presentation. Try not to overthink it, stick to the basic colours and be confidant in your choice. See you on the water!
Mike long: a fallen icon –by FPS Pro Angler Divan Coetzee
Mike Long – a name synonymous with Big Bass catches, America’s “best” trophy hunter, exposed as a fraud! Wow! I’m still trying to wrap my head around the audacity of this guy. The allegations against him are insane! From snagging trophy fish and claiming false lake records to secret live wells and intimidation.
Kellen Ellis, owner and administrator of SD.FISH.com, come forward with some compelling video evidence and a 40 page article labeled “The dark secret of America’s big bass guru” covering the entire career of this once revered angler. It’s an interesting read, the full article can be viewed on Ellis’ page. I’ve taken out snippets from the original article to give you some perspective on how this guy (Long) operated.
Ellis states: “Back then Long was the undisputed heavyweight champion of big bass fishing. He caught the ninth heaviest bass of all time in 2001, a 20.75-pounder. He owned five local lake records for bass and made claim to having caught several hundred more bass over 10 pounds. “Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World-Record Largemouth Bass” by Monte Burke had hit bookstores a year prior and Long was prominently featured in the book as the leader of the pack when it came to the chase for the world record. He was the guy that the other players in that quest chased. And he was annihilating San Diego’s other top bass anglers in local team (2-person) tournaments, many times doing it without a partner in the boat.
There was some controversy surrounding his success, particularly with his lake records and the tournament wins while fishing solo — but anyone questioning Long’s prowess at this point was met with resolute resistance from his supporters — myself included. I sincerely regret that.” Ellis broke ties with Long in 2010 after suspicious and circumstantial evidence presented itself. Ellis was left with the only conclusion; that Long was a fraud! Ellis lacked any concrete proof on the subject. Big Bass legend Bill Murphy, shared Ellis’ sentiment with regards to Long, and would let his true feelings on Long be known before he passed in 2004. Ellis goes on to say: “Murphy absolutely thought he was a cheater. I had breakfast with Bill Murphy a few months before he died, he thought not only was he dangerous, but he was a cheater, and that he was spawning a bad element in bass fishing in San Diego County,” Zieralski told me in a phone interview this May. “He did not respect Long. He feared him. He feared the element that Mike was bringing into the sport.”
Meanwhile, Long would dominate local tournaments and attain several lake records, the latter being a big deal in the U.S. The incentive to be on top was there, in the form of financial reward. Ellis states: “Mike Long would proceed to DOMINATE the Big Bass Record Club. In 1999, the club’s first year Long would take home $28,400 after taking first, third and 10th in the contest that year with bass weighing 17.95 pounds (Lake Murray), 15.19 (Lake Poway) and 12.44 (Lake Poway)”
In light of Long’s success, the format was charged the next year. There was effectively no way to properly dispute an anglers claim. In 2001, Long came out tops with a fish of 20.75 from lake Dixon. The specimen became known as “dotty”. In hindsight, I think it’s fair to question the legitimacy of the catch. All Long had to do was pass a polygraph test. He failed… he would later be allowed to retake the test.
With all the controversy surrounding the failed polygraph, Long laid low for awhile with regards to submitting catches. Instead, he teamed up with an old school buddy and highly proficient angler by the name of John Kerr. Kerr says the following about Long: “He was catfishing off a point and I was done bass fishing for the day so I went over and started catfishing near him. We got to talking and he told me he was getting into bass fishing,” This would be the start of Long’s tournament career, he and Kerr did fairly well and managed many respectable finishes including several AOY titles. Kerr being the backbone of the team and Long contributing nothing but his name. In fact, Long on several occasions listed Kerr as his partner for the day, but ended up fishing alone. Long would end up with a winning percentage of 75% when fishing alone, and 25% when fishing with a partner. Kerr became suspicious, Ellis states: “Kerr was sceptical of Long’s success. What he saw from him as a teammate didn’t match the results that Long was generating as a competitor. And he had witnessed Long pull some things with lake record claims that made him question the man’s moral compass. Long’s lake records were especially dubious, and Kerr was far from the only one who doubted their validity.”
Kerr and Long eventually parted ways after an incident in 2008. From there, Long would take even bigger risks in order to stay on top.
Ellis writes: “In Jan. of 2009, Mattson took a call from Long inviting him to go fish Lake Hodges on a day the lake was closed, and told him he had waterdogs that they could use for bait. Waterdogs have been illegal to use as bait in California since March of 2001, but Long, working for a rebar company, had been on a job in Yuma, AZ and was able to purchase them there. Mattson declined, saying he didn’t want anything to do with throwing waterdogs or fishing illegally. He again suggested to Long that he shouldn’t be doing anything illegal given all the scrutiny he was under.
But Long apparently didn’t heed his advice, and left Mattson a voicemail later stating that he had fished Hodges and caught a 13-pounder. “He was super stoked about it, I could tell in his voice that he legitimately caught it, you could tell when he did something legitimately, which was few and far between, but it wasn’t really legit because the lake was closed and the bait was illegal,” Mattson said. “I called Johnny [Kerr] and told him Mike got a 13 out of Hodges, and Kerr said there was an upcoming tournament at Otay, and he thought he would weigh it in during the tournament. I said, ‘you think so?’ He said, ‘he’s going to get a 13 in the tournament, and I bet he says he gets it on a swimbait.’”
“I go, you know what, if that happens, I’m 100% sure that he’s cheating,” Mattson recalled.
On Jan. 24, 2009 Mike Long weighed 25.93 pounds in the WON Bass Tournament at Lower Otay, fishing by himself (though he put John Kerr down on the entry form as his partner). His nearly 26-pound limit was anchored by a… you guessed it, 13.2-pounder. He collected $4,990 in prize money”.
This is truly a fascinating article, I urge you to read all 19 000 words of it. It took Ellis 10 odd years to compile all his data. The video footage that accompanies the article is just as shocking. I urge folks to keep their side clean. There is no place for snaggers and cheats!
Bass: Fishing Pro Shop’s Divan Coetzee has prepared a series of articles putting bass firmly in the cross hairs, -this being the first one. Every week from now and for 10 weeks, we will publish one bass fishing post from Divan. In amongst other how-to and news articles from all the other fish species our authors are committed to. Johan Wessels is right now representing the Fishing Pro Shop in Nicaragua as he commits to teaching those tarpon a few lessons. We are looking forward to his contributions coming up shortly.
Over to Divan…
I’ve wanted to touch on this subject for a while now but, I was not sure what I wanted to say, or whether it will be relevant or help full… there are many aspects I’d like to cover on this topic, but I’ll only end up ranting and spewing rubbish, much like my previous works. Anyway, you’ve all seen those posts, and maybe you’ve even made one before, it normally goes something like this: – “Hi everyone, my buddy and I want to go catch some bass tomorrow. Where is the best spot and with what can I catch them”. Sounds innocent enough doesn’t it? One almost feels compelled to help. Then it got me thinking: what did I do in my early years prior to the ‘information at the touch of a button age’? I’ll tell you what! I shredded any and all information pertaining to bass fishing and fishing in general. If you are passionate enough about fishing, you’ll do the same. If not, then you are that guy that’s always late for class and did not do his homework, hoping he can get enough done in the 5 minutes preceding first period. What I’m saying is: if you are a crappy student, you’ll be a crappy bass fisherman.
Bass fishing has no short answers, just an endless array of variables. If you can’t make peace with this, then you’ll end up over complicating things for yourself. Back to the point! So, said person is perfectly capable of typing his request and submitting it to social media? Right, but why social media and not a more dedicated platform? Something like wired2fish or any Bass magazine out there. Let me tell you why! It takes little to no effort to attain ‘information’ on these sites. Remember this is the same guy who never does his homework, and most other platforms offer extensive solutions to his questions, yet he is unwilling to literally just sit there and listen, never mind having to go through hours of reading material. They like their answers in 3 words or less but, these folks will have a hard time achieving any consistency.
The fact that there are thousands and thousands of lure choices (and opinions) does not make it easy for entry level and beginner anglers either. If you are still consumed by lure selection, rest assured, the solution is not on the shelf. This brings us to the second part of the conversation – the answers! If you’ve ever answered a question like that on social media in 3 words or less, then shame on you! We’ll circle back to this shortly; ever noticed how many experts and specialists we have out there? Thank goodness these guys aren’t tournament fisherman; No wonder folks take to social media for instant advise. Top answers include, but are not limited to: “Bronkhorstspruit! Rusties! Flukes, Senko, Witbank Spinnerbaits, where do you live, I’m going there next week…. Jigs, crankbaits!” The list goes on and on…. What can one possibly hope to learn form these contradictory utterances? Yes sure you can go to above mentioned venue and throw out said baits and catch a fish, but how does that help you long term? Are you seriously going to consult whom ever is quickest on the keyboard every time you consider an outing? Luckily there are no wrong answers in bass fishing but, some answers are more correct than others relatively speaking. So how does one convey the correct info in 3 words or less? Easy, you don’t! Effort equals reward in this case and the onus is on you to up your game and reference framework. You have to put in the hours.
Reference framework I hear you ask? Every single outing you’ve had prior to the next one is your reference, ie: location, time of year, weather conditions, dam level, predominant structure, baitfish… all these factors contribute to making informed decisions. The more you fish a specific body of water under specific conditions, the better your reference will be. Our waters are small in comparison to the USA so a bass literally has nowhere to hide; yet finding fish takes a back seat when compared to lure selection locally. We place way too much emphasis on lure selection and pay little attention to the stuff that matters. Do you think the top anglers in this Country have some special bait that they’re unwilling to tell you about? Maybe…. But the reality is that these guys know how to find fish relative to the seasonal stage; that’s the key.
It’s a big pill, swallow it slowly so you don’t forget it! Perhaps we’ll take a deeper look at seasonal staging in future issues. This forms part of the fundamentals to understanding bass behavior and cycles.
In closing, if you put in the effort, you’ll be duly rewarded. Selling people down the river is in poor taste. There are no short cuts – only long days, blistering heat, icy wind, swollen fingers, sunburn, windburn, dehydration, late nights and early mornings… all of it, absolutely worth it!
Thank you Divan for another excellent piece. Looking forward to your next one – Sean
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