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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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May 01, 2015

Good Things Come in Small Packages

by Bob Banfelder

Shimano's Stradic 1000 FJ

Shimano's Stradic 1000 FJ freshwater spinning reel is but one example that "Good Things Come in Small Packages." The FJ 1000 is the lightest of the 1000 through 8000 series. This bantam weight winner absolutely belongs in your arsenal of light freshwater equipment. Handling monofilament line strengths of 2- 4- and 6-pound test, the angler equipped with the model FJ can easily tackle the most tenacious of small- to mid-size fighters. But I wouldn't draw the line of demarcation just on the sweetwater side by limiting yourself to pan fish or pond trout. No, sir. Donna and I have targeted more than our fair share of cocktail blues in the suds, from the Peconic River out to our neighboring bays: Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, east through the South Race, Little Peconic Bay, Hog Neck Bay, and right to the western shore of Shelter Island Sound. Why would we do this with such a lightweight reel when we have others that would handle the job more easily? The answer is that we wanted to put this freshwater small fry through rigorous workouts, and not just for a season or two but for several seasons of serious field testing.

Shimano's Stradic FJ 1000 with Ugly Stik SPL 1102 ~ 5-foot Ultra-Light Spinning Rod

Actually, if properly maintained, a quality freshwater reel can stand up to the punishment of a harsh marine environment. Simply washing, rinsing, and drying the reel on your return from fishing is the first step. But washing the reel does not mean blasting it with hose water, believing that you are removing salt accumulation. What you are doing in effect is forcing salt deposits into openings around the face and body of the reel. Instead, gently hose the reel (and rod), rinse, and wipe dry, especially around the bail arm and line roller. This will contribute to longevity. It takes less than two minutes. Mid-season, without having to take the reel apart, I put two drops of oil through the easy access maintenance port to lubricate the inner mechanism. At the end of the season, I preform annual maintenance in order to keep the reel in top condition.

Although I do not suggest employing Shimano's bantam-size Stradic FJ 1000 for the suds, especially when targeting cocktail-size blues, it did manage to get the job done nicely. Snappers, of course, are a snap. Moving up in model size, say to a Stradic 4000 FJ, would ensure a better battle with larger fish in salt water. But for freshwater species such as bluegills, perch, brookies, and bass, the Stradic FJ 1000 is the perfect tool. Here are some specs:

30-inch line retrieve per crank ~ monofilament line capacity (pound # test measured in yards) 2#/270 yd., 4#/140 yd., 6#/110 yd. ~ 7 pound maximum drag ~ 5 stainless steel ball bearings ~ 1 roller bearing ~ 6.0:1 gear ratio ~ paddle-type handle ~ 7.5 ounces ~ with an MSRP of $179.99.

I married Shimano's Stradic FJ 1000 spinning reel to an Ultra Light Action (UL) Shakespeare Ugly Stik, SPL 1102 model ~ five-foot spinning rod ~ rated for 2–6 pound test line. It is a perfect reel/rod combination for light-duty angling. After what both Donna and I put that outfit through by working our local bays for cocktail blues weighing up to three pounds, with the proper care, this ideal spinning outfit should last you many years.

Soft Plastics for the Suds

As important as fine equipment is to the art and enjoyment of angling, your bait—be it live or artificial—is, of course, paramount. Otherwise, you're just exercising your arm and spinning your spool. Great for practice, but not for the intended purpose of producing satisfactory results. The difference between fishing randomly and catching constantly is all about the lure. Since the theme of this article is titled Good Things Come in Small Packages, let's examine closely several bait packages that promise to produce the desired results. And that promise has not been broken by the Berkley and Havoc line of soft plastics. If fish are in the area, Berkley PowerBaits, Gulp! and Havoc Pro Designed Bass Baits will produce for you regularly.

Berkley PowerBaits, Gulp! and Havoc Soft Plastics

Unleash Havoc's 6-inch Boss Dog (a Gary Klein lizard design), and you'll soon be on the bite. Many of us know that chartreuse is a killer color for fish. Joined to a black-red flecked body and legs, the reptile's elongated chartreuse tail action comes alive in the water. Using either a straight or offset-shank 3/0 hook, rig this winner either Texas or Carolina style. These weedless rigs will help you avoid many a headache. What's neat about the Boss Dog is that it has a unique channel running along the length of the lure's underbelly for water to stream past, creating agitation while inviting a strike. Additionally, the top of the lure has an indented cavity with ribs running horizontally across its back to help conceal the hooks barb. Although available in fourteen colors, give this chartreuse/black-red flecked color combination a try for openers; also, the Boss Dog in Motor Oil Red Fleck/Chartreuse. MSRP for a package of ten is $3.49.

Berkley's PowerBait logo shows an Erlenmeyer flask, a test tube, and a Florence flask, all scientific laboratory glassware. Very clever, for it is telling you subliminally, Fishing Made Better Through Chemistry. I relate to this because I used to have a laboratory in my parent's home while growing up in New Jersey. I would cut neighbors' grass and rake leaves and spend virtually every dollar on laboratory equipment purchased from Scientific Glass in Morristown, New Jersey. I even wore a lab coat for the full effect. Experimentation was short-lived because I would concoct smelly secret formulas by extracting oils from the fish I caught, reducing liquids in a retort for powerful concentrations that I then applied to the hairy materials of Mepps' spinner lures. Mom and Dad did not encourage my endeavors. The laboratory was soon disbanded, and I was relegated to the breezeway between our home and the garage; that is, until odors permeated the entire area. I was ordered to pack up the works, which wound up in the attic. All was not for naught, however.

Many years later, I passed an interest in chemistry on to my young son. One of the Christmas gifts Santa had brought my precocious five-year old was a Gilbert chemistry set. I assisted Jason initially, leaving him with the understanding that he was not to deviate from the manual's prescribed list of experiments. Not wanting to discourage creativity as Jason's interest had grown exponentially, I gave him lots of latitude. He went on to become a chemical engineer. Thank goodness Jason never decided on developing fish scents and flavors as I once had. And to this day, Donna says, "Thank goodness that Berkley spends considerable resources on research and development and can produce these proven scents and flavor products—PowerBait and Gulp!—at such affordable prices, Bob. Otherwise, I might have become a fisherman's widow had you set up shop again."

Jason Banfelder at age five

Here are thirteen other soft baits I have tried, and with good to great success: Berkley's PowerBait 6-inch Slim Shad ~ chartreuse; PowerBait 5-inch Jerkshad ~ pearl watermelon; PowerBait 4.5-inch Rib Shad ~ blue shiner gold; PowerBait 4-inch Mullet ~ chartreuse pepper/white; PowerBait 3.5-inch Fight'n Bug ~ Alabama craw; Berkley's Gulp! 6-inch Bloodworm ~ natural; Gulp! 4-inch Doubletail Swimming Mullet ~ natural shrimp FS; Gulp! 3-inch Shrimp ~ natural; Gulp ~ 3-inch Shrimp ~ new penny; Gulp! 3-inch Hollow ~ new penny; Gulp! 2-inch Peeler Crab ~ natural; Gulp! Bloodworm [straight body, tiny nubs along each side of worm, no specific length, packaged as 35 grams total] ~ bloody; Havoc's 4.5-inch Money Maker ~ Junebug, purple/green flecked worm (a Brandon Palanuik design).

Yes, good things do come in small packages. Better Fishing Through Chemistry.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

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