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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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September 02, 2017

BOWFISHING ON A BUDGET: Part IV of IV ~ Boats & Beauty Surrounding Bowfishing

by Bob Banfelder

Continuing from yesterday, we'll take a quick peek at a couple of boats from which you can enjoy the sport of bowfishing without breaking the bank. Keeping it simple is the key. In September of last year, I had written a two-part article for Nor'east Saltwater covering Porta-Botes. If you are in the market for a truly portable boat, look for September 1st and 2nd, 2016 along the left column and click for the two articles.

Porta-Botes ~ Four Fantastic, Foldable, Affordable Angling/Hunting Boat Models ~ Part I for September 1, 2016.

Porta-Botes ~ Four Fantastic, Foldable, Affordable Angling/Hunting Boat Models ~ Part II for September 2, 2016.

Author's10 ft. foldable, affordable Porta-Bote ~ Muzzy Addict Recurve bowfishing setup.

Friend and mentor's 10 ft. aluminum Tracker jon boat.

Early a.m. on the Peconic River, Riverhead, Long Island, New York.

Most importantly, your first order of business before drawing back the bow is to make sure that the arrow's shock pad (bumper) is in the upright position, safety slide forward along the arrow shaft, and that the reel is in free-spool mode. You don't want the arrow flying off erratically. Going bowfishing your first time out with someone who is experienced is certainly sage advice.

Author aiming to take a carp.

Left to Right: author with friend and mentor, David Lee Fulton. Both men flaunt the same Muzzy setups: bows, reels, arrows, et cetera.

Dave Fulton broke me into bowhunting for deer twenty-six years ago and more recently led me into bowfishing. He is a consummate archer/hunter, having harvested deer out to 60 yards with a compound bow. Dave practices archery several times a week, point being that practice does, indeed, make perfect—or darn near it. Dave guided me (quite literally) along the shallow waters for bowfishing in the lower and upper reaches of the Peconic River in Riverhead, Long Island, New York. With either a compound bow for deer hunting, or a bowfishing outfit for carp, David is at home. He has taken sizable carp from the river, which the man knows like the back of his hand.
Referencing bowfishing, he modestly relates his successes and failures, for bowfishing presents many challenges. Refraction (the bending of light as it passes from one medium into another) is but one of those challenges.
"Shoot four inches low for every foot of water," was David's mantra as I missed with my first, second, and third shot at a six pounder.

"Not uncommon to see ten pounders around here, Bob," Dave said encouragingly. "Right around the bend by that dock over there, I think you'll see a couple of big guys; maybe twelve pounders. Remember, shoot four inches low for every foot of water. We'll be in about a foot or so. If you can't hit one of those big boys, there's that side of a barn over there by the horse. Maybe you can practice hitting the barn wall," he bantered.

I reminded David that he was my gillie for the day and to just keep rowing. He asked me if I had my sea legs, meaning that a sudden clumsy stroke from either oar could easily propel me from a standing position into a warm bath of water and vegetation. If not for bow and arrow in hand and at the ready, I might have welcomed David's not-so-subtle warning, for it was already a hot early July morning, and the sun was only beginning its ascent.

One of several impressive properties along a stretch (between lower and upper region) of the scenic Peconic River.

For those long hot summer days working a body of water, an electric motor is a blessing, offering stealth in lieu of signaling and, consequently, spooking fish.

Minn Kota electric trolling motor.

Foreground: Typical summer vegetation encountered bowfishing along the banks of the Peconic River.

For a bow unequipped with a quiver, a few 6-inch strips of ¾-inch wide Velcro from a roll that wraps onto itself is perfect for attaching arrows to bow while transporting. I also secure Selway's Limbsaver Recurve Bowstringer to the bow as if stringing it, placing the bow's bottom limb tip into the stringer's pocket (cup), running its loop and rubber block toward the top limb, wrapping the line around the upper limb near the tip, then inserting a cable tie through the hole in the rubber block to secure it to the limb. This way, everything is intact and ready to go: bow, arrows, ‘switch-out' extension connections, and bow stringer.

Velcro strips to secure arrows and bow stringer to bow while transporting.

Lower stretch along the beautiful Peconic River.

Ample Parking off of West Main Street in Riverhead ~ dirt road opposite Snowflake (ice cream shop).

Hope to see you soon on this gem of a river for some fine bowfishing. The season will close at the end of this month.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host: Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Recent recipient of Who's Who in America Lifetime Achievement Award (August 9, 2017)

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Several of My Crime-Thriller Novels Incorporate The Great Outdoors

Top Row ~ Left to Right:

The Richard Geist Trilogy
Dicky, Richard, and I
The Signing
The Triumvirate

The Justin Barnes Four-Book Series
The Author
The Teacher
The Good Samaritans

Middle Row:
Trace Evidence – inspired by the Robert Shulman serial killer trial in Riverhead, N.Y.

Battered – based on the true story of an abused woman who murdered her husband; also, her subsequent trial and experiences in prison

Bottom Row: Nonfiction
The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook: Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

The Must-Have Guide for Writers

All books now available on Amazon

July 02, 2017

Father's Day Concerns ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

No sooner than I had revised, updated, and copy/pasted yesterday's list from my website referencing the many topics that Donna and I cover on our Cablevision show, Scat called, informing me that his oldest son, Doug, United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Counterintelligence Specialist is once again being deployed to Afghanistan. That makes three (3) deployments to Iraq, and now three (3) to Afghanistan since 2002. Think about that; six (6) deployments to the Middle East over the past fifteen years. Both men and women like Doug, serving in our United States Armed Forces, comprised of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, serve to protect while our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and acquaintances, can eat, sleep, and breathe safely through the night then awake anew to enjoy our life-styles . . . safeguarded. Scat and Jeanie are, of course concerned for Doug's safety. In a Father's Day pronouncement, Doug mitigated those concerns to a degree in his text message to Scat:

"Don't stress, Pop, nor you, Jeanie. I'll make it back. They had several chances to get me, but I'm faster and smarter, so they were never successful. I have one more tour, and then I can retire for good. Don't worry about a thing."

Sound familiar? Father and son have one more tour left in them.

It has been my privilege to honor one of many of these fine folks who put themselves in harm's way by serving their country so that you and I [especially readers of outdoor magazines such as Nor'east Saltwater)] may enjoy the freedom to fish, clam, crab, boat, travel, eat, sleep, breathe, and, yes, hunt while harvesting the fruits of their perilous labor—our precious liberty.

Along the lines of fishing, Scat wants to seriously learn how to fish and asked me to teach him. A good distraction methinks from what is obviously on the man's mind concerning one son's safety (Doug's) and the other's career focus, (Dale).

"Bob, would you be so kind as to teach me the ropes?" Scat had asked me in a thick brogue the day after Father's Day. "I have a new fishing pole and need to wind on some string."
"You mean a fishing rod; you wind line, not string, around the spool of the reel."
"Oh, I know how to reel, all right."
"Truly I do. And I can cast pretty well, too."
"Well, that I know because I was watching you out there."
"Listen, Bob. I see that your boat is still wrapped, and it's getting late in the season. I have me boat here that sits two, so if you and Donna ever want to go fishing, the oar is in it; just undo the rope and—.
"You mean you have a tandem kayak, meaning for two people for paddling; not an oar for rowing, nor rope for tying off. It's called a line, not rope."
"But you just said that line was for a reel.
"I did. Same holds true with lines for tying off."
"But then that would be a very thin line to secure it to a rod. How would it even hold?
"You mean a pole or a piling; you secure a line to a pole or piling, or a cleat."
"But you said that me pole is the same as me rod."
"Not exactly."
"Then what exactly do you mean, Bob?"
"Well, nautically speaking, ropes are really lines. But then there are fishing lines such as monofilament line, braided line, fly line, and lines for tying off. You spool a reel with fishing line and fish with a rod, not a pole." A pole, a piling, or a cleat is something you wrap your watercraft line around."
"Well, with all that nautical understanding, Bob, do you even know your arse from ye elbow?"
"We'll deal with fore and aft, port and starboard after we get you some string for your new pole. How's that, Scat?"
"Much better, Bob. Much better."

Scat and I always have a good laugh.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

June 01, 2017

Compact Spinning & Fly-Fishing Kits for Travel ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

When researching compact spinning and fly-fishing kits for travel, I was looking for a complete kit that had a dedicated rod and reel for spin fishing as well as a dedicated rod and reel for fly-fishing—not one of those generic, dual-purpose rods that serve as a substitute for both angling methods. That just doesn't cut it. The L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit is the ticket. With compact case dimensions of only 21½-inches long x 8½-inches wide, x 3½-inches high, it is a perfect size for easy carry-on transport, backpacking, or to stow in your vehicle and have at the ready at a moment's notice. How many times have you driven by a promising body of water and said to yourself? Boy, I wish I had my spinning and/or fly-fishing equipment handy. Well, with the L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit, you can now have a pair of completely dedicated compact travel rods and reels on hand for fishing both sweet water and the suds.

L.L. Bean Compact Spin/Fly Kit

The L.L. Bean spinning outfit features a dedicated 4-piece, 6-foot medium/light-action rod that is well-matched to a series 1000 reel. The spool is preloaded with 110 yards of 6-pound test monofilament line—not 60 yards as specified in the description, which I immediately questioned. After carefully measuring then re-spooling, I thought perhaps the reel had been inadvertently spooled with 4-pound test line so as to account for the extra 50 yards of mono, which would happen to agree with their lb. test/yd. spool capacity description; [4/110, 5/100, 6/60 is printed on the skirted spool. I compared the diameter of the line to spools of both 4- and 6-pound test monofilament I had on hand and tactilely determined that it was 6-pound test mono. Granted, there is no universal standard referencing line diameter versus breaking test strength, and I was not about to hunt down a spring balance in order to test tensile stress. In any case, it's better to have more line than less. Later, referencing fly line and backing, we'll see that more line can become an issue. That aside for the moment, the spinning reel has a generous gear ratio of 5.2:1, 4 ball bearings, a smooth drag, and an anti-backlash system.

The fly outfit features a dedicated 6-piece, 8½-foot medium-action 5-weight rod that is nicely matched to their 5–6 weight Angler model #1 reel. Its good-size arbor is pre-spooled with 290 feet of backing, an 84-foot floating fly line (yellow), and a 9½-foot tapered leader. A fluent disc drag sports a large knob in order to easily apply the brakes.

4-Piece Spinning Rod ~ 6-Piece Fly Rod ~ Fly Box ~ Lure Box ~ Carrying Case

Additionally, the pair of rods and reels is protected within a functional vacuum-molded Cordura nylon fabric case with a clear-plastic zippered top. The case is lined with high-density polyurethane foam with cutouts shaped to firmly hold reels, rod sections, along with a pair of miniature lure and fly boxes. The plastic fly box (with slotted foam inserts), which can hold many flies, even contains a trio of easy-to-access fly-fishing hook threaders—great for changing flies in low-light and/or cold conditions. Beneath the boxes, I added packages of tapered leaders and tippet material. Last but not least, the case has a durable Cordura carrying handle.

After stripping out line, casting, and fighting a few fair-sized schoolie bass before finally calling it a day, I noted that the fly line was binding slightly—atop the spool, just beneath the reel seat—even after carefully rewinding the line back upon the spool. Why? The answer is that I wasn't reeling and laying the line precisely and firmly back-and-forth along the spool as when it was first machine spooled at the factory. When I returned home, I simply measured the backing, fly line, and leader so as to determine accurate specs. I then removed 100 feet from 290 feet of backing then retied it to the spool, leaving 190 feet, which is more than sufficient when coupled to 84 feet of fly line and a 9½-foot leader for a total of 283½ feet (94½ yards). In all my years of fly-fishing both salt and fresh water, I rarely went into the backing; when I did, it wasn't more than a few yards. So now, even if I fail to wind the line evenly upon the spool, I'm not going to have a binding issue unless I'm really careless. Also, if I later decide to whip finish a loop and add a weight-forward sinking section, or switch to a longer 100-foot fly line, I'm good to go. L.L. Bean is certainly being generous in giving you more than less rather than the other way around, so I can't fault them in that. In any event, always be sure to allow for enough clearance so as not to damage the fly line.

Referencing the spinning rod, you will note that it does not have a hook keeper. That, too, is an easy fix. As I do not like retaining the hook in the leg of a guide, let alone one of its eyes, or impaled in the rod's fine cork handle, I prefer to secure the hook in a neat little item called The CATCH, manufactured by Adams WW, Inc. I have them attached to virtually every rod I own (spin, bait, and fly) — even if the rod comes with its own hook keeper. You'll note that the fly rod does come with its own hook keeper, yet I still attached The CATCH's compact size hook keeper to the wand. The hook keeper's slotted magnetic shield solidly holds and prevents the point and barb of the hook from catching you, your clothing, vehicle, and boat seats—not to mention, perhaps, a pet. The CATCH hook keepers securely attaches to virtually any size blank diameter in seconds via an ozone and weather-resistant neoprene O-ring. The CATCH lightweight hook keepers are available in three sizes: The CATCH compact size (black, orange, blue), The CATCH-BIG (black), and the CATCH-MEGA (black).

Bob B's Big Bull's-Eye Fly & The CATCH Hook Keeper

Over the years, I've field-tested other brand-name hook keepers. For conventional spin, bait, and fly-casting rods, you want the CATCH hook keepers. Pictured below for the purpose of comparison is Fuji's EZ Keeper attached to the L.L. Bean travel spinning rod. The EZ hook keeper attaches in the same fashion as The CATCH hook keepers by way of an O-ring. Though, with the lure's pair of treble hooks exposed, it doesn't really much matter that those points and barbs are unprotected—unlike the single protected point and barb of the fly depicted in The CATCH's magnetic shielded slot. The EZ Keeper serves to hold a lure or fly, not to protect. Also, the EZ Keeper is available but in a single size, whereas the trio of The CATCH compact keepers accommodate hooks from midge-size 22–1, The CATCH-BIG up to 4/0, and The CATCH-MEGA up to 9/0. However, Fuji's EZ Keeper does have its place as a Tenkara line-management system.

Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow & Fuji EZ Hook Keeper

I first reviewed The CATCH hook keepers in Nor'east Saltwater back in August of 2013. The piece is titled Hooked on Hook Keepers. Click on this link for the complete article:

Returning back to the pair of spin and fly-casting rods, both are finely wrapped and finished, boast genuine cork handles, 5 single-foot guides plus tip ~ 1 double-footed guide, 8 snake guides plus tip, respectively. The rods alone are worth the cost of the kit. And although the reels themselves are not of stellar quality—plastic components versus metal being the issue—you can always upgrade those items if and when the time comes while employing those same fine rods and suitably sufficient carrying case for many, many years. Our L.L. Bean compact combo travel kit will serve us at a moment's notice, always at the ready in our vehicle for unexpected, spontaneous adventure and action whenever our beefier equipment is back home taking up space.

In concluding Part 1, the fly reel is more than adequate, and the spinning reel stood up admirably against twenty-plus schoolie bass in a single outing. Moreover, the following day, I lost a nice-size striper (guesstimated at 30 inches) on the travel spinning rod as Donna was fumbling with the net right off the port stern. My point here is not to pick on Donna, but to make clear that the rod and reel easily handled a good-size fish in the suds, right up to the boat, the drag system having performed smoothly and flawlessly. As always, be sure to rinse your rod(s) and reel(s) with fresh water on return. Donna and I have both expensive and inexpensive equipment angling equipment that we have used, not abused, for decades. Take proper care of your equipment, and it will take care of you. Enough said.

L.L. Bean Travel Spinning Outfit ~ Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow ~ One of a Score of Schoolie Stripers Caught That Day in Our Compact Folding Porta-Bote (

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats

March 01, 2017

Step-By-Step Spring Commissioning for Outboard Engines & Boats

by Bob Banfelder

Springing into Action ~ Part 1

If you had followed my 2016 winterizing procedures in Nor'east Saltwater for November 1st (Part 1) and November 2nd (Part 2), titled STEP-BY-STEP WINTERIZING WIZARDRY FOR OUTBOARD ENGINES, the majority of the work is now behind you. Let's move on to Spring Commissioning, referencing both your outboard engine and boat for this 2017 season. I'll continue using our 90 horsepower Yamaha TXR 4-stroke outboard engine and 18-foot Nautic Star center console as a generic model. If you hadn't followed those winterizing instruction as a general guide, you may want to copy those earlier pages for future reference. If so, please log on to Part 1: and Part 2: for complete details.

Let's uncover the boat and continue where we left off. It would be a good idea to first read through each procedure carefully before proceeding so that you will be familiar and highly organized. You will receive several useful suggestion as well as very important information that you may not be aware of. This approach will save you time, money, and frustration.

Come spring is when I change the Fuel/Water Separating Filter, address touch-up primers and paints for fiberglass and underwater hardware, check and reinstall batteries, replace zinc(s), reinstall prop, wash and wax exterior/interior of boat, clean the bilge, polish on-deck fixtures and fittings, and protect vinyl seats. Therefore, these are the steps we'll be covering referencing Spring Commissioning.

Let's get started.

PHASE ONE: changing the Marine Fuel/Water Separating Filter


Items: Yamaha MARINE FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER-High Performance 90 GPH/10 Micron Filtration ~ oil filter wrench ~ rags ~ paper towels ~ aluminum pie pan ~ glass jar ~ ¼ pint fresh gas

Step 1. Raising my outboard engine allows access to where the FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER is located. Doing so shifts the group of cables out of the way for easier accessibility.

Note: The location of the spin-on/-off FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER is rather difficult to reach and remove because it is practically touching the stern/starboard corner bulkhead—deep within the recess of my 18-foot Nautic Star.

A metal looped band-type filter wrench is required to remove the filter in that narrow space. No other type of oil filter wrench worked. I needed the thinness of that band to encircle the filter. However, the wrench would not properly grip the filter and kept slipping. What to do?

I took a thin sheet of cork gasket material, measured and cut two narrow strips to fit neatly within the metal band, and secured them in place with Gorilla Glue. The strips have remained firmly in place since 2010. The modified tool is a godsend. Yes, necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention. Hopefully, your filter is located in a more accessible area.

Note cork gasket material strips at one o'clock and seven o'clock positions within filter wrench band

Step 2. While removing the Fuel/Water Separator, it has to be supported in my left hand as I loosen the filter with the wrench held in my right, being careful not to spill any gas as I remove it. I have a disposable aluminum pie pan placed beneath the filter canister to catch any spill.

Step 3. Pour the old gas into a clean, clear jar and check for water, dirt, debris, and other contaminants. The gas should be clear, not cloudy or white in color. If you do have water in the gas, you'll see its separation at the bottom of the jar as the water is heavier than the gas; gas floats atop water. Consult your authorized marine mechanic if this occurs. I never had an issue using a Yamaha MARINE FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER-High Performance 90 GPH/10 Micron Filtration canister.

Step 4. Nearly fill the new Fuel/Water Separating Filter with fresh gasoline to facilitate priming the fuel system.
Step 5. Lubricate the new filter gasket with engine oil, carefully spin on and tighten securely— approximately ½ turn after the gasket contacts the filter head base.

PHASE TWO: touch-up priming


Items: protective clothing and covering for head, face, hands, and eyes [goggles] ~ 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer (4700 and 4701 Gray) ~ tight-fitting filtered respirator mask (not paper) ~ paint scraper ~ 220 grit sandpaper ~ various size chip brushes (1in.– 4in.) ~ paint-stick stirrers ~ come-a-long ~ large bucket ~ three empty 5 oz. tuna cans ~ craft sticks ~ wide slot-head screwdriver ~ newspaper ~ rubber hammer ~ paint thinner for cleanup only ~ rags ~ trash container

Clearly an excellent primer choice for barrier protection

Let's first examine the all-important barrier-coat primer. I'll start by saying that when I pulled the boat for winterizing during the 2016 season, I did not have a single barnacle on the hull, having employed three coats of both an excellent 2-part epoxy barrier primer and ablative antifouling paint when the vessel was brand-new in 2010/11. What I did initially note at the end of the 2016 season was a light, slimy marine growth buildup, along with a few barnacles (very few) on the metal hardware, at and just below the waterline, which came off easily by immediately pressure washing. Additionally, having carefully inspected the hull after power washing, I noted a few small, patchy-white areas where not only the black ablative paint had worn away, but where the gray primer coat had begun to wear away, too, barely exposing the fiberglass/gelcoat. This was after six seasons. Most of those tiny areas were where the trailer's rollers had covered areas of the hull the season before. Therefore, when hauling the boat, I position it on the trailer so that I can access those worn-away spots come spring.

A few worn-away areas along hull (grayish-white); use come-a-long (if needed)

The magic to maintaining a virtually barnacle-free bottom is to first lightly sand the gelcoat—not with a heavy grit sandpaper, but with a fine 220 grit sandpaper. You want to prepare the area so that the primer will adhere well, not roughly scratched to the point where the protective gelcoat compromises the fiberglass. Next, apply three light coats of gray primer to the exposed area. This sounds like a lot of work. Actually, it's not. The initial step takes longer because you have to first lightly sand then wipe clean the area before applying your first coat of primer, allowing it to thoroughly dry. The second and third steps go quickly because you need not sand and wipe clean; however, you do need to apply all three coats with a brush—not a roller.

Allow those three colors to serve as your guide: white (fiberglass/gelcoat), gray (primer), and black (ablative paint). If you are not down to the exposed white surface of the hull, you need not prime. If you have only small areas of gray primer showing, with a chip brush, hit those areas with one coat of black ablative bottom paint. If no gray is showing, simply forego bottom painting until the following boating season before rolling on a single light coat of ablative bottom paint to the entire hull—with a roller—right up to the waterline. Why add unnecessary weight (paint) to the hull? That's the bottom line.

Note: In fact, I wrote an article for Nor'east Saltwater back in April 2013 titled Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints ~ The Bottom Line. You need not read the article to proceed with any of these Spring Commissioning procedures. I mention it simply because it covers Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints in depth. If you're interested, log on to

For hull touch-up, I'm going to stick with the 2-part epoxy barrier primer and ablative bottom paint for the 2017 procedure (stick being the operative word).

Note: Here is how I went about doing this touch-up job without making it seem like work. Call it a rationalization if you must. I pick a warm day between fall and spring. You could be raking leaves or cleaning up the garden, washing and/or waxing the car, cleaning screens, et cetera. In between these chores, I chip away at this important touch-up priming project.

Step 1: Scrape any loose paint from hull area.

Step 2: With a wide slot-head screwdriver, open up both cans of 2-part epoxy primer.

Step 3: Using separate stirring sticks, mix each can well. After noting the mixture ratio stated on the label, use the same sticks with which you just stirred the contents to simply dip and drip a small amount of primer and catalyst into an empty tuna can. A little bit goes a long way in covering small areas. With either newspaper or rags, wipe the sticks clean and save for next time.

Step 4: With a wooden tongue depressor, mix the combined contents well; discard stirrer. That's all the primer paint you'll need for applying each coat with a 3-inch chip brush to those small, well-worn painted areas. Allow to dry overnight.

In a large bucket, have all the items needed neatly stored and handy for repeating two more applications.

Tomorrow we'll continue with Part 2, Phase Three: Ablative Paints.
Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon

Available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon

February 01, 2017

Spoon-Feeding Pike and Bass

by Bob Banfelder

Part 1 ~ A Nostalgic Moment in Time: The Thousand Islands

One hundred sixteen-years ago, the Lou Eppinger heritage had started. In 1906, Lou hammered out a 2-ounce spoon of his own design, fishing the Ontario frontier. Six years later, Lou had turned his prototype spoon into a successful lure that he named the Osprey. Four years later, in 1918, the name was changed and later became widely-known as the Dardevle. You have probably used one of those tins as a kid. The spoon is easily recognizable by the logo's horns and devilish facial features imprinted on the red and white striped lure. That is, until several toothy denizens of the deep did their thing and marred the face and finish.

Circa 1982 and new 2016 Dardevle Midgets ~ red/white striped 3/16 ounce, nickel back

As a kid, I don't believe I ever made the Dardevle connection to the term daredevil until I became aware of a different form written on the packaging of Drake's Devil Dogs, which I ate voraciously as a child and throughout my adolescence. Interestingly, Dardevle, taken from the German language, Teufel Hunden [or correctly written together as Teufelhunden], became an apocryphal nickname applied to a United States Marine by German soldiers referencing a Marine's fighting ferocity with specific reference to the 4th Marine Brigade and Belleau Woods. When I joined the Corps as a young man, I was most disappointed to learn that there were no Devil Dogs to be found in boot camp, or offered up post-boot camp in the mess hall as dessert, not even in the PX!

Years later, having had my fill of Drake's Devil Dogs, I turned my interests back to hunting and fishing. I had fished from the age of four; hunted (legally) since the age of fourteen. In 1982, I was fishing with family in Gananoque, Ontario; the Canadian gateway to the spectacular Thousand Islands. I was using my go-to Dardevle spoons to nail some nice-sized pike and bass in the shallows. That was thirty-five years ago. Wow! Yeah, time certainly does fly by when you're havin' fun—fishin'.

Donna and I navigated out of Brown's Creek, then up, down, and around the heart of the 1000 Islands section of the St. Lawrence River. We cruised all the way to Kingston, partway up the Rideau Canal, then back downstream to Brockville and beyond. The August nights were cool, a perfect time of year to enjoy some serious fishing. One island in the chain is suitably named Camelot. Paradise personified. A fishing utopia awaited us just a short island hop to the northeast. The northwest section of Gordon Island provided the serious angler with some of the most fantastic northern pike and largemouth bass fishing to be had anywhere in the area. It was also the quieter side of the island to dock as boaters tended to congregate along the south central docks, somewhat protected from the prevailing west wind. But even on a windy day, the L-shaped northwest dock (accommodating three boats back then) posed no problem save a gentle undulating motion.

Immediately to the east sat a solitary dock that actually accommodated two boats, but as the adjacent side was painted yellow, and therefore reserved, yet seldom used by Park's personnel, it afforded perfect privacy and was one of the hottest fishing spots in the area for pike and bass. However, it was not necessary to nest ourselves there if either of these docks was occupied because the entire several hundred yards of shoreline was indeed productive, along with Jackstraw Island to the north and Jackstraw Shoal to the west. The key to one's success was a willingness to rise early, quietly working the shoreline. And as both these fighting fish, especially pike, have a propensity to strike red and white striped spoons, well—you've practically put fillets in the skillet.

The author with a morning's catch in the Thousand Islands

The secret in preparing pike is simple; the timing crucial. It was revealed to me by a soul who could have passed himself off as a native guide, sporting two-weeks growth of beard and an uncanny ability to locate and catch northern pike as long as your arm, along with largemouth bass whose mouths are as large as a man's fist.

The man was actually a dentist from Philadelphia who annually immersed his whole being into a fortnight of action-packed fishing and camping on Gordon Island every August for several summers. After taking Donna and me into his camp and confidence referencing a fishing hot spot, he demonstrated the art of filleting pike by quickly running a razor-sharp fillet blade along both sides of the bony contour, discarding the skeletal remains, resembling some sort of prodigious prehistoric tooth. Turning the strips over, he swiftly swept the blade beneath the flesh, separating skin and scales and forming perfect fillets. Lifting and placing them into a hot skillet, he invoked his magic with a modicum of seasonings.

"Little but equal amounts of extra virgin olive oil and margarine because butter burns," he stated solemnly. "If you don't fillet them, by the time the flesh cooks to the bone, the outside is already tough and you lose the sweet, juicy flavor. Bass, you don't need to fillet." He turned the pike fillets over the hot open fire as soon as the fleshy meat turned white. "Best tasting fish ever," he declared. The smell of the sizzling fillets was as heavenly as the stars under which we sat. In short order, we were all feasting on very flavorful fish—pike and bass. "Best tasting fish ever," he repeated. "Yes?" Through a protracted silence, I nodded the man's pronouncement in sincere agreement, eating contently. Donna seconded his sentiments.

Armed with a newfound knowledge and an eagerness shared by my almost ten-year-old son and Donna, the three of us were ready by 4:30 a.m., attaching the necessary wire leaders to our 8- and 10-pound-test monofilament lines. Checking our drags, we quietly began working the shoreline downstream, applying new lessons learned from that marvelous mentor from Philadelphia.

The water proved a perfect mirror, reflecting images of overhanging branches and a solitary green heron gliding across the surface. We casted and retrieved our red and white striped Dardevle spoons for a good thirty minutes before listing a multitude of excuses. And then it started to happen. Slowly at first. Large swirls out all around us. Then closer. Fish feeding frantically. Suddenly a fish broke the surface—its magnificent outline rising with our expectations. Jason casted some 20 yards to the right of the swirl. Three cranks of the reel, and there came a tug; then nothing. The retrieve produced a long length of weed.

"Don't give the lure time to hit the bottom," I instructed excitedly. "Start reeling as soon as it hits the water."

Another cast and a sudden strike. Jason instinctively set the hook securely. The drag screamed violently—then stopped as Jason gained some line. The rod bent almost frightfully, and the drag screamed insanely. It was certainly a good-size fish. Jason was losing more line than he was gaining. I scrambled for the net, praying that I'd have the chance to use it. The boy was beginning to tire of this give-and-take situation and needed words of encouragement.

"The fish is beginning to tire," I stated resolutely.
"My wrist," he pleaded.
"Keep reeling—you're gaining some line back."

Another run—straight down deep. Frustration turned to exasperation.

"Get that rod tip up. Higher. Now reel! Pump him gently . . . That's it. Now you're gaining on him."

A series of grunts and groans followed, accompanied by my son's reeling and pumping action. After what seemed an eternity, a long torpedo-like missile began to emerge. Exploding the surface, it shook violently against the rim of the too-small net that I held. Carefully ladling its lower extremity, I quickly swung the beautiful prize over and into the boat.

"A fantastic fish! You did great, J. Really great," I offered proudly.

A very weary but exulted young fisherman wholeheartedly agreed, smiling down breathlessly at his first respectable northern pike.

A half hour later, I picked up a nice pike, and Jason hooked into a good size bass. Of course, Donna had us all beat. She does that. Then Jason was on another fish. After a very long and serious tug of war between bass and boy, it appeared that Jason would be the overzealous victor; but at the last moment, as the fish appeared on the surface, it thrashed about defiantly—shaking the spoon clear. The 4-pounder fell back into the dark waters and disappeared. But persistence rewarded my son generously with a nice largemouth in the 3½-pound class. Before the sun rose over the top of the island, I had caught and released a smallmouth bass. Donna, as almost always, had caught the first, the biggest, and the most.

After a gourmet breakfast of fresh fish and buttery biscuits, followed by a refreshing late morning swim, Jason and I decided to try our luck at catching some nice size perch and sunfish we spied swimming in and around a dock. Within an hour, we had caught and released some two dozen panfish.

Excellent panfishing was enjoyed during the day, especially for the more conservative angler, as no special equipment or time schedule was adhered to. Fishing from almost any dock produced sunfish, rockbass, and perch in abundance. Also, shady spots along the shore near rocks, stumps, and weeds were likely places. Even a dropline is sufficient and will provide hours of excitement and enjoyment for young children. One simple fact to remember is that a small hook, with a small piece of worm, will catch more panfish than a big hook with a gob of worm attached. Interestingly, our small Dardevle spoons out-produced live bait.

The evenings, especially just before dark, tended to be quite buggy. Of course, the bass and pike were out there along with those miserable mosquitoes. Although you can secure a fair catch in the late afternoon without being eaten alive, you will most assuredly be certain to miss out on more productive fishing by packing it in too early. A simple remedy to the situation was a long sleeved garment, a good insect repellent for the hands, and a hat with a mosquito net that fits securely around the crown, protecting your face and neck. Good to go.

Tomorrow we'll continue by addressing SAVVY RIGGING REQUIREMENTS FOR SPOONS, so please stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format

December 02, 2016

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS ~ Great Gift Ideas for Anglers & Bookworms ~ Part 2

by Bob Banfelder


We'll continue from yesterday with other great gift ideas for the upcoming holidays, one of which is a KastKing® 24-Rod Holder. It is most definitely a winner. As a matter of fact, for 2015, KastKing's fishing tackle management system won a "Best of Show Award" at ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) for its award-winning design. I wanted one for Christmas. Surprisingly, Christmas came early for me this year, so I decided to review the item in time for you to consider it as a gift to yourself or a special someone. That person will positively thank you profusely, and here are several reasons why:

Easily and amazingly, you can put KastKings's-24 sturdy, durable, totally portable fishing rod stand together in just minutes without using any tools! The rack is constructed of lightweight, rust-resistant, high quality aluminum (4.8 lbs.), forming a frame that can accommodate 24 rods and reels in the full upright position. The unit measures 28.5 in. high x 29 in. wide x 13 in. deep, which means it can be placed virtually anywhere: den, bedroom, basement, garage, or office. Whether you own several rods or an entire collection, you'll be proud to display your angling arsenal in this handsome framework. Cushioned holders, both top and bottom, protect and secure rods and reels firmly in place.

KastKing's 24-Rod Rack

You may recall an article I wrote for Nor'east Saltwater on December 1, 2014, having given rave reviews regarding the Eposeidon Ecooda Hornet 6000 spinning reel. The piece is titled SHIMANO'S FLAGSHIP STELLA SW SPINNING REELS VERSUS EPOSEIDON'S ECOODA HORNET FOR SURF FISHING: You may also recollect an earlier piece I wrote on July 1, 2014 titled Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle ~ Affordable Pricing, in which I reviewed the Ecooda ERS 3000 Spinning Reel: The Ecooda ERS 3000 (purple/silver spool) is shown seated in the 5th forward slot from the right of KastKing's 24-Rod Rack. Both of these spinning reels are winners that you may also want to consider as holiday gifts.

Continuing to appreciate what this unit will actually accommodate, let's follow along at the rear of the rack, moving from left to right. Situated directly in back of KastKing's Ecooda Hornet 6000 spinning reel is an even larger Stella 8000 Saltwater Series Shimano spinning reel. For the purpose of demonstration, I'll reverse their positions so as to give you a somewhat better side view.

Left: KastKing's Ecooda Hornet 6000 spinning reel.
Right: Stella 8000 Saltwater Series Shimano spinning reel

Next comes a large size, round-style bait casting reel and rod (which blocks the next slot); two medium-large, round-style bait casting reels/rods; a single rod (less reel); a pair of medium-sized round-style bait casting reels and rods, a fifth larger round-style bait casting reel and rod, a pair of smaller round-style bait casting reels/rods, two low-profile bait casting reels/rods, and lastly, filling the 24th slot, a large arbor design Pflueger fly reel with a 10-weight, 9-ft. Temple Fork Outfitters ~ Lefty Kreh Signature Series rod.

Let's tally this angling arsenal: 13 spinning reels and rods in six different sizes; 8 bait casting reels and rods in four different sizes and two styles (round and low-profile), 1 rod (less reel); 1 large arbor fly reel and rod. That's twenty-three of the 24 slots utilized. You can finesse and fit rods and reels by alternating and/or facing some of them toward the center of the frame as seen in the above photo. Also, you can raise and lower the top and bottom frame to adjust butt or shaft of rod. All my rod and reel setups in the KastKing holder have a specific lure attached to them, ready to go into action at a moment's notice. When accommodating very large bait casting and trolling rods and reels, some slots, of course, will be blocked. Even though the KastKing rod rack will hold many of them, I store these reels and rods elsewhere.

Although KastKing has a smaller rack for holding 12 rods and reels, I suggest that you purchase the larger, stronger, upgraded unit. If you enjoy fishing, you'll be surprised at how quickly you can amass an angling arsenal. Whatever size rod holder you choose, the attractive packaging adds to the thought of an ideal gift for the holidays. In short, the all-new upgraded aluminum KastKing 24-Rod Rack is the best rod/reel holder on the market. The company's slogan is that KastKing Keeps Fishing Fun—by keeping it affordable. The KastKing rod rack is available online through Amazon, Cabela's, and Wal-Mart.



Always a great gift idea for the holiday season is a good book, especially a book for those who tend to suffer from what the onslaught of winter can heap upon us—cabin fever! Not just any book, but perhaps a novel or novels that are truly page-turners; novels that entertain as well as educate; novels that are absolutely unique in that they surprise and may even astound, novels that surely satisfy.

My award-winning mystery/crime-thriller novels do exactly that. I am disappointed reading novels that follow a formula. I am disappointed reading such novels that are trite. My novels are fresh—exceptionally unique—highly entertaining, and educational. This is accomplished through extensive research. I am frustrated with novels whose characters are flat (two-dimensional). My main characters are unforgettable. Also, I am disgusted with novels' endings that do not deliver satisfaction. My endings will surprise and may even astound you.

Having taught creative writing on a college level for a good many years, you will be assured of a well-written work. As an outdoorsman, I often incorporate my knowledge of the great outdoors into my writing. I have written nine (9) novels to date: three novels comprised of a thriller-killer trilogy; four novels framing the award-winning Justin Barnes serial-killer series (each novel can stand by itself or may be read in order for greater appreciation); a mystery-thriller novel inspired by a true serial-killer trial here on Long Island, of which I attended every day for a fifteen-month period; and a biographical novel of a murderess with whom I corresponded for years as she served out her prison sentence.

Along the lines of our outdoor interests, I have also written two nonfiction books—one on fishing (endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso), and the other on hunting. But rather than hear me crow on about my eleven works to date, please log on to Amazon and read the reviews.

A Special Holiday Offer: Between now and New Year's Eve, if you order any three or more books directly from me, they'll be personalized, autographed, discounted 15%, and will include tax. Shipping charges apply. E-mail me at

A Bob Banfelder Book Collection

Clockwise. Robert's mystery-thriller trilogy: Dicky, Richard, and I ~ The Signing ~ The Triumvirate

Continued Clockwise. Robert's award-winning Justin Barnes four book series: The Author ~ The Teacher ~ Knots ~ The Good Samaritans

Top Center, left to right. Trace Evidence ~ Battered

Bottom, left to right. The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook – Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

A Banfelder book is a good book—period.

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

November 02, 2016

Step-By-Step Winterizing Wizardry for Outboard Engines Part 2

by Bob Banfelder

Continuing from yesterday's November 1st winterizing procedure. As a reminder, I'm using our 90 horsepower Yamaha TXR 4-stroke outboard engine as an overall model.

PHASE THREE: lubrication points, engine fogging procedure, changing spark plugs [if needed], winterizing bilge pump and live-well pump(s)


Items: grease gun & cartridge ~ paper towels & rags ~ proper grease gun fitting(s)

Step 1: Consult your owner's manual for the location of lubrication points.


At which time [if needed] CHANGING of SPARK PLUGS

Items: YAMALUBE Store-Rite Engine Fogging Oil (can with spraying tube ) ~ stepladder ~ WD-40, boat key(s) ~ paper towels ~ rags ~ electric screwdriver & bits ~ Dielectric lubricant ~ Anti-Size lubricant ~ Q-Tips ~ spark plug gap tool ~ 5/8 in. socket wrench with 6 in. extension ~ paper towels ~ vinyl gloves ~ [if needed: four (4) NGK LFR5A-11 spark plugs]

Step 1: With cowling removed, use an electric screwdriver to facilitate the removal of access cover to spark plugs.

Step 2: Carefully remove spark plug boot and spark plug — one at a time so as not to mix up the wiring sequence.

Step 3: If needed, replace spark plugs at that time. I run approximately 200 hours before changing plugs. Consult your owner's manual and gap plugs accordingly. My engine requires a 0.039 – 0.043 gap; I gap at 0.039.

Step 4: Utilizing the can's spraying tube, insert into nozzle then squirt a small amount of fogging oil into each spark plug's chamber. With a gloved finger, smear a small amount of anti-seize lubricant around each spark plug thread. Squeeze a tiny amount of Dielectric lubricant on the head of a Q-Tip and coat the inside of each spark plug boot. Replace plugs. A good estimate of correct torque is ¼ to ½ of a turn past finger tight.

Step 5: Turn the ignition key on then quickly off to crank but not start the engine. If, however, the engine does start, shut it off immediately if not sooner. :o) :o) The fogging oil has now lined the cylinder walls. Yes, you will note some smoke. Not to worry. Lightly spray W-D 40 all around and atop the engine. I said, lightly. Replace the cowling.


Items: -50 degrees RV pink antifreeze ~ extended cup-type toilet plunger

Bilge Pump Procedure:

Step 1: Pour in a half gallon of pink RV antifreeze at anchor well, which runs into bilge (aft) area.

Step 2: Hit the bilge pump switch on console, passing the pink chemical through the discharge fitting. Make sure that the antifreeze discharge is dark pink; not light pink. You will see the discharge change from light pink (because it contains water) to dark pink, meaning that the antifreeze has completely run through the pump, which is now winterized.

Live-well(s) Procedure:

There are several ways to winterize your live-well pump(s). The following is a quick, easy way.

Step 1: Unscrew the pick-up (intake) screened strainer at the stern of the boat then gently place and press the plunger over the opening.

Step 2: Making sure that the live-well's aerator valve is in the open position, have your partner in the boat pour a gallon of pink RV antifreeze down into the live-well then immediately hit the respective aerator switch (forward or aft) on the console as you hold back the flow of fluid at the stern. Yes, some of the antifreeze will spill from around the plunger; however, most of the fluid will be sucked up through the live-well pump and recirculating tubing. When your partner sees the fluid turn from a light pink color to a dark pink color, you're good to go.

PHASE FOUR: changing primary fuel filter element, changing vapor fuel filter [if needed], cleaning and securing the electronics and boat for the season, wash & wax boat, remove batteries


My engine is equipped with a PRIMARY FUEL FILTER ELEMENT that must be changed annually. It is located inside the plastic filter bowl as pictured below on the port (left) side of the engine.

Items: Yamaha Engine's Primary Fuel Filter Element 6D8- WS4A- 002 ~ Yamaha Engine's Primary Fuel Filter Element's O-ring (gasket) ~ 6D8-24564-00 ~ adjustable wrench

Note: My Primary Fuel Filter Element is to be used only in models with the "6D8" mark stamped on the filter housing, not to be used with any other model.

Step 1: With the adjustable wrench, unscrew the PRIMARY FUEL FILTER ELEMENT bowl nut at the top of the unit. This releases the unit from frame and allows you to get a firm grip on the plastic cylinder bowl in order to separate it from its cap by turning the bowl counterclockwise to open. However, there are two wires extending from the base of the plastic Primary Fuel Filter Bowl, which could be precariously twisted. To avoid this, detach the blue clip/wire to the left [shown below], which will prevent the wires from twisting as you remove the bowl from the cap by hand. It is secured tightly, so be careful. Leave gas in bowl.

Step 2: Remove old Primary Fuel Filter Element with its O-ring (fuel filter gasket) from top of unit by gently pulling downward. Replace both new element and O-ring by pushing upward until the element is seated.

Step 3: Close Primary Fuel Filter Element Bowl securely by turning the bowl clockwise, reattach the blue clip/wire, reattach Primary Fuel Filter Bowl to top of unit and tighten down nut with wrench.

From left to right: Primary Fuel Filter Bowl with Element [vertical] & Vapor Fuel Filter [horizontal]


My engine is equipped with a Vapor FUEL FILTER that only gets changed after 800 hours, or unless you see gas within it. It is located horizontally to the starboard (right) side of the Fuel Filter Element Bowl [as shown above].

Items: Yamaha Engine's Vapor Fuel Filter 69J-24502-00 ~ wire cutters ~ adjustable wrench

If the Vapor Fuel Filter needs replacement, use a pair of wire cutters to carefully snip the two cable ties from hoses. Remove hoses from filter. Remove old filter, and snap in new. Reattach hoses and, obviously, new cable ties.


Items: damp cloth ~ CRC: a marine electronic cleaner ~ plastic storage box & towel

Step 1: Remove, clean and store your electronics. A damp (not soaked) cloth of mild, tepid water is all I use to clean the shell (housing) of the GPS/Fish-finder, and the VHF marine radio and/or handheld unit. After air-drying the items, I lightly spray both the male and female connections with CRC. Next, I wrap each unit in a hand towel and store them in a hard, protective plastic sportsmen's dry-box until next season.


Items: bucket ~ Mother's soap or Meguiar's Car Wash (preserves wax protection) ~ polishing cloths ~ large soft towel ~ rags ~ paper towels ~ NuFinish car/boat polish (you can apply this product in the sun) ~ duct tape

Step 1: Before walking away from my boat, and because the vessel is close to the water and may occasionally be exposed to a higher than normal tide, I use two small strips of duct tape to cover the cooling H2O inlet covers (vents) on each side of the lower unit.


Items: 17mm socket wrench ~ 14mm socket wrench ~ kneeling pad ~ mechanic's pad on which to place tools (protects gelcoat's surface)

Step 1: Before removing batteries, turn battery switch to OFF position.

Step 2: Make a note of which battery is which. Example: Starboard battery = #1 battery. Port battery = #2 battery.

Step 3: #1 Starboard battery removal procedure:
Disconnect negative (- thick black) cable first; use 14mm socket.
Disconnect positive (+ thick red) cable next; use 17mm socket.

Note that I record the order, position, and color of my accessory wires connected to the battery terminals. Yours will surely be different. List accordingly. It will make life easier come spring when you reinstall your batteries. Trust me.

Again, these are my battery wiring notes.

# 1 Starboard Battery

Positive small post takes thin orange/green accessory wire with blue crimp.

Positive small post takes thick positive (+) red battery cable on top.

Negative small post takes thick negative (-) black battery cable.

Next is the thin black accessory wire with yellow crimp.

Lastly, is the slightly thinner black accessory cable.

Bird's-eye view of #1 starboard battery with accessory wires and cables attached

Step 4: #2. Port battery removal procedure:

Disconnect negative (- thick black) cable first; use 14mm socket.
Disconnect positive (+ thick red) cable next; use 17mm socket.


Bravo! You've just graduated and are officially a Winterizing Wizard. Oh, I almost forgot. If you are independently wealthy, hate getting your hands dirty, dislike work in general — as opposed to working these procedures as a labor of love — please disregard all of the above. Didn't I initially tell you in Part 1 to read through everything first? Well, didn't I? :o) :o) On a more serious note, winterizing and maintaining your outboard engine will save you a great deal of money. That's a given. Additionally, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you did this yourself — properly.

Note: I change the Fuel/Water Separator, zinc(s), wash and wax the interior of boat during Spring Commissioning. I'll cover that procedure, along with bottom painting, at the beginning of March 2017.


As an aside, for those of you who have been following my reports regarding the pollution of the Peconic River over the last two years referencing the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, in addition to seven years fighting the Calverton/Manorville toxic plume debacle, I said that I'd let Nor'east Saltwater readers know when the plant (which was supposed to be completed this past March) is fully operational. Finally, it is! The $24 million upgrade was completed as of Monday, September 26, 2016. Now, the powers that be can address the antiquated septic and sewer issues that contribute and continue polluting our waterways. Referencing the Calverton/Manorville toxic plume fiasco, no one is really talking. No new ink on that matter. At least we're moving in the right direction referencing the lower region of the Peconic River in Riverhead.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater

on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

November 01, 2016

Step-By-Step Winterizing Wizardry for Outboard Engines Part 1

by Bob Banfelder

For a basic understanding of where you should begin the winterizing process as well as the reasons why, please first peruse these pages. Doing so now will undoubtedly save you a great deal of time, money, and frustration later. I'll use our 90 horsepower Yamaha TXR 4-stroke outboard engine as an overall model for winterizing outboard engines.

Words of sound advice before we begin winterizing: two heads and pairs of hands are better than one. Having a partner will be especially helpful. I have a partner, Donna. We have been winterizing and spring commissioning our boats for the better part of twenty-five years. To avoid frustration, start your work early in the day, have the necessary tools, materials, and equipment handy, and as you work through these instructions, with a pen and these guidelines at the ready, jot down specific information as it pertains to your engine and boat. For example, where I may use a ½-inch open-end wrench for a certain procedure, you may need a 7/16-inch socket. Simply record the change. This will considerably expedite the procedure the second time around. You will note that all tools, material, and equipment are listed for each procedure. Filing away this report when finished then working from a freshly printed copy will keep the information neat and clean for future reference. Working with these general instructions, along with your owner's manual, you will experience little if any difficulty.

It is both amazing and amusing to watch folks run back and forth retrieving tools, materials, and equipment in order to winterize their boats. Organization is absolutely the key to flawlessly performing the following procedures in addition to maintaining one's sanity. Several small items such as screws, nuts, washers, and O-rings are neatly arranged in a shallow, waxed cardboard box that once contained four lobsters on ice. Cleanup of oil, water, and grease, afterward, is simple. Larger items are set out and in easy reach. Waiting until the last moment to hunt up tools, materials, and equipment can really hold up the operation. Bad enough that wind, rain, or a setting sun can postpone the process when working outdoors. Again, be organized and get started as early in the day as possible. Many times I'm at the mercy of the tide in order to haul the boat. Therefore, if it's too late in the day to start another procedure, Donna and I continue the next step, weather permitting, on another day. Let's begin.

PHASE ONE: stabilizing the fuel system, hauling the boat, securing drain plug, pressure washing the vessel.


Items: Sta-bil gasoline stabilizer ~ Star Tron: enzyme fuel treatment ~ measuring cup showing ounces ~ paper towels and rags ~ funnel ~ stepladder

Step 1: Before I top off the fuel tank to approximately 7/8ths capacity so as to deter condensation and allow for expansion during the off season, I stabilize the gas with a good conditioner, following the label's instructions, running the additive through the system. I also add the proper amount of an enzyme fuel treatment, which also addresses ethanol fuel issues in today's gasoline.


Items: pressure washer ~ vinyl rain suit ~ vinyl gloves ~ stepladder ~ garden hose ~ paper towels ~ heavy-duty canvas work gloves ~ MaryKate On/Off ~ chip brush ~ block of wood ~ marine grease ~ safety glasses ~ hearing protection

Step 1: Haul the boat and position it on the trailer so that the rollers are either several inches forward or rearward from last season in order to reach areas that will need attention come spring. Power wash the bottom of the hull straightaway. Pressure washing now will facilitate the task of removing barnacles and marine growth later. Pressure wash the prop(s), lower unit, stern area including transducer, strainers, swim platform, et cetera.

Note: It's certainly convenient to own your own pressure washer. But you can rent one or contract a person to perform that job. If you purchase your own, make sure that it has a psi rating of at least 2400; 5.5 horsepower; otherwise, you'll be wasting time and money in trying to remove stubborn barnacles and marine growth.

Step 2: After power washing, MaryKate the scummy waterline, working quickly with a disposable chip brush between this powerful On/Off chemical and the H2O supply. Be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves.


Items: pliers ~ rubber hammer ~ block of wood ~ 7/8-inch socket wrench with 4-inch extension ~ marine grease ~ kneeling pad to protect knees

Step 1: Place a block of wood between the anti-cavitation plate and the propeller to prevent the prop from turning. Loosen propeller nut with socket wrench, noting the order of parts as you remove them: cotter pin (straighten and pull out with pliers), propeller nut (flat side inboard), washer (cupped rim inboard), spacer (flat rim inboard), propeller, then thrust washer (ribbed surface facing inboard; i.e., high part of rim facing outboard, shallow part inboard. Take copious notes, comparing it to your manual's diagram. If you have trouble removing the prop, gently tap it on both sides by using a small piece of wood and rubber hammer. Check the prop blades, shaft and splines for any damage. Remove any fishing line from the shaft. Store the prop and parts for spring commissioning, at which time you'll reverse the order, of course, for installation.


Items: small Ziploc bag ~ cord or plastic cable tie ~ adjustable wrench

Step 1: If removable, remove and store the drain plug in a small Ziploc. With a cord or plastic cable tie, hang the bag from the boat's (steering) wheel, which will serve as a reminder to reinstall it come spring. I could write a pamphlet filled with horror stories about folks who forgot to do just that. As my vessel is in close proximity to the water, I leave the boat's drain plug screwed in just in case there is an exceptional high tide.


Items: 3.9 quarts YAMALUBE 4-stroke FC-W 10W-30 ~ vinyl gloves ~ oil filter: Yamaha #5GH 13440-00 ~ standard oil filter wrench or end-cap type ~ optional: Jabsco Porta-quick 12V oil changer ~ trash container ~ paper towels and rags ~ long wide-mouthed funnel ~ 14mm socket wrench with 4-inch extension ~ scissors ~ kneeling pad ~ container for oil disposal ~ container to catch oil flow

Step 1: No need to first run the boat under load; that is, taking the vessel out for a spin in order to get the engine oil hot. Remove the cowling (cover) to access the engine's oil filler cap then tilt the engine up in the extreme position. Remove oil cap. Using a 14 millimeter socket wrench with an extension, unscrew the engine's oil drain plug and metal washer. The plug, situated up and within the rubber drip cup, is located at the rear of the outboard as captioned below. Carefully set aside plug and washer. The oil will not drain out until you lower the engine. Having a pail or suitable container handy, slowly lower the engine and catch the flow of oil. Use a level to determine the engine's precise vertical position, allowing the oil to completely drain.

Important Note: Yamaha's owner's manual will tell you that the engine oil should be extracted with an oil changer run through the dipstick (which does require getting the oil hot) because not all the oil is fully drained through the oil drain plug via gravity since some of it lies in areas that do not completely drain. The difference in the amount of oil when extracting it from the dipstick as compared to draining it through the oil drain plug is slightly less than a cup as depicted below. This amount represents approximately 1/16th of the total volume. The owner's manual states that the engine oil is good for 100 hours or 1-year intervals. So, here's my rule of thumb: As I generally run approximately 50 hours during the boating season, I drain the oil from the oil drain plug—not the dipstick. I have consulted several knowledgeable marine mechanics on this point, and they say to simply but thoroughly drain the oil from the oil drain plug and that you'll be fine. In years when I put on something close to 100 hours, I extract the oil through the dipstick. The choice is yours. Again, you'll first have to get the oil hot to facilitate extracting the oil through the dipstick. You do not get the oil hot when draining through the oil drain plug.

Oil drain plug is located up and within the black rubber drip cup

Step 2: Once the engine oil is drained, remove the oil filter; no fuss, no muss. Be sure and apply a film of clean oil to the new oil filter gasket before installing. Put the cowling back on the housing and secure both latches.

Optional: You can easily drain the engine oil from Yamaha's 15hp–150hp 4-stroke outboards through the oil drain plug via Fred Pentt's neat little setup. Fred's You Tube video clearly explains this procedure. Click below. The cost is $15, which includes shipping. Compare this item with West Marine's Ocean Accessories Tilt-N-Drain Oil Changer at $23.99, plus shipping. You'll find that West Marine's Ocean Accessories' fitting is plastic, whereas Fred's oil drain fitting is metal. Fred Pentt's phone number is 1-360-581-0904. Checks may be sent to Fred Pentt at 2731 Aberdeen Avenue, Hoquiam, WA 98550. Why I recently opted for Fred's item is that you can drain the engine oil without playing around with a pail and a potential mess. Additionally, you can address another winterizing procedure, carefree, while the oil is draining. It's a win-win, guys and gals.

Fred Pentt's 34-inch oil drain tube and fitting (O-ring included) for Yamaha 4-stroke outboards, 15hp–150hp

PHASE TWO: prop removal, draining oil from lower unit, filling oil in the lower unit.


Items: oil drain pan ~ paper towels & rags ~ empty plastic gallon container for lube (oil) disposal ~ small level ~ kneeling pad ~ impact screwdriver ~ trash container ~ small funnel ~ rubber hammer ~ 2 gaskets # Yamaha 90430-08020

Step 1: Simply level the outboard engine and place an oil drain pan beneath the lower unit. Remove the bottom (longer) gear-lube drain plug with a screwdriver (an impact screwdriver [if needed]. With a paper towel, wipe the magnetic tip of the plug clean of any metal shavings. Set aside. Remove the upper (shorter) gear-lube drain plug at the top of the lower unit by the cavitation plate, and allow the unit to completely drain. Inspect the oil.

Note: If the oil is milky, consult your Yamaha dealer because water is getting into the gear case.

Step 2: Remove old gaskets from the two plugs (screws) and replace with new.

Place a level on the cavitation plate for precise draining of the lower unit


Items: YAMALUBE MARINE GEARCASE LUBE 0.708 US quart Hypoid SAE#90 – 80W90 ~ multi-purpose plastic quart pump kit with tubing and extension fitting for oil drain plug ~ impact screwdriver ~ regular wide-slotted screwdriver ~ plastic gallon container for used oil ~ gallon-size Ziploc storage bag and cable tie

Optional: I use a Craftsman garden pump-sprayer for multiple engines. Example: my 2.5hp, 5hp, 90hp. A nice feature on the garden sprayer is an in-line on/off flow handle. Starting the gear lube flowing then stopping it before disconnecting will prevent overfilling. Containing and storing the sprayer in a 50-pound plastic laundry pail facilitates ease of transport and collects any spills. Place the pail within a large plastic garbage bag to keep the sprayer unit protected from dirt and grime when stored.

Step 1: After the gear case lube has completely drained from the lower unit, refill it with fresh gear oil by connecting either of the pressurized filling devices to the lower (bottom) oil drain plug via the extension fitting. Pump the oil in slowly so as not to create an air lock, right up to the oil level opening (top). As the oil starts to come out, immediately secure the opening with the top plug.

Step 2: Next, unscrew the extension fitting from the lower unit, quickly replacing the lower (bottom) plug. I secure both screws by firmly tightening then tapping the back of the impact screwdriver with a rubber hammer. This will lock the screws solidly in place. Actually, I try and unscrew both plugs with a regular slotted screwdriver [without employing the impact screwdriver]. The screws should be solidly tight, whereby you would need the impact screwdriver to remove them—which, of course, you do not want to do. This ensures that the two plugs are not going to loosen, leak oil, or take in water.

Step 3: Finally, I wipe both areas clean and, nonetheless, check for leaks. Place the multi-purpose plastic quart pump kit with tubing and extension fitting in an upright position, securing it to the pump's handle with a cable tie. Store the item in the Ziploc bag till next time. This will avoid an oily mess.

Quart pump kit with tubing and extension fitting

Tomorrow, November 2nd, we'll continue with Part 2, Phase Three.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater

on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

January 03, 2016

A Mid-Range Quality Spinning Combo

by Bob Banfelder

Penn CLA Clash 5000 Spinning Reel ~ Penn Carnage II Rod ~ SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid Line

As I stated in my December 1, 2015 Nor'east Saltwater report, I'd be covering the elements of the above titled piece. What better way to bring in the start of 2016 with a review of a complete and perfectly balanced medium- to medium-heavy action spinning outfit? As a reminder, I spent virtually the entire 2015 season with this combo in hand: reel, rod, and line. Let's examine the award-winning Penn CLA Clash 5000 spinning reel along with its integrally matched Penn Carnage II rod, followed up with a spool of SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid line. Why? Answer: It is a solid package that delivers quality performance while fitting within the framework of most folks' price range. Whether you are new to the game and simply want an all-around high-caliber combo, maybe looking for a serious backup outfit, or merely wanting to add to your mid-range arsenal—this triad (reel, rod, and braided line) covers all bases while offering great value.

At the 2015 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) event, held annually, the Penn Clash CLA 5000 spinning reel won the "Best of Show" award. Referencing new gear technology is the reel's machined aluminum main drive gear and brass pinion. Also featured in Penn's Clash CLA 5000 are 8 high-grade oversized sealed stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 instant anti-reverse bearing, designed to protect and perform smoothly in a harsh, unforgiving marine environment. Too, the reel bears a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, which Donna noted immediately as she opened the box before I did. These are but a few of the virtues that underscore this quality spinning reel.

New for 2016 is Penn's Carnage II series of spinning rods. My 7-foot wand matches the Clash 5000 reel perfectly. The rod is built from state-of-the-art SLS3 components comprised of layers of graphite and glass. Not to get too technical, SLS3 construction is spiral wrapped carbon fibers running along longitudinal fiberglass and carbon, creating both an inner and outer spiral wrap. This process translates into a very strong, lightweight, thin diameter blank.

Top-of-the-line Fuji K guides with Alconite inserts (a breakthrough ceramic blend) are "made for braid." I dedicate this rod and reel to combing the beach or fishing from a boat with braided line. More on braided line in a moment.

A super lightweight but durable EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam foregrip and butt section are covered with a non-slip textured rubber top coat, right on down to an aluminum gimbal and butt cap. You'll note that the rod's foregrip is fashioned with sculpted grooves for your fingers, making for comfortable casting and especially when fighting large fish. The rod's reel seat is a machined aluminum Pacific Bay model.

The Carnage II 7-foot spinning rod is designed to handle 30–65 pound test braided line. However, for a perfectly balanced setup with the Penn Clash CLA 5000, 300 yards of 30-pound test SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid line fills the reel's spool capacity precisely. According to Penn's line specifications, 30-pound test braided line offers twice the strength and a third more yardage than monofilament line. Keep in mind that there is no industry standard for braid versus monofilament. PowerPro rates their .011-inch diameter 30-pound braided line the equivalent of 8-pound test monofilament. Don't make yourself crazy with the math. Simply realize that given a specific diameter, braided line is considerably stronger than monofilament. Thirty-pound test braided line is generally plenty for our inshore waters, and so is a spool capacity of 300 yards. Braided line is sensitivity personified. Let's see what SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is all about.

For either saltwater or freshwater species, SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is a winner. Introduced at the 2015 ICAST show, it was made crystal clear that SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid presents no problem blending within ultra-clear waters and surrounding vegetation. A varying blue/white/black color pattern not only breaks up the profile of the line but of a straight line that cuts across the water column. Blues are the colors that are least seen deep in the water column. Fish are not color-blind as some folks believe. Therefore, Blue Camo-Braid was developed. SpiderWire is not new; SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is, indeed, brand-new. Consequently, the jury is still out. It will be interesting to see what truly develops. SpiderWire braided line is made from Dyneema, the world's strongest fiber that stands up to abrasion.

This mid-range spinning combo is an absolute winner. As many of you know, from October through December of 2015, I plied and reported on the six beach-access areas via Suffolk County's Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation Green Key Card program. I'll be covering other areas in the near future with this consummate combo in hand. In the meantime, have a happy and healthy New Year. Too, here's wishing our friend, fishing fool fanatic, Tom Gahan, a speedy recovery and that he will soon be walking the beaches with Donna and me.

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

July 01, 2015

Update on Field-Testing Eposeidon's Reels & Lines—Also Alluring Lures

by Bob Banfelder

If you have been following my articles referencing Eposeidon Outdoor Adventures Inc., you know a bargain when you see one. Under the company's banner are the Ecooda (Royal Sea) spinning reels. Under the same umbrella is the Eposeidon KastKing label: KastKing's Copolymer blue-green line, KastKing's Copolymer clear line; Eposeidon's Superpower yellow braid.

I had reviewed the Ecooda Royal Sea ERS 3000 spinning reel along with the copolymer/braided lines in the July 1, 2014 issue titled Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle: Affordable Pricing. Having had time to test these lines thoroughly for a year and report back to you as I said I would, they are, indeed, great reels and cost a fraction of what the competition charges. In the same blog, I urged you to log onto and discover lures that will lure you with both their hard and soft baits, and at unbelievable savings. For example: tins, plastic frogs, single and jointed crankbaits, buzzbaits, spinbaits, umbrella rigs, et cetera. The lures that I tested boast VMC hooks, rattles, and fine action. I'll focus on a few that I highly recommend in a moment, but first I want to expand on an article I wrote for my December 1, 2014 blog titled Shimano's Flagship Stella SW Spinning Reels Versus Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet for Surf Fishing. The Ecooda 6000 is one hell of a deal of a reel. Not unlike the Ecooda Royal Sea ERS 3000, the Ecooda 6000 is a sweet tool for the suds. Both these reels offer quality at a fraction of the cost of the company's competition. I believe that folks believe that when I put my name to a particular product, the item has been utterly tested. I'll go you one better referencing field-testing. With regard to these two spinning reels, they have been exhaustively put to the test in an environment that shows no mercy; that being, the harsh marine environment of a pounding surf. Allow me to elaborate.

In terms of saltwater fishing, Donna and I are now pretty much relegated to fishing our local Sound beaches because we can no longer safely launch our boat from our property, situated along the Peconic River. Super Storm Sandy made sure of that. We have been spoiled, having enjoyed access to neighboring bays for twenty-one years. It's a rather long and sad story, for we can neither legally rebuild nor even repair a wooden ramp over a former in-place concrete ramp. The Department of Environmental Conservation gave us their blessing and a green light to do either; that is, to rebuild or repair. But the Riverhead town supervisor and town attorney said, "No" to either approach—even after councilwoman/town board member acknowledged the debacle and fought on Donna's and my behalf. Too, the town would not even accept the DEC's recent survey. It's the town's money-grabbing game. The story has been addressed in our local paper, the Riverhead News-Review, and will be covered in further detail on our Cablevision show titled Special Interests with Bob and Donna, along with other media venues. The point of mention is that virtually all of our saltwater fishing is now concentrated on surf fishing, whereas before we did the majority of angling from our boat. Therefore, our surf equipment (reels, rods, lines, and lures) are being put through the rigors of a severe marine environment as opposed to moderate field-testing. The two Eposeidon Ecooda reels (Royal Sea 3000 and Hornet 6000) have received some serious workouts: severe salt spray and lashes of wind-swept sand. Like a quality spinning reel should, they kept right on spinning, smoothly applying the brakes against big blues, fair-sized striped bass, and some nice weakfish. Of course, a good cleaning and lubrication followed these unfavorable conditions.

As an added note, the Peconic River and its neighboring bays have recently had an influx of tens of thousands of menhaden (bunker), lining both shorelines in a decaying smelly mess. "This was the result of a bunker kill brought about by marauding bluefish compounded by algal blooms," [referred to as the mahogany tide], said marine biologist, Chris Paparo, manager of the Marine Science Center at Stoney Brook–Southampton. Just prior to that event, hundreds of diamondback terrapin turtles washed ashore, believed to be impacted by the algal bloom, a biotoxin absorbed in shellfish, a food source consumed by the turtles. Riverhead Town officials see no connections to pollution such as 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage from Riverhead Town's sewage treatment facility that was dumped into the Peconic River toward the end last year, which is only 1½ miles from our shellfish grounds [as reported in Riverhead News-Review, 12/06/2014]. One might conclude that Riverhead Town stinks, both figuratively and literally speaking. Note that the Hudson River recently had a menhaden kill, but no turtles washed ashore. I invite you to read one of my award-winning thrillers titled The Author, which covers the issue of irresponsible polluting of our environment (air, land, and water) as it pertains to the alarming cancer rate in Suffolk County—thoroughly researched and explicitly expounded upon in startling detail.

Eposeidon places new equipment into angler consultants' hands for field-testing. Comments are sent to the company and products never hit the market until they pass muster. One such item was a baitcasting rod and reel combo that showed great potential. Back to the drawing board it went for fine tuning. As a team, that's how Eposeidon operates. I can't wait until that reengineered baitcasting rod and reel is put back into my hands with refinements set in place for additional field-testing. I believe it's going to be an absolute winner. I'll keep you posted when this ultra-lightweight gem of a reel with its unbelievably smooth drag and matching rod is reevaluated.

Focusing on the lures that produced for Donna and me along shorelines, estuaries, and inlets are MadBite lures, once again under the Eposeidon banner.

The MadBite Mad Pop 90 Floating/Topwater Popper is available in five color models: Blueback, Airbrush, RedHead, Fire Breather, Hot-Chartreuse. All five models boast #4 VMC hooks. I field-tested the Blueback, 3½ inches, 11/16 ounces, floating/topwater popper. This topwater popper was one of my favorites in the popper lineup, rattling its way into first place. A great value at $4.49 each.

For a super soft, virtually weedless topwater killer baits, give MadBite's Big Bully 55 Topwater Hollow Body Rattle Frog a shot. Available in nine color patterns: Leopard/Chartreuse, Bruiser (a black/yellow pattern), Tan Toad, Yellow, Mutant (yellowish/light-green pattern), Skid-Mark (a darker green/yellow pattern), Natural, Freaky (an orange/chartreuse pattern), and Green/Yellow. My Big Bully rattling Mutant design pattern proved deadly in both salt and sweet water situations. The lure's overall length is 4-1/8 inches, inclusive of a 2-inch trailing skirt (simulating the lure's froggy legs); weight is approximately ½ ounce. The body is constructed of a softened but durable plastic, sporting three-dimensional eyes (not painted-on orbs). The lure is equipped with a 4/0 double hook and sells for $5.68 each. It is a must for those areas covered with thick vegetation.

MadBite's Break Down 130 Versatile Swimbait is a rattling, floating, jointed minnow measuring 5¾-inches from tip (lip) to tail, weighing in at 13/16th of an ounce. It can dive to depths of 4–5 feet. MadBite states that it may be worked as a jerkbait, swimbait, or crankbait. Hum. There are arguably different definitions among the three body types, whether sporting a lip . . . no lip . . . jointed . . . not jointed . . . hard body . . . soft body, et cetera. Definitions may even be derived regionally. Here are my general definitions regarding the trio: jerkbait (imitates a wounded fish by utilizing short twitches of the rod tip), swimbait (a natural, realistic swimming action created by a steady retrieve), crankbait (worked more than less in a straight line, yet somewhat erratically). Body design determines action; no one body style does it all. I utilized MadBite's Break Down 130 Versatile Swimbait as described by its model name; that is, a RedHead Shimmer swimbait. Period—end of story. It works well and is offered in seven colors: Blueback, Green Tiger, Shocker, Air Brush, RedHead Shimmer, Red Tiger, and Gold Dot. VMC #2 hooks. $6.69 each.

Referencing the three lures, consult Eposeidon's web site at for precise coloring and shades thereof.

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

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

April 01, 2015

The T.C. Sling's the Thing

by Bob Banfelder

A serious surf fisherman can easily tire when carrying around 12- 10- or even 9-foot poles married to some heavy-duty reels. Let's first look at some light surf spinning outfits and weigh the situation carefully. Example: a 23.7 ounce Stella SW (Salt Water) model STL 8000; a lighter 20.4 ounce Eposeidon ~ Ecooda Hornet model 6000; and an even lighter Stella SW series, a 14.3 ounce Stella SW model STL 5000. These three fine surf spinning reels coupled to some Heavy- to Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik surf poles can wear a guy or gal down, especially when traipsing along miles of sandy or stony beach for half a day. Working your way among boulders or along an extended rock jetty can cause a person pause. On a stormy, devilish day and well into evening, no warning sign is there or even needed to caution you to take heed: CAREFUL. SLIPPERY WHEN WET. You know the deal before you ever get to your destination. Sure-footedness and a balancing act with your cherished equipment and gear are the necessary requirements.

Walking the picturesque Long Island Sound beaches of Wading River, Reeves, Iron Pier, as well as South Jamesport Beach on the Peconic Bay side can eventually slow you down. Searching and casting a number of spoons, plugs, and Uncle Josh's Pork Rind jigs will sooner or later make a body weary. But what if you had an item, a featherweight aid to help support the load of a hefty surf outfit? Well, I recently discovered such an aid. I use the word discover because the item is actually used for entirely different purposes.

The T.C. Sling started out as a cross-shoulder strap with which to comfortably carry a camera or a pair of binoculars. The sling features a single-point snap clip that slides freely up and down a one-inch wide black web strap. From there, Mr. Rock Wilson designed an accessory strap (also, one-inch wide) that wraps snugly around the butt of a handgun. The strap has a nylon D-ring that attaches to the snap clip. As I will be back to target shooting this spring with a handgun, as well as hunting with it in the fall, the adjustable T.C. Sling is the ticket, for it will help steady my off-hand/support hand position via a very solid anchor point. Subsequently, from that firing stance, you can simply clear and lower the weapon to a safe position anywhere along the front or rear of your body, such as a shoulder, hip, or rear pocket holster. The T.C. Sling, with its handgun accessory strap, is the next best thing to shooting from a rest, enabling you to make precise shots. After ordering and receiving the item as a handgun aid, I wondered (apart from binoculars and cameras) for what other use this sling strap could be adapted . . . maybe something along the fishing front. Let's see how this all came about.

The T.C. Sling for a camera.

The T.C. Sling with handgun accessory strap for straight shooting.

Donna and I were suffering from cabin fever as I'm sure most of us have this wintry season. A friend happened to call and tell us that Long Island Sound was frozen over. I wondered how that could possibly be. The Peconic River, right off our property, was mostly ice, but a current had eventually cut a swath clear up its middle. But sure enough, the Sound was iced over to a good degree. Then came more snow and lots of shoveling. Actually, we had to be dug out by a payloader on the first go-around. We weren't going anywhere anytime soon. Lots of time to write, read, and ruminate. I lived with Rock's T.C. Sling Strap wherever I roamed. Mostly around the rooms of our home with handgun in hand, adjusting its strap, wearing various layers of clothing, making sure the adjustable sling was long enough for all occasions. It certainly is. As a handgun support aid, Rock should, perhaps, think about renaming the item to read: Rock's T.C. Rock-Solid Handgun Platform. Just as a point of information, the T.C. stands for Traverse City, Michigan, Rock's home. Not Thompson/Center of Thompson/Center Arms, which is America's finest firearms manufacturer in the world when it comes to MOA (Minute Of Angle) accuracy and versatility via its interchangeable barrel system. Such reflections were suddenly interrupted when I was struck by another thought.

It was a freezing February morning, and I was surprised that I could even think at all. Why not use the Velcro handgun accessory strap, attached to the T.C. Sling, to aid in carrying rod(s) and reel(s) for endless walks along those aforementioned beaches? Brilliant! Speculation is one thing; putting an idea to practice is another. Well, I tried the sling/strap combination every which way I could think of: carrying one hefty rod and reel; two rods and reels; camera; binoculars. Good to go. Where? Practically anywhere. Effortlessly. What a godsend. What a pleasure to walk about with the weight of the reel(s) and rod(s) distributed either across my body or upon a shoulder.

The T.C. Sling with accessory strap makes carrying heavy surf rods a breeze.

You may recall my December 01, 2014 Nor'east monthly report titled Shimano's Flagship Stella SW Spinning Reels Versus Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet for the Surf. In the article, I had mentioned that I put my 12-foot surfcasting rod to rest, wielding in its stead a lighter, 10-foot Medium-Heavy action, two-piece Shakespeare Ugly Stik, remarried to the Stella 8000 SW reel. Well, that's all changed now. It was lugging around the 12-foot outfit in lieu of the lighter 10-foot that initially put the kibosh on matters. It wasn't a question of casting the heavier outfit so much as it was carrying it around for half a day. If I were fishing alone, of course, I'd only be carrying one rod. But being that Donna is always with me, I carry hers and mine until we get to our distant, secret spot(s). Piece of cake with the T.C. Sling Strap. This way, Donna has her hands free to carry my beer. Only kidding, folks. Only kidding. She has camera equipment to lug around for those special fishy moments and fantastic sunsets.

With regard to you shutterbugs toting around a camera, be it a compact or video type, the T.C. Sling Strap has a two-way attaching system. A split ring attaches to the camera's strap or ring then simply attaches to the sling's snap clip. The system also includes a tripod ring-mount adaptor with a neoprene washer that stays firmly in place so you won't lose it. The adaptor screws securely into the base of your camera, providing another way to safely transport your camera. All four pieces are included with the T.C. Handgun Sling Strap: handgun strap, tripod ring-mount adaptor, neoprene washer, and split ring.

Focusing in on comfort, the T.C. Sling's adjustable nonslip rubber shoulder section is 5½-inches long, by 1½-inches wide in its center, and 1¾-inches wide at its ends. Strapped within its center is a 1¼-inch metal accessory D-ring. A quick-release, plastic [male-female] strap-clip buckle makes removing the sling from across your body a snap. Or simply unsling it off a shoulder.

Some quick arithmetic for an even clearer picture referencing my heavy-duty outfit recently put back into full operation. Shakespeare's 12-foot Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Heavy Action two-piece rod weighs in at a mighty 27.7 ounces. That's 9.4 ounces heavier than my 10-footer. As mentioned, the Stella SW (Salt Water) model STL 8000 weighs in at 23.7 ounces for a grand total of 51.4 ounces. That's 3¼ pounds. It doesn't sound like much. But with a gear bag, waders, and other paraphernalia, it adds up quickly while traversing sand and stone beaches. Plus, on the way back, I have to carry all the fish that Donna's caught as she's suddenly a self-proclaimed prima donna. Why? Because she usually catches the first, the most, and the biggest fish. That's why. Just ask those with whom we fish with—from boat captains to other consummate, salty souls.

As some of you younger folks wield far heftier outfits for the surf, let's weigh in on the Stella SW 20000 model spinning reel [30.2 ounces] combined with the same Shakespeare's 12-foot Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Heavy Action two-piece rod [27.7]. That's 57.9 ounces—right in between 3½ and 3¾ pounds. An outfit loaded with a 2-ounce plus lure puts you well past the 4-pound point.

As a combo weigh-in, seeing as how I tote around two surf outfits to a point as explained a moment ago, the 10-foot Ugly Stik rod weighs in at 18.3 ounces; coupled to the 20.4 ounce Eposeidon ~ Ecooda Hornet model 6000; bundled to my coming-out-of retirement 12-foot rod/reel outfit totaling 51.4 ounces, for a grand total of 90.1 ounces or 5.63 pounds! A walk in the park with the T.C. Sling and accessory strap.

The T.C Sling's the thing, guys and gals. Google T.S. Handgun Sling Strap, and click on the YouTube video. To order, contact Rock Wilson at 231-313-2084. The item is a bargain at $29.95; free shipping. Tell him I said to consider its new use as the Angler's E-Z Carry All.

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

March 01, 2015

Four Essential Kitchen Tools: For Fish, Fowl & Meaty Favorites

by Bob Banfelder

Four indispensable pieces of equipment that positively belong in your kitchen are a food slicer, meat tenderizer, meat grinder, and vacuum sealer. Through the years, I have prepared many fine meals by utilizing these essential machines. I could not have done nearly as neat or as efficient a job without them. They go hand in hand to not only help produce gourmet-quality fare, but to also aid in eye-appealing presentations upon the finished plate. But to merely mention these four items rather than specifically elaborate on the important elements to be considered before selecting such equipment for home use would be foolish of me because you'd likely be wasting your hard-earned money in the long run. So let's home in on what's important before purchasing these items.

Pictured below are three Cabela's machines that are employed in our kitchen: an electric food slicer with tilted stand for easy cleanup, stainless steel blade (left); an all-important commercial-grade vacuum sealer, which is a godsend for preserving foods for extended periods (middle); a heavy-duty electric meat grinder (right). As you pretty much get what you pay for in this world of ours, of the three Cabela's machines shown, I'd strongly suggest purchasing the best model of the commercial-grade vacuum sealer that you can afford because of its importance. If you are an angler/hunter, planning to put up both fish and game through the four seasons, you want a top-quality machine that will last many years. During the fishing season, I fillet and freeze a fair amount of fish for our family to enjoy over those cold winter months (like this past January and February): striped bass, fluke, porgies, blackfish, black sea bass, (one of my favorites), eel, mackerel, shad, tuna, and—yes—even bluefish. Keep in mind, too, that you can take advantage of fish, poultry, and weekly meat sales offered at your local supermarkets and specialty shops throughout the year. Simply seal, freeze, and savor for a later date. A top-quality vacuum sealer is of paramount importance. You can easily keep fish for a year without the threat of freezer burn; meat for two years. Amazing.

Cabela's Electric Slicer, Vacuum Sealer, and Meat Grinder

Next is Cabela's meat grinder, which I not only use for making venison sausage and burgers in the fall and winter months, I also operate the machine to produce fresh, flavorful fishcakes through the spring and summer. With that kind of a four-season workout, you would not want to purchase just any meat grinder; you'd want to purchase a heavy-duty electric meat grinder for all occasions: fish, fowl, and meaty favorites. This will facilitate matters and ensure the unit's longevity. With an eye on heavy-duty quality equipment for home use, do not envision machinery that is going to break the bank and send you to the poorhouse, for companies such as Cabela's offer different grades of heavy-duty/commercial equipment.

Pictured below is a bowl of freshly mixed seafood for the finest fishcakes this side of Riverhead, Long Island. Its ingredients are comprised of fresh and/or fresh-frozen cherrystone clams, blue claw crabs, bluefin tuna (all from our local waters), herbs, vegetables, and secret seasonings. Cabela's heavy-duty meat grinder includes a 3mm (fine), 4.5mm (medium), and an 8mm (coarse) stainless steel grinding plate to allow for desired consistency. The unit includes other accoutrements for additional uses.

Grinding Fish for Fish Cakes

Last but not necessarily least in the Cabela's kitchen-trio lineup is a stainless steel electric food slicer. Apart from slicing meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and hard breads, the machine comes in very handy for preparing sushi and/or sashimi. One process begins with thick, frozen fillets, slightly thawed for a semi-firm consistency, as the section will now easily pass through the slicer. Your prep work is cut [key word] dramatically. You can make thin slices for sushi rolls, thicker pieces for sashimi, slice precise cuts of fresh cucumber, avocado, asparagus, carrot, et cetera. I make delectable sushi rolls but with one caveat. I'll explain in a moment.

Last weekend we were invited to our good friends' home, Chris and Candy Paparo, to chow down on some fantastic sushi rolls and sashimi. The couple has their act down pat and work together as a team. Chris had caught the fish in Alaska this past July; namely, rockfish and salmon. He had done the prep work before we arrived. Candy put the rolls together like a pro. Retraction. She is a pro; an artist at work. I stood over her shoulder in their kitchen, asking a question every now and again, making sure she wasn't holding back on any secret(s): Asian condiments to be shared. Cutting the rolls, too, is an art; believe me. Chris worked deftly with a sharp, wet knife, arranging the fare on a platter before we all sat down to a satisfying sushi/sashimi feast as pictured below. By the way, if you enjoy nature photography, follow Chris on Facebook/Instagram at Fish Guy Photos and visit

Splendid Sushi and Sashimi

Although my own sushi rolls are delicious, they are just not up to par when compared to Chris and Candy's presentation; therefore, Donna and I do not put ours out for company—just yet. As Chris and Candy reside just across the Riverhead town line, I can still hold firm to the fact that I make the finest fishcakes along with, well . . . fair to middling-looking sushi rolls this side of Riverhead.

Lastly, I would like to introduce you to a marvelous tool that is worth its weight in mako meat. The Jaccard. It is a must-have implement for the kitchen. Billed as a meat tenderizing machine, it is an invaluable piece of equipment with which to brine or marinate red meat, poultry, and fish for the smoker. It will cut your brining and marinating time by forty percent; cooking time by half. For expediency, I wouldn't be caught preparing fare without this handy-dandy tool. For example, whereas whole cocktail-size blues or fillets ordinarily require approximately six hours of brining time (twelve hours for very thick fillets or larger whole fish), you can cut that curing time nearly in half by first using the Jaccard. The Jaccard is available in two models: a mini Jaccard with one row of sixteen blades; the larger model has three rows of sixteen blades; i.e., forty-eight blades. Donna and I elected to purchase the larger model and are certainly glad we did.

Jaccard Meat Tenderizer

Check out Cabela's Outfitters at for the aforementioned units as well as for this handy tenderizing device. Detailed methods for brining and smoking fish, in addition to several gourmet seafood recipes, can be found in my book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, available online at

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

December 01, 2014

Shimano's Flagship Stella SW Spinning Reels Versus Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet for Surf Fishing

by Bob Banfelder

Comparing a pair of Shimano's high-end spinning reels to Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet series model 6000, but for a fraction of the cost, proved no contest. All three spinning reels offered ultimate performance for the suds this season. However, if price is a serious consideration, weigh the following information most carefully.

Weighing in at 20.4 ounces, Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000 falls between the Stella 5000 SW at 14.3 ounces and the Stella 8000 at 23.7 ounces. Weight can tire you out quickly while walking and working the surf, yet the serious surf angler needs a stalwart outfit that can deliver top performance. Hence, I found a happy medium among three winners. Shimano's two lightest reels in the Stella SW flagship series are by no means lightweights when it comes to getting the job done, for they can tackle virtually anything that swims in our waters. So, too, does Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000, but at a remarkable savings. Donna and I cast these three winners wielding a 10-foot rod with the Stella 8000 SW model, a 9-foot rod with the Ecooda Hornet 6000 model, and an 8-foot rod with the Stella SW 5000 model.

Top to Bottom: Shimano Stella SW 8000, Eposeidon Ecooda Hornet 6000, Shimano Stella SW 5000

By way of analogy, so as to give you some idea of how age slowly takes its toll, I went from shooting a compound bow for many years with a draw weight of 70 pounds, down to a bow of 50-pound draw weight. Consequently, on the fishing front, I put my 12-foot surfcasting rod to rest, and now wield a 10-foot medium-heavy action two-piece Shakespeare Ugly Stik married to a Stella 8000 SW. Donna swings her medium-heavy action two-piece 9-foot Stik coupled to a Hornet 6000. Both rods handle 12- to 30-pound test monofilament line. When we're out there on the beach long enough that Donna does finally tire, she switches to her BWS 1100 medium-action SIGMA two-piece, 8-foot rod favorably fashioned to a Stella SW 5000.

Point of info: Shakespeare Ugly Stik rods are tough as nails and very affordable. Through the years I have told folks that the money they save by purchasing Ugly Stik rods should be to put toward buying top-quality Shimano spinning reels; namely, Stella SW, other Stella models, Sustain, and Stradic—and in that order. Now, I'm strongly suggesting that you give some serious thought in considering Epoiseidon's Ecooda line as I review them. You'll have a better understanding as we move ahead, together, through this report.

First, let's have a look at the many features Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet model 6000 spinning reel has to offer:

O-ring sealed waterproof body and rotor to prevent saltwater intrusion; certainly needed protection against a pounding surf.

Computer-balanced aluminum rotor.

Lubricant service oil port so that you don't have to break down the reel in order to properly maintain the reel through a busy fishing season. And, of course, the reel comes with an adequate supply of lubricant (oil) in a tube to take you through several seasons. Soft reel case also included.

A beefy bail wire with a ceramic bail bushing—not a stainless steel bushing that would still be subject to a harsh marine environment, which could become marred through pitting and corrosion.

Seven precision shielded stainless steel ball bearings and one anti-reverse roller bearing.

Its gears and shaft are all machined stainless steel; that is, pinion gear, drive gear, and main shaft.

A curvilinear-type lip of the anodized spool is probably best described as a ball-shaped edge in lieu of a flat plane and is specifically designed to launch line for long-distance casting. This technological configuration is found on high-end spinning reels such as Shimano. The Hornet reel's specifications indicate that its spool holds 260 yards of 40 lb. test, 185 yards of 45 lb. test, and 140 yards of 50 lb. test braided lines. For the surf, Donna employs 20-pound test monofilament line, so specs should be close.

The Hornet 6000 reel's drag is comprised of a series of carbon fiber washers that exert 44 pounds of serious fish-stopping power. These washers are sealed and protected from water intrusion by a hefty rubber O-ring. Carbon fiber drag washers offer state-of-the art performance because they are not subject to distortion caused by heat buildup. Inferior drag washers do, indeed, warp, resulting in poor performance if not line breakage. A great drag system is of paramount importance in fish-fighting ability. When you are into a good-size denizen of the deep, you want the ultimate of smoothness found in a dependable, high-quality drag system. The Ecooda Hornet model 6000 is smoothness personified. Carbon fiber material is used in brake rotors for aircraft, high-performance race cars as well as clutch plates. Need I say more?

A one-way clutch system.

Double backup anti-reverse locking.

A gear ratio of 4.9:1

Eposeidon Ecooda Hornet Model 6000 Completely Disassembled

I spent a fair amount of time this season comparing two of Shimano's flagship Stella SW [Salt Water] series spinning reels (that I designate for the surf) to this salty newcomer; that is, Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000. It is one fantastic spinning reel for an unbeatable price. Let's compare prices:

Shimano's Stella SW 8000: $829.99
Shimano's Stella SW 5000: $729.99
Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000: $169.98

The latter would inarguably make a great backup reel for the money. For someone just getting their feet wet, so to speak, this would be a great entry-level reel for the suds. What I've done here, of course, is present a very nice reel, size-wise and otherwise, between two fantastic flagship favorites for the surf. Generally speaking, most of us realize that we get what we pay for. There are, of course, exceptions. For example, Shakespeare's Ugly Stiks are unbeatable for the buck. I could have certainly compared the Ecooda Hornet 6000 to a Shimano Sustain or Stradic model; however, I chose to compare spinning reel models that Donna and I use in the surf.

In terms of top-of -the-line features that the Shimano's Stella series is certainly known for, such as Propulsion Line Management, Paladin Gear Durability Enhancement, SR Concept Design, et cetera, the Ecooda Hornet series holds its own says Tom Gahan, Eposeidon's Director of Marketing. In my July 1st, 2014 report for Nor'east Saltwater, I had asked Tom how the company was able to sell quality reels and many other fishing products at such unbeatable prices.

"Well, Bob," Tom had explained, "we do not have fancy corporate offices. We do not run full-page color ads in prestigious magazines. We do not engage in lavish get-togethers. We eliminate the middlemen. Any idea how many people take a piece of the pie before the product reaches a store like, say, Dick's Sporting Goods? These savings are passed on to our customers because we sell direct. Additionally, we strive to assure customer satisfaction. In short, at Eposeidon, we make fishing fun and very affordable."

You can read my review of the company and the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 spinning reel titled Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle: Affordable Pricing on ~ July 1, 2014 report. Affordable is certainly an understatement when compared to the prices commanded for high-end spinning reels. But will the Ecooda spinning reels I reviewed in July and December of this year stand the test of time? Let me say this. Both Donna and I have put both the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 as well the Ecooda Hornet 6000 through some serious punishment this season. Actually, it was several nice bass and an excess of big bluefish that received the punishment. Because the Peconic River and neighboring bays did not produce for us as well as they had in past years, Donna and I hit our Long Island Sound beaches. Of course, readers want to know what lures we threw at those challengers with our three weapons of choice. The bullets we fired were one-ounce Kastmasters with epoxied eyes as well as Charlie Graves' three-quarter ounce tins, also with epoxied peepers. Those were our two tickets this season.

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

July 01, 2014

Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle: Affordable Pricing

by Bob Banfelder

Review: Ecooda ERS 3000 Spinning Reel

Under the Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure, Inc. label, the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 all metal, aluminum body spinning reel is a real deal. It is designed and engineered by Ecooda, and, yes, it comes with an extra spool; that is, a second aluminum alloy (not plastic) spool. I filled one spool with Eposeidon's Superpower 12-pound test braided line, and the other with KastKing's Copolymer 12-pound test. KastKing is Eposeidon's own brand of fishing tackle: Whatever line you choose to fill your spools on the Ecooda 3000 Max Drag Power spinning reel, mustering up to a whopping 22 pounds of stopping power, you will experience ultimate smoothness. Why? Well, the reel's drag system is comprised of carbon fiber washers while the reel itself boasts 8 shielded stainless steel ball bearings plus one instant anti-reverse roller bearing. Carbon fiber drag washers are an important element found in quality reels because they do not distort from excessive heat buildup. Comparable reels of this caliber cost many times more than the ERS 3000. I repeat—many times more. More on pricing in a moment, for I want to first bait you. You might and should be asking yourself how the company can do that inexpensively? Note that I didn't say cheaply, for there is nothing cheap about this reel.

Let's examine this reel further: A precision machined stainless steel gear shaft along with a brass pinion gear drives this workhorse. A specifically designed PLS (Power Launch Spool) spool lip allows for longer, tangle-free casts. Two of those eight stainless steel ball bearings support the spool and offer super-smooth retrieves. What if I told you that the angler shall receive this precision packaged product, plus an extra spool, for under a hundred dollars? What's the catch, you're certainly wondering. Well, there is a catch. The catch is that you're going to cast, retrieve, hook, and catch far more quality fish with this capital reel in hand than you would with a low-end reel costing about the same amount of money. Here you're getting an excellent reel at a fraction of the cost. How does $95.98 with free shipping grab you? Remember, the reel comes with a second spool. And how about an extra 5% off a second Ecooda spinning reel? That's it, folks. There truly is no catch other than landing that keeper.

Delving into the workings of this fine tool, let's consider other important aspects with which I concern myself. In addition to the number of shielded stainless steel ball bearings housed within the body, which translates into the reel's smoothness, gear ratio and weight are to be regarded, too. The ratio for the ERS 3000 is 5.1:1. The reel's weight is 10.6 ounces. This simply means that you can cast and retrieve for hours on end without fatigue.

Line capacity is another consideration. Here is the ERS 3000's spool rating referencing monofilament line for 10-, 12-, and 14-pound test line: 10 lb./220 yds. ~ 12 lb./140 yds. ~ 14lb./110 yds. Their corresponding capacities, measured in millimeters and meters, respectively, as the company utilizes the metric system in lieu of U.S. Standard, are forever etched upon the spool: 0.286/200 ~ 0.33/130 ~ 0.37/100. Huh? Live with it. Of course, you will fill the spool with greater yardage when utilizing braided line of equal strength. Although the company is new to the United States, its products are well-known and very popular in Australia, Europe, as well as making headway in Canada. Hence, the utilization of the metric system.

Let's review as well as consider a long list of added features:

Flex-free aluminum alloy side plates.

Extra flex-free aluminum alloy spool.

Specially designed Power Launch Spool (PLS) lip for longer, tangle-free casts.

A super-strength micro-balanced aluminum rotor.

Eight (8) precision stainless steel shielded ball bearings.

One (1) instant one-way clutch roller bearing.

Easy access to anti-reverse switch.

Close tolerance machined stainless steel gear shaft and brass pinion gear.

Direct-drive handle with nonslip T-grip for solid hook-ups.

Max Drag Power carbon fiber washers.

The Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 aluminum alloy body spinning reel comes in purple, red, and gold trim. Shown here is the purple trim model. As either your mainstay or as a backup reel, you won't go wrong with the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 spinning reel.

ERS 3000 inner workings

I am currently field-testing rods, reels, lines and lures along with others who are part of the Eposeidon Professional Fishing Tackle Team. Only when we are completely satisfied with a product, after having rigorously field-tested each item while offering both negative and positive comments, will that article move from the prototype stage and brought to the point of refinement. Only then will it be placed in your hands. Stay tuned for future reviews.

Review: Copolymer & Braided Line

Let's examine the types of fishing line offered under the company's umbrella; namely, Eposeidon's Superpower Braid, and KastKing's Copolymer Line. Years ago monofilament line was a single filament line, whereas today copolymer is a two or more filament line. It is my understanding that most monofilament lines are now, actually, copolymer lines. KastKing's copolymer lines boasts high tensile strength, superior castability, low stretch, and high abrasion resistance—and for a fraction of the price that you would normally spend for quality mono. I've noted, too, that Kast King's copolymer lines have a smaller diameter for a given pound-test rating than the competition. Interesting.

I'm presently working with KastKing's 10- and 12-pound test line: blue-green and clear copolymer, respectively. They cast a country mile. I'll need the rest of the 2014 season to fairly judge their overall performance and will certainly follow up with comments at a later date. Meanwhile, compare 330 yards at $6.99.

Additionally, I'm field-testing Eposeidon's SuperPower Braid Line in 12- and 15-pound strengths: Hi-Vis Yellow and Moss Green, respectively. Again, I'll need the remainder of the season to judge their overall performance. The company boasts high tensile strength, great abrasion resistance, virtually zero stretch, ultra-sensitivity, round and smooth construction for superior castability, and a special coating to limit water absorption. Several more trips to the porgy grounds with a by-catch of blowfish, kingfish, and trigger fish will give me a good indication of the braids' performance; 328 yards for $11.98. Compare big name brands ranging from $17 to $25 for only half that yardage.

Pictured left to right (foreground): Spools of KastKing Copolymer blue-green line, Superpower Eposeidon green braid, Superpower Eposeidon yellow braid, KastKing Copolymer clear line
(background): pouch, box for ERS 3000 spinning reel, extra spool, reel lube

Once again, it's interesting to note that these reels and lines sell for far less money than the big name brands. How are these two companies able to do this? In answering the question, I contacted Eposeidon's Director of Marketing, Tom Gahan. "Well, Bob," he began, "we do not have fancy corporate offices. We do not run full-page color ads in prestigious magazines. We do not engage in lavish get-togethers. We eliminate the middlemen. Any idea how many people take a piece of the pie before the product reaches a store like, say, Dick's Sporting Goods? These savings are passed on to our customers because we sell direct. Additionally, we strive to assure customer satisfaction. In short, at Eposeidon, we make fishing fun and very affordable."

Some of you may be thinking that this sounds like familiar rhetoric, short of solid substance. But I know better. I say this with utmost confidence for the simple reason that I know Tom Gahan both professionally and personally. If Tom were in Athens, circa 365 B.C.E., Diogenes (with lantern in hand during daylight hours to further the philosopher's point), searching for an honest man, would not have had to wander far nor wide if Gahan were in proximity. Tom also addresses the issue of brand loyalty. What it comes down to is this; I'll paraphrase. When you realize that an off-brand reel, rod, line or lure can do a job equally as well as your name-brand favorite, but at less than half the price, brand loyalty often takes a bow and a backseat to the educated consumer.

Will the Eposeidon and KastKing series of reels and rods hold up over the years? Don't rightly know; only time will tell. And hopefully I'll be around to tell you like it is. Ostensibly, however, we have a winner on our hands with the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 spinning reel. At this juncture, I strongly advise and urge you to log onto You'll discover lures that will lure you with both hard and soft baits at unbelievable savings; for example: tins, plastic frogs, single and jointed crankbaits, buzzbaits, spinnbaits, umbrella rigs, et cetera. I was delighted to see that the lures I'm field-testing boasted quality VMC hooks. You can thank me later with your comments after you save a small fortune on reels, lines, and lures. Remember, too, that those rods we're field-testing are just a short cast away from production.
Eposeidon was most recently named the exclusive Ecooda Distributor for North America. I'll also be looking forward to reviewing one of the company's low-profile bait casting reels in the very near future. Once again, stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

March 01, 2014

Selecting Caliber Surfcasting Rods and Matching Reels

by Bob Banfelder

One of last month's responses to my February blog convinced me of the necessity to scribe a piece on selecting quality surfcasting rods and reels, specifically spin-type gear. There came a point in time that my older equipment was just that: old; not necessarily dated—but old in the sense that I hadn't purchased high-quality tackle for openers. Those items became worn and tired sooner than later. Most folk settle, I think, somewhere in the middle of a wide price range when selecting fishing tackle. I quickly learned to select most of my rods and reels (and Donna's) in the middle of the top-of-the-line price range as manufacturers tend to cover a broad spectrum of pricing so as to reach all markets. I don't have to tell you that a hundred dollar reel is not going to perform or last like a thousand dollar reel. Not that you should run out and spend that kind of money for starters. What you should do, however, once you know that you like—a lot—the fine sport of fishing, be it spin casting, bait casting, or fly casting, is to go middle-of-the-road at the top-end of a model series. Quality is what you are after, especially in a saltwater environment. If you have truly become a fanatic, then I strongly urge you to reach for the best of a top-shelf series. Top-shelf in the Shimano spinning reel series lineup are the Stella SW, Stella, Sustain, and Stradic series—and in that order.

Looking at a catalog is fine for gathering information referencing a particular model. Ah, but holding the item in your hot little hands is quite another matter. A box store will probably have a limited selection, if at all, of these high-end reels. A well-stocked tackle shop is your best bet. Don't feel funny asking a salesperson to set up a reel and rod that you're considering; that is, after you've spent a good amount of time waving several wands around to determine the action you're seeking. Is the rod too stiff to your liking, like a fishing friend of mine mentioned in response to last month's blog? Had my buddy held the 9-foot BWS Medium-Heavy Shakespeare Ugly Stik in one hand and the company's 8-foot BWS 110080 Medium wand in the other, he would have immediately noted a world of difference between the two rods. Such a person might have selected the latter and saved himself $125 compared to the cost of my friend's St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore rod; MSRP $180. That savings could have gone to one of Shimano's Sustain models, one step up from his Stradic model.

You generally get what you pay for. In the case of Shakespeare's Ugly Stik rods, you get a whole lot more than you bargained for. They're the best rod out there for the money, affording you the biggest bang for your buck.

To keep matters simple re last month's blog, I had addressed, in a general sense, 8', 9', 10', and 12' Ugly Stik rods for the surf. Although not specifically classified as a surfcasting rod, Donna's model BWS 110080 two-piece, 8-foot Medium-Action Ugly Stik is designed to handle ¾- to 3- ounce lures with line ratings running between 10 to 25 pounds. It's the lightest of Shakespeare's three BWS 8-foot Ugly Stiks. It's perfect for her ($54.95). As I'm getting several calls and responses about downsizing, referencing these wonderful rods as well as others, I figured I'd best elaborate, moving from general to more specific information. I'll continue with two additional 8-footers and work my way on up to even a 15-foot Ugly Stik surfcasting rod, to be placed only in the hands of gorillas, of course. Ah, I just can't resist this: Where along the beach does a guy wielding a 15-foot Ugly Stik rod fish? Answer: Anywhere he wants. :o) :o) All right, so I'm not a Jay L. or a Jimmy F. Get over it, folks.

Now, on a more serious note, don't fall into the trap of ruling out an 8-foot Ugly Stik simply because it may not be strictly classified as a surfcasting rod. First off, we are going to examine the trio of 8-foot BWS Ugly Stiks before moving on to the 9-foot bona fide surfcasting wand. If you recall my advice from last month's report titled Scaling Back As We Get Older, I'm sure most of you would agree that it's better to be out there casting and covering a good amount of waterfront property over several hours than having to pack it in early due to sheer exhaustion. Remember, we're supposed to be out there having fun, not attempting something amounting to a test of endurance.

Moving one step up from Donna's magic wand, while remaining in the same 8-foot category, is Shakespeare's 8-foot BWS 110180, also a Medium-Action Ugly Stik but designed to handle 1- to 4-ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 20 pounds (also $54.95).

Advancing yet another step up the ladder is Shakespeare's two-piece, 8-foot BWS 110280 Heavy-Action Ugly Stik, designed to handle 1- to 6- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds (also $54.95).

As we move into the 9-foot realm, matters become less involved because Shakespeare offers but a single surfcasting rod. That is, a model BWS110090 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik, designed to handle 1- to 4- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds (also $54.95). The single selection two-piece rods will hold true as we cover Shakespeare's lengthier Ugly Stik surfcasting rods.

The 10-foot BWS 1100100 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 1- to 6- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds ($64.95).

The 11-foot BWS 1100110 Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 8- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds (also $64.95).

The 12-foot BWS 1100120 Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 12- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds ($69.95).

The 15-foot BWS 1100150 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 12- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds ($89.95).

Unless you have unlimited funds to purchase any number of the rods covered here, it is my suggestion that you select one rod of a single length that you can comfortably handle and, if you are so inclined, select a second of a different length. For example: one rod from the 8-foot group, and either a single 9- or 10- foot pole. Instead of selecting a second rod from the 8-foot category, I'd rather see a surfcasting angler select a longer length, provided, of course, that he or she can handle it. It could serve as a backup rod and/or one with a bit more backbone if needed. After you know the length of rod that you can comfortably handle and are happy with the wand's action, determine the weight of the lure(s) that you will be casting. Rest assured that line rating will affect a lure's distance performance, so be sure to have an assortment of lures on hand. Too, this additional (generally heavier) rod choice will serve for a wider range of fishing conditions such as a heavy wind playing havoc with your lighter outfit, whereby you might need a weightier lure and added power to get beyond those breakers. This heavier piece of artillery will, indeed, wear you out quicker, but at least you'll be back in the game after you catch your breath. A backup rod has on more than one occasion saved the day for us.

Pictured below is Donna fraught with cabin fever, pushing the season on February 20th, 2014. No, I did not hear, "Fish on!" She's geared up and anticipating spring action with her 8-foot Ugly Stik coupled to a Shimano Stella 5000 spinning reel. Good to go.

A sound word on Shimano's top-of-the-line spinning reels for the brine: When I wrote my fishing handbook The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water [covering a host of other on-the-water related activities such as kayaking and canoeing, clamming and crabbing, smoking fish and preparing gourmet seafood recipes], published in 2013, the MSRP for Donna's Stella SW 5000 spinning reel was $729.99. Today it is $1,059.99. My Stella 8000 SW spinning reel was $829.99. Today it is $1,159.99. Are they worth it? For the most serious saltwater anglers, they are wise investments both in terms of longevity and lasting love. They are Shimano's newly designed flagship series; hence, the added costs; six model sizes from which to choose, ranging from $1,059.99 to $1,259.00. After heading to the bank for a hefty withdrawal or maxing out your credit card to secure these superb reels, don't leave home for the shoreline without them. If those price tags are tantamount to swallowing horse-sized pills, consider Shimano's Stella (not to be confused with Stella SW), Sustain, and Stradic models. They are high-caliber quality spinning reels, too, for considerably less money.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

August 01, 2013

Hooked on Hook Keepers

by Bob Banfelder

Every once in a while a product comes along that truly grabs my attention, saving me time, money, frustration and/or aggravation. The CATCH fishhook keepers, manufactured by AdamsWW, Incorporated, do exactly that. As safety should be everyone's primary concern, it often fails to be put at the very top of the list. How many of us even think about such an insignificant item as a rod hook keeper? It is either there on a fishing pole when we purchase it, or it is simply not included. However, whether it is there or not, you want a hook keeper that not only holds your hook but safely secures it, too.

If you are reading Nor'east Saltwater, you are probably a serious angler. If you're a serious angler, I'd venture to say that you have several fishing rods if not many. If you are a very serious angler, you probably have a plethora of fishing poles. And if you are a fishing nut, euphemistically called a fishing aficionado, well, you absolutely have surf poles, boat poles, conventional casting and trolling rods, spinning rods in at least three different lengths for specific line and lure weights, designated jigging sticks, salmon/steelhead/musky rods, fly-fishing rods for virtually all species found in both fresh and salt water, four–five–and/or six-piece travel rods, and perhaps even the ‘reel-less' tenkara rod(s), ad infinitum.

I fall somewhere between the poles of a very serious angler and a fishing fool, for I have some three dozen rods in order to cover a variety of situations. Many of these rods, even some of the expensive ones, do not have hook keepers. What to do? Well, you have a few options. You can carefully place the point of the hook into the cork handle of the rod (certainly not an EVA foam handle), but surely you will be sorry because sooner than later you will not only damage the cork, you will eventually dull the point of the hook. Next, you could place the exposed point of the hook on the frame of the guide (never in the diamond polished, ceramic, Silicon Carbide ring); however, the point of the hook is still exposed. My point being is that it will one day catch you, a family member, pet or guest. Even after I instruct folks not to place the hook in the ring of the guide, they forget. You can't have your eyes everywhere at once. But what you can do to make life simple and safe is to initially incorporate hook keepers on those rods that do not have them. Later, you may want to install them on all your rods, even wands that come with those standard thin wire keepers. Why? The answer is because they do not hold the hook completely out of harm's way. You want hook keepers that shield and therefore protect. You need and want The CATCH lightweight hook keepers, which are available in three different sizes: The CATCH (small), the CATCH-BIG (big) and the CATCH-MEGA (large).

Besides having an appointed slot to hold the hook, these handy plastic bodied items house an integrated high-strength magnet, securing and protecting both hook point and barb—from a midge-size 22 to a 9/0 hook—protecting you, your gear, clothing, et cetera. There is another big name company out there that manufactures hook keepers. I've ordered, examined, and used "the other brand" before dealing with The CATCH line of hook keepers. Save yourself a lot of time and trouble. You want hook keepers manufactured by AdamsWW. Let's examine these three winners closely.

The CATCH shields both points and barbs of a size 22 up to a size 1 hook. It is ideal for fly rods and other light-duty rod applications. Available in orange, blue, or black. Pictured below is the Gimp Fly tied on a Mustad-Viking number 12 hook.

The CATCH-BIG shields points and barbs up to a 4/0 hook. Available in black. Pictured below is Storm's Wild Eye Swim Shad with an approximate 4/0 hook.

The CATCH-MEGA shields points and barbs up to a 9/0 hook. Available in black. Pictured below is Shimano's 6½-inch, 4.4 ounce Waxwing with a whopping heavy-duty single 8/0 siwash-style hook.

All three hook keeper sizes (small, medium, large) easily attach to your rod in a nanosecond via a single ozone and weather resistant neoprene o-ring; two o-ring sizes per package are included to accommodate different tapered rod diameters. The hook keeper may be placed on the rod precisely where you want it. For example: atop, to the side, or below the butt section. Hence, there is no chance of the hook keeper interfering with the line when casting.

I own a pretty expensive rod with one of those tiny, thin wire hook keepers fancily wrapped; however, it will not allow the point and barb of a 6/0 hook to pass through it. Hence, the CATCH-MEGA keeper resolved this issue. In a heartbeat (no tools needed), I simply attached the new hook keeper, slid the hook within the top slot, and I was good to go. For lures with treble hooks, I merely slide one of the hook points into the keeper then slide the appropriate size tubing onto the other two exposed hooks, especially with kids aboard.

Additionally, the CATCH hook keepers can do double-duty as line holders. On a trout stream while fishing with a fly rod, it's most convenient to place the tippet between the hook keeper and rod in order to hold the thin material when changing flies. For those who fish with tenkara rods, the AdamsWW company asks that you make mention of this when ordering their hook keepers. When aboard a vessel, after unhooking a fish then deciding to fuss with lures, bait or whatever, you can temporarily hang the line and hook out of harm's way. If you wish to grab a sandwich and a beverage, secure the hook back in the slotted magnetic holder and take a break. Too, you could momentarily place the hook anywhere along the hook keeper and it will grab, apart from the weight of a sinker. Therefore, I prefer placing the hook within the slot for safety's sake. Furthermore, you could have a high-low rig set up and be ready to go, safely, by incorporating a second hook keeper. These products are, indeed, versatile.

In the near future, for those of you who are into rod building, AdamsWW, Inc. will be coming out with The CATCH-ROD hook keeper and components (arms to attach to each end of the hook keeper). I believe that some rod manufacturers are going to seriously consider this item. For openers, AdamsWW, Inc. will introduce this keeper to accommodate hook sizes ranging from a size 22 (midge) up to a size 1 hook, same as its original CATCH hook keeper.

For further information concerning these fantastic hook keepers, log on to

Note: In addition to safely transporting fishing rods from vehicle to vessel or shoreline via hook keepers, I'll offer a simple tip for toting these outfits without the hassle of having lines and leaders catch onto boughs and branches while maneuvering through woodlots and brush on your way to a secluded fishing spot. I trail the rods rearward, not pointed out in front of me where they are certain to poke, catch and cause considerable trouble. Moreover, I secure those lines and/or leaders as pictured below. The small piece of yellow yarn you see is shown solely to indicate the line and its abbreviated distance between spool and rod.

For spinning rods, bring the line directly beneath the rod, not bowed out like a bow and arrow. You can accomplish this easily by reeling the line snugly like you normally do at day's end. However, if the line is not wound directly beneath the rod, pull on it to engage the drag a couple clicks at a time until the line is directly beneath the rod. Now, grab the line that is attached to the hook in the keeper (not the line running from the guide to the reel's bail), and wrap it either clockwise or counterclockwise over the top of the rod, bringing it completely under and around the large guide, locking the line in place. You now have a streamline section of line held securely against the rod that will not latch onto this, that, and the other thing. Ready to fish? Unwrap in the opposite direction by simply grabbing the line that is outside the guide, not the one within.

For fly rods, simply eliminate the distance between the reel's line and the rod's handle by bringing the line at the base of the reel rearward while carefully wrapping it around the frame from a six o'clock position to a 12 o'clock position. Gingerly reel in any slack.

The alignment of line on conventional baitcasting rods and reels pose next to no problem. Good to go.

Bob Banfelder is author of the newly released The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso. Bob is a member of the Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. He is also an award-winning thriller writer; his novels include Trace Evidence, The Author, The Teacher, Knots, and No Stranger Than I. Visit; follow on Facebook @ Robert Banfelder and Twitter @RBanfelder.

June 01, 2013

A Powerhouse of a Baitcasting Reel in a Small Low-Profile Package

by Bob Banfelder

Let's take a look at a relatively new addition to Shimano's low-profile baitcasting lineup. The Curado E 300 Series, offered in either left- or right-handed models, is a high-performance reel boasting an ultra-smooth and powerful maximum drag setting of 15 pounds! That's some stopping power! Dartainium drag material offers a wider range of settings. The reel can easily handle lightweight to large baits effortlessly.

Several features and specs include Shimano's High Efficiency Gearing (HEG); a lightweight but strong aluminum frame that houses an extra-deep aluminum spool capable of holding 240 yards of 12-pound test monofilament (50 pound equivalent braid), which gives you a good idea of line capacity; 5 Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearings; 1 S A-RB (Anti-Rust Bearing) Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearing; 1 A-RB Stainless Steel Roller Clutch Bearing (for a total of 7 bearings); 6.2:1 Gear Ratio; and 28 inches of line retrieve per crank. The reel weighs in at a mere 10.5 ounces, carrying an MSRP of $250. Please bear in mind that when I write up a product review, it is not simply field-tested over a weekend or two. All equipment is put through a vigorous trial by ordeal in which Donna and I own and work these workhorses hard through the seasons. Flawless would sum up this gutsy Shimano Curado bait caster.

Can't justify spending $250, even for a fine powerhouse in a lightweight package? Seeing as how I am not in bed with Shimano, I can suggest having you purchase a top-notch rod to match that first-rate reel:

Matching Baitcasting Reels to Rods

Time and again, I see folks paying way too much money for fishing rods, whether it is a fly rod, baitcasting rod, or spinning rod. Quite frankly, you're wasting your money if you spend more than $50 on a baitcasting rod for the Curado 300E (right hand) or 301E (left hand) model. Shimano, Okuma, G. Loomis, St. Croix and Shakespeare Ugly Stik wands are rated as excellent baitcasting rods—but not necessarily in that order. However, all things being equal, the former four rods are priced far higher than the Shakespeare Ugly Stik that I'll be suggesting. We're looking at double, triple and quadruple the price for a comparable Ugly Stik rod. As you generally get what you pay for, folks automatically get talked into and/or simply reach for the more expensive rods. The fact is that the Ugly Stik (again, all things being equal) is tougher than the other rods that cost considerably more. You may gain a bit more sensitivity and wield slightly less weight with those more pricy rods, but they generally do not have the backbone of Shakespeare Ugly Stiks. Different strokes for different folks. Perhaps you can now justify putting the money that I hopefully saved you toward a superior Shimano Curado 300E/301 baitcasting reel.

In selecting a medium- medium-heavy action Ugly Stik baitcasting rod for the Curado E, look for double-footed, chrome-plated stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts and center bridges for extra ring support. Ugly Stiks simply can't be beat in terms of strength and durability. For the price, you will not likely find these superior type guides on other rods that command significantly higher price tags.

I couple the Curado reel to a single-piece Shakespeare BWC 1120 7' (2.13) MH Medium Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod (12–20 lb. Line Test). At the expense of mixing metaphors, I'm spooled with 120 yards of 20-pound test monofilament—loaded for bear.

Let's take an even closer look at some of the reel's other outstanding features. On the sideplate is a flip-key that easily accesses Curado's Variable Breaking System (VBS) in order to quickly change weight adjustments and/or spools. The reason that the angler can cast extremely lightweight lures is in the design of the Magnumlite Spool. Creative construction coupled with innovative drilling techniques produces a light, thin-walled yet super-strong spool that offers ". . . the lowest startup inertia ever in a Shimano reel," claims the company. With Curado's VBS friction adjustments, cast control is always under control. If you are experiencing a backlash with a particular lure, simply make the fine adjustment via the Variable Breaking System, comprised of six brake weights, which can be changed by switching all or combinations of the weights. Easy to follow instructions come with the reel. I can flip or pitch virtually weightless worms (artificial or otherwise) with great accuracy because of this noteworthy system.

Opposite the access plate is the Cast Control knob to lessen or increase spool friction. Between the two friction control systems (the Variable Breaking System and the Cast Control knob), backlashes [overruns] are eliminated. If a backlash happens at the beginning of the cast, it is cleared by the Variable Breaking System. If a backlash happens at the end of the cast, it is cleared by the Cast Control knob.

For instant hook-setting power, Super Stopper II anti-reverse employs a one-way stainless steel roller bearing to prevent backplay. Additionally, the Curado E 300 series features a backup system, Assist Stopper, utilizing an anti-reverse pawl and ratchet to positively eliminate failure. To paraphrase the company's claim, "Should the Super Stopper roller bearing fail to engage as the result of cold weather or over-lubrication, the Assist Stopper kicks in to provide a solid hookset the instant the roller bearing begins to slip. Most often, the angler will not even realize when this feature engages. By immediately stopping the backward rotation of the roller bearing, the Assist Stopper greatly reduces the chance of permanent damage to the Supper Stopper, allowing the feature to continue to function as designed."

The QuickFire II Clutch (thumb) Bar gives you control of both spool and clutch with the touch of your thumb by either disengaging the spool or reengaging the gearing.

Curado's handlebar knobs are comfortable, made of Septon CPD, a thermoplastic elastomer that offers an appealing tactile feel. A round-headed five spoke star drag is perfectly positioned behind the handlebar.

Note: An important word on right- or left-hand retrieve handles. On most fly and spinning reels, it's a rather simple procedure to convert from either right- or left-hand wind modes. On most fly reels, it's a matter of repositioning the pawl. Instructions generally cover this conversion. On most spinning reels, one can easily switch the handle from one side of the reel to the other. However, concerning all baitcasting reels, one must decide on either a right- or left-handed model from the onset, for there is no conversion option. Some reels only come right-handed. Occasionally, within a model series, several right-handed reels are offered whereas a left-handed option may be limited to a single choice. A word to the wise; be very careful in your selection.

I'm right-handed; yet, I purchased Shimano's Curado CU301 E left-hand model because I'm more comfortable cranking the handle with my left hand. All my fly reels and spinning reels are set up for left-hand retrieve. Our Penn 930 Levelmatics—along with a pair of ancient Penn Senator baitcasting reels—came with right-hand retrieve. Fine for dropping a line over the rail or trolling, but for continual casting performance, I do not like changing hands in order to retrieve a lure. That's just me. It's all a matter of preference.

May has been a fabulous month for stripers, blues, porgies, blowfish and weakfish in the Peconics: Little Peconic Bay and Great Peconic Bay. Referencing weakfish, many folks claim that when it comes to fine fare, they find weakfish to be mushy and therefore return them to the waters. This is not the case if you follow my recipe to a T. Here's the trick: Dredge them with flour, egg and bread crumb. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Next, flour, egg and Panko them. Back into the refrigerator for another couple hours. Get your pan hot with Crisco, a little butter, a little olive oil; 3:1:1 ratio, respectively. Using strictly olive oil will be absorbed into the batter, making it—guess what? —mushy. Add thin-sliced garlic to the pan moments before the fish is done. Cut into the thickest section of flesh, finishing off the fish the moment the meat goes from gray to white. You want the fish flaky, not underdone nor overcooked. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. The dish is fabulous; not at all mushy. Enjoy!

Note: Although I cook virtually all my fish with wine, I do not cook this dish with vino. However, a glass is close at hand. :o) :o)

Bob Banfelder is author of the newly released (April 2013) The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, with blurbs by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso. Bob is also an award-winning thriller writer; his novels include Trace Evidence,The Author (two-volume set), The Teacher, Knots (e-book), and No Stranger Than I. Visit; follow on Facebook @ Robert Banfelder and Twitter @RBanfelder.

January 01, 2013

Preparation & Organization

by Bob Banfelder

It's that time of year again when I start replacing worn monofilament and braided lines from the spools of Donna's and my spinning and bait casting reels, inspecting and wiping clean our weight-forward fly lines and shooting heads, reversing (if necessary) our double-taper fly lines, which we use strictly for stilly freshwater presentations.

Next, I thoroughly attack those respective reels with a degreaser and mild detergent, inside and out, adding new grease and reel oil. As Donna and I own several rods and reels in each category—spin, bait and fly outfits for light, medium as well as heavy-duty action—needless to say, we're pretty busy this time of year getting ready for next season. I handle the reels and lines; Donna cleans the rods.

First, a word of advice: If you're not familiar with taking your reel(s) apart and putting them back together, bring or send them to an authorized dealer. Don't be a last-minute Charlie or Charlotte, because these guys get pretty busy as we approach March. If you insist on doing the job yourself, have your owner's manual beside you in addition to a pad and pen to jot down a particular sequence if those instructions and/or diagrams aren't up to par. Also, work on a surface where you won't likely lose a tiny screw or a shooting spring.

Following the complete overhaul of that equipment, I launch into refurbishing or replacing lures: poppers, spoons (tins), crankbaits, jigs, spinners, et cetera. In virtually all cases, it's simply a matter of sharpening or replacing hooks. Having on hand an assortment of the appropriate style and sized single hooks, treble hooks, split rings, clips, spinner blades, clevises and other materials will make life easier in the long run. This will also afford you the opportunity to become a bit creative, tying in your knowledge (quite literally perhaps) of fly tying combined with said lure alterations. A favored modification of mine is epoxying a pair of eyes and tying feathers as trailers to Kastmaster tins. They're absolutely deadly when retrieved on either a horizontal or vertical (jigging) plane. Too, converting a freshwater Hula Popper into a saltwater version by removing its deteriorating rubber skirt and restoring it with a silicon replacement skirt and trailers used for Shimano's Lucanus Jigs is positively explosive. These inventive combining possibilities are endless. Alteration, creation and experimentation are the hallmarks of a successful angler. If you have convinced yourself that you're not the creative type, think again. Simply realize that the germ of an idea is the seed carried to the very next level. Say to yourself, "Yes, there is a method to my madness!"

I have a newfound friend who lives down the block. He tells me that I created a monster by reintroducing him to fishing. I had casually mentioned altering lures, explaining how I modified the Kastmaster and Hula Popper. It wasn't a week or two later when he went into his garage and started turning out wooden plugs, adding all the necessary hardware. He had made a jointed swimmer similar to the black Bomber model #16-J–Magnum Long "A" that I went on about in last month's blog. Tom Gahan then apologized for his lure's crudeness, for it wasn't turned on a lathe but simply whittled with a paring knife then sandpapered, epoxied and painted. However, we both knew that the lure would take fish come springtime. "So then why the apology, Tom?" I had asked the man. Confident now, Tom smiled, disappeared then returned in a moment with a squid that he had also created, complete with ingeniously spawned tentacles so unique that I stood in awe. He has an idea for a book titled The Frugal Fisherman; therefore, I'm not at liberty to give too much away, except to say that the guy's really on to something.

By the end of January, Donna and I will be ready for the spring: rods, reels, lines, lures and terminal tackle will all be in order. The Preparation part will be complete. Let's move on to the Organization segment.

As both Donna and I have a lot of fishing gear to contend with, organization is the key. I have a place for everything, and everything is in its place. At a moment's notice, we must be able to grab, not search for, the equipment we need to cover a certain application be it spin, bait or fly-fishing; fresh water or salt water; light, medium or heavy-duty action. It is no time to be searching through the corners of a shed, garage or closet for a specific rod and reel, or looking high and low for last season's go-to lure stowed away in that other tackle box. As a matter of fact, when we hit the water, we are not carrying a gigantic tackle box or bag filled with every conceivable lure designed for fish-fry size to heavyweights.

Based on what's running, or what we believe to be running, Donna and I simply target a species and set up as much as we can beforehand for a given application. Heading for the basement, I go to a wall designed to display an assortment of artificial lures—our most productive and therefore proven attractors: bucktails, spinners, jigs, poppers, tins, soft plastics, flies and such. I have backups packed neatly away. I'll simply take what we need for the moment and fill in at a later time with what needs to be replaced. On ceiling racks and along walls, specific rods, reels and lines are rigged and at the ready with several of our favorite lures such as properly sized and altered Kastmasters, from 1/12 ounce to 1 ounce plus.

Moving into my office, the workspace is divided in two sections: computers/printers terminal station and a fly-fishing/fly-tying area. Better than a dozen fly rods and reels line the walls and ceiling. As the room is running out of room, other outfits lay atop and between deer antlers. Where else am I going to set these additional outfits so that they remain at the ready? This room is where I write my novels (thrillers), outdoors articles and ruminate upon the next assignment or project. The fly-rod setups have our most productive and proven patterns at the ready. We merely grab and go with our go-to abridged arsenal.

Whatever he situation calls for (spin, bait or fly), Donna and I carry no more than a half-dozen lures for a half day's outing. Those items, along with paraphernalia such as leaders, several hooks, Power Fast Clips and the like, pretty much cover the gamut and compel us to give each tactic and technique a fair try. We're rarely disappointed.

Come spring, be thoroughly prepared by getting your equipment in fine working order way ahead of time; be organized by whatever means and method possible. You'll spend more time fishing instead of fussing and being frustrated. If you recall last month's blog, I had that 7-inck black Bomber model #16-J–Magnum Long "A" tucked away and forgotten in my surf bag. That eel-like swimmer is now at the ready. Hey, I didn't say that I was perfect. It's just something that we should all strive for. It makes life easier in the long run. Trust me on that.

Happy New Year, guys and gals!

Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Follow on Facebook & Twitter @RBanfelder

For BigFish79, here are some redressed tins.

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