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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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October 02, 2016

Crankbait Transitions from Sweetwater to the Suds ~ A Colorful Array of Keen Killers ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

We are continuing from yesterday's report of Berkley's pro-design dream team referencing Fishing Evolved crankbaits. We'll lead off with the Pitbull, following up with Wild Thang, and finally three (3) Cutter models: Cutter 90+, Cutter 110+, and the Skinny Cutter 110+. David Fritts, Justin Lucas, Josh Bertrand, Garry Klein, and Scott Suggs comprise this awesome group of professionals. Be reminded that these lures, designed but not necessarily designated to sweetwater, are proven to be deadly in the suds as depicted throughout this two-part report. The five designs are tough on fish but prudent on the pocketbook—$6.95 each for the Pitbull and Wild Thang models; $7.95 each for the Cutter series.

The Pitbull is a broad-lipped, erratic, floating slayer that comes in three sizes and weights: Pitbull 3.5, 2", ¼ oz., diving to depths of 2–5 ft.; Pitbull 5.5, 2 3/8", 3/8 oz., diving to depths of 3 to 6 ft.; and the Pitbull 7.5, 2¾", 5/8 oz., diving to devilish depths of 4 to 8 ft. Shown below is the Pitbull 5.5, Gilly color; 18 deadly colors from which to choose. These three crankbaits are a serious breed, exhibiting powerful predator-like action, flash, and tail wag—which is no indication of its friendliness. In short order, the predator fish will become the predator.

Pitbull 5.5

Pitbull 5.5 ~ Gilly color ~ bests cocktail blue


Wild Thang 8.5 is a rattling lure sporting a longer and far broader bill than that of the Pitbull. Wild Thang demonstrates a ‘wild' aggressive tail-thumping action, irresistible to predator fish. The lure comes in two sizes and weights: 2", 3/8 oz., and 2¼", ½ oz. Shown below is the 2¼", ½ oz. Wild Thang in a Ghost Green Craw color; 18 deadly colors from which to choose. The lure dives to depths of 6 to 9 feet on retrieve, slowly rising when paused . . . triggering an instinctive strike from predators. In other words, if the ‘wild' aggressive tail-thumping action doesn't get ‘em, the sluggish ascent shall. Alternate the actions—descend … ascend—and you will connect.

Wild Thang 8.5

Wild Thang 8.5 ~ Ghost Green Craw color ~ hoodwinked this 19½-inch fat flattie

Berkley's stout-bodied, wide-lipped, deep-diving hardbaits go down to where the flatties flourish. Donna casted the lure but three or four times when she suddenly connected with this fat flattie in 14 feet of water, which tells you this hungry fish rose to the occasion to meet its maker. Donna was wild with excitement, especially when I missed it with the fist swipe of the landing net. However, a nice dinner was not to be denied.


Last but not nearly least in this lineup of lethal lures is a trio of Cutter series suspending hardbaits:

The Cutter 90+ model is 3½" in length and weighs 3/8 oz. Shown below is the Yellow Perch color; 18 colors from which to choose. Its ¾" coffin-shaped bill foreshadows what lies ahead . . . predators awaiting a supposed easy meal. The Cutter 90+ is aerodynamically designed to ensure long-distance casting. In the water column, it is a suspended jerkbait that begs a variety of actions, diving to depths of 4 to 6 feet. As the company's instructions suggest, "twitch, jerk, pause, rip, burn, and/or employ standard retrieves." You will drive fish into frenzy. Note two needle-sharp Fusion19 trebles for a solid hookup.

Cutter 90+


The Cutter 110+ model is 4 3/8" in length and weighs 9/16 oz. Shown below is the Chartreuse Shad color; 18 colors from which to choose. Similar in shape and bill as the Cutter 90+ model, it differs in that it rattles noisily and sports three treble hooks in lieu of two. Its coffin shape bill gives it a darting action, creating an enticing side flash with minimum rod movement. Engage it as you would the Cutter 90+ model; that is, "twitch, jerk, pause, rip, or burn" as it dives to depths of 4 to 6 feet. The trio of needle-sharp Fusion19 treble hooks ensure effortless hookups.

Cutter 110+


The Skinny Cutter 110+ is a sleek, thinner version of the Cutter 110+, also measuring 4 3/8" in length, but shedding 2/10th of an ounce; that is, weighing in at 7/16 oz. Negligible? Yes—yet noticeable different in the water column. As with the Cutter 110+ model, the Skinny style has three needle-sharp Fusion19 treble hooks ensure a solid hookup. Shown below is the Chartreuse Shad color; 18 colors from which to choose. Work it as you would the Cutter 90+ and the Cutter 110+ models.

Skinny Cutter 110+

Skinny Cutter 110+ Chameleon Pearl color (left) and Cutter 110+ Chartreuse Shad color (right) capture good-size snappers


What would take a good many words along with a fine understanding of physics and geometry is the engineering expertise that goes into crafting these refined favorites shown throughout this two-part report. At Berkley, the company kept good company with consummate crankbait design engineers coupled to a dream team of professional-anglers in order to create lures that result in your success on the waters virtually everywhere. To quote the company, "These hardbaits capture the essence and action of artfully handcrafted wooden baits with exactness and durability delivered in a synthetic bait. The balanced designs throw straight and far."

For continuous use in salt water—like any lures' hardware—the crankbaits' ultra- sharp treble hooks need only be upgraded when showing signs of exposure to the elements. You can either replace them with Berkley's new Fusion19 Treble 1x hooks, or simply affix your favorites with new split rings and a pair of split-ring pliers. After a full season of field-testing these hardbaits in the suds, I did not need to change any hardware. After every trip, whether fishing fresh or salt water, I thoroughly rinse all rods, reels, and tackle with fresh water. Good to go.

In the near future, I'll be covering several of Berkley's new Fusion19 swimbait hooks (et al), along with soft plastics. In the meantime, visit Berkley at for a full description of all their crankbaits and hooks. They are winners; not only in terms of producing sharp results, but in terms of pricing, too. You'll thank me later. Another nice touch that Berkley provides is that rather than have their hooks laying around helter-skelter in your tackle box, Berkley's sharp Fusion19 hooks come clamshell-packaged in resealable plastic containers for your protection and convenience. Neat? You bet.

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

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

October 01, 2016

Crankbait Transitions from Sweetwater to the Suds ~ A Colorful Array of Keen Killers ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

If you're angling for some of the best synthetic hardbaits and penetratingly honed treble hooks available in today's highly competitive fishing industry, allow me to lure you in and hook you up solidly. You won't be disappointed with the following offerings, for you will save money, time, and frustration. You will steadfastly attract and confidently fight fish. What kind of fish? Answer: virtually all kinds of fish referencing freshwater, brackish, and, yes, saltwater applications. Designed by David Fritts and his dream team for freshwater fishing—but not necessarily limited as such—the following selection of crankbaits is positively deadly in the suds. Therefore, do not shortchange yourself. Too, their devastatingly chemically-sharpened treble hooks may surprise you.

Here in Part 1, we'll take a good look at a few of Berkley's assortment of proven Fishing Evolved crankbait designs: Bad Shad, Digger, and the Warpig models. These designs are hard on fish but easy on the pocketbook—$6.95 each. When you team up professional design engineers with professional anglers in state-of-the-art testing facilities, the results are awesome as you will soon see. David Fritts, Justin Lucas, Josh Bertrand, Garry Klein, and Scott Suggs comprise the Berkley pro-design dream team referencing these Fishing Evolved crankbaits.

First in the lineup is the Bad Shad 5, shown below in the Black Gold color; 18 killer colors from which to choose, available in 2", ¼ oz. It is a dynamite lure, diving from 5 to 7 feet. This crankbait is lethal on walleyes, muskies, trout, crappies, smallmouth and largemouth bass, stripers, bluefish, and weakfish.

The design features a lifelike side-to-side roll and simulated tail wag that drive fish bonkers. Within an hour, Donna caught and released a few schoolies. Not to be upstaged, I headed our boat toward a neighboring bay, grabbed another rod set up with the slightly longer, heavier Bad Shad 7, which you will see momentarily, and went to town on a good many schoolie bass and cocktail blues.

Bad Shad 5

Bad Shad 5 ~ Black Gold color ~ gets belted by 15-inch cocktail blue

Note: Both the Bad Shad #5 and #7 (shown below) dive on retrieve, slowly ascend the water column when paused, and remain afloat at rest. Employing a variety of rod-action techniques, the fishing action for both Donna and me was nonstop.

The Bad Shad 7 is shown below in Irish Shad; 18 colors from which to choose, available in 2¾", 1/3 oz., diving from 6 to 9 feet.

Bad Shad 7

Bad Shad 7 ~ Irish Shad color ~ is clobbered by cocktail blue


Next are the Digger models. The lures come in three sizes and weights: Digger 3.5, 1¾", ¼ oz. ~ Digger 6.5, 2", ½ oz. ~ and the Digger 8.5, 2½", 7/16th oz. Shown below are the 6.5 Digger in Red Craw color and the 8.5 Digger in Brown Mustard; 18 colors from which to choose. The lures present a stocky profile with a downward angled bill. These crankbaits are lethal lures for both saltwater and freshwater applications. The action is awesome, a truly deep-digging descent on retrieve while displaying an aggressive wobble and seductive side flash—then a slow ascension when paused. The lures rattle to draw attention, and two needle-sharp Fusion19 treble hooks ensure triple, terrible trouble for predators.

Digger 6.5 ~ Red Craw color ~ fools small fluke

The Digger 6.5 dives and covers the water column from 5 to 8 feet. This bantam-sized fluke did not just strike the lure, it inhaled it. The Digger 6.5 drove steadily toward the floor when suddenly a summer flounder hit the Red Craw color crankbait in 7 feet of water, both fish and artificial rising to the occasion with a vengeance. Just short of performing radical surgery, I had all to do to remove the lure from its mouth and release the small fry, unharmed, to swim away and fight another day. Cocktail blues and schoolie bass, too, saw ‘red,' smacking the devilish Digger in a maelstrom of sheer madness. I am very impressed with these lures. The power you feel on the retrieve, coupled to the action you see in the suds, are absolutely awesome . . . and when a strike does occur—stand by! You'll positively dig this crankbait.

Digger 8.5

Digger 8.5 ~ Brown Mustard color ~ dupes this 19-inch keeper fluke

The Digger 8.5, diving from 7 to 9 feet, is designed to drive a bit deeper into the water column than its 6.5 cousin. Where my go-to Glow Squid plastic lure rigged with a strip of fresh/frozen squid and a feisty (live) mummichog (killiefish) failed to attract any attention, Berkley's Brown Mustard-colored 8.5 Digger flimflammed this respectable keeper. On my first cast, the fluke smacked the crankbait in 9 feet of water.


The following is Berkley's Warpig. The lures come in two sizes and weights: 2 3/8", ¼ oz. and 3", ½ oz. Shown below are the Cream Pie and the Vintage Craw colors, respectively; 18 colors each from which to choose. The Warpig is a fast-sinking, bluntnose, lipless, noisy rattling rascal that exhibits aggressive action. The heavier 3", ½ oz. lure allows you to cover a lot of water faster and deeper. The pair offers realistic appeal, acoustical allurement, and absconding action throughout the water column. Predator fish will be on the warpath for Berkley's Warpigs . . . until that final moment.

Warpig ¼ ounce Cream Pie color

Warpig ¼ ounce ~ Cream Pie color ~ garners all-you-want bluefish

Donna caught and released a score of cocktail-size blues with Berkley's Cream-Pie colored ¼ ounce Warpig; that is, until a BIG chopper came along and chomped through the line. I'll only have to go into my piggy bank to replace that lure, whereas I'd have to delve deep into my war chest for a hopefully similar replacement via another brand. Another way of putting it is that Berkley lures are to be viewed as inexpensive, not to be labeled cheap.

Warpig ½-ounce

Warpig ½-ounce ~ Vintage Craw color ~ has schoolie bass succumb

Now shy one Cream Pie color ¼-ounce Warpig in my arsenal, Berkley's Vintage Craw color ½-ounce Warpig has done double duty in annihilating schoolies, both cocktails-size and chopper-size blues, too.


Tomorrow, October 2nd, we will continue with five additional Berkley crankbait designs. Stay tuned.

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

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

June 01, 2014

Traveling Long Island for Trout

by Bob Banfelder

From Freshwater Rainbows & Browns to the Suds for Weakfish ~ a.k.a. Sea Trout

Laurel Lake for Rainbows & Browns:

Getting a late start this season, Donna and I grabbed our Mad River Canoe on April 3rd, heading for Laurel Lake to wet a line. People ask me, "Where is Laurel Lake, exactly?" It sounds a bit confusing when you try and explain it to some folks, for Laurel is a CDP; that is, a Census-Designated Place; a hamlet of Laurel, located mostly within the town of Southold, but with a tiny section situated in the town of Riverhead. To confound matters, Laurel Lake is considered to be within the boundary of Mattituck, as it lies within the Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District. Huh? As convoluted as these lines of demarcation are so deemed and mapped, a moment of lucidity shines through in the realization that, "Yes, you can get there from here." From Riverhead, take Route 25 heading east for approximately six miles to the town of Laurel. A DEC access sign to the town park will be on your left; drive to the back parking area.

It was good to be back out on the water after such a cold and snowy winter. As we portaged along the 200-yard path leading from the parking area to the shoreline, I couldn't help noticing deer sign—everywhere: rubs, scrapes, and excrement. For a moment, I was back in a hunting mood, Donna having to remind me that we were here for fishing, not pursuing whitetails. Laurel Lake Preserve and Park is a 480-acre parcel teeming with wildlife. Laurel Lake, itself, is a 30-acre gem.

Laurel Lake DEC Access & Information

Twice in April, the DEC first stocks the lake with 240 rainbow trout then later in the month, 260 brown trout, both species initially ranging between 8½–9½ inches. Come fall, these freshwater fishes of the Salmonidea family reach 14 inches on average. Lunkers lurk in this lake, too.

Not only will the angler find rainbows and browns ranging through this kettle hole (in this case formed by a retreating glacier eons ago), he or she will encounter both largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, brown bullheads (catfish), chain pickerel, pumpkinseed, and white and yellow perch. Now, if that's not a sweetwater smorgasbord found in our own neck of the woods and water, well, let me tell you that it just doesn't get any sweeter than this. If you're a freshwater fanatic, you're going to fall in love with Laurel Lake.

The lake has no inlet or outlet stream, which means that there is virtually no runoff, resulting in one of the cleanest, clearest small bodies of water on Long Island. It is 47 feet deep in its center. Knowing where, how, and when to fish this honey hole is the key to success. A small hand-carry craft such as a canoe or kayak (no motoring), will give you an edge over shoreline anglers for obvious reasons. This is not to say that Donna and I haven't caught keepers from the shoreline.

Spinner baits trailing night crawlers will work wonders for the majority of species mentioned. Of course, if you're a purist, a fly rod employing a streamer fly such as a Muddler Minnow or a deadly dun-colored Gimp will stay the course. I have taken more trout with the Gimp fly than Carter (no not Jimmy) has little liver pills. Since the mid-sixties, it is my go-to fly for all seasons. In my new book, THE FISHING SMART ANYWHERE HANDBOOK ~ FOR SALT WATER & FRESH WATER, I discuss discovering this fantastic freshwater fly, present a brief history, as well as offer a tying recipe for both sweet and saltwater, the latter of which is my own creation. Also, a book that should become your freshwater bible is Tom Schlichter's Long Island's Best Freshwater Fishing, covering streams, ponds, and lakes throughout the Island, and then some. If you are a freshwater fanatic, this book belongs on your shelf if not in the glove compartment of your vehicle.

Nissequogue River for Rainbows & Browns:

Heading west on April the 14th, Donna and I had signed up for the late morning 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. session on sections (beats) #4 and #5 of the Nissequogue River. That section of water, eight beats in all (#2–#9), is run by Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown. Fly-fishing only on that stretch of the Nissequogue River is available from April 1st to October 15th. A New York State freshwater fishing license and reservations are required. A four-hour session (7:00 to 11:00, or 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. is $20. Years ago, they had an evening session, too. It would not be unusual for me to sign up for all three sessions, bring lunch, and fish for brookies, rainbows, and browns the whole day through. The permit fee was only $5 back then. The cost, of course, went up as times certainly do change. What has not changed, however, is the beautiful, serene setting. Give this north shore wonder a shot. Although designated a river, the section of water covered here (beats #2–#9), may arguably be considered a stream; unarguably, stream-like. Hey, I didn't say a brook. Anyhow, if you're not into wading this relatively shallow flow in hip boots or waders, the area has pond platforms #10–#14 on Vail Pond. Donna and I have taken good-sized pan fish from those platforms. Stick with the Muddler Minnow for some serious fun on the pond.

The Gimp Does its Duty for Dinner

Selecting the aforementioned Gimp fly, then later the Muddler Minnow that mid-April day, Donna had a ball with a series of rainbows measuring 13 inches and 13½ inches. I stayed with my Gimp and nailed a few nice browns, also in the 13-inch category. A 19-inch rainbow appoints a wall in our home, taken on the Gimp from days gone by.

The Peconics (river and bays) for Weakfish:

Moving from the freshwater scene at Laurel Lake and the Nissequogue River to the briny side of the Peconics (namely, its river and bays), Donna and I launched our boat in mid-April. With the water surface temperatures above 50º Fahrenheit, it was prime time. Striped bass season had opened on the 15th; however, the big boys and girls were not in our area as of yet. Schoolie bass were the name of the game from the 105 Bridge area and eastward. Big bluefish were being taken out at Shinnecock. Schoolie-sized bass to eighteen inches gave us action through the third week of May. Then, suddenly, members of the Cynoscion regalis family, namely weakfish (a.k.a. sea trout, tide runners, gray trout, yellowmouths), entered the area in numbers, whereas the action had been rather spotty and sporadic in 2012–2013.

We went from targeting schoolies (all you wanted, truly) with our go-to lure for most species (Kastmasters with eyes that I epoxy upon the tin), to breaking out our arsenal of pink deceivers for the prettiest fish that swims in our waters—the venerable weakfish. Our go-to lure (a lead head teaser rig) for those prize-worthy swimmers was tied for me by Nick Posa, one of finest fishermen for virtually all species in the northeast. Nick is the proverbial "walking encyclopedia" of angling, be it fresh water or the suds. On top of that, he is one of the nicest people on the planet. What more can I say about Nick than to share with you the basics of a special rig he ties, which is an absolute killer for weakfish.

Secure a Spro Prime or Spro Prime-type ¾ ounce lead head jig with a 3/0 hook tied with pink bucktail atop the shank, white bucktail tied along the bottom; same basic color pattern as the lead head. Secure a Spro Prime or Spro Prime-type ¼ ounce lead head jig with a 1/0 hook tied with just darker pink bucktail for the smaller lead head; silver iris with black pupils for both pairs of eyes. Study the photograph. Note the modicum of flash material along its skirt.

Nick Posa's Deadly Lead-Head Tandem Rig for Weaks

As I haven't tied this deadly duo in tandem as yet, I'll simply give you the general specs. You'd begin the procedure with approximately 48 inches of 20-pound test monofilament line. Eighteen inches down from the top of a barrel swivel is a 2-inch dropper loop tied to the Spro Prime-type ¾ ounce lead head jig. Twenty-one inches down from the dropper loop, is the ¼ ounce lead head jig. You should wind up with a three-foot tandem rig. Good to go.

As of this writing, that is, right on through this last day of May, Donna and I are nailing these beauties. As my reports appear on the first of the month, in this case, June 1st, don't lose a second by waiting till the 2nd; get out there today and get in on this great action. Grab anything pink for openers. No, I don't mean pants and/or shirt, fellas; people will talk. Set your drag slightly lighter than you normally would because these fish have tissue paper-thin mouths that will easily tear a lip when setting the hook; hence, they're aptly named weakfish. Finesse that fish. Oh, and have that landing net handy. Also, when you unhook the fish, be careful of those sharp fang-like teeth at the top of its jaw. I've seen veteran anglers forget . . . Ouch!

See you out there.

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

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.

May 01, 2013

Along with the Sound of Music, These are a Few of My Favorite Things

by Bob Banfelder

For freshwater fishing, the Gimp is my favorite fly for trout. Donna and I have caught brooks, browns and rainbows as well as a variety of panfish such as bluegills and perch with this fantastic wet fly pattern. I duped this 19-inch rainbow taken from Suffolk County's Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale, Long Island.

Pictured across the top of the following photo are one half-dozen Gimps ranging in hook sizes #16, 14, 12, 10, 8 and 6. Right below the set of hooks is my original mantis shrimp imitation (left corner), which initially turned out to be a bit too heavy for a fly but worked well with a light- to medium-action spinning outfit. To its right is my Green Grabber for saltwater applications. It was inspired by Erwin D. Sias' creation of his original Gimp fly. Adjacent to the Green Grabber is my Big Bull's-Eye fly. As what started out as a bit of tomfoolery, since I affix eyes to virtually every lure imaginable, my big-eyed pattern proved to be a venerable winner, taking nearly everything that swims in our bays.

The next four bunker patterns (adults and peanuts), ranging between 3- to 9-inches, have netted Donna and I some truly nice stripers, blues and weakfish. Two of the four patterns are a variation of Lefty Kreh's world-renowned Deceiver fly. The 4-inch bunker fly [pictured immediately above my 8-inch Dissembler streamer/bunker fly] is fashioned after Enrico Puglisi's Peanut Butter Family of flies. The materials that the man manufactures as well as the flies he ties and markets are absolutely awesome, accounting for some of Donna's biggest fish—along with bragging rights.

In the lower left corner is my significantly lighter 8-inch mantis shrimp fly that casts and tracks well. I managed to double the length to 8 inches while shedding 25 grains off its original weight; that is, 111.5 grains down to 85.5 grains. Tell me that's not an interesting weight reduction program. It took a while to come up with the materials to make this fly doable. Donna has also taken some respectable stripers and blues with this lighter variation as depicted in my March 1st, 2013 blog. With the exception of the original weightier mantis, these eight flies pretty much cover the gamut of both our fresh and saltwater fly-fishing applications for which we've enjoyed continued success.

With two exceptions, articles pertaining to the aforementioned patterns and their recipes are noted on my website under Publications at the top of the home page: Scroll the articles listed for the recipe(s) you're interested in, note the date of the magazine or blog publication, then log on to Nor'east Saltwater, and search their magazine postings and/or my blog postings.
For example:

Nor'east Saltwater, January 2013. "Mantis Shrimp Recipe for 7-inch Fly (Squilla enpusa) New & Improved" 1,900 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, May 1, 2012. "Gimp Gone Green: Transition from Freshwater to Saltwater Fly Recipe" 740 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, April 7, 2009, Volume 20, Number 4. Fly-Tying Series: Part III of a three-part series – "Fly Tying for Beginners" [Includes Bob B's Baby (peanut) Bunker Fly ~ Bob B's Black & White Big Bull's-Eye Fly] 3,300 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, September 3, 2008, Volume 19, Number 20. "Tying sizable Flies with Sythetics: Materials, Tricks of the Trade, Tools & Tactics" Eight-inch Sand Eel recipe. 2,250 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, March 1, 2005, Volume 16, Number 3. "Mantis Shrimp Fly Recipe" Tying instructions for the heavier (111.5 grain) mantis; better suited for light- to medium-action spinning outfit. 1,867 words.

Here is the recipe for my New & Improved 8-inch Dissembler Bunker/Streamer Fly—deadly as in a coffin nail.

Materials for Bob B's Lethal 8-inch Dissembler Fly

Note: Because some materials may be more readily available than others, I'm presenting a range of materials from which to select.

Hook: O'Shaughnessy Style 3/0 or 4/0. Gamakatsu and Owner hooks are quite popular.
Thread: White, 3/0 Orvis Saltwater/Bass Thread, Danville's flat waxed nylon, or Gudebrod Kevlar.
Weight: Lead wire (optional): .020, .025, or .030. Any brand name will do just fine.
Underbelly: White bucktail.
Throat: Red Supreme Hair by Wapsi, or red Fluro Fibre by Raymond C. Rump & Son, or red marabou, or dyed-red bucktail is also suitable.
Body & Tail: Wavy or crinkly synthetic fiber strands of eight, ten and fourteen-inch lengths, such as Wapsi's Supreme Hair, Orvis' Marabou Hair, or Spirit River's Slinky Fibre, or Cotton Candy fibers by Mirror Image, Polyfibre, or Enrico Puglisi's fibers; i.e., EP-Fibers, EP-Fibers 3-D or EP-Ultimate Fibers (available only in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inches—not 14-inches. Therefore, substitute 14-inch lengths with one of the above mentioned fibers). Try to obtain an assortment of colors such as light and dark shades of white, yellow, blue, green, brown, and gray.

Note: Enrico Puglisi fibers are not wavy and crinkly but work extremely well with this fly, too.

Flash: Copper.
Back: Peacock herl.
Eyes: 10-millimeter doll eyes; hollow or solid.
Epoxy: Five-minute, two-part Z-Poxy resin/hardener is my first choice. Any other two-part plastic epoxy should work well.

Procedure for Bob B's 8-inch Dissembler Fly ~ New & Improved

1. Behind the eye of the hook, approximately 1/8 of an inch, take several turns and tie in a section of lead wire (optional—depending where in the water column you wish to be), wrapping the weight neatly to the bend. Follow with the thread, back-and-forth, covering the wire and ending at the bend of the hook.
2. Take an eight-inch length of approximately ten strands of white fiber, wrap the thread around the middle of the stack at the bend of the hook, fold up and back onto itself; secure tightly in place.
3. Repeat the procedure with a fourteen-inch length of approximately ten strands of yellow fibers, wrapping the stack in front of the last section, folding it up and back onto itself as before; secure firmly in place. Note that from the front of the wrapped lead wire to the tail, the fly is approximately eight inches long.
4. Repeat step 3 with a ten-inch length of about ten strands of dark blue fiber. Wrap and secure as before, working fractionally forward, alternating among the long and short lengths of approximately eight, fourteen, and ten-inch strands until you reach the halfway point of the wire weight, moving through shades of green such as olive (back to eight-inches), light gray (fourteen-inches), to brown (ten-inches), perhaps a misty green (eight-inches). I finished with light blue (fourteen-inches) fibers. Most magically, you will see the streamer take shape.

Note: Experiment. Be creative. Learn what big baitfish are cruising your waters and when. The important thing is not to dress your fly too heavily. You want to achieve a profile of the baitfish with light refracting and reflecting off and through the materials. You do not want to present a mop head nor a brush that could be used to paint a barn.

5. Atop the last stack of fibers, tie in six strands of copper flash, about six inches in length. Trim.
6. Repeat the last step using peacock herl.
7. Rotate the vise 180 degrees (nice if you have a rotary) and tie in fifteen to twenty strands of three-inch long white bucktail at the center of the wrapped lead, extending the deer hair rearward along the bottom of the shank.
8. Tie in a small amount of blood-red throat material for the gills—beneath but only fractionally beyond the bend.
9. Again, rotate the vise. Wrap the thread forward to form a gradually tapered cone shape, working toward the eye of the hook. Whip finish and trim.
10. Epoxy the back of both doll eyes then press together on each side of the hook shank at a point just rear of the tapered head. Wait until the epoxy sets up then fill in the gaps along the circumference of the eyes. Epoxy the cone-shaped nose, making the Dissembler virtually bulletproof. Now, hold the fly broadside up to the light. Can you practically see through it? You're in business.

The only issue remaining, since I'm into sizable flies, is that I need something just short of a valise in which to carry them. However, I'll continue to sing the same refrain: These are a few of my favorite things.

Hope to see you at the Port Jefferson Maritime Festival this weekend May 4th and 5th. I'll be giving a talk both days at 2 p.m. re writing articles for the great outdoors, and Donna will address getting published. I'll have copies of my new fishing book The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water available along with my award-winning thrillers.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

February 01, 2013

Extraordinary Ordinary Folks

by Bob Banfelder

If I were to flash the name and face of Frank Mundus, and not just to devotees confined to shark fishing circles, Frank's name and face would certainly be recognized. Case in point: On July 7, 2008, Donna and I were having a dinner party on the back deck at our riverfront home. Among those invited were members and their families of Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. I did not mention to the group that a world famous shark fisherman, Frank Mundus, might be attendance, for Frank had said he would try to come by after he finished up some business at Atlantis Marine World (since renamed Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center) in Riverhead. Shortly after everyone's glass was filled, a figure could be seen in the distance, steadily heading from the dock at Riverside Marina to our home. Several heads raised and stared in the man's direction.

"Jesus," one of our guests declared.

Not even close, I wanted to announce through a wry grin.

"He looks like . . . . Nah, it can't be!" another said.

"That's Frank Mundus!" said an old-timer with certainty.

"It certainly is!" exclaimed another.

I made the introductions all around, and Frank found himself a spot at a nearby table.

One of the fellow members, Nick Posa, knew quite a bit about Frank Mundus and his adventures through the years, especially relating to Carcharodon carcharias, the great white shark. Frank had been the template for Captain Quint in the movie Jaws. Frank loved the limelight, and the evening turned out to be a wonderful get-together.

Marvelous stories, jokes and laughter marked the occasion. Although Frank was the center of attention, he had to be on his toes with this group. It turned into a genial interplay of one-upmanship. Jokes turned from downright funny to absolutely hilarious. And it wasn't from the effect of any libations. Stories among all those present transited from stimulating to awe inspiring; the common denominator, the simple attraction?


It didn't matter if you threw flies at brook trout, albies, or chummed for serious sized sharks. The camaraderie among anglers is something most magical. Water is the medium; the mystery lies within.

When it comes to serious fishing, Nick Posa is one of the most knowledgeable folks I know. He's a member of Eastern Flyrodders, North Brookhaven Fishermen Club, and the Suffolk County Woodcarver's Guild. Nick is in his element and at the top of his game when discussing fish and fishing techniques. He is a man given to great detail, which I believe stemmed from his career in banking to his expertise both in wood carving and chip carving. Chip carving is an intricate style of sculpting, employing knives and chisels with which to cut away and remove tiny chips from a flat surface within a single piece of material, namely basswood, tupelo, mahogany and butternut—no, not the switch plate seen in the background—thereby creating unique ornamental designs as shown below, along with a couple of Nick's spinner baits.

Let's see how this carries over into his artistic ability as it relates to fly tying. But first I should mention that Nick is not a world famous figure like Frank Mundus. Nick is certainly recognized by his circle of close friends and acquaintances referencing those aforementioned clubs. However, he would not stand out in a crowd of anglers from around the country and be identified like Frank. Nevertheless, Nick's knowledge of fish, pan sized to pelagic species, is remarkable. Discuss manner and method with Nick, and he is at his personal best. Example:

When I was doing research for an article on Shimano's tackle systems during the early stages of development, specifically their Lucanus, Waxwing and Butterfly jigging systems, even before they became popular here in America, Nick was right up to speed. When he comes over for dinner occasionally, small talk soon takes a turn to terrific tales about fishing locally from his kayak, or fabulous stories after having returned from his friend's property upstate and the group with whom he fishes.

"So, Bob. What's going on around those docks by Atlantis?" he inquired one evening before dinner.

"Not much," I responded truthfully.

"No weakfish?"

"Nope," I added, shaking my head in the negative.

At which point Nick reached into a bag then handed me a 9-inch big-eyed spinner bait inclusive of a colorful trailer skirt that he had fashioned, tested and refined over a period of time, telling me precisely how to work the lure from my own kayak.

"Troll this at a knot to a knot-and-a-half along those dock pilings by the marina. They're there. They've got your name on them."

I wanted to politely tell Nick, "Been there, done that," but I didn't. I didn't because I had learned early on from this man that he spoke with great knowledge. That and the fact I hadn't given Nick's spinner bait its due.

Dinner had turned into a late night; however, I couldn't wait to give Nick's lure a try early the next morning. Not too many boats sat tied to those dock pilings as it was still pretty early in the season. Both dusk and dawn proved to be quite productive. Not only did I pick up several weakfish that entire week, I nailed several nice bass with Nick's lure. Many of us know to work in and around pilings, pitching or flipping all sorts of artificials. I would occasionally score. Trolling from my kayak with, admittedly, shorter spinner baits and leaders did not produce for me as consistently as Nick's lure and lengthy leader had and still does. The man was right. Those weakfish were surely there.

When Angelo Peluso's book came out in 2006, titled Saltwater Flies of the Northeast (photographs by Richard Siberry), I looked up three of Nick Posa's color presentations and basic recipes for tying: Gold Bead Albie, Lil Poppa, and Night and Day. Keep in mind that Nick is an artist. Keep in mind, too, that Nick is a detailed technician. There are certainly a lot of colorful presentments in Angelo's illustrious work; 369 of them in fact. Generally speaking, there are many patterns that catch fisherman. Angelo's array captures the work of 109 consummate fly tiers from 15 states. Nick Posa is one of them. Long Island is his home. Nick is an extraordinary ordinary folk. Pardon the oxymoron; I'm sure you get my drift.

Captain Frank Mundus was a colorful character—extraordinary in his own right. Frank reinvented himself to make a living for his family. He was loved by many, maligned unfairly at times by others. He was Donna's and my friend. Nick Posa is loved by everyone. In that sense alone, the man transcends the ordinary into the world of the extraordinary. He is most assuredly our friend, too.

I proudly wear a tooth taken from the jaw of a great white shark that Frank Mundus and his crew had bested. Too, both Donna and I proudly display our chip carvings crafted and bestowed to us by Nick Posa. For me, Frank's great white shark's tooth represents the world of water. Nick's chip-carving designs are symbolic of the woods. Woods and water make up most of my world, for I love to hunt and fish. When I'm not hunting or fishing, I'm doing what I'm doing right now: writing. Woods – Water – Writing. That's me.

Let's now take a look at Nick's black and white go-to fly illustration along with its recipe, in Nick's own words.

Hook: Eagle Claw #254 – #154 – 2/0 w/lg. eye

1. Wrap hook shank with mono thread.
2. At hook bend on top, tie in med. gray bucktail.
3. Tie in 6 strands of Glitter; two on each side; two on top.
4. On top of previous tie, at bend, tie in 3½ inch strand of dark green Ice chenille.
5. Wind chenille forward and tie off 3/16 inch behind hook eye.
5a) Trim chenille flat on top w/scissors so hackles can lay flat.
6. Using 3 black hackles, 3½ inches long, tie in behind the hook eye; one on each side; one flat on top.
7. Using red Kip Hair, make a small red beard behind hook eye on bottom.
8. Make head on fly w/red or black Mylar thread.

Can vary colors and size.
Can add red feathers, palmered at step #7.
Can use 6 hackles to add bulk to fly; two on each side; two on top.

I have copies of several black and white drawings and sketches Nick made of not only his own flies but of those he illustrated for other members of Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island; e.g., Dan Eng, Carlee Ogeka, and Richard (Doc) Steinberger. I treasure those illustrations as I do the chip carvings and tooth.

Below is a photograph of a tooth taken from that powerful pelagic; a 3,427 pound great white shark caught on rod and reel by Donnie Braddock aboard Frank Mundus' famed Cricket II, captained by Frank. When Frank passed away, I purchased the tooth from his wife Jenny, then had it crafted via a tapered shield with rivet and ribbed-tapered bale by Robert's Jewelers in Southold. Wonderful job! Wonderful objet d´art for display or to where as a necklace.

I have written several articles on Frank Mundus, Jeanette Mundus, the Cricket II and its new owner, Jon Dodd of Rhode Island. It is of interest to note that Jon is looking to donate or sell this most celebrated sport fishing vessel. I wonder where this boat will resurface. Perhaps Montauk. For Donna and me, Frank Mundus will always be in our minds and hearts as will all of our Extraordinary, Ordinary fishing friends and acquaintances such as Nick Posa.

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