Free Surf Fishing Classes!

With cooler weather around the corner, Destin's Bass Pro Shops will again be offering free Surf Fishing Classes at beautiful Henderson Beach State Park.  We've had a lot of success with these classes offered in the spring and fall over the past few years and have received many positive comments.  We provide everything one needs except the saltwater license, drinks, and sunscreen.  Even admission to Henderson Beach State Park is free.

Bass Pro Shops provides all the tackle and bait and experienced staff instructors.  Classes are limited to 10 people and pre-registration is required.  You may stop by the store or call our Customer Service Department at (850) 269-6200 to make reservations.  Classes will be held on Saturday, October 4th and Saturday, October 11th from 8 am til noon.  If we get more interest and demand, we will schedule additional Saturday classes.

So, if you've never tried surf fishing or are an old hand at it, come join us for a beautiful morning fishing at Henderson Beach State Park across from the Destin WalMart.

Gary Feduccia

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Saltwater Frenzy!!

Are you heading out? We are experiencing some of the best saltwater fishing in recent years and you better get it while its hot!!!!! We can help you get out on your very own Mako Skiff and take part in the action……. No ¾ day boats with 60 strangers fighting for the rail! Just you and whomever you want on your boat, fishing your style and your spots for not a lot of your money!!!!! With 10% down and less than $180 a month you could own your very own Mako Pro 17 Skiff with a Mercury 60HP 4 Stroke and trailer! This is a great inshore and bay boat and with the BT, YF and YT’s closer than they have been in 10 years you can fill this boat up with all the Ahi you want! Come by our Tracker Boats Dealership inside the Rancho Cucamonga Bass Pro Shops and speak to one of our Sales Specialist to see what we can do for you!!!!

http://video.trackermarinegroup.com/videos/mako//2013makoskiffsoverview.mp4

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Saltwater Fishermen Want Pink Fishing Line

Seaguar Pink Line

 

Something new and interesting is coming to a fishing line display near you soon. Seaguar is launching “PINK LABEL” Fluorocarbon leader for the saltwater angler’s usage. Underwater tests with pink fluorocarbon have revealed that the pink line lacks the illuminates of other line. The pink line also so does not show fluorocarbons milky color after becoming rubbed on other line, accessories or apparatus.

To meet the growing consumer demand for pink fluorocarbon and to assist in the battle against breast cancer, Seaguar has introduced Pink Label fluorocarbon leader material. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Pink Label are being donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Pink Label is 100% fluorocarbon leader material is made from exclusive Seaguar resins in a proprietary process. It provides all the benefits of fluorocarbon versus monofilament including superior tensile strength, better abrasion resistance and minimal stretch. Pink Label is also soft and supple yet provides 30% better knot strength than other fluorocarbon lines. Above the surface, the subtle pink color enhances line visibility and below the surface, pink is the first color that disappears in the water column to maximize strikes.

Pink Label will be available on 25-yard spools from 15 to 80 pound test, and in 25-yard coils from 100 to 200 pound test. The 25-yard spools feature Seaguar’s exclusive Level Wind Technology, which spools the line by laying it down side by side, never crosses itself. The result is a spool as smooth as a spool of thread, without any line overstress or twist.

Pricing was not available prior to the completion of this article.

Seaguar

Seaguar is the inventor and world leader in fluorocarbon fishing line. Visit their web site at: https://www.seaguar.com/ and follow them on Facebook for giveaways and tips to help you catch more fish.

About the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. ®

Recognized as one of the leading breast cancer organizations in the world, the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s (NBCF) mission is to save lives through early detection and to provide mammograms for those in need. A recipient of Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for nine years, NBCF provides women Help for Today…Hope for Tomorrow® through its National Mammography Program, Beyond The Shock®, Early Detection Plan, MyNBCF online support community, and breast cancer research programs. For more information, please visit www.nbcf.org.

 

About the author:

Tom Branch, Jr. is a Prostaffer for Bass Pro Shops in Atlanta, Ga, a freelance outdoor writer and a retired Lt./PMDC/Firefighter with Gwinnett County Fire. He is currently a contracted employee with NAVICO/Lowrance working as the College Fishing Recruiter. He has been working in the Outdoor Industry for over 20 years. He has done everything from successfully managing and developing a pro fishing team, developing new products, designing packaging, participated in different radio & television shows. He has done many product demonstrations all around the country for different companies. He and his beautiful wife, Kim live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab Jake.

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"The Dance" -- Fly Fishing the Gulf

Fly Fishing --- a well orchestrated dance between the fish and the fisherman.   Using the rod as the conductor’s baton, the fisherman rhythmically entices the fish.  Fly Fishing is more an art than sport.  You are hunting and luring the fish.  You are enticing the fish to eat.  Presentation is everything.  It takes patience and study, waiting for the perfect moment.   Yes, all this is true in sport fishing yet; the presentation in fly fishing takes harmony of balance, rhythm, and motion.

When we think of fly fishing, the first thing that comes to mind is Brad Pitt’s character in “A River Runs Through It.”  Standing in swift running freshwater streams, we watched the line dance through the air as he gracefully lured in the trout.

So… when we think about fly fishing, we see a cool mountain stream, surrounded by towering trees with trout jumping after bugs…Or maybe… let’s see…. How about South Padre Island.   REALLY?  You fly fish in saltwater?  Is that even possible?  Answer:  Yes.  It is not only possible it takes fishing for the Gulf’s inshore fish to another level.

South Padre Island has several professional fishing shops that carry fly fishing rigs and plenty of expertise.  Roy Lopez at Bass Pro Shops is one of these avid fly fishermen.  He has found a way to marry his love of fly fishing with his love of saltwater fishing.   I came into the White River Fly Shop specifically looking to get my husband started in a sport that he has wanted to do for years.  Here’s what I learned.

What are you fishing for off the shores of South Padre?

Tarpon have a natural migrating pattern from Florida and the Yucatan Peninsula.  Their arrival at South Padre is still a mystery.  They seem to follow the Gulf Coast.   The tide dictates feeding patterns and their location.   According to the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, the migrations take the tarpon up the eastern coast of the U.S. to at least the Chesapeake Bay, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, and southward to the Caribbean Sea.

 

Tarpon are fished for sport.  Roy says, “I wait all year for the tarpon to come back around in the annual migration.  I put the time in to find out their patterns and eating habits.  I have respect for the fish.  They travel from Florida and the Yucatan to get to Padre. “

 

But there is more than Tarpon off of South Padre’s shores.  Fishing Kingfish, Red Fish, Speckled Trout, Jack Crevalle, Spanish Mackerel and Bonita can all be found on the surf or jetties during ideal summer weather conditions. They can be found off the Gulf Coast year round.  Typically flashy, obnoxious flies in loud colors with a wire tippit can be used to entice these toothy fish to bite

.  

South Padre offers wading from the East Side sand flats to the West Side silt and estuaries.   Fishing from the rocks or in the water, we use different tools for different fish.  Consider the rig.

Roy generally ties his own flies, but has a few that he might use if needed.  The picture shows four of the possibilities.  A) Tarpon Toad –  Premier Tarpon Fly.   B)  Red Fish Toad – great fly for south Texas red fish and trout.  C)  Merkin Crab – another red fish fly typically used when red fish aren’t feeding, generally the fall months.  D)  Sea Ducer – fly that you would use in shallow water from 5 to 15 inches of water.  It has a real soft lay down. 

Rods:

9’ 8-weight rod typically with a stiff backbone to punch heavy flies through the wind (we have horrible prevailing south winds that don’t let up) for red fish, trout, flounder and any other species you’d find inshore. http://www.basspro.com/World-Wide-Sportsman-Gold-Cup-Fly-Rods/product/13082906212339/

9’ 10-weight rod with heavy backbone to punch flies for bigger fish from the beach or jetties – kings, Jacks, Spanish mackerel.

Inshore reel doesn’t necessarily have to be top dollar.  It needs a sealed drag system and is tolerable to the salt.  Roy suggests:  Lamson Konic/Guru and any of the Sage line-ups from the 1800 series to the 2200 series.  They retail anywhere from $150 to $185. http://www.basspro.com/Lamson-Konic-II-Fly-Reels/product/1209270507043/

http://www.basspro.com/Sage-2200-Series-Fly-Reel/product/1309110626206/

 

10-weight series – you are dealing with bigger fish.  You need a reel with stouter drag.  The Lamson offers the Konic/Guru 4 and Sage 2210 ranging anywhere from $150 to $250 for catching these bigger fish.

Your line in the inshore scene will typically consist of a weight forward floating line that can be matched to a rod.  The line is dictated by the rod or the casting preference of the fisherman.   Bass Pro Shops can typically fit the fisherman with an ideal rig to fit his/her preferences.  This is true for the 8-weight or the 10-weight.

Recently, Roy hooked a tarpon of about 5 feet/100+ pounds and watched it swim away after breaking the line.  With a smile, he remembered the “dance” and walked away satisfied.   Ok… maybe a little disappointed.

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Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 2

Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 2

by Captain Jim Barr

of www.skinnywaterchartersri.com

Go Barefoot in the Boat- If the weather/water is warm, going barefoot in the boat helps the angler to avoid stepping on their fly line. Footwear of any kind provides enough insulation to prevent you from being able to feel that you are stepping on your line. Many a cast has been ruined and a fish lost by a pinched line on deck.  Bare feet can also present a slipping hazard on a wet deck, so you be the judge. Alternatively use a stripping basket to hold your fly line. Also, remember to stretch your fly line, preferably before you board the boat, and if that's not possible or you forget, strip the fly line off the reel into the wake of the boat as you relocate. Water pressure applied to the fly line will stretch the line and remove any twists and coils. If you do not cast in a relatively straight plane, but have a circular or "oval" rod rotation, this will add twists to your line causing it to kink.

Fluorocarbon or Monofilament Leaders- I have a couple of simple rules on this subject.

1. First, I don't spend stupid money on monofilament and fluorocarbon tippet material. For fluorocarbon I buy "Vanish" manufactured by Berkley. For monofilament I buy "Berkley Trilene Big Game" in Clear.I buy spools of this quality line in different tests. For Fluorocarbon, typically 17 and 20 lb and for Big Game, typically spools in 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 lb. test. I tie my own tapered leaders thus the reason for buying multiple spools of different test. Ultraviolet rays combined with the effects of saltwater degrade these lines, so annually I throw out the leftover spools and buy fresh material.

2. When it comes to what lines to use. My simple rule is if I am using a floating fly line with a floating fly pattern because I want the fly to be on the surface or just below the surface, my leader and tippet system is made entirely of monofilament (nylon) line. On the other hand, if I am fishing deeper waters, particularly around cover such as heavy seaweed, ledge and boulders, the first four feet of my leader is 40lb monofilament, but the balance of the leader system is Fluorocarbon material. Fluorocarbon is nearly invisible under water and it is made of a heavier density copolymer... so it sinks. It's valued for its refractive index which is similar to that of water, making it less visible to fish. Mono floats/Fluro sinks- easy to remember.

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Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 1

Tips to Make You a Better Fly Angler Part 1

by Captain Jim Barr

of www.skinnywaterchartersri.com

Hook Set- Many fly anglers new to the salt environment utilize the same fish striking (hook set) they do when striking a trout taking a dry fly. This is an overhead, high rod tip motion with the butt of the rod somewhere between the angler's waist and shoulder. If you use this technique when striking a saltwater fish (Stripers, Bluefish, Bonito and False Albacore to name a few), you're going to miss a lot of fish. The proper technique in saltwater is to keep your rod tip low to the water during your retrieve, and even putting the tip under the water's surface is perfectly acceptable. The retrieve has the fly line loosely pinched between the forefinger or middle finger (or both) of the rod-hand and the fly rod grip as the angler strips in line with the line-hand in a fashion that best imitates the swimming motion of the bait you are imitating. As the line is stripped over the fore-fingers of the rod hand the angler applies more pressure to the pinch point so that if the fish strikes the fly as the angler drops the line to pick it up again for the next strip- the line will stay tight helping to hook the fish. As the angler repeatedly strips line imitating the swimming motion of the bait, when the fish strikes the fly, the angler is in a position to "strip-strike" the fish keeping the rod tip low. The strip-strike has the angler pulling the line with force with the line-hand as he releases pressure at what was the pinch point on the rod-hand. The fly line will go tight immediately, and the rod will begin bouncing under the pressure and head-shaking action of the fish. Typically the hook is set in the fish's jaw, however it's perfectly acceptable to strip-strike the fish again with a good degree of force to "seat" the hook. The angler then raises the rod to play the fish.

 

Rod Positioning While Playing a Fish- After the angler has set the hook and is now playing the fish, care must be taken to land the fish. I see many anglers who engage in hand-to-hand combat, "fighting" the fish as if it's a 200 lb beast. It's unnecessary, and I typically coach new anglers engaged in this life and death struggle, to Relax. Yes, keep pressure on the fish, don't allow a slack line and when the fish wants to run, let it. If the fly reel drag is set properly, it will do the work of applying pressure and slowing the fish's run. Typically there is no need (except for the macho photo shot) to rear-back and bend the fly rod in half as you play the fish. The drag and the spring action of the fly rod will do the lion's share of the work. When the fish slows and you can turn it, do so, but keep a tight line and if the fish makes a run back to the boat as Bonito and Albies typically do, reel like a mad person to maintain a tight line/contact with the fish. If the fish pulls to the right, apply pressure to the left, and vice-versa- this will tire the fish more quickly. It's also OK to the turn the fish from side to side to tire it. Remember, for toothy fish, each time you reverse direction the leader is being pulled across the fish's teeth. In the case of Bluefish particularly, a steel leader should prevent being cut off.

Never put your line hand on the rod blank above the fly rod grip to apply additional leverage. A fly rod is meant to flex deep into the handle and putting pressure on the fish with your hand positioned on the blank above the grip may very well cause the rod to break. Additionally, try not to bring the butt of the rod above your waist while fighting a heavy fish. A high rod position exerts significant pressure (bend) on the tip section of the fly rod which may result in breakage.

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPageC?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&appID=94&storeID=58&tab=3

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June Outdoor Activity of the Month: Fishing

June Outdoor Activity of the Month: Fishing

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Fishing in a Texas State Park or local Neighborhood Fishin’ lake stocked with fish is fun, affordable and a great way for family and friends to be together in nature. Plus, there’s a good chance your fish will be keepers and end up as a delicious fresh-caught meal for all.

 

Boy with dad and catfish.

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Where to Fish

Texas State Parks: Over 70 parks offer fresh or saltwater fishing from shore, pier or boat. Everyone fishes for free (no licenses are required). Many parks offer tackle-loaner programs and special fishing classes and events.

Local Neighborhood Fishin' Sites: Lake Grapevine, Lake Lewisville, Lake Fork, Lake Ray Hubbard, Joe Pool Lake, Trinity River, Lake Ray Roberts, Possum Kingdom Lake, Richland-Chambers Lake, Lake Tawonkani, Lake Palestine, Cedar Creek Lake, Lake Granbury, Brazos River, Lake Whitney, Colorado River just to name a few that are great fishing spots in this area. 

Kids under 17 fish for free and no fishing license is required. A fishing license is required for adults.

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Beginner Fishing Programs

Want to go fishing or take your kids fishing, but don't know where to start? Bass Pro in Grapevine offers a kids fishing event every Saturday from 11am to 1pm. You can also find fishing tackle to meet all your needs. Please our website: http://www.basspro.com/

 

Boy fishing with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

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How to Support Healthy Fish Populations

Everyone plays an important role in maintaining healthy quantities of fish and fish habitats. When you purchase a fishing license, you are supporting fishery management, hatcheries, conservation and education. By learning to identify fish and respecting fishing regulations, you can help protect fish populations, ensuring that they will continue to be available now and in the future for all who want to go fishing. =============

 

What to Bring

 

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What Makes a Fly?

This is a question as old as fly rods and folks sitting around the campfire with adult beverages, but you'd think that after all these years there would be some kind of consensus about what makes a fly, a fly.  Well sorry…nothing could be further from the truth.

I had a gentleman recently explain to me that he was going to throw small, pre-manufactured soft baits on his fly rod for snook in a few weeks, to which the anglers in attendance exclaimed “That’s not fly fishing!”  We all agreed that he had crossed some kind of line that bordered on sacrilegious, or at the very least, in very bad taste when it comes to angling in the spirit of the sport.  Lee Wulff would be spitting mad were he alive today.  Fly fishing isn’t always about catching the most fish possible, but rather about “How” you’re catching fish.  So what makes a fly, a fly?  Here’s the best I can come up with.

A fly might be defined as:

  • A lightweight fishing lure originally designed to be thrown in the traditional manner with a single or double handed fly rod.
  • Constructed by hand by attaching natural or synthetic materials to a single or multiple hooks using thread.
  • Designed to appeal to a fish’s senses of sight, hearing, or touch.
  • Instigates a purposeful strike out of hunger, aggression, or fear.
  • Hooks the fish in the mouth.

I realize that this won’t settle the longtime argument among flyfishermen as to whether or not a wet fly or nymph is actually “a fly,” but it fits the definition as best I can figure.  And many of our European customers look at what we throw for saltwater and can’t help but exclaim, “That’s not a proper fly!” but by definition, it is.  Our flies are designed to meet the above criteria and are specially suited to our fishing needs whether it’s the overall size, colors, weighting, or what it’s meant to imitate.

Now throwing a mass produced soft bait on your fly rod and calling it fly fishing….That aint Cricket!

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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The Party Boat Option

Party Boat RailI know there are plenty of people out there that really enjoy fishing but for one reason or another don’t have access to a boat and are thus limited to fishing from shore and affixed structures like bridges and piers.  Well there are other options that can put some fish in the freezer if you want it or just provide a change of pace and a good time with friends or family.

The party boat fleets set sail from many of the east and west coast ports daily offering an inexpensive way to enjoy the saltwater fishing and possibly put a wonderful meal on the dinner table.  They provide the tackle (similar to the Penn Senetor/Slammer Rod Combo), licenses, bait, some food and drink (boat specific), and the assistance you need to land the big ones.  The deck hands constantly roam the boat lending a hand as needed when it comes to rigging, removing from the hooks and identifying the fish as they come across the rail, and in many cases, fish cleaning services upon reaching shore.  These guys bust their butts trying to make sure that everyone has a successful and safe trip.  The captains know the hottest fishing locations of the region so rest assured that fish will be landed, but keep in mind that it’s still fishing and many factors can determine the difference between success and failure.  Fishing is called fishing, not catching.Brittany and Black Sea Bass

My youngest daughter spent part of her tax refund to get us aboard a local party boat and we I just spent a wonderful Sunday fishing out of Port Canaveral.  She landed the only two fish between us, proving that I should pretty much stick to shallow water and fly rods.  It was a splendid day together talking, sunning, laughing, and playing with the bait, but conditions (full boat and screaming undersea currents) made the fishing tough for us and everyone aboard.  We enjoyed ourselves none the less  and rekindled our love of fishing together.

Give the party boats a try and you may just discover a simple, cost effective way to get some fresh fish; and enjoy the company of loved ones and fellow fishermen.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Can Freshwater Gear Catch Fish in Saltwater?

I am asked all the time can you use fresh water baits in saltwater? The answer is yes; however, only for some. In the world of inshore fishing some of the baits that are typically used for Largemouth Bass can indeed be used for Snook and Redfish.

Let’s start off with the most common and my favorite; swim baits. Most swim baits are meant to resemble certain bait fish and in most instances bait fish in freshwater will have similar characteristics to the ones found around the shorelines of Florida.

Another favorite of mine is the classic jerk bait. These hard baits have been around for years and most of them haven't even changed the design. Being as effective today as they were back then. They are definitely a good choice to use in both freshwater and saltwater.  My only advice with this is that you change out the hooks. Tarpon and bigger Snook have been known to straighten out hooks.

Another good bait to use is flukes. These baits are meant to resemble sick or injured fish in the water; basically an easy meal. When you rig these bait, weed less you can throw them into any thick cover without having to worry about getting hung up.

Almost all baits are meant to be appealing to several species of fish so if you ever have the opportunity to try a freshwater bait in saltwater go right ahead. You never know, your success could be hook set away.

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Spring Fly Fishing in New England

           

At last winter is behind us and another open water season is at hand! Here in Southeastern Massachusetts the stocking trucks started rolling the week of March 24th. You can get a report of stocking progress on the Mass wildlife website. Stocking reports are updated every Friday. Early season Stillwater trout fishing activity is mainly close to shore around rocky shoals, sand and gravel bottom coves, inlets and outlets and edges of weed beds bordering deeper water. If you don’t see rising fish, keep casting and moving and moving until you locate fish. Even though they may not be rising, cruising fish are often looking for something to eat. Some good prospecting flies include woolly worms and woolly buggers as well as traditional streamer flies such as the Grey Ghost, Black Ghost, Mickey Finn and Black-Nosed Dace. After locating some fish, if the action slows down, switching over to nymphs and wet flies often continues the bite until the fish quit hitting or move on. Old standbys like the Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, Prince and Midge larva imitations all take fish.              

            In rivers and streams early season fish are tight to cover to avoid fighting the main current flow. Targeting rocks, logs and other current breaks as well as back eddies and slower pools and runs will help you locate fish. Stream fishing is usually slow until the water warms a bit and the flow is more manageable. As streams warm toward the end of April and early May, streamers, nymphs, wet flies and dries all take fish. The same nymphs, streamers, and wet flies which work in ponds work in streams also. In addition, Hendrickson and Quill Gordon dry flies imitate early season mayflies. An excellent reference for hatches and the flies that imitate them is A Hatch Guide for New England Streams by Thomas Ames Jr. Small Black Gnats, Mosquitoes, and Griffith’s Gnats work well when stream or Stillwater trout are rising to midges.

            Right after ice-out dark bottomed ponds and some isolated coves in lakes begin to warm and become attractive to largemouth bass, pickerel, crappies, perch and bluegills. The best areas are coves, set-backs, swampy areas- especially those with stumps, blow downs or other woody cover, and slow moving inlets and outlets. Largemouth bass congregate in these up until spawning time when they spread out more for the spawning ritual. An accurately placed Woolly Bugger, Bunny fly, Deceiver, hackle fly like the Seducer as well as crawfish imitations will all take these shallow water bass. A light landing streamer fly won’t spook as many fish as hardware in the shallows. Bass of all sizes will eventually use these shallow areas, but some are real bruisers and a big bass tearing up the shallows can be exciting.

            Spring weather can be quick changing, with vernal cold fronts often frequent and severe. Stretches of warm weather gets the food chain started and a couple of warm days before a front comes through can really jump start the fishing. As the front comes in and the storm begins the fishing can be great. After a few hours of cold rain and wind things begin to shut down, and a northwest wind and clearing skies after the storm signals slow fishing until things warm up a bit. A day or two of warm sunshine will get things back on track, though.

            Toward the end of April and early May Stripers will return and begin to work their way North. Estuaries that are beginning to warm and support Herring runs will eventually attract bigger Stripers intent on taking advantage of all the groceries. Spring and early summer is a great time for wading and inshore saltwater fishing. Deceivers, Clousers, Bucktails and Surf Candies will get you into Spring Stripers. Check your backing and fly lines, attach a new leader and get there!

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Everglades National Park

Few places truly embody what nonresidents envision when you mention Florida than the Everglades and The Everglades National Park, and I’ve finally been able to spend some time camping, hiking, and kayaking through the seemingly endless grasslands, the cypress forests, mangrove swamps, and marine grass flats of “The River of Grass.”

Head south through the city of Homestead, Florida that was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Andrew back in 1992, turn onto Highway 9336, and it won’t take long before you’re totally lost in a vast region of nothingness and limited cell signals.  There isn’t a better place to get away from everything and experience natural Florida the way it was when inhabited by only the indigenous tribes.  Just imagine what it was like for the original settlers, the Florida “Crackers,” when they carved their path across the state.  There isn’t much to maintain your ties to civilization after stepping off the concrete ribbon leading from the entrance gate to the Flamingo campgrounds.

The wildlife variety is absolutely amazing and for the bird watchers among us, there can’t be a better location to view a more varied species list.  Wood Stork, Osprey, Black Vulture, Turkey Buzzard, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Ibis, Limpkin, Swallowtail Kite, all manner of hawks, and water birds abound in the skies, the swamps, and grass fields.  Florida Panther, American Alligator, Crocodile, Whitetail Deer, Raccoon, Otter, Eastern Indigo Snake, and many others hide in plain sight, just off the trail’s edge, so watch your step.  The fishing can be quite spectacular in both the fresh and saltwater sections of the park so be sure to take a couple rods rigged for everything from bass and bluegill to redfish and tarpon.  The plant life including wild orchids is spectacular but much of it takes an adventurous heart to experience since you can’t see everything from a parking lot.

Everglades

So take a trip south and experience what this state used to be like back in the days before computers, cell towers, high-rise hotels, and strip malls.  Commune with nature for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet of Everglades National Park.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Q&A With Fly Expert Joe Mahler

I am interested in tying my own leaders for freshwater and light saltwater fly fishing. Is there an easy formula to follow for a range of line weights?

Alex B. Fort Myers, FL

 

There is. For most all of my fly fishing, I use the same simple formula. I call it the “50-25-25 leader. The name refers to the percentage of leader material with respect to diameter or strength. This leader is comprised of three parts- the Butt, the midsection and the tippet. The butt is the heaviest and will be 50% of the leader. For an eight foot leader, this section would be eight feet long.  The midsection will be 25% of the overall length, or two feet for our eight foot leader. Lastly, there is the tippet, the remaining 25%.

To determine how heavy to make the butt section, a good rule of thumb is to multiply the line weight times five. An example would be if you are using a weight forward #8, your butt material will be 40 pound test. If you ware using a six weight line, your butt material will be thirty pound test. From that point you can step the diameters down, but no more than a difference of ten pound test per connection. Here is an example for an eight foot, eight weight, twenty pound tippet leader:    4 ‘ 40lb.+ 2’ 30 lb. + 2’ 20lb.

If you would like to drop down to a smaller diameter line, you may simply add more sections to this basic leader formula.

 

 

About Joe Mahler

Joe Mahler is an author, illustrator and fly casting / fly tying instructor living in Fort Myers, Florida. Joe has spent his life fly fishing for anything with a “tug” and teaching others to do the same. His articles and illustrations appear regularly in Fly Fisherman Magazine and other national publications. Mahler’s “StrawBoss” fly pattern, for both fresh and salt water, is currently featured in the Orvis line-up in three color variations and has been featured in several magazine articles and most recently in Drew Chicone’s book “Feather Brain”. Joe is also the author and illustrator of “Essential Knots & Rigs for Trout” and “Essential Knots & Rigs for Salt Water” (Stackpole Books). You have seen Joe casting away in national television commercials for Bass Pro Shops, Tracker and Mako Boats.

Joe is currently a SAGE ambassador and member of the Dyna-King Professional Tying Team. When not fishing the crystal waters of Southwest Florida, he can be found teaching fly casting and tying to enthusiasts of all levels. Joe’s easy-going approach has made him a popular guest speaker at fishing clubs and sports shows. To learn more, visit www.joemahler.com

 

 

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An Office with a Different View

Bass Pro Shops Altoona AquaristWe welcome Chris Schuehle as our new aquarist at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!  Chris is a 2012 Drake University Business graduate, which may sound like an interesting background for taking care of a giant aquarium in a big outdoor store.

However, Chris has been around aquariums since he was young. He started with freshwater and went into saltwater aquariums and still has a large reef tank at his parents in Minnesota. But his experience now is to learn the industrial side of things, from the giant pump room to the 33,000 aquarium in the main store and the 1,000 gallon aquarium in Uncle Buck's FishBowl and Grill.

Chris also has scuba experience, which is integral, of course, to maintaining the large aquarium. His scuba experience started after his freshman year in college, when he and friends worked as divers in Minnesota, diving to the bottom of  lakes to remove weeds. He has also been to the Keys diving several times.

He says the most interesting thing about his new position is the size of everything and learning so much more from the experts from other stores who have been training him.

"It's pretty amazing to think about all the goes into making it possible for one little kid to have so much fun running up to see the fish and then running off again!"

That's what it's all about at Bass Pro Shops.

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The Most Productive Fly Ever?

A Box of ClousersIf you were stranded on an island surrounded by your choice of fresh or salt water, what one fly would you choose to have along with your favorite rod?  This is a question we often ask ourselves in the shop while surrounded by hundreds of flies that are meant to catch fish just about as well as they catch fishermen’s attention.  Each and every one was designed to produce, but many of them are so specific that put in the wrong conditions, they would be just about worthless except in catching a blind fish with no sense of what his natural prey should be.  What makes a good fly?  What makes a fly universally fishable?

Fishermen have asked the same questions since the first fly was attached to the end of a leader and the first fish was landed.  But even today we still haven’t decided what the end-all, be-all best fly to have on hand in most situations might be.  I know two would top my list after 17 years of throwing, and I’m sure there are more than a few folks that would agree with my choices.

The Clouser Minnow in all its iterations is probably the most productive fly overall ever created and we have Bob Clouser to thank for his ingenuity.  He developed the fly to fish for smallmouth bass in Pennsylvania without realizing that it would be a productive pattern on just about anything that swims in fresh or salt.  Thanks to Lefty Kreh, the Clouser Minnow became a legend overnight, and proved itself on the water for years to come.  I’ve landed more varied species on Clouser variants than any other fly in my box because I have faith, and it works.  Even though it doesn’t really imitate anything specific, it approximates just about everything when tied with the right materials and colors.

The Wooly Bugger is another fly that has gained a loyal freshwater following but did you know that it’s productive in saltwater as well, and there are plenty of flies loosely based on it?  The Crystal Schminnow we know and love bears a striking resemblance to a Crystal Bugger outfitted with mono eyes.  Regardless of what it looks like, it sure catches fish of varied types, especially snook along the beach.  Even a wooly bugger tied in the traditional manner will catch just about anything that swims if you use the appropriate hooks.

So to borrow a phrase spoken by Sean Connery in one of my favorite movies, “There can be only one!” Which would you choose if stranded on an island?  I know my box will contain a Clouser Minnow, or a Wooly Bugger because I know I'll be catching fish.  What color should it be?  That's a question for another day.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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A Simple Guide to Cold Water Fishing Tactics

     No doubt midwinter is the most challenging time to consistently catch fish . Often the coldest water temperatures are accompanied by dingy water and even cloudy days which further impinge on the fishes’ desire and ability to feed.  Ask any ‘old school’ fisherman and the answer will be “low and slow is the way to go.”

     Bottom bumping with Carolina rigged soft plastic ‘wavy tail’ worms (like Culprit, Zoom and Bass Pro) in freshwater or soft plastic ‘minnow tail’ bodies (by Fin-S, Zoom, Saltwater Assassin, and Offshore Angler) on a ¼ ounce jig head in salt and brackish water rivers and creeks is the normal pattern for cold water fishing in this area.  While that ‘low & slow’ adage is true much of the time in winter, there are days or even periods when the fish respond to prevailing environmental stimuli of sun and sustained  warm temperatures which affect their schooling and feeding behavior. After all, fish being ‘cold-blooded’ simply means they tend to take on the activity level of their surroundings. So when the water is cold (or ‘cooling off’) they tend to be less active than in times when the sun or air may warm the water even by a few degrees. The days are getting a little longer now and at our low latitude, the sun angle is high enough in the sky to occasionally ‘energize’ shallow waters, especially those that are clear and dark or containing vegetation.  

     These times may simply be an hour or two at the end of a sunny afternoon when the wind has died off and allowed the shallow end of a pond or lake or backwater oxbow (in fresh water) to get a few degrees warmer than the surrounding (deeper and dingier) waters. Or (in saltwater) similar warming occurs in small, shallow, protected bays especially if the water is clear and the bottom dark. The whole foodchain sparks to life during these episodes as the sun promotes activity at each level leading up to the fish, which are stimulated by the relative warming of the water and the availability of food. Gamefish may briefly move into shallower waters or rise up in the water column to follow their foodsource, providing a brief feeding frenzy or even a prolonged pre-spring ‘fling’ which savvy anglers have learned to capitalize upon.

     Mild winter evenings spent fishing the edges of shallow weed-lined freshwater lakes and ponds may provide an hour or two of ‘heart stopping’ bass action using a variety of topwater lures or dark colored frog imitations rigged weedless. Bass Pro has an extensive selection of plastic frog and toad lures well suited for this as well as the weedless double frog hooks.

     Similarly, in saltwater bays or brackish river bends at the end of a ‘warm’ winter day speckled trout often go on a feeding binge just before dark. This is a great time for majestic sunsets and sizzling topwater action using lures like Rapala Skitterwalk, Mirrolure Top Dog,  or Heddon Spook especially in the vicinity of mullet schools. The hours preceding an evening topwater bite can often be productively spent throwing or slow trolling suspending or sinking hard baits like Rapala X-Rap, Mirrolure Mirrodine, Glad Shad, Catch and TT series or the NEW Offshore Angler Red Eye Mullet .     

     Taking advantage of these winter ‘windows of opportunity’ is not only a great way to overcome a case ‘of cabin fever’, but will keep your tackle and fishing skills polished and just maybe get you a fresh fish dinner ;-)

 

David Thornton

January 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Choosing the right fishing line for you.

Its getting to be that time of year again. The days are getting longer, warmer, and you're tired of staying in the house, you want to go fishing. By now you've already been through your tackle box about thousand times to determine what you need. Everything from new lures, tools, replacement hooks, weights, soft plastics, and fishing line. So you head down to your local Bass Pro Shops, go to the fishing section, look for the fishing line and find out there's more of a selection than there was last year. Monofilament, flourocarbon, braid, what are all these lines? Which line is best for me?

The type of fishing line you choose needs to be matched with the conditions you're fishing in. When choosing the right fishing line, the following criteria should be considered: Strength, Stretch, Abrasion resistance, Diameter, Stiffness, and Visibility.

Monofilament fishing line is made from a single fiber of plastic. This type of fishing line comes in a wide range of sizes and colors. You can find everything like a 2lb clear ice fishing line to 40lb high visual yellow for going after those big cats on the river. Monofilament fishing line is made by melting the plastic then extruding through tiny holes. These holes control everything from the diameter of the fishing line to the tensile strength or test. The advantage of monofliament fishing line is it can be used in a wide variety of fishing situations. Monofilament however does posses a memory to it causing it to coil over time. This type of line needs to be changed often as it will degrade when exposed to heat and sunlight. For all you monofilament lines visit Bass Pro Shops website to fins the right one for you.http://www.basspro.com/Fishing-Terminal-Tackle-Fishing-Line-Leaders/Type-Monofilament/_/N-1z0uxahZ1z0xd10

XPS® Signature Series Monofilament Fishing Line - 800-1000 Yards

Flourocarbon fishing line has been around for sometime, being used in saltwater fishing and fly fishing. It is relatively new to bass fishing though. This line is named after the chemical used to make it flourocarbon. There are many advantages to flourocarbon line over traditional monofilament fishing line. Flourocarbon is virtually invisible in water, has a higher density causing it to sink faster, lack of stretch and resistance to abrasion. As with everything there are some draw backs to this fishing line; stiffness, brittleness, density making it hard to fish top water, and knot strength.  It is best to use flourocarbon in times when stealth or finesse in needed. Another great application for flourocarbon is to use as a leader when bass seem to be easily spooked.http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigation?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&searchTerm=flourocarbon

Bass Pro Shops® XPS® KVD Signature Series 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Braided fishing are one of the earliest types of fishing lines. But with advances in technology braided line is now made out of different stuff than it used to be. Braid is known for its high knot strength, low stretch, and its over all power in relation to its size. On average a 20 lb test braided line is the diameter of a 6ob test monofilament. One drawback of braid is that it can be seen by fish in the water. It is best to attach a monofilament leader from your lure to the braid. Anglers have complained about other problems when fishing with braid, such as the line burying itself in the spool, losing fish on the hook set and other issues. The following article should address any issues you've been having along these lines. http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPage?mode=article&objectID=30041&storeId=10151&catalogId=10051 . If you have any other issues just contact your local Bass Pro Shop with questions. You can read more about uses for braided fishing line by visisting Basspro.com and viewing bother blogs written by the prostaff. Here is an example link.  http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/BPSIFrameView?catalogId=10051&tab=2&langId=-1&storeId=10151&targeturl=http://www.basspro1source.com/index.php/blogs&ddkey=http:BPSIFrame&tab=2

Bass Pro Shops® XPS® 8 Advanced Braid Fishing Line - 300 Yards

After looking at the three most popular types of fishing line out there on the market today; with their advantages and disadvantages you should be able to make a relatively informed decision on which line to get. If you're still unsure ask a Bass Pro associate  which line would be best for you.

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Fly with the Best!

White River Fly Sign.JPG

 

Rods and Basics

Those who have been fly fishing for several years probably have several rods for different purposes. Each rod is designed for a purpose - to cast a particular weight line. Why? Let's start with how rods are defined. The size number of the fly rod is directly tied to the size or number of the fly line intended to be cast. The numbers and sizes work like shoe sizes.

A 3-weight rod will ideally cast a 3-weight line. An 8-weight rod will ideally cast an 8-weight line. The bigger the number, the larger the rod and the heavier the line the rod will cast.

Rod and Line Weight.JPG

Keep in mind, you do not cast the fly rod. You cast the fly line. A fly rod is simply a lever or extension of your arm. It is possible to cast a fly line without any rod at all, but not for very long. Fly rods are actually machines or tools that allow you to cast the fly line very comfortably even when casting big rods on saltwater for extended periods of time.

White River Fly Shop® Dogwood Canyon® Pre-assembled Fly Outfits

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Waders

When fly fishing, light, breathable waders are the way to go. There are numerous styles as well as the boots that accompany the waders. Be aware of your state’s regulations for felt bottom boots as they partake in a little disease known as “Whirling’s” disease.

White River Fly Shop® Classic Chest-High Stocking-Foot Breathable Waders for Men and Women

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White River Fly Shop® ECO-CLEAR™ Wading Boots for Men

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White River Fly Shop® Extreme Wading Shoes for Ladies

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Puttin’ this gear to WORK!

 

Tying Flies

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The first flies were produced after man discovered, much to his surprise, that covering the hook with feathers fooled the fish into thinking that what was really a piece of sharpened bone, was a nice tasty fly. The technique used by these early fishermen was to simply 'lay' the artificial fly on the water's surface. A method similar to “dapping” is much used on Scottish lochs today.

Obviously from this stemmed the intricate and skilled art of tying flies. Talk to anyone who ties flies and they will tell you how passionate they are about creating their own bait and the accomplishment of a big catch from start to finish.

 

White River Fly Shop® WR-Emerger Fly Tying Bench with Vise, Tools and Material Kit

This fine piece of work will eventually be in the budget for my future purchases. This is a great starter kit, and easy to use.

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White River Fly Shop® 20-Piece Streamer Assortment

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Here is a basic sample of flies to start you off. Not too complicated but just enough variety for your needs. If you prefer to have one of our master tiers make your flies or even take a gander through our selection. You can also talk to our fine gentlemen and ladies and ask them for a personalized fly….they created one for me and named it the “Katiebird”.

 

Books and DVDs

Stop on in to grab one of these books or a DVD to give your skills an extra boost.

Arizona Fly Fishing Book.JPGAZ trout steams and their hatches book.JPGCharlies fly box book.JPG

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Here is our very own Christian Wolff in northern California catching a fine brown trout.

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If you are interested in how to become an avid fly fisherman/woman, stop in the store and get ahold of our fine folks. We are having fly tying nights on Tuesdays. These dates and times will be posted on the store website as well as in store. This is a great way to get in touch with others and swap stories and events.

Catch ya later!

 

KatieKins

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Hometown Winter Steelhead

Elk Creek SteelheadingPart of taking up fly fishing is trying to figure out all the different fly combinations and methods for delivering them to the water and hopefully the fish that live there.  Dry fly, indicator, high-stick nymphing, streamer, hopper/dropper, bottom bouncing, popper, chuck-and-duck, swinging, and a few others are methods developed to fit a particular circumstance, location, or fish species.  Little did I know that fly fishing would require learning a whole bunch of knots and a bunch of ways to lose the flies I worked so hard to tie.

I recently took a trip to my home waters of Erie, Pennsylvania to catch up with family members over Christmas break, and to hook some fresh Lake Erie Steelhead if possible.  I’d never tried winter steelheading in the past, so I did a lot of reading up on the subject before packing my vest with tons of useless junk.  The Steelhead Guide by John Nagy, and Great Lakes Steelhead, Salmon, & Trout by Karl Weixlmann became my bibles for a month or so before hitting the road.  Part of the problem though is not knowing how the weather is going to affect the water.  The conditions can change drastically; ranging from free-flowing and clear, high and muddy (blown out), and ultimately, frozen solid.  Your fly type has to change accordingly and the presentation style must follow suit.  Winter fishing is mainly a nymphing or egging prospect with tandem rigs drifted below strike indicators.  In other words totally foreign to me.  We don’t have to use splitshot or strike indicators in saltwater.  What the heck is mending anyway?

Elk Creek SteelheadI left home with 180 flies but still bought more once reaching the northern waters, and guess what….  The ones I tied worked wonderfully.  I had experimented with a few nymphs that combined some desirable features of other stock patterns and they proved killers on the only day I actually got to fish productive conditions.  Every fish I hooked over the course of the day (nine), and ultimately landed (3) were hooked while utilizing a presentation style I’d never tried before, on flies I tied myself.  More would have been landed had I paid attention to the chapter on fighting steelhead differently than you do tarpon.

There’s a great deal of satisfaction in catching fish with a fly rod and even more when you learn a new and productive method for delivering the fly.  Never stop learning and never stop trying to create your own unique patterns.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Not So Fast! Preparing your fishing equipment for the off season: Part 2

Umpqua-Glide-Fly-Line-Dressing-KitBaitcast Line WinderNot So Fast! Part 2

Suggestions for preparing your fishing equipment for the off season.

by Captain Jim Barr- www.SkinnyWaterChartersRI.com- Bass Pro Shops, Foxboro, MA- Pro Staff- 10/23/13

 

Fly Lines and Backing:

Inspect your fly line backing closely. Dacron and Gel Spun backing is very durable however it can become damaged from exposure to the elements or if a fish takes you deep into structure during the fight and rubs the line against abrasive surfaces. If it is frayed in spots or simply has not been replaced for some time, replace it with fresh backing… it’s cheap insurance to prevent losing the fish of your life. In most cases 30 lb Dacron backing is perfectly adequate for saltwater fishing. (Use 20lb for freshwater). If you desire a thinner backing that will allow more line to be added to your large arbor spools, Gel Spun is a good choice, albeit a bit more pricey. In most cases, 200 yards of backing is plenty for stripers, bluefish, false albacore and bonito. For other faster and longer running fish, best to consult with an expert shop or guide who can advise what’s necessary. 

 

Inspect your fly line closely, particularly the first 30-40 feet, for cracks in the plastic coating. Repeated casting and exposure to salt, sand, and the sun’s UV rays will take a heavy toll on fly lines. If your line has cracks, it will likely be to the “head” section of the line and the line should be replaced.

(You may want to cut off the head section of the fly line and retain the running line portion for fashioning shooting head systems.)  If the fly line is undamaged clean it with warm soapy water and apply a dressing.  Regular cleaning and dressing of your fly lines is absolutely critical in preserving your investment.

 

Rather than rewinding your fly lines back onto the spools, coil the lines in large coils and secure the coils using pipe cleaner ties. Label large plastic re-sealable food bags with the specifics of each line (line type- floating, intermediate, fast sinking etc, and weight) and store the lines in a cool, dry location. Keep these lines stored until spring when you will wind them back onto the reel and spools using your line winder or by hand. Storing lines in large coils will mitigate line memory so that come spring you are not dealing with "slinky toy" coiled lines resulting from being tightly wound on your spools during the off season. I would also suggest that you discard all leaders/tippets tied to your fly lines and await the arrival of spring to replace them with fresh material.

 

Spinning and Baitcasting Lines:

As a fishing guide the lines on my spinning and baitcasting reels take a beating. I go back and forth between using monofilament and braid. Both have good and bad qualities. Monofilament is inexpensive and tangles less frequently than braided line. Mono’s primary downfall from my perspective is that it does not cast as far as braid and has too much stretch. Braided line permits very long distance casts, it’s strength to diameter ratio is a real plus, it does not stretch under load and it creates a super sensitive connection between the angler and the fish, however it is prone to easily developing wind knots and it is prohibitively expensive to replace each season. As for monofilament line maintenance, I simply replace it with fresh line on all reels after each season. As for braid, I replace it when I need to.

In both cases for removing old line from reels, I use empty line spools and attach them to a variable speed drill using a “MacGyver”-type bit or the line winder mentioned earlier in this article. On the spinning reels I secure the open bail with a hair tie to prevent it from accidentally tripping while the line is being rewound onto the waste spool or line winder. In both cases the use of a line winder for adding new line makes the job infinitely easier. Remember to recycle your lines to prevent injury to animals and the environment.

Baitcast Line Winder: http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-XPS-Aluminum-Line-Winder-for-Baitcast-Reels/product/104172/

Spin casting line winder: http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-XPS-Aluminum-Line-Winder-for-Spinning-Reels/product/20677/

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