Friday, January 6, 2017

Kast King Royale Legend Review

     As a family man with two young children I am constantly on the look out for great and cant miss sales. With my family as my top priority and diapers trump every other purchase, I simply am not at a place in my life where I can spend $200 dollars on a fishing reel. A friend of mine had recently purchased a KastKing Royale Legend and seemed to be pleased with its performance and quality. I have been fishing with four clearance sale Daiwa Laguna reels that were starting to decline in performance. I read several reviews and and talked to a few friends that had personal experience with the KastKing brand, some positive and some not so. The bottom line is that you're never going to get 100% rave reviews on any product, and the complaints here seemed pretty generic that can happen with any brand. I heard that these reels were cheap knockoffs from China and I heard that they were a great company that had high quality products with low prices because they cut out retailers and sold directly from Amazon. I'm guess the truth lies somewhere in the middle, which I am ok with. For $39.98 it was worth the risk and if it worked out then great if not then it was only a small loss.

     I'll dive right into my experience with the Royale. Just out of the package definitely has an aesthetic appeal to it. It has a very streamline, stealthy design to it that gives it the appearance of a higher end or higher dollar reel. I immediately got it on my Platinum Series from Manley Rods  and got it strung up. One of the complaints that I read more than once was the reels difficulty to properly dial in and prevent back lashes. Firstly, I have to admit that I'm not one to usually open reels and really change any factory settings on the braking systems or anything like that. I took the Royale out to my little practice pond by my house and gave it a proper sling. Huge birds nest! Not exactly surprising for a first time cast on a reel so I adjusted the spool tension and gave it another fling. My usual "dial in" time is about 3 or 4 casts and I'm good. I admit this reel took me about 10 casts to get it right without opening it up and messing with the brake. Once I got it set it cast like butter, and add another 20 yards from my previous aging reels. 

     I now have 3 Royal Legends and I've taken them out about 10 times now without any issues. I admit that they aren't top of the line but I believe they are a great value for the price. I can cast smoother and farther than before, but only time will tell if these reels have true longevity. I have no affiliation with KastKing whatsoever and I may come back with an update in six months with them falling apart, however I am a happy customer right now. 


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Qalo Rings Review

       I have a physically demanding job that often requires me to be outdoors. When my job demands I be outside in the Texas heat for long hours and consecutive days, my hands tend to swell and my wedding ring gets uncomfortable. I also am required to do some lifting of heavy boxes and coolers in my career and I've had to skin around my wedding ring pinched more times than I can count. After about six or seven years of this I stopped wearing my wedding ring all together. 

     Ive been wearing Qalo rings for about a year now and I can honestly say that they have all but replaced my traditional wedding rings. I have two Qalo rings and I can comfortably wear them while doing any activity. I wear them at work, fishing, working out, and mowing the lawn. I have worn my ring through an full day of paddling and fishing and not even notice that I was wearing a ring at all. 

     There is no better product on the market for a comfortable, all purpose wedding ring. The good people at Qalo have finally created a wedding ring with the outdoor enthusiast in mind. Qalo has also partnered with various organizations and charities to benefit military, police, fire, paramedic, breast cancer, and Lupus foundations. If you fit the same mold as me with an uncomfortable wedding ring, I encourage you to visit Qalo and choose a color, pattern, or charity of your choice. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

My top 5 Christmas Gifts under $50

     Fishermen in general are pretty tough to shop for because, lets face it, we pretty much buy ourselves what we want and need throughout the year anyway. As I do every year, here are my top 5 gifts under $50.

    1. LineCutterz ($12) - If you didn’t already know Line Cutterz was featured on a recent episode of Shark Tank and actually received an offer from one of the sharks. This device is a wearable and compact solution to traditional fishing line cutters. It’s a ring that’s worn on your finger and has the capacity to cut even the toughest braided line with ease. The convenience factor alone makes the Line Cutterz the perfect for any angler.

     2. LuckyTackle Box ($43.17) – LTB is a monthly subscription box that contains lures targeted towards your choice of fish species. I actually have had this for the last 6 months, and I could not be happier with it. I get a box full of bass lures every month. The largest advantage to a box like this is that there is always one lure in my box each month that I probably would have never bought myself, it’s like the ultimate way to try new things with low risk. You can get a three-month subscription for under $50 and can cancel or choose to extend your subscription.
     3. YakAttack Gift Certificate ($50) – OK, this one is kind of cheating but to be honest, Yak Attack has so many kayak fishing accessories under the $50 price point that a gift certificate is the only logical solution. Yak Attack is known for their high quality, American made, kayak fishing accessories like the Rotogrip paddle holder, LeverLoc Anchor Trolley, and BlackPack. If my wife or mother in law is reading this, hint hint, the search is over.
     4. LifeProofNuud iPhone 6 case ($39 on Amazon) – Yes the LifeProof case is almost $90 on their website, however I have purchased two of the Nuud cases from Amazon for under $50 and they were over a year apart. I have searched high and low for a better and cheaper waterproof, dustproof, and drop proof iPhone case and have yet to be successful. As someone that spends a great deal of time on the water this case is invaluable for my communication and ability to continually take pictures with my phone. (Link for Amazon price)

     5. Lifestraw ($25) – I have included this on my list in the past and I’ll list it now because it makes such a great gift and can literally be a lifesaver in a pinch. I have two personal Lifestraws and I have been in situations where I needed them. Two separate occasions I was so excited for my upcoming fishing trip that I forgot to pack bottled water and my options were to cut my trip short or risk dehydration. Luckily I keep my Lifestraw in my front hatch dry bag with my first aid kit and the day was saved.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!! Tight lines

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fishing the Brazos

     I won't waste a lot of words in a long post about this trip, there are plenty of pictures and video to tell the story. I will say thank you to my friends Barry Jones, Daniel Reach, and Jay Pershin for making this one of my most memorable fishing trips that I've taken so far. My gear for this trip was the ATAK 140 kayak from Wilderness Systems, Manley Rods gold & platinum series rods, 12 can soft pack cooler from Bison Coolers, and all kayak accessories from Yak Attack.I hope you enjoy the pics and video.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

American Muscle - Yak Attack lands on INC. top 5000 list

     I would like to congratulate Yak Attack for once again making the INC. 5000 list for the nations top growing companies. This accomplishment marks the second year in a row for Yak Attack founder Luther Cifers with a three year sales growth of 284%. Yak Attack joins elite alumni in this honor with great companies like Go Pro, Under Armour, Microsoft, and Patagonia. Included in this 2016 class along with Yak Attack are industry leaders such as Yeti and Dollar Shave Club. 
     Luther has built this great company with the idea that an American company can employ American workers and create American made products and can still be successful. Yak Attack continues that idea with new and inventive products for the kayak fishing customer base that he loves and supports every year with charitable donations and sponsorships. 
     Luther Cifers is truly living the American dream and will continue to grow Yak Attack to support local employees and American made products. Congratulations Luther and Yak Attack! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Manley Rods Review

Two months ago I had the opportunity to demo a couple of rods in the current line up from Manley Rods. With that demo, I had the Gold and Platinum series rods, complete with patent pending MRF system. For anyone not familiar with the MRF system, or adjust-a-butt, it is a totally propriety system exclusive to Manley rods that allows the angler literally adjust the rod butt to the personal preference of the fisherman. I had never used the MRF system prior to this outing but I was familiar with the general concept. To be honest, I felt the adjust-a-butt thing was a little gimmicky but I promised to keep an open mind and give the rods a true test and evaluation.
Before I go into performance, I want to briefly breakdown the components of Manley Rods that are different from every other rod that I’ve fished with. First we have the two high quality reel seats that come standard with each series. The Gold series sports a Fuji ACS seat that’s a one piece. The ACS has an opening that allows the rod blank to be exposed for increased sensitivity and a modified trigger for casting accuracy. The Platinum series rods take it a step farther with a SK2 reel seat, also from Fuji. This one is a two-piece seat for greater blank contact and also is 54% lighter. Both reel seats are high quality parts that truly affect your rods performance. 

Another component that I am now a huge fan of are the microwave guides from American Tackle Company. This is another example of a product that really looks new and innovative, yet I remained skeptical of its effectiveness. All I can say is that every experienced angler has great muscle memory and touch on their cast. Like every great golfer you know exactly how far that 7 iron will go, and for me the first twenty casts were all in the trees and grass. There was no mistaking that each cast had and increase of at least 20% distance. The microwave guides reduce friction so drastically that the change is immediate and very obvious. Lastly, you cannot have a discussion about Manley rods without mentioning  their propriety high modulus blank. Not only did I need an adjustment period to dial in my casting distance but I also had to adjust my own personal biofeedback. What I mean by that is I am accustom to what was a bite and what was a rock or tree branch.  These rods are so much more sensitive than what I was used to. I was setting the hook on everything until I actually got my first real bite and was able to distinguish a fish from everything else that I felt beneath the surface.
Terry Manley has also developed the patent pending Multifunctional Rod Foundation (MRF), or more commonly known as the Adjust-A-Butt system. This component is another example of a feature that I have been eyeballing from afar for a while now and just recently had the opportunity to test out in person. For anyone that doesn’t know, the MRF systems allows the angler to extend or shorten the butt of the rod for any number of reasons. I’m sure every angler can see the advantages of this system, however I can only speak as a kayak angler and how this system elevated my fishing experience. I found myself adjusting almost every cast. For example, I love to throw my top water frog but working it from a kayak can be tricky at times because how you are seated and positioned in the kayak. The rod butt usually ends up hitting me in the forearm throughout my retrieve and can decrease the effectiveness of it. As I played with the MRF system I figured out that worked for me was to extend the rod butt all the way for leverage on longer casts, then quickly shorten the butt to allow me to fully work the frog on my retrieve the way I like to without and interference from my forearm. For my style of fishing this is a huge advantage. The MRF systems also allows me to perfectly balance out my rod when switching to larger or heavier lures, so each new bait I tie on I can customize my rod adjustment to tailor fit my needs.

There are countless properties that make these rods stand out as one of the best on the market. The advantage of having of the MRF system and the ability to feel the blank under my reel seat are without a doubt a game changing for me. Terry Manley has taken the time to perfect his product and had found a way to make it affordable for everyone to enjoy. The Gold and Platinum series rods are available now and look for new models coming soon from Manley Rods.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Paddling Is The Best Medicine!


          Kayak paddles have evolved just as much as the kayaks have in recent years, but how do they enhance your paddling experience?  The newest kayak features are usually very apparent to most paddlers but not so much with paddles. I only recognized one of these subtle improvements after it helped me recover from an injury.

            In the spring of 2014 I began to have severe pain in my right elbow. Being an Athletic Trainer I immediately knew what my problem was. Lateral Epicondylitis, or more commonly known as Tennis Elbow. This is basically an inflammation of forearm muscle tendons at the point where they attach to the bone at the elbow. The primary function of these muscles is grip and wrist stabilization. This is an overuse injury from daily work and life, but I believe that my case was severely exacerbated from the amount of paddling I was doing and the type of paddle I had.

            My pain was at the point where lifting an iPad caused great pain. I knew something had to be done, so I tried all conventional treatments such as electric stimulation, ice, ultrasound, rest and even a cortisone shot. They all provided temporary relief then the pain would inevitably come back. The reason I could never shake it was because I would eventually get back on the water and kayak fish again and then symptoms would come back. After about a year of trying different treatments and taking time off it finally hit me that maybe a change of paddle would help.

            The paddle that I was using was my Oracle Angler from Adventure Technology and I loved it, but it was just not conducive to what I need at that time. After looking at the various models I landed on the Fishstix paddle also from Adventure Technology. I had used bent shaft paddles before but never really saw the “ergonomic” advantage, but I thought at this point it couldn’t hurt. After receiving the new paddle, I immediately took it for a test drive. The bent shaft took a little bit of getting used to but after a few minutes it felt natural and after a couple months of using the Fishstix I am proud to say I was pain free.

            Was it the paddle that healed me? Was it a coincidence? I wasn’t sure so I decided to look into it a bit. I called a man named Hastings Blumer, who is the mad scientist/engineer for AT Paddles and asked him to help me out with my questions. I told my story of injury and recovery and that I believed my paddle was the answer, but I wanted his insight. What he told me solidified every suspicion I had. Blumer said that he wasn’t at all surprised by my outcome with the injury because that was specifically what the Fishstix was designed to do. I was so intrigued by the science behind this explanation that I asked Hastings if we could video chat to better understand his explanations, he kindly obliged. He asked me to make a fist, and look at the natural progression of my knuckle line. The vast majority of individuals will have a declining pattern from one knuckle to the next, because this is our natural anatomical progression. Next he asked me to hold my straight shaft paddle, and again to observe my knuckles. This time my knuckles were aligned straight parallel with each other, which was different from the natural position. This misalignment contributed to the intensity of my condition due to overstretching of those muscles and tendons on each paddle stroke. Then he asked me to do the same with my bent shaft paddle, and I did. My knuckle line this time looked like it did when I made the fist, with the declining progression.


     After seeing this difference for myself Mr. Blumer proceeded to explain why the Fishstix was different from other bent shaft paddles. Other bent shaft paddles on the market have one bend in the shaft that doesn’t exactly return the wrist and hand back to a natural position. The Fishstix has a duel axis bend that is specifically unique to the AT Fishstix. This double bend is what allows the hand and wrist to maintain correct anatomical position. Basically, this double bend or duel axis grip prevented the muscles and tendons in my wrist and forearm from being over stretched and inflamed throughout each paddle stroke.

            The Fishstix was designed to prevent and aid with injuries exactly like the one I suffered from. There is no doubt that I was able to overcome my injury because of switching paddles. This paddle truly is ergonomic in every sense of the word. I am most appreciative of the great work from Mr. Blumer and his team at Adventure Technology for designing paddles with the paddler in mind.