Monday, June 24, 2013

Product Review: Under Armour Water Spider

             When I set out to buy a kayaking shoe, I had several criteria that I wanted to see in the shoe. I was looking for something closed, for starters. I wanted a complete shoe that was capable of drainage, but had the look of more of a traditional sneaker style shoe. I really wanted something that would not retain odor well after I took them off. I previously tried the Fila Skeletoes, and they had a horrible smell all the time, regardless of washing.  I wanted a shoe that was comfortable enough to wear all day and that also looked good. I didn't have an unlimited budget for my shoes, so some of the more well known brands that exceeded $100 were out of the question.
                I had a gift card to Bass Pro Shops so that was where I decided to start shopping. I went online and made a list of about ten different shoes that I wanted to try on. Some of the shoes on my list I didn't expect to really like, but I wanted to try them on for reference sake.  The top shoes on my list were the Columbia Drainmaker’s and the Sperry Son-R.  I had my eye on the new Water Spiders from Under Armour, but I had heard from a friend that they rubbed blisters on his feet, so they were quickly dismissed. 
                It was my birthday and the wife, baby and I headed off for “my day” at BPS and Pappadeaux. Once at BPS I was very disappointed with my choices and quickly realized that just because it was online didn't mean in store. After trying on the Sperry Son-R and the Under Armour’s, I quickly decided on the Under Armours.
                The UA fit really well and I was surprised at how comfortable they were in the store. I have used them three times now and have yet to get a blister from any rubbing points in the shoe. I would like to see the toe box expanded a little bit, but so far that is my only complaint. I rarely choose products that are first generation, like UA water shoes; because it usually takes a few years to work kinks out before they get it right. I have been happy with UA products in the past and I really like the look and style of these shoes. One feature that I really like is the insoles. They have drain through holes that allow water to escape straight through the bottom of the shoe and they don’t have any type of cloth covering. The foam insole does not absorb water like a traditional fabric one would. I have worn them three times now and have not cleaned or washed them yet and so far there has been absolutely no bad odor from these shoes.  They have excellent grip for standing in my kayak and walking over slippery rocks.  

                The best part about wearing these over Crocs is that I don’t lose my shoes in the mud now and I don’t bring in gravel into my kayak every time in get in and out of it. The Under Armour Water Spider, in my opinion, has proven to be an excellent water shoe so far. I have even started wearing them as a general outdoor shoe when I’m in the back cooking or cleaning up the patio. I recommend them for anyone who is in the market for a full closure water shoe with great grip, comfort,  and style.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Minimum Requirements for Kayaking in Texas

I think this is really great information and I cannot take a single 
shred of credit for it, I'm simply copy and pasting Josh Neumeyer's 
work and effort. Josh has organized the requirements set by the 
state of Texas to legally be on the water in a kayak. He has even 
taken it a step farther and outlined fresh water and salt water legal 
guidelines so that it is all really easy to read and understand. 
Thank you Josh for doing all the leg work for everyone.

PFD (aka Lifevest) Requirements
  • You must have a Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on the kayak [TWSA Title 4 § 31.066(a)][CFR Title 33 § 175.15]
  • Children under the age of 13 must always wear their PFD [TWSA Title 4 § 31.066(b)][CFR Title 33 § 175.15(c)]
  • Type V PFDs must be used in accordance with the manufacturer's label to be legal [CFR Title 33 § 175.17(a)]
  • Inflatable PFDs may only be worn by adults over the age of 16 and weighing more than 80lbs [CFR Title 46 § 160.076]
  • All PFDs must be in good, serviceable condition without any cuts, tears, rotten material, etc [CFR Title 33 § 175.23]
  • All PFDs must fit each person properly [CFR Title 33 § 175.21]
  • Each PFD must be readily accessible to each person [CFR Title 33 § 175.19]

Distress Signaling Devices - Audible & Visual
  • On inland waters you are not required to have an audible signaling device [TWSA Title 4 § 31.073(a)]
  • On coastal waters you must have an audible signaling device capable of making efficient sound [USC Title 33 Chapter 34 § 2033(b)]
  • You are not required to have visual distress signaling devices on inland waters [TWSA Title 4 § 31.073(a)][CFR Title 33 § 175.5]
  • You are required to have USCG approved visual distress signaling devices suitable for night use when kayaking between sunset and sunrise on coastal waters [CFR Title 33 § 175.115]
  • Visual distress signaling devices must be readily accessible [CFR Title 33 § 175.120]
  • Visual distress signaling devices must be in serviceable condition [CFR Title 33 § 175.125]

Light Requirements
  • You must exhibit at least one bright light, lantern or flashlight visible all around the horizon from sunset to sunrise in all weather[TWSA Title 4 § 31.064]
  • All-around white lights must be visible for 2 miles [USC Title 33 Chapter 34 § 2022(c)]

Registration and Numbering
  • Kayaks, regardless of length, do not have to be registered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.022(c)]
  • Kayaks, 14 feet or longer, equipped as a sailboat have to be registered and numbered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.022(c)]
  • Kayaks, regardless of length, equipped with a motor (electric or gas) have to be registered and numbered [TWSA Title 4 § 31.021(a)]
  • If you register and number your kayak know that there are more minimum requirements that apply than listed above

Minimum Requirements Summary:
Lakes and Rivers: PFD and 360 light between sunset and sunrise
Bays and Gulf: PFD, 360 light between sunset and sunrise, sound signaling device, and night use visual signaling device between sunset and sunrise

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lure Modification: Crankbait Tuning

I encourage every angler to gain as much knowledge as possible if they want to improve their skills and abilities on the water. The first book that I read when I decided to get serious about kayak fishing was Chad Hoover’s book, Kayak Bass Fishing. I highly recommend this book for any kayak angler that is interested in expanding their knowledge base. One of the key elements that I really became fascinated with was lure modification. Chad Hoover says that he rarely throws any lure the way that it comes out of the package. After reading that part in the book, I constantly look for ways to make it better for my purposes and for the waters that I’m fishing in.
                I recently discovered that even crankbaits can be altered to run in different directions for whatever you desired outcome is. Crankbaits can be modified to swim right, left, or tuned to swim true if through hours of use it has become out of tune. The great thing about tuning a crankbait is the only tools required are a pair of needle nose pliers and your eyes.  You simply bend the line tie (the metal eye that the split ring is attached to) left, right, or straighten to center. For a more permanent fix you can shave down the plastic lip on one side or the other for veering.

                This modification can be handy when trying to fish around docks or weed beds with running straight into them. Think of it as use fade or draw on a golf shot to maneuver around obstacles.  This is just one modification that can be made, but there are endless possibilities for so many lures. Modifications can be a lot of fun and can be really rewarding when your creativity pay off.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It’s All About Confidence

Confidence in your abilities to locate and catch fish is by far the greatest lure in you tackle box” – Bill Dance

I have been watching Bill Dance on TV for as long as I can remember, and with the introduction of DVR I record his show every week and still watch him. Recently he had an episode about confidence and what it means to an angler. I wanted to write about the thoughts that I had about this but after my participation in the NTKT Grapevine tournament I experienced an “Ah-hah” moment that I really wanted to add to this.

One of the aspects that I love about bass fishing is that it is never one dimensional and always keeps you thinking about your next move. I frequently relate it to playing chess; you have to know what the bass are going to do before they do it and plan your attack accordingly. There are so many elements that go into bass fishing, that it’s very hard to have confidence in your abilities in all of these areas. First of all I think confidence in locating fish is very important, because if you truly don’t believe that there are fish in the areas that your casting then how do you expect to be anything but lucky when and if you hook into one. Secondly, lure selection. For a long time I believed myself to be a one trick pony because I could not catch a fish with anything except a Texas rigged soft plastic. I have made it my mission to practice and experiment with many other lures and ask questions to veteran anglers about tactics and methods. Over the last year I have greatly expanded my lure pool and I have greater confidence in more than just one type of bait now.

After doing a little research from different sports psychologists, I have found that performance is directly linked to confidence, no matter the sport. Confidence doesn’t grow or manifest overnight but it can be learned through repetitive practice and trial and error. For example, If you have very little experience with crankbaits and do not understand them, then chances are you will not fish them they way that they are intended to be fished. Every lure has an intended purpose and situation to be fished. This is something that I was aware of in theory but truly began to realistically understand this recently. I have never had much luck with squarebill crankbaits. I had my first big strike on one at my recent tournament when I ran it up the shoreline in about a foot and a half of water, and I could feel my lure repeatedly hitting the rocks on the bottom. After about three casts I had my first fish of the day with many more strikes to follow. This is when I put theory to practice and I understood how this lure was intended to be fished. As the day went on my casts and retrieves became more and more effective. That day gained confidence in my squarebill crankbait and I feel like I added another weapon to my arsenal for the next trip.

I continue to practice with lures that I feel that I am weak with, I continue to study and understand what my electronics are telling me, and I feel like my instincts and abilities grow stronger with each trip. I feel confident in the fact that confidence can be learned through practice, experimentation, and seeking knowledge. There is no substitute for hard work, and that is even true in bass fishing. I intend to increase my skills and abilities in this sport and that can only be done through hard work and honing skills that are necessary for catching big fish.