Skin Cancer and Kayak Fishing

Recently, my wife had been after me to visit a dermatologist and get checked out. “Make me an appointment,” I said. “And I’ll go.”  So, she did, and I went. I’m glad that I did – and thankful.

Anyone who fishes with me often knows I am fairly serious about wearing sun protection while on the water, so I didn’t expect to have any problems. Sometimes I get razzed by buddies about my pants or long sleeves and buff on a hot summer day, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized it is important to take more care of myself.

Wearing a buff, UV sun shirt and UV gloves is a common way to stay protected while fishing.
Wearing a buff, UV sun shirt and UV gloves is a common way to stay protected while fishing.

 

The dermatologist’s exam only took a few minutes and was a pretty simple exercise. It involved looking over my skin starting with the toes and up to my temples. After about 15 minutes, the doctor reported that I had two possible skin cancer growths and that they needed a biopsy. A few days later, I got the call – yes, I had two different types of skin  cancer…wow.

Luckily for me, neither one was the most dangerous type (Melanoma), but they still were cause for concern and needed removed immediately. The first was a fairly deep and well-developed Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) cancer on my right wrist, requiring a very deep surgical removal from the wrist and some major stitches. I will have to go back and maybe have another procedure on this wrist in a couple of months to ensure complete removal. This type of cancer rarely results in fatalities, but can cause health issues if not addressed

The second type of skin cancer I had was a Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) which can develop into a deadly form if not properly treated. More than 8,800 people die annually from this type of skin cancer. Incidents of this type have increased by 200 percent in the last decade. This one was on my leg and was shallow enough to be scraped and burned off, leaving what looks like a burn wound.

The aftermath of having a deep Basal Cell Carcinoma removed from my left wrist. Also knocked me out of fishing action for a while so it could heal.
The aftermath of having a deep Basal Cell Carcinoma removed from my left wrist. Also knocked me out of fishing action for a while so it could heal properly.
Skin Cancer Prevention While Fishing

First things first, go to a dermatologist, and go soon if you haven’t been in recent years for an exam. Get off to a good and healthy start! Even though I have recently been diagnosed and treated, I’ll need to go back yearly to ensure new malicious growths don’t appear.

Clothing – Wearing the right UV protective clothing can provide excellent protection from harmful rays. Consider long-sleeve UV performance shirt, a buff and gloves. Stormr makes a great line of UV Shield wear that I like to use. When covering up, remember that not all material will protect against UV rays.

Headwear – The dermatologist told me during my visit that many anglers come in to visit and need to get skin cancer removed from the temples, forehead, back of the neck and even the scalp. This skin is thinner and more likely to leaves scars after removal than other parts of the body. A cap used with a buff or a wide-brimmed hat are good options to protect this area. And don’t forget your sunglasses.

Sunscreen – It’s inevitable that an angler may not have the right UV clothing or chooses not to be covered up. In this case, always wear SPF 15 or greater sunscreen and re-apply every two hours. A lot of fishermen won’t use sunscreen for fear it will apply scent to line or lures which will prevent the bite. Because of this I prefer to use Sunsect SPF 15 which is non-greasy, non-scented and will dry cleanly after applying. I visited with an FLW Tour Pro who uses Sunsect brand sunscreen for this very reason. (plus it repels bugs and mosquitos!)

Know Your Enemy

Even though I’ve been fairly consistent in wearing sun protection since I began fishing about three years ago, I wasn’t as diligent when much younger and am paying for it today. This chart from University Health News shows what some of these look like. The scary thing to me is that the spots or areas I was concerned about were not cancer at all, and a couple of spots that I thought were NOTHING were the actual cancers. Go to a dermatologist who knows what to look for!

Know your enemy, this chart shows three types of skin cancer. Source: University Health News
Know your enemy, this chart shows three types of skin cancer. Source: University Health News

At the end of the day I was lucky and should be fine going forward. Not every angler who spends hours and hours on the water is so lucky. Don’t take the chance.  For you and your family’s sake – get checked, and protect yourself.

 

Grinding – Hickory Creek Recap

The 2017 finale for Natural State Kayak Anglers was an exercise in patience and perseverance on a pleasant August day in the Ozarks. I love Beaver Lake, it is a beautiful body of water and we’re fortunate to have such a great reservoir this close to home. I also love it when we have kayak tournaments at Beaver, it really is great practice to tackle other large bodies of water such as Table Rock, Dardanelle and Kentucky Lake. The only problem is that Beaver can be at times…well…the Dead Sea.

As I wrote in the tournament preview, Beaver hasn’t been friendly to kayak tournaments in August and September – giving up only FIVE limits in a past event on this nationally known fishery. Surely this year would be different!

Nope. 

Of the 38 anglers who hit the water for a 5:45 start, only FIVE once again turned in a limit (15%). A solid number of anglers (30) did card a keeper, which isn’t a bad number overall. On a day when any keeper was a good keeper, Terry Brown swooped in from the KBA to take first place with 70.50″ while Carson McBride hit a buzzer beater (more on that later) to finish second with 70.25″ for the day, and I was lucky enough to finish third with 68.50″.  Decland McDonald ruined the dink-fest by catching a 20″ largemouth for Big Bass, and John Evans had second Big Bass with 19.25″.

Here are the top ten finishers:

  1. Terry Brown
  2. Carson McBride
  3. Jason Kincy
  4. Dwain Batey
  5. Roy Roberts
  6. Declan McDonald
  7. Jason Thomas
  8. Rance Richardson
  9. Cole Sikes
  10. Wayne Johnson

Congrats to all anglers for sticking with the grind and working all day long. Also congratulations to Dwain Batey who took NSKA Angler of the Year honors – he had a great season!

Angler Tournament Recaps

Below are some summaries of how the top finishers found their fish:

Terry Brown – I launched at the start from the ramp in Hickory Creek recreation area and paddled 2.5 miles to the pin shown in the map below first thing Saturday morning. I started out working topwater but had no luck, so after an hour of trying various other things I picked up the T-Rig Zoom Ole monster (Junebug) and pitched at wood cover along the bank, caught my first one in 2 or 3 casts, and another one on the same point a couple mins later, the pattern held up all morning, had a limit pretty quick, caught a few more and culled up my bag and just fished my way back to the ramp with only a couple of misses and two lost fish on the way. Simplicity wins the day.

The winning spot was a 2.5 mile paddle from the launch ramp. Putting in the work can yield results.
The winning spot was a 2.5 mile paddle from the launch ramp. Putting in the work can yield results.

Carson McBride – I put in at the ramp close to the swimming area in Hickory Creed park. I know that area very well and knew of a shallow hump that goes way out that is covered in brush. I got to my spot early and waited for the start time. I was hearing lots of fish bust everywhere around me. I tried to get on a topwater bite and a squarebill but it wasn’t working. I knew fish were moving and active, so I picked up my swim jig and fished up shallow and quickly picked up a 13.75 and not long after my kicker 18.75, then caught another 13.00 and 10.00 and 10.25. I tried to cull all day long but it wasn’t working. I had the lead all day long and was under pressure just trying to catch one. At 2:59 I caught a 14.50 incher which gave me a 4.50 inch cull and put me up to second place at the last minute.

Jason Kincy – I also launched at one of the Hickory Creek rec area ramps and had identified an area with buck brush that was just off a creek channel and started out there. Like everyone else I started out with topwater and didn’t do very well for the first couple of hours. It seemed to me that the fish just weren’t shallow so I paid attention to activity off-shore and if there were shad flipping the surface within range I attacked it with a Heddon Zara Spook with a Fish Allure scented tab to try and draw up some bass. This method caught me three of my keepers, including my two largest. This ended about 9:30 and then I went back to working areas around bushes and docks and picked up a few more on a Pop-R and on small texas rigged worms. Once the sun came out around 10:30, I had a hard time catching anything else. Was happy on the day to finish third, but lost three fish that I believe could have put me in first place.

NSKA River Valley

South of the tunnel 10 anglers competed at Clear Creek and had definitively better results than their NWA counterparts:

  1. Chris Nemeth 86.50″
  2. Shane Oakes 86.25″
  3. Christa Hibbs 77.50″

Big Bass was a tie between Shane Oakes and Chris Nemeth for 19″. Congrats to all of these anglers, as well as the NSKA River Valley Angler of the Year – Christa Hibbs!

Final Thoughts

I really want to thank Jeff Malott for being the tournament director for NSKA, this is a lot of work and adds a lot of fun for the participants. Although Beaver Lake can be a tough venue, I hope we can continue to have tournaments out there. Also, after a year heavy with road runners and online tournaments, it was a really great experience to launch from the same area. My first year fishing, almost all events were like this and it is great. These are always the best tournaments from a competitive standpoint, but also for the camaraderie of being around others. I met a couple of new faces on the water and chatted with them about the day and now have connected on Facebook. I was also about 50 yards from Carson when he caught his buzzer beater and was whooping and hollering. Relationships and being around other anglers is a great part of the sport, next year I hope we have more events where we’re all in the same vicinity.

The Arkansas State Championship is next up at Dardanelle in October! Time to get your Arkansas River on.

 

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review

You have to hand it to Shimano. They’ve developed a long standing tradition for making excellent fishing gear that’s inspired fanaticism among their faithful followers. Earlier this season Shimano retired their Chronarch CI4 baitcaster and moved to the new Shimano Chronarch MGL.

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review
The Shimano Chronarch MGL is a joy to fish with.

Incoming full disclosure: I’m always a sucker when it comes to quality gear. While I’m not currently associated with a rod or reel manufacturer, it does afford me the freedom to play the field seeking great and reasonably priced equipment. What can I say? I like to fish around. So, when I had an opportunity to test out the new Chronarch MGL I leapt at the opportunity. But, will the new Chronarch MGL live up the Shimano name or fall short?

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review – Style and Specifications

I dislike reviews that focus heavily on a rod or reels appearance. Substance over style, I like to say. That being said, as guys, when we go out on a date our first impression is largely based on how the date looks. That’s the attention-getter. The date’s mannerisms largely determine if there’s any staying power. I find that equally true for our equipment. Out of the box the Chronarch MGL looks sexy. Its small aerodynamic profile looks sleek and ready for business. The Chronarch sports a gray casing with very small red to purple accenting flakes. The magnumlite spool and micro adjustment wheel features a no nonsense black finish.

For the gear head in all of us, the Chronarch MGL showcases an eight bearing system, a lighter 14 gram spool to aid in casting, and oversized brass Micro-Module Gearing. The smaller teeth in those gears enable more surface convergence area which, coupled with the aforementioned attributes, means you get a farther reaching cast and experience the patented smooth Shimano retrieve. The Chronarch also features a centrifugal breaking system adjustable from the outside, which ranges in sensitivity from 1 through 6 in sensitivity. External adjustment systems have always been a big deal to me. We’ve all been on the water those days where the wind is swirling. Sometimes you’re fishing with the wind and other times against the wind depending on the hour or minute. I like to have a quick, on the fly, adjustment system that swiftly adapts to those changing conditions.

I spooled up the Chronarch MGL (7.1 gear ratio) with 16lb Sunline fluorocarbon and I was impressed with the amount of line the reel held. Not so much that you felt like you were wasting line buried in the magnumlite spool and not so little that you felt like a wayward tree cast would leave you overly short on casting distance. In my mind, it hit the sweet spot perfectly.

I paired the Chronarch MGL with a Duckett Terex 7’ MH, and later the new Duckett Triad 7’3” MH. This is my main workhorse setup and, suffice it to say, I’ve put the reel through its paces over the last month. The initial setup and adjustment didn’t take long and Shimano includes documentation to help aid you if you’re not familiar with adjusting their reels.

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review – Performance

On the water I was quickly impressed with the Chronarch MGL’s comfort. It palms easily in your hand, even if your paw doesn’t measure up to NBA standards. Another big plus for me is it features an oversized handle.

Performance wise the MGL is a remarkable reel. Its smooth retrieval made it a joy to fish with. I immediately noticed, due to the aforementioned spool and gearing, it casts an impressive distance with a 3/8oz jig. Going from light to heavy in lure weight the MGL handled each challenge like the pro it is. From lightly weighted Senko’s to heavy flutter spoons the MGL pulled off each feat perfectly. Pitching into cover worked flawlessly and the Chronarch MGL delivers power to wench out a fish in heavy cover. I also found after a small quick adjustment I could also easily skip a jig under cover.

When it comes to a baitcaster’s drag some people prefer to forgo it all together. Tighten it down and horse’em out was my motto until I noticed I was ripping large holes in the fishes mouth and the hook would then easily fall out when the fish jumped. This made me re-evaluate my stance on drag. I’m happy to report that the MGL’s drag system is also top notch. It’s easily adjustable on the fly, via the star wheel, and it performed flawlessly. Translation? For me, it’s meant more fish pulled in and fewer rage rants shouted across the water.

The Chronarch MGL’s price point is around $280 to $300. It fills in the gap between very high end and modestly priced reels. Its components and performance left me very impressed, and feeling the price tag is certainly worth it. Matter of fact, I was so impressed that I now have a second to compliment the first.

— Review by Justin Phillips, contributor to Kayak Fishing Focus and tournament kayak angler.


Ask for Shimano at Academy Sports or local fishing tackle shop. In NW Arkansas ask for Shimano at Hook, Line and Sinker or at Southtown Sporting Goods.

NSKA Hickory Creek Tournament Preview

The regular season finale for the Natural State Kayak Anglers will take place on Beaver Lake in the Hickory Creek area. This should be a really interesting format in that it is one of the first times a large kayak tournament has been staged on Beaver Lake where all participants will be in relatively the same area. This is my favorite kind of tourney where all anglers are on the same water in similar conditions. What will a day at the Dead Sea bring?

Hickory Creek on Beaver Lake
Hickory Creek on Beaver Lake. The marina owner and operator is pretty militant about nobody fishing within 50 feet of his docks.
Past Tournament Trends

In 2015, the Arkansas vs Oklahoma Border Battle was held in late summer on Beaver Lake and the results were brutal – Dead Sea in full effect. Of the 48 entries, only FIVE anglers turned in a five fish limit. FIVE! Overall, only 30 anglers (63%) turned in at least one keeper. I was lucky to finish 3rd in this tourney with a paltry 61″ while a total of 66.5″ took the win. Larger fish were hard to come by, with Big Bass being only 15.75″ long.

Previous kayak tournaments on Beaver have historically produced the lowest totals of the year. But the lake has been fishing well up until recently and the NSKA Beaver Lake Road Runner earlier this year put up some really solid totals. With cooler weather over the past few weeks and some unusually high amount of rain for late July and August, the fishing may prove to be a bit better this time around.

In the Zone at Hickory Creek

This tournament will provide you the option to put in anywhere you want – as long as it is at one of the four ramps in the Hickory Creek area shown in the map below. All of these ramps are easily accessible, with the only free one being at the end of Hwy 264 in the north end of the zone. All others will cost you $5 to launch.

NSKA Angler Roundtable

A couple of anglers new to the NSKA trail this year are very familiar with Beaver Lake from fishing bass boat (cough) tournaments so I asked them to helps us evaluate the upcoming event. Cole Sikes and Bo Sarratt and I discussed some of the keys to the upcoming tournament.

The weather has been strange in the Ozarks this summer – What effect do you think that will have on the fishing this Saturday?
Cole –The high water will make Beaver fishing tough in my opinion. The fish have lots of cover to set up on and anglers will get bites few and far between.
Bo –With the cool weather the last week I think that it might bring a few more fish up shallow. There are fish that live shallow all year long but with the high water this year more fish stayed up in the bushes. Finding the right bushes is the key.
Jason – You would think the cooler weather would be improving the fishing and push some shallow. All reports I’ve been getting from anglers seem to indicate the fish are confused and scattered, making it difficult to develop any pattern.
What do you think the hardest part of kayak fishing is (adjusting from bass boat fishing) and how will that come into play this week?
Bo – Going out on beaver in my kayak is overwhelming after fishing in a big boat there all my life. The thing that gets me is that I don’t have the ability to cover water and fighting the wind on the big water. Unfortunately, Beaver is a tough lake and wind is a big key in finding fish that will bite. Easy to fish in the bass boat, not so easy in the kayak.
Cole – The most difficult switch from bass boat to kayak is you have to commit to one area. With a bass boat you can run and gun and hit high percentage areas, with a kayak you have to fish slower and really pick the area apart.
Jason – If I had a bass boat for this event, it would unlock some better ability to fish off shore and more in the main river channel area.  With wind and boat traffic it is difficult in a kayak to do for very long.
Fill in the blank: The angler who wins the tournament on Saturday will have successfully…
Bo – …capitalized on an early morning topwater bite to get a limit. After that it’s going to be about covering water and trying to get a couple good bites the rest of the day.
Cole – …junked fished.
Jason – …found a decent kicker fish to go with four small ones. I do agree with Cole, it will be a junk fishing day with nothing working the entire time.
Predict the following: Winning length, Big Bass and percentage of anglers with limits.
Cole – A limit of 76.25” will take first place, with a Big Bass of 18.5” long. Predicting a tough day with only 15% of anglers turning in a limit.
Bo – I think a 70-72″ limit will get the win. Big Bass length will be 19.75″, and 60% of the anglers will catch limits. Although, the rainy weather that is being forecasted could help the bite.
Jason – Based on people I’ve been talking to who fish Beaver regularly, the lake has fished as tough as it has in quite a while. “It’s back to old Beaver Lake,” said one experienced angler. This info plus the unusually mild weather we’ve been having makes it hard to predict. I’ll say that 74″ will take it, and 2nd place won’t be out of the 60s. Due to the rainy weather, 52% of the field will pull together a keeper and Big Bass will top out at 19.75″ in length.
The tournament begins at 6:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. with heavy thunderstorms possible in the forecast. Be safe in the weather and avoid the lake during times of thunder and lightning, catching a fish isn’t worth risking your life. Check out more info on the NSKA Finale – Hickory Creek Facebook page.
Also don’t forget the Razoryak Tournament Trail Arkansas State Championship to be held on October 14 and 15 at Dardanelle. This will be the last year at that venue and will move around the state in future seasons.

Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon

You may have read my articles about the new 2018 model Bending Branches Angler Pro and how it is an elite paddle for the kayak angler. Another new paddle that us the ultimate level for kayak fishing is also being released, the brand new Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon.

The new 2018 Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon is the ultimate in kayak fishing paddles.
The new 2018 Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon is the ultimate in kayak fishing paddles.

This paddle is full carbon from tip to tip, making it the toughest, lightest and highest performance kayak fishing paddle on the planet. The blade shape is the same as the new Bending Branches Angler Pro, including the performance ridge along the middle of the blade to direct water across the face when paddling, making entering and exiting the water almost effortless.

If this were not enough, the most amazing aspect of the new Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon is an unbelievable weight of only 25.5 ounces! This is well below the weight of all other high performance fishing paddles, cutting 3 ounces off of the 2018 Angler Pro. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on this paddle!

The Angler Pro Carbon paddle is light as a feather and carbon tough.
The Angler Pro Carbon paddle is light as a feather and carbon tough.

 

Specifications of the Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon

$399.95 (Snap) $424.95 (Plus)
Weight: 25.5 oz
Full carbon construction from tip-to-tip
Same blade shape as the Angler Pro, but Compression Molded Carbon construction
Available in lengths from 230-260cm in 10cm increments and in the Plus ferrule, 230-245cm or 240-255cm

Read more about the engineering efficiency and the dynamic new styling of the new 2018 Bending Branches Angler Pro kayak fishing paddle or visit the Bending Branches website for more great angler paddle options.

Illinois River Bridge (Photo)

Recently fished the NSKA King of the String tournament, a Major League Fishing style kayak event and chose to go to the Illinois River near Watts, Oklahoma. I didn’t do particularly well on the day, the fish would not cooperate. Overall I did not like that format scattered over many bodies of water, would be much better if all on the same lake so you are fishing the same conditions. However, the scenery was great and this was a cool place to see.

Railroad bridge on the Illinois River near Watts, Oklahoma.
Railroad bridge on the Illinois River near Watts, Oklahoma.

New Angler Pro Paddle Designs

The  newly redesigned Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle not only has increased performance specs but has a new lineup of innovative blade designs. These new paddles will not only move you like never before on the water – but you’re going to have a stylish and distinctive look while paddling. All of these improvements come with a lower price point than before – $299.95 for snap and $324.95 for adjustable length and feather ferrule.

Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle in Raptor. Photo courtesy: Drew Ross, Looknfishy
Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle in Raptor. Photo courtesy: Drew Ross, Looknfishy
New Angler Pro Paddle Designs

Previously, the Angler Pro came in a limited number of blade styles (Sea Green, Camo and Realtree Max) which were attractive but somewhat understated visual representations. I’ve been using the Sea Green primarily due to high visibility for big body of water fishing but also have the Camo version for a more stealthy approach.

With the 2018 Bending Branches Angler Pro paddles, they have really upped the game in providing some dynamic and visually striking designs. These styles are great and they did a very good job of soliciting opinions from staffers during the research phase – meaning these are designs that real kayak anglers said they would love. I’m also liking the fact that even though they are all vibrant color schemes, you can likely find one to match your kayak.

2018 Bending Branches Angler Pro PaddleStyles

Presenting the new paddle blade styles for 2018:

 

Read more about the efficient engineering of the Bending Branches Angler Pro and the new all-carbon Angler Pro Carbon!

Photos courtesy of Bending Branches staffer Drew Ross and Bending Branches.

New Bending Branches Angler Pro Kayak Fishing Paddle

The crew at Bending Branches have stepped up the paddle game once again with their newly redesigned Bending Branches Angler Pro fishing paddle. Already the best paddle on the market, the Angler Pro has received several upgrades that will enhance any kayak fishing day on the water. As an avid Angler Pro user, I’ve touted it as the toughest and best paddle on the market before. This new version has me very excited and will be worth the upgrade no matter what you are currently paddling with – and now with a lower price point!

Bending Branches Angler Pro lineup for 2017.
Bending Branches Angler Pro lineup for 2017.
Designed for Performance

Science has come into play in making the Bending Branches Angler Pro an even better and more efficient water moving machine. Some of the changes in the 2018 model include a reshaping and redesign of the blade to optimize water displacement with maximum effectiveness. The blade now has a ridge running down its length which directs water across the face when paddling, making entering and exiting the water almost effortless. The shape has also been enhanced, making the paddle blade a bit shorter and a bit taller.

Bending Branches has taken it to the next level in regard to strength vs weight. Already a market leader for a premier kayak fishing paddle at 30 ounces, the new Bending Branches Angler Pro sets a new bar at 28.5 ounces, a 5% weight reduction which will make a tremendous difference with hours on the water. With this weight drop, no strength or durability is sacrificed. The Angler Pro is still built with a high grade carbon shaft and tough as nails fiberglass blade.

Newly designed Angler Pro blade displaces water for maximum efficiency. Photo courtesy: Drew Ross, Looknfishy
Newly designed Angler Pro blade displaces water for maximum efficiency. Photo courtesy: Drew Ross, Looknfishy
Specifications of the Bending Branches Angler Pro:
  • New, lower price points! $299.95 (Snap) $324.95 (Plus – adjustable length and feather)
  • New, lower weight: 28.5 oz
  • New, oversized blade shape and profile
  • Available in snap lengths from 230-260cm in 10cm increments, and in the Plus ferrule, 230-245cm or 240-255cm

Read more about the dynamic new styling of the Bending Branches Angler Pro and the new all-carbon Angler Pro Carbon!

Photos courtesy of Bending Branches staffer Drew Ross and Bending Branches.

Booyah Flex II Square Bill Review

A new bait was unveiled this week as the world got a first look at the new Booyah Flex II square bill at ICAST 2017. I was lucky enough to get a sample of the new lure a few weeks prior to ICAST and have been able to give it a workout in some real-world kayak bass fishing. Spoiler alert – it catches bass!

Booyah Flex II Specifications

According to the press kit being released for the Booyah Flex II square bill, toughness and engineered erratic action are what make this lure unique. Booyah explains that the Flex II uses a foam injected molding process to give the lure properties similar to a balsa bait in an incredibly durable body. The one-piece wire design and one-piece bill and rattle chamber are some other key features which contribute to overall toughness and durability. The erratic action of the Booyah Flex II can be attributed in part to two specially designed divots on the bill that change the direction of water moving over the body of the bait – a feature not present in other squarebills. Overall the lure weighs in at ½ ounce and measures 2 ¼” long, features #6 wide-gap treble hooks and runs 2-5 feet deep. Read more about the Booyah Flex II on their website.

Booyah Flex II square bill in Chartreuse Blue Back color.
Booyah Flex II square bill in Chartreuse Blue Back color.

On the Water

My sample Booyah Flex II was in the Chartreuse Blue Back color and features an aggressive looking 3D eye and a wide, distinctive square bill. Living in northwest Arkansas, I had to wait for an opportunity when the clear water dirtied up before I could really use this color bait. Recent storms did the trick and I was able to get out and start deflecting this bad boy off of some cover. I caught several fish, and I caught some really nice bass including a 23” 8lb giant largemouth!

Big largemouth bass caught on a Booyah Flex II square bill cranking a shallow creek channel.
Big largemouth bass caught on a Booyah Flex II square bill cranking a shallow creek channel.

This was an area of the lake where a creek ran in that had become dingy due to the new water. The arm was a flat with a small creek channel to one side. I was working the Booyah Flex II along the edges where the flat and the channel edge met, which was right around 4-5’ deep. Every fish I stuck, stayed on the lure and made it into the kayak.

What I liked about the new Booyah Flex II

First of all, love the size of the body and the size and shape of the bill. The body isn’t tiny, but isn’t huge, which I think makes it very versatile. The bill creates a confidence-building barrier in preventing getting snagged. Even though it was my only one, I really ran it through some cover and it performed very well. When not hitting cover or scraping bottom, you can feel the erratic action in the lure and know it is hunting bass while you retrieve it.

Secondly, it is tough and that’s apparent from the start. For whatever reason, I have broken a lot of lips on crankbaits and I just don’t see that happening here. It casts well and after repeatedly hitting it off of rocks and docks it doesn’t appear to show any damage at all.

Finally, I almost always change my treble hooks on crankbaits (shout-out to Owner Hooks!), but I don’t see that as a necessity here. The hooks appear to be of good quality and I’ve been using it with the ones right out of the package. Not sure who makes these hooks, but they remind me of the ones on the discontinued XCalibur square bills. If you loved XCalibur square bills, I really think you need to check out the Booyah Flex II options.

The color patterns look great and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of these options: Smoke Shad, Nubone, Threadfin Shad, Copper Head, Chartreuse Blue Back, Chartreuse Black Back, Ruby Craw, Bluegill Bobo Craw, Blush, and Hazel Craw.

The Booyah Flex II square bills and the new Booyah Streak IV deep-diving crankbait will be on sale by mid-July at Tackle Warehouse and will retail for $9.99 – check them out! Below is a great video
from Chad Warner of Booyah with some live action of the new bait.

Do Scents on Baits Really Matter?

This article on scented baits by Fish Allure staff member Alex Burton is a great breakdown of how scent can affect your fishing. This write-up was originally published in the Fish Allure newsletter and he’s graciously allowed me to share it with you here.


Do Scents on Baits Really Matter?

When it comes to using scents on lures fisherman are split down the middle. Some will not throw a lure without it, while others think it is just a gimmick. So do scents really help you put more fish in the boat?

Let’s start with how a fish “smells”. Fish have nostrils on each side of their snouts. Unlike us they don’t start sniffing around when they detect something in the water. As they move water flows into one nostril and out the other. Special nerves between the nostrils then pick up on various molecules in the water that the fish’s brain then interpret as scent.A fish’s sense of smell is roughly 1000 times greater than a dog. They use this incredible ability to associate certain smells to things in their environment. Be it specific plant life, other fish in their school, or food. They can also learn to associate certain smells to a positive or negative depending on how their experience with that particular scent was.

Obviously some fish rely more upon their sense of smell to catch prey, like catfish for instance. So what about more predatory fish like bass who rely more on sight and sound to find their food? The answer is yes, scent is essentially the icing on the cake for them.
When a bass is on the hunt they slowly patrol their territory. They watch for flashes in the water, feeling for vibrations of struggling or unsuspecting prey near them. After locking in on the location of potential prey they start circling in to check it out. As they move closer scent fills their nostrils signaling that this is indeed their next meal as they go in for the strike.

Based on what we know from above adding scent to your lures gives them that realism, bigger bass especially, need to commit to the strike. How often have you watched a bass follow closely behind your lure, but never actually touch it? That is why, they never got that final assurance they needed to go for it.

As I said earlier fish can also begin to associate some scents negatively, causing them to turn away from that particular source. This is especially true on higher pressured bodies of water where bass are already weary from constant pursuit. Subtle scents like nicotine from smoking or even sunblock will cause fish to shut down in an area.


Great article by Alex that emphasizes the importance of using scent to improve your fishing. If you liked this information, sign up now for the Fish Allure Email Newsletter or more articles like this delivered to your inbox!

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