Angler Combat Drops Big News & Future Plans

Angler Combat is generating a lot of buzz in the kayak fishing community and is making big moves to continue their invasion of the digital fishing tournament world. If you are an angler who fishes from the bank, a kayak, or from a bass boat, I encourage you to take a look at Angler Combat. Get in now while it’s early because I predict it will explode in popularity in 2016 and beyond. They are now announcing some big changes which will help with this growth…keep reading for their big news!

OK, so what is Angler Combat?
Angler Combat is a catch, photo and release (CPR) oriented digital tournament where participants compete within a broad geography against other anglers. What makes Angler Combat unique is it includes three competitive divisions – Land, Kayak and Boat. No anglercombatother tournament series provides anglers from almost anywhere an ability to compete, no matter how they choose to fish. Competitors are ranked by their top five fish submitted via the iAngler Tournament app, using a unique identifier code for each 28 day tournament period. For a $10 monthly entry fee, division winners can walk away with a significant cash prize or some other high end prizes. To get an idea about the experience, read this round-table discussion about Angler Combat from some Arkansas Kayak Angler members who have been actively competing.

For a tournament series which only began in November of 2015, Angler Combat has already gained a lot of awareness and notoriety thanks to word of mouth and social media. Their officials report that they have averaged more than 100 competitors in each of the first three months, which is already ahead of their initial expectations (especially in these winter months). There has been some interesting data coming in from the first three monthly tournaments. One of the most surprising stats is that on average, anglers fishing from the bank are out-catching those in kayaks and boats. It’s reported that competitors in the “Land” category are submitting better five fish totals on average. At first this is very surprising, but they say this is likely because bank fishermen can fish more, often daily while on a lunch break or before or after work. The more you fish, the more you catch to turn in. So far the prize packages have been impressive, thanks to some of their key sponsors: Jackson Kayak, Orion Coolers, WASPcam, Boonedox USA, Manley Rods and YakGear, among others.

Big News #1 – NEW Division Structure Begins in February
The crew at Angler Combat has been listening to their participants and analyzing the data. With a bit of number crunching they have determined there is a competitive imbalance between the fishing new map ACqualities in some of the states currently in the South division. Beginning this February, Florida, Texas and California will be broken out into their own division call the Big “3” division. This may lower the participation total in the short term in each division but will be a great improvement overall and I believe will help them grow more quickly with a level playing field. This should address the top concern about Angler Combat in our AKA roundtable discussion and review of Angler Combat.

Big News #2 – Marketing Blitz and Tournament Expansion Plans
This is only the beginning of the growth as they plan to begin to seriously market the tournament series, including a new television commercial recently filmed in Florida. Anyone who competes in Angler Combat should be pleased as they increase their TV and online marketing, which will improve the participation numbers and in turn will drive up prize values. In addition to a ramped up marketing push, there are also plans in the works for expanded contests and prizes, and eventually the launch of Striper and Redfish online tournaments.

Big News #3 – Television Series
The most intriguing and exciting news to me about the future of Angler Combat is their plan to launch a competition-style television show which would air on a well-known fishing network. This show is said to feature fishing pros competing against amateurs who are winners in Angler Combat monthly tournaments – showing their battles for supremacy. Pros against talented locals in Land, Kayak and Boat showdowns should be very entertaining. We should hear a lot more about this television project in the coming months. Stay tuned.

These are lots of positive moves which will improve or enhance an already fun online tournament which could be the next big thing. My advice? Get started now, sign up and compete. Get in early and you will be an Angler Combat veteran by the time it goes main stream.

Spotlight – Drop Shot Tips, Dobyns Fury Series Rods, Cold Water Kayaking Dangers, Katrina’s Story

Here’s a roundup of some of the things that caught my eye this week that are worth a look from fellow kayak bass fishing anglers:

Tim Hotchkin is once again back with a solid video, this time he is breaking down his approach with drop shot fishing. He’s an excellent drop shot fisherman and I’ve learned a lot from him on the water about this topic. Golden’s Baits is featured – they make some great plastic bait options. Check out this video for some insider tips:

I’ve recently written a Dobyns Rods review here on this blog, but here is a more comprehensive breakdown on the Dobyns Fury Series by Justin Brouillard that identifies five of the best rod options in this new rod set. I’ve been using a 734C version and like it so much I am currently adding more to my arsenal. This article has been very helpful in reviewing options – hopefully it helps you as well. For value-minded kayak fishing shoppers, Dobyns Fury series is a quality option at a really nice price point.

Safety is always a paramount concern when kayaking, kayak fishing or just paddling. Increased danger emerges in winter when water temps start dropping and flipping your kayak can put you in a life-threatening situation. With the recent news of multiple fatal accidents, I’m hoping people will take extra caution when hitting the water. This article on Dangerous Cold Water Submersion by Chris Payne at Kayak Fishing Blog is a harrowing account of an experience he and his son had in a cold water situation. Additionally, this article and video from Paddling.net are good for anyone who kayaks in the winter to see. Be safe out there!

On a local note, this blog article on Yakfisharkansas.com is a touching story by Katrina DeGraff about why she joined the Arkansas Kayak Anglers and really illustrates the community aspect of kayak fishing. Katrina is a great person and I look forward to continue to get to know her and Luke better at future events.

Top Six Kayak Fishing Tournament Lessons from 2015

My first year competing in kayak bass fishing tournament trails was a real learning experience. Each and every event taught me something new – and sometimes the lessons were painful, but made me a better competitor and helped me accomplish a successful Razoryak Tournament Trail season. Here are some of my top kayak bass fishing tournament lessons learned from 2015:

  1. Fish security is very important. This seems obvious, but if you don’t get a quality photo on the hawg trough, you can’t count the fish. In my very first kayak bass fishing tournament on a tough day of fishing at Swepco Lake, I lost three bass off the board while taking the picture – leaving me only one to turn in on the card. It was a bad start for the AOY points race and I finished far down the rankings for this event! Some people use a clip or fish grips (as their circuit may allow) and others just have a certain technique that helps control the fish. What I learned here is I hadn’t practiced this enough going into the tourney. When getting started, this is something you should practice over and over with your hawg trough and camera when pre-fishing or fun fishing so that it is second nature on tournament day!
  2. Take care and time when taking photos. In my second kayak bass fishing tournament of the year my luck improved and I caught a very competitive limit (and kept them on the hawg trough for the pic) but in my excitement I didn’t focus enough on making sure each
    kayak bass fishing tournament fish
    This bass was caught using a Heddon Super Spook around submerged rock along the bank.

    bass had its mouth fully closed for the photo. I was in too much of a hurry and not taking the time to work a bit with the fish to get the mouth closed. I finished third in this event, but lost out on Big Bass and second place due to deductions on three of my five fish. Learning from this, I didn’t have a deduction the rest of the year.

  3. Don’t give up! You hear this all the time and read it in almost every article, but staying focused and not giving up on a bad day is difficult. During the WAKA River Run event I had scouted a location where I’d never fished and got off to an OK start, picking up a couple of largemouth bass early. Over the next several hours I didn’t get any bites and didn’t have a clue. I wanted to quit, give up, and was thinking about an early start on the long drive home. But I kept going and kept trying. With less than an hour left before tournament turn-in I caught a 16″ and 17.5″ on back to back casts and then one more a few minutes later. Caught on a wacky rig, check out Yum Dingers for some great color options) This resulted in my first win of the year and Big Bass for the tournament. If I had listened to my self-doubt and frustration then I would have missed out on a great finish. Two other times in 2015 I had similar experiences with catching an important fish in the last 30-45 minutes – don’t give up!
  4. Pay attention to the details. Another difficult lesson learned this year is not to take small details for granted. It’s not enough to pick the right bait, make the best cast and work the lure perfectly. I paid the price a few times this year for not doing some little things to help make sure I landed the bigger fish you need to win. Some things to focus on include ensuring your hooks are sharp (change them out if necessary!), check the drag settings on every reel, and take time to tie the right knot for your technique and re-tie as often as needed. On one tournament day at Lake Charleston I lost one of the biggest largemouth bass that I hooked all year when the knot broke from worn line and my drag was too tight. This could have changed a fourth place finish into a first place finish!
  5. Take an inventory before you launch.  Finding the pattern on tournament day to get bass in the kayak is a terrific feeling. Losing the lure that’s catching them, or running out of the plastic bait that’s pulling them in is an awful one. If you have a go-to confidence bait or some key lures for a particular event, be sure you have more than one in the boat. One of the things I enjoy about kayak fishing is the challenge in managing a limited amount of space and gear I can take on the water. One event this year I did a very poor job of this and it cost me when the key pattern emerged and I wasn’t prepared to take advantage.
  6. Map out your time. This is one item I figured out fairly early and it works well for me. Before a tournament starts I know exactly how long it takes me to get on my fishing location and how long it takes me to get back to turn in my card.  This allows me to maximize my time on the water casting for bass without risking missing the cutoff.  Things can happen such as a vehicle or equipment breakdown, but other times people just misjudge paddling or driving time.  This is particularly helpful in Beaver Lake style road runner events, or if you keep paddling further, clock your time. To help with this I keep a visible watch face in my kayak so I know what time it is at all times and can keep tabs on when I need to get moving.

Many of these tips are fairly basic but are all related to some personal lessons learned and I hope are helpful to kayak bass fishing tournament anglers regardless of experience level.

Spotlight – New Year’s Resolutions, Kayak Buying Tips, Paddle Questions and Destroyer Baits

It’s a new year and a good time to get your gear right and your mind right for the upcoming kayak fishing season. Here is a roundup of some of the best kayak bass fishing articles this week:

Our friends at Yakfisharkansas.com talk about New Year’s Resolutions, including a couple that resonate with me. They mention improving with a hard jerkbait (which I believe is difficult to fish from a kayak) and drop shot. For me, I have a focus on improving with jigs and swimbaits in 2016.

Did you get a new kayak for Christmas, or want to know how to get started kayak fishing? There are a couple of good articles this week worth a read. First up is Four Tips for First Time Kayak Buyers from Kayak Fishing Blog which has some good items to consider. It touches on budgeting for your kayak purchase, which should include additional funds for the key accessories and paddle.  I’d like to underscore though, invest in the most comfortable kayak you can possibly afford – sitting in one for hours will make you regret going cheap on the seat situation.

Next up is an article by a good guy I know, Garett VanWie, on Where to Begin for kayak bass fishing. Garett echos my assertion of buying the right kayak and paddle instead of simply buying the cheapest. Congrats to Garett for this article on Bassresource.com.

I personally use a Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle, which I love. Having the right paddle for you is very important to fully enjoy the sport of kayak bass fishing. This article, Kayak Paddle Questions, provides some sample questions in evaluating the key aspects of choosing the right paddle for you. Like a kayak, my advice is to do your research, talk to some expert staff at a quality sales outlet and get the best paddle you can afford. Durability and weight are a couple of key factors for me – a heavy paddle makes for a long day on the water.

My friend Tim Hotchkin has a good breakdown of Destroyer Bait Spy Jigs. Shout-out to him for a great job with the video.

 

Spotlight – Tackle Prep, Winter Fishing Techniques, Razoryak State Championship, Winter Jig Fishing

Here are some of the better recent stories and articles about kayak bass fishing. Take a moment to check out tips, reviews and stories from these online sites:

Kayak fishing requires us to be more efficient with our tackle management. This video from Chad Hoover and the Kayak Fishing Blog gives great insight on how he preps and carries his tackle for a typical shoot.

Yum baits and Alton Jones help us out with some tips and techniques for winter bass fishing. He shares some thoughts on winter fishing and what he’ll be doing this winter to get ready for the upcoming season.

Read about kayak angler, Jason Cossey of Arkansas, who took 1st in this year’s Arkansas State Championship. Great write up of the event and some insight into his strategy by Yak Fish Arkansas.

Winter bass fishing in many cases means going slow and presenting bait to the fish they can’t resist. Booyah Baits shares the three types of jigs best for winter bass fishing.

Although I don’t agree with everything stated in the article, this opinion piece on fishing prostaff is thought provoking and worth a read. If considering participating in a fishing or tackle company’s promotional staff or ambassador program, it is good to do your research and know what it means – for both the angler and the company. Article is from Kayak Fishing Blog.

 

Dobyns Rods Fury Series Review

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been wanting to try out a new Dobyns Rod I’d picked up recently while on the road at a tournament event. Then I wanted to do a Dobyns Rods review.

A friend had told my about Dobyns Rods and suggested I try one out, so I did – and he was right, I’m impressed. My Dobyns is a Fury Series 734C, one of their more affordable rods with a suggested retail price of Dobyns Rods review$109.99, but it is balanced and has the feel to me of a higher end casting rod. The 734C is 7’3″ long and is geared toward techniques including buzzbaits, horny toads, jigs, senkos, swimbaits and spinnerbaits. The Fury Series hasn’t been around long, just been since May of 2015.

For the Dobyns rods review I was able to get out and use the rod extensively on a fishing trip to the Elk River and it performed very well. The first thing you notice is how comfortable the grip is with a nice cork main handle and then a butt covered in a “Hypalon” material, giving you more grip for long casts. Starting out with a Booyah spinnerbait I had a nice bass hooked within the first 30 minutes and the rod performed beautifully. Whether launching long, accurate casts, setting the hook, or reeling in an upset largemouth, it felt silky smooth. Again, feeling in the hand like a higher end rod than the actual price. Later on when switching to a jig, it was no problem for shorter and more accurate casts.

Dobyns Fury Series Rod

Dobyns does offer four other levels of rods: Champion Extreme, Champion, Savvy, and Savvy Micro Guide. Overall I am very pleased with this Dobyns Fury series rod, a great value for the price and plan to look into more Dobyns rods in the future. Find them at an local dealer or online at sources such as Tackle Warehouse.

Bending Branches Blades are Tough!

This Bending Branches promotional video below does a good job of showing the various positive attributes of their paddles for anglers. In the video it says “beefed up blades” when showing the Angler Pro IMG_1326on screen. I can attest, not only are these blades more than tough enough to manage moving water, brush and rocks, but also came in very handy in a recent roadside situation.

On the way home from a work event, a co-worker was stranded on the side of a very busy interstate. She had run over a gas can which had wedged under her car and wouldn’t come loose. You could smell the gas and the can was wedged tightly up under the engine block, just out of reach! When we jacked up her car, I grabbed one end of the Bending Branches Angler Pro and put it to work, pushing and prodding and prying the gas can. The paddle powered it loose and scraped it out from under her car.  I’m thankful every time I hit the water with my Angler Pro, but also am thankful it was just the tough tool we needed in that tight situation.

AKA Members Kayak Fish Shadow Lake

Temperatures were unseasonably high for a weekend in December so a group of kayak fishermen from Arkansas Kayak Anglers hit the water in search of some pre-holiday fish. The destination was where the Elk River turns into Shadow Lake in Noel, Missouri. This is a great little year-round fishery providing good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass in particular

We had a really enjoyable time on the water due to the weather (overcast and temps at 70 degrees in mid-December!) and pulled in some good fish. Although we couldn’t zero in on a hard pattern, fish were caught numerous ways. I personally hooked good size largemouth bass on a Booyah spinnerbait, Smithwick suspending Rogue, and a Heddon Super Spook, Jr. Some of our other crew had success as well, including a few smallies. Appreciate the great group of kayak fishing friends in the area and thank Charlie, Jason, Mark and Jason for a good day on the Elk.

Hwy 59 bridge where the Elk meets Shadow Lake is a hot spot for bass.
Hwy 59 bridge where the Elk meets Shadow Lake is a hot spot for bass.
Jason and Mark work the river for bass.
Jason and Mark work the river for bass.
Jason shows off a nice largemouth bass caught on a shakey head.
Jason shows off a nice largemouth bass caught on a shaky head.
3.4 lb large mouth bass caught on a crankbait.
17.5″ largemouth bass caught on a crankbait.

 

Norman Lures Acquired

Thinn
Norman’s Thin N

One bit of news in the tackle business world caught my attention as Norman Lures was recently acquired. Norman Lures is a local company (based in Greenwood, Ark.) and has been producing
baits for more than 50 years. This news is interesting to me because of the fact Norman Lures is a local company, one of the oldest and well-respected bass fishing brands and is a producer of some of my favorite crankbaits.

Depending on the time of year, my kayak has several Norman lures on board including the Deep Little N, Thin N and Fat Boy in particular. It’s been announced that the specific Norman lures like the DD22, Deep Little N, Mad N, Flat Broke, and Fat Boy will be continued. No definitive word yet on some of their other lures. I’m personally a big fan of the Thin N, so I hope they keep it around.  The Thin N has a unique “coffin-bill” shaped lip that combines with the thin profile to give it a different wiggle than many other squarebills. This could mean I need to stash some more Thin N lures just in case they become unavailable.

Overall, this seems like positive news and will allow a great brand and some great baits to continue to be available to fishermen. Norman Lures was purchased by PRADCO Outdoor Brands, and you can read more about the acquisition in the Southwest Times Record. PRADCO produces many brands that I love to use including Booyah, Yum, Smithwick, Bomber, Bandit, Heddon, Rebel and Arbogast.

Great Service by Dobyns Rods

Would like to recognize Dobyns Rods for some excellent service recently, which is important from a fishing equipment company. At a recent visit to Lake Fork I purchased a Dobyns Rod at the tackle shop and once I was home recognized a small problem with it. Being hundreds of miles from where I purchased it in Texas, this kayak fisherman was at a loss of what to do.

One email to Dobyns Rods directly with an explanation of my problem resulted in a quick reply from them with a proposal to fix the issue. The assistance was quick, it was courteous and I could tell they really wanted to help me out. I’ll be reviewing my Dobyns rod very soon here on the blog. As I previously wrote, I’m looking for a new go-to rod company and they have certainly made a great impression so far.

Sharing News, Tips and Reviews for Kayak Anglers.