As a competitive kayak fishing tournament angler I am a big believer in the importance of having a quality paddle while fishing. Other than your kayak and your PFD, it is the next most important piece of equipment you can have on the water. In this Bending Branches Angler Pro Paddle Review I’ll share some thoughts on why this is the ultimate paddle for kayak fishing.
My fleet consists of three kayaks (Wilderness Tarpon100, Wilderness Ride115, and Hobie Pro Angler 12) and four Bending Branches paddles (Sunrise, Angler Ace and two Angler Pros). Bending Branches is my preferred brand because of their superior
engineering, durability, flawless construction and they are assembled in the USA. Within their paddle lineup, the Angler Ace is a great option, but this is an Angler Pro paddle review, so we’ll focus on that model.
More Power, Faster Speed
Whether using a full paddle with my Ride115 or a half paddle on my Hobie PA12, the 104″ surface area of the blade on the Angler Pro provides maximum water displacement to help move you along quickly or to make a turn easier and with less effort. The T-700 Carbon shaft makes a long day on the water easier on your shoulders and joints by providing just the right amount of flex to maximize your paddle stroke and minimizing strain. At only 30 oz. this paddling power comes in an amazingly light package.
Tough as Nails
When I got my first Angler Pro it was a thing of beauty, I was sooo paranoid about scuffing it or messing it up because it looked awesome. Soon though I was using it to fend off everything from rocks to docks and have really put a lot of stress on the blades. This thing is practically indestructible and still looks great. For off the water toughness, just read this previous article about how I used my paddle to help rescue someone on the side of the interstate. The blade on this paddle stands up to anything I’ve been able to throw at it thanks to multi-layer fiberglass blades.
In addition to paddling power and toughness, the Angler Pro comes with several other elite features that make it the ultimate paddle for kayak fishing:
Comes either with a three hole snap-button ferrule feature allowing you to feather the blade angles, and also available with a telescoping ferrule for an adjustable length.
Tape measure imprinted on handle…I use mine sometimes to
determine water visibility by putting one end of the paddle down and measuring with the handle.
Stylish color options include Sea Green, Camo and RealTree Max5. I have one in Sea Grean which is a high visibility color for safety on the water and one in Camo which is a sharp, understated look.
The Angler Pro with a snap-button ferrule comes in sizes ranging from 220cm to 260cm, in 10cm increments. With the Plus ferrule, the Angler Pro is available in adjustable lengths of 230-245cm and 240-255cm. For larger sit on top kayaks, or taller anglers, lean toward the longer length.
Although the price of $329.95 isn’t cheap, you truly get what you pay for. And, what you get with this paddle is unparalleled performance and toughness to give you a competitive edge on the water. I hope you enjoyed this Pro Angler paddle review and will consider it for your kayak fishing needs.
Caught this Arkansas largemouth bass while kayak bass fishing at Swepco Lake. Hooked it in two feet of water using a Bandit 100 in Green Speckled Craw pattern armed with Owner Stinger treble hooks. Was 20″ and weighed 5.55 pounds.
Gear setup: Hobie Pro Angler 12, Bending Branches Pro Angler Paddle, Dobyns Fury Rod, P-Line 12lb Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles and Fish Allure Scented tab applied to back of bait.
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This recent spotlight features one of the most exclusive kayak bass fishing tournaments in the country, a product feature, tips for fishing with kids and one of my favorite tackle sources:
The Yak4It Tournament of Champions at Lake Fork, Texas, is coming up in November and I’m excited to have qualified again this year to compete. This tournament is by invitation only and qualifiers are selected from tournament circuits or events around the country based on how the anglers have performed in those events. This is the second year in a row I will be competing representing Arkansas along with other qualifiers from the state. The tournament is held at famous Lake Fork and Lake Fork Marina and Motel serves as the epicenter of the event. Last year was my first time on the lake, am hoping for a better finish this year.
Heddon is an old school fishing brand that I love to throw because I simply catch fish with these lures. Here is a nice video from Heddon showing off some pond fishin’ with a Pop’n Image.
Kayak Fishing Blog is my favorite website for reading about kayak fishing topics and once again they have a great article, this one on 15 Tips for Kayaking with Kids. Taking kids out on the water is a great way to create a legacy and grow the sport. Make it a great trip by using the tips in their handy infographic.
If your local big box store doesn’t carry some of the plastics or lure variations you need, check out Lurenet.com for baits. This site carries only certain product lines (including some big ones like YUM and Booyah) but has the deepest selection from within their offerings. For example, I like to use the YUM 10″ Ribbontail worm in Black/Blue flake, but this is a hard one to find. Lurenet.com has it and a lot more.
Fishing with a topwater bait from a kayak may require a different technique than from a bass boat. Check out this video for a quick tip on working a ‘walk the dog’ style bait like a Heddon Zara Spook.
Bass fishing with a topwater lure is some of the most fun you can have as a kayak angler. Lures like a walking bait, jerkbaits and flukes must be worked with the rod tip parallel to the water. This can be a bit difficult at first, but with a little practice you can tune in your presentation to catch some big bass.
Fellow Arkansas Kayak Angler Jeff Malott won a cool $3,000 this past weekend at the KBS Open on Table Rock Lake. Jeff is a great angler who works hard at his craft and deserved the win. Jeff caught eight bass and turned in a limit of 82″ inches on a post-front day. He is the tournament director for Arkansas Kayak Angler events, one of the founders of the Razoryak Tournament Trail and serves on many other kayak fishing related boards. It’s no surprise an AKA member won on Table Rock; clear and rocky water like that is home turf. Jeff is currently at the top spot in the AOY points for AKA and has a great season. Check out Jeff’s blog, Yakfish Arkansas.
If you are fortunate enough to have a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP), they are a lot of fun. Choosing the right paddle can make all the difference. Bending Branches has this great article about Choosing a Stand-Up Paddle that’s helpful and includes some graphics representing the height of the paddler to the paddle and the right angle at which to make a paddle stroke.
Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers and Arkansas Kayak Anglers have updated their respective Angler of the Year points rankings after their most recent events. In northwest Arkansas, the AOY standings are taking shape with only two events left. Jeff Malott, Dwain Batey, Jason Kincy (me), Decland McDonald and Tim Hotchkin are sitting in the top five spots, with the top three places separated by eight points. Overall, there are 108 anglers in the points race. For WAKA, Brandon Ward and Cody Skelton are in a tight race for first, with Tommy Mcguire, Christa Hibbs and Joe Feyen rounding out the top five. Having only fished two events this year for WAKA, I’m currently sitting at 21 out of 47 anglers.
The same baits paid big dividends in two tourneys in two different locations this past weekend. Over two days I competed in two road-runner kayak bass fishing tournaments on the Razoryak Tournament Trail.
Western Kayak Anglers held their tournament on Saturday and I took my kayak to Charleston Lake in Charleston, Arkansas. Hoping for an early topwater bite was the right move on this small, shallow lake. Within 45 minutes I had three keepers on my Heddon Super Spook Jr. (Foxy Shad) with a Fish Allure scented tab. Later in the morning I hooked into a giant who broke me off with a hard dive right at the yak, taking my spook with them. I was able to add a fourth keeper later in the day with a YUM Dinger (Cajun Neon) around buckbrush, but fell short of the five I needed that day. Still finished 11th in this event on this tough post-front bite day.
Sunday was a different day and a better bite when 74 kayak anglers in NW Arkansas hit the road for Arkansas Kayak Anglers. I went to Beaver Lake to try and capitalize on a really good 2016 bite. Early on, the spook was working again, netting me three keepers on a Super Spook Jr. (Florida Bass) with a Fish Allure scented tab. I’d been experimenting with the relatively new Booyah Bankroll Jig and it did good work that morning. I pulled a nice keeper off of a log and moments later hooked a big one in some brush – which got away thanks to getting wrapped up on the wood. The Bankroll jig is great because of its versatility; I can swim it, flip it or drag it. Thanks to these baits I was able to cull twice and put together a decent limit. There were 30 limits caught on this day but I was able to finish in the top 10 out of 74 for the event and am in 3rd in the overall points race.
Great equipment is key in fishing kayak tournaments, maybe even more than in boat tournaments because you cover much less water. Every bite is critical! Some people ask about my boat setup, so here it is: Native Propel 10 kayak, Bending Branches Angler Pro Paddle, Humminbird Helix 5, and white Hawg Trough.
Focus this week highlights a great source for some key tackle items, a drop shot fishing breakdown and a couple of other items of interest for kayak anglers:
Last spring while attending the FLW event at Beaver Lake I was exposed to Primary Tackle Co out of Bartlett, TN. This Memphis area tackle company has a variety of products available but seems to specialize in terminal tackle items and plastics. For me, it’s been a great money saver in tungsten weights, getting quality tungsten for a cheaper price than the big stores.
To give you an idea on price savings on these Vike tungsten weights, a pair of 3/4 oz is $7.99 on Tackle Warehouse and only $6.49 at Primary Tackle. A three pack of 1/4 oz worm weights are $5.19 on Tackle Warehouse and $3.99 at Primary Tackle. Tungsten 1/8 drop shot weights are $.50 less per three pack at Primary Tackle than at Tackle Warehouse. These prices illustrate pretty consistently the price savings you might see. Shipping is free with orders over $25!
We’re in February now and it’s always a good time to review some tips on canoe and kayak storage. Bending Branches put out this good article about preparing and storing your boats. Always appreciate the good content Bending Branches puts out to help paddlers get the most they can out of the sport!
Has anyone used a Water Wolf camera for underwater shooting? I’ve been reading about this product and am very intrigued by the idea of an underwater camera paired with kayak fishing. Hope to do more on Water Wolf in the future as I learn more about it.
This is a really good video put up by Jeff from Yakfisharkansas.comabout drop shot fishing using Goldens Baits. I know Jeff and Tim and they are both great kayak anglers. Take some time to watch this video for some solid drop shot action:
Bending Branches recently posted an article about the significance of the measuring tape on their paddle handles. They list some good uses, although as they point out many tournament anglers use a hawg trough instead for measuring. One use they don’t mention that I rely on from time to time is using the tape measure for a reliable water clarity guide. Sometimes instead of just eyeballing water clarity when kayak fishing, i’ll use the paddle and tape measure to gauge depth visibility.
Kayak Fishing Blog in my opinion produces more consistently good content than anyone on kayak bass fishing, and Chris Payne does the best work. Some other highlights from this week include a guide to CPR Camera Selectionand a Lew’s Reel Giveaway.
Finally, cold water safety when kayaking has been top of mind lately and I ran across this article from about a year ago from Looknfishy. This is a really good breakdown of not only what to have with you in case you get wet, but some other thoughts on what you’ll need if you are out alone, and truly are in a life threatening situation.
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.
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 on 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.