Friday, 17 October 2014

ABU Ambassadeur 6500i TSR Review

ABU Ambassadeur 6500i TSR

Made in Sweden!

So, is this reel only for long distance casting off the beach? It sure is amazing for that, but I think it's a great kayak reel too.
There are several reasons why I chose this reel. First of all it suited both purposes for me. When I go away in my van, I do both beach and kayak fishing. Space and weight are at a premium and I don't want to load up with loads of different bits of kit. The TSR ticked this box nicely.
Shown here on Abu Suveran 12lb Rod Butt with ALPS Reel Seat
The reel has a one piece machined solid aluminium frame and is designed to sit low on the rod. Perfect for me on the kayak as I don't like bulky reels sticking out all over the place. They just get in the way!
With Stainless Steel Gears and Ceramic bearings there will be no rust or corrosion to worry about. Again, perfect for the kayak as reels do endure fairly harsh conditions and even the odd dunking!
One thing I can say is the reel foot is fairly large so won't fit every rod seat so, do check...!

Stunning colour makes this reel really stand out.
I've been using the reel all year and I am extremely happy with it. It's so smooth and ticks so many boxes for me, as I have mentioned. The Reel is made in Sweden and just feels like quality in your hand. I can go beach casting if the weather is inclement but then switch the reel onto my Suveran and paddle off for a session on the kayak. Perfect!

You can see from this picture just how low it sits on the rod.
Abu Suveran 12lb Class rod coupled with the 6500i TSR. Great combination.
It also catches fish!
Thanks for reading.
Ian Pickering 17th October 2014.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Old Town Predator 13 Review

Old Town Predator 13

Length: 13' 2"     Width: 33.5"     Weight: 39kg

I collected the Predator 13 in March of this year and have had many successful and comfortable trips on her. The main question I get asked when people see it is "Is it heavy?" Well, yes, it is heavier than most kayaks at 39kgs, but like the OK Ultra 4.7, the weight is perfectly balanced 50/50 when lifting using the solid handles. It hasn't been a problem for me and I lift it onto my car on my own.
First of all here's some pictures....
Spacious and well laid out with a 'Mod Pod' centre compartment and familiar 'Click seal' front hatch. 

Fishfinder battery bag in the bow hatch.

The seat.... Love it or loath it, it's comfortable and can be put in low or high position.
Rod tip protectors and rod retainer bungees.
Six Removable mounting plates. Shown here with a Railblaza StarPort.
Features a Humminbird transducer scupper but I have fitted a Garmin 301dv with a little adjustment.
My first trip was on Llangorse lake in Wales. It was extremely windy but I was surprised how well the P13 handled it. With it gusting 30kts+ at times and some substantial waves, I thought I would struggle. I was fine and even managed to winkle out five Pike. 
There are six removable and fully interchangeable mounting plates. You can change your mind as often as you like, and even alter for different accessories depending on your trip without drilling any holes in the hull. Great idea.
A dismantled C-Tug fits in the front hatch easily and there is plenty of storage behind the seat. There is also a stand up assist strap should you wish to attempt SUF (Stand Up Fishing). I tried and after a shaky few seconds I was up and away!
Here's a short video of my legs taken with the Garmin Virb Elite.
It is VERY well made, stable and comfortable. It's not a kayak that you would want to travel miles off shore in but it has it's place, like all kayaks. Personally, I like it, especially for long day sessions on the lakes. I can spend 9hrs afloat and still walk afterwards!
This is a kayak that won't suit everyone, but it will tick a lot of boxes for some. I've mainly used it on freshwater but have I launched on the sea and it handled it well. The Swanage competition being one of them. The conditions weren't really rough but I had a great day afloat.
Here's a couple more photo's in action.

 Sorry about the legs once again!!
Thanks for reading....
Ian Pickering 15th October 2014.




Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Garmin Virb Elite Review

Garmin Virb Elite HD

I’ve now been using the Garmin Virb Elite HD camera on my kayak for the last 6 months. First impressions when I removed it from the box were how neat, compact and robust it felt.  It comes with various mounts and brackets so lots of different ways of attaching to your kayak. I use the bracket with a 3M self-adhesive pad to fix to a Railblaza CameraBoom 600 and so far hasn’t moved at all. I do however tether my camera using a leash.
On power up I was away really quickly as it was extremely easy to set up and use with just a menu, up, down and enter buttons. The 1.4” Chroma display is slightly difficult to see in very bright conditions but once it’s set up you don’t really need the screen apart from adjusting the view at the beginning of your trip.  There is however, an App so you can use your smartphone as a viewfinder which is great. From the App you can also remotely control the device.
A couple of weeks ago I purchased a Garmin 78s GPS and I discovered this can also be used as a remote control and works well. I also purchased the optional remote control (approx. £40) and I use it on a wrist strap to start/stop the recording and to take stills with good results.
I fitted a 64gb Micro SD card so there is plenty of recording space (7hrs+) and I find the battery will last up to 3hrs on continual record. I use it though with the remote control, and when not recording the unit goes to sleep, then wakes up on command from the remote. This way I’ve had up to 5hrs battery life.
On the first few outings I had a few issues where the unit would freeze and only removing the battery would rectify. I updated the software on the unit and it sorted the problem straight away.
The quality is very good (1080p) as you can see. Some of the pictures are stills taken with the Virb and some are Screen Snipes taken off the video recordings. I found the Virb Edit program very easy to use but fairly basic… Just perfect for a Luddite like me!
It is IPX7 waterproof down to 1m and you can also get a dive case as an optional extra.
All in all I’m very happy with the Virb and I have managed to shoot some excellent HD video and some stills that I wouldn’t have taken with a conventional camera.
I now don’t go on a trip without it….
Ian Pickering 7th October 2014

Friday, 29 August 2014

Abu Garcia Devil Spinning Rods

Abu Garcia Devil Spinning Rods

2-10g (5ft6") & 5-15g (7ft)

I've been using these rods for a while now, mainly on freshwater. I am that impressed at the performance for the price (about £20) that I'm thinking of buying 10-30g (7ft) for saltwater use.

It has a carbon composite blank and quality TS guides which are great for braided line use.
They are nicely made and it's nice to see my favourite handle material- cork. The butt is a nice length for use on the kayak and they are well balanced.
This is the 2-10g 5ft 6" rod with an 8lb Pike on... lovely bend!

Great fun on light gear.


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Fitting Railblaza StarPort HD to the Prowler Ultra 4.7

Fitting Railblaza StarPort HD to Ultra 4.7

Railblaza have released their new  StarPort HD 
Many vessels are made to suit the mount base pattern of Scotty, RAM,
Cannon, Fish-On, and many others. The StarPort HD now fits straight onto the brass inserts on the Ocean Kayak Prowler range without any fuss or modification. I fitted mine using 16mm M5 Stainless Steel Screws with a washer. On the forward StarPort HD I use a TracPort 350 so I can use multiple accessories.
The design is very sleek, strong and low profile so reducing the danger of catching the car roof when transporting upside down.
I have two mounts on the hatch of my Ultra 4.7
The forward most one I use with a SwivelPort and RodHolder II for trolling, the nearest one for other accessories to mount GPS etc.
Any stiffness in the slide lock seems to have been overcome. It now glides effortlessly without a struggle, especially when you have cold hands.
These are available in the UK now and I think very reasonably priced at approx. £10.
Had to slide a fish picture in...!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

8 Year Old Benjamin's First Kayak Fish

The weather was spot on for a launch the day before the 2014 Oxwich Kayak Competition. Light winds and 24 degrees saw perfect conditions for a young one to get started. Port Eynon was the venue.

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy was the chosen vesicle supported by myself in my Ultra 4.7xt
We tied off together and dropped down some Sabiki's in 7m of water. It wasn't long before he was showing me up! Nice little Grey Gurnard.... Benjamin's first ever fish!
I was then into some Mackerel, seconds later, so was Benjamin.
He couldn't believe quite how three fish on at once made such a fight. Great fun!

One very happy chappy...


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Old Town Predator XL

Meet the new flagship Predator in Old Town's Premier Angler Series. Incorporating all the pioneering features of the original Predator, including the Element seating system, customizable, high-strength mounting plates, Exo-ridge deck and Tri-Hull design, the Predator XL adds a 45lb thrust, saltwater-grade Minn Kota motor and a foot-operated rudder system to deliver an unrivaled hands-free fishing experience and pinpoint control.

Stealth quiet and supremely stable, the Predator XL was developed and fine-tuned through exhaustive consumer research, input from the Old Town Dealer Panel and Design Council, and the combined experience of the Johnson Outdoors pro-staff and Watercraft Design Team. The result is a premium, customizable, purpose-driven fishing machine that retains the best features and benefits of the original Predator series, while adding integrated, adapt in-a-snap consoles including the Minn Kota system.

The XL's Minn Kota Console system is a fully enclosed modular unit that provides fast and convenient plug and play performance. It includes a speed dial with forward and reverse functions not available on many other hands free boats, battery level indicator, USB charging port, sonar mounting plates, as well as battery and cable storage for sonar equipment and other gear. The Consoles' Quick-Kick Stand™ allows the user to lift and stow the motor unit with one hand, and lower it again with the flick of the foot, an inspired technology that helps avoid prop collisions with water hazards, and quickly raise and clear away and weeds and debris.

At just over thirteen feet long and thirty-six inches wide, the Predator XL delivers an amazing carrying capacity of 600 pounds of angler, gear and fish. The foot-controlled rudder system for hands-free operation in forward or reverse set the Predator XL apart from the competition, helping to control the boat confidently in wind and current, when fishing in tight spots or where fish are holding close to structure.

"The Predator XL will set a whole new bar in what consumers expect in a fishing kayak," said David Hadden, Brand Director for Johnson Outdoors Watercraft. "With the Predator XL we wanted to bridge the gap between fishing kayaks and bass boats and shallow water skiffs. The game changer is the combination of the Minn Kota motor and foot controlled rudder system, which allows you truly hands free fishing. Now you can work your local shoreline like a tournament BASS angler, moving and casting at every dock, stump or over hanging limb without taking your hands off the rod to reposition your boat. We guarantee you will fish more and catch more fish!"

The XL will be available in a number of models for maximum adaptability. The base model will feature Old Town's Utility Console, engineered with sonar equipment in mind. The Minn Kota version comes fully equipped with a foot-controlled rudder, battery box and Minn Kota Console. The third console, the Exo-Ridge Deck, provides a flat floor for standing, providing the perfect platform for poling and casting. The Predator XL is designed to work with all 3 consoles, allowing the user to adapt their ride in a matter of mere seconds.