Fishing “Systems”…

I don’t like my fishing to be overly complicated. Our preference is to break things down into modular components to be incorporated into a bigger System. Furthermore, we prefer to travel light and be efficient with the goals we have set.

Just one example of the concept.

Our Fishing System:

Footwear: wading boots or shoes, neoprene socks, gravel guards etc.

Water Filtration: Hiker Pro, Sawyers or Squeeze bottle

Navigation: map, compass, GPS or none

Packs: sling, shoulder, waist or backpack or just pockets

Rods and Reels: proper choices for intended species

Clothing: seasonal conditions apply, rainwear,hats, polarized glasses etc

Tackle: seasonal and species specific; spoons, jerkbaits, spinners or sometimes just jigheads and plastics stuck in the pockets of our shorts

Camera Gear: GoPro, phone or DSLR

Food: lunch, coffee, tea, snacks etc

Sundries Bag: licenses, knife, cordage, lighter etc

First Aid Kit: small and light…not performing surgery!

When wading streams and walking over rocks and boulders all day, every extra pound carried can equal pain. We try hard to carry no more than 10 pounds and preferably less. There is always a balancing act in our gear between weight and durability. As an example, I tend to carry the Yeti Panga 28 backpack more often. With two straps the weight distribution is better than a sling pack. Yes it is heavier but is by far the most durable pack I own. In the future I will showcase a few other pack options that I have and use.

By traveling light we can move faster and go farther. Not that we are “speed fishing” or anything, but rather, we are not overburdened when hopping across boulders or trying to maintain our balance when crossing current.

Your comfort has to be factored into the System as well. Tennis shoes are a lot lighter than wading boots, however, how will your feet feel at the end of the day? I know from experience that my feet feel trashed after wearing sneakers all day while stream fishing. The beefier yet heavier wading boot has a lot more support and protection. But when factoring comfort into the equation, I’ll deal with the extra weight penalty. Besides, I’m not getting any younger!

And by implementing a modular approach into the system, it is easy to switch between packs to further reduce weight or increase convenience. With thought and planning you can custom tailor your gear to each outing or you can settle on one system and stick with it.

I am not creating anything new here, rather, I am just sharing what we use and the thought process behind our system.

What We Use for Navigation…

Orienteering/Land Navigation is a valuable skill for us. Being able to determine exactly where we are on a map is critical. Also, it is a perishable skill and requires practice and repeated use to maintain proficiency.

For trip planning, we rely on topographical maps, Google Earth satellite images, county maps and even real estate maps sometimes. When traveling in our vehicle we rely on GaiaGPS because of its offline capabilities. We have the paid upgraded subscription for the added benefits we need. It takes some time to learn any new navigation system and this was no different. I use a Lenovo M10 FHD Plus since it has built-in GPS. That’s the main point when using a tablet for navigation: BUILT-IN GPS. My new Chuwi Hi 10X doesn’t have it.

My current land navigation system of choice is a map, a compass and a GPS utilizing the UTM format and a slot tool. UTM stands for Universal Transverse Mercator which basically means the Earth has been sectioned into grids of roughly 1000 meters square.

Using the tick lines along the edge of the map, I used a ruler and drew the gridlines onto this McKenzie map of the Boundary Waters.

The GPS gives me coordinates in a UTM format. I take those coordinates and apply them to the map with a UTM Slot Tool. It sounds complicated but it is not. Once you understand the concept of using UTM it becomes really fast and accurate.

One form of slot tool that is available.

There is a company that I purchase my slot tools from called MapTools and their website is

There are several options when it comes to slot tools and they also depend on your brand of map and map-scale. The prices are reasonable and I usually buy several.

I do not 100% rely on a GPS since batteries can fail or electronics can fizzle out, so having basic Orienteering skills is a must. Rather, I try to use all of the tools available at my disposal to get the job done.

This method comes in handy when locating backcountry camp sites, marking fishing hotspots, points of interest and even general location as well as time management. We always carry Gazeteers or topographical maps of the areas we are camping/fishing in.

Smallest, functional GPS I could find at the time: Garmin Foretrex 401.

My compass of choice for taking a bearing is the USGI Cammenga. Pricey, but rugged and the easiest I have found to shoot an azimuth. Baseplate compasses such as Suunto or Silva are great too for using in conjunction with a map. I carry a Suunto as a backup.

MapTools has a kit for beginners who want to use the UTM system and a slot tool. It is very thorough and helpful in explaining and putting to use the concept of UTM.

This might sound like overkill for fishing but something to consider is that backcountry forest roads are notorious for always changing or not showing up on maps. Logging roads are even worse. When getting turned around or temporarily confused, it’s a simple matter of reading the GPS coordinates, pulling out a map and a slot tool, and fixing your current position. You can make informed decisions from there and decide what to do next.

There are many benefits to the UTM system and it might be worth exploring. Thanks for reading and I hope this post was useful.

NOTE: UTM or Universal Transverse Mercator is made up of 3 components.

-A Zone Identifier

-East/West location

-North/South location

Our Water Filtration Systems…for fishing.

The above photo displays the various methods we use to filter our water while out fishing. Obviously we don’t carry them all at once but rather tailor them to each trip. It depends on how many people are along, what packs we are using and how long the trip will last.

We tend to use this option the most. Scoop up water, screw the filter/cap back on and squeeze.
These are a great option because they’re cheap and effective.

The Sawyer Squeeze and Sawyer Mini filters are compact and screw onto most water bottles. I have used the Squeeze in a homemade gravity filter for large groups. They can be connected to water bladders as well. Some people prefer carrying water bottles but I don’t like toting the extra weight. I tend to reuse plastic water bottles for a long time so one is enough for me. We’ve used the Sawyer filters for years and have never had an issue. And being able to backflush them extends their lifespan.

We use these when base camping.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro.

The Hiker Pro has been our workhorse. It’s simple and fast. The cost is reasonable for what you get. I like the fact that is has quick disconnect fittings. This allows me to hook it directly to a bladder and fill it up.

An original Katadyn/PUR filter.

This filter is HEAVY! It uses a silver impregnated ceramic filter and guarantees that it removes viruses. A big plus if you travel where water supplies are super sketchy. It’s Swiss made with machined aluminum fittings. It is also VERY SLOW and your arms will get a workout.

When space is at a premium, these are a nice bit of kit.

This is not an exhaustive review of the multitude of filters that are available. I’m just sharing what we have, use and carry on a regular basis. I can vouch for each of these models since we’ve had them for multiple years. The only downside to any of these filters is you do NOT want them to freeze. If it’s really cold, I keep them in a jacket pocket or even in my sleeping bag during the night. After each trip we also back flush them and let them dry completely before storing.

Have a great weekend…

JDM Fishing Gear One Year Later…

I did a blog post about using JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) fishing tackle about a year ago and I thought I’d do a follow up post.

I find the Japanese fishing industry very interesting. The gear, the specialization and the sheer mass of tackle at their disposal is fascinating. The cutting edge equipment and ever-evolving techniques is something to keep an eye on.

So when the wife and I made the plunge into JDM gear, we were clueless and taking big risks. Sure we had done some preliminary research, but there wasn’t a whole lot out there on our specific fishing style. Not saying that we are unique in any way, but that there appeared to be a gap between Trout fishing and Bass fishing, our style tended to blur the lines between the two.

The emphasis out there seemed to be on SUL, XUL and UL rods and then over to M,MH and H rods. We were looking at L (light) to ML (medium light) rods. Our plans were to fish rivers and streams with current yet the fish would generally be 3 pounds or less. We would just have to buy and try and hope for the best.

If you’ve read my blog then you have seen all of the rods and reels we have purchased so I won’t go into depth in regards to those.

What I will tell you is that these rods and reels took our fishing to the next level. Sensitivity was better, construction quality was better, they were lighter and smoother as well. The main thing was that they increased our enjoyment of fishing and it is hard to put a price on that.

I am NOT badmouthing any of the rods and reels you can purchase locally. I’ve fished with them for years and years. I just wanted something a bit more…a bit better.

And we found them! The Major Craft brand has been excellent in price vs performance. The TenRyu rods are true Japanese made rods and are outstanding, yet pricey. Tailwalk rods have great aesthetics and functionality. None of our rods are classified as high-end JDM rods by a long shot.

The pure joy of using these rods has made fishing truly fun again for us. Even the wife noticed and commented that she hadn’t seen me smile that much in a long time. Keep in mind that we are not wealthy by any means. I was forced to work overtime for months and we opted to use some of that income to purchase the items you see on the blog. But in hindsight, I would have no qualms about buying any of the rods we have with whatever money we had available. To me, they were worth the expenditure.

It was never about “snobbery” or being trendy. It was about finding joy and filling a niche in our style of fishing. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

TenRyu Rayz Integral RZI50L…

This rod was a surprise Valentine’s gift for my wife. We were talking awhile back and she casually mentioned that she could use another rod for her pack. We both routinely carry a backup rod in our packs for various reasons.

This was the first rod that I have ever pulled out of our mailbox. Usually they are in a box and the postal carrier stashes them in the bushes behind our fence. I received delivery confirmation via text message and headed outside to get it. I searched the usual spots and didn’t see anything. But upon opening the mailbox…there it was. I was quite surprised.

Nicely trimmed,
Individual sleeves for each rod section.
I’ll never understand Japanese rod names.
“Learn A Lesson From The Past”
Very nice cork!
“A Thing Good Commonly”
Length was 18 inches, Width was 5.75 inches.

I apologize for the lackluster photos. It was late and “someone” really wanted to play with this rod. From what little time I held it…the action seemed pretty good with some whip in the tip sections and a nice parabolic bend into a stiff butt section. I think it will make a great stream rod. It should pair well with a 1000 to 2000 size reel. The deep blue rod blank was different, almost all of our rods are black/grey.

I can confirm that it fits inside her Patagonia Stormfront sling pack…as that’s the last place I saw it. I think it will be a good fit for her and that she will really enjoy fishing with it. And just so everyone knows…she is not the type to go fishing with me where she ends up reading a book or sunbathing. No, she’s wading rivers and streams, tying her own lures on and handling all of her own fish. She fishes hard and manages all of her own equipment. She is a valuable asset to this fishing team of two!

I am a lucky man!

Apia Grandage Lite Spinning Rod…

I was looking at JDM rods today and ran across the Apia Grandage Lite series of spinning rods. I like minimalist rods for the type of fishing I do. Cork is classic, but it adds weight that in a lot of cases is unnecessary. And the rod I’m looking at is the Apia Grandage Lite 6ft 1in model. Coming in at 56.5grams, that is intriguing as to what it would fish like.

I like simple, lightweight designs.
The Apia Grandage Lite 61 rod.
Specifications on the rods that piqued my interest.

I am not familiar with Apia rods and haven’t found a lot of information on them. There are some YouTube videos from Russia showing them in use so I can at least see their bending curve. I like what I see so far. This 61 rod might be a contender. I’d put the 2021 Daiwa Presso LT 1000S-P on it and see how it balances.

Guess I need more rods to fill the “holes in my head” and I might just take a chance and see how it plays out.

Chuwi Hi10X Windows Tablet Powered by a Baseus Battery Pack…

This post isn’t exactly fishing related, but I am toying with the idea of moving my fishing journals and notes over to a digital format and this tablet would work.

I needed a Windows tablet for my Amateur Radio hobby and also because I was looking for something portable for field use. Possibly to do blog posts or edit photos as well. Unfortunately, so many SDR (software defined radio) apps are Windows based and several of my Amateur Radio programs are Windows only. I’m not a programmer so I have to play the game.

This little tablet is surprisingly well built with an aluminum shell and it came with a nice keyboard and stylus. The specs weren’t too bad either…6GB of RAM and a 128GB eMMC drive. Not a Ferarri…but a family sedan has its uses too.

I have a laptop that I use a lot but it is large and also a power hog and I was hoping for something more efficient. Tablets are always a compromise solution since the processors aren’t that great. And true to form, this Chinese tablet threw me a curveball with the included power cable. It’s an AC wall wart that terminates in a USB-C cable outputting 12VDC @ 2Amps. I had never seen a USB-C pushing 12 volts.

Great for home use but useless when out in the field. I don’t like using inverters because it seems ridiculous to go from DC to AC and back to DC voltages. NOT efficient.

So after doing some research I found a thread where people were experimenting with various componentry to get it to charge from a battery pack. They recommended the Baseus 65W 30,000mAH battery and a Voltage Trigger assembly of some sort. It seemed simple enough so I searched on Amazon and ordered one as it was relatively cheap and I can always use another battery pack.

the USB-C port can output 5V, 9V, 12V, 15V and 20V, Nice!

Next up was locating a Voltage Trigger that tells the battery pack to go from the standard 5 volts to whatever voltage is selected via the push button on the board…in my case 12 volts. I always head over to eBay for stuff like this and for good reason. There is an abundance of choices.

Think I paid $6.85 plus shipping for this particular Voltage Trigger. I opted for the USB-A to USB-C version.
These numbers might be helpful.

And as they say…”the proof is in the pudding”

I connected a UGreen USB-C to USB-C cable from the Baseus battery pack to the Voltage Trigger board. And from the other end I connected a USB-A to USB-C cable to the Chuwi tablet.

A note of caution here! The Voltage Trigger has multiple voltage outputs so you need to select the appropriate one for your device. Otherwise BAD THINGS COULD HAPPEN. The LED is right next to the push button switch and is color coded to correspond with the voltage settings. In my case: Green = 12VDC. And voila! The tablet started to charge.

Charging Icon.
Display showing 12VDC output.
Everything is working as it should.

The best feature of the Baseus battery pack is that the display will show ouputs of 5 volts, 9 volts, 12 volts, 15 volts or 20 volts when you push the button. I cycled through the Voltage Trigger settings (LED colors) BEFORE connecting to my tablet just to make sure I had the correct voltage output.

It works! A bit convoluted but it’s functional. A protective housing for the Voltage Trigger would have been nice and I will probably try to sort that out. But now I am not tethered to the grid and can take it with me everywhere.

Project complete! A relatively cheap and cost-effective way to lighten my load and still have some functionality. It works and does what I needed it to do.

2020 Shimano Vanford Maintenance Tip…

Most of you probably already know this, but for those who don’t…If you want to service your own reels, and in particular the 2020 Shimano Vanford 1000 as well as the 2019 Shimano Stradic FL 1000, you are going to need a 0.9mm Hex bit.

I used a Wera 118062 because I had one.
Hex screw that has to be removed for full disassembly.
For REF: Shimano Part# 17667
Spool support washer (Part#14867) still on the main shaft (Part#20133)
3 washers (Part#19748), bearing bushing (Part#18206), spool bushing (Part#16122), ratchet spring (Part#9833) still under bushing, and the drag click ratchet (Part#18207) removed.

It should be pretty self-explanatory but it is something to be aware of. By removing the hex screw it grants you easier access to the 12mm Rotor Nut (Part# 20999). The body is held together by Torx T6 and T8 screws.

Go slow and use a well lighted workspace and you should be fine. The only fiddly part I ran across was getting the rotor nut (Part#20999) and the rotor lock nut plate (Part#19926) into the correct position to reinstall the two screws (Part#19989). I did take a picture of the position of the rotor nut before I removed it and that helped. The reel comes with an exploded parts diagram which makes it easy to follow along. From what I could gather, the internals of the the Vanford and the Stradic FL were identical. Only the body was different.

Hope that helps!

Quick Outing With the Tailwalk Troutia 55L…

I managed to get out for about 2 hours today. I was using the Tailwalk Troutia 55L with the Shimano Stradic 1000S-L. For a “Light Action” rod, this one is pretty stiff and makes for a great stream rod. And I’m going to have to call it a DRAW! I hooked a bass and got it to the shore but upon grabbing the bottom lip, the fish whipped around and ended up embedding the hook in my thumb while making its escape. It’s only fair afterall. Well played my friend!!!

The temps were in the upper 40’s to low 50’s and partly cloudy. The wind was up and I could feel the chill.

Below are random shots I took:

Nice curves!
Shells…Then and Now.
Fossils everywhere.
Rusty Gig.
Lazy Pigs Were Here.
Ended up filling four by the end of the outing.

This is the last day to fish for a bit. We have another front coming through tonight and temps will drop. It is always good to get out and I definitely got my exercise in today. Thanks for reading…

Why I Don’t Do Rod and Reel Reviews…

I used to do reviews when I had my YouTube fishing channel. And invariably the “experts” would appear in the comment section to hold court with their superiority. It became tedious and annoying. Constructive criticism is fine, but everyone hates Trolls. Perhaps I just sucked at it?

I have a full-time job with accompanying commute, a family, commitments and everything else that goes with being an adult. And honestly, I don’t think I could do justice to the subject with the skills I have.

I am not the CEO or CTO of a Hollywood production company with the best and brightest graphic designers, visual artists and photographers on staff.

Have you ever tried to photograph a fishing rod??? It’s not easy!

Besides, there are plenty of YouTube channels who specialize in that sort of thing already. And fishing tackle is subjective to begin with. People may not like the same things that I do…the horror! All joking aside, we are all different and have varying needs and tastes. That’s OK.

Factor in budget restraints and the target audience shrinks drastically. Rods and reels marketed towards the Japanese fishermen/women are different. The Japanese admire quality over quantity. They have no qualms about buying a top tier rod or reel to enrich their fishing experience. They completely ignore cheaply made gear. They don’t mind fishing all day to catch one good fish as opposed to lots of little fish one after another. It’s about the entire experience…not just the catch.

Quality gear costs money. Sometimes a lot of money! If it’s within your budget then get it. If not, don’t. FACT: I fished the Cossatot River with a $15 rod. Sensitivity was almost non-existent and build quality left a lot to be desired. But I caught fish.

Fishing tackle built to a price point doesn’t do much for me anymore. I’m not looking down my nose at anyone…rather, I prefer quality gear. I’ve experienced “the Dark Side”…and I LIKE IT!

Also, with a little bit of effort and “Google-fu”, you can find out all of the information about a particular rod or reel. I don’t mind providing links and pointing the way.

Most importantly…I don’t want to be obligated to a production schedule or script. Or trying to stay trendy by buying every new fishing item that hits the market. Relevance only matters when on the water. Sure I could have done an “unboxing video” with my 2021 Daiwa Presso LT standing mid-stream. YAWN! But I’d rather put that time to use by actually fishing.

I don’t have a clue as to how many fishermen/women actually like JDM fishing tackle. I just enjoy fishing and using decent gear while being non-judgmental about it all. I just share what I’ve learned and if any of my images trip your trigger and starts you on the path…Great! If it doesn’t…that’s fine too. Believe me, I’ve read blog posts where guys are fishing with a $2000+ setup and I click out because I probably will never be able to afford something like that. Obviously I’m not in that target audience LOL.

Now…on a serious note…I know it is sometimes hard to find pictures of JDM fishing rods. You occasionally have to open multiple pages on your browser as well as language translation apps. But the best site I have found to view pictures of any rod that you might be interested in is:

I am amazed by two things on that site, the sheer quantity and the complete lack of inventory. In some respects, both could be construed as good things. With COVID, everything changed and perhaps more fishermen/women are on the water or getting into the sport. Maybe not, but I try to stay positive.

With all that being said…my blog is an enjoyable hobby for me. What you see and read is 100% ME. No script, no timetable, no commitments to sponsors or affiliates, everything purchased by me and for me. If one other person gets some enjoyment out of the content…THAT’S AWESOME!

P.S> You probably can’t tell…but I started writing on the Blog this morning at 0318. In regards to Zip(our puppy), I’m not sure about who is training who anymore.

The Puzzle…

I’ve stated before that fishing is a puzzle that I like to put together.

Unfortunately, this jigsaw puzzle doesn’t come with a picture on a box, or even a box. We have a vague idea of what it could look like but we don’t even know how many pieces we are dealing with.

For me, the puzzle pieces begin with an idea and a plan. Those are the “edge pieces.” The more planning I do, the more the edge pieces appear and begin to form a frame or border. Maps and fishing reports gleaned from as many sources as I am able to locate help make additional pieces of the puzzle begin to appear. Colors begin to show and a pattern starts to develop.

Likewise, further research and planned expenses as well as reconnaisance trips add yet more pieces. Drive times and mileage. Stream gauges. Weather reports and forecasts. All pieces to the puzzle.

Out of nothing, a shape begins to form upon a blank canvas. Gathering momentum and rapidly taking shape.

But we are not even close to completing the puzzle!

Even when I pull up in the car along the stream…I am still missing an incredible number of pieces.

Gear selection, time of day, water temperature, water clarity, flow rate, stream condition, timing of hatches, season, month, day, hour, seconds…yet more pieces for the puzzle. It’s ephemeral, conditions sometimes lasting minutes to hours at best. But the challenge beckons and so we go forth.

With each cast our confidence builds and the understanding that we are filling in the blanks by slotting puzzle pieces into position encourages us.

What depth, what speed, what color? Testing our theory and trying to find more pieces with each step forward. Always probing for clues and asking questions we deem important to our goal of completing this puzzle.

We catch a fish…another piece falls into place. We are almost finished. We continue forward and try to develop a pattern. More fish come to hand and we know that the puzzle is almost entirely filled in.

We dig deeper still and strive to understand the “why” of it all. Why this color? Why this exact time? Questions, questions…ad infinitum.

Do we ever actually complete the entire puzzle? I don’t. Even after a successful outing, I am left with many unanswered questions. And I love that! It tells me I need to work harder and find the last few remaining pieces. But I rarely do that. Sometimes my puzzle is “good enough” and the last few pieces are left to fate and adventure. Sometimes I leave out clues in my fishing journals so if anyone else reads them long after I’m gone, they will have to work hard to solve the puzzle. In other words, they will have to earn it just like I did and hopefully experience it on the same plane as me.

I enjoy reading stories about fishermen/women who have a similar thought process. As well as interacting with like-minded individuals while out on the water. It is easy to cast lures while hoping for a fish. Yet this form of fishing is complex and requires effort and thought. Refinement through experience and wisdom.

The puzzle might have 10 pieces or 10,000. It is entirely up to us to decide. Personally, I like the challenging ones. It’s about “the Puzzle” and any fish caught are always a bonus!

Thanks for reading…

The TenRyu Lunakia LK6102S-MLT spinning rod…

I went to a local lake this afternoon to fish with my Lunakia rod. I didn’t use it as much as I wanted to in 2021 but will try to rectify that in 2022.

I really enjoy fishing with this rod when it is coupled with the 2020 Shimano Twin Power C2000S reel. To me, it feels like perfection. The balance is just right, the rod feels like a wand and the reel is silky smooth.

The Nishijin weave on the handle is sexy…I don’t care what anyone else says!

The Lunakia is classified as a Rockfish/ultralight saltwater rod but it performs on our local smallmouth streams very well and has no issue casting a 2.2gram jighead. Worth every penny.

My catch total today was ZILCH, ZERO, NADA. Not even a nibble. That stormfront that recently passed through really messed things up. But it was 56F and sunny with a very light breeze. I could’ve sat on a rock for hours just soaking up the warmth from the sun. But I ended up picking up 3 more bags of trash and heading home.

On a lighter note…my wrap bandage came off today and the stitches were removed. YAY!!!!!!! It feels so much better now. Maybe my fishing luck will change tomorrow. Stay tuned….