Saturday, 24 August 2013

Savage Gear Real Eel Review - Part 1

I've been given the opportunity to try out and review the 40cm Savage Gear Real Eel via the LAS so thought it might be worth putting on the blog.

First off I'd like to say that I'm not associated with any tackle company so any review I do will be a warts and all and if I'm not convinced by something I will say so. I'd rather people know what to expect if they purchase one based on user experience... so, here's my first review of the 40cm real eel.

When it came in the post what first struck me was how realistic it looked. The colours on the olive pearl flavour are very close to the real thing and the detailing was exceptional, especially the head and mouth. The material is soft which enables the tail to move at very, very slow speeds, which is one of the first things I look for in a big softbait. As most who know me know, I fish big softbaits for 90% of the time and from experience, and a chat with a couple of people who have used them, the jighead that came with it just didn't seem heavy enough to keep the bait keeled. I have yet to test this as the river I took it to has quite a bit of flow but I will try it out in stillwater at some point. Another concern is the size of the single hook... I don't like to use a very large single on the top of baits as I think they have the potential to be fatal if they go through the roof of the mouth. The accompanying stinger looked to be the right size which is about the same as a 3/0 Owner ST36, and made of a slightly thicker wire. If I was being pedantic I'd rather the stinger length be slightly longer but we're only talking 1-2cm here.

For the purposes of it's first test I rigged the eel on a 20g jighead with 2 no. 3/0 owner ST36's rigged on the underside (my standard big SP rigging) and with that took my 40cm real eel out for a swim yesterday.

I arrived in the first swim and put on my favourite big softbait.. second cast and a pike about 12lb was landed. Blank averted, on went the eel. A few casts were made to see how the eel swam and even with a 20g jighead the eel could be bought back just 2-3ft down on a steady retrieve. It's easy to fish at any depth you need though just be letting it sink deeper and slowing down the retrieve. I'd run out of 15g jigheads but I think that they would be perfect size for this bait for shallow water. The eel looked very realistic in the water with the tail still moving even when it was almost stationary and it had a slight side to side rocking movement, which is a big fish attractor imho. The bait also reacts well when given a small twitch of the rod, keeling over slightly before returning to a level swimming position.

I moved to the next swim and first cast a small pike about 6-8lb hit the eel but didn't connect.. not sure why but there weren't even any teeth marks in it! I fished a few more swims but even after fishing one of my banker swims nothing was doing. I tried my other lures for comparison but nothing was taking them either so I'm sure it wasn't the eel that was at fault. I got to the end of the stretch and made my way back to the first swim. On the second cast a double (quite possibly the fish I caught earlier) whacked the eel but even though it hit it right between the two trebles it didn't hook up. Not sure why this was as the bait is now sporting several deep slashes, but nothing a bit of superglue won't fix.

Unfortunately, even though I fished the eel for pretty much 6 hours straight that was the last pike I saw with none of my lures tempting them out to play. I fish this stretch regularly and know what works but the lowest water levels I've seen there this river season had seemingly put them off the feed. First impressions are that it is a very useful bait and hopefully my next review will see a fish on the bank to the eel.

As an aside, I spent a couple of hours with the light gear after chub in the afternoon and landed 3, with several more missed or lost. No monsters with the smallest being about 2lb or so and the biggest about 3½lb.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

A Couple of Firsts

Been down to the river again and after the recent rain the river was falling with a tinge of colour in it.. perfect conditions for a few fish.

I started fishing about 6.45am with no-one around and to the cries of a pair of buzzards circling low overhead it was one of those mornings you are glad to be a fisherman.

I fished a few swims without incident apart from one lost pike and landing a jack about 5lb. After fishing a few more swims in the faster part of the stretch it dawned on me that the extra water pushing down had probably moved the pike to slower areas and nearer to the bank. Fishing downstream I lost another fish which looked to be approaching double figures and lost yet another one! Things weren't going to plan!

I altered my approach slightly and started concentrating on the margins, but fished the middle of the river after the margin spots had been covered with the lure. It was tough going even though the river looked perfect, if a little pacey. I got to a swim and again pitched my big softbait around the fallen tree but again nothing came out for a closer inspection until I chucked the lure in a tiny gap between the tree and the bank. I hadn't even started retrieving the lure when a decent pike shot out and nailed it in full view, and after a good fight she went in the net. On the scales she went 14.13lb and fought me all the time I had her on the bank. Unfortunately the self-take photo's didn't come out very well but no matter.

I carried on and a few swims later another fish came from within a foot of the bank but much smaller at about 5-6lb then in the same swim a low double hit the lure but failed to hook up.. she then followed it in half a dozed times before getting fed up with my ugly mug and disappearing.

On I went and arrived at the last few swims which everyone keeps telling me are hotspots for pike, although I'd not yet had a take in any of them! Got to the last of those swims, cast the lure along the bank and started the retrieve. About half way back the lure got hit hard by what was obviously a good fish. I set the hooks and she went berserk; I slackened off the drag slightly as she was making strong runs and shaking her head, both on the surface and below. She never gave up but after a few nerve wracking minutes, with me praying for her to stay on, I netted her at the first attempt. It was obvious that it was the best fish I'd had from this stretch. I left her in the net while I got the scales and set the camera up for a self-take but luckily a chap and his son had seen me hook it so came for a look. I lifted her out and she was bigger than I first thought, being very wide across her back and head. Her mouth was immense, along with her dental work.

She was a beautiful fish and even with an empty stomach she went 22.07lb on the scales.. my first 20 from this stretch and to say I was happy was an understatement (although I must smile more on camera)..

After that I went back to the car for lunch and to swap my gear for a light outfit with the intention of trying for a chub on a lure. I've never tried this before but have seen chub in the stretch. I fished several swims with no takes when suddenly a fish hit my small crankbait mid river in fast, shallow water. A mate of mine who fishes for chub told me a while back that they hit hard but this one must have been swimming straight at me as there was a slight hit before I set the hooks. Not big at about 1½lb but my first chub on a lure.

A few casts later the lure got hit with a hard thump and somehow I missed it but shortly afterwards another chub about 2lb came to the net, followed by a much smaller one about ½lb.

I fished on until I came to some deeper swims and thought I'd try for a perch but apart from a few small ones nipping at the tail of my shad I had nothing so went back to the car to get my pike gear out again for an evening spell.

Off I set again to the end of the stretch and in the third swim a good pike hit mid river. On the scales she went 15.07lb (again; I seem to catch a few at this weight here!)..

I thought I'd be on for another fish or two but after fishing the entire stretch had no other takes so packed up about 9pm exhausted. It was a marathon of a day fishing over 14 hours in total but with 5 pike and 3 chub to show for it, it was well worth the effort.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Easy Treble

Popped down the local canal last night for a couple of hours after zander. They're not big in this canal but you can usually catch a few fish on short sessions so with the lack of decent waters anywhere near me it's a place to go for an evening. Arrived in the first swim and on the second cast a decent zander for the canal hit the lure. I didn't weigh it but it was about 4lb, which is as big as I've had from here. A few casts later I was jigging the 3" shad around some weeds when a nice perch decided to nail it. The perch was in perfect condition and weighed something like 1½lb or so and had completely swallowed the lure. Luckily the hook came out very easily but the lure was so far back I had to pull the tail out of it's throat.. it was well on the way to it's stomach. Next cast a pike hit it, splashed on the surface, then took me all over the place including under a moored boat. Got her in and she was about 10-11lb.

So that was 6 casts from the same swim and 3 decent fish landed.. I thought I was on for a great evening but apart from missing a few more zeds and landing a size 7 trainer I didn't catch anything else over the next two hours! Oh well, a nice treble anyway.