Okuma’s Newest Bass Offerings Help Scott Martin Take Down FLW Potomac Event

When you’ve designed, crafted and delivered rods and reels of the very highest caliber, it’s a natural extension to put them in the hands of elite professionals and have them perform on the major fishing tournament trails. With the release of Helios rods and reels, Komodo high-speed baitcast reels and completely redesigned and upgraded C3-40X rods, that’s exactly what we did.

Scott Martin has been with Okuma Fishing Tackle since November of 2011, and just 6 months into fishing the gear, his performance on the Potomac River last weekend was dubbed “unstoppable” by FLW reporters, jumping out to a massive lead, then following up for three more days to seal the victory.

Martin bested 145 top professionals, leading the tournament from day one through the finish.

Martin focused on grass throughout the Potomac River FLW event with a three pronged approach: chatterbaits, stick worms and flipping. Here’s the gear that got it done:

Chatterbaits & Stick Worms: Helios HS-262V reel on Helios HS-CM-701MH Mini Guide rod.

The lightest rod and reel combinations in the Okuma lineup, Helios models are purely tournament-driven for extreme sensitivity, minimum fatigue and all-day comfort…necessities of four day, high-pressure fishing marathons. The Helios HS-262V weighs just 6.3 ounces total. Constructed on an all-aluminum drive system, featuring an aluminum frame and right side side plate, the reel defines refined power and strength. Premium ABEC-5 bearings are stock equipment, setting free absolutely effortless casting that’s governed by an internal 7-position centrifugal cast control system. In Martin’s chatterbait & stick worm applications, the 6.2:1 gear ratio delivers precise control over every presentation.

Helios Mini Guide rods begin on a foundation of 40-Ton carbon, fast-action blanks. The HS-CH-701MH weighs just 3.7-ounces, bringing Martin’s rod and reel combination to 10-ounces total, prior to line winding. To reach the minimalist weight while retaining all the inherent power, Helios Mini Guide rods feature ALPS Mini Guides with ultra-hard Zirconium inserts. Martin fished 17-pound fluorocarbon, but the guide system is up to the task of any line type desired. ALPS Mini Guides deliver 100% confidence in strength at micro-level weight. The system improves both sensitivity and casting by maintaining a superior, close relationship between line and the rod blank. At the handle end, Helios Mini Guide rods feature an EVA split grip, delivering outstanding balance and again reducing every bit of sensitivity-robbing weight. Rated for 1/4- to 1-ounce casting weight, the 7-foot HS-CM-701MH and Helios reel are perfect choices for the applications the conditions called for.

Flipping: Komodo KDR-273V reel on Helios HS-CM-761XH.

Scott Martin, Day one Potomac River

A monster bag on day one provided a powerful lead, and continued clean execution brought the win home three days later.

At 6.5 ounces in total weight, the Komodo KDR-273V delivers speed and power by the tonnage, again in a platform driven by comfort and minimalist weight. The Komodo features a full aluminum drive system, aluminum frame and both right and left side aluminum side plates. Eleven stainless steel bearings include ABEC-5 spool bearings…just as Helios does. Key separating features of Komodo from Helios are apparent in the massive gear box. For flipping, Martin relies on Komodo for the high-speed 7.3:1 gear ratio. Commanding 31.5-inches of line with every turn of the handle, the reel extracts fish from cover and puts them in the boat with authority and conviction, backed by the strength of the aluminum drive system and full Carbonite drag system. Komodo is an angler favorite also, with models available in both right and left hand retrieve.

The Helios Mini Guide HS-CM-761XH is a lighter choice in flipping rods for Martin. The cover on the Potomac is not as demanding as other locations. For heavy flipping, you’ll most often find the C3-40X, C3-C-7111H in Martin’s hand. He’s dubbed it the best balanced 7’11” rod available in the market and relies on it’s longer length for increased distance and leverage. On the Helios HS-CM-761XH, features are exactly the same as the medium heavy: 40-Ton carbon blank, ALPS Mini Guides with Zirconium inserts, split EVA grips and Pac Bay MINIMA reel seats with zero fore-grip. The 7’6″ XH takes the lure ratings to 1/2- to 2-ounces, with exceptionally fast action.

For complete coverage of the FLW Potomac River event, check out FLW’s website here, FLW- Simply Unstoppable, and BassFan’s coverage here, North South Grass Combo Kept Martin On The Right Fish.

Makaira SE Reels -Taking Live Bait to the Limit

For most offshore anglers, a Makaira two-speed game reel will spend the bulk of its’ working life in a rod holder.  In tow might be an 8- to 12-inch trolling lure, maybe a skirt over a ballyhoo, perhaps a bridled skipjack.  At intervals the reel will be brought to life and engaged in a battle of wills, to which it will respond with the faithfulness of a dog and an overwhelming display of power and grace.

For the above outlined tasks, Makaira reels are constructed to far exceed the life covered by their 5-year factory warranty.  Spool bearings are protected by a 30% grease pack that allows for competent freespool, but more importantly protects the bearings. Non-spool bearings receive a 100% grease pack again placing protection of key components at a premium.  The gear ratios of the two-speeds offer versatility to take on any pelagic you might encounter from a sport boat.

The long-range fishing boats departing from San Diego, California present unique challenges to anglers. Certainly the yellowfin, wahoo and yellowtail are big, but that’s pretty basic. The larger challenges begin with the fact these fish are pursued primarily with live bait. Instead of stripping 100-feet of line to place a lure in a spread, excellence in this fishery requires clearing the boat by casting a light bait fish on 40- to 100-pound tackle.  Once in the water, the reel needs to feed line so effortlessly the bait fish swims as if it’s simply free-swimming. And the longer a strong swimming baitfish can be maintained, the more certain one can be that it will be eaten.

Makaira SE Family

From the MK30-IISEa down to the MK8-IISEa, this Makaira family has been custom designed for the live bait community.

At the moment of the strike the second challenge begins. In many cases, the boat is anchored and in virtually all cases, there is no chasing the fish with the boat. Every inch of line must be earned. The fish can be followed around the boat, but the boat is not repositioned to assist a single angler when 25 more are continuing their pursuit of a bite.

While Makaira reels have become renowned for their drag system and integrity of internal components, the long-range community, spearheaded by elite angler David Choate and reel technician Alan Tani, requested specific modifications to advance Makaira to the position of the ultimate long-range reels. The result is the Makaira SE.

Makaira SE reels are available in sizes 8, 10, 15, 20 and 30, all featuring topless (no crossbar across the top of the reel) construction. The primary modifications are straightforward, yet incredibly important to long-range anglers. The first is that the 35% grease pack on the spool bearings has been completely removed, as have the shields that protect their exterior. Instead, completely open bearings are lubricated with TSI 301 oil.

TSI 301 oil is not a petroleum-based lubricant. A pure synthetic ester, TSI 301 penetrates the pores in metal and bonding itself to the surface. Greatly reducing surface tension, the application dramatically cuts friction and reduces wear. When exceptional freespool is the difference between great reward and difficult fishing, this bearing system outperforms virtually all others. Of note is that their is no free lunch here. When bearings are opened and oiled instead of greased, they do require maintenance to maintain their peak performance. But the anglers willing to travel four days by boat to reach the world’s greatest fishing grounds do not shy away from their responsibilities to their equipment. These are detail-oriented anglers.


Click for a detail look at the Makaira SE anodizing and etched graphics.

The second modification is an oversized handle arm to deliver more torque. When you are unable to reposition the boat to the best advantage of the angler, the angler has to be able to authoritatively bear down on the fish. Makaira and Makara SE reels all incorporate powerful 17-4 stainless steel gearing and shafts that can withstand incredible stress. The longer handle arms allow anglers a significant increase in leverage and greater ability to move large fish.

The third modification applies to Makaira SE 20 and 30 sizes only. It’s a lower ratio in the low gear.  Where the standard Makaira is 1.7:1, these SE’s are 1.3:1. Again the purpose here is to increase leverage and keep the fish moving towards the boat. Very commonly, anglers will hang 150- to 300-pound yellowfin on these size reels and of absolute importance to the battle is to be able to actively gain line. The longer the fight continues, the more opportunity is that something will go wrong.

In a few final touches, Makaira SE reels feature gun smoke anodizing, an engraved tuna adorning the left side plate and all the frames have receive further machining to increase line clearance and reduce weight.

While Makaira SE reels are neither necessary and in some cases not recommended to the broader range of offshore anglers (if you do not regularly maintain your reels, the SE line up is not for you), for those seeking refined live bait performance the Makaria SE addresses the needs specific to the fishery.

Owners of standard Makaira reels that are interested in the modification can have them made at our California headquarters. The bearings and handle can be changed out for $29.99 which includes parts and labor.  On the 20 and 30 sizes, the bearings, handle and low-gear modifications can be made for $59.99 including parts and labor. Shipping charges in both cases are additional.

Isn't This What It's All About?

In our recent newsletter we invited subscribers to submit their fishing photos, videos, stories and experiences for the purpose of sharing with our blog readers and Facebook fans. The simple reason is that collectively we can cover far more water and uncover so many more positive aspects of this sport than any one of us can individually.  Within minutes of the newsletter send, we received our first response from D. Echols of Florida.  We can’t agree more with the title, yes, this is what it’s all about. One fishing trip and all three anglers walk away with three completely different experiences, all of which are incredibly rewarding and valuable.  Mr. Echols and Louie are fans of Avenger spinning reels and to keep the team together, we sent a fresh one down for Wyatt.

I’ve been an avid (some would say “fanatical”) fisherman since the age of three. Let’s see, minus the two years I spent in the Army, that’s over a half century. That’s plenty long enough to have gone through many of the hardships that can and do befall some of us “hard-core” anglers… things like hooks in the fingers, hooks in the feet, hooks in the back of the head, hooks in the top of the head, sinking boats, caught out in the storms, knots on the head from lead weights, a ton of cuts, stabs and bites from a variety of different fish, falling out of boats, broken rods, burned-up drags and I could go on and on. Having grown up right on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River in Southwest Florida, I’ve got so many fishing stories, and some so wild that most people don’t even believe me when I tell them. But that’s okay.

Wyatt's big bass

Your standard picture is worth a thousand words. This one seems much more valuable! Great Job Wyatt!

Fast forward quite a few years. There usually comes a time or two in one’s life when things take a drastic turn, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. If yours hasn’t happened yet, stand by, it will. I’ve had my share of both. One of the worst was when I was diagnosed with cancer a little over two years ago and was pretty much written off by everyone except my immediate family and one fantastic doctor who ended up saving my life. But on the other end of the spectrum, one of the best times was when a little boy who I call “Louie”, came into my life. My goodness, things have definitely not been the same since. A little over ten years ago God blessed our family with this little boy and it didn’t take long for me to realize that he was a whole lot like me, especially when it came to fishing. I guess when he was about two years old and would get my fishing rods out of the garage and fish in the pool is what really gave it away. Since then I’ve made it my mission to teach Louie everything that I possibly could about fishing. Not that I’m an expert by any means, but I (like many of you) do have a lot to offer. Louie has no Dad, so I have stepped in and tried to fill that gigantic void in his life. And at this stage of my life, nothing is more satisfying than watching him grow as an angler and as a person. Learning how to deal with whatever life has to throw at him, and having that spirit of a fisherman, I believe is helping prepare him for what lies in store later on in life, just like it did for me.

Having said all of this, all of the teaching and sharing of my experience paid off for me in a big way a few weekends ago. Louie’s cousin (and best buddy) Wyatt came down from Clermont Fl., for a visit. Wyatt’s eight years old, and has a keen interest in fishing, but doesn’t get to go much. I saw how excited he got while looking at the giant bass in some of Louie’s fishing photos. We keep them in a big album there on the coffee table in the living room. I asked him if he’d ever been bass fishing. He said “yeah, a couple of times with bread, but I’ve never caught one”. Louie and I looked at each other and I could tell just what he was thinking. So right there I said, “let’s take him to Mockingbird Lake right now”! Of course I got no argument from Louie.

We loaded up in the truck and off we went. And folks, this is where it got oh so good. What a great feeling it was, to just hang back and watch Louie take Wyatt under his wing. Listening to him tell Wyatt, with all the confidence in the world, just what to do, from the bait choice, to the cast and even the retrieve. My heart swelled with pride when I heard him yell “you got one, set the hook, set the hook, keep your rod tip up high & keep that line tight”, for it was just a few years ago that I was yelling this same stuff at Louie. Thanks, at least partly to Louie’s coaching and instructions, I watched as Wyatt caught the biggest bass of his life.  And there’s no doubt in my mind, that he is now hooked, and hereafter will never be the same. And neither will Mr. Louie. Thanks Louie and way to go Wyatt! Hopefully, as Wyatt returns to Clermont and goes fishing with his buddies, he will now impart his newfound fishing savvy and will be yelling “you got one, set the hook, set the hook, keep your rod tip up high & keep that line tight” to one of his friends. I know that most of you have heard it said “take a kid fishing” many times, so I won’t say it here. But how can you read this and not come to that conclusion.  After all, isn’t this what it’s all about? Thanks for reading.