SBX Swimbait Rods Deliver Extreme Performance

There’s no doubt that Okuma Fishing Tackle is home to a number of hard-core swimbait anglers. As the U.S. distributors of Savage Gear lures, a preeminent manufacturer of swimbaits, Okuma rods and reels come together with the lures like bread and butter. Solidifying their presence as an elite-level manufacturer in the swimbait market, Okuma Fishing Tackle has proudly introduced new SBX swimbait rods.

SBX Swimbait rods incorporate advanced materials, construction techniques and components to deliver swimbait anglers stunning actions, in powerful rods that are built to last. Construction begins with a blend of highly-responsive 24- and 30-Ton carbon. The tip sections are then fortified by Okuma UFR (Unidirectional Fiber Reinforcement) technology. UFR adds a layer of unidirectional fiber to the tip section of the rod. This seamless integration delivers a 3X increase in strength and lifting power in the tip. Functionally, UFR dramatically strengthens the tip against breakage when casting heavy lures and landing big fish.

The guides system is second-to-none, including Sea Guide ZEUSS Deep-Press Titanium guide frames that are 43% lighter than comparable stainless steel. The inserts are Sea Guide “RS” inserts, 1.5 times harder than quartz and one of the hardest ring materials available. Due to the inherent strength of the RS material, the diameter of the actual ring material can me much smaller than normal. Inserts made from RS material will deliver a larger opening for lines and knots to pass through than different materials in the same guide size.

It’s the grip systems of SBX Swimbait rods that will be immediately recognized. The fore grip and rear grip are constructed from premium 3K woven carbon fiber. The material is uncoated, offering a fine texture that creates a perfectly positive grip. The fore grip is part of the reel seat and screws down to secure the reel, covering all reel seat threads for total comfort in the hand. Okuma 3K woven carbon fiber grips have no filler, clean up with minimal effort a look great for the lifetime of the rod. Reel seats are by Fuji, with stainless steel hoods for strength. An oversized EVA butt cap provides an anchor point for the non-reel hand when throwing big baits long distances.

SBX Swimbait rods include three models, each 7’11” in length. SBX-C-7111H is a heavy power, moderate-fast action rod for 15- to 30-pound line and lures weighing 1- to 6-ounces. The SBX-C-711XH is an extra-heavy power with fast action. The XH is rated for 15- to 40-pound line and lures weights from 2- to 10-ounces. The most powerful rod in the line is the SBX-C-7111XXH. With extra-extra-heavy power, fast action and rated for 20- to 40-pound line, this is the choice for baits weighing 5- to 14-ounces.

SBX Swimbait rods are available at an MSRP of $229.99 and are backed by the Okuma Limited Lifetime Warranty.

National Walleye Tour Round 1 with Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

         Okuma Inspired Fishing and Savage Gear Pro Dan Hassevoort is gearing up for round one of the National Walleye Tour in Sandusky, Ohio on Lake Erie. The National Walleye Tour is the top stage in professional Walleye fishing and Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort knows what it takes to be competitive fishing against the world’s top anglers.

 

Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

Radio: So Dan where is your head at right now just before you leave for a tournament of this magnitude?

Dan: Well, right now it’s all about getting the right gear together to be prepared for anything at this time of the year. You could find yourself jigging on the reef systems for spawning females or trolling deep water for the big females that already moved off the reefs. It’s all about timing and you have to assess the situation once you get there. My trolling arsenal is composed of the Okuma Cold Water Low Pro files CW-354D paired up with the Okuma Dead Eye Trolling Rod DE-CBR-861-MT.

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter Reel

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter Reel

Radio: Why is this particular trolling combo so important to you and your fishing?

Dan: You need a rod that is versatile so you can be pulling planer boards and crank baits at one moment and then change up to lead core or snap weights. The DE-CBR 861-MT allows me to do all of that. The Cold Water Low Profile CW-354D gives me the perfect retrieve speed to get those big females in without horsing them but not taking too much time to allow the Walleye to work itself free. The low profile has enough line capacity to hold up to three colors of lead core which is more than enough to target the deep water tournament winning walleyes.

Okuma Cold Water and

Okuma Cold Water and

Okuma Inspired Fishing Pro Dan Hassevoort is a former 2008 FLW Angler of the Year so winning is nothing new to this angler.

Radio: I understand that you like to jig deep reefs.  What is the best program for jigging the reefs?

Dan: I like the Trio 20 paired up with the 7 foot Dead Eye Jigging rod DE-S-701-MFT – I like the longer rod because I can vertical jig this rod and  it gives me a good casting range for throwing cranks baits or Savage Gear Fat Vibes over the top of the reefs.

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Radio: What kind of baits will you be using at this tournament?

Dan: Well, with the water being as cold as it is now I think crank baits will probably be the ticket. Trolling the Savage Gear 4 Play on lead core will be a go to bait along with the Savage Gear Manic Prey. If I am fishing on the reefs the Savage Gear Fat Vibes are pretty effective along with the Sand Eels on lead head jigs.

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

 

Savage Gear Sand Eel

Savage Gear Sand Eel

Savage Gear Manic Prey

Savage Gear Manic Prey

Radio: Lake Erie is home to some of the biggest Walleyes in the country, so Dan, what is it going to take to win an event against the world’s top anglers?

Dan: Well my target weight for two days of competition for five fish is going to be 40 to 45 pounds which is a difficult task but that’s what it is going to take to win this event along with some long runs across some brutally rough water.

Dan Hassevoort

Dan Hassevoort

 

Dan Hassevoort has been on the Okuma and Savage Gear Pro Staff for a couple of years now, and has made us very proud up in the Midwest. 

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Target Big Fish on Makaira Popping Rods

By Capt. Rich AntoninoLarge Catch

 

There is nothing quite like hooking a fish and saying to yourself “is this fish too big to EVER land?”. That is the game that we play every day off of the coast of Massachusetts when targeting Bluefin tuna on spinning gear. It’s not fishing for rookies. It’s the type of fishing that can be equated to big game hunting, but with a spinning rod, not a gun. I’ve been doing this for a living for a decade and I have seen some of the greatest improvements in tackle heavily influenced by our efforts and experiences.

First, don’t bring a knife to a gun fight! When we see a school of Bluefin tuna feeding, there are times when 500lb fish are feeding alongside 100lb fish. The gear that can handle a 100lb fish will crumble under the battle that a true giant will unleash. As a field tester for Okuma, I’ve pushed tackle past its intended uses and through its comfort zone. I’ve broken enough reels and bent enough rods to know what works and what doesn’t. I’m proud to say that the Okuma Makaira popping rods are the real deal. They can handle whatever you throw at them.
How big is too big? 305lb Bluefin tuna? This fall, we landed an 82” beast on a Savage Gear Sandeel. That is the biggest that we have landed so far, but that’s not the part of the story that is important, nor shows how good the rods are holding up. We landed that fish in 65 minutes while fishing in 500’ of water. That is to say, we KICKED THAT FISH’S BUTT HARD AND FAST! This is where quality tackle and experience plays a huge part in fighting these fish.

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The best example of fighting a fish came several years ago, when a customer hooked his first tuna on spinning gear. He wanted to fight the fish solo. He had plenty of experience using light tackle for striped bass and bluefish, so he knew how to use drag to fight a fish. His battle took 85 minutes and the fish was….62” long and about 135lb. It was a great fish, but… I told him that if he knew how hard he could push his gear and had the experience of fighting a big fish like that; he would have landed it in about 15 minutes. He didn’t know what he didn’t know. After hundreds of tuna, I know what you have to do to land these fish.
The right rod. The right reel. Strong braided line. Perfect knots. The right hooks/hardware. And more people to help you fight the fish. This is what you need…
Have the right rod with enough backbone to lift that fish during a tuna’s famous “death circle”. The Makaira Popping rods are affordable (about $219) and tough enough for this. I have no doubts as I have tested them harder than probably anyone on Earth. A 7’6” rod is great for casting and doesn’t give up anything when it comes to fighting a fish around the boat.

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Fight the fish with enough drag to stop it in a reasonable amount of time. It’s not uncommon to fight a fish with 30+ pounds of drag coming off of the reel, and then palm the spool to increase the drag and turn the fish’s head. If you have never held a spinning rod using this much drag, try it. Use a “Cush It” to lessen the stomach/groin pain from the butt of the rod, or use a gimble. Remember that 30lb of drag running away from the boat is a different feel than 30lb pulling straight under the boat! When that fish is under the boat, never let the line hit the boat and watch the angle of the line to the rod to avoid “high sticking” which will usually snap the rod right about the 3rd guide… Your pulling power is best from “5 to 3” on the “universal clock”. To maximize this technique, think “get one crank”. You’ll hear the best captains yelling “get a crank!!!” over and over. Short strokes gain line. Remember that. Each crank is 4’.. When that fish is buried 50’ under the boat, you only need 12 cranks to land it.. Even better…get 24 half-cranks quickly. When that fish’s head turns, DON’T LET UP!
I have used many different reels to target these fish, but the list of appropriate reels to target the biggest fish is very short. Okuma is adding one to the mix that I am happy to say I have tried and successfully vetted on these big fish. It is with an early prototype reel that we landed our biggest fish to date. I fished a later prototype and it was markedly improved. I’m sure that the latest version will be even better. When it is introduced, another giant Bluefin tuna reel will be on the market. I’m excited about this reel. If you are using a reel that isn’t appropriate, you will either ruin it, you’ll lose your fish, or you’ll fight the fish for much, much longer than necessary. The rule of thumb with tuna is that “the longer you fight it, the greater your chances of losing it are” (that’s the opposite of shark fishing, but that’s another story).
100lb Guide’s Choice hollow core line from Tuf-Line. There is no room for backing; you fill the entire spool with it. You’ll have more than 400 yards of line on your reel…and you may need it all! Splice a nine foot 100lb fluorocarbon leader into the end or end it with a loop and use a windon leader. You do not want any knots connecting your leader. No discussion here. Period.
We end our line with a Palomar knot to a Spro power swivel/split ring to which we attach our lures. Once again. No discussion. This is how it’s done. We have never broken this connection.
Finally, you want help. We no longer let guys fight fish for more than 20 minutes. If you can last longer than that, you are not fighting it hard enough. There are times near the end of the battle when we are fighting the fish for one minute shifts, just like hockey. We fight these fish so hard that it becomes a team effort while landing it. Remember, it’s the thrill of the chase, the hook up, and the battle as much as it is the excitement of finally landing it.

 

joe
Get out there and have fun; in the offseason, fire away with all of your questions and I’ll be happy to help. During the season (late May – early December), I’ll see you on my boat where you can get the best lessons in person! I can’t wait to see what 2016 has to offer and you can find me at www.blackrosefishing.com or on my Facebook Page

(https://www.facebook.com/Black-Rose-Fishing-105895832818219/)

My number is 508-269-1882 or captain@blackrosefishing.com. We target Bluefin tuna from New Hampshire to Rhode Island and offer full lodging/fishing packages for anglers or whole families.

For more information on the Makaira family of rods, please visit http://www.okumafishingusa.com/product/view/rods/saltwater-1/makaira-abalone

 

Tips For Bagging more Bass in Late Winter/Early Spring

By BASS Pro Jeremy Starks

Late winter/early spring is one of my favorite times to be on the water. This is the best time of the year to catch a giant and knowing a few cold water patterns will make your next trip more successful.

One of my favorite late winter techniques is a jerkbait. The right equipment will make fishing a jerkbait much easier. A lightweight combo will allow you to work the bait properly and without tiring your arm. I start with an Okuma Helios bait casting combo spooled with 10 lb Seaguar Tatsu. I choose the 7′ Helios casting rod in med action paired with a high speed retrieve Helios casting reel. The soft action with a fast tip allows me to cast the bait further and the med action is perfect for treble hooked baits.

Jeremy Starks with a fat early Spring Smallmouth.

As winter winds down the days are getting longer and the water begins to warm. Bass sense that spring is around the corner and begin their annual migration to shallow water. This movement makes locating fish a little easier.

Bass migrate from the main lake into creeks and main lake pockets. Large lay downs that extend over deep water is an excellent place to start looking for migrating females. Start by slowly working the jerkbait in front of the laydown and then along each side. It’s not uncommon to find numerous fish on one tree. Fish will use these locations as a feeding or resting location during their movement and can reload every few hours with a new group of fish.

As the water begins to warm further, fish will continue to move toward the back of creeks. This is a great time work channel banks with a crankbait. Again, the right equipment is paramount. I choose an Okuma Helios spinning reel paired with a 6’10” Okuma C340X spinning rod in light action. I spool the reel with Seaguar Kanzen 10-lb. braid. This combo can’t be beat for getting max distance from a lightweight crankbait.

Zach Meredith hoists a big largie caught on a Savage Gear Finesse Crank.

I start working by channel banks from the main lake toward the back. I like to parallel the bank and make certain to work the deeper water as well. Fish will often suspend 20-40 ft. from shore as they migrate further into the creek.

Working rip rap is another proven pattern this time of year. However, there are some techniques that can increase your chances for success. Looking for small high-percentage sections of rip rap will set you apart from other anglers. Look for sections that receive the most sun, sections that have additional cover (laydowns, wood, docks, vegetation), or just a small isolated section that differs from the surrounding cover. These areas are great places to throw a small crankbait,a shakey head or a finesse jig. I love to throw a 1/4-oz Keitech jig on this type of cover. I throw the little jig on an Okuma Helios 7′ MH casting rod and high speed Helios casting reel.

There is no need to wait for the warm days of late spring and summer. Armed with these techniques you can start the season a little earlier and start catching some fat pre-spawn bass.

Quest for Big Bass at Lake El Salto

On Monday, November 18th, Okuma’s Sam Brenner and I departed Los Angeles International airport destined for Mazatlán, Mexico. On arrival in Mazatlán we met up with our guests Woody Wood, West Coast sales rep for Okuma Fishing Tackle. He was accompanied by our special guest and former professional bass angler John Bidwell of Fisherman’s Warehouse tackle, located in Northern California. All four of us were greeted at baggage claim by Hono Elizalde, owner/operator of El Salto Adventures to start our trip.

Sam with El Salto topwater bass

Sam Brenner, Okuma Vice President of Sales and Marketing, displays one of many eager topwater bass.

Author John Bretza with El Salto Bass

Okuma Director of Product Development and author John Bretza with healthy El Salto bass.

As we loaded our bags and hit the road on a two hour drive destined for the world famous lake, our quest for big bass grew closer. The anticipation and excitement of all four anglers continued to grow as we exited the highway and pulled down a long dirt road. While getting knocked around on the uneven dirt road, we could see a set of lights come into focus in the distance. On approach it was obvious we were not pulling into the Ritz, rather a rustic old world Mexican charm that made this trip so unique and special. As the sun dropped down over the lake and disappeared behind the mountains it was truly pitch black, without a hint of city lights on the lake or in the sky.

The glow of a fire just behind the lodge’s kitchen drew us to the eating area, where Hono and Chef Susie treated us to barbecued steaks and freshly made chips and salsa. The hospitality was exceptionally welcoming. They go the extra mile to make sure that each individual angler was taken care of. It was a great way to kick off the trip and get in the right mindset prior to rigging our tackle for the early morning fishing.

In preparation for the morning events, each boat was well equipped with new Okuma TCS and Helios rods, as well as the latest Helios Air, Helios and Citrix reels. The tackle boxes were overflowing with Savage Gear lures, especially the Top Prey, Sand Eels, Sand Eel Slug and Vibra Prey which have all been proven performers on the lake. With the equipment prepped and anglers ready to rock and roll, we got a short 5 hours of sleep, meeting for a hot breakfast at 5:30am. The meal prepped us for a long day of fishing. A short 50 yard walk in the dark really surprised us, arriving to find two 18-foot Ranger bass boats rigged with Lowrance electronics and Mercury outboards sitting under the lights and ready to take us fishing. All four of us have fished El Salto previously, but the guides have always fished from basic aluminum boats, so this was quite an unexpected treat.

Okuma Fishing Tackle and Savage Gear lures

Each angler would be prepared with an elite level arsenal of equipment.

Grave Sites

Submerged tombstones remind anglers of the submerged city that lies beneath the surface of El Salto.

As we pulled away from the dock in the dark we heard Omar, the lodge handyman yell out “Buenas Suerte”. It was not long before we were fishing as the spot we started at was literally 100 yards from the dock. The first thing we noticed was the famous tombstones that anglers always mention about El Salto, partially exposed in the lake. Lake El Salto was a former town that was flooded by lake construction and all the structures we were fishing was remnants of the city such as the cemetery, houses and school. Hono yelled out, cast the Top Prey toward the Escuela and the action started. Sam and I were in the boat with Hono and we started by throwing Savage Gear Top Prey lures and using a “walk the dog” technique to draw surface strikes. We had several blow-ups on the baits which got our hearts pumping, but it was a strange feeling to think we were casting at half submerged schools and tombstones. It is this type of history and structure that make El Salto truly unique.

John Bidwell of Fisherman's Warehouse with a hefty carolina rig bass.

John Bidwell of Fisherman’s Warehouse with a hefty carolina rig bass.

Woody Wood with El Salto largemouth bass.

Woody Wood hangs a beautiful El Salto bass for the camera.

Woody and John started the day with a different approach. Rather than hammering the shoreline with topwater baits, they started throwing Vibra Preys, picking off a few fish and then their guide Jerry said, “Carolina rig”. These guys fished in 30-feet of water just in front of the resort and found the honey hole. It was Watermelon Sandeel Slug and prototype Savage Gear lizard that were the hot baits. On the radio we heard them report 5-pound fish right off the bat. Woody and John camped out on two spots in the same general area all day and finished with about 60 fish for day one. On the other boat, Sam and I finished day one with just under 40 fish, but the quality level of bigger fish went to John and Woody. Both boats averaged fish in the 3-lbs range, but big fish of the day went to Woody with a 7-pounder.

On day two the schedule was the same, but after talking with all the guys we realized that fishing was tough compared to El Salto standards that guys were used to when they come in the May and June time frames. Fishing in November is always a little slower, but there are always opportunities for quality bass. In addition, we were fishing on a full moon and battling Tilapia nets on every spot. These obstacles made us have to fish even harder and in the end we did well considering the conditions. Sam and I wanted to target big bass on top water again, knowing the numbers may be smaller, but there was a chance to see some big explosions on the surface. I got my biggest fish of the trip on day two, with a 5-pounder and Sam also nailed his largest fish at 4-1/2 pounds. The Top Prey was working and we missed some other truly big fish that exploded on the baits, but just missed the hooks. Our guide and friend Hono was also fishing with us and his Top Prey flew out of the water with an 8-pound bass connected to it, trumping Sam and I. It was awesome seeing these big fish blow up on topwater baits.

Hono with El Salto largemouth bass

Hono lands a slug on the surface with a Savage Gear Top Prey.

Woody and John had another great day on the water with very similar results on the Carolina rig. It was obvious that in order to get numbers you had to go deep and slowly drag the bottom. Not only were there more fish being caught with this technique, the fish were also bigger. John Bidwell commented that night at dinner that this was the best fishing trip he has ever had for multiple quality-sized fish. After fishing two days John had already recorded 7-pound, 8-pound, 9-pound-plus and 10-pound-plus fish. Quite an accomplishment even for a former tournament bass fisherman with several major wins under his belt. It was a great feeling hearing John say this was the best fishing trip he has had for multiple big fish.

Our third and final day of fishing came and we were all excited to see what would develop, especially since we all figured out what the fish were chewing on. Of course Woody and John stuck to their trusted Carolina rig that was a proven producer on the lake this trip, turning in similar result to days one and two. After a morning shot at topwater, Sam and I told Hono we were changing to a Carolina rig to put some numbers in the boat. As Sam was tying on his rig, I fired out a pearl Sand Eel working a ledge and it was an instant fish. Another cast and then another, all producing fish.

Savage Gear Top Prey

Savage Gear Top Prey in one of the many dozens of aggressive topwater fish.

It appeared we may have found the spot we were looking for. Sam finally got the watermelon lizard in the water and before he even dropped the bait down it got hit resting at the surface. It was obvious these fish wanted to chew and we pulled good numbers out of this hole on lizards, Sandeel Slugs and Sandeels. We had some bigger fish busting around the boat, but they were reluctant to hit anything on the surface.This was a mid-day bite in the extreme heat. As the day was slowly coming to an end, Hono said, “let’s see if we can finish off the trip with a top water bite”.

We headed back to an area where I had a lot of luck fishing the Sandeel Slug with the darter head. This was an area just off a cliff where the fish were holding. Sam and I both broke out Top Prey’s in the bone color and it did not take long. We finished off the trip with about a one hour long topwater bite. No monsters, but it was truly fun getting fish after fish on the topwater. We fished this into the dark until we ran out of light for the run back to the lodge.

Main Lodge

Under the beautiful desert skies, the resort offers an experience far away from any distractions.

El Salto is truly a bucket list trip for any angler.  It is a unique fishery that really gives you a shot at both numbers and quality fish. For a company like Okuma Fishing Tackle and Savage Gear, this destination offers us great testing grounds for our tackle with multiple hookups and big fish. Hono Elizalde, official Okuma product tester on this lake allows us to put our tackle to the test on a daily basis. If you are ever looking for a great experience fishing bass in Mexico, El Salto is a destination you should definitely look into.

Savage Gear 2012

The Future Is Savage, at least when it comes to supreme lure actions. For those unfamiliar with the brand, Savage Gear is the brainchild of Mads Grosell, a detail-oriented engineer 100% consumed by fish and fishing. With paper and pencil, Grosell has scribed, then constructed the ultimate baitfish actions in Savage Gear hard and soft 4PLay lures.  For pike, musky, halibut, bass and a host of inshore species, Grosell plays with predatory instinct with the full control of a puppet master.

The Savage 4Play is a complete line of hard and soft baits with extensive available sizes and diving characteristics.

Developed and retailed in Europe, Okuma Fishing Tackle has brought Savage Gear to the United States.  Our selection is concise, focusing on the most unique and productive of the selection, but be assured, there’s more to come.

For now, enjoy the 4Play lineup in all its custom configurations, the Larvae, Cutbait Herring and incredibly versatile Sandeels.

Check out the Savage Gear 2012 USA catalog here:  Savage Gear USA 2012 Catalog

See the footage of Savage Gear 4Play lure actions here:  Savage 4Play Video