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Wednesday 27 March 2019

Ben Assirati - Major Craft N-One 10ft Shore Jigging 80g

With a bait fishing trip booked to the excellent Skarnsundet Fjordsenter run by Phil Dale it became quickly apparent that there was a lot of fun to be had fishing for cod and hard fighting coalfish on lures in the crystal clear waters of Norway.

When I told Mike at Major Craft that I needed a shore casting lure rod for 4-6” shads using up to 60g jig heads he immediately suggested the N-One Shore Jigging 80g, I took a leap of faith and ordered the two piece version.

First impressions of the rod were great. The usual quality rod bag revealed a nicely finished rod with  first class fittings on the reel seat and handle. The rod felt nicely balanced with my Shimano Twin Power 5000 reel and the advertised regular action seemed be spot on, not too fast and certainly not too soft.
On the first morning of our trip we decided to try for coalfish off the nearby breakwater, time to see how my new outfit cast. In short, the results were outstanding! Using jig heads from 30-60g and Major Craft Dangan Bullet braid in 25lb test the ungainly shads flew out. Casts were effortless as the rod loaded and punched both 30g and 60g jig heads beyond the 80 
yard mark.
Next test was to see how the rod performed with a fish on, thank fully I didn’t have to wait too long to find out. 

After a few blank casts I got the tell-tale tap, tap of a fish mouthing my shad. The rod transmitted these tentative bites beautifully and within a couple of turns of the reel handle the fish had engulfed the shad and line was screaming off my reel. The N-One`s progressive/regular action cushioned every lunge of the hard fighting fish on the other end of the line. Eventually, after many screaming runs a beautiful 7lb coalfish was in my grasp.

Later on in the holiday myself and fishing buddy Harry Coxhead (using the three piece version of the N-One) had a magical evening landing 50 coalfish between 5 & 7lb all taken on shads. The rods performed impeccably and we both commented on how quickly they had become firm favorites in our armory.

The next outing for the N-One will hopefully be pitted against the legendary tarpon, let see what the silver king makes of these magnificent rods!

Monday 25 March 2019

Cautionary warning!

Well at last the bad weather seems to have broken and last week I ventured out for my first Bass session of 2019. I’m sure like me, the majority of year-round anglers whether it be salt or freshwater have been crawling the walls after what seems like months of wet and windy weather! Indeed, it didn’t take much persuading for me to dust of the Triplecross, neatly packaging my probable blank by telling the wife I was “prospecting”. The water colour was adequate and the tide was reasonable too. I opted to remain on dry land for this first session as the water felt quite chilly and I was wearing my new varifocal glasses which I was still getting used to.

As soon as I arrived at my first chosen spot and stood looking out across the water, I could feel the cold north westerly wind biting around my ears. Luckily the excitement of the first cast and of course a warm hoodie helped subdue those irritations.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m hard lure biased, so it's no surprise that I kicked off with a surface lure. Maybe 5 minutes in and the first Bass made its appearance. Only small but pleasing nonetheless. Soon after and with a change of lure, now clipped on was a shallow diver, two more fish followed with one being around the 2lb mark.
Apart from a couple of swirls from another venue I moved to, that was how it ended and personally I was fairly upbeat especially not having blanked which I do suffer from on too many occasions!!

This helped me make the decision that the following day I would don my waders for the first time this year and do what I love doing which is wading! The tide looked good just after lunch and traditionally id always done quite well at this mark fishing an afternoon ebbing tide. Thankfully the laces on my boots were still strong unlike on other years, when all pumped up, I’d arrived and they’d snapped whilst getting ready! Very annoying!! Anyway, I ventured out into the brisk march water with the wind still biting as it did the previous evening. The fish were certainly not throwing themselves at me so I resorted to a soft plastic lure which thankfully worked almost immediately. I continued to cast over all my favourite areas, places I’d waded often twice a day over the past 3 or 4 years so I felt I was very familiar with especially under foot, which brings me to the reason for this post.

I guess I was in maybe 3-4ft of water when my foot was obstructed by a large object which caught me completely off guard. I stumbled forward and having no way too steady myself ended up almost fully submerged albeit for only a matter of seconds. This was enough time for my waders to swallow around 3-4 litres of water not forgetting my clothes being completely soaked. Luckily, I was only 60 ft from shore and made my way quickly back to my car and then home.

I think we all become a little complacent when revisiting common fishing grounds, assuming the conditions haven’t changed on land or in this case underwater. It's easy to forget in the 3-4 months over the winter period that tides are constantly shifting / dragging debris from one area to another not to mention regular occurrences like storms and rockfalls which will also both contribute to changes in the terrain on land and underwater.
Thankfully on this occasion I was close to shore and my car, which in turn was minutes from my home. Wake Up call maybe? I was indeed very lucky and hopefully this experience will serve to remind me to remain focused on more than just the fishing in the future!


Saturday 16 March 2019

Preparing for the bass season

We class it as a start of a season, but there is no season as such!
Winter sea temperatures dictate how many bass stay inshore before moving off to spawn,
but not all of them disappear and this past winter has proven this with a few fish still being
caught along the south & south west coast.
With sea temperatures hardly dropping below 9 degrees they have stayed active and prepared
to chase lures.

With just a couple of weeks until the clocks move forward into British Summertime it's time to start
thinking about sorting the tackle out, or if you're extremely organised and been suffering from cabin
fever it's all done and ready to go!
The only problem with sorting the kit out is wanting to step out the door and go and fish,
well why not?

If you're lucky enough to have some clarity go for it, no doubt you have a few new shiny bits of kit
that need some testing?

Fail to prepare…...prepare to fail.

Checking through my lure trays and boxes looking for rust/fatigue on trebles and split rings. Rust is
visual and easy to see especially if lures didn't get a rinse in freshwater after your last trip, don't
forget those trebles (or singles) can go blunt as well, run the point across the back of a fingernail
to find out how sharp they are. The point should scratch the nail and not just run smoothly over the
top, blunt hooks can bump fish, which can be avoided with a few checks of your kit.

I'm as bad as the next person and forget about lures that have been put aside for a few months,
unwashed with the sea water eating into anything it can! If, and I say if with time allowing it's always
worth rinsing your lures in freshwater after every trip to avoid rust taking hold quickly.
If hooks need changing along with split rings, I'd personally recommend purchasing a pair of
split ring pliers. Fairly inexpensive pliers will save you time and frustration and they're a lot easier to
use than using cutlery and fingernails!

It's always worth a check of your rods guides/rings for chips or cracks, this can happen from dropping
the rod or knocks on rocks with the tip guide being the most common one to take damage.
The liners on the guides can be visually checked and big chips/cracks will be easy to spot, to confirm
what you may think is damage run your fingernail or cotton wool over the area. With the fingernail you'll
feel and hear the ‘nick’ in the liner, cotton wool will normally get caught in the fissure.
If broken, just get the guide replaced by a good rod builder.
Why get the guide replaced?
Well you know that nice new spool of braid or mono that you've put on……..hard earned cash spent
on the shiny lure……..there's a good chance that broken guide could shred the braid and fail with the
lure attached heading out into the water with no way of getting it back.
For the sake of a couple of minutes checking it's worth it!

When did you last check or change your braid? This could depend on how often you fish, for myself
throughout spring, summer and autumn this could be 5 times a week with various rock marks where
braid gets rubbed over rough ground fraying the braid which you can see as the strands ‘fluff’ up.
Each time I notice the braid to be frayed I cut back beyond that point, but on average I'll change my
braid 2-3 times a year with personal preference last year to spool up with Major Craft Dangan braid in
4 strand.

All those lovely soft plastics organised in regimental rows waiting to be christened, have you checked
that jigheads are glued on?
Personal choice but I tend to superglue most of my jigheads to SP’s, I've found this can save a lot of
them getting torn up and it keeps them up the shank of the hook avoiding the lure sliding down over the point where it's possible to then bump a hook up.

Check your reel before you need it, make sure the roller bearing is running free, this can be one of the
most common of causes for creating wind knots and putting a twist into your braid. Is the bail arm
holding open, handle turning freely? If you're unsure ask at your local tackle shop about reel servicing,
or it may be just a case of some oil needed in certain places to get things running smoothly again.

As a personal note, could I ask that you dispose of braid, mono, hooks and other fishing tackle

Richard Cake

Thursday 14 March 2019

Holiday fishing

In a perfect world we’d be jetting off to fish for GT’s in Oman, to Mexico for rooster fish or off to the
Amazon to fish for peacock bass but the reality for many is an annual package holiday to a warm
European destination with the family.

Now whilst writing this i must point out, I fit in the latter part of this, i take my fare share of road trips or
flights into Europe with my normal tackle but it’s what's possible from my family holiday is what i want
to talk about here.

To better understand what most of us are facing when we book our summer holidays i have done a
quick search online and it threw up the following as the top destinations for British holidaymakers.

Mallorca, Ibiza, Canary Islands, the Algarve, Benidorm and Crete were named by this website.

With the Algarve as the exception none of these are famed for their fishing, but one thing all have in
common is a coastline, endless sandy beaches, rocks and marinas- easily accessible and available
for fishing (check local laws before you travel)

The packing revolves around the essentials for the typical 2.4 family, maybe if there’s enough room
left for dad you’ll get to chuck in a book or snorkel, the snorkel kit being the worst thing to pack as an
angler as often you get to see the fish but haven’t the tackle to fish for it with.

One thing we all have in common is when we arrive at our holiday destination, after the excursions/ days
on the beach and late nights we often wish we had tackle to scratch our fishing itch, some will go to the
local shop and buy the combo set available and whilst ok- it’s not quite lure fishing as we know it.

Travel rods have been available for a long time but most were crude, cumbersome, often telescopic and
whilst ok for a short fishing fix are not much use to the angler that is used to refined JDM lure fishing

These days, travel rods are widely available in high modulus carbons, using the same build and rod
design employed in 1 and 2 piece models but build in convenient suitcase sized sections, housed in
lightweight, protective cases that make them perfect for travel.

Now if you are like me, the best time to slip away to fish on holiday is during daylight hours, usually
whilst the other half is shopping or asleep on the beach- most fish around during these times aren’t for
the hardened specimen hunter but are perfect for LRF/ light game techniques.

Any fishing time abroad is a bonus, to do it with balanced tackle as you would at home is something
else and that’s where we come in. Major Craft produce in excess of 20 lure rods covering LRF/Light
Game, HRF, Light Shore Jigging, bass etc in the Crostage range, Freshwater in the Benkei range and
trout in the Finetail and Troutino range- whilst these rods fall into individual categories there will
be some crossover with the only limitation being your own imagination.

What you choose really depends on where you intend to fish, I like to fish with lighter rods that travel
with me every year to Crete where i fish for mixed species using jighead, dropshot, metals and hard
plastic lures.

If you were heading to Mexico like our customer Rory Eastlake you could opt for the
Crostage Light Shore Jigging, or if you were off to Cyprus or Portugal and had the chance of both
saltwater and freshwater fish you may opt for a rod from the Benkei range.

Don’t get hung up on the size of the fish you target, you can only catch what’s in front of you in the
locations you find yourself in but with careful consideration to end tackle you can put together a good
number of species, try it for yourself, i set yourself a target to catch 10 species- you’ll be amazed what
you can find over small inshore reefs, on sandy beaches and in typical ports around tourist resorts.
Research your destination online, use Google maps to give you a clue as to what you may find before
you choose a rod and pack your tackle, on the big surf beaches in Portugal bass may be viable target,
in the Canaries you may want to pack your 28g SG sandeels and hard plastics, if it’s a mediterranean
holiday then a simple bag of soft lures and metals  like my one below (taken from a holiday a few years ago)
will be perfect.

Triple Cross EU Custom

Taking the reins of a distribution company after the discontinuation of the super successful Skyroad
series was always going to be a tall order which was made even harder by the fact that the apparent
successor, the Triplecross Seabass range, had been built with the Japanese favoured action which is a
softer, more parabolic rod.

The current trend in Europe is for a faster tip action blank with a quick recovery.
Our general opinion is fast/stiffer = top water, softer/slower = soft plastics but I know this is not
universally agreed upon. Of course, you can have a fast recovering rod with a soft tip etc.

The Japanese 8.6ft and indeed 9ft ML models were both absolutely solid with bags of backbone and a
more than adequate recovery speed for all occasions but the longer 9.6ft version was definitely a
through action rod which with a more regular recovery was less attractive for those looking to work
surface lures etc.

This led us very quickly to the idea of producing a custom range of seabass rods which we believed
suited our waters and fishing styles and allowed us to draw on the experience of the Skyroad.
What had we learnt and how could we improve it?  After numerous meetings and conversations
between myself and Richard (DFR Cake) and dozens of emails with Hamano in Japan we received a
selection of sample blanks some 6-8 weeks later which the factory had produced to our specifications.

I remember instantly being impressed with the action and couldn’t wait to start testing.
I kept the shorter 9ft models and started with the 10-30g ML. It’s worth noting that I had been fishing with the custom built 9ft St Croix Legend Elite up to that point but had tested a decent number of other quality seabass rods so was in a reasonable position to properly critique these blanks.

I couldn’t resist clipping on a Patch 100 to kick off and within seconds of casting it was happily “walking the dog” and “Popping”. The recovery was faster than its Japanese brother and pleased with the outcome I moved onto diving lures and soft plastics. Both performed superbly with more than enough sensitivity in the tip when bouncing a Fiiish Black Minnow. The final test was “belting” a 28g Savagear seeker metal lure and again the rod performed without breaking a sweat. Indeed, you could tell this was still based on the Japanese Triplecross and it wasn’t just because of the graphics!
The powerful backbone is evident especially when casting heavier lures which it does effortlessly.

The 9.6ft ML and M versions were handed to Richard Cake to put through their paces. For those who don’t know Rich he’s a well-known rod builder (DFR Rods) and complete lure nutter with some impressive captures and accolades to his name. His input on the EU rod was arguably the most important with his knowledge of rod building being second to none. Thankfully it didn’t take long for him to report back and the results were consistent with mine.
The range offered “allround” style rods that were equally happy in all circumstances, the recovery on the ML versions was close to that of the old Skyroad but with a powerful stepped up feeling best described as the “Skyroad on steroids”.

Once we were confident in the blanks we invited a number of anglers to inspect, test and give feedback and the feeling was unanimous- we had found a range worthy of replacing the Skyroad, furthermore they were climbing over each other to place pre-orders on the rods!

In May 2018 the initial order was placed with Japan, there was no going back now, 4 models were put into production, all that was left was to fine tune the name and also the wording that would be on the card sleeve on the rod bag. I believe that this is the first sleeve to have been written in English and priced in GBP and I’m strangely quite proud of that fact!

We continued to fish with the range and hundreds of bass were caught on them in 2018 including some notable catches (for Richard).

In September 2018 we received delivery of the first run of TripleCross EU Customs, production took just under 4 months from placing the order to delivery, rods were made in house in one of the Major Craft factories.

Specification of the four models:

TCX-902L/EU 9ft 7-23g     0.6-1.5PE Regular Fast
TCX-902ML/EU 9ft 10-30g   0.8-2.0PE Regular Fast
TCX-962ML/EU 9ft 6”10-30g 0.8-2.0PE Regular Fast
TCX-962M/EU 9ft6” 15-42g    0.8-2.5PE Regular Fast

Now available from: Chesil Bait n Tackle, Veals Mailorder, Garry Evans, Cricceith Tackle Box, Lure Geek, Glasgow Angling Centre, Lure Fishing For Bass and Todber Manor Lure Division
or to order from any of our authorized dealers.

As a promotional clip for social media / advertising purposes, Andy Mytton and myself spent a typical British summers evening (grey, wet and windy) filming a short video.
The water was very coloured and conditions for fishing were generally not great. Andy was focusing the camera on the rod working a surface lure and concentrating on the reel seat when i let out a loud squeal then, fish on! Sadly i'm not going to finish the article by recalling my new PB or a story about the one that got away.

No just a very small fish with eyes bigger than its belly, you can see the short video here.

Interview with Andy Mytton

Straight into our second Q & A with Major Craft UK's Andrew Mytton.

1. Welcome Andy, could you tell us a little about your angling history, achievements etc?

The first fish i caught was a corkwing wrasse from Weymouth when i was 11 years old, i progressed to lure fishing in the sea before turning attentions to the rivers and canals in the Midlands and abroad focusing on zander.

Most notably i won the Zandermasters title in 2016 on Rutland Water, fished for England in 2018 and finished 2nd in the team event at the World Predator Classic in Holland in 2017.

I have filmed with Sky Sports for Tight Lines and with BT Sport for the On The Bank program.

2. Role in MC UK setup?

Marketing manager, angler and Brummie accent translator.

Jokes aside i really hope to share my experience and knowledge with anglers and the MC dealers to help grow the sport i love.

3. Favourite current MC rod?

Triple Cross TCX-S732AJI - 0.6-10g, 7ft 3”, 2 piece

I’ve had this rod for around 10 months now, originally brought for heavier scad fishing in running water
I’ve found it lends itself to fishing for just about everything i’ve thrown at it. I’ve mostly used it for wrasse,
garfish, scad and bass from piers and from a friends boat whilst scad fishing all using 0.3PE Dangan X4 but recently i have tried using 12lb Dangan X4 on it for perch and it feels like a completely different rod, it’s amazing how much power it has.

Worthy of its own blog post in the future i’ll just say it’s got a lovely, crisp X fast action but takes on a nice parabolic curve once a fish is hooked- cushioning head shakes and lunges beautifully to prevent hook pulls.

A Dorset lure angler that i follow on Facebook has been pike fishing with his recently has had some lovely bass and wrasse on his which fills me with confidence in exactly what this rod is capable of.
To see a video of the rod in action see here.

4. What would you say is your favourite style of lure fishing and target species?

This is a hard question, I’ll give you two answers.

Freshwater it has to be zander fishing at night, i really love fishing for zander in built up, industrial/ urban areas as the light falls, fishing as light as possible.

Saltwater it is still rock fishing, specifically for wrasse but i love everything i get to do!

5. Top 3 freshwater lures?

Lunker City Ribster, Keitech Swing Impact Fat and, erm…this question is unfair Mike, i can’t name just 3!

6. What's the best advice you could give to those interested at trying their hand at LRF for flounder?

Flounder love freshwater, they will return to harbours that have rivers running into them and run up estuaries, on the flood they will move into previously dry areas and feed on small crabs and gobies moving between the rocks, as the water rises so do the flounder.
As the water retreats- so do the flounder, once you locate them try to get them up off the bottom to your
lure. At times they’ll come up for fish imitations, at others they won't budge for anything but a worm or crab imitation, I won’t say much more for now as it needs a bit more than a Q&A!

7. Did or do you have an angling “idle” or “hero”?

I admire many European anglers but it was to be Mick Brown for me, i love how he comes across on camera and it’s hard to say without knowing him but he seems selfless, i like that.

8. Do you have any predictions for new products / styles of lure fishing to be popular in 2019?

In heavily fished areas the fish will get smarter and anglers will start to adapt and finesse down their presentations, I suspect we’ll see more lure modifications and even more European presentations creeping in. Lure matches saw competition anglers moving towards ultra sensitive, light game/ LRF style aji rods and i see this continuing to grow with the recreational anglers, lighter lines and leaders.

BFS will continue to grow with the ever increasing ned/ bottom style of fishing that is popular, the MC Fighting Claw will be part of this I’m sure!

In saltwater 2019 will be the year of the metal for all areas of saltwater game, the boat metal game is set to continue to grow for certain with better availability of light jigging and slow jigging tackle.

I expect to see anglers using longer rods for bass, a lot more surf fishing with metals which is full circle to where a lot of us started lure fishing for bass with 15-45g 10 to 11ft rods.

Personally Tai Rubber excites me, i will be experimenting with Tai Rubber which is a saltwater boat technique for bream, our tides will limit us but I tried it once last year and managed a couple of gurnard and a bull huss on my first outing during slack so i believe the method needs exploring more, Major Craft have a huge range of Tai Rubber rods and lures- if it works I’ll report back on this blog!

9. Have you any personal angling targets set for 2019?

2018 was a great year for me, I fished for England, I had a baby and really got my teeth stuck into other styles of saltwater boat fishing.

Most importantly i want to keep enjoying my fishing, to keep developing my own skill sets and to help others to get maximum enjoyment from the sport.

10. I know you are a keen football fan so my question is, what’s your favourite team and why?

This may lose me a few friends but it’s  West Bromwich Albion - The Baggies, a little known fact is i was a season ticket holder for nearly 20 years before moving to Dorset
- i had no choice, it was either WBA or being put up for adoption.