Quantum Hellcat 30 Spinning Reel Reviewed

Is the Quantum Hellcat 30 Your Next Spinning Reel?

Quality fishing reels are something I love to have but I hate paying too much for them. To that end, I’m really liking the Quantum Fishing Hellcat 30 spinning reel.

Quantum Fishing Hellcat 30 Spinning Reel
Quantum Fishing Hellcat 30 Spinning Reel

If you haven’t checked them out, they are as sexy as you get for a reasonably priced spinning reel and they have enough bearings to make them smooth to work with.  I’ll be honest with you.  I grew up in the woods of North Idaho and I don’t know how many bearings those reels we used had, but hey absolutely grated when you would reel them and the drags were dismal.  Hooking into a big fish was a nightmare with those things.  I likely would have killed for something this sweet back then.

The big features for me on this reel are first the price point. MSRP is $80 but I’m seeing them on Amazon for less than that plus if you have Amazon Prime you can get it shipped for free. I’ll admit it, I’m now an Amazon junky.

Next is the continuous stop. Those old reels has one stop, so you better hope that it was against it if you went to set the hook. A continuous stop prevents any line from playing out when you put tension on the line. It may not seem like a big deal, but when a trophy is on the line it definitely is!

Third is LOTS of bearings. The Quantum Hellcat line has 11 Bearings (10+clutch) so you know it will run smooth.

Quantum Hellcat Spinning Reel Specs

Here are some of the general specs for this reel that I pulled off the Quantum website for the Quantum Hellcat series of spinning reels:

  • 11 Bearings (10+clutch)
  • Lightweight aluminum body and side plate
  • Continuous Anti-Reverse™
  • 5.2:1 Gear ratio
  • Lightweight graphite rotor
  • Long Stroke™ spool design
  • LMS™ line management system
  • Heavy-duty anodized aluminum bail wire
  • Soft-touch EVA handle knob

The Quantum Hellcat spinning reels actually come in three sizes. I think they are all pretty reasonably sized, not too big but not so small that if you have a fish run you have to sweat it spooling you.

Quantum Hellcat Spinning Reels
Model Gear Ratio Line Capacity Bearings Weight.
HC20F 5.2:1 140 yds. / 6 lb. 10+1 10.0 oz.
HC30F 5.2:1 190 yds. / 8 lb. 10+1 11.1 oz.
HC40F 5.2:1 170 yds. / 10 lb. 10+1 11.8 oz.

Hellcat Spinning Reel Reviews

There isn’t a great deal of feedback in on this reel yet, but so far their is only praise for the Quantum Hellcat spinning reel.  Here are a few that I’ve found that seemed useful.

“Great Reel. very smooth and i love it. I’m using 8 pound Spiderwire Braided Line. Spooled up Smooth . My new favorite reel.”

“Great reel super smooth casting and retrieving great drag as well”

Final Analysis Of The Quantum Hellcat Spinning Reel

I have to go with it being a winner. At least until someone gives me some evidence to change that opinion.  If you are looking for a midrange spinning reel for yourself or as a gift, you aren’t going to go wrong with giving them one of the Quantum Hellcat spinning reels.

Check for the best price on the QUantum hellcat spinning reels

Anchor Pulling Ring Review

If You Anchor Your Boat Then An Anchor Puller Is Essential

Anchor pulling ring
An anchor pulling ring plus the float, makes getting your anchor back up MUCH easier!

Last year was the first time that the FWC crew took a stab at Puget Sound Halibut fishing.  It was a great learning experience.  Does that sum up our lack of catching any Halibut well enough.  We did learn some things though and one was the need to have an anchor puller.  With 300’+ of rope out and anchoring in ~200′ of water, pulling a muck covered anchor up sucks.  I should know, since as the biggest guy on the boat, I generally did it.  This year I solved that problem using a an anchor pulling ring.

We watched other people out there using buoys as were baffled at first as to what they were for.  Quite honestly we never anchor the big boat up other then when we are halibut fishing, so we had no experience with it and anchoring the little boat doesn’t really require one.

This Year We Got Smarter About Pulling Anchors

As we started gearing up for this year, an anchor puller was high on my list and I like simple, so my choice was an anchor pulling ring.  Obviously there are no moving parts to break, fail, seize up and so on.  I like that!

An alternative design anchor puller
A different style of anchor puller.

Secondly, anchor pulling rings are relatively inexpensive and about half of what the more fancy ones cost.

Third is that a ring style anchor puller doesn’t have to be put on the line before you anchor up. Half the time we are still asleep when we are going fishing it is so damn early and the last thing we need is to forget to thread the anchor puller on.

Fourth is that they anchor pulling ring is pretty forgiving.  Honestly this time out we had to add some rope to our anchor line to replace some that we lost and the knot we used to join them was efficient, but not what I would call mariner pretty.   I know it would never go through the fancier anchor pullers, but the ring didn’t care about our fist full of knotted rope.

Anchor Puller Buoys

The other essential part of this rig is a float of some kind, typically a 11-18″ buoy with a short piece of rope and a clip.  The stores all sell nice red ones and honestly you can save a few bucks by ordering online.   In fact, you can buy whole anchor pulling ring assemblies online for only about $80 but I am a cheap bastard and assembled my own.

After looking at the price of buoys and comparing it to what I was already spending the year in replacing equipment and buying a halibut spear, I figured I could just use an old fender that we found a few years ago.  It was fairly big an I figured it would float the little anchor we use just fine.

If you want something fancier for a buoy to put on your anchor pulling ring that is fine, I can see why you wouldn’t want an ugly old float on yours LOL.

Pulling Double Duty

That is a pun there… Ok, fine a lousy pun.  But since we are halibut fishing, we needed a buoy to go on the line for the halibut spear as well.  A quick change clip and the same float works for pulling the anchor and bringing in the halibut that we will eventually (hopefully) catch!

Easy To Use Anchor Puller

One of the things I like most about the ring and float anchor pullers is that they are easy to use.  When it is time to go, simply slip the ring over the line, clip on the float and motor past your anchor at about a 30 degree angle.  The resistance of the float in the water levers the anchor up out of the sea floor and pulls the line through the ring.  When it hits the top, you simply stop and reel it in.  No more back breaking pulling.  I love it!!!

Where To Buy Anchor Pullers

You can find anchor pullers in most stores, but I prefer to shop online and save some money.  It is up to you if you want to pay a little more to support your local store or if you want to save your money and spend your savings locally on more fishing tackle.  The second is usually my choice.

Wherever you decide to shop, I highly suggest you get an anchor pulling ring.  They are a back saver!

Gullwing Paddle Review

The Gullwing Paddle Breaks With Tradition

Review of Gullwing Paddles for kayak fishingA while back the guys at Gullwing Paddles sent us over  one of their bent shaft paddles to try out.  I had seen them in an ad in one of the fishing magazines and was absolutely intrigued.  Virtually every other paddle I’ve seen was a variation on the standard straight shaft paddle.  Sure some are fancier, lighter, adjustable pitch, whatever.  Honestly, I had done a bunch of research and had just settled on a basic el cheapo for my general needs because I am not planning on covering miles and miles of water.

Ok, so I have covered miles and miles of water this year fishing in my kayak, but that is another story.

But back to the Gullwing.  The concept was developed by Art Carlow who besides liking to kayak, had some injuries that made rowing a bitch.  Seems like those add up as we get older doesn’t it?  So to make rowing easier, Art redesigned the kayak paddles he had been using to make them more ergonomically correct.

Changing the angle of the blades and putting a gentle curve into the shaft means that it is much easier to simply slip along, moving the paddle just above the water rather than having to lift it up as you do with regular straight shafted paddles.  Again this was intriguing to me, and the whole concept was sold on the idea that it not only was easy to row, but you could set it down in your lap and not have it fall off to one side.  A big deal when you are fishing!

 First Impressions of the Gullwing Paddle

Straight out of the box the Gullwing Paddle is pretty much ready to go.  Mine came with the optional foam grips which I really love.  Aluminum handles can get cold when the temperature drops.  The two paddles attach pretty intuitively with button tabs to hold them in place.  The shaft itself felt beefy enough to use on a regular basis without being heavy.

On the Water With the Gullwing Paddle

To review the Gullwing paddle, I took it out on local lakes using my Ocean Kayak Trident 13.  For the most part conditions were good with some wind from time to time.

Honestly the first time out the damn thing felt awkward as hell to me.  The problem was that I kept wanting to row it like my old paddle instead of relaxing and letting it do the work.  Eventually I relaxed and started keeping my strokes lower and it started feeling right.  Rowing with the Gullwing paddle definitely is easier than with a standard kayak paddle.

The angle of the shaft and the angle of the blades make it very easy to complete one stroke, getting the whole blade into the water than with a regular paddle.  I don’t have science to back it, but it felt like it was easier to move along with the Gullwing Paddle.  What I do know is that rowing at normal speeds I never got fatigued using it.

As for the claim that it will just sit there in your lap if you get busy with a fish?  That was absolutely true.

Honestly I wouldn’t hesitate if someone asked me if they could paddle and fish all day with a Gullwing Paddle to tell them yes.

I Take the Gullwing Paddle to the Breaking Point

One thing that several reviewers have noted is that the fit where the paddle blades meet the shaft isn’t 100% tight.  Now in reality it is pretty tight, but if you are used to comparing it to the no-grit fittings found in the middle of most regular kayak paddles, it is loose.  If you are rowing slow, you can just slightly feel the vibration as you start your stroke from it.  But it is tiny.

Knowing this, and wondering just how tough the blades and connections were, I decided at the end of trip #2 to really push the Gullwing Paddle to the max.  I hadn’t seen any reviewers comment on straight out power, but since I fish Puget Sound and sometimes you wind up fighting wind and current, I wanted to know.

So I started the test run on the downwind end of the lake and started putting on the speed.  Gradually I ramped it up until I could feel some flex in the blades.  Now mind you I am ~#280 so I am no featherweight to drive through the water and into the wind.

Exceeding the design specs I’m sure and digging as aggressively as I could, I pushed it further.  Think of it as paddling if Jaws with a laser sight was on your ass speed.  Nearly at the far end of the lake and quite honestly hauling ass, the right blade finally sheered off at the shaft.

I limped back to the shore pretty pleased with the paddle’s performance.  Art seemed a bit surprised when I told him I managed to get one to break off and he should have been.  I was pushing that paddle WAY past where any angler is likely to ever have to go.  For clarity, I am a #280 adventure racing Viking and it took all I had to get that blade to blow.  So if you are worried about that blade being sloppy or weak, forget about it!  PS.  My shoulders killed the next day I was rowing so hard.

What I Liked

The Gullwing Paddle really delivered on its promise of being easy to row, riding comfortably in your lap and being a good kayak paddle for fishing with.  The foam grips are big enough that my hands didn’t get fatigued and fought my tendency to grip the shaft too tightly.

The angle on the bent shaft put my arms and shoulders at a much more natural position for rowing and was very smooth once I adjusted to the new design.

What I didn’t Like

There wasn’t a whole lot about the Gullwing Paddle I didn’t like.  The biggest problem I had was that my legs got in the way of rowing which tells me that I could have used a little bit longer of a paddle, which they don’t make yet.  I was using their Model 230 and I probably could have used one size bigger.  Again though, I am a big guy and so a normal person probably wouldn’t have had an issue with this.

One reviewer commented that the Gullwing Paddle suck for rowing standing up.  I can see that with the bent shaft, but I don’t generally do that so it wasn’t an issue for me.  The only other thing was flipping it over to go in reverse is a bit awkward, but I don’t do that very often either.

Final Thoughts

For the money, Gullwing Paddles get thumbs up from me.  Art is always looking for ways to improve his paddles and I think he has a great design going on.  He has already won several awards for them in fact.

If you have been pondering a paddle upgrade, then I would highly suggest that you forgo the carbon fiber, fragile, fancy ass paddles and go with a Gullwing.  It rows well, is sturdy as hell and works great for fishing.  You can buy them direct from the company on their website http://www.gullwingpaddles.com/ so swing over and pick one up now!

buy gullwing paddles

 

 

GSI Lexan Flask Review

GSI Lexan Flask

It has been a while since we first reviewed the GSI Lexan Flask and I wanted to touch on it again and update the page.  You will be happy to know that this flask that we put into service back 4 years ago (or more) is still going strong despite getting lost in our gear for a while and being kicked around on a variety of fishing trips.

GSI Lexan Flask

It is nice to review a product like this. Anything that can hold my booze and not break when it is dropped on the deck, or is beat around by Thomas’ driving is a great thing in my book!.

The GSI flask is really nice because it has a wide mouth for filling and un-filling, and a top that is easy to grip and take off or put on with one hand. Additionally it has a great profile that is easy to grip and non-slip. Best of all it is relatively cheap. We found our flask for under $10.

GSI Lexan Flask in actionIn Thomas’ words:
“This flask fits so well in my hand it feels like my hand was designed for it. It has more trouble leaving my hand than entering it. Too bad Cliff sits in the back and can’t reach the flask…well to bad for him only.”

To summarize, the GSI lexan flask gets a big thumbs up from me!
Cliff

As I said, since we first wrote this review of the GSI Lexan Flask, it has been put through its paces.  It is dirtier now, scuffed up and not so pretty, but it still holds our booze like a champ, which is really what it is supposed to do!

I have read some other reviews that have complained that theirs broke when they knocked it off a table or dropped it, but I am not sure what they are doing to ours because it has been tossed in bins, dropped on the deck and generally abused and is still holding up fine.  I’m sure if you hit it hard enough it will pop, but then again what do you want for a $10 flask?

Best Prices on the GSI Outdoors 18 fl Oz Flask

Review of the EGO Rubber Landing Net

High quality EGO landing netWhen it comes to fishing, landing nets are all the same right? Obviously this is absolutely false as evidenced by our recent opportunity to test and review the EGO Rubber Landing Net. Anyone familiar with how our crew fishes knows that our equipment receives a lot of abuse and misuse. If a landing net can survive a few outings with us is doing pretty good.

The first thing that is apparent with the EGO Rubber Landing Net line is that the net is a wide rubber mesh. Traditionally this has meant two things. First that the net would be heavy and second, that it wouldn’t move through the water well. This is definitely the case of our last rubber mesh net. You had to get it under the fish and lift because there was no sweeping under. The EGO Rubber Landing net defies this and is light, weighing in at just over a pound. The netting also moves in the water better than older style rubber nets.

If you haven’t used a rubber net before, you might be looking at the relatively small net size and be thinking that it won’t hold your fish. In reality the mesh on the EGO Rubber Landing Net will stretch to 1.5 times its original size. Additionally the rubber material is gentle on the fish, which is important for catch and release situations. We caught many Pink and Coho Salmon ranging in weight up into the teens without any problems getting them in the net and in the boat.

One other really nice thing about the rubber netting on the EGO Landing Nets is that they don’t tangle up hooks. In the two weeks of hot and heavy fishing for Pink Salmon that we tested out our net on, hooks would routinely drop out of the fish as soon as tension was off the line. With a traditional nylon mesh or even a coated nylon net, those hooks usually got tangled up and had to be carefully removed. With fish biting twos, threes and fours, speed was critical, and not once did we have to untangle a hook from our EGO Rubber Net. Even if they came out of the fish and got hooked in the net, they came out easily!

Have you ever dropped your net overboard? Our crew fishes Puget Sound from our 19′ Alumaweld, and generally are at a loss for where to put the net when we are actively fishing. Where it usually winds up is on top of the canvas, which is fine, except for when we power up to go try a new spot with the net on top. We have nearly lost several nets this way. This is less of a problem with the EGO Landing Net because it floats! Having to go in because your net in the middle of the bite is not fun at all.

discount on ego rubber landing netIn addition to floating the EGO Rubber Landing Nets feels solid. The yoke where the hoop meets the handle is covered and there are no exposed rivets or metal pieces to snag or cut your line. The handle is comfortable feeling and the octagonal shape makes it easier to control, especially if you are fishing solo and have to land your own fish. The handle on the medium sized net that we tested is 30″ which is adequate for most smaller boats and comparable with other nets on the market.

We tested out the Medium Ego Rubber Landing Net, and while it was big enough for Pink Salmon, I would really want to step it up to EGO Large and Deep to give some extra room for bigger fish.

Overall the entire crew felt that the EGO Rubber Landing Net performed fantastically with no flaws. For fishing from a boat like ours or for fish larger than the Pink and Coho Salmon we usually chase, I would probably step up to the Large size to gain a few inches on the handle and a slightly larger hoop size. The price is very fair, especially for a rubber net, at under $50. All in all our crew give the EGO Rubber Landing Nets a big thumbs up. It is a keeper

Check for the best price on EGO rubber landing nets

Boomerang Swift Cut Knife Review

A Knife For Fishing From a Kayak You Won’t Lose!

Knife for Fishing From a Kayak With
When I started playing with the Swift Cut Knife that the people at Boomerang sent me, at first I wasn’t exactly sure what I would do with it or what I thought of it.  I am used to traditional knives when I am on the boat fishing and using them for cutting bait, line, and so on.  So what to do with this knife?

First off, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t want to gut fish with it.  It seriously isn’t built for that, but the blade is sharp enough out of the package to cut bait, though not delicately, but the serrations at the base of the blade were damn sharp and I had no qualms about it being sharp enough to cut cord/rope.

What would I use the Swift Cut Knife for?

The realization of what it would be perfect for came to me when I was looking at kayak fishing gear.  The Swift Cut Knife lacks a stabbing point so it is unlikely to jam into your boat (or leg) when you are bobbing around on the water.  It is about the right size to use to cut ropes and clip fishing line. This knife would be great to take with you when fishing from a kayak!

The overall build and the fact that it is on a retractable cord make it perfect for working with when you are limited in space and in a place where if you fumble your knife, it is on a one way trip to the bottom of the sea.

What Do I Like Best About the Swift Cut Knife?

The blade shape is great for utility work.  The flat, fairly dull tip is good for moderate prying (oysters anyone?) and the short wide blade is stocky.  The blade lock engages nicely and holds the blade firmly in place.

The blade does lack a spring assist to opening and closing which at first annoyed me until I realized that while it meant you can’t flip the blade open as easy, it also means that it won’t snap shut on your fingers.  Trust me, I have had a few near misses with my Spiderco knife that would have lost me some skin. Not something you want to replicate.  So the lack of a spring assist on opening and closing is a plus in my book.

The retracting cord works well, and I like the retraction button isn’t too tall so you aren’t bumping it on accident.  Overall the profile is smooth and fits in even my big hands comfortably.

What Don’t I Like?

Honestly, takes for what it is designed to do, I don’t have any serious complaints about the Swift Cut Knife from Boomerang Tools.  If any spring up after I have had it in use for a while I will update this page and let you know.

What I would say is that it is definitely a utility knife and don’t expect it to do fine knife work.  Additionally I am betting that the lanyard spring will be subject to rust, so a rinse down in fresh water and generous use of water displacing lubricant will need to be done to keep it working smoothly.

The Boomerang Swift Cut Knife Stats

For you lovers of cold hard statistics, here are the features and specifications for the Boomerang Swift Cut Knife:

  • 36″ Retractable Kevlartm cable and retriever (built in the USA) keeps your knife attached to you
  • Super Grip handle for safety and improved handling
  • One handed lock blade operation for quick maneuvering
  • Blunt end to prevent punctures of you or your boat
  • The Swift Cut Knife is ultra lightweight at 4.5 oz (127g)
  • High grade 440C stainless steel blade
  • Easy to find barrel thumb button to open the blade
  • Textured lock release
  • Holster included

Specifications

  • Length: 4.5″ (11.4cm) folded, 7.75″(19.7cm) open
  • Width: 1.375″ (3.3cm) widest point
  • Depth: .635″ (1.6cm)
  • Blade: 3″ (7.5cm) total length, Fine 2″ (5.0cm), Serrated 1″ (2,5cm)

CHECK FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE 
SWIFT CUT KNIFE NOW!

 

Review of the Saltwater Fishing Journal by John Martinis

Find out where and how to fish Puget Sound

The Saltwater Fishing Journal by John Martinis is a fairly comprehensive book on how to fish for salmon, crabs, bottom fish and halibut in Puget Sound.  Loads of maps and instructions make it particularly useful.

Saltwater Fishing Journal

Saltwater Fishing Journal

Summary of the Saltwater Fishing Journal

The Saltwater Fishing Journal is a compilation of maps and articles that cover all the basics for fishing Puget Sound.  It covers Blackmouth/Chinook fishing, Coho fishing, Pink/Humpy fishing, Halibut fishing, crabbing and even shrimping.  If you are new to fishing Puget Sound, this book covers at least to a cursory degree, everything you need to know to catch fish (or crabs).

What I like about the Saltwater Fishing Journal

The Saltwater Fishing Journal does an adequate job of covering all the basic info a new fisherman needs to get started on Puget Sound.  The maps showing where to fish for what are quite helpful.  Lastly, the spiral binding is also a real plus because you can open the whole book up and leave it sitting where you want it for reference.

What I don’t like about the Saltwater Fishing Journal

My only real complaint with the Saltwater Fishing Journal is that it is more or less a compilation of lots of articles written over the years.  The information is still good, but there isn’t much of a cohesive flow from one chunk to the next and there is some repetition.  Not enough though to warrant  not picking up a copy.

Last thoughts on this book

We have been kicking our copy of the Saltwater Fishing Journal around for a few years now since we first reviewed it.  Since then it has been on many outings, gotten wet several times and even been loaned out for a while and then brought back.  You can take that as a testament to how useful it has been!

Check for the best price on the Saltwater Fishing Journal

 

Review of Big Trout by Bernie Taylor

Learn all the secrets for catching giant trout!

Anyone can learn to put planter Rainbow Trout in their bucket, but learning to track down and catch truly giant trout takes a lot of knowledge and skill.  You can either spend years on the water learning by trial or error or you can read  Big Trout by Bernie Taylor and get a head start on catching trophy trout!

The book on how to catch BIG trout
Ready to get serious about catching BIG Trout? Read this book!

 Big Trout

Summary of Big Trout

Big Trout is a scientific breakdown of how to find and catch trophy trout. From where they can be found to what trophy trout eat, how to fish for them and when to fish for them, Bernie Taylor goes over every detail that you will need to catch that once in a lifetime trout.

What I like about Big Trout

The completeness of Big Trout’s approach to catching trophy trout is what really stands out.  A lifetime of tracking trout is squeezed into the ~280 pages of this book.  Bernie Taylor does a great job of covering all the details of what you need to know to put you in a position to catch epic trout.

Unlike a lot of fishing books, Big Trout isn’t a collection of reprinted articles or stale reprints of old books.  Bernie gives us a logically laid out book that covers all the bases of trophy trout fishing.

What I don’t like about Big Trout

There isn’t a lot about Big Trout I don’t like.  The book is a bit stilted towards fly fishing, which I understand to a certain degree.  As a life long caster of metal and bait, I am a bit loathe to give way to fly fishing as the ideal way to catch trophy trout.  Time will tell if it can be done on my preferred hardware.

Last thoughts on this book

If you have catching trophy trout on your list of things to do before you die, then I definitely would suggest you pick up a copy of Big Trout.  If all you are ever going to target is planter trout in stocked lakes, you can let it go by.  It is too technical and sophisticated for those fish.

Check for the best price on Big Trout