Spooling up

A week or two ago , I was out with Jacob as you may have seen in a previous post. Well leading up to the day, I knew I would be mostly perch fishing but I didn’t know what rod I was going to be using. My little Sonik rod is ace for small cranks on overgrown rivers, but anything larger than a half pound perch has it bent double and creeking like it’s about to snap. I have a cheapo Shakespere drop shot rod, but let’s be honest, I was never going to be going drop shotting. I’ve got a random assortment of custom rods, custom being that I’ve managed to break the tip off them. I have an Enigma rod which is better suited to 2.5inch plus shads on at least 5g jig heads but it’s not really sensitive using anything smaller and I prefer to use it for my pike fishing with small cranks and 3 inch softies. Basically, I need to buy a new rod.

Then I remembered I’d not dug out my Gunki baitcaster rod for a while. It’s only rated 3-15g which is spot on for my approach to perch fishing. As most of you know, it’s cranks and 2.5 inch kopytos mostly for me, all within the casting limit of this rod. I had paired it with an Abu Revo SX reel, which is not too bad. There’s a kind of annoying clicking feel as you turn the handle sometimes, after a couple of years use. Hopefully it just needs a clean out and it’s not on its way out. But I wasn’t happy with the braid on it. I had some 15lb sunline something or other braid on and it was ok to start, but after a while seems to fray really easy. I know, i’m like most Brit’s who never seem to change their braid as often as we should. It also seemed to be a bit chunky for the tiny rings on the Gunki Iron T198 rod. For you guys who like your diameters of braid, I think it was something like 0.205mm if my quick Google check got it right.

Now for my braid choice, i’m not really one for going too light. Many of my waters are snaggy, and i’m a tight arse and don’t like losing lures, so I go heavy enough to hopefully bend a few hooks out. Usually the lightest I go is about 10lb but since I’m using cranks with trebles I bottled it and decided to stick to 15lb for that little bit of added strength. But what braid would I choose. For well over a year now I have been using two new braids from American Tackle, Nano X and Bushido Combat. I’ve used heavy and I’ve used light on a variety of rods and this time choose the 15lb Bushido Combat braid to go on my little Revo SX.

So what made me choose this braid? Well for a start, it’s only 0.16mm diameter so that’s a massive chunk less in comparison to my old 0.205mm I was using. Bushido Combat braid is an 8 strand PE braid that is silky smooth on the cast and I wanted something that wasn’t going to have me in knots every fifth cast while casting smaller lures on a baitcaster in the bloody wind. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. It’s super strong with a 15lb Test and 23lb breaking strain so would offer me plenty of protection against those snags. I’d used it in 10lb on my spinning reel for ages now, and also used some 50lb on a BFT Instinct X7 reel and it was just lovely.

So only one thing left to do and that was to have a quick test the day before fishing. I nipped out and the weather couldn’t have been any more challenging with strong winds a plenty. Trying to seek some form of shelter under a bridge I had a quick few chucks and in no time I was rewarded with a fish.

If you fancy giving the Bushido combat or the Nano X braid a go, then pop along to the riverpiker shop and take your pick.

Ujka lures, the colourful little cranks

I’m always on the look out for new lures. Like most lure anglers, I just seem to collect them. Always buying something new when there’s no real need to. One of my favourites at the minute is looking for little cranks for my trout and chub fishing. I just enjoy playing about with them in flowing water. Trying to get them to drift with the current, past that rock and through that little slack spot where I’m expecting a trout to be waiting or towards that overhanging bush where I know there will be a gobby chub waiting for something to come drifting down. It really is great fun and if you’ve never done it, I urge you to get a proper ultra light set up just for this and spend a few hours on a lonely river searching for a bite.

So last year I found a new set of lures called Ujka. Little hard plastic cranks, decent price and funky paint jobs. I bought a few in a range of sizes and styles and gave them a go. They worked, caught fish and that’s all I really needed to know. I then found myself using them more and more as they seemed to do the trick. Obviously confidence in any lure means you use it more and then you give it more chance of catching. I’m not daft and neither are you. Wait, hold on a minute, that bloke there. He’s a bit daft, but the rest of you are ok.

I added to my own collection with a few more sizes and styles and kept on catching fish. The great thing about these were the smaller sizes are mostly sinking versions, and seem to have a bit of weight to them, so they cast like a dream on light gear. The slow sink means that in flowing water they stay down and don’t get dragged back up to the surface but also don’t sink so fast that they are always hitting the bottom. The lip digs in on the retrieve and the lure wiggles like mad, irresistible to all sorts of fish. The larger Ujka lures seem to all be floating versions, again with a nasty wiggle that sends out so much vibration and you can use that floating lure to bounce up and away from snags or as a trigger on the pause for that following fish, as was the case for this chunky river pike that took a BM7.

The next step for me then was to buy a few more and add them to the shop. I’m always getting asked for ideas on good lures for this fish and that fish and with this range of lures I was happy I had found something I could point people at the next time they asked me the question. So if you are looking for a few lures to add to your box or may be your soft lure collection needs something different adding to change it up then why not check out the UJka lures in the riverpiker shop. With a range of sizes, styles and colours there’s something for most predatory fish and every angler. They’re not too pricey either so you can have a few in a couple of sizes and you have great options to mix it up a bit.

How to make YouTube fishing videos

I’ve noticed more and more people wanting to get in to making fishing videos and I find myself getting asked about cameras, editing software and more. So in this video I attempt to answer a few questions and explain the gear I use, why I chose it and what I use it for. If you are wanting to get in to making your own fishing videos then this video is for you.

Filming equipment used

GoPro Hero 3+
GoPro Hero 4
Panasonic HC-V250
Canon EOS 700D
Rode VideoMic Go
Rode VideoMic Go Deadcat Windshield
BOYA BY-WM8 Wireless Lavalier Microphone
DJI Spark drone

Editing software

GoPro software
Sony Vegas Pro
Adobe Premier

Wanna be a YouTube star?

This fridays video is a bit of a “how to be a youtube star” tutorial. Ok, it will be in my usual laid back style and it won’t tell you all the crazy things you can do to get a viral video and be one of the top Youtube channels. But it’ll explain how I started my Youtube journey, the cameras and equipment I use, why and how over time these have changed plus a few more tit bits. If you are thinking of starting a fishing channel or you have just started making your first videos then this will be perfect for you.

I have seen so many new fishing channels popping up recently and I’m often getting asked about how to do this and that, so thought it was about time I made a video to cover it all. So tune in tomorrow on the Riverpiker Youtube channel at 6pm to see my top guide to looking just awesome on TV, like me!

Tiny cranks added to the shop

Check out the Tiny Cranks section of the Rvierpiker shop as we have just recieved a fresh top up of trout, chub and perch cranks. The popular Ujka range, including the previously sold out Ujka B0, have had a top up with more colours and sizes available again. The B0 stock took a battering when I put up last weeks chub video so for those of you who have been patiently waiting here they are.

Mada Bomber

I have also added a couple of new lures to the range and both these are custom made lures. One is the Mada Bomber, which is a 2.8cm fat boddied floating crank and just looks like a killer lure for chub to me.

The second new lure added to the shop is the Tuco Minnow which is another custom made lure, and is sinking. Ideal for trout fishing and just looks ace in my opinion.

Be sure to check out the other sections to see what else there is available. Thank you for looking and supporting the channel!

Tucco Minnow
Belly Dancer


Lip grip or not?

In todays snowflake world, there seems to always be something that someone finds offensive or disagrees with. With the increasing amount of time we spend on social media, we open ourselves up so much to being offended or upsetting someone else. Every time you flick through your Facebook or Twitter feed you see the same old arguments over and over and in fishing it is just the same. Now I am all for fish care and will always do my best to help people learn the best practices for dealing with fish. But on the other hand, I’m not going to start crying if someone does something slightly wrong.

So we will have a look at perch and the lip gripping method. It seems to be creeping in more and more but is it right? We don’t see this method used for any other freshwater fish in the UK. I’ve seen the folk in the USA and their bass lip grip but I’ve never seen the UK carp lads dangling old Bessie by the lip. Can you imagine a barbel or a trout being held vertically by the lip? That would be so wrong. But why is it ok for a perch to be held in this way?

Going back to the US and their bass. Apparently they have steel reinforced lip and jaw structures and you can safely hold aloft three or four of them in each hand, once you’ve plucked them from your tiny boat live well where they have been swimming belly up for half the day. Seems legit to me. As we all know, the US scene (and others) is way ahead of us knuckle dragging Neanderthals in the UK so it must be fine. A perch looks a bit like a bass , so it’s fine to swing about by the lip and make yoursefl look cool as hell. Of course it is cocka. Who’s tha think tha’s kidding?

Now personally i’m not totally against it. I’ve used the method sometimes but the bigger the fish gets, the weirder and more awkward it starts to feel and on a big one it feels just wrong. As soon as you get a chunky perch, there just seems to be so much more pressure on that lip and you feel like you are ripping the poor things mouth apart. So for me I’m thinking we need to use a bit of caution when they are smaller, and if its a lump? Well there is a far better way of doing it and it’s tried and tested with pretty much every other species. For me, the pictures below are the way to do it, with either a supported lip grip or a finger on top to get that stunning dorsal fin up. Whether the lip grip is right or wrong, the photos below are the best way to show off these stunning creatures. You know it makes sense. 😉

Returning the favour

Those of you who saw the last zander video will have seen me fishing with Jacob Stone who is part of the Rapture UK team. We had a great day catching small zander and a few perch on the midlands canals, and while I was there I explained how the canals in the north of England are totally different. The midlands canals seem to be shallow and very murky water where the north has many larger canals and some with much better visablilty. So we planned for Jacob to come up to my neck of the woods and have a day fishing, see what we could catch and just have a good laugh.

With a two hour drive for Jacob ahead of him we were never going to be fishing too early, but he managed to get up to Yorkshire for just after 7:15. A quick call to the shop for some food and drink for me and then a little drive and we were fishing not much long after. Straight away Jacob was struck by the size and clarity of the canal and in no time he was getting hammered by what seemed like millions of small perch. We had planned to try and target the larger perch and jacks rather than the smaller perch. But that is easier said than done when there are so many of them about. The rod tip constantly seemed to be rattling round from them. Most you didn’t hook up on as they were too small to get the larger hooks in their mouth. A quick change to a smaller lure and you were catching, but we decided to stick to the plan and try to ignore these smaller ones, as best we could anyway.

That meant it would mostly be a hard slog. Lots of fishing and not much action but we were happy with that. Chatting and fishing and moving often to try and find some fish. We kept picking the odd perch up, often a crazily small one on a lure far too big for their greedy eyes. Every now and again I would catch a small pike which would get the heart fluttering for a moment as I was convinced it was a big stripey. After a few hours of this, and a few hours of rain, it was nice to find a few chunky, but not large, perch in an area around some flowing water.

At this point we decided it was time to move spots. Still raining and still struggling for a better fish, but not too damp that we had anything else on our minds other than to keep on plugging away. The new venue produced a flurry of tiny pike for me. I seem to have caught more titchy pike in this last few months than I have in my whole life, and I love it. They are super little creatures and I always try to imagine what they will one day grow in to. With luck that is. One of those little pike I hooked probably won’t live to see adulthood. As I was bringing it in, it came up to the surface, wriggling away like mad. When all of a sudden a much larger pike shot out from nowhere and grabbed it. I played them both for a while but didn’t expect to be landing either of them before eventually the much larger pike let go. I can only hope the little fellow will recover, but it didn’t look good.

So now Jacob was using the same lure as me. We’d been switching it up a bit to try and find what they wanted, but when I kept catching pike and he wasn’t catching anything he also switched to a jointed Rapala shad rap, my trusty firetiger. A while later I had a whack right at the end of the retrieve from what I beleived to be a proper one. I saw a bit of it, and it looked good, but it didn’t quite grab a hook. I quickly told Jacob to cast along the margin past me and run the lure through the spot. Just as it came past me he was smacked by the big perch, the rod was beant double, some head shakes and a bit of squirming from the perch. I grabbed the net and went towards Jacob to land it, when all of a sudden the rod flew back and the perch was gone. That might have been our one chance at a whacker and we lost. Ah well, that’s fishing.

We kept searching and searching with the same tactics. Running and gunning, trying to cover water and find a fish or two. I brought my shad rap along the margin, lifted it up and recast back out to the far bank. As I was watching my rod tip, a slow cloud of muddy water started to rise and grow, right where my lure had just exited the water only a few seconds earlier. I beckoned to Jacob to come cast across me as it was either a really big perch or a pike. He’s probably only done a handful of turns of the reel when his rod went solid and all hell broke loose. The drag on his reel was screaming and this pike was running him a merry dance. They are such good fun on the lighter gear. My net is a little bigger and was just about big enough to scoop it in safely. Hooks out, quick photo and smiles all round. A very nice fish to break up what had been a bit of slow fishing for a while.

After lots of graft and not too much more reward we decided it was time to move so again jumped in the car. It was knocking on now, and with a two hour drive ahead of Jacob I decided it was time for some sport. We’d missed our only decent shot at a proper one and I felt that finishing on a few fish was the way to go. The perch obliged and Jacob was knocking them out on his cheberushka rigged, crazy fish smelly as hell shad. I’ll have to ask him again what the proper name is as he bagged loads of fish on it. Plenty of small ones, a few chunkier ones and then to finish, a proper one at 41cm. We didn’t weigh it as it had a bit of an empty belly but it was a nice end to the day. Great bit of sport, loads of fish, not many monsters and we got soaked wet through but we didn’t give a shit. It was a reyt good day!

Don’t miss this Fridays video

This weeks video sees me head out to test some new products I recently purchased. The first being a set of waders I picked up in the Bobco bank holiday sale. Finally no more wet testicles, except for maybe on a Saturday night if I’m lucky!

Greys Strata CT waders

Greys Strata CTX solded wading boots

Secondly I wanted to test out my new microphones. Filming your fishing can be tricky at times and the wind especially can spoil a good bit of footage and so I am always wanting to improve. I had already upgraded to a Rode Videomic Go which is a shotgun mounted microphone and is pretty good with a wind protector on. But I wanted to go one better and so got a set of Boya WM8 wireless lavalier dual channel microphones. The kind where you see TV and YouTube presenters wearing on their shirt.

BOYA BY-WM8 Wireless Lavalier Microphone

Rode videomic Go

Anyway, all that aside. Check out the video on Friday as it’s pretty cool and I really enjoyed my short session on a small river. Now I have those waders it opens up a bit of something new and I look forward to some new adventures.

DIY lure box/hang bag

DIY lure bag
I just thought I would share this little beauty i’ve discovered. Many of you will know that for years I’ve been using the Aldi fishing bags for most of my lure storage, especially the larger lures. I either would use pipe lagging as hook protectors for the lures or use drain pipe cut up as lure hangers. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s been bang on for years. Well I kept meaning to make another bag and have it as a dedicated boat bag with everything in, so that I can just pick it up and go instead of swapping everything over from one bag to another everytime I go fishing.

So while out shopping recently, doing a bit of DIY at home, I ventured in to a local B&M stores and found this. It’s a tool holdall, sometimes called a tool tote bag. I’ve seen these before elsewhere and they were always a bit big or a bit pricey. But this one seemed to be just about the right size and at £12.99 not too bad a price to take the plunge and see if it was any good for what I wanted. Not got a local B&M or you want to order online? What about this one on Amazon instead? Looks solid to me and the pockets look like they could be useful.
Silverline 748091 Heavy Duty Tool Bag Hard Base 400 x 200 x 255 mm
More tool holdalls

Once home I quickly put in some of my old cut up pipe and a few boxes and its bloody bob on! Slightly longer than an Aldi bag which means you will get a couple of extra bits of cut up pipe in. At the minute I’ve got it set up for a bit of big pike gear but also a a couple of lure boxes for my smaller soft lures and cranks. There’s an end pouch which fits another smaller lure box in which is a bonus, with various little side pouches, which to be honest I don’t really see much of a use for with the lures. There’s also a handy front zip pocket, which is where I have put all my traces, split rings, clips and so on. Lastly there is a shoulder strap but I have taken this off as I will only use this in the boat so will use the sturdy handle instead. The final bonus is it is bright red, so you might see the bloody thing and not trip up over it. (I said might not!)

As an after thought, I plan on going back to a DIY shop and buying some of the square drain pipe. I’ll cut these new square ones up and stick them together so they don’t fall over when I take the plastic lure boxes out. I will make a couple of glued up sections so that I can have half a bag or a full bag of them. Don’t you just love a bit of DIY!


Beginners guide to small soft lures.

Beginners guide to  small soft lures.
(Please note – Links in bold for some of the products on Amazon)
Soft lures come in many shapes, sizes and styles and the short version is that they all work, there’s none really better than any other and they will all catch you some fish. Ask around  which are best to use and you will get so many opinions you really won’t get an answer. What you need is a few lures to get you started and a few more ideas to help you get the best out of them. The more you fish with soft lures, the more you work out what’s right for you or what is missing. Remember as a kid those sweet shops with rows and rows of jars of sweets? That’s soft lure fishing for you.

Relax Kopyto shad

So where to start?
Just keep it simple. Get a small selection of soft shads, such as the Relax Kopyto shad in a couple of sizes. For perch fishing, then two inch and two and half inch sizes are perfect. You want a few jig heads and for these you will want them in sizes 2/0 and 3/0 and these jigheads will be also rated by weight, so choose a light and a slightly heavier weight like 2g and 5g to start and over time a few more. These different weights will help you fish shallow or deeper water. You can now go perch fishing, these lures will catch you perch. Stay mobile, cover lots of features and find some fish.

Is it really that simple?
Short version is yes, but you will eventually come across blank sessions, problems that need another way of fishing the lures, a need to try other methods and undoubtedly you will end up with your own little sweet shop of lures. There is so much to soft lure fishing that this little article will not attempt to cover it all, it will just get you started on the right path.


Zman TRD

What other lures should I buy?
Have a look at the various styles of soft lure and after the paddle tail shads, you will find split tails, worms, creature baits, grubs and more. So after getting your first bag of paddle tails, try to get something different. I like to have a curly tail grub and stick bait called a Z-Man Finesse TRD fished on a ShroomZ Jighead as my options. The curly tail grub basically has a tail that flutters away even at slow retrieve speeds and just looks a bit different. A TRD is a stick bait that you mostly work along the bottom, sometimes very slowly, and offers you something totally different. So now you have different options on the bank, different styles of lure and lure retrieves and if you also bought them in different colours you now have a nice little bag of tricks that should help you put more fish on the bank.


How do I work these lures?
No matter which softie you choose, there’s no one way of using it, so start with the basics. Cast it out and wind it in. If you can, have a look at what your lure is doing in the water so you have an idea what happens when you crank the reel handle. Now try speeding it up and slowing it down. Then try to add a pause so the lure sinks and try to lift the rod so the lure rises. Try a combination of all that and see if anything grabs on to your lure. No matter if its a paddle tail, curly tail, stick bait or creature bait. A bit of all that will work, some better than others and eventually you’ll find which works best for each. Generally paddle and curly tails you would wind in, creature and stick baits you might slowly drag along the bottom but none of this is set in stone, see what the fish want. All these lures you can vertically fish two, by jigging them up and down. So for example, stand beside a canal lock gate and rop the lure in by your feet. Lift and lower the rod tip to make the lure dance, and you are now jigging for perch. Try this around any feature you can find, boats, bridges and so on.

If you would like to see more about soft lures then you can also watch a series of four videos over on the Riverpiker Youtube channel.



Have you always wanted to go fishing in Sweden?

So last year I managed to get my first taste of Sweden and what it has to offer. Along with Canada, Sweden is one of those places I’d always fancied fishing but really didn’t know how to go about doing it. Well luckily for me, I’d made a few new friends over there so managed to sort a trip out to meet Gary Benney of American Tackle, who looked after us like kings, and also Alexander Lexen of Leech and Gator. We got the full taste of Sweden with a visit to the awesome tackle shops of Stochholm, such as Soder Sportfiske and Lundgrens where you could easily spend a full day just browsing all the lures on offer. As for the fishing we managed trips on the Baltic, the stunning archipelago fishing for pike and perch and also some of the large Swedish lakes where we witnessed a true Swedish giant landed when Alex landed a monster. That did it for me, Sweden is firmly planted in the head and I’m always wondering when I will be going back next.

Since that trip I have been wanting to go back and on top of this, I am often getting asked how to actually go about doing it. Well it was all so easy for me, because I just had to get my backside over there. All the rest was sorted by Gary. But that’s no good for everyone else, because as nice a bloke as Gary is, I don’t think his settee is big enough for everyone. So that’s how my next Swedish trip has come about. I’m going back in October and I’m staying with a guide for a week. Catchbigger.se has everthing you need for your trip. Lodges, boats, tackle and the all important fishing knowledge. You can cater your week how you wish, full on guiding, part guiding or do it all yourself with boats included in the package. As usual on my trip, I will be doing plenty of filming and I will do my best to show you everything on offer. If you can’t wait for my trip and the videos, then get in touch with the team at Catchbigger.se now and sort it out before the cold winter rolls in.

You can contact the team directly via their website Catchbigger.se or Facebook.

Zander video

As most of you might already know, i’m not exactly a zander expert. We don’t have them in my local waters and so I’ve never really fished for them. Over the last year I’ve had about half a dozen attempts at catching zander, with mixed results. Tune in to see the latest video in the series on my hunt for the alien fish. This time, i’m actually catching some!

Trout and chub cranks added

New stock update.
Last year I introduced a range of Ujka lures to the shop and these proved very popular with you guys. When i tested them out I was excited that i’d found a reasonably priced range of cranks that looked great, were well made and caught fish. So this year I have added to the collection with a wider range of tiny cranks which are perfect for the usual perch and small pike, but also they are brilliant for trout and chub fishing. Available in a few sizes and styles. there is also a really tiny Ujka B0 that is only just bigger than a 1p coin at 2.2cm and a 2.5g.0 This will be perfect for those of you who like to target other fish species on cranks such as grayling, roach, rudd (but not bream, no body wants to catch bream!).  There is also So follow this link to the “Tiny Cranks” section and have a browse.

Loads of new stock just added

So, the Riverpiker shop has been growing and tonight i’ve just added some cool stuff. Be sure to have a look around and check it out. With more cool products from around the globe lined up in the future, this shop is the place to come for something that little bit different. You might find that some of these products are only available in the UK right here.  😉

First we have the Awesome High 5 Lures, custom made baits from Denmark, which I know a few of you have been  waiting for. Hand made by one of Denmark and Europes leading lure anglers. Finn Sloth Hansen catches fish for fun and has had multiple big fish. One of his most noteable captures was a 46lb 8oz pike ON A KAYAK! Man that is insane. Available to buy from the riverpiker shop and the first time ever in the UK are two of his creations, the Shad14 and the Shad18.


Next up we have some BIG soft baits from Finland, with the Wake Lures Hanko Gummi. These big soft lures are catching big pike across Europe. They can be rigged with the shallow screw to fish ultra slow in shallow water or even rigged up with weight to get down deep. The irresistable slow beating paddle tail is sure to trigger a hit. Available in four colours and two sizes, an 8 inch big bait and the massive 10 inch lump.


Finally we have two new braids from American Tackle Company, Bushido Combat Braid and Nano X braid. Bushido Combat Braid is an extremely high quality 8-Strand original ‘Toyobo’ Fibre fishing line produced in Japan. A super thin, slick, smooth and super quiet braid. The Nano-X line is an American made 4-strand braided fishing line. Nano X is coated with a nano coating that repels dirt to ensure smooth cast after smooth cast and is super strong. Both these lines I have been using on a few of my various set ups for a good few months now. Look out for future reviews of the products.


Lure rod sleeves

Simple ideas are sometimes the ones that are so brilliant and in this article I show you one of those such things, rod sleeves that help protect your gear when you are storing them or on the move. Now I don’t claim to have invented this idea, I simply stumbled upon it. As usual here in the UK we are so far behind everyone else with tackle, but we are starting to catch up with more and more cool bits of kit hitting our shops, so we are getting there. When we were sent the Gator lure rods months ago they came with these fancy rod sleeves that we thought were just an awesome idea.

Being northern monkeys, our gear tends to get chucked about a bit and I’ll hold my hands up and say I don’t take that much care of any of it. Nothing gets a clean or a service and it all gets chucked about a bit.  Now these rods being one piece and 8ft long, transporting them might become an issue. Two piece rods you can break down and chuck in the boot but these things had to be chucked across the seats along the centre console of the car. I only have a tiny Audi A3 but I was suprised to find they actually fit in no bother, boy was that a relief. But constantly in and out of the car for lure fishing trips was going to take it’s toll. In the past I have managed to snap the tip off a rod and knocked an eye out of another while my rods were being rammed in and out of the car. Luckily for me, Gator had provided a super cool answer to my problem and I had some snazzy covers.

Then I started to look for more covers to go with my other rods and that’s where my headache came. I couldn’t find that many at all and then the sizes all were just a bit puzzling, or limited at best. The more I looked the less options I found. I wasn’t sure how wide the covers were and if they would fit all my rods. Did every cover fit a small baitcaster rod? A spinning rod with the larger rings? I had no idea. Next I started getting a few people spotting my photos of the Gator rods and seeing the sleeves, the light bulb had flicked on with those guys also about how good these things are. I couldn’t give them a decent answer as to what size they needed, where they could by these from or the many combinations or rod sizes and styles and again more searching led me to not finding a solution. But what if I could make them in a few sizes and even better, custom make them for people who like me, couldn’t find the size they needed?

So here we have them. Unbranded but they arespecially made by me when the river is raging through, which seems to be every day at the minute. Available in one colour, black, because my white ones are already grubby so I figured I might be able to at least make these ones look a bit cleaner and not show up the grubby finger prints. They are available in three sizes. We have a small diameter cover, which is ideal for the small baitcaster rods like my tiny 3-15g Gunki Iron T that is a really thin rod blank and has small rings. We have the medium diameter cover which fits most larger baitcaster rods like my Gator rods, my BFT roots and so on. We also have a larger diameter sleeve which should fit most spinning rods with their slightly larger protruding eyes, the eye closest to the reel seat is the one to watch out for on spinning rods. That was the one which caused me an issue most but I found the L went over the eye easy, and while the rest of the rod might be a bit baggy, at least my one piece 6ft 3inch Enigma perch rod now had a proper cover to protect it.

Below you have a load of photos as some people weren’t actually too sure about what the sleeves looked like in full and of course you have a link to my stock. If you are not sure about any sizes, just get in touch and I will scratch my head and try to work out which one will be right for you and I should be able to knock it out in no time at all.


Gator rods reviewed

So as most of you know, Ady and myself got these Gator rods back in around July. As usual, we wanted to give them a good run out before we attempted a review video. Too many reviews come when something is shiny, new and brand new out of the packet.  We like to give them a proper run out, get some mud and dirt on them, bang them about a bit, bend in to some snags and throw some big things around with them.  Safe to say we are more than happy with these rods. As for the video, well its bloody ace. Spur of the moment thing, I asked Ady to do a review and away he went and he even bags a croc right on cue. Go watch it!

Latest video and a massive milestone reached

Latest video is out – Back on the boat, me and Ady find a shoal of bait using the Lowrance Elite Ti7 fish finder and and try to catch some perch from around it. Of course, there are also pike to be had. Today is also a milestone day on YouTube with a massive 10k subscribers reached, which is just awesome. Cheers you lot.

Keep it quiet or everyone will want one.

I have a few custom weighted Burts available in two styles. If you are quick, you can get one using the link to the shop below.

Custom Burts

The two styles are Shallow, and Deep. As you know, Burts come unweighted and weighted and it is this that is the key to whether you have a shallow or deep Burt.

However, all is not as it at first seems, after all you have a Musky Mania Squirrelly Burt and they are notoriously “different” shall we say. For anyone browsing who wishes to modify their own Burts, here is the key info. An original weighted Burt is already heavy and this means you only need to add around/up to/about 14g to make it sit nose down, however it is not perfectly vertical and sits at around 45 degrees. This Burt is also much more noisy than the unweighted version as it has a large ball bearing inside. This Burt is the one which will run at a shallower depth. So, a weighted Burt with about 13g of lead shot added will be shallow and noisy.

The original unweighted Burt is very buoyant and you might need to add around/up to/about 25g to make it sit perfectly vertical. This Burt is the one that on the pause will change its angle and sit vertical, and then when you give the next jerk, the energy is transferred in to the nose which makes the Burt dive rather than just come towards you. Takes time to master this as it is all about keeping a tight line, having a long enough pause and then getting the right jerk. Also, because this Burt comes with no ball bearing, it is quieter than the weighted version but still has a light rattle due to the lead shot used to re-weight. So, an unweighted Burt with about 23g of lead shot added will be deep running and have a pretty quiet rattle.

Yes, even i have to read all that again to make it sink in. These Burts are a bugger to get right. Failing that, be quick and buy one before they are gone.

Leech eye wear and Gator Sweden team up with Riverpiker

Massive news for Riverpiker fans across the piking globe. Ady and myself have teamed up with Swedish pike fishing giants Leech/Gator to become ambassadors in the UK and help bring you this quality gear to the UK shores. We have had opportunities before but we feel that Leech/Gator would be the perfect fit. Dedicated Pike fishing and especially lure fishing clothing is thin on the ground in the UK and if the gear we have just received is an example of the quality and style that Leech offer we can see it doing very well in the UK market. We will obviously be testing and reviewing all the new gear we have received and we will keep you all updated on our thoughts which will include polarised sunglasses, clothing, Gator rods and Gator lures so watch this space. If you are eager to get your hands on any of these products then head on over to www.leechstore.com/  and be sure to use the special 20% off Promo code  – Riverpiker


Zander virgin

I’ve had a couple of efforts at zander. Once on a river that in the end had me chasing everything else but zander and then an effort on a reservoir which after lots of jigging, ended up with me catching a few pike instead. I get easily side tracked and go back to catching pike if the zander fishing isn’t working. I needed to go back to basics, or should I say I needed to start at the basics. I needed to focus on just zander and to do that I needed somewhere with a half decent head of them, I didn’t care what size I just needed to get in among some. There’s no zander in my part of the world so I knew I had to head south, but where? Talking to Ady about it and we decided the best thing to do was to get out with someone who catches a few and Ady knew a man. We met up with two brothers, Rob and Shayne Walker, who took us to a canal where they said we had a very good chance of catching a few. Might be nothing massive in size but for me, a zander virgin, I didn’t care one bit how big it was. I just wanted my first, I would settle at one and so long as I knew that I was fishing the right place and in the right style I would be happy.

But what is the right style for zander fishing? I think i found in my couple of previous attempts that I’m too much of a fast action pike angler and every time I was meant to be slowly jigging I would end up twitching and jerking and trying to make something happen when I should have been taking it nice and steady, low and slow and so on. The zander are more of a bottom feeder for the majority, there are exceptions and they do chase or come up in the water but often you need to get your lure down there, keep it there and also sometimes try not to do too much. That can feel like waiting for paint dry for me at times but this time I was kind of in the zone and I didn’t really think too much about pike, especially after Rob explained that he had hardly ever even caught any pike here. I’d chosen to use my Favorite rod rated 1-8g so that I could use small lures and also have a nice bit of sensitivity to feel what my lure is doing down there. I didn’t have any idea what a zander hit would be like. Would it be a few nibbles, a great big thump? Hopefully I would find out at some point in the day.

I’ve seen a few people catching them on all sorts of softies, simple shads ranging in size from about 2 inch up to 6 inch. Drop shot works, TRDs work and so do little creature baits dragged along the bottom. I didn’t have too many fancy lures with me but Ady had a shad on so I went with the Zman TRD to be different in the hope a bit of variety between us we could figure out what they wanted. Rob and Shayne were on a combination of small creature baits and shads and as the first hour went on we all had a little play with lures to try and get the first fish. I was confident my lure would work, which ever lure it was i had on so i just kept at it. Really slow retrieve, just moving the lure along the bottom a bit at a time. Sometimes flicking it, but making sure i didn’t do it too much and that i kept the lure down there. The water was the colour of mud, so much cloudy silt in it that it looked like nothing could live in it. The boats coming by every now and again did nothing to help this and as they came by they just churned up more silt. Had I been pike or perch fishing in my usual style this would have been an off putting sight and I’d have jacked it in and gone elsewhere. But I’ve heard and I’m told that with zander it isn’t a problem and that too much clarity can be a bad thing. Their big beady eyes mean they like to find somewhere a bit dark and dingy and so that had me casting at every shadow on the near or far bank.

Rob and Shayne were first off the mark with perch and also the target species of zander and so that gave me even more confidence that we were in the right spot and doing the right things. It was just a matter of keeping at it, working the swims and the lures and staying focused on keeping the lure down there, and stopping myself from pike fishing. You have to find the right balance with your tackle I found. Rob and Shayne already had it sorted since they were doing this often. But for me I reckon I needed some lighter braid than the 10lb Bushido braid I was using. I was using 3g Zman Shroomz jig heads and I wanted my line to cut the water easier. Something about 5lb would have been ideal I reckon and that’s exactly what Rob had on his reel. You want to keep your lure down there and if your braid isn’t cutting the water easy enough, all you end up doing is bringing your lure back up off the bottom. It wasn’t so bad it was manageable though i had to work at it, luckily the canal wasn’t too deep. Had that been the case and on top of that a bit of wind or flow and it would make it really difficult. If pike or perch fishing I would just stick a heavier jig head on. It would help cut through the water and keep the braid tight if there was a bit of a breeze but also that usually means you end up working the lure a bit faster too and I wanted a really low and slow approach.

Everyone had a few fish, though it was slow at times and the bites didn’t really come thick and fast, it was just the odd fish here and there. Clear blue skies was good because it meant we had an excuse bagged early in case we didn’t catch any or many at all, but then as I said before I only really wanted the one anyway. Rob was leading the way with his super ultra light finesse tactics and dare I say it, drop shot tactics helping him manage three species on the day with a bream hooked fair and square in the chops. The little creature baits he was using were perfect for crawling along the bottom nice and slow and on his really thin braid it meant he had great control of them and feel of what is happening. A note there for anyone looking at having a go at this or struggling with a set up too heavy. Of course 10lb braid isn’t exactly heavy but it can make all the difference.  Then on the other hand, if you cast like a donkey and are in the trees all the time or if your canal is snaggy then you will spend more time tying on new lures or worse still for us northerners, more money replacing lost lures. So I guess it’s a balancing act and every person will have to figure out what suits them best. I know for my northern canal fishing going too light is a bloody nightmare most of the time at least.

Ady went for more of a gung ho kind of approach with a massive 2.5inch shad. Standard lure for us chasing perch and we bag plenty in all sizes, plus pike. He went for those due to a couple of reasons. It’s a trusted lure for him for many species, he’s caught zander on them before and he’s a tight arse and hasn’t bought any lures for years so pretty much all he has left. I noticed he kept having a look in Robs collection and it wouldn’t surprise me if he came home with a couple of extra lures in his pocket plus a wire trace or two, he’s like that you know. Anyway it was good to have variety between us, on some days you will find all predators can be different in what they want. Some days they want big lures and other days tiny lures. We had it all covered anyway. Ady had some perch and his zander with a couple of better fish hit and missed which was a shame.

As for me, I found the buggers a bit tricky to be honest. I found out what the hits were like. No little tippy tapps like a pack of perch or harassing trout. They just seem to dart out and whack the lure. You get a proper little thud on your rod. When you have been fishing hard and concentrating like mad and then that happens out of no where it’s not easy to hook them. I think a big factor is having ultra sharp, thin gauge hooks to help. I was find on the TRD but on some of my softies I didn’t really have what I wanted and I reckon I missed a couple of hits just because my hooks weren’t as sharp as they should have been. A couple of hits came on bigger lures and I saw the tell tale tooth marks of the zander on my brand new Realistic shad lure, but the little bugger had bit behind the hook. I had a proper thud at one point from a zander that might have been a whacker in these parts but didn’t hook in to it. But I bagged a couple in the end and my very first zander. A great little learning curve and loads picked up from Rob and Shayne. Pleased as punch to get off the mark with a couple and finally lose my zander virginity. They are super cool little creatures, those eyes are amazing and the colours along their body really are beautiful. I can see why people might fall in love with these little things and when they get bigger, wow what a fish they must be. Big thanks to Rob and Shayne for the day, really enjoyed it, cheers boys.