Author Archives: Nicholas Hinkle
Jigs, most fishermen look at these big fish lures and think they are all the same…They are not!
Now living up in the great Pacific Northwest I have been introduced to Justin Blackmore. Justin is the Owner and operator of J&J Tackle. Justin is making premium quality custom jigs, spinnerbaits and even wrapping custom rods. If you are in the market for a Ultra Premium grade Jig off the shelf, then Justin is your man!
Justin will color match any special color you are wanting to duplicate or that one color you have in your mind and have always thought if you could just find it, you know it would get THUMPED! Justin makes his jigs using only premium quality grade components. Utilizing premium grade hooks, skirt materials, paints, he also hand ties his skirts to the head by hand using premium quality wire. Yes, some people still are using wire. The benefits of wire is it will not dry out and crack and leave you with a skirted mess when you grab that jig to tie on.
The best feature about Justin’s jigs is the incredible durable clear finish he applies to his painted heads. I have never fished with a jig in all of my 44 years where the paint is as durable as those of Justin’s. He’s doing something really special here. If you are like me and like to have your dollars stretch as far as possible, you need to contact Justin! Like me, you will be impressed. Being a custom jig maker, Justin will use any hook you prefer so long as it works in his molds. I really love his football jigs, they are clean, affordable, hold up better than any other jig I have used and he will match whatever it is you are wanting.
Currently his website is still in the process of being built, but you can find him on Facebook by either his name (Justin Blackmore) or the business name (J&J Tackle).
J & J Tackle (Owned and Operated by Justin Blackmore)
Growing up in the “concrete jungle” that is Southern California, the lakes I fished and studied were typically 60% full year round, often more than that.
An exception was Lake Hodges and its natural loss of water every few years, which exposed the structures that held some of the old legendary trophy fish for which Hodges was famous at one time, but the other lakes were, more often than not, mostly filled.
Having grown up in SoCal, I have not experienced a real “rainy season.” Our local lakes remained mostly filled because they are the primary source of water for the Southern California residents. This water is diverted in from the snow-capped western mountains through a maze of canals throughout the western states. Low water periods aren’t common unless a drought lasts for years at a time.
I remember growing up and seeing the lake levels fluctuate and seeing structure exposed for the first time and taking a mental photograph of it. Later in the season, when the structures were once again under water, I’d use points of reference (trees, rocks and the tops of the hills) near and far to line up on those structures that were now occupied by a trophy fish.
I have recently moved my family from that previously mentioned “concrete jungle” to the beautiful and peaceful Pacific Northwest. Of course, one of the first excursions I made in our new hometown was to one of the many local lakes.
The natural beauty was breath-taking. I found myself sitting down with my wife watching our kids playing in the water and picturing what had to be some incredible rock piles, tree stumps and other forms of natural structure for the Rainbows to cruise and hide from their predators. This internal imagery was based off of the incredible beauty of the tree-lined shore and grass fields surrounding this mountain lake.
A couple of months have passed and summer has turned to late fall. The trees have turned colors to vibrant Reds, Greens and Yellows. The rain has fallen for 10 days straight, just a steady rain, nothing torrential. One day coming home from work, I thought I’d make a trip around that lake to see just how much the water level has come up since my last visit.
When I got my first view of the lake, I was in absolute disbelief! The water level was incredibly low! The lake was now at roughly 15-20% full. I continued to drive to the same spot I sat in next to my wife as we watched our kids play and found it also incredibly low. I could see lake bottom from the shoreline I was standing on, all the way across the lake to the marina. The lake had turned to a large puddle. I thought to myself, How could this be? With all of this rain and the constant flow of rivers feeding into it. That night, after dinner and the kids went to bed. I hopped onto my laptop and did some research to find out more about this phenomena.
What I discovered was comical to me. It was comical due to my own preconceived mindset based on everything I had experienced growing up in Southern California. In the Pacific Northwest, they actually have to purposely draw down their lake levels to accommodate the upcoming winter rains. A wonderful concept for an area that receives more rain than the typical SoCal city.
My mind starts to turn and the very next weekend I take my wife and kids up to this lake and bring along a camera. We are all suited up for the conditions. Rain and mud, here we come! We walked the lake bottom, looking nothing like what I had pictured.
The lake bottom was roughly 8-12″ of soft mud with the occasional rocky areas and very sporadic tree stumps. A vast channels zigzagging throughout the lake bottom became exposed. Some of these channels were 10 feet deep and went for hundreds of yards. Tree stumps within these channels created what I would now understand as the new prime spots on this lake.
Taking hundreds of pictures and making mental notes to transfer to my computer file as soon as I got home, these newly discovered spots would minimize my learning curve of this new lake. Sure, today’s new HD graphs give us a far better understanding of what is beneath us, but nothing is better and clearer than our own eyes and mind.
Seeing a tree stump within the channel and the way that channel creates a clearing on one side of that channel. Even more so, having a general understanding of how a preying fish would position itself in order to capitalize on the lazily cruising trout, school of bait fish or even a crawdad that has come washing through that channel when the rivers feeding that channel are flowing, will help me catch more and better quality fish.
The subject lake in this story goes through this intentional draw down every fall and it does not affect this fishery in terms of quality. There was team tournament here 2 years back and the winning 5 fish weighed in just under 38 lbs!
The take away from this story is that I encourage all fisherman to take advantage of these situations. Get out to explore any nearby lake during low water level periods and walk it, study it, photograph it and study it again. Make notes and refer back to your pictures and notes before you head back out to fish that lake when the water level has come up.
You’ll be glad you did.
As we all search for that competitive edge, whether that’s against another tournament opponent or the fish we love to catch, we are constantly looking for any additional edge we can find. We try to capitalize on any benefit we can gain and do so hopefully efficiently. One of the easiest ways to get that edge is to invest in Japanese fishing line.
I continue to see guys dropping $600 on Rod & Reel combos and yet continue to make sacrifices on the only connection between that set up and the fish. I often hear, “Those Japanese lines are just so expensive”. If that’s you, I challenge you to try some. I only say this as believe it or not, these Japanese lines actually SAVE you money and increase your performance and confidence.
Domestic company’s line’s integrity breaks down (abrasion, UV/Sun, Heat or age) much faster than the JDM line’s do. Which equates to you having to re-spool, re-tie and re-purchase much more frequent using domestic lines. It’s common for guys to spool up Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) fluorocarbon and not have to re-spool several months later.
I have had 5 lb fluorocarbon spooled on a tournament spinning reel during an entire tournament season without having to re-spool and that line was just fine. In my 6 previous years as a JDM line Sales rep, I was lucky enough to be a part of a few meetings with the production lab manager and product designer of that JDM line company. In these meetings, attended by very well known big time tournament anglers, a lot of technical information was gained. These meetings confirmed what I already knew in regards to the quality of these JDM lines.
Whether it’s a big tournament you have or a simple fun fishing from the bank, do yourself a favor and try out these JDM lines. The processes in which these JDM companies manufacture, test and quantify their products is on another level. The JDM market is constantly pushing the envelope of technology and one look at their online Japanese catalogs is mind-boggling! It’s not just a fishing line to them, it’s a passion and a product to specifically excel in their purpose.
I will say that the gap between JDM and Domestic lines is much greater when the lb test is between 4-7 lb test. These Japanese lines really prove their worth in the finesse sizes. If you aren’t familiar with what companies are Japanese line companies, here’s a brief list of some of the top ones: Sunline, Seaguar (aka Kureha Co.), Toray and YGK.
All of these companies offer premium quality lines that you will love! So, when it comes time to purchase some new line, go down to your local Tackle Shop or your favorite website you purchase from and add a spool of one of the previously mentioned lines.