My review of the Jackson Cruise 10 focuses on the kayak’s simple, multi-purpose design. I also note other features such as comfort, tracking and portability that make the Cruise a great option for both recreational paddling and fishing.
Full Disclosure: I am a member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing team, and this review appears on their website. I wrote this article after several months of paddling the Cruise 10. I have fished from many kayak brands and models, and I always do my best to write unbiased, honest reviews.
When I heard the news that the Rebel Lure Company was going to release a new version of its Pop-R model in 2021, my hair stopped greying and I felt ten years younger; when I heard the lure was a throwback to Rebel’s legendary P-70 design of the early 1980’s, I felt like a kid again.
It’s a funny thing, because if I ever fished an original P-70, I don’t remember it, even though its appearance in the late 70’s coincides with the time I started fishing. I didn’t discover the Rebel Pop-R until the late 1980’s when I was entering adulthood. As legend has it, it was around that time that the pros who had kept the lure a secret for over a decade let the horse out of the barn. Specifically, it was anglers like Zell Rowland and Rick Clunn who made the lure famous. As this article notes, however, by the time I was buying the lure, Rowland was modifying its original design. All I knew was that if I fished the Pop-R in the right places, I caught fish.
Jump ahead twenty years to the 2016 KBF National Championship on Kentucky Lake. I had been researching local websites and following local anglers on social media when I noticed that a bass fisherman on Kentucky Lake had been catching bass on topwater – in February. At first glance, I thought it was a joke. But the day before I left town I packed a Rebel P-60 Pop-R in the chartreuse shad finish. One morning I heard a noise while paddling out to Sugar Bay (my son picked the spot for me because he liked the name), and before I knew it I had found an area where the bass were herding bait. I cashed my first big tournament check that week and it was because I had packed that Pop-R and fished it in cold, clear Kentucky Lake.
In sum, I have a long relationship with the Pop-R, and that love has not been unrequited.
The Rebel P-71 returns to the classic P-70 design of my youth and adds some new wrinkles while retaining the features the made the lure excel. When I saw the color line up of the new P-71 Pop-R’s, the “Blue Candy” model reminded me of Sugar Bay. And because I am superstitious about fishing, I decided then it was the model I would tie on first. It hasn’t left my rod since.
So consider this a love letter as much as a review of the new P-71. I’ll discuss how it casts and retrieves, how it is made and how it behaves while it is sitting still on the water and when fish are on it. I’ll also compare it to previous Pop-R models. Most of all, I will speak sincerely. Be warned: I may sound like a teenager who got bit by the love bug. Like I said, the P-71 makes me feel young again, and if you like topwater fishing, it will likely do the same for you.
I recently assembled an instructional guide for beginners who are learning to film their catch using the Tactacam Fish-i camera on their kayaks. Thanks to Basstrail.com for publishing the guide, and to Tactacam and Kayak Bass Fishing for the video resources embedded in the text.
In this blog post for the Jackson Kayak website, I describe how paying attention to clues in the natural world (a deep water fish kill, buds growing on trees) led me to the winning bass bite at a tournament on a cold February day.
My review of the Jackson Bite FD focuses on the kayak’s inviting and easily modified “Open” design. I also note other excellent features that should be considered (price point, material quality) for what is the best all around fishing kayak on the market.
Full Disclosure: I am a member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing team, and this review appears on their website. I wrote this article after several months of using the rig, and while revisiting it I am pleased with how well the review stands up. I have fished from many kayaks and have used other models at demos, and I always write unbiased, honest reviews. Scroll to the comments section of the site, below the article, and you will see an additional point I made about the fixed skeg, for example.
The forecast says baste your hide and prepare to be cooked.
When I arrived at the launch site there was a truck parked there, but it wasn’t Drew Blair’s truck. A man emerged from the woods dragging a kayak from the direction of the river, his headlight beam a cloud of insects.
“This isn’t the start I was expecting.”
My second thought was “Where the hell is Drew?” A short conversation later, and I said goodbye to Mitch, the woodsman, who gave up on the launch site. “That’s a rough launch” he said. I offered to help Mitch because I knew, deep in my heart, that Drew was asleep and I wasn’t going to make it alone. He always sleeps in on tournament day. Sure enough, a phone call confirmed it. Thankfully, he lives nearby. Mitch declined.
I waited in the dark for a bit. There wasn’t any morning breeze. I wondered if there was any air. I hoped to hide from the bugs in the darkness, but they found me. I was standing still but I was sweating. The sun would rise in 30 minutes. Drew, half asleep, rolled up and tried to use his Jedi mind powers to make the Hobie slide off his truck.
I’ve launched from difficult locations. This one ranked near the top of the list. The weeds were waist high, ruts in the abandoned road were knee deep and the drop from the bank to the water was actually two separate drops that added up to a Cubist painting. After launching, I realized that one of my rods left one of my lures somewhere in a tree branch behind us.
This isn’t an essay about how good I am at my favorite sport. It’s about a hot river and a cold bite. It’s about the risks I take, the decisions I make and the company I keep. It’s about admitting nature doesn’t care about your fishing plan – or any plan for that matter.
The continual innovation in kayak fishing gear is amazing. Here is another in a recent line of product reviews. This is the FlipIt ID tag holder, designed by Jim Strunk, and soon to be sold by Ketch Outdoors.
Beginnings contain more than an intention. When we start on something new, we bring to it our history, or memory, and culture. We add to it our desire and we imagine what might be. We peer at the horizon and dream to see what might be there, but we can never truly know. Beginnings are that too – they are possibilities, only some of which become real. In his wonderful book Invisible Cities, the writer Italo Calvino imagines Marco Polo entertaining Kublai Khan with stories while the two men play chess. One story begins; “The man who is traveling and does not yet know the city awaiting him along his route wonders what the palace will be like, the barracks, the mill, the theater, the bazaar.” When he arrives, he finds a different city.
Like me, Marco Polo was an Italian of Venetian descent, a wandered on water and land, a person who, when he saw the griffin carrying the tablet the Lord delivered to Saint Mark, paused. I am partial to his Travels not only for their beauty and imagination but because they were written as if each word were a stage of the journey. At times, you never quite know where they will lead. Sometimes we move in straight lines or at angles. At others we move on tracks adjacent to the ones we had planned, a step removed from some other possible reality. Sometimes the paths intersect, at others they diverge. We might even come full circle. Continue reading →
The history of modern sports is a history of athletic feats and great stories, but it is also a history of product innovation. From Thomas Alva Edison and Samuel Colt to Stephanie Kwolek and Steve Jobs, American engineers and scientists have mustered tremendous creativity to lead American business in the modern world. Their products are artful and useful. Tournament anglers use them and depend on them in order to succeed; for example, Stephanie Kwolek’s innovations in polymers for the DuPont Corporation were fundamental to the plastics we use in fishing lines and kayak design. Over time, we trust the materials and designs. And I trust my Ketch measuring board like no other product I own.
I’ve been tournament fishing from a kayak for 8 years. During that time, I have watched many friends obtain some lucrative sponsor deals, pro staff arrangements and other agreements. In exchange, they often give their time by promoting products on-line, working trade shows and spreading the gospel of kayak fishing at paddling demos, seminars, etc. It’s easy to make fun of kayak anglers and their sponsor deals. What isn’t easy is to put in the work: build a resume’ in competition, write articles, produce videos, work the industry shows, etc. Fishing is an art and also a business; it can kill your love of the sport but it can also help you achieve your dreams. In the best-case scenario it can grow your love for kayak fishing and expand the positive economic impact of our sport. Joining the Ketch Pro Team is a best-case scenario.