Tuesday, February 26, 2013

YackAttack GearTrack GT90 Install and Review

I have been working on the rigging of my new Trident 13 for several months now. I am finished and am going to start a series of post on what I did and how I did it. I plan on finishing with a monster overview post, showing all of my customization. This is the fifth post in the series.

1st post: Installing a Fish Finder 
2nd post: Upgrading a Plano Dry Box 
3rd post: How To Install SuperNova Fishing Lights On Your Kayak 
4th post: Install Scotty Flush Mounts on a Kayak

Rail systems have been used by fishermen for decades. They allow quick, easy customization of rod holders and other accessories. It was only a matter of time until they became mainstream on kayaks.

When I was at the Appomattox River Company shopping for my newest kayak, I was torn between two models: the Ocean Kayak Trident 13 and the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. I eventually chose the Trident 13 because I liked its hull, rod pod, sonar shield, and (embarrassingly) because Rob Choi, Kayak Kevin, and Richie Bekolay use the Trident 13. (Take notice Ocean Kayak! Pro-staffers work!)  

I almost chose the Tarpon 120 for one reason. The Tarpon 120 comes with SlideTrax rails. I liked everything else better about the Trident 13, but the simple addition of a rail system almost convinced me to buy the Tarpon 120. 

Then I discovered YakAttack.

Fairly recently, YakAttack came out with the GearTrack  GT1.75 followed by the GearTrack GT90. These are very, very high quality rails that you can mount on any flat surface of your kayak. They are made out of a high quality aluminum and are machined to perfection.

I decided to try them out by getting two 12" sections of GT90.

The high quality of these rails is not only apparent in their construction, it is apparent in their price. Two 12" rails cost $46. I briefly spoke with Luther Cifers, the owner of YackAttack, about this. He explained to me that all materials are from the USA and the quality of YakAttack products are second to none. While they are expensive, they are not overpriced.

After installing them on my 'yak, my only regret is not getting the 16" rails!

I decided to install both rails on my left. I prefer to fight and land fish to my right, so keeping my accessories and rod holders to my left just makes sense.

One rail went up between the sonar shield and front hatch. This is for a wide camera shot and for my GPS. The second rail went on the gunnel at my knee. This is used for a cool camera angle, my bait board, or cell phone mount.

Speaking of installation, it is easy.

Follow the directions on the back of the package. Do not mark and drill your holes. Instead, place the rail where you want it, make sure there is clearance under the rail, and drill the first hole. Then place a bolt in that one hole and drill the next. 

Continue placing a bolt in each hole you drill before you drill the next. This will keep everything lined up and you should not have to do any re-drilling.  

Do not screw the bolt onto a nut until all holes are drilled and all bolts are dry fitted. If you wish, you can add a layer of sealant, like silicon, to make sure the holes do not leak. Even without sealant, leakage should be minimal. 

 Start on one end and screw nuts onto the bolts. A deep socket is very helpful, but any wrench will do.

For an even more secure mount you can buy the FullBack, which is a bar that goes under the GT90 inside your kayak hull. I may add that later. For now the standard installation seem to be working.

After taking it out a few times I already don't know what I did without these rails. I find myself using them constantly. 

Bait Board

Using the Scotty Gear Head adapter, I can easily mount any Scotty product to my rails. If I decide to move to Ram products in the future, I will not need to make any adjustments to my kayak, I'll just buy a rail adapter.

I have plans to purchase some more and extend them down either side of my Trident 13. 

I purchased these GearTrack rails from HOOK 1. If you use coupon code UNLUCKYHUNTER , you can get them for 10% off. You will not find a better deal!

I was not compensated for this review. It is my honest opinion. I do get a small commission if you purchase something from HOOK 1 using the code above.

Monday, February 25, 2013

27 Degrees and A Really Cold Bass

I was finally able to get a few hours away from work and family to go fishing. Unfortunately, it was 27 degrees at water level the only day I could go.

No problem! I have some great cold weather gear. Only my fingertips got cold and even that was not too bad.

Fishing was slooooow. Water temps were at 40 degrees and I was following a cold front. My goal was to use minnows and find some Crappies. I had no problem keeping my minnows alive in my insulated bait cooler, but moments after they hit the cold water they died.

No Crappies for me.

I did catch this beautiful little largemouth.

I think it was very cold. It did not close its mouth and barely moved when I got it out of the water. Going from 40 degree water to 27 degree air would be a shock. I quickly released it, so it could find some warmer water. 

I was happy with my one fish. It got the skunk out of my boat.
One of the lakes I fished is only accessible by kayak. I doubt a canoe could make it. You have to go through a narrow channel and under a foot bridge to access it. I had to lay down in my kayak to make it under the bridge. 
This is one of the reasons I love my kayak. I have access to water that would otherwise be unfishable. 
I'll say this, even a slow, cold day on the water is better than not getting out at all! I was able to watch a goose war (Literally. Two groups of geese started wailing on each other a few yards from my 'yak.) and try out some new mods on my kayak. 

Like my new GearTrack accessory rail!
It was a good day.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Install Scotty Flush Mounts on a Kayak

I have been working on the rigging of my new Trident 13 for several months now. I am finished and am going to start a series of post on what I did and how I did it. I plan on finishing with a monster overview post, showing all of my customization. This is the fourth post in the series.

1st post: Installing a Fish Finder
2nd post: Upgrading a Plano Dry Box
3rd post: How To Install SuperNova Fishing Lights On Your Kayak

You have three basic choices when deciding what type of rod holder mounts to add to your kayak. You can go with Scotty Mounts, Ram Mounts, or use sliding rails (like the ones from YackAttack) with adapters for Scotty or Ram products. Each one has its own sets of pro's and con's and most people will choose a mixture of the three. You really can't choose wrong. All of them will serve you well.

I decided to go with Scotty products because my Trident 13 already had 7 Scotty compatible mounts built in. Plus, Scotty products are less expensive than their competitors (although far from inexpensive) and I believe they are stronger.

There are a couple different types of Scotty mounts. Most likely you will want to go with raised mounts or flush mounts. Flush mounts are a little more expensive and slightly harder to install, but I think they are well worth the extra effort and expense.

I added three extra flush mounts to my Trident 13. Two behind the seat on either side of the tank well (there are flat spots specifically for this on the Trident 13) and one up front to the right, just behind the sonar shield.

Scotty Mounts everywhere!

Installing the flush mounts is a breeze. You just have to be willing to cut a big hole in your 'yak!

First mark where you want it to go.

Then, using a 1 3/8" bit, drill the large hole. I used a forstner bit because that is what I had in my shop. A hole saw would work just as well.

Test fit the mount and drill the holes for the rivets. 

Before you glue or rivet anything be sure you dry fit! Once that first rivet is popped, it is a major pain to fix any problems. 

Generously cover the area with marine silicon. These mounts can leak big time if you do not seal them well.

Rivet the mount into place. I used rivets because I do not have easy access to the inside of the hull here. Up front I use stainless steel nuts and bolts. I think the bolts hold better.

And you're done!

These Scotty mounts give me a plethora of options. I can use them for rod holders, camera mounts, outriggers, or safety flags. 

It should be noted that it is becoming very popular to add 4" YakAttack GearTrack rails in this spot on the Trident 13. There is nothing wrong with this option as you can purchase either Scotty, Ram, or YakAttack accessories to fit the GearTrack. I did not go this rout because a 4" section of GearTrack costs $18, pus the $12 to $17 for the Ram or Scotty adapter. A simple Scotty flush mount costs $9. I just don't think the small amount of extra adaptability provided by the GearTrack is worth the price. 

There are other spots on the kayak where GearTracks are a no-brainer.....more on that later.

The best place to purchase all of these mounts is HOOK 1.  If you use coupon code UNLUCKYHUNTER you will get everything 10% off, making it the best price for these mounts anywhere!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ted's Holdover's New Website!

My all time favorite youtube channel just came out with a dedicated web site! Head over to tedsholdover.com to watch amazing hunting videos and to learn about long range air gun shooting!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Only 3 More Days To Enter The $50 HOOK 1 Giveaway!

Don't forget! The last day to enter to win a $50 Gift Card from HOOK 1 is Monday!

Be sure to let your friends know about it!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How To Install SuperNova Fishing Lights On Your Kayak

I have been working on the rigging of my new Trident 13 for four months now. I am finished and am going to start a series of post on what I did and how I did it. I plan on finishing with a monster overview post, showing all of my customization. This is the third post in the series.

1st post: Installing a Fish Finder
2nd post: Upgrading a Plano Dry Box

When it comes to night fishing in a kayak, there are two lines of thought regarding light. Some want as little light as possible. They believe light just ruins their night vision and can spook fish. Others believe that the more light the better, light lets you see, makes you visible to other boaters, and attracts fish.

I fall in the latter category. I want to be lit up well so others can see me and I want to be able to see what I am doing. For this reason, I decided to add SuperNova lights to my kayak.

Actually, there is another reason.

SuperNova lights look awesome!

Adding SuperNova lights to your boat is a project. You should only attempt it if you have a working knowledge of electricity, have a well stocked tool box, and don't mind putting holes in the OUTSIDE of you hull. You will need to know how to solder and be able to figure things out for yourself because.......

The kit comes without instructions. What you see in the above picture is all you get. It also comes without some parts which I consider necessary. So, be prepared to think for yourself. 

It should also be noted that everything that comes in the $100 kit can be purchased on Ebay for less than $30. So, if you are very confident, that may be a better choice. A post is to follow on how to do this without a kit.

 I chose the kit because I figured it would be easier. Kits contain every part you need and come with clear instructions, right? Well, not this one. I don't want to harp to much on this because it is a decent kit, but it will come up again.

After I realized that the kit had no instructions I went online and downloaded some from SuperNova's web site. These instructions were an adequate guide, but far from clear, especially when it came to the wiring. 

The first thing I did was mock up where I wanted the lights to go. You want them to be above the water line, but out of your line of sight. They are bright and will ruin your night vision if you look directly at them. 

A piece of masking tape is perfect for lining the lights up.

The next step is the most nerve racking. Drill a hole about half an inch from the heat shrink on the light switch to run the wire through. Use a drill bit as close to the wire size as possible. 

The idea of putting a hole on the outside of my boat is.......hard. But, I did it.

Next make a hole for the switch. Choose a place accessible, but out of the way. The switch is waterproof, but it is a good idea to put it in a place that does not stay wet. Use a 1/2' bit.

Do not install the switch yet. You will want to mock up all of the wiring before you do anything else. 

The wiring diagram in the instructions did not help me much. This is how I did it:

Yay! I haven't used Paint in years!

Here is an actual picture of my wiring. Keep in mind, I am far from an expert.

Hook it up to a battery and make sure it works. Oh wait! They did not include any way to hook it up to a battery. They also did not address this in the instructions. 

Go to Radio Shack and buy some alligator clips or some other way to connect it to a battery. 

This light set draws 1/3 of an amp. The manufacturer recommends a 5.5 amp hour 12v battery. This should give you over 15 hours of burn time.

If everything works, solder all of the connections and then cover the connections with heat shrink. It is out of the scope of this blog to show you how to solder wires and apply head shrink. You can learn about soldering here and heat shrinking here

Next, install the switch. You have to unscrew the waterproof boot, locking nut, and indicator plate. 

Stick it in the hole you made, and then screw all that stuff back on. 

Now you have the pleasure of running the wires. The kit comes with zip tie anchors which are awesome for running wire in the hull of a kayak. Sadly, the kit did not have nearly enough. Two!?! They expect me to do it with two? Go buy a small bag. They will come in handy someday around the house. 

Try to keep your wire up and out of the way as possible. You do not want stuff hanging on it.

You are almost done. All that needs to be done is to permanently attach the lights and then plug your holes.

Using the masking tape as a guide, apply the provided adhesion promoter. Wait three minutes and then very slowly and carefully peel back a few inches of the sticker on the back of the lights and apply it. Work down the light until it is fully attached. You do not have to press hard. Don't mess up. There are no do-overs on this step.

Sorry, no pictures of this part. I had my hands full. 

Fill in the holes in your hull with silicon or some other waterproof filler. 

The final product is really, really cool!

I know I have been hard on this kit because it did not include instructions and some minor parts, but overall I am pleased and do recommend it.....if you are handy. My only concern is its durability. Will the LED's break if I hit a stump? Of course, now that I know how this goes together I can buy a replacement LED strip on Ebay for less than $10 if one does break.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Kayak Fisherman's First Aid Kit

Having a small first aid kit is important for any angler. We sling pointy things from a long pole to catch wiggly things with pointy things on their back and in their mouth. Every fisherman will eventually shed a little blood for the sport. 

A first aid kit is even more important for a kayak fisherman. Unlike boaters or shore fishermen, kayakers depend on their body, most notably their hands and arms, to get home. When A kayaker cuts his hand he can't just pack up and go home, he has to paddle for an hour with his injury to get home! Also, kayakers are closer to the danger than other fishermen. This adds to the excitement, but also requires some common sense safety. 

In my dry box I keep another, smaller dry box with some first aid essentials. It is easy to go overboard, but I try to strike a balance between bulk and function.  

The first aid box I use is a Plano 3430 . It only costs $5 and is very watertight.

On top I keep a standard collection of band aids and alcohol wipes. The disinfectant wipes are important. When you are down at water level you get splashed and slimed by fish. This is just asking for an infection.

Under that I have some more serious bandages, butterfly stitches,  some pain meds, and some cold tablets. The pain and cold tablets are for when I am feeling good enough to fish, but bad enough not to enjoy it.  

The next layer has a nice, large strip of moleskin, and a match box filled with antacid. Moleskin is a savior when a blister starts to form.

Finally, at the bottom, I keep some tweezers, a roll of electric tape, some storm proof matches, a block of Trioxane, and a $5 bill.

The electric tape is for applying large bandages, waterproofing band-aids, and general repairs. The Firestarting supplies are for if I get stranded somewhere, a real possibility in some of the places I go. The $5 bill is just emergency cash. Sometimes there is a launch fee I don't know about or a bait shack that only takes cash. I never use cash, so this keeps me fishing.

The most important piece of first aid equipment I carry does not fit in this little box. It is a roll of Athletic Tape . It can support a sprained wrist or elbow, be used to keep a bandage on, or even be tuned into a make shift tourniquet. It is great stuff!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hook 1 $50 Gift Certificate Givaway!

Yes that is 200,000 actual page views! It is hard to believe The Unlucky Hunter has been viewed that many times, but there it is!

A few weeks ago I noticed that The Unlucky Hunter was going to cross the 200,000 page views milestone soon. So, I contacted Hook 1 and asked if they would like to sponsor a giveaway celebrating our 200,000th page view. They agreed in a big way! A $50 gift certificate to Hook 1!

For those who do not know, Hook 1 is an awesome store that specializes in kayak fishing gear. It has all the gear you need for kayak fishing, plus great prices and customer service!

To enter you must have "Liked" Hook 1 and The Unlucky Hunter on Facebook.  Fill out the entry form below, and you are in it!

(It may take a few seconds for all of the links to appear below. Please be patient, It's worth it!)

This giveaway ends Monday, February 18, 2013 at Midnight. Be sure to share it with your friends!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Is It Worth The Effort To Tie Your Own Bucktails?

I have mentioned before that I do not tie my own flies. With the money I would use to purchase the materials and learn how to do it well enough to catch fish, I could buy a decade worth of flies that perform much better than anything I could tie.

This summer I began to use bucktails. A lot of bucktails. I just assumed that like flies it would be too difficult and costly to tie my own.

After loosing $20 of bucktails in an afternoon, I revisited this assumption.

My favorite bucktail is the Hurricane 3D Eye Bucktail Jig. Size: 1/2 OZ Color: Bunker. It costs $3.79.

I also like to use Spro Bucktail Jigs in various sizes and colors. They cost $3.53.

Both of these jigs are very high quality and consistently catch fish. So the question is, can I tie a bucktail for less than $3.53 and will it perform as well. If my jigs do not perform as well as purchased ones, I don't want to bother. I'm not putting anything but the best at the end of my line.

I'm not going to get into how to tie a bucktail. There are tons of resources for this on the web. It is easy. If you want to learn, you can go here or here.

What we do need to know is what materials are needed to tie a bucktail. The basic requirements are as follows:

  • Vice
  • Jig head
  • Bucktail
  • Flash
  • Bobbin
  • Thread
  • Cement

How much does each of these cost? It depends on where you buy them.

A vice and bobbin are one time purchases. Bobbins are cheap. E-bay is a good source. Expect to pay $4.00 to get one delivered to your door. Vices are more expensive, but I bet you already have something that will work. I (no joke) use a pair of vice grips clamped to my table. It worked fine for the 100 or so bucktails I tied this winter.

I painted this jig. It is unnecessary, but pretty.

Next we need jig heads. If you purchase these at a big box outdoors store, plan to pay about $1.00 a jig head. E-bay is a better alternative. You can get 25 nice jig heads from a reputable seller for $12.60 delivered. That comes to $.50 a jig head, and they are a higher quality than the mass produced ones.

Left: Hurricane Jig | Right: two of my jigs.
Next comes the bucktail itself, flash, and thread. You are probably better off finding this locally. Bass Pro Shops has a good selection at a reasonable price. Expect to pay $5.00 for a bucktail, and you will probably want two colors. The all importatnt flash is going to run about $6.00. A spool of high quality thread will be around $3.00. This should give you plenty of material for about 50 bucktail jigs, depending on how much material you use.

Flash is important
The only thing left is glue. Super glue works great and $5.00 of it will last you forever.

So, to get started and to tie 25 bucktails you will need to spend:

  • Vice - $0 (if you have a vice grip)
  • Jig heads - $12.60
  • Two Bucktails - $10
  • Flash - $6
  • Bobbin - $4
  • Thread - $3
  • Cement - $5
This comes to $40.60 or $1.62 a jig. So, a hand tied jig costs less than half of a store bought one.

Now, do they work?


My experience is that they work as well or better than store bought. I have fished them side by side for quite a while. I always seem to get more and bigger fish on my jigs. My jigs are ugly, I rarely paint the heads, but they work. 

So should you tie you own jigs? If you have time, go for it! It takes about 5 minutes a jig and is easy to do. You will save money and might catch more fish!

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