How to Pick the Right Fishing Rod

I have been told for a long time that I need to use this brand of rod, reel, lure, color, boat and anything else that can be used for fishing. For most people they may not be able to tell the difference between a good rod and a bad rod. To me there is non such thing as a bad piece of fishing equipment if it gets people on the water. However, there is a difference in quality and technique preference. I am going to explain how to pick the right rod for your situation based on several factors.

First, you need to know who is using the rod. Are you someone or are you buying for someone that fishes a lot, occasionally, or 1 to 2 times per year? Is the rod for a beginner or a novice? If the fisherman is a child or not would play a major role in what kind of rod I purchased. Like I previously stated, I believe the most important thing is to be able to go fishing and if that means going and buying a $30 rod/reel combo then that is what should be done. My recommendations for children is to look at the line of Shakespeare kids fishing combos. They are great for beginners and are easy on the budget. Your budget should always drive the quality of rod should purchase or how many you purchase.

Next, I examine the target species we are looking to catch. You don’t need to have a ocean surf fishing rod to catch panfish. Length, weight, reel type, type of eyes and action are just a few options that you have to considered. There are many options out there that can determine how you will view the quality of your rod. Often times people buy a rod with expectations, but never use the rod for the intended use or target a species that it will not be able to handle.

Once you determine who you are buying the rod and what species that will be targeted, you will need to figure out the type of lures that are going to be used. There are many rods that are good for more than one application. However, I have rods that I will only use for one technique. Which sounds crazy to someone outside the competitive fishing world, but most competitive anglers only use 1 rod for 1 technique for a few reasons. First, the rod is typically built with a certain technique in mind. Second, the settings in the reel don’t need to be changed. Third a comfort level with technique and rod can be developed.

Now for my suggestions about which rods to buy. I already gave my suggestion for children. My suggestion to everyone is to look at the line of Abu Garcia fishing rods. The Vengeance model is only $50 and the line spans to the Villian model which is $180. There are several levels in between. My favorite model of Abu Garcia fishing rods is the Veracity. Fenwick fishing rods are probably my favorite brand that I have ever used. They combine the feel, durability, and cost efficiency that I look for. If I were to only have one spinning rod in my boat it would be a 6′-9″ Fenwick Smallmouth Series. It is good for every bass technique I have tried to use it for and doesn’t cost as much as more expensive rod with the same sensitivity.

Hopefully, this article will help you make a better informed decision on which rod to buy. If there are any questions make a comment and I will try to answer whatever question you have.

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You Never Know

This past weekend I fished a PA TBF district tournament @ Shenago Reservoir. My dad and I practice most of the day on Friday and we only managed 7 bites between the 2 of us and only 3 keepers. If that wasn’t bad enough there was no consistency on how we got any of the bites. The structure was different for each fish, the lures were different, the colors of lures were different and the end of the lake was never the same. Over time I have learned that I tough practice doesn’t always mean a tough tournament, or a bad finish.

Coming into the event I was leading the points race because I won the first district event, so I really wanted to do well again. Not that you ever want to accept doing poorly. After the bad practice I had one spot that I though I could run to and at least get one keeper so that is where I decided to start. My rider and I pulled up to the spot and started working the bottom. There was a slight about of baitfish activity and my rider switch to a top water lure. His popper was quickly eaten by a short largemouth. About 2 casts later he hooked up with a keeper that came off half way back to the boat. My fish had came from working bottom bouncing lures through practice, but I quickly changed to a top water sexy dawg. My 2nd cast I hooked up with the first and only keeper we would land. A few casts later I lost a keeper that was bigger than my first.

On a lake like Shenago a lost fish as a boater or rider can just ruin your day. The next spot we hit we each lost another keeper on topwater. I knew at that point winning the tournament or even contending would be difficult. We fished hard all day and never caught or hook up with another keeper.

Coming into the launch I didn’t believe that I would even be in the top 10 as a boater with 1 keeper. I had told my rider not to worry about his 2 lost keepers because it probably wouldn’t have cost him money. The truth to the matter is that both of us if we had landed those fish would have won. The winning boater weight was 6.16lb and the winning rider weight was 3.16lbs. The 3.16lbs was caught by my dad which he won lunker and the tournament as a rider with the 3.16lb largemouth. My single fish of 2.27lbs enabled me to finish in the top 6.

The lesson from this tournament that I learned was to never assume that you don’t have a chance in any tournament no matter what body of water you are on. The winning weight with 4 fish on Shenago should have taken 12lbs, but it only took half of that. As a rider only 1 fish was needed. Never release a fish in a tournament as you just don’t know.



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Wednesday Night Tournament #4

Butler Basscasters Wednesday Evening Tournament – #4 held on Lake Arthur and launched from 528 Launch – July 9, 2014.

# of Fish
1stCraig WozniakJoe Wozniak6.633
2ndKen ZaludekJosh Macko6.583
3rdJohn SchnitzerJim O'Donnell6.043
4thJustin KappelerTucker Van Dyke5.873
5thJonathan VenazindisJoe Venazindis5.692
6thJustin WhiteN/A4.612
7thMike MorganAlan Morgan4.492
8thBill HellerN/A4.412
LunkerErnie PateSteve Radage4.24LM

For more information about the Butler Bass Casters you can find them at:



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Wednesday Night Tournament #3

Butler Basscasters Wednesday Evening Tournament – #3 held on Lake Arthur and launched from 528 Launch – July 2, 2014.

# of Fish
1stJohn SchnitzerJim O'Donnell9.384
2ndGreg RogersonTodd Kradel8.102
3rdHowdy RegesLarry Weitzel8.003
4thJeff McMasterRich Gavula7.533
5thJohn Keene, Sr.N/A7.464
6thRich ConlonBrendan Conlon7.414
7thBill HellerDawson Porter6.762
8thKevin GossDave Adam6.622
LunkerRob SingerChris Singer5.58LM

For more information about the Butler Bass Casters you can find them at:




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Wednesday Night Tournament #2

Butler Basscasters Wednesday Evening Tournament – #2 held on Lake Arthur and launched from 528 Launch – June 25, 2014.

# of Fish
1stMark KeeneAaron Dickey10.413
2ndJeff McMasterRich Gavula8.894
3rdJim LambertMark Jankovic8.794
4thGreg RogersonTodd Kradel7.714
5thBlain Bartley, Sr.Blain Bartley, Jr. 7.424
6thDan LynnDan Lynn, Jr.7.363
7thTom RayChris Ray6.793
8thRon FeitsTerry Feits5.322
LunkerMark KeeneAaron Dickey4.23LM

For more information about the Butler Bass Casters you can find them at:



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Wednesday Night Tournament #1

Butler Basscasters Wednesday Evening Tournament – #1 held on Lake Arthur and launched from 528 Launch – June 18, 2014.

# of Fish
1stBill HellerDawson Porter8.634
2ndJoe WozniakCraig Wozniak8.204
3rdBlain BartleyBlain Bartley, Jr.7.004
4thMark KeeneAaron Dickey6.472
5thSteve SellMike Doerflinger6.003
6thMike ZachodniChris Spencer5.773
7thMike MorganAlan Morgan4.502
8thCory PyleMike Pflugh4.312
LunkerMark KeeneAaron Dickey4.30LM

For more information about the Butler Bass Casters you can find them at:



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2014 Mon-River Open Bass Buddy Tournament

mingo creek logo

2014 Mon-River Open Bass Buddy Tournament

Sunday July 27th

6:30 am to 2:30 pm

100.00 per team plus an optional 10.00 lunker pool

Labelle Launch on the 10 mile pool

Boat numbers will be determined by the date that the paid application is received.  Applications accepted at the ramp will be given boats numbers in order of acceptance.

Mingo Creek Anglers will accept apps by mail until July 10th.

You can sign up the day of the event, CASH ONLY the morning of at the ramp- no exceptions.

Two man team, 5 fish limit per team.  49 boat capped field.  Top 5 teams paid.



1. Boat owners must carry 300,000 Liability Insurance to fish this event.

2. Boat operator must be at least 16 years old or older. Under 18 must furnish

parental consent.

3. Life jackets must be worn while combustion engine is running and must

comply with any federal, state, and local regulations as applicable.

4. Artificial lures only, no live bait except pork bait.

5. Each contestant may use only one rod at a time.

6. Kill switch mandatory on engines 20hp and larger.

7. Mandatory functional live well(s) capable of sustaining bass.

8. No alcoholic beverages consumed on board during tournament hours.

9. Citation or field acknowledgement issued by PFBC or other governing agency

during tournament hours is reason for disqualification.

10. Boat operator is responsible for boat’s wake.

11. Twelve (12) inch or state regulated minimum on bass; measured mouth

closed and tail fanned. Penalty for short fish is 1 pound plus loss of fish.

12. Only 5 bass per 2-man team may be weighed.

13. Four ounces (0.25lbs) deducted from total weight for each dead fish.

14. Lunker weight will be dead or alive for the purpose of the lunker pool. It is the

contestant’s responsibility to have their team’s big fish weighed for the

purpose of the tie breaker and the lunker pot.

15. 50-yard rule from anchored boat will be in effect. Contestants must display

visual symbol provided by tournament director.

16. The highest degree of sportsmanship, courtesy, safety, and conservation are

expected. Infractions are reasons for disqualification.

17. Ties will be broken by weight of heaviest fish in tied teams live well; still tied

money split 50/50. It is the contestant’s responsibility to have their team’s big

fish weighed for the purpose of the tie breaker and the lunker pot.

18. Late penalty will be 1 pound per minute, disqualified after 5 minutes. All

boats must check in at weigh in site.

19. Protests must be filed within 10 minutes of completion of announced results.

20. Refunds on a case by case basis. Decisions of the tournament director are


21. All safety equipment is subject to inspection at boat check.

22. At no time may a contestant return a dead fish to the water with the purpose

of replacing it with a live fish. If a fish dies in the live-well, it counts in the

catch of the individual and may not be culled during the tournament

Check out

Downlaod App Here:  MCA buddy event


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Fishers of Men National Tournament Series

Welcome to the Central Pennsylvania Division of the Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail.

Although you don’t hear much about “Bass Fishing” in PA, we have some great fisheries and in my opinion, some of the best fisherman in the country. So, call all your fishing buddies, and let’s put Central Pennsylvania on the “Bass Fishing Map”

You can check out all the details and membership information at and look for the Central Pennsylvania Division for tournament details.

You can contact your director, Jason Porter, by email at or 814-360-8496.

There will not be any off limit periods for our 5 regular season tournaments.

Division Events
Event 1 Raystown Lake – Seven Points Launch – 4/5/14
Event 2 Mosquito Lake – Main Launch – 5/17/14
Event 3 Lake Erie – Launch TBD – 6/21/14
Event 4 Shenago – Mahanney Launch – 7/12/14
Event 5 Kinzua – Elijah Launch – 8/9/14

For more information visit the Fishers of Men website.

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Soft Plastic Molds

In my last post I stated that we would discuss the difference between injection and hand pour molds for making soft plastic lures. First, you need to know the basics about molds. Molds can be bought or made out of multiple materials. The highest end molds are made from aluminum. These molds have great detail and last the longest with little wear. You can also purchase molds made from resins and copolymers. Some guys make molds from wood and plaster of paris or POP molds. All molds can have the same amount of detail, however, if you want a mold to last stick with aluminum.

Injection Mold

Injection Mold

Let’s talk about injection molds a little bit. When it comes to injecting soft plastic the most important thing to remember is safety, safety, and safety. Start by wearing a respirator, protective glasses, and gloves. Injectors are very good, but all parts on them can come loose, or you can over shoot plastic. The plastic you are injecting is between 300 and 340 degrees. Injection molds will have multiple wing nut and bolt combinations or call for multiple clamps. Do not try to use the molds without all the bolts or clamps secured. Injection molds can come from as few as single cavity and can have as many chambers as the injector can hold plastic. Typically there will not be more than 20 cavities. My recommendation is to find a mold that has at least 2 cavities. It will be worth the extra money in the long run. After experimenting with molds I have found myself buying the highest cavity quanties that I can find.

Injection lures is not something that will come easily. You have to learn the ins and outs of using them and it is best to learn by trial and error. You will get frustrated but once you master the system you will be producing perfect baits at a much faster pace.

Hand Pour Stick Mold

Hand Pour Stick Mold

Hand pour molds come in many forms. They can be made from wood, plaster of paris, resin, aluminum and just about any other material. The molds can be 2 pieces or they can be 1 piece that is open to one side. Open face molds will always have a flat edge to them. Open face molds are good molds to learn from because they often take less skill and you can tell if you have made a mistake as you are pouring the lure. Two piece hand pours are typically made from aluminum and most of the time you will be able to use an injector in them once you mastered using the injector. Do NOT try to learn how to use an injector on a hand pour mold. Stick worm and beaver molds are very good hand pour molds that are 2 pieces. The 2 piece molds require you to pour the hot liquid plastic into a small hole in the top of each chamber. This takes a steady hand and some patients, but you will master these molds in a hurry.

There are many websites that you can use to buy molds that are premade. I recommend visiting them before you start. Often times the guys on those websites are willing to help you along and can really help you get started. Some of the companies will even send you samples of the lures so you can make sure that you like the lure the mold produces. Those companies charge for the samples, but it is worth the little bit of money to make sure you are getting the right mold for you.

In my next post I will discuss how to pour stick baits and what makes a stick bait sink and how you can change the fall rate when rigged weightless.

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TBF State Championship

Last weekend was the TBF State Championship held at Cayuga Lake in New York. This year I was fishing the tournament as a boater and with one tournament and weeks experience on the lake I felt confident that I could do well. After 2 days of practice I was ready to get the tournament started. What I had found was there were more fish shallow that were willing to bite that deep, but the deep fish were bigger.

Day one I left in the 3rd flight boat 60 of 71. I actually wanted this because the fish I had found seemed to bite better in the afternoon. My strategy was to go shallow and get 12-13 pounds and move deep to look for a kicker. This was a case of not knowing what I had truly found in practice until tournament day. I had never left the shallow water day 1 because I boater my kicker 4.89lb largemouth at 11:30 and would cull fish all day to get to a total weight of 15.89lbs. This left me sitting in 5th place with a chance to move onto the mid-atlantic.

Day 2 I drew boat 5 in the first flight so I was going to be able to lay my claim to the same water as the day before. However, day 2 would not go as smoothly. It started great because I landed a kicker fish of 4.88lbs at 8:30am. At this point I was thinking it was meant to be. My entire bite was based on sunny weather and I would sit in the areas waiting for 1 hour of sun if I knew it was coming. I culled throughout the day with overcast conditions, but couldn’t get enough quality bites. Then at 2:00 the sky got brighter and the big fish started to bite. The only downfall was that I couldn’t keep them on the hook. I lost 2 fish in the 3lb range on back to back casts. At the end of the day I brought a limit of 12.58lbs to the scale giving me a 2 day total of 28.47lbs. Which before the tournament started I would have expected that to get me to the mid-atlantic. I ended up finishing in 8th place just out of the cut line by 1.4lbs.

Normally, I try not to think about what might have been because everyone in the tournament probably lost a couple fish that mattered, but this one hurt a little extra. Some of the lures that helped me were Berkley Havoc Pit Boss, Chatterbait, Mann’s Minus 1, Spro Popping Frog, but most of my fish came on hand poured senko’s that I make myself. If you have never fished the finger lakes I highly recommend taking time to travel to that area and experiencing some of the best fishing our great country has to offer.

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