How do I find the best fishfinders on the market? – Ask

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a miracle solution to answer that question?

Well, I can tell you, there is a resource for that! Our friends over at can help you select the Best Fishfinders that money can buy.

The thing I love about this site, is how well it’s laid out. Right at the top of the page, you’re going to see the top 5 models. No scrolling, no hunting, no searching. The most important information is right where it should be: at the top of the page. Because let’s face it, if you’re there you are literally looking for the Best Fishfinders and not just any will do, right?

If that’s not enough, you can search for reviews on your favourite brands, or by the type or size of unit you’re looking for. Do you have time to kill? Well, you can quickly and easily browse through the most recent reviews on site in this “blog-style” review site.

Most importantly, these reviews are based on actual user feedback. We’re not talking about company produced endorsements and vague customer reviews; these are real reviews and comments from folks who have bought the unit you’re looking at.

Let’s face it, there are not a lot of key differences between the various brands these days. You can get side scanning, down scanning, and GPS Mapping in models across all brands. But what will really help you is knowing from other anglers which ones are easy to use, work well in all conditions, and are worth shelling out your hard earned cash for.
It’s ice fishing season, and you may be in the market for a new flasher? Or perhaps it’s your first, and you want to spend your money wisely. Let’s face it, these units are not inexpensive, so you owe it to yourself to do the research and get the Best Fishfinders your budget can fit.

So click on over to and start your journey toward finding the Best Fishfinders on the market today.

New! and Improved? The Shimano Caenan

Shimano Caenan

The Original Shimano Caenan

A couple years ago, Shimano introduced the Caenan reel. This reel was a high-quality, mid-priced baitcast reel. There were not a lot of bells and whistles to this reel, and it’s aesthetics were nothing to write home about, however, it was the guts of this reel that really made it praiseworthy.

The original Caenan reel boasted 7 bearings, and used the Variable Braking System; this is a series of pins that could be adjusted to change how quickly the spool will slow down during the cast. These are really high quality features in what was a $100 reel. The best part, was the Caenan was available in both right and left hand retrieve, and boasted a solid 6.5:1 gear ratio.

My only sleight on the original design was the handle. Although durable, it lacked appeal, and felt a little bit cheap compared to Shimano’s other offerings at the time. That, and the paddles on the handle were a minimalist rounded pvc pegs; I can’t tell you how many times I have missed the handle due to their small profile. But, for the price tag, how could one complain? It occurs to me now, I probably could replace the handle on the two I own.

Shimano Caenan

New Shimano Caenan

Well, I discovered recently that the Caenan has received a facelift.

The new Caenan is sleek in all black, and has a very modern body now with a lower profile. The standard model now boasts a slightly slower 6.3:1 retrieve.  Further, it appears that Shimano realized that the handle can often make or break a reel and they have dramatically improved the handle and paddles on this reel. For those looking for a reel with a little faster line retrieval, there is a model available with a 7.2:1 gear ratio.

The new Caenan also takes advantage of their second generation of VBS; a slight improvement over the initial version with easier brake adjustments.

However, there is one thing that I really don’t like about the new Caenan: the newer models have reduced the number of bearings to 5. I am not sure whether this was a cost saving exercise for the new model, or if they simply felt that the Caenan, left as it was, would steal business away from higher models, but I view this as a big step backward on an excellent entry level reel.

I have always lauded Shimano for catering to those of us who prefer a left hand retrieve reel. However, the faster 7.2:1 retrieve is only available in a right hand retrieve; another big disappointment in my books. Oddly enough, the Casitas appears to be almost an identical reel for $20 more; it does offer a left hand retrieve with the 7.2:1 gear ratio.

Shimano now has the Caenan at $100, the Casitas at $120, and the Citica at $150 with very little to differentiate between them. The only clear difference is the Citica offers 6 bearings versus the other two at 5 bearings.

With that said, this reel still has appeal, and is a worthy entry level buy at the price point. For anglers looking to buy a solid baitcast reel that won’t break the bank and should last them for years, you can’t really go wrong with the Caenan.


Seaguar Denny Brauer Flippin’ Braid and Fluorocarbon

New Braid and Fluorocarbon from Seaguar

If you know me, it doesn’t take much to get me excited about new gear. This is especially true when one of my favourite brands solves a problem facing numerous skinny water bass anglers. I’m talking about a new signature series of fishing line made specifically for flippin’, pitchin’, and punchin’ from Seaguar.

Black out = Lights Out

Seaguar Flippin Braided Fishing Line

Seaguar Flippin’ Braided Fishing Line

So, since about the time braided line hit the mainstream, bass anglers fishing in the junk have been using a permanent marker to black out the last couple feet of line. Gear companies have even created their own line of permanent black markers for exactly this purpose. The idea being that blacking out the line when you are fishing shade will decrease the chance of fish being line shy.

Well, why haven’t the line manufacturers just produced black braid?

Enter Seaguar with the solution. The Seaguar Denny Brauer Flippin’ series of braided line is black; so no more markers and re-applying to your line as it fades through use or break-offs. So, you take Seaguar’s already fantastic braid (I’ve been using Kanzen for quite some time) and then turn the lights out for a killer product targeting the shallow water angler.

Fluorocarbon line you say?

Seaguar Flipping Fluorocarbon

Seaguar Flippin’ Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Yes, yet another line of fluorocarbon from Seaguar, who in my opinion already makes the absolute best fluoro going already. This line boasts super

abrasion resistance when fishing in the junk, and I have it on good authority that it live up to it’s name. FLW Gator League Pro Tim Zdrazil says to me on Twitter:  “Fished a whole day practice after roughing the 30lb flouro early on sawgrass(aptly named btw) caught 8 in junk w/out prob”

So, my recommendation: Run out and grab some of this line while you can, as I bet it flies off the shelves in short order.

A note for my Canadian pals; this line won’t be available in Canada for a little while yet, however, you can order it through Tackle Warehouse or Bass Pro Shops in the U.S.

Private Members Bill C-246 – The Storm before the Calm

Private Members Bill C-246 is freaking out the fishing community like nothing I have ever seen.

Let me begin by saying: I am not a lawyer.

However, I have taken law courses in school, so I have a working knowledge of how these things typically go.

Let’s look at some interesting facts:

  • In 2010 there were approximately 3.2 Million Resident Adult anglers (2015 numbers not yet released)
  • In 2010 Anglers spent 2.5 Billion dollars on  recreational fishing
  • There is a massive ecosystem of business tied directly to recreational fishing from enforcement to goods and services
  • There is a huge amount of tax dollars to be lost by outright banning sport fishing

Based on these facts alone, there is absolutely no way the Canadian Government would enact a law that would destroy the sport fishing industry. Moreover, it is clear to me, that this is not in any way the point or goal of this law, or that of the member who introduced it.

This is the statement of intent from the representative Nathaniel Erskine-Smith about Private Members Bill C-246:

“The bill addresses three specific and achievable goals. First, it aims to end the cruel practice of shark finning by banning the importation of shark fins. Second, it aims to strengthen and modernize our Criminal Code, from closing loopholes related to animal fighting to introducing a gross negligence offence for animal cruelty, as proposed by former Liberal governments, through the hon. Anne McLellan and Irwin Cotler. Third, it aims to ban the sale of cat and dog fur in Canada and to require source fur labelling.”

This brings me to analysis of the law, and some basic facts:

  • Private Member Bills are rarely, if ever, enacted into law
  • Laws themselves are always up to interpretation; typically laws will need an initial ruling to set a precedent for enforcement
  • This bill does not pertain to the laws set forth for Hunting and Fishing; those are a separate set of laws altogether
  • The Bill also cites “kills an animal without lawful excuse”; it can easily be interpreted that Hunting and Fishing is already mandated as legal activities.

So, in short, while I recognize that ambiguous phrases and terms are a reason for concern; such as:

182.‍1 (1) Everyone commits an offence who, wilfully or recklessly,
(a) causes or, being the owner, permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal;

It is important to understand that law must be interpreted in it’s entirety and not just through one clause or statement. In many cases, laws cannot contradict other laws, and when they do, it is for a judge to interpret the meaning and intent of those laws as a whole.

My friend Steve had this excellent contrast for this very issue:

” I think that’s the part throwing people off, the “kills animal without lawful excuse” is now on it’s own line but it still protects you from being charged with any of the other provisions.

Like in the highway traffic act it states:

Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8
170. (1) No person shall park, stand or stop a vehicle on a roadway

So everyone who stops at a redlight or stop sign is breaking the law? Well, if you look further down the act you get this:

136. (1) Every driver or street car operator approaching a stop sign at an intersection,

(a) shall stop his or her vehicle or street car at
a marked stop line or, if none, then immediately before entering the
nearest crosswalk or, if none, then immediately before entering the

While I certainly recognize why folks would be stirred by this, and I applaud the efforts of everyone in the fishing community to rally against such a potentially damaging bill, I think that we needn’t worry so much about this legislation being passed, much less manipulated to end lawful hunting and fishing. Private Members Bill C-246 has good intentions, and would still see many changes and re-writes before ever being enacted into law.

With that being said, if you are still concerned about this bill, be sure to contact your local MP to express your concern. It can’t do any harm.

Keep your rod bent!

Cliff Van Kempen

Let it marinate to catch big bass

Here is some serious advice from a guy who loves to catch big bass by flippin and pitchin skinny water: Let it marinate.

PowerTeam Lures Diesel Craw

PowerTeam Lures Diesel Craw in Delta Destroyer Pattern.

This can be applied to any finesse technique out there; wacky rigging, shaky head, weightless, texas rig, you name it. We are all too often in a big hurry to load the live well with bass, so much so that even on those slow fishing days we don’t really take the time in even those high percentage areas. If you fish often, and I don’t mean every day often, you probably have picked up on some patterns on your local lake.

You may not realize the pattern, but you have probably identified those go-to spots just by persistence and even dumb luck. The problem is, as soon as the bite slows down we assume the fish are gone. Well, some times when they are in a lazy mood they just need some time to consider the easy meal. Not every day can be that huge chase and reaction bite, so do what I say and let it marinate.

So, my recommendation to you is, look for those good spots. Let your intuition guide you and hit those spots you know are holding fish. Drop your bait in there, and let it sit, then maybe give it a little lift or shake. That’s the hard part; we are wired to shake things around and power fish by jumping from one spot to another. But, by pushing down those urges and letting your bait marinate for a while, you may end up finding you’re hooked up on the lift, you may see your line swim away, or you may just plain feel that fish finally take the bait.

Jaw-Jacking, Lip-Ripping, and other fishing fails

Ok, so I don’t really like to get preachy when I post articles for you folks.

However, I feel that the bass angling community needs to be a little more responsible. It’s not your fault; you have been led to believe there is nothing wrong with what you’re doing by the top-tier anglers on TV. But it is those folks and folks like me that need to set a better example for the budding bass anglers out there.

So here goes; my list of what NOT to do:

Jaw- Jacking – The act of holding a bass horizontally by it’s jaw

The wrong way to hold a bass

The wrong way to hold a fish, from

Don’t ever do this. Never. Ever.

The bigger the fish, the more likely you will do some serious damage to the jaw of that fish. If you are going to do a photoshoot with your fish and you are going to lip it, be sure that you have one hand under the belly to support the weight of the fish.

Otherwise, just plain DON’T hold your fish horizontally. Hold the fish vertically, and don’t hold it any longer than you have to.

We all want a record of our great catch, but remember you break that fish’s jaw and it is a death sentence.

The Jaws of Death – Using a lip gripper/grabber

Guilty as charged…

I used these previously, but I will not use them any longer. If you have used them previously, you know that they do a great job of holding the fish when you have to take a hook out, or when you want to land a fish without taking a hook in the hand.

However, like the previous section, you are putting a lot of pressure on the fish’s jaw. Further, these not too friendly clamps can rip the delicate membranes of the lower jaw which can hinder the fish’s ability to feed properly.

Do the right thing; buy a landing net for bringing in that trophy catch, and release her to the wild in pristine condition.

The Pin-Cushion – Using a culling system or culling beam with pins

Ok, this is almost a repeat of the other two, but it is import that all of you tournament anglers out there understand the consequences of your actions.

Many culling systems and pretty much all culling beams use a safety pin to attach a fish to it. These again will rip that super thin membrane in a fish’s mouth and aside of possibly affecting their ability to feed, any injury can lead to infections and bacteria.

Try the clip on versions of culling systems, and avoid using culling beams with safety pins. Look for an alternative to these that will not do damage to the fish.

Ok, so I am done with the lecture for now.

Please, do your best to be a good citizen. Folks like you and I who go that extra mile and care about sustainability will ensure that the water bodies we love can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Stay safe on the water!

Cliff Van Kempen – Bass Fishing Ninja



Bass Fishing: Finding the Pattern

I recently saw an article talking about “Junk Fishing”.

The author went on to explain that junk fishing was not what he had originally imagined; junk fishing is an odds game and not fishing in the strange places other anglers fear to fish. The author linked to a video with Boyd Duckett explaining the method behind the madness.

This made me think about the fishing tournament I competed in over the weekend.

My co-angler and I were fortunate enough to have two days during the week to pre-fish leading up to the weekend event. On Wednesday, we were both left scratching our heads; the fish just didn’t seem to want to show up for anything we tried. Thursday however, we put together a very modest five fish on various jig-based tactics.

We carried this knowledge and pattern, including areas we wanted to hit into the tournament on Saturday morning. The trouble is, the pattern can change from one day to the next. Friday presented us with a day of rain and thunderstorms, turning our game plan for Saturday upside down.

After a torturous Saturday weighing in just two small bass, we decided that we would just enjoy Sunday casually fishing for a limit. A very strange thing happened; while other boats struggled, we filled a box and culled up to  a modest 11 pound limit. For a quiet day where others couldn’t put a fish in the box, we coasted to one of the top four limits of the day.

The point?

Had we not tried all of our options believing what we found true on Thursday to be the “pattern” we would have never stumbled on a successful recipe for Sunday. I am personally a big fan of “junk fishing”. I don’t like getting locked into a single technique, and believe as many professional anglers do, that adaptation is the greatest skill an angler can possess.

Guys out on tour get pigeon-holed into shallow and deep water guys; my experience says you can’t be a one trick pony and win. You have to figure out where the fish are, what they want, and fish accordingly. I don’t consider myself a crankbait guy, however, I know to throw one and stick with it when its hot.

The advantage of having 6+ rods strung up and ready to go is that you can quickly and easily switch techniques. When you find a pattern that works you can pound it for a limit and then go back to testing the waters. We were very fortunate on Sunday that the crankbait bite was good all day, and there was really no need to switch up.

On a final note about patterning and junk fishing: experiment with size.

Although many presentation factors may apply, we performed a little test on Sunday. My co-angler and I threw the exact same crankbait in two different sizes once we realized the crankbait bite was on. The interesting thing was, more than pattern, the size was the difference in the bite. We upsized the smaller crankbait to a similar pattern on the same size I was throwing, and in four casts my co-angler was pulling in his first good bass of the day.

The key here is keep your options open, and don’t get stuck in the “this is what I am good at” rut. Always be experimenting with new techniques and prepared to adapt on tough fishing days. The fish are there, they will bite, you just have to coax them into it.

Watch the video from SmallWatersFishing on YouTube:


Match the Hatch and Designed to catch Fishermen

If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times:

Match the Hatch


Most lures are designed to catch the fisherman

Well, I am here to tell you that both are entirely too true, and of course, patently false at the same time. Confusing? I know…

Simply put, match the hatch just means choose lures and baits that mimic what your target species is currently dining on. This naturally depends on what is readily available in the area.

Figuring this out isn’t as easy as it sounds for most anglers. The confusion lies in the industry; the Pros preach about lures that fit the lakes they fish in, and your local tackle shop stocks what “sells”.

Here is the key thing no one is telling you: bait fish and forage are not the same everywhere!

1) Shad – There are none in most Ontario Lakes, except perhaps the Great Lakes
2) Crawfish/Crayfish – They don’t have the same colouring here
3) Frogs – Again, we have different species here

So every time you hear about shad imitating baits, and buying the latest greatest shad pattern, you are unfortunately wasting your money. Your local tackle shop is not making this easier; they are most times stocking what their reps recommend, rather than what you need.

The key here is thinking about some key factors:

1) Where are you fishing?
2) What time of year is it?
3) What do the fish there eat?
4) What kind of water are you fishing?

Where you fish will obviously dictate what the fish are eating. The kind of water you are fishing and time of year will help you figure out the patterns/colours that will work for you. You have a lot more leeway in colour selection on a dark cloudy lake than you would on a “gin-clear” lake such as Lake Simcoe. As a general rule, dark colours/patterns in low-visibility lakes, and lighter more natural presentations in clear water.

Here is the big takeaway for you, summed up in 3 tips:

1) Craws and Creatures – These baits mimic natural prey for fish; they grow over a season and often change colours throughout. Crayfish will change colour from light brown and very pale white bellies in Spring to a much darker brown and reddish colour in Fall. Look for lures that offer two-tone plastics and early to late season colours. I recommend Power Team Lures for plastics.

2) Frogs – Frogs grow during a given season like crayfish; if you like frogging for bass, start small in spring and size up over summer to fall. LiveTarget offers weedless frogs in three sizes and enough patterns to match your local frogs.

3) Minnow – Look for patterns that match what your target species eats when buying crankbaits and other minnow imitations. In Ontario lakes for instance, your best bet is to stick with patterns that mimic herring, smelt, bluegill, shiners, and perch as they are abundant in most waters. Again, LiveTarget is my go-to brand for this type of bait.

4) Chaos Theory – Ok, I mentioned that “Match the Hatch” was true and false; let me qualify that. There are patterns that while they appear to be created only to “catch fishermen” they defy all logic and work. Some great examples are the classic blue/white or blue/pink stickbait, or the good ol’ Fire Tiger pattern on just about any sort of crankbait or stickbait, or the ever faithful red and white daredevle spoon (honourable mention to the five of diamonds). None of these patterns match any natural prey, but seem to work time and again.

Hope this clears up some of the confusion for you. Nothing beats research and common sense when planning your fishing purchases and trips.

A pike busting weedless spoon I recommend

So, I was fishing my local pond and not having a great deal of luck catching the little northern pikes infesting this spot; as a matter of fact, my good friend Justin put me to shame only few days before catching a few while I walked away empty handed.

This led me to researching some options for catching pike; a task most view as simple and often a nuisance while fishing for bass. For me, it was something that had just never come together.

After a quick read of one of my many books, some of which I will share with you another time, I headed out to a local spot to get some tackle.

I found this:

Title Shot Weedless Spoon

The best pike busting spoon I have ever tried.

The Title Shot Weedless Spoon by Fin Tech.


This little baby was all I needed to coax those toothy like northern’s out of hiding. However, I did notice a small flaw with this bait out of the box: The grub trailer, which sits on a post and you rig the hook into it, is made of super firm plastic. Upon hookset, it was soooooo weedless, that I was yanking the whole bait out of the pike’s mouth.

So, I had two options.

Change the trailer, or let the hook be exposed.

I decided to expose the hook, and this worked. Obviously, this made the spoon a little more prone to snags in the weedy mess I was fishing.

After a landing a couple of hammer handles, I didn’t have much of this durable plastic trailer left. I decided to rig it with a softer, and perhaps more forgiving trailer. I slapped on a Berkley Havoc Pit Boss and fired my spoon back out there. This turned out to be an excellent combination.

I expect you can load up whatever you like on this spoon and get results. What I love most about this bait is how truly weedless it is, the solid wobble it has when retrieved, and the trailer pin to hold your bait. Title shot makes shaky heads with this very same post, which rather than being rigid, collapses on a strike allowing a solid hook set.

One last note, check the point on this spoon. I am not sure if it was the bony gator mouth, or just a factory “oopsie” but I definitely had to hone the point to ensure good penetration.

Time to go… but remember, AnyPuddle, except the one you’re sitting in… That one is man-made…

Why it pays to bring more than one fishing rod…

I stopped at a local dock to toss a couple of lures the other night.

When I reached this local pier, there was a father and his young daughter beating the heat with a quick swim. As I approached them, I could just hear the bashful young lady talking to her father about my fist full of fishing rods. She assumed that I was the first to arrive, and that a bevy of anxious anglers would soon be arriving. Her father on the other hand assumed that I took my fishing very seriously.

I myself, felt that I was very restrained in only bringing four rods.

Every professional angler out there knows exactly why I would carry so many rods. The boy scout mantra comes immediately to mind: Be Prepared.

There are a few good reasons you would want to prepare and bring multiple setups.

  • Response – Dave Mercer talks about having a followup bait ready at all times when you miss a fish. This has been proven true for me on a number of occasions. While fishing a plastic frog in some tight lily pads, I missed a good hit from a fish. Had I just thrown back my frog and hoped for a second chance, that fish would have most likely passed on my bait. However, my fishing partner that day followed up immediately with his weightless rigged tube, and ended up catching the very fish I missed.
  • Options – Like many avid anglers, I have a rod and reel combination that suits the presentation or technique I wish to use. This allows me to rig each stick with a different bait before I even get out on the water. Typically, I will have one rod for crankbaits, one for topwater, one for texas rigs, and the last as a wildcard (often another yet very different topwater or spinnerbait). On any given day you never know what makes the fish react, having several setups prepared will help you figure that out quicker.
  • Time – Particularly with heavy braided line, changing lures is very time consuming. Having several different presentations available to you immediately saves the time you spend changing lures; this time can be applied to fishing, like it should be. I typically choose my strategy the night before hitting the water; I think about what I am fishing for, and where. Knowing I am fishing clear vs. murky water, or weedy vs. open water will make a big difference in the colors and lures I choose to use.
  • Chaos – Everyone gets tangles. This is not reserved for those who use baitcaster reels (although they feel this pain more often). Even the best spinning gear can loop, tangle and knot, but it is the dreaded birds nest that strikes fear into the heart of most anglers. When you have multiple rods, you can switch easily and keep fishing. Deal with those nasty tangles later, when you have the time to pick them out.

I also like to prepare a soft bag before trips, depending on the water I am fishing. Let’s face it, if  you have been fishing for more than a couple of years, you likely have boxes and boxes of tackle options. It just isn’t practical to bring everything. So, I tend to bring a soft bag that carries four large trays; one is always terminal tackle, and the other three are usually plastics, crankbaits and stickbaits, and lastly an array of spinners, topwaters and swimjigs.

As always, when that fishy feeling takes you, AnyPuddle will do…

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