Silently guarding the bait in Venice.
Trying to hang on for one more fish.
Nature showing off on Lake Allatoona.
A jumping tarpon off the Venice Beach pier.

Category Archives: Fishing Tech.

The FG Knot – How to Tie Braid to Fluorocarbon

The guys over at Salt Strong conducted a knot test to see which knot was best for joining a braided main line to a fluorocarbon leader.  Personally, I had never heard of the FG knot before, but it looks simple enough with a bit of practice.

You can check it out below!


Staying off the Main Stream

I’ll freely admit it, the Strike King 6XD is one of my favorite crankbaits, ever. There is just something about it that seems to catch a lot of fish for me. I don’t know if I just picked it up for the first time, and just the right time, and built an unusual amount of confidence in it, or if it really is just that good. But, when you go digging through my tackle box, that is one of the few big brand name baits you will come across.

A few years ago, my wife and I started Home Brewed Tackle (which is now Home Brewed Outdoors), because I had fallen in love with the boutique tackle manufacturers. There was a new worm manufacturer that popped up pretty close to us, and they didn’t have an internet presence at all, so we became the first online retailer to carry their products. That worked great for a few years, until some personal issues within the company caused them to shut down. But, that experience sent us on a quest to discover all the “Garage Tackle” we could. As we started bringing in more and more product, I started noticing how much effort went into producing a quality product. I think when someones name is directly tied with a product, they take extra care in making sure it is a quality product.

As I’m sure any fisherman would do, from time to time I have to grab a bait or two out of inventory for “testing” purposes. Not to mention, when all of your friends fish, and you have a tackle store in your basement, they tend to like to “hang out,” aka go shopping, quite frequently. Many of them are now also hooked on the hand made tackle.

One of my favorite topwaters now is the Bass Hound Prop Bait.  It is designed and carved by Kip Carter, who happens to fish in many of the same tournaments I do.  I feel like I have personally donated enough money to Kip to put his kids through college.  I mean, this guy is the epitome of a “Local stick.”  If you stick his name in Google, you will get pages and pages of articles about him winning this or that.  So, when it comes to designing and building a bait, you can bet if he is involved, it will be good.

Why do I bring that up?  Simple, if you only shopped at the major online retailers, you would never find Kip’s baits.  That’s why my wife and I started Home Brewed Tackle a few years ago.  Our goal is to create a central hub for all of these manufacturers.  Over the years we have grown, and changed our name to Home Brewed Outdoors, but the idea has remained the same.  We are always looking for new products, and new vendors.  So next time, before heading out and making that purchase at a big box store, take a look around at some of the smaller guys.  You may just find your new favorite bait!

Hurricane Jake – I NEED More Power (Wires)

A few weeks ago I let a good friend borrow my boat to fish in a pretty large tournament.  After the first day, he was sitting in second place, with a good shot at moving up.  However, about 11 AM the next day I saw his name pop up on my caller ID.  I knew that phone calls mid-tournament are never a good thing, so I was a little nervous to answer, especially since I knew it meant something wasn’t working on my boat.  Well, turns out the steering on the trolling motor quit working, and this happened to be on Lake Guntersville, the same weekend Hurricane Sandy was roaring up the east coast.  So, to say it was a little windy that day would be an understatement.  After a little discussion, I guessed that at least one of the steering cables had snapped, and basically my buddy was dead in the water.  Luckily, Guntersville is full of matted grass, so he was able to park himself in a mat and continue to fish.  The day didn’t end well for my friend, and he ended up falling 10 places, but the best was yet to come.

When he got back in town, I cracked open the head of the trolling motor and took a look.  I was greeted with a snapped steering cable, as expected, but also the universal sonar transducer cable nearly cut in half and the positive and negative power wires pretty severely chaffed.  My heart sank when I initially saw that since I have never really worked on a trolling motor before, and had I decided to take on this project, it would have meant not only learning how to replace the steering cables, but also learning to replace the power wires.  That would mean disassembling the trolling motor from the lower unit all the way to the foot pedal.  Needless to say, it made me a bit nervous.

So, any time I have a major failure on the boat, the first thing I do is hop on Google and start researching the solution.  In this case I found a few forum posts where people were asking questions about the steering cables, but I didn’t see any walk thru’s posted, nor did I really see any instructions on replacing them.  I took this as either a really good sign, or a really bad one, I wasn’t quite sure.  Then, I started looking for information about the lower unit of these motors and turned up even less information.  As a last ditch effort, I made a post on facebook, and finally, a bit of light!  I had a response from a local fishing guide who suggest I tackle the project because it really wasn’t that hard, and if I had any issues, he would be happy to help.  Well, I did just that.  I ordered the parts and the waiting game started.
In my order I ended up with 2 sets of steering cables, a right and a left one, a new power and ground wire, and then a new “seal kit” that contained new o-rings for the trolling motor lower unit.  The transducer wire for the internal transducer was also trashed, but since I have a few transducers laying around, I figured I would not worry about fixing that, and simply run an external transducer since the entire transducer would need to be replaced anyway.

Well, the parts showed up extremely fast, thanks to Jones Trolling Motor, and the following Saturday I got to work.  Since I was more worried about running the power and ground wires (since I have never cracked open a trolling motor lower unit before), that is where I started.  Much to my surprise, it was very easy.  First step is to disconnect the power to your trolling motor!  That is VERY important.  After that, I opened the head of the trolling motor to get access to the + and – wire.  They each have a spade connector in the head, covered with some heat shrink.  Using a razor blade, I removed the heat shrink and unhooked the spades.  I did notice that there was a good bit of corrosion on the connectors, so I grabbed a file and filed as much of that off as I could.  Once those were nice and shiny, I moved to the lower unit to begin disassembling it.

The lower unit dis-assembly turned out to be much easier than I expected!  To remove the prop, there is a nut that you will need to take off, and as you loosen it, be sure to hold the prop to keep it from spinning.  Once you slide the prop off, check for any line that may be wrapped up (as you can see, I had a ton) and remove it.  You will also see two bolts.  That is all that is holding the lower unit together.  These are VERY long bolts, and run the length of the lower unit, holding the front cap of the motor, middle section and rear pieces of the lower unit all together.  Simply unscrew those two bolts and you are then able to crack open the housing.  Be careful not to pull the rear out too far though, since the power and ground wire, along with another, smaller ground wire will still be connected.  Also, as you pull the motor out, keep in mind there are magnets that you will be fighting against.  I was able to pull the motor out and disconnect the necessary wires without too much issue, but as you try and pull the motor totally out, be aware that the magnets will be pulling the other way!  Once you get the motor out, this is what you will be working with:

Now comes the fun part!  Since bass fishing took a back seat to shark fishing earlier this year, I happened to have a giant spool of 125lb mono line laying around, and figured that would be perfect for running some new wires.  So, I took the line, tied it to the old power and ground wire, put some electrical tape over it for good measure, and then pulled old wires out through the lower unit.  Due to the shape of the connectors on the power and ground wire that attach to the electric motor, it is much easier to pull the wires this way versus pulling them through the head of the motor.  They pulled out very easy, and with little issue.  Since the transducer wire was demolished, and going to be replaced with an external transducer, I went ahead and pulled the transducer wire out next.  Due to the connector in the head of the trolling motor, this was a little harder, but with a little finesse, and a lot of hammer, I was able to get it out.  I then cut the wire in the head of the trolling motor and tossed the wiring in the trash.  Now that I had all the old wires out, I tied the spade connector of the positive wire to my 125lb wire snake, and then lined up the ground wire and smaller ground wire on the power wire and taped them all together.  The idea here is to minimize the places for the wires to get hung up as they are threaded through the shaft of the motor.  This is what the taped up monstrosity looked like, and it worked like a charm.  The wires fed though the motor with 0 issues.

The next step was to reassemble the lower unit, hook up the wires and then start on the steering cables.  But, when I went to reassemble the lower unit, I noticed that the motor itself had magically grown about 4 inches.  Despite my best efforts, I could not figure out what was going on.  After about an hour of cussing and scratching my head, I finally had an “Ah Ha!” moment, and noticed how the motor actually works.  There are two brushes (cube looking, spring looking magnets) that needed to be pulled back so the motor could slide into place on the prop shaft.  Once I figured that out, I was able to put everything back together in and get it all hooked up.  Now, after doing a test, I noticed that I have gained a good bit of power back in the motor (my guess is due to all the corroded connections) and I also put some dialectic grease on each connection, so hopefully there will be less corrosion issues in the future.  That’s it!  Now that I know the entire process, I bet you could replace these wires easily in under an hour.


Gel Coat Wet Sanding

When a boat oxidizes, it can look terrible.  But, with a little elbow grease and a long weekend, you can have it shining like brand new.  For some reason, the idea of sanding your boats finish does not sit well with a lot of boat owners.  However, if you go slow, and pay attention to what you are doing, there is little chance of doing major damage to your finish.  After all, if the finish were in good shape, you wouldn’t be thinking of wet sanding in the first place.

To get started, you need to pick up a few things, the most important of which is a high speed buffer.  I got mine at Harbor Freight for cheap, and it has worked out well.  If you watch their sale papers, you can pick one up for under $40 and many times they will have a 20% off coupon as well.  To go with that, you will need a couple of 3M pads.  One for compounding and one for polishing.  And finally, you will need a quality compound and polish.  A lot of people really like the 3M Perfect It and Final Glaze.  I was not able to find it, so I talked with a local fiberglass shop and actually purchased some from them (can’t remember off the top of my head what it was though).  After you polish up your new finish, and slap a quality marine was on it, it is also recommended to use a good polymer sealer.  Pro-Tec is generally the most widely used in this category.

Harbor Freight Buffer

 3M Compounding Pad

 3M Polishing Pad

During the whole compounding process, I didn’t take many pictures because I was so excited about getting the shine back on my boat.  Since the oxidation was not terrible, I started with 1000 grit sand paper (make sure it is designed to be used for wet sanding).  In a five gallon bucket, I put about 3 gallons of water, a few drops of dish washing soap, and my sand paper.  I also kept the hose handy.  As you are sanding, be sure to periodically dip the sand paper in the bucket to clean off any buildup and also have your hose slowly applying water to the area you are working on.  This will help you monitor the area, and once the water run off becomes clear, that is when you know you have removed the oxidation.

Since I was unsure of myself when I first started, I picked a small area on the boat and just worked on it.  After I felt like I had removed a majority of the oxidation with the 1000 grit paper, I stepped up to 1500 grit and started sanding again.  The idea with the 1500 grit is to smooth over the sanded area.  The same with stepping up to 2000 grit.  One thing to be very careful of is while you are sanding, keep feeling the area you are working on.  If you start to feel metal flake, you have sanded too far.  If you finish is oxidized all the way to the metal flake, you have a case that is too serious for wet sanding.

After you have completed the sanding, give the boat a good wash.  It will be covered in a milky white and need to be cleaned before you can begin to compound the finish.   The boat should look dull, but will be shining soon.

A word of advice before you start compounding, be sure to cover up your trim and carpet.  If you are not careful, when you hit the liquid compound with the buffer, it just may sling excess compound ALL OVER and can be a real pain to clean.  That is experience talking.

When you move on to the mechanical buffer, take it slow to start with.  You will want to keep the buffer moving and not let it stay in one place, as it just may burn through the clear coat.  After you have finished compounding, give the boat another good cleaning, and allow it to dry.  Once it is dry, switch to your polishing pad and polish, and repeat.

Once you finish with the polish, the boat should be really starting to shine.  Once you put a few good coats of wax on it, the results should impress you.

A few mistakes that I made when initially wet sanding my boat:

  • I rushed – I didn’t cover the carpet or trim on the boat.  I was so excited about compounding and polishing that I got the compound and polish all over everything.  Then, I didn’t clean it right away, so it dried.  I think it took almost a year for me to get it all cleaned up.  You can see the white specs/spray in the picture below.
  • Didn’t sand out all the oxidation – I was a little leery of the sanding initially.  Now that I am a few years out, I notice a few areas where, when the boat isn’t waxed, you can still see the oxidation.  After talking with others, I have come to the conclusion that I didn’t sand enough.
  • Buffer speed control – I thought faster was better when it came to the buffer, and there is one place I put a little bit of a swirl in the gel, and another where I went pretty much all the way through the gel and you can barely feel the flake.  They are very minor, and if you aren’t looking for the spots, you won’t see them.

Now, if you have any questions, I would HIGHLY suggest making your way to Bass Boat Central.  Some of those guys are pro’s when it comes to boat resotration, and know the in’s and out’s like the back of their hands.  In fact, here is the thread that inspired me to take on this project.