Bring on the Echotails

Vibration Tackle Echotail, Catches Anything that Swims
     Last year I stumbled upon a lure that filled the gaps in my tackle box.  I am a fisherman that thrives on simplicity.  When purchasing gear I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to find multiple purposes for a single item.  Whether it be rods, reels, bags, or soft plastics, if I own it I probably have at least 3 scenarios in which I can see myself using it.  That is one of the reasons I don't own many crankbaits.  The idea of a lure that swims in a controlled condition, be it depth or speed drives me crazy.  They are just to limited and take up to much space in the box.  Then I found the Echotail, a multi use blade bait and it opened up a world of possibilities.
     First, they come in a ton of sizes.  You can get these lures from 1/10th oz. all the way up to the giant 8oz.  This makes it possible to chase almost anything that swims.  I have seen these lures used to catch everything from bluegills, to walleyes, to bass, to pike, and muskies.  A little research shows them pulling up multiple species of freshwater trout.  They are even used for deep offshore vertical jigging in pursuit of pelagic species.  Truly one of the most versatile lures on the market and they are made in Wisconsin!
Powdercoat color  2014
     Second, they come in almost every color you can imagine.  Basic colors such as your black ,browns, whites, and yellows.  Neon colors all of them, literally all (think late 80's early 90's).  They also come in what I call your typical lure patterns.  Perch, firetiger, shad, and glow are all represented.  Perhaps the coolest and most exciting for 2014 is the new powdercoat colors.  These colors pop!  Blues, pinks, and others that have an indestructible finish full of gold and silver flake.  They look great and will hold up while fishing.  Should be able to withstand the strongest teeth or the accidental errant cast into the base of a bridge (it happens, trust me).
Simple to modify, just watch the hooks.
     Third, these lures are infinitely customizable.  Seriously, the design of the lure makes you want to modify it.  The metal body of this lure is brought to a barbed point in the rear.  Using this point you are able to pierce almost any soft plastic jig body, skirt, trailer, or swimbait.  Due to the multiple sizes you can use common plastics from Bog Baits, Uncle Josh, Berkley, Yum, almost anything.  Really you are only limited by your imagination.
     Fourth, they are tuneable.  Easily tuned lures can be hard to find.  Especially ones that cast any real distance.  As a shorefisherman I need a lure that casts a mile.  I also need a lure that comes back straight.  Nothing is worse than reeling in tight quarters only to have your lure snag because you can't tell where it is in the water column.  If you cast these lures out and they comeback off to the right just bend the tail a little to the left.  Simple, just remember that a little bend goes a long way.  Need more vibration when casting or jigging?  That is a tunable feature too.  The row of holes on the back of the Echotail give you the ability to adjust its wobble.  I always start with the middle hole, but when I want more action I work my way to the back of the lure.  Need it to ride up higher in the water column?  Move to the front hole and you have a great crankbait that stays up (see versatile).
     Fifth, you can troll them.  I know we hear this all the time, but you can actually troll with these.  Lots of lures claim that they can be trolled but unless your on a motor equipped boat this just isn't true.  You can use a long rod and walk a harbor wall (shore trolling).  Kayakers will also love this lure.  The walleye assortment in the 1/2 oz. size are perfect for kayak trolling in 10-20 feet of water.  Chasing king salmon on the Great Lakes?  Grab some 1 1/2 oz. baits and head out for the open water.  Chasing striped bass, tuna, or dolphin (Mahai not the mammal)?  Grab some Echotails from the Saltwater section of the website and your ready to go.  Check out the downloadable trolling charts from the website to answer any speed and depth questions you may have.
     
At the Madison Fishing Expo, I was finally able to meet Robert and Justin Blanchar.  The father and son team behind Vibration Tackle.  They have a true passion for helping fisherman.  They worked tirelessly to teach, demonstrate, and sell this wonderful lure.  I enjoy fishing with these lures and their ability to work in so many conditions is amazing.  Finding lures that cover a variety of situations can be difficult.  Give the Echotail blade bait a try, whether through the ice or casting you won't be disappointed.
     
Tight Lines.









Booth with a View

     The Madison Fishing Expo comes to town every year about this time.  They always seem to time it perfectly.  Most fisherman I know in Wisconsin go through a phase this time of year.  The novelty of ice fishing begins to wear off as the daylight increases.  We long for the opportunity to cast a line, instead of jig one.  Then the expo blows through with new lures, seminar speakers, and the promise of open water just around the corner.
Bog Baits booth just before the opening of the Expo.
     This year, for me at least it would be a little different.  This would be my first time to attend the expo from inside a booth.  My sponsor asked me if I would like a chance to help out at the Bog Baits booth.  I jumped at the opportunity to give back to the company that is helping me get my start in the fishing industry.  When I arrived at the expo on Friday I was nervous, really nervous.  You see with my anxiety I get a little anxious about large groups of people.  The other staffers said not to worry and just be myself.  They told me this was easy because the people were here with the intention of buying fishing gear.
Vibration Tackle Echotail and Bog Baits Buzz Rig
     As I worked the 3 days of the expo I started to notice a few things.  The biggest was that alot of people had a very limited understanding of how to use soft plastics.  This came as a very big surprise to me.  I guess I had just assumed that if somebody owned a jersey or high end bass boat that they knew general bass riggings and the situations you would use them.  We spent alot of time just rigging worms, frogs, and snakes.  Also we got lots of general fishing questions.  Little things like when to use fluorocarbon vs. monofilament line?  What is the difference between a blade bait and a buzz bait?  What hooks do I use? How does rod action affect cast ability and durability of large bass plastics?  To "You mean you work frog baits and rat baits differently?"  Or do bass really strike lures that big?
     I am grateful to have met everybody that stopped by the booth.  I learned alot about how other anglers fish.  More importantly I got the chance to see and hear the thought processes of other fisherman.  As a bonus I got a lot of ideas for future blog posts.
     Tight Lines.




Milwaukee Browns vs. 4 balls of Energy

     On Saturday we woke up early to head for the Milwaukee harbor.  In tow we had four boys ages 8-11.  They were all fired up to get there first taste of chasing trophy brown trout through the ice.  We couldn't have had better conditions for taking kids out on the ice.  Bluebird skies and no wind, weather is always something to take in to consideration when taking children ice fishing.  You want them to be comfortable so that they enjoy being outside.  You don't want them to be cold.  If kids are miserable they won't want to do it again.  As we headed down the ramps at McKinley Marina the boys were so fired up that they pulled the sleds.  Now this was a nice way to start the day.
Tsion and Mike Young (wisconsinkayakangler.com) rigging the tip-ups.





 We walked out on the ice and started to setup our base.  We were going to concentrate on tip up fishing so we could cover a lot of water.  The brown trout seem to come in waves so we have found that the more water we can cover, the better our odds of landing a fish.  The gas augers were fired up and off we went, drilling holes in a series of semi circles. Today I was glad to have the gas augers. The ice was a solid 22 inches thick.  Normally I drill all my holes with a manual auger and my arms thanked me for inviting the guys with the big guns today.  As we went about setting the tip-ups the boys ran off playing football, tackling each other, and having ice sliding contests.  Once all the lines were set we headed back to base.
     The day started out fast with our first flag coming with in minutes of setting up.  I raced over to my flag and quickly broke off the fish on the edge of the ice.  Apparently 6 pound fluorocarbon is no match for an over anxious shore fisherman.  I retied my leader and set the tip-up back in the hole.  While chatting back at the shanties and taking in the fishing stories and sunshine I heard somebody yell FLAG!  This time Mark was up, and he and the boys raced off across the ice.  Upon inspection the bait was picked up, but quickly dropped by the trout.  Not sure why I said, maybe the THUNDER that accompanies cub scouts running in boots.  He reset his line and we all settled in to base for some snacks and laughs.  The boys got thirsty, so we set them up with jigging rods and juice boxes.  As we all stood around talking about our best catches, Mark yelled FLAG! and we were off again.
JJMuskie and Mark working the female brown trout.
     Now this time the trout hit the farthest tip up.  Nothing is funnier than watching 4 boys race each other on the ice.  I am almost certain that everybody either fell, tripped, or got tackled on the way over.  Mark grabbed the line and gave a little tug.  That fish took off like a rocket!  How he didn't end up with line burns I still don't know.  The fight was over surprisingly quick and JJ quickly reached into the freezing water and snatched him out of the hole.  It was a big beautiful female, 28 inches long and weighing a little over 8 pounds.  This was Marks first brown trout through the ice and he was grinning ear to ear.
Mark with his first brown trout through the ice.
     At this point the weather started to change. It got cold quick as the clouds rolled in off Lake Michigan.  Mark reset his line and we all decided we would give it a little longer then pack it in before the kiddos got cold.  After another hour or so with nothing happening on the fishing front we decided to pack it in.  Imagine our surprise when the boys did a trash pickup patrol (cub scouts after all), and offered to help pull the shanties and sleds back to the trucks.
Calling it a day and heading home.
     We had a great time, even though we only landed one fish.  Fishing with friends is always fun.  Getting the chance to take kids fishing is something that I have found to always be worth it.  The boys said it best when loading the truck, "I love these trips, always an adventure".  I couldn't have said it better myself.
     Tight Lines.



Fishing Buddies


     I am extremely lucky to have been blessed with great friends.  In only 4 short years they have taught me so much about fishing, life, and myself.  
 Everything from brute determination,

to traveling new waters,
 and testing new ideas.

 For the lessons in patience,
and reminding me to smile.



 And for believing in me, while I chase down impossible dreams.  

Thank You,

     Tight Lines.