The Evil Cleat

I hate this particular boat cleat with a passion.
     What you're looking at here is pure evil.  You may not see it at first, but this guy has snagged fly line, tripped me in the dark, and caused me to lose my grip on JJ's boat more than once while waiting at the dock.  Combine this little bastard with a northern pike and you have what could only be described as the most god awful thing on the whole damn planet.  Don't believe me?  Than listen to this...
Madison Musky Addict
     I got a call from my buddy JJ of Madsion Musky Addict Guide Service a while back asking if I was interested in meeting up with him for a little early morning musky action.  Obviously I was up for some fishing, the only problem was I didn't have a musky rod.  I had broken my Mojo Musky rod while kayak fishing on Monona the week before so I hustled out the door and headed straight for Cabelas in search of my next St Croix musky rod.  After much deliberation (I'm horrible at making decisions) I decided that I would try out the Premier line.  Specifically the 7 foot 6 inch 2-6 ounce casting model.  I liked the way the rod balanced with my Revo on it, and the full cork handle gave it a beefed up feel in the hand.  I wandered the aisles a bit longer and then headed home to get the rod rigged up and ready to chase some freshwater wolves.
     Leaving the dock the following morning JJ was quick to notice the new rod and jokingly asked how long this one would last.  JJ has had the very honorable distinction of being the angler that is with me every time I blow up a musky rod.  Usually I go through 2-4 a season, and every time I destroy a St Croix rod he's right next to me asking if they are really worth the money (they are).  He's also quick to bust my chops about being a brand whore, but is always nice enough to loan me a rod so that I can finish out the day.  Fast forward an hour or so and you'll find us on Lake Monona and in our usual groove.  JJ running the boat from the front and me bomb casting open water from the stern.  After a while my carpel tunnel got the best of me and I sat down the new rod to rest my hands and drink some coffee.  That's exactly when the EVIL boat cleat jumped into action.  As I lifted my rod to start casting again it grabbed my new St Croix and we heard a slight CREEAAAKKKKK.  JJ quickly joked that it was a close call and I of course had to chime in and add to the karma by saying it would probably break today.  In fact I even said, "Bet it will explode as I set the hook on a northern pike.  Two casts later I set the hook...BANG!!!
I swear to god, it just exploded!!!
     The rod just exploded, it was crazy!  JJ grabbed the net and came running towards the back of the boat only to bust out laughing as I swung the little pike over the side.  This of course got me laughing and soon every other angler in the vicinity turned around to see what was so funny.  As I held the fish up for a picture I couldn't help but think of that damn boat cleat.  I can't say for sure, but I think it may have been in cahoots with that little pike the whole time.  A crazy conspiracy theory I'm currently running with every time I get on JJ's boat.  I keep my eye on it certain that it's just buying time until it strikes again and ruins another rod, snags my fly line, or catches my shoe strings.  Pretty sure this winter I'm gonna buy JJ some of those fancy removable ones for Christmas.  All I know for sure is that if you book a trip with Madison Musky Addict this fall beware.  That boat cleat may just be waiting to get you too.
In all honestly though, I like catching pike.
     Tight Lines.

Free Fishing Kayak Demonstration

     Come join the Aldo Leopold Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Rutabaga Paddlesports for a kayak fishing demonstration at Devil's Lake State Park.  The event which takes place August 19th at 5pm will have a a kayak fishing demonstration, fishing specific kayaks to test paddle, and probably more fish stories than you can handle.  I will be in attendance representing Native Watercraft and will have my fully rigged Slayer Propel and the fly fishing friendly Versaboard available for all to try out on the water.  Attendance is limited to the first 30 people so act quickly to reserve your spot.
     Tight Lines.

How to Install a Power Pole Micro Anchor on a Native Watercraft Slayer Kayak

Power Pole Micro Anchor
     The Power Pole Micro Anchor has been a game changer for many anglers fishing from small watercraft.  Ask any kayak angler that uses one on the tournament scene and they will tell you that they'll never be able to go back to fishing without it.  It's reliable, sturdy, and works as promised in a variety of water conditions.  Many major kayak companies have gotten on board with specialized brackets that make mounting and or wiring the Micro Anchor a quick and simple task.  When mine arrived at the front door this spring, I quickly discovered that installing the Micro Anchor on my Native Slayer would be a bit more difficult than I had originally envisioned.
Folds down easily for transporting to the water.
     Before we start with the install, lets take a quick look at some of the installation challenges that are specific to the Slayer kayak.  The first thing is lack of hull access in the rear of the kayak.  You just can't physically get your hands (or tools) inside the rear of the hull.  This created some real issues when trying to figure out how to tighten down the nuts for the Micro Anchors mounting bracket.  Next you'll notice that the carry handle and hull drain are located in the same general area that the bracket needs to be mounted.  These issues needed to be addressed in order to mount the Micro Anchor to a Native Watercraft Slayer kayak.
We're gonna need a shorter bolt. 
     When you open the box and read through the instructions you'll find that the guys over at Power Pole do a good job of attempting to give you everything you would need to mount the Micro Anchor on a boat.  As I looked through the multiple little plastic baggies included with the Micro Anchor I noticed that the mounting bolts were way to long to fit inside the Slayer.  I was gonna need much shorter bolts to mount this to the Native.  More importantly, I needed to figure out how I was gonna tighten a nut inside a hull I couldn't access.  I swung by Rutabaga Paddlesports to get some advice and after lots of discussion we ruled out the normal attachment methods.  Well nuts, blind capture, epoxies, none of them would provide the mounting needed to securely attach the Micro Anchor.  With that in mind I headed to the hardware store to let my mind wander.
Stainless Steel Wall Anchor
     Cruising up and down the aisles, I ran into a selection of stainless steel wall fasteners.  It was one of those rare "eureka" moments.  I picked up 4 wall fasteners, some 3 inch allen head 5/16th inch bolts, and 4 half inch rubber spacers.  The design of the Slayer is perfect for this mounting system.  Since the hull narrows and kind of comes to a point at the rear, the wall fasteners can only partially spin before they make contact with the wall of the hull.  This allows them to tighten from the inside and locks the mounting bracket down securely to the hull.  Since each bracket can support up to 300 pounds they are more than strong enough to keep the Micro Anchor attached to the hull when the kayak is anchored, even in heavy wave action.
Be careful when drilling the mounting holes.
     Now that I had solved the attachment issues it was time to mount the Micro Anchor.  I took the mounting bracket and marked the hole location.  Take your time with this step.  The hole locations are dangerously close to the depression below the grab handle.  You need to make sure that you have enough room to drill the holes.  If you need to, mark the holes a little wider than needed since the bolts will pull themselves in closer as they are tightened down.  On a side note, I was worried about losing access to the grab handle for transport so I added an aftermarket handle mounted on shock cord.  This proved to be an unnecessary addition and was removed after my first outing on the Slayer (see photo).
     Once I had my holes marked I made a big mistake.  Although I started out by drilling a small pilot hole, I used to big of a drill bit to open up the mounting holes.  You only need to drill holes large enough to punch the folded up wall anchors through the hull.  On top of that the large drill bit walked out of the pilot hole and scrapped the hell out of my Slayer.  Do yourself a favor and drill the holes out with a Uni Bit.  It will make life a lot easier and hopefully prevent the scratches and punctures that happened to my poor kayak.  Although Uni Bits are a little pricey, if you rig enough kayaks they will prove more than worth the investment.
Use the Uni Bit and easily step up the hole size to attach the wall anchors.
     With your holes drilled the rest of the Micro Anchors installation is pretty straight forward.  Slide the bolts through the bracket, then the rubber spacer, add the wall anchor, then tighten the whole mess down.  This is actually a bit of a juggling act and having an extra set of hands will help speed up the process.  When you're done it should look like the picture below.  The wall anchors keep everything nice and secure and the rubber spacers allow access to the handle for tying down the kayak during transport.  As you can see, if you take your time and measure it out right, you can maintain the full use of the hull drain.
Rubber spacers allow access to the carry handle and hull drain.
     Now that the bracket is mounted all that's left is to wire it up.  This part is pretty simple and not nearly as involved as mounting the bracket.  The only trick is getting the included wiring harness through the hull.  First you'll need to determine where you want to have the wiring enter the kayak.  I decided to drill the hole as close to the mounting bracket possible so that the wiring would be well out of the way when grabbing gear from the rear compartment.  To seal water out of the hull I found a rubber grommet that was a tight fit on the wiring harness and drilled a hole just big enough so that the grommet would press fit into place (Uni Bit).  Then all I had to do was finagle the wiring up to the front of the kayak.  I borrowed my buddies pipe snake to drag the wiring up through the hull, but with some patience you should be fine just laying the kayak on its side and feeding the wire along edge of the hull.  Since the Micro Anchor doesn't have an on/off switch I added one.  I have my battery mounted in the Native Watercraft Battery Bag in the hull so to turn off the Power Pole I would have to constantly undue the thumbscrews on the front hatch to access the wiring.  This got annoying rather quickly so I added the switch.  It saves time and allows me to kill power to the Micro Anchor when not in use.
Rubber grommet to seal out the water and a waterproof in line switch to kill the power.
     That wraps up the install of a Power Pole Micro Anchor on the Native Watercraft Slayer.  Using the wall anchors and rubber spacers solved all the mounting issues.  Just take your time and measure everything carefully before you drill any holes.  This method of mounting makes for a very secure attachment and I think you'll be surprised by just how much you'll use the Micro Anchor once you have one on your boat.  If you have any questions just leave a comment or send me an email and I'll make sure to try and answer them as quickly as possible.
My neighbors must think I'm crazy...
     Tight Lines.