Tuesday, January 31, 2012

14' Modified V Jon Boat....1/29/2011 UPDATE

Thursday night I met someone off of craigslist and bought a Lowrance x52 fish finder for $110. It was new, none of the packages had been opened. I thought it was a good deal since they retail for about $190-200. So when I got home I started thinking of where it needed to go. Since I do fish solo from time to time, I wanted it to be where I could see it from the back bench. So stealing another idea from a friend, I mounted it in the middle bench. I then mounted the transducer as specified in the Lowrance manual, which just happened to be on the bottom of the stern. There were a few things that I found interesting in the Lowrance manual. First, i noted that when running the transducer wires its important to run the wires separately from any other wires in the boat, other wires can cause incorrect readings on your fish finder. Secondly the transducer should be mounted flush with the bottom of the transom, this allows a steady flow of water to surround the transducer...which once again makes for a more accurate reading. I chose to mount my transducer on the bottom port side of the boat. I then filled the holes with silicone. Trust me I don't like the idea of drilling holes below the water line of the boat, but I did it anyway for the sake of having an accurate fish finder.  When running the wires I noticed that I did not have a joint in the cpvc in the middle of the boat so I just used corrugated pipe and ran the wires to the battery.
Transom Mount With Silicone
Lowrance x-52 Mounting Position
I woke up the next morning and started digging around in the barn for scraps of metal I could use for a trolling bar. I first found some really heavy duty angle iron. It was in 10 foot pieces and probably weighed 100lbs. After making the first cut I soon realized that there had to be a better way. After moving some hay around I found the perfect piece of metal. I cut it to 48" and laid it on the boat to see how it would fit. For the most part it fit alright, a little long, but okay. I did however notice that the motor was awful close to the bar, and that if I raised the motor too much it would come into contact with the bar. With that said when the motor is in its locked position for transport it does not interfere with the trolling bar or gas line.  I ended up taking another 2'' off of the metal bar. Then I marked holes where I planed to mount each side of the bar. I used a drill press and cut 3/8" holes. I then laid it on the boat and marked where I needed to drill holes on the boat. I drilled the holes and found the hardware to mount the bar. I then began to clean and sand the bar. An hour or so later the metal was as clean as I was willing to make it. 
Trolling Bar, Mock up.
Trolling Bar Bolted up and Sanded.
At this point I was officially out of work. I called up Rylan and asked if he wanted to make the trip to bass pro. All willing, we went. I picked up 4 Driftmaster rod holders. 2 Duo255H's and 2 Duo Troller 255H's. The only difference in the two are the fact that the trollers set at a slightly higher angle, I figured that they would sit nicely on the outside while the duo255h's were at a lower angle on the inside. I also bought a bilge pump and hoses, a spot light for navigation, and another anchor for when fishing calm water.

Got home at around midnight and started working again. I began by placing the rod holders in various positions to see where I wanted to drill holes. I found that the motor would have a narrower turning radius if the rod holders where too close to the motor, so I left sufficient room to account for that. I then decided to mount the rod holders 7 and 13 inches from the outside of the boat on each side. I had to use nuts to stop the rod holders from falling through the holes, and I used the supplied wing nuts to secure the rod holders in place. At this point it was time to begin coating the bar with the the DupliColor bed liner that I had left over from the bottom of the boat. After two coats I remounted the Driftmaster rod holders.
Rod Holders Installed
 Trolling Bar Painted
While the paint was drying in between coats I went ahead and ran wires for the bilge pump. Since the cpvc was pretty stuffed already from the lights and trolling motor wires, I decided to run the bilge pump wires in corrugated wire along the groove of the boat. I then wired the bilge pump. At this point I had to make the decision to drill a hole in the transom or just toss the pipe over the back for the bilge pump discharge. I figured at this point that since I had already drilled holes for the transducer, what’s another hole? I then cut a hole for the pipe and mounted the bilge pump hose, and adapter with silicone.
Bilge Pump
Bilge pump outlet
Since I had to re-run wires I figured that I should go ahead and do my best to mount the wires up off of the bottom of the boat, so when it rains my wires aren’t setting in a pool of water. I used zip ties where applicable, and went ahead and sealed all of the cpvc with glue and silicone in the open ends of the cpvc. I also added toggle switches for the bilge pump and lights. I then connected all of the wires to alligator clips. 
Mess of Wires, Toggle Switches, and Battery
At 5am I decided to call it quits. Sunday I woke up and realized that I still needed to make a bracket for my trolling motor in order to use it on the bow. I was advised to mount a bow trolling motor to aid in control during periods of high wind. Since the boat is rather light, the wind will have a much higher impact on it than it would Rylan’s tri v fiberglass boat that weighs 800lbs. Since my trolling motor is a transom mount, I had to rotate the head of the motor. It was as easy as taking a screw out, turning the head 180 degrees and putting a screw back in. I then went down to the barn and started looking for anything I could use to make my mount. I ended up grabbing a sheet of particle board. I cut a few squares out and made a little box for the mount. I then drilled holes and mounted it to the bow. After a few coats of DupliColor truck bed liner, it was good to go. Hopefully the boat will set even enough for the trolling motor to set in the water a few inches. However I have my doubts. Might have to install a bait tank in the front to keep it sitting even. 
Depth of Trolling Motor
Trolling Motor Bracket
All in all I'm pretty happy with how things are turning out. However with this weekend’s purchases the boat has $1000 in it, $1130 if you count the battery that i bought for our other boat last year. I hope to have it in tip top shape come March.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Clinch Knot

The clinch knot is one the most commonly used knots in all fishing applications. Many people, including myself, refer to this knot as the fisherman's knot. The funny thing is, there is an entirely different knot already called the fisherman's knot used for joining two loose lines together. The clinch knot is mostly used for attaching terminal tackle to the end of ones line. This was the first fishing knot I learned when I first started fishing as a child and I still use it to this day.

There are three versions of the the clinch knot that I know of, normal, improved, and the double clinch knot. I'm only going to cover the normal and improved versions in this post, I'll go over the double clinch knot in another post. If you don't already know how to tie these knots or you don't know what the difference between the two are, here is a quick lesson.

Start by bringing the line through the eye.
Holding both lines twist the bait or whatever else you may be tying several times, usually more for lighter lines and less for heavier lines. How the number of twists effects the strength of the knot is something I tested and will be discussed later in this post.
Feed the end of the line through the loop near the eye.
The next step is for tying the improved clinch knot only, skip this step if tying the normal clinch knot. Feed the line through the big loop you just created.
Hold both the main line and the end of the line and pull the knot tight.
The final product should look something like this. Trim the excess line off to the desired length, for me this depends on the application. If catfishing I usually don't trim the excess at all, for everything else I usually trim it to 1/8 - 1/4 inch depending on the size of the bait and line.
So this week I've been doing some experimenting with the clinch knot and its various versions. My goal was to compare line breaking strengths of the various versions and tying techniques of the knot to determine how to tie the strongest clinch knots. My testing technique was simple, I used a Rapala digital scale to measure the weight at which the line broke at, a marine battery to supply the opposing weight, a swivel to connect one end of the line to the scale, and a snap swivel to connect the other end of the line to a rope tied around the batteries handle. Both knots were tied using the same technique. Then I slowly lifted to the scale watching the weight go up until the line snapped.

I chose to start off using 6lb Stren Original line. There were four main tying techniques that I wanted to test, the normal clinch knot with and without saliva lubrication, and the improved clinch knot with and without saliva lubrication. I've always wondered if wetting your line while tying a knot improved the knots strength. The other factor that I wanted to test was how the number of complete 360 degree twists effected the strength of the knot. For each variation I tested, I broke the line three times to form an average breaking strength. Also note that for all knots I trimmed the excess line to 1 inch.

Here are the results for the normal and improved clinch knot without lubrication.
# of Twists Normal Improved
4 3.35lbs 3.48lbs
6 4.75lbs 5.17lbs
8 5.94lbs 5.67lbs
10 7.00lbs 6.69lbs

The difference between the normal and improved knots was marginal. All knots in the 4-8 twist range failed due to the knot slipping. After ten twists both lines no longer failed at the knots, maxing the strength of the 6lb line at about 7lbs of breaking strength.

After these tests, I wondered what would happen If I tied a simple overhand knot on the tag end of the knot to prevent the knot from slipping with a lower amount of twists. With only 4 twists and the extra knot on the tag end, the results were immediately good at an average of 5.8lbs. After increasing the number of twists there was no real gain. This was caused by the fact that when the knot slipped and was stopped by the extra tag end knot, this created a weak spot in the line from the slip.

Here are the results for the normal and improved clinch knot with lubrication.
# of Twists Normal Improved
4 3.73lbs 6.04lbs
6 6.21lbs 7.0lbs
8 6.56lbs

The difference between the non lubricated knots was significant. The normal knot maxed out at only 8 twists this time while the improved knot maxed out at just 6 twists. It was then easy to make the conclusion that an improved clinch knot lubricated with saliva was the best choice with a general rule that more twists prevents the knot from slipping more often. Now my next question is, will these same conclusions be made with a heavier line? This is something I've also been working on and will post the results soon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

14' Modified-V Jon Boat....Work in Progress

Picture of boat I recieved from the owner.
This weekend I picked up my first boat, a 14 foot modified v Jon boat. It came with a trailer, 7.5hp Ted Williams outboard motor, and a 35lb. thrust trolling motor. The idea of getting a small boat came to mind when talking with a local bait store owner. He informed me that the reason why we weren't catching flatheads in a particular stretch of stream was because it was trot-lined from March until November. Well that didn't sit well with me, but I think I figured out how to outsmart those pesky trot-liners. I'll just go where they can't. That’s the plans anyway. So after a week or two of debating and doing some research on boats I found out what I needed. I reached the conclusion that a Jon boat would be the most cost effective method for us.

I began looking at 10 foot flat-bottom Jon boats. They were light enough for us to carry across shallow riffles (around 150lbs) that would prevent others from further upstream movement. They sit about 5 inches deep, which would also aid in our shallow water travel. However, I quickly realized that the maximum weight ratings of these boats ranged from 300-400lbs. I'm 250 pounds, when you start adding trolling motors, batteries, gear, food and beverages, and bait, the weight quickly exceeds the maximum of the boat. It wouldn’t have been possible to even bring another person along, and what’s fishing.....I mean bragging, without someone to brag to?

So I quickly ruled out a 10 foot Jon boat as an option. When I began looking into 12' flat bottom Jons I was informed by a few friends that I would do better to get a modified v bottom boat. I was warned that if I took a flat bottom Jon boat on choppy waters, that I'd soon be swimming for the bank, leaving my boat and gear behind me. Being a multi species angler, I like the option of fishing wherever I want, and whenever I want. Modified v boats have the benefit of holding heavier weight loads, and navigate better through choppy water. On the down side was the fact that they sit deeper and weigh more than their flat-bottom counterparts. It was a decision I was willing to make for safety.

Home-made Motor Stand
I began searching craigslist, asking friends on Catfish Freaks, and searching the Ohio Game Fishing Marketplace. I made a few posts inquiring about Jon boats, and after a week I became discouraged. Most boats were either too small, or too expensive for my budget. I soon found a post on Ohio Game Fishing's Marketplace that had a 14 Jon boat with trailer, outboard, and trolling motor for $550. It was a little larger than I wanted, but it was in my price range. At first I was only interested in the boat and trailer, but after a few days I decided that if I ever wanted to fish big waters that I'd need an outboard motor. The guy only wanted $250 for the outboard and trolling motor. So instead of wasting time shopping around for weeks and driving hundreds of miles, I figured I'd just get everything now. He let me have it all for $500. But before I went to pick up the boat I knew that I would need a motor stand to keep my outboard and trolling motor inside out of the cold. So I built my own out of wood I had lying around.


7.5hp Ted Williams, and Prowler 35lb thrust trolling motor.
I met him last Friday and picked up the boat. I was informed that the boat had a small leak near the front, and that it wasn't enough to worry about. However I felt that small leaks would rust and turn into big leaks. I brought it home and made a list of what I needed to make the boat "sea worthy." I would need a bow light for navigation, a stern light for night fishing, anchors and anchor ropes, battery tester, and something to seal the leaks. I had read previously on an online forum that a guy used a "do-it-yourself" rhino truck bed liner to coat the bottom of his Jon boat. His intent was to deter rocks and trees from harming his hull. I began to research the do-it-yourself bed liners and found that they were indeed water proof. If I bought a kit, I would essentially kill two birds with one stone. Sealing the leak, and adding a layer of protection to the boat. On my way to Wal-Mart I stopped in AutoZone to see what they offered. They had a Dupli-Color kit on sale from $110 for $79. I got it and headed to Wal-Mart to get the other boat essentials.


Truck Bed Liner
I got home and called Rylan after he had gotten off of work. He came over and we inspected the boat. We lifted it off of the trailer to establish that we could indeed carry it over shallow water. We carried it uphill about 100 yards and put it in my garage. After he went home, I quickly began prepping the boat for its first coat of the bed liner. I began by hand washing the bottom of the boat with a 5 gallon bucket and dawn dish liquid. The next step was to scuff the surface of the boat. The kit came with a scuffing pad, but Amanda and I used 180 grit sandpaper and lightly sanded the desired area. While sanding I would periodically use the air compressor to blow away the metal shavings. I then washed the boat a second time. It was then time to tape off the area that I wanted to cover. I used a ridge near the stern of the boat to judge where I wanted to stop. It just so happened that the ridge sat about 9.5 inches from the rim of the boat. For a guideline I tapped off the entire boat at this distance from the rim. I then began applying the first coat of bed liner. By the time I had finished the second side, it was time to re-apply a second coat to the other side. At about midnight I took a break and let the liner set up. At about 3am I gave the boat its final coating of bed liner.

Saturday I had plans to sell/trade my Xbox 360 for a fish finder, so in the morning I brought the trailer up to the garage to let it melt off the ice that had accumulated over night. I knew that I had some wiring to do and rod holders to install so while I was off selling my Xbox it would have time to dry so I could later put the boat on the trailer and begin working. I met my man in Chillicothe but with the ice storm the guy didn't make it to his barn to retrieve the fish finders. Instead I got $130 and drove over to Menards and began buying pvc pipe, pvc fittings, electrical wire, clamps, etc. for my rod holders and wiring needs. Spent about $50 there, and headed back home.


Rod Holders
I arrived home and put the boat on the trailer. I then called Rylan over to examine the possible rod holder placement on the boat. We both decided to anchor the rod holders to the inside bench seats rather than drilling holes in the side of the boat. He wanted to install 12 pvc rod holders, 4 to each bench seat, but I had only bought 10 feet of 1.5 inch pvc pipe. After a few measurements I found that I could only add about 8 rod holders at this point in time. He went home and I began working. I cut and mounted each pvc to the bench seats with heating duct straps. I found that one strap was enough to support the rod holders. If in the future a rod holder fails, I have the option to add another strap. After about 2 hours I had installed all 8 rod holders.


Bow navigation light and Pvc pipe.
It was now time to start mounting the navigation light. I drilled two holes and found a couple screws lying around to mount the light. My next step was to run wires from the light to the battery. In order to decrease the amount of speed it takes to get a boat to a plane the boat must be balanced. Therefore I decided to put the battery toward the front of the boat. I ran my wires through 1/2 inch pvc pipe to a T fitting where I figured I would put the battery. Since the battery would be near the front of the boat, I would have to run wires for the trolling motor. This was my next step, I fed wires through the pvc and then through the T fitting. I then added fittings to the end of the wire to connect to the battery. I did the same at the end of the boat for the trolling motor to connect to.

T fiting where the battery will sit.
At this point it was getting late so I decided to call it a wrap for the weekend. This is how the boat sits now. I do however plan to add a false floor for the battery to set upon and a trolling bar with driftmaster rod holders at the stern. I also plan to add an instrument panel with battery life gauges, toggle switches for lights, and mount the fish finder to it. I may even paint the boat a hunter green color in the future, but I want to make sure that all leaks are fixed, before any painting occurs. I have a month and a half before ice out, so I should be able to get her "sea worthy" by then.


Week 1 final product.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bass Pictures

Here are some more pictures for your viewing pleasure. This time around we got bass pictures including Largemouth, Smallmouth, White, and Hybrid Striped Bass. Years ago we spent much of our fishing efforts targeting Largemouth and Smallmouth. The vast majority of catches were around 12 inches and picture quality fish were few and far between. Mostly we fished ponds and lakes from the shore as this was before we had access to a boat. In recent years our efforts have turned more toward catfish and we have not yet fully utilized a boat for bass fishing. We have also caught many hybrid stripers from the Ohio river mostly due to the fact that they can be caught using catfishing methods as well as traditional bass methods. We don't catch many picture quality bass, but here are some of the best over the years.

3lb Largmouth Bass
2lb 15oz White Bass
3lb Largemouth Bass
3lb Largemouth Bass
3lb 12oz Hybrid Striper
2lb 14oz, 3lb 12oz Hybrid Stripers
4lb Hybrid Striper
5lb 6oz Largemouth Bass
4lb 0z Largemouth Bass
2lb Hybrid Striper
5lb 3oz Hybrid Striper
4lb 10oz Hybrid Striper
2lb Largemouth Bass
2lb Smallmouth Bass
2lb 15oz Largemouth Bass
3lb Hybrid Striper
4lb 15oz Hybrid Striper
3lb Hybrid Stiper
3lb 8z Hybrid Striper
2lb 0oz Largemouth Bass
1lb 14oz Largemouth Bass

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sinkers

Throughout the years we have begun to target bigger waters and bigger fish. With this shift we have made adaptations to our rigs in order to successfully catch fish. We have learned that certain applications call for different sinkers, weights, and styles. Sinkers are as diverse as each application, they come in hundreds of sizes and shapes. They range from sizes of a fraction of an ounce to several dozen ounces. In the past several years we have experimented with dozens of different types and sizes, and we have learned quite a bit about each. As mentioned before, we aren't experts.....just fisherman with a passion for the sport.
Sinkers can be used for many reasons. They can be used to add distance to ones cast, to make a float stand correctly, keep a bait on bottom, or to increase the rate of sinking of a somewhat buoyant bait.

Some of the most common sinkers we use include: split shots, egg sinkers, coin sinkers (and hybrids), pyramid sinkers, bank sinkers, and no rolls.  Each sinker was tailored for a specific type of fishing, or type of application. By far the most commonly used sinker would be the split shot. These are the smallest sinkers made, and the easiest to use. Some models have wedges or tails near the back that allow one to open and close the split shot to easily apply to a line. With that being said, they have been known to cause line failures. By pinching the split shot onto your line, you are actually crimping the line, thus weakening it. It is important to note here that throughout our fishing experience we have found that knots are by far the weakest link of all fishing rigs. That is to say that we have broken off more often at the knot that ties the hook onto our line, than we have at our split shots. Applications of split shots vary greatly. The most common applications include the use of a float (slip or spring), some split shots, and a hook. Pictured to the right.
Slip float rig with split shots.
Other applications include a simple hook and split shot, artificial and split shot, etc.

Probably the second most common sinker we use is the egg sinker. The egg sinker ranges from one quarter of an ounce to several ounces. The main benefit of using an egg sinker is the ability of the sinker to slide on your main line. When fishing on the bottom the fish can take the bait, while the sinker stays in one spot on the bottom, thus not feeling the weight of the sinker. This rig is commonly referred to as the slip sinker rig. The problem with egg sinkers is that they tend to roll on bottom when used in settings with high current or used in area of high slope, such as a ledge. Egg sinkers can also be used on float rigs, used to suspend baits off of bottom. They can be used when fishing artificial baits and lures, often times called the Carolina rig. Once again the idea is to have the fish take the bait while feeling minimal resistance.

Pyramid sinkers have to rank among one of our favorite sinkers if not "the" favorite. They range in sizes of an ounce to over a dozen ounces. They are one of the best sinkers to use in areas of heavy current where other sinkers fail to hold the bottom.  The shape of the pyramid allows it to settle along bottom, often times sinking part way into the sand or mud bottom, and anchoring your bait. When used on soft bottoms, the sinker will actually bury itself in the bottom, however when it doesn't bury the corners of the sinker will catch the bottom as it is being drug in the current. With that being said, there are drawbacks to using such sinkers. The edges tend to hold onto things too well and often times find snags, causing one to break off. Pyramids are often noted of falling into rock crevices as well. The geometry of the pyramid makes it prone to snagging when reeling in. The flat top tends to plane the sinker toward the bottom, thus coming into contact with more snags. 

Coin sinkers and hybrids are probably our least used sinker, simply because we are new to using them. The coin sinker has many types but are for the most part, often rounded with a brass eye. The main advantage of these sinkers is the fact that they plane upward when retrieving your bait. The sinker actually rises in the water column with increased resistance. When using these style sinkers one can use the current to bounce his/her bait down stream when fishing directly down current. Often times a boat is required for this type of fishing. This makes these sinkers great for anyone who is trolling or drifting for fish.  

No roll sinkers are probably second to the pyramid sinkers when ranking by overall use in our sinker arsenal. The flat shape of the no roll allows it to lay flat on bottom, thus catching less current. The flat sides of the no roll also eliminate any roll that might occur when fishing steep bottoms such as ledges. When retrieving the no roll sinker it tends to plane upward, avoiding most major snags. The only disadvantage of a no roll that I have found is that it takes slightly more weight to keep a bait down in heavy current. The drag caused by a large piece of bait will sometimes drag a bait with let's say a 5oz no roll that wouldn't otherwise drag a 5oz pyramid. 

Bank sinker led molded eye.
The final type of sinker that we commonly use is the bank sinker. Its rounded shape allows for a more aerodynamic design, resulting in further casts. The rounded edges of the bank sinker also reduce the amount of snags they tend to catch when shifting in the current or when being trolled or drifted. It's tall and slender design causes the bank to move significantly more in current, thus anchoring a bait less than a pyramid or no roll. The major design flaw of the bank sinker is the eye in which you attach the line to the sinker. The bank sinker was designed with a led eye rather than a brass eye. When attached directly to one's line it tends to rub, fray, and weaken the main line; causing line failure. Which brings me to the next point.

Aquarium tubing, sinker slide, and a bead.
Sinker slides, beads, and aquarium tubing are all often used to reduce the negative effects that sinkers have on knots and the main line. Sinkers that are allowed to sit on the knot of a swivel or hook can often times cause damage from casting and being in constant contact from lively baits, or rubbing caused from current. As mentioned above, not all sinkers have brass eyes that slide freely on your main line, so a sinker slide is pertinent to attach heavy sinkers to your main line. I even use the sinker slide for attaching sinkers with brass eyes, for the simple fact that the weight of the led sinker is spread over a larger area instead of just the 1/16 inch wide brass eye.

Sinker slides are really handy to have. The snap swivel allows you to add and remove weight as needed. They allow you to tie rigs in advance such as sinker slide/bead/swivel/leader/hook, and add the weight as you find out where you will be fishing. Shown below. It's also great to be able to remove your sinker when carrying your rods from your vehicle to the water. This will prevent the chipping of your gloss and paint on your rod that is caused by sinkers coming into contact with it.

Sinker slide/bead/swivel/leader/hook

Sinkers Continued.........

Other sinker types that we have experimented with include the flat bank sinker, and the no snag sinker, often times called the spoonweight. The flat bank is a combination of a bank and no roll. Its flat shape like the no roll holds it on bottom in swifter currents. The combination of the two sinker types makes the flat bank sinker a very versatile sinker. When fishing from a boat downstream or being drifted, it can be walked along the bottom with less weight than a bank sinker.
Flat Bank Sinker, and the No-Snag Sinker

The no snag sinker is designed to do exactly what its named for, prevent snags. Its thin tongue shape glides through the water and avoids snags with ease. The rounded rather than flat surface makes the no snag sinker a poor choice when fishing in higher current. The large rounded surface catches more current that it’s no roll counterpart and is harder to maintain an anchor. Therefore much larger sinkers are required for fishing swifter currents. The no snag is a sinker that is often frowned upon for its line wrapping ability when used slip sinker style. Therefore most applications of the no snag utilize the sinker tied to its separate leader, often times below the bait and swivel. This rig is called the bait-walking rig, which is most widely used when drifting or vertical fishing. In current or when jigging, the spoon shape of the no snag will actually vibrate and flash, thus drawing more attention to the bait. When jigged or when bait-walking the sinker will actually rise several feet off of bottom and flutter back down like an injured baitfish. Thus adding sight, and feel, to the already smelly sensation of ones bait.

If you don't have access to any sinker slides, an alternative is using a large snap swivel. With this method you just have to make sure your leader swivel is larger than your snap swivel so your sinker doesn't slide onto your leader.

Snap Swivel as a sinker slide substitute.