On my recent trip to visit Paul at JPR Rods I had a chance to check out the Truth Reels SS (Small Star) and SM (Star Mag) reels. The two reels themselves are very similar but the SM model is designed for long distance surf casting while the SS is geared toward trolling and bottom fishing. My first impression of the was “Solid” every part of these reels has been manufactured in the U.S. and although the reels themselves are fairly light (16.8 OZ) they have a very heavy feel to them and I don’t believe there was a piece of plastic in sight. Every Truth Reel is backed by a lifetime warranty so that will tell you a
little bit about the construction and confidence these guys have in it. Both Reels Feature a signature bridgeless design which allows them to be built with no crossbars, 24# max drag, 6:1 Gear Ratio, 38″ per crank, mechanical spool tensioner, and 40# braid capacity of 500 yards. The Star Mag reel has a few additional features; free floating spool, adjustable magnetic cast control, counter balanced handle, and an upgraded Abec-7 spool bearing. Now I am no distance casting expert but a had a chance to check out the free spool and this thing will spin forever and with the fully adjustable spool you can get amazing control. I had a chance to
see some real experts cast these reels and it is pretty incredible how well far these reels can be cast with the right hands. Truth Reels says that the SM can cast 600 feet and although its hard to understand how someone could cast two football fields in length I believe this reel could do it and there is in fact more than a few You Tube videos to prove it. 654 Ft. SM cast Now these reels are not exactly priced low at $350 for the SS and $400 for the SM but you pay for quality and that’s exactly what you get with these reels, and with a lifetime warranty you’ll have it forever…..
I know most of you are probably thinking that striper season will be in full swing any day now and tog season opens in 2 days, why is this dude talking about fluking? Your probably right but the heart wants what the heart wants. I just can’t stop thinking about skipping a bucktail through some sunken subway cars as that 10lb doormat I’ve never caught inhales my GULP! (I Just bought 8 tubs). With all of this in mind I took a ride down to see Paul at JPRrods.com to see if I could satisfy my tackle fix and he did not disappoint. I wanted to go lighter this season, I like to try and fish 2-4 ounces even in deeper water and they set me up with a perfect combo for just that. The Century Rods Striper Series SS846 is a acid wrapped 7′ medium-heavy power/fast action rod that features Fuji guides and split rear grip but Paul can take any Striper Series blank and custom build a rod for to fit your style.
If you like to fish a little bit heavier the SS847 is great or if you are looking for a great tog rod the SS848 is a perfect platform. Pair this rod with a low profile Diawa Lexa 300 and you have a superlight setup that you can bounce all day with. The Lexa 300 weighs in at only 11.3 ounces but puts out a max drag of 22lbs with gear ratios ranging from 5.1:1-8.1:1 in the hyperspeed model. Many people also like the even lighter 100 model but I prefer a sturdier reel for saltwater use. Spooled with 10-15lb braid this combo should have you dancin’ all over the bottom in 80 ft with 3oz while everyone is using 6! Only 51 more days to fluke season begins……
I was dying to get out Tog fishing after winter storm Jonas and the boat I was originally supposed to fish on was iced in and had decided not to sail the next day. I started calling and texting anyone I could think of and there is not whole lot of boats still fishing at the end of January. Remembering a boat my friend had recommended to me I shot Captain Jerry of the Fish Monger II a quick text (love a captain who responds to texts) to see if he had a spot and I was in, 1 more left!
The Fish Monger II is a 46′ Downeast style boat with a massive beam, dual anchors, and tons of fishing space but charters are kept to a maximum of 10 for comfort (licensed for 37 passengers). There is plenty of room for everyone to relax on the ride out and at a cruise of just over 20 knots it shouldn’t take too long. The boat is conveniently slipped in a marina right next to Manasquan Inlet minutes from the ocean.
I was not expecting a whole lot out of this trip after the massive storm that brought 20-30ft waves, heavy winds, and a lot of snow, but I needed to get out fishing at least one more time before spring. Captain decided to take a little bit of a trip south and with no real wind or waves to speak of things were already looking up. These guys don’t mess around when it comes to bait either, a huge supply of white and green crabs of all sizes were on tap all day. We made our first drop and it was game on from the start. It wasn’t drop and reel fishing but the action was very steady all day, when the action slowed Captain Jerry moved on. Tog fishing as most of you know is a tough game and I am certainly not a veteran but I could tell that the experienced guys I was fishing with chose this boat for a reason…..the captain know his shit! We ended up that day making only 3 moves and catching our 10 man boat limit finishing the day releasing quite a few more keepers. I had my own personal best by far that day at probably around 8 lbs but the real story was the other 3 PB’s that day at 10,12, and 13 lbs! Most impressive to me however was watching Captain Jerry fish that day, he didn’t fish much but every once in awhile he would throw one over the rail. At one point we had all been shuffling around the boat everyone swearing a portion of the starboard side was devoid of life, I was serving my time there striking out when he pops in next to me and says something like “do you feel that ledge over there?, cast out and bring it back a little and you’ll feel it” uhhhhh yeah totally???? It’s like this guy can map out the bottom with his sinker I have never seen anything like it, I proceeded to watch him catch something like 3 keepers in a row. This entire time I am trying to mimic exactly what he’s doing and I am coming up completely empty handed, and Im always embarrassed to ask a lot of questions but I wish I had. The man is some kind of tog whisperer I am sure of it and I look forward to learning more from him next time. His mates name escapes me but he is also a great guy and is always on top of it changing out chafed leaders, bent hooks, and hand picking his favorite crabs for you. These guys also have their fillet at sea permit so by the time we got back to the dock the fish was cleaned and in ziplock bags. I almost forgot, the port engine snapped a belt on the ride in they grabbed a spare threw on the new one and we were back at it in less than 15 minutes!
The guys at Fish Monger Charters are a class act and I would highly recommend them to anyone I know. I hope to get out with them this summer and see what kind of fluking magic Captain Jerry has in store. I suggest you book your summer trips soon cause from I hear he books up fast!
Line Class (Based on 1/3 of line class @ strike): 10-25lb
Braid Capacity (yds.): 20-350, 30-300, 50-230
Mono Capacity (yds.): 15-250, 20-175, 25-Topshot
Gear Ratio: 5.3:1
Inches Per Crank: 30"
Maximum Drag (lbs.): Strike: 9 lbs.
Full: 14 lbs.
The AVET SXJ is the narrow spool version of the SX Series reels, and at 12 ounces it is a very light reel but is very well constructed. I have used this reel for everything from trolling mojo rigs for bass, to fluking in 15 feet of water from a kayak. With a max drag of 14 lbs the SXJ has plenty of stopping power for big stripers and tog.I know a lot guys with drag boners will say thats low compared to some of the other reels in its class and maybe they're right but it should be more than adequate to get the job done on a 50lb bass (I've never even come close to catching one but I'm sure it could totally handle it} and pretty much any inshore species you might encounter. I highly recommend this reel especially for someone looking to use it for fishing vertically (jigging, bucktailing, wreck fishing) and it also makes a great kayak reel. My one big issue with this reel is the bait clicker....it pretty much just does not work at all, and not only is it pretty much silent it is also not even strong enough to prevent your line from backlashing. I am sure this could be fixed or upgraded but it is definitely something to know if that is a feature you would want in this reel. All in all this is a great reel smooth, solid, compact, and MADE IN THE USA!