YakAttack Zooka Tube

I’d heard about this new rod holder from YakAttack some time ago, though the video below is the first real good look that I’ve had of it. Initial impressions look good, it certainly appears quite versatile. I’ll hopefully get my hands on one sometime soon and put it through its paces.

Out for a peddle

I’d been considering having a crack at some Plaice this weekend, though Saturday came and went and I’d not managed to get afloat. Mid-morning on Sunday I decided a spot of fishing was in order, however, whilst packing the car my daughter appeared and asked if she could join me. No problem I thought, though she added that she wanted to go for a paddle somewhere new and wasn’t too bothered about fishing. Oh well, I’m trying to encourage her to get afloat whenever I can, so a paddle it was going to be.

The wind was due to pick up early in the afternoon so I decided to take her to the north side of Portsmouth Harbour where we could paddle about and look at the various Naval ships awaiting disposal. Go for a paddle turned out to be a good choice as her paddling technique was rather rusty. I was a little breezy, though it proved to be an enjoyable couple of hours afloat.



The mackerel season is fast approaching and I’m keen to get her amongst a few shoals, if that doesn’t ignite a passion for angling nothing will!

An evening in the Solent

The forecast for the weekend had been looking favourable since midweek. My daughter was keen to go fishing again so I organised our gear on Friday and she even went and purchased her own bait on Saturday morning. A couple of hours before we were due to depart it transpired that she was having a friend stopover that night. The tide was an evening tide and once it became clear that we wouldn’t be back until at least 8pm she had a decision to make!. It was clearly a tough one, though fishing lost… perhaps that’s the real difference between boys and girls?

The original plan had been to fish at Eastney in the hope of some late Plaice, though an opportunity to fish the evening at Hillhead also made itself available,… decisions, decisions. The wind had picked up to 15mph, not the 4-6mph as forecast so I decided to fish a little later in the hope that the wind would have eased off, so Hillhead it was to be.

It was surprisingly warm so I decided that a layer of thermals, thin under suit and dry suit would be fine. I was rigged up and ready to launch before 1730, though there was no sign of my fishing partner. A quick phone call showed him to be running late, needless to say I decided to launch and get fishing!.

So much for the wind easing, it was blowing a steady 15mph, white horses right across the Solent, conditions weren’t exactly ideal. Once I was a couple of hundred metres offshore it became particularly choppy with every wave breaking over the hatch, giving me a face full of salt spray all too often. I was still hopeful that conditions would ease so I headed out just under half a mile and dropped anchor. Once anchored and lying with the tide there were a lot of waves coming over the back of the kayak, a little concerning as they were also going over the 8” hatch that’s located at the rear. If nothing else it was going to be a good test of the watertight integrity of the hull!. If the hatch seal wasn’t up to the job I always had my bilge pump!

I fished one rod with a running ledger, baited up with a strip of mackerel, the other rod with a Plaice rig and ragworm. This is basically a two hook wishbone with lots of beads as shown below (this is an old photo from 4 years ago)

I didn’t have to wait too long before the mackerel bait attracted some interest. Despite the lumpy sea, a couple of hard nods on the rod tip showed an unmistakeable bite. I tightened up into what felt like a decent fish. I was surprised when a Thornback Ray of 5-6lb came alongside, it felt somewhat larger than that. It was then I remembered that I was fishing with a 6-8lb rod as opposed to my usual 10-15lb outfit that’s required for fishing the strong tidal waters of the Bristol Channel.

All was quiet for about thirty minutes until the mackerel bait proved just too tempting. After a spirited tussle another Thornback of a similar size came to the kayak.

As I released the fish my fishing buddy appeared and anchored up close by. The weather conditions had improved quite dramatically by this time, the wind having eased off considerably whilst the white horses had disappeared making fishing rather more comfortable.

After another half hour or so the mackerel bait claimed another fish, no real surprise when another Thornback came onto the kayak to be unhooked, photographed and returned. The fish was a similar size to the first two, though still good fun on the lighter tackle.

With the sun below the horizon and the wind beginning to freshen once more, the temperatures began to plummet. I’d dressed quite lightly, a decision that I was definitely beginning to regret. I was warm below the waist, though my upper body and hands were cooling rather rapidly and the enjoyment of being out there fishing was starting to evaporate.

The ragworm finally tempted some interest and after a few aggressive bites a very small bass landed on my lap. Small it was, but it was also perfectly formed.. always nice to look at.

I lasted another twenty minutes after this last fish before hauling anchor and heading back in. I cant really complain, the water is cold and the fishing is particularly slow for this time of year. I’d only been fishing for just over three hours, so catching four fish wasn’t too bad a result. Once back in the car the temperature was registering six degrees Celsius, it certainly explained why I’d been feeling the cold out there.

Below is my favourite photo from the day, another great sunset afloat.

Here’s a video clip from the evening. I only took the one video camera so there’s only a front angle. I also forgot to swap it to a wider angle so it’s a bit close, top of my head missing, etc!.. some would say that’s a good thing!. Anyway, it’s all fishing so it can only be good.

Catching a few Thornback Rays in the Solent

Scotty – Slip Discs & Offset Gears

I’ve recently completed rigging my Hobie Outback for fishing and sailing. As part of the fishing setup I have the facility to fit up to two Scotty Baitcaster rod holders for trolling purposes.

This is my first experience with Scotty gear, previously to this I’ve only used RAM tube rod holders. So why the change?, the Scotty holders are more rigid and lock solidly into position, something I wanted for trolling. With the aid of Scotty 254 vertical extenders I was able to lift the rod holders to the desired height whilst maintaining the correct position on the kayak. In simple terms they provided what RAM did not.

However, they’re not perfect, one thing that I disliked with the rod holders was the limited number of positions into which they could be locked. With the locking screw slackened, the holder can be rotated in 22.5 degrees steps. That’s actually quite a large change in angle and the longer the rod the more noticeable it becomes with regards to how far the rod tip moves in relation to the angler.

Clearly it would be an advantage at times to have a finer range of steps when adjusting the rod holder. Scotty has clearly recognised this and introduced their ‘Slip Discs’ and ‘Offset Gears’. These retail at around £5 per set here in the UK.

The Slips Discs permit minute adjustments whilst the Offset Gears double the amount of fixed adjustments compared to the standard rod holder. I’ll take a quick look at the both to show how they are fitted and discuss how they work in practice.

The Slip Discs are made from a rubberised material and are supplied as a pair.

To fit them it’s a case of breaking the Scotty rod holder down into its three main parts.

Fitting them is straight forward, just a case of positioning one slip disc into the moulded teeth of the rod hold base and the other into the mating teeth on the rod holder itself.


Then it’s just a case of mating the pieces back together and fitting the locking bolt, job done!


It provides an infinite number of locking positions within the rotational range of the rod holder. More importantly is the fact that it locks very tightly, I mean this thing locks solid!. I didn’t expect it to be this effective, definitely impressed!.

The Offset Gears come supplied as a pair, though only one is required to modify the rod holder.

Fitting is very similar to the Slip Discs, just a case of removing the rod holder locking bolt, separating the parts and inserting the Offset Gear in between the rod holder and the mount. The rod holder can then be re-assembled.

P1010448  P1010449

However, fitting the Offset Gear does not double the amount of available adjustments whilst it is fitted to the rod holder. What is actually does is provide the angles in between what had been available before. For example, before I fitted the Offset Gears I might have been able to set the holder to 90, 67.5, 45, 22.5 and 0 degrees. With the Offset Gears fitted I can now position the rod holder at 101.25, 78.75, 56.25, 33.75 and 11.25 degrees. So yes, you do have double the range of stepped adjustment, though you need to fit and remove the Offset Gear to achieve them all.

So how does this all weigh up at the end of the day. Well it depends what you want I guess. The Slip Discs provide infinitely adjustment whereas the Offset Gears have doubled the amount of stepped positions that the rod holder can be locked in. The Slip Discs are more convenient providing full range of adjustment without the requirement to disassemble the rod holder. However, the Offset Gears by their design are stronger and the rod holder will ultimately retain its locked position better than the Slip Discs under heavy pressure. For kayak fisherman I’d suggest that the Slip Discs are probably a better choice, as stripping items down on the kayak isn’t the best idea. However, if you just want to tweak your preferred rod rest angle and leave it at that, then the Offset Gears would be a better choice.

The Scotty Slip Discs and Offset Gears can be purchased from Escape Watersports.

Sidekick AMA problem

I do spend way too many hours surfing kayaking forums around the world. I’ve recently spent most of that time reading up on sail rigging, sailing techniques and related problems. I have the Sidekicks fitted to my Outback for sailing purposes and I’d read on several forums about a problem with the plastic insert on the stabiliser arms. This plastic insert permits the arms of the Sidekicks to locate and lock into the main bar that is secured to the kayak. These inserts are glued in place, though the inner surface of the Sidekick bars is finished so smoothly that the resultant bond is somewhat inadequate. This can result, especially in colder temperatures, in the plastic insert pulling out from the sidekick outer arms. This generally occurs when they are being removed after a sailing trip, however, I experienced the issue whilst sailing yesterday.

I was about to raise the Sidekicks into their highest position when I noticed the outer arm on one side had moved outboard about half a centimetre whilst the plastic insert still remained locked in place. It was slowly working its way off the insert, so I pushed it back on, monitored the situation and kept on sailing.

Once back ashore it quickly became apparent that the inserts on both arms had worked loose. Having read about the problem I wasn’t overly concerned and set about carrying out a quick repair today.

The standard insert in the correct position (Above)

Loose insert

Insert removed – glue is smooth and has not bonded

There’s little point in attempting to remove the original glue are it’s particularly hard. I roughed up the surface of the old glue on each insert as well as the inside of each Sidekick arm to a depth of about 3”. I found two large stainless steel self tapping screws in my rigging box and drilled a hole about 1” from the end of the Sidekick bar to permit the screw to pass cleanly through. With the insert in position a guide hole for the screw itself was drilled into the insert.

NOTE – Take care to correctly orientate the insert so that the bar achieves it’s three adjustable height settings. This will depend on how you have fitted the fixed bar to your kayak. Take a few minutes to ensure you have the insert correctly positioned before you drill the guide hole into the insert itself.

Inner and outer holes drilled

The insert was then removed, a light coating of Marine Goop (or similar adhesive) was applied to the insert before being re-fitted, taking car to correctly position the two holes correctly. With the any excess glue quickly wiped away the self tapping screw can be fitted.

Glued & screwed

That’s the job completed, takes about thirty minutes, leave them to dry for a day and they’re good to go and the insert is unable to rotate or pull clear of the Sidekick bar.

More sailing trials

I really needed to get to grips with using the sail if it’s to become a serious fishing tool over the summer months. The forecast looked good yesterday with winds of 10-15mph predicted. I packed what was needed (not a lot compared to a fishing trip!) and drove the short distance to the beach. I couldn’t believe it when I arrived, it was flat calm with barely a breathe of wind. I drove straight home, somewhat disappointed, hoping that the wind would pick up as the day progressed.

I drove down again late in the afternoon and things we ‘marginally’ better. To be honest it was still very flat, though the low clouds were moving along at a good pace which gave me a little hope. I decided an hour on the water was better than doing nothing, so I rigged up and headed down to the waterline.

The outriggers were fitted as I was hopeful that the wind would pick up, plus when I do go fishing with the sail for a day long or overnight trip, I’d be fitting them for sure. Once on the water I made sail and was immediately pushing along at a steady 3mph, surprising considering the apparent lack of wind. I messed around for a while, sailing with, against and across the wind.

The wind began to increase, that bought higher speeds and the fun factor increased no end!. I found myself sailing along at a steady 4-5mph, occasionally pushing a little faster. Even against the wind, close hauled, I was maintaining 2-3mph, better than I’d expected.

I sailed well over 6 miles in 2.5 hours, some of that time was spent on the drift messing around with my new Lowrance 4x DSI fish finder, getting to grips with that. I had a play furling and unfurling the sail in the higher wind, again, just to get a feel how it felt in different conditions. It proved quick and easy regardless, turning the kayak into the stronger wind minimised any potential of things going wrong.

I did notice towards the end of the trip that the insert on one of the Sidekicks was showing signs of coming loose. It’s apparently quite a common fault and is apparently easily remedied with some better glue, or a self tapping screw to keep it locked in place. I’ll have a look today and decide how best to address the issue. It’s minor stuff, keeps me busy!

Right at the end of the trip, as I approached the slipway, I was keeping a close eye on the depth to avoid grounding out the Mirage Drive fins. I was still in a comfortable one metre of water, when about 50m from the beach when I suddenly grounded out!. The depth has dropped to 20cm and the drive was hung up. I managed to free it and pull it out, not cursing… not much anyway. It turns out that the slips runs flat for a good 60-70m underwater, something I then recalled from a trip there 3 years ago. Oh well, a slightly frustrating moment right at the end of the trip, nothing is ever perfect!

Below is a short video, a little slow to begin with due to the light winds, though as the wind picked up so did the fun.

Rigging the Hobie Outback for photography

If you’ve followed my blog entries over the past few months or years, you’ll have noticed that I enjoy taking photographs and making movies. I enjoy populating my fishing reports with images and to ensure that any reviews or DIY guides are suitably illustrated. I’m not a fan of reading reports or articles with no images to back them up, each to their own I guess, just my personal preference.

I have anything up to three GoPro cameras mounted to my Big Game kayak, so when it came to rigging the Hobie Outback I also need to take the photography aspect into consideration. It does take me quite some time to plan and rig my kayaks, however, I sit back and take everything into consideration and try to produce the cleanest setup possible that caters for all rigging possibilities.

Some time ago I upgraded my cameras to GoPro Hero 2 items, I also took the opportunity to fit wireless backpacs which permitted all cameras to be operated remotely. This had the advantage of being able to mount a camera where access afloat may prove an issue. Once I’d pondered the various possibilities I tried to tie them in with the other rigging aspects that I needed to accomplish. This is where the GearTrac from YakAttack really started to come into its own. If you’ve read Part 1 and Part 2 of ‘Rigging my Hobie Outback for fishing’ you’ll be all to aware that I’ve already heavily utilised GearTrac on the Outback.

I have three main camera mounts that can be fitted to my kayak, there’s the Panfish Portrait, the DogBone mount and my extendable camera mount.


         PanFish Portrait                            DogBone                                       Monopod

The PanFish Portrait can be ordered with several mounting options, though mine is designed to fit to either GearTrac or a MighyMount, both manufactured by YakAttack. The DogBone fits to a 1.5” RAM ball, though the use of a ScrewBall from YakAttack permits the DogBone to again be fitted to either GearTrac or a MightyMount… clever stuff!. My own DIY extendable camera mount (monopod) was designed with a T-bolt in the base. Oddly enough with is a YakAttack T-bolt!, yup, it also fits the same mounts as the above items, though it also slides into most rods holders. As you can see all my mounts are exceptionally versatile and with a few lengths of strategically placed GearTrac, they can be mounted in multiple positions around the kayak.

The PanFish Portrait, as the name portrays, was designed to capture portrait photos, those big fish moments that we want to capture on camera. I chose to have it mounted as far up front as reasonably practical. As mentioned earlier, the cameras are controlled by remote so reaching the camera whilst afloat is not normally a requirement.

I mounted a length of GT90 GearTrac ahead of the front hatch, this is an ideal location for the PanFish Portrait. The angle of view on the GoPro Hero 2 can be varied from 90,120 and 170 degrees, allowing the camera to be set to suit its location and intended use.

Any of my mounts can be placed in this position, though the monopod is a little wasted in this location, however, the DogBone has potential to capture a slightly different angle and height.


There is of course the risk of getting water splash of the lens of the GoPro when mounted forward and low to the water. I’ve not tried the DogBone is the low position shown above, though the PanFish Portrait has not suffered despite nosing into several smaller waves. There again, what if it rains?!. It is actually possible to slide forward and reach the bow of the kayak. It’s not something I’d have attempted on my Big Game, though it’s a straightforward manoeuvre on the Outback.

I’ve previously used the DogBone is several ways, though I find it best suited to being mounted outboard of the seat, or deployed for underwater footage. I’d positioned some GearTrac behind the seat on either side, this proved to be perfect for mounting the DogBone, allowing it to fulfil both of these duties as required.



The photos below show other mounting combinations. I can mount the extendable camera mount onto the dry box as there’s a section of GT90 GearTrac fitted to it. I fitted a 1.5” ScrewBall to the GearTrac behind the seat and fitted a RAM Tube rod holder to it for illustration purposes.

I do this a lot and it permits me to position the camera well away from the kayak resulting in some interesting photographs and video footage.


People have often asked me how I achieve so many different angles when taking photos or shooting film from the kayak. It’s purely down to having 2-3 cameras operating at once from different positions around the kayak.