Blogs

Branches on Minnesota Bound

Ron Schara tells our story, what makes us special, and how our passion for paddling drives our company. If you missed the episode on TV, you can watch it right now!

Bass on the Road 2

Bending Branches ProStaffers Stewart Venable, Jim Van Pelt, Eric Hughes, Bob Bramblet, and Evan Howard just wrapped up filming on a cool little project. Check out the trailer for “Bass on the Road 2”.

Canoe paddles for the long haul

Some paddles have that intangible quality that just feels good; a blend of heft and balance, action in the water, feel in the palm that adds up to sweetness, stroke after stroke. The Cruiser Plus is that paddle. Check out the review from the crew at canoekayak.com here.

What the Paddle Means in Kayak Fishing

Author: 

“Why does the paddle matter? I just want to fish!” We have heard that a time or two…

The main reason is the better paddle you own, the longer you can fish! The better the paddle, the lighter it is. The lighter the paddle, the less fatiguing the paddling experience. Less fatigue means more time and energy you can put towards doing what you love.

Ask any one of our ProStaffers and they’ll tell you the same thing. The paddle makes a world of difference when competing, relaxing, or teaching. When looking for sponsorships, these seasoned anglers get a kayak sponsor and then either a rod or paddle sponsor. Those are the three most important tools when kayak fishing. The kayak, paddle, and rod!

As you go up in price, you come down in weight. The main reason for this is the shaft of the paddle. Aluminum is the cheapest but the heaviest. Fiberglass shafts are a nice step up from Aluminum as they are lighter and more durable. The best shaft is carbon fiber as it is the lightest, most durable and most performance-oriented. When you have a paddle with a carbon fiber shaft, that’s a huge bonus and your joints will thank you!

Now, I am not saying go out and spend $400 on a kayak paddle, because those paddles aren’t ideal for most fishing environments. They have features you don’t need and are built for performance, so they can be brittle. Simply put, buy the lightest paddle you can afford. For some, that maybe a $50 war-club, but you have to start somewhere. However, a $100 or $140 paddle can make a world of difference on fishing trips. Those $100 plus paddles have the durability you need and can take on the abuse you’re going to give them! You push off rocks, corals, seawall, mangroves and the like. A paddle with nylon in the blade, like the Angler Ace, Angler Classic, or Angler Scout, can take on the abuse and smile while doing it.

What about pedal drive system kayaks? “I rarely if ever use a paddle with my pedal drive kayak.” No matter what kayak you use, you absolutely need a paddle. What if the pedal drive breaks down and you’re stranded? Then what? What if you need to navigate into a tighter/narrow area? You can’t effectively do this without a paddle. No matter what kayak you use, bring a spare paddle along. Safety should always be first.

In the kayak community, we say every ounce of weight you save in your paddle means 1,000 less strokes per hour. Obviously this doesn’t translate fairly into the kayak fishing community, but you get the point. With a kayak loaded with gear, you need to save weight where ever you can.

Paddle length is also very important. Do not just buy whatever paddle is available in the shop, regardless of size. With a paddle that is too short, your hands will hit the side of the kayak while paddling. With a paddle too long, your kayak will move slower because you’re zig-zagging back and forth in the water. Use the sizing chart below when deciding which size paddle to use, or go to: http://bendingbranches.com/find-your-size.

In a sit-on-top kayak, if the seat is raised 6” or higher above the base, add 10cm to the paddle length.
Blade size is also an important factor when deciding which paddle to use. In most cases, a bigger blade is better for kayak anglers because they have more weight in their kayak and need a bigger bite with each stroke. You also get more maneuverability with a bigger blade, allowing you to hit those “go-to” spots. If you go on longer trips, a long and skinny blade may be better since it would be less fatiguing than the larger blades.

A better paddle makes a better kayak! A better paddle can make a boat come alive. A great paddle can help maneuver the kayak to places never experienced before. It can give you speed you have never had and make the biggest of kayaks so much more agile. Most importantly, a better paddle can make it so you never have to worry about the paddle! And that’s the ultimate goal! Experience more fishing with a better paddle!

Andrew Stern
Marketing Specialist
Bending Branches
andrews@bendingbranches.com

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Choosing a Kayak Fishing Paddle - What Actually Matters!

Q&A with Kayak Fishing Pro Drew "BasserDrew" Gregory

Whenever a person reads about or has a chance to visit with a kayak fisherman, one thing resonates over and over again…passion. These people have a real love for all things kayak fishing. This is no more evident than with kayak fishing and Bending Branches ProStaffer, Drew Gregory.

"BasserDrew" as he is commonly called in kayak fishing circles, was gracious enough to allow us to ask him about the sport he loves as well as a few other questions to help us all get to know "BasserDrew" a little bit better.

What is it about kayak fishing that you like the most and where did you get the passion for your sport?
My favorite part of kayak fishing has to be the ability to access wild waters in a stealth-like manner and get exercise while doing so. These waters are home to the most amazing fish and wildlife and nothing in the world can give you the same feeling that kayak fishing in locations like this can. I got my passion for fishing from my parents and then it merged into kayak fishing in graduate school. I already loved to fish and now that I could fish in places that other boats couldn't access, making the fishing better, I was hooked!

The sport of kayak fishing continues to see growth in popularity for all skill levels. For someone thinking about "jumping in", what would you say to encourage them to do so?
I would simply say that there really isn't a reason not to! It is better for your health than any other type of fishing; it is eco-friendly and easy on the wallet compared to boat/motor fishing; it allows you to access less pressured fish in scenic wild places. I have yet to find a downside to this sport other than the fact that once you get in it, you don't want to do anything else but kayak fish!

For those just getting started, what piece of advice would you share?
The main piece of advice that I would give is to understand that you're getting into the sport of "kayak" fishing, emphasis on "kayak." Kayaking is a skill and it is the first word in the name of our past time. Most getting into the sport are not kayakers but are of course anglers. They don't take the paddling as serious as they should and then they wonder why they are often flipping over or getting hurt. The better kayaker you become, the better kayak angler you'll become because you'll know all the paddle strokes and different ways to get your kayak where it needs to be for you to catch those fish!

Sharing your passion is obviously important to you. One example is your collegekayakfishing.com site. Tell us a bit more about that and where one can go to get more information.
College Kayak Fishing is simply an effort on our part to develop an organization that allows college students to come together and get involved in kayak fishing through tournaments. It is our effort to make sure the youth are informed about our favorite past time and get plugged in. I hope it gives students something positive to do, keeps them out of trouble and helps them develop long lasting character traits. Right now the "salt series" is going very well and growing. We're hoping the "bass series" take off the same way but the amount of territory and distance between schools is challenging. However, eventually the more schools hear about it the better because we'll have colleges closer and closer together. For more information people can visit www.collegekayakfishing.com.

Your a big fan of using a paddle (versus other alternatives) when fishing….why is that?
I love paddling because it gives my entire core (abs, shoulders, chest, arms, back etc) a workout. Also, a paddle is just simple with no moving parts that can go wrong and allows me to maneuver my kayak in any direction quickly - forward, backwards, left, right, side to side etc.

Besides your passion for kayak fishing, what other passions do you have that you can share with us?
I am passionate about several other sports and outdoor activities. I play soccer, volleyball and disc golf as often as I can. I also enjoy board sports such as wake boarding, wake surfing, snowboarding and surfing.

With all the fishing you do, do you also enjoy eating fish? If so, what's you're favorite and how do you prepare it?
I definitely enjoy eating fish even though I pretty much catch and release 90% of the time. Weird, right? I also do enjoy cooking, and specifically cooking fish and any seafood when I am home. My favorite fish to eat, believe it or not, still has to be freshwater bream. I know it sounds crazy with such other good eating fish like salmon, tuna, mahi, flounder, halibut etc but a descaled bream rolled in some corn meal/flour mix and then fried is hard to beat!

Other than the infamous "goose encounter " , any other crazy things happen to you while in your kayak?
Well just the other day I was river side doing an interview with Discovery Channel about the Goose attack. They asked me to paddle out and do some fishing so they could get some video of it. So, like always I am just casting around not expecting to catch much right at the put in. All the sudden I cast over a log and get bit by a good size fish but immediately it breaks off way up the line! Ughh! I was bummed but still threw back in with a different lure anyway; I knew I couldn't catch the same fish (it actually jumped with my lure in its mouth still trying to spit it) but maybe there is another one in the area. Well, my line goes mushy and it sort of feels like a fish and it sort of feels hung. I pull myself close and realize my first fish had gotten herself tangled up due to the length of line that broke off and I had caught my own line and own fish that I was just heart broken over! It was about a 5lb bass and the crew got the whole incident on film...crazy crazy stuff!

Ok, one fish, one lure, one location- if you can divulge- share with us what they would be.
Chatterbait, river bass of any sort, any river with rapids in the Appalachians!

Lastly, if people want to learn more about what you're up to, how can they do so?
The best way is to follow me on Instagram and Facebook via my fan page .

A big thank you to "BasserDrew" for sharing his passion with us!

BasserDrew in Action!

Camping fare that's better than fair

As the temps continue to rise, camping season is revving up too. One of the most enjoyable parts of camping for many is planning out the menu.

Cooking over an open flame, while not the easiest route to go, certainly provides a greater sense of connecting to nature and quite frankly can be more fun.

One great idea for a fun breakfast idea (especially cool if kids are involved) are Eggs in a Bag. Here’s what is needed for this delicious, yet simple breakfast:

  • Fire
  • A kettle to boil water in.
  • Water
  • Zip lock baggies
  • Ingredients- Eggs, Cheese, Veggies, etc...whatever each person wants in their eggs.
  • Something to pull the bags out of the water with ( or you can use your hands if you're careful as the bags do float)

Instructions

Bring the kettle of water to boil and simply seal the ingredients up in the zip lock bag and drop it into the water.

Cooking time depends on the amount of the ingredients, but for a simple two-egger about 10 minutes will usually do the trick. Again, there are multiple factors at work so just keep checking the bag until you see the eggs have firmed up. They should easily and quite cleanly slide out of the bag.

To keep the orders in order, you may find it helpful to use a sharpie to write the name of the person on the bag or what the contents are.

Dump them out on a plate (or just eat right out of the bag---but be careful if you do so as the bag is hot! (I know, probably didn’t need to be said, but there’s a reason “contents are hot” are on every coffee cup at McDonalds!!

Look for more tasty and fun ideas for camping fare as the camping season rolls along!

Canoe care

From time to time, everyone needs a “tune-up” of some sort. Whether it’s a physical, chiropractic adjustment, or just a couple days away from work just relaxing- we all can use some TLC when dealing with the rigors of everyday life.

We also know that when we do not regularly do something, we get ‘out of practice’ and that something can become more difficult and less enjoyable to do. Exercising is an example of such a “something”. There is definitely something to be said about it being easier to keep up with something then to practice a “start and stop” method.

However, when you take the business of people’s lives and you throw in a pinch of human nature- too often we become less efficient in our lives and instead have to labor more to get things done.

A canoe needs TLC too. Throughout it’s life, a canoe gets bumps and bruises that need special attention. It’s also true that much of the TLC canoes end up needing is due to a lack of use, not overuse.

Again, you can chalk it up to the business of life or whatever the reason, but just like us, our canoes are much better off if regularly in use.

In order to manage those little TLC items to make sure your canoe has a long and eventful life, check out the article on maintaining your canoe.

Hopefully some of these tips are helpful to you and your canoe…..now get on out there and paddle :)

Finding the hidden fish

Having faith in something is not always an easy. It often requires that you trust things you’re initial reaction may not agree with. For many of the die hard Vikings fans in the Midwest, we try to have faith that our favorite team will somehow overcome the years and years of either mediocrity or disappointment and win (or at least get to) the Super Bowl. The past and our gut feelings tell us one thing, but we want- make that need- to feel that there is hope.

When out fishing, anglers often go about their business, following a set pattern or routine and if the fish just aren’t biting, so be it.

That being said, Drew Gregory, kayak fishing extraordinaire, challenges the status quo and encourages fellow anglers to have a little faith when out fishing and instead of getting frustrated with the lack of success- think outside the “tackle” box. The tips within the article may not be revolutionary, but then again, many anglers forget to consider them.

Hopefully these tips from Drew about finding the hidden fish will lead to more success on the water and will help you keep the fishing faith in the future.

Happy Paddling!

Group Paddling

The intrinsic reasons for paddling are many and most likely differ from paddler to paddler. Whether it’s the sights, sounds and smells, the exercise or just being “one” with nature- paddling is a beautiful activity and one that brings out true passion for many who partake.

This is one reason group outings on the water are so cool. When people get together to share a passion they have in common it truly creates a special bond between those people. No matter what walk of life you come from, no matter what your day-to-day life is like compared to the next person, when you’re out on the water together you are all one. A tiny, moving piece within the enormity of nature and it’s endless beauty. The comradery that can develop during a group paddling outing is wonderful and the memories can be those that will last a lifetime.

Yes, while there is something to be said about the serenity and peacefulness of being out on the water alone, there is an equal importance and beauty to sharing that experience with others who share your appreciation.

So, if you’ve yet to undertake a group paddling excursion, you should really consider it. As a helpful starting point, those great folks at paddling.net have put together a list of some guidelines to consider when planning for group paddling.

So take a look, make some calls to your friends and other passionate paddlers (perhaps even a newbie or two-- and set off on a group adventure this paddling season!

Dealing with Mosquitoes

In the camping/outdoors world, there are few things more annoying than dealing with mosquitoes. In fact, if I were to pick a form of torture from an outdoorsman perspective the two that come to mind would be placing a wood tick on somebody, telling them you did so, but not telling them where it is located! One could watch them as they tried to feel where it might be only to find that it now it feels like there are 1000 wood ticks crawling on their skin, so then they would have to remove clothing and visually scour their body for the unwelcome guest. "Just give us the information Mr. Bond and we'll tell you where the wood tick is!"

The other "water boarding-esque" nature related torture would be the unwelcome mosquito while trying to get some sleep. Especially when one is confined to a sleeping bag.

Anyone who has ever camped out surely can recall a time or two (or more) when they lay in their sleeping bag, exhausted from the day and just as they are about to drift off, they hear that sound. The high pitch, soft buzzing only the wonderful mosquito can make. Truth be told, the sound itself wouldn’t be a problem, except for the Pavlovian response of anxiety we have developed when hearing it knowing that when the buzzing stops….that’s when you know the bite, itch and irritation is not far behind. (For those not in the know about conditioned responses check out the educational and famous- yet not overly exciting experiment here involving Pavlov and his dogs.

So, while the weather is finally warming (for real this time right?)....we turn to talk of paddling trips, camping and some even start their first of a multitude of lists to help them prepare for the adventures that lie ahead.

So, back to mosquitos. What can be done to reduce the chance that these stinger led scavengers ruin your paddling and camping experience?

As with most things, there are many opinions and we’ll just give you a few ideas you might want to try.
You’ll notice that store bought bug repellent is not on the list. This is for two reasons. First, DUH! Not a very helpful article if all it gives you is advice to “buy some bug dope with deet”. Thank you Captain Obvious!

Secondly, the most important ingredient in most bug repellents is deet and deet is not a very nice chemical- for your skin or your clothes, so we’ll give you some alternatives to the old throwback. However, if push comes to shove and your options are mosquito infestation and deet…...well, go camping in mosquito country once without anything and you’ll see. (or hear and feel).

Ok, so here are some random ideas to help you defend against these offensive little suckers.

  • Alternative Repellent- Rub your skin with the inside of an orange peel.
  • Treatment- Use any toothache gel medicine (like Orajel) to stop the itching if bitten.
  • Tenting- If possible, fact tent door into the wind as mosquitos will tend to stay more on the downwind side of the tent to keep from being blown away.
  • Don’t- use fragrant or scented personal products and try to keep cool because mosquitoes are attracted to sweat.
  • Do- Wear light colored long sleeve clothing and pants.
  • Do- Wear a hat and a bandanna on your head and neck.
  • Don’t- Be blonde. Not avoid being the butt of some horrible jokes, but because studies have actually shown that blonde’s attract more mosquitoes- look it up!
  • Repellent- Avon’s Skin So Soft- nothing scientific here, but many swear by it, some mix it 50/50 with rubbing alcohol.
  • Head Nets – keeps bugs away from your head and face. (Style points do not matter when camping!)
  • Garlic – it will secrete through your pores. (not sure how much you’d need to consume, but also highly recommended when camping in Transylvania!)
  • Zinc or Vitamin B – also secretes through your pores. (quantity needed unknown)
  • Coconut soap and coconut oil – repels mosquitoes. (Plus you’ll smell like a Pina Colada!)
  • Mosquito coils-These coils do wonders inside a vehicle or sleeping area in preparation for bedtime. The smoke is not harmful for humans or pets.
  • Dryer tissues The tissues that you put in the dryer to soften your clothes also help well against mosquitoes. You can rub them over skin and clothes and then just keep them in your pocket and it will keep 60% of the mosquito’s off. (Wouldn’t bet the 401k on the percentage here, but give it a shot and let us know if it’s accurate, I’m sure the experimenter without any protection will have fun!

So there are just a few random samplings of the many, many opinions out there on how to deal with mosquitoes.

Good luck and Happy Paddling!

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