Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cannon Digi Troll 10 TS

The Cannon Digi Troll 10 TS down rigger is the Cadillac of down riggers.  The 10TS is definitely a top performer in every aspect with features to spare.  It makes every other rigger wish they could be like it.  Well that is until they see the price tag.  Even on sale you better plan on spending $1500+ to get it operational.  A standard electric rigger will run you around $500.  Why spend three times the cost?  It has features other riggers just don’t have, and it will help you catch fish.  Does a person need to spend the extra for a TS and its salt water rating?   To me the extra cost compared to quality gained is a great value.        


I had watched a couple other guides using Digi Trolls, and there were days they were catching fish and few others were.   Obviously I am in the business to catch fish, so it was a no-brainer I had to get one.  I have been running Scotty riggers for years, and they are one phenomenal rigger but they are not a Digi-Troll.  I wanted to run close to the bottom and target certain fish.  Using the Scotty to track bottom was pretty difficult in my situation.  Trying to run 3 riggers, 1-3 divers, driving the boat, netting fish, baiting gear, and interacting with clients makes it very difficult to run a rigger a few feet off the bottom.   


Photo By Char Harmier Photography
If you run an upper end Humminbird fish finder you can control it through the finder for either a Digi Troll 5 or 10.  Only the 10 operates by itself.  The features are pretty amazing, and everything is just at the touch of a button on the rigger.   I run Lowrance electronics so I adjust everything right on the riggers touch pad.   It is adjustable in every way possible.   It also will bottom track at a set distance off the bottom and cycle at two different depths for pre-set lengths of time.  You don’t need a black box with this rigger as it has Positive Ion built in.  These are just the main features it has, and if you run more then one rigger you can operate them all from the same rigger with each one doing different things.  Add in different cycle speeds, up down speeds, boom extension, etc. the list is long for features.


I bought it for one reason…BOTTOM TRACKING.  It requires its own transducer (if you don’t have a compatible Humminbird), and the transducer location is critical.   If you get any turbulence or even a tiny air bubble it affects how well it tracks.   The turbulence will cause the transducer to give momentary false readings.  This causes the rigger to continually adjust itself, and it will start running up and down like a Yo-Yo.   Other times it will drop it onto the bottom then snap up the slack in a huge slam.  It even jerked hard enough a couple times to cause the cable to jump the wheel at the boom end.   It took a while and mine is adjusted pretty good but not perfect.   I will have to have another bracket added to the boat this spring closer to the center line.   This should totally solve my false reading problem in rough or faster flowing water.    


Anglers all the time are asking me about it and what I think.   Like all anglers they are looking for the magic item to put more fish in the boat.   I reply back with a question “How many more fish a day would it take to justify spending three times the cost?”  Usually they think they should be getting double to triple the fish.  I tell them to save their money.   There is no doubt I have caught fish I never would have caught without the bottom tracking feature.   The difference for me is I have to catch fish (at least I think so), and if this rigger gets me the one fish I wouldn’t have hooked it’s worth it.  I also admit if I was not guiding clients I wouldn’t spend the extra money.   I still catch more fish at set depths then bottom tracking day in and day out.  I also remember two days where we boated 12 Salmon, and every one of them was bottom tracking.   I know I could have done close to the same thing with a Scotty if I was fishing with friends to help use my Scotty to bottom track.  In summary it is a great rigger with amazing features, but I don’t know if the extra cost is worth it for the average sport angler.  If that one fish in a trip is worth it then for sure the Digi Troll can help greatly.      

Friday, April 12, 2013

Walking Varminter Part 3

I am done with the first half of barrel break in.  This rifles bore is polishing up amazingly well.  I am getting almost no copper fouling already.  I use only one good soaking with Sweets and the copper is gone.  I am happy so far.   Now is the time to start three the
 shot break in, so I better mount up the scope.


 I can then get the scope zeroed very close to where I want it for load development.  I had two options for this rifle a Burris Fullfield II Ballistic Plex 4.5-14x, or a Leupold VXIII 4.5-14x with target turrets both matte finish.  The Leupold I think is the better overall scope, but the Burris is top quality and fits this rifles purpose better.  I rank the Burris Fullfield II line of scopes as probably the best value going today.  I want a 0-500 yard rifle with specific aiming points for a two inch kill zone.  I also wanted those aiming points quickly without having to turn the turrets, so the Ballistic Plex was the answer.  Sure I could have a custom reticle built for the Leupold, but that is more money and time.  Besides it has target turrets already.   I will just have to get another rifle that fits its design.  As many of you know you shoot a varmint the first chance you get or you may not get another one.  There is no messing around getting everything all ready and adjusted.


I have used Leupold standard bases and rings on 95% of my rifles without a single problem.  I went with the “High” rings to allow good head positioning regardless of clothing or shooting position.  I also went with reversible bases so it allows the most adjustment for the best fit.  I do not Lock Tite in the screws on the bases or rings.  I clean the threads with rubbing alcohol and air.  Then lightly oil (Tetra Oil!) the threads and tighten down tight.  The front is a twist in base, and I get it as close as I can by eye with the plastic wrench designed for this.   Then I clamp of an old straight tube (Balvar) scope in the front ring with nothing on the back.  I don’t trust any cheap adjustable scopes I would use as a wrench to maintain center so I used a fixed cross hair.  Using the Bore Sight and scope I make final adjustments to the base until the scope is perfectly centered.   Then I put the back base in place, and equally (1/16 turns) apply the rear screws making sure the center doesn’t change.  That is the best way I know to mount a scope to the bores center.  It doesn’t mean the reticle is level to the bore but the scope is centered.


Then I turn the scope to its highest power.  Holding the rifle like I will be shooting it with my eyes closed I open my eyes when the gun feels in the perfect position.   Then I move the scope forward or backward until I have the fullest view through the scope with no shadows.  It takes more then once, and it is obvious when you have it mounted correctly.  Because it is set on the highest magnification you will always have a full view on lower settings.  I line up the cross hairs with a straight line across the shop and tighten the rings again equally with small partial turns.  Final adjustments with the turrets on the bore sight and it’s now ready for paper.   I will make final adjustments with the 2nd and 3rd rounds as I go until close.  The Point of Impact (POI) will move slightly, but will be well within where I want it. 



Monday, April 8, 2013

Finally Some Fishing

After almost a year of talking about when we were going to find time to go fishing, it finally happened. My wife and Maddy were out of town on a trip and I didn't work so I had a free day, and R-Dub Outdoor Pro-staffer Ron Oules had a free day to do what he wanted. Of course Ron wanted to go fishing.

I asked him what time he wanted to meet in Pateros, WA and he said 6 which meant getting up at 5 am to leave the house by 5:30. I arrived right on time, threw my bag and camera in the truck and away we went. Of course the first thing I asked was "Are your friends still catching lots of fish?" His reply of "No" did not instill a bunch of confidence.

We make the half hour drive to Manson, WA and see that there are already plenty of fishermen on the water. We put the boat in the water at Old Mill Park. Of course the first thing I do is forget my lunch and snacks in my bag in the truck, oh well.

You could not of asked for a more beautiful morning on the water. It was glass calm with a gentle breeze.

We get the rigs set up and I get a quick lesson in down riggers. The lesson was simple - "don't screw up".

About 10 minutes later it was "FISH ON". Now catching any fish is fun, but I can't say that these Kokanee are hard fighters. They also have a soft jaw so you can't just horse them in or you risk ripping the hook out.

About two hours in and we had landed about 10 fish. I was happy with the day at that point. The best part was that Ron lost the first fish of the day.  Of course I did not let him forget it. But as the fish "Karma" goes around and comes around I ended up missing a bite and losing a hooked fish by the end of the day. But hey who's really keeping track?

Now out in this area there are plenty of boats in a small area. Although I am not a freshwater fishing expert I do know that asking how deep or what are you using is against fishing etiquette. So the good old adage of "If you are not lying you are not fishing." came to mind.  So of course some other fishermen could not resist asking how deep we were. Our go to answer was haven't caught anything above 90 feet deep.  In reality we were between 70 and 50 feet the whole day. When they asked what we were using we said green cut plug with sweet corn. In reality we were using a pink squid.

Now you all should feel lucky that I was able to divulge some secrets of the trade. I hope it will work out for you.

At the end of the day we ended up with 15 fish.  When we pulled out of the water the other boats were only reporting one to five fish caught. But, I did not see their fish to verify their stories.

If you ever get a chance to go to Lake Chelan for a Kokanee fishing trip I would highly recommend it.