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Strikemaster Lazer Pro - initial impressions

November 22nd, 2010

Well, I hesitantly sold off the Strike-lite last week to give the new 2-stroke Solo motor a try. Bob over @ Wayzata Bait had a Lazer Pro on the floor for a good price, so I bit the bullet and went with an 8″.

Wayzata Bait stocks most of the Strikemaster augers and if he doesn’t have what you need, it will be ordered and ready to pick-up within a couple days, fresh from Strikemaster HQ up in Big Lake. If you’re in the market for a new auger, or just need some bait and tackle, hit him up. http://www.wayzatabait.com (Shop local!)

The Lazer Pro has a 3hp, 54 cc, 2-stroke Solo engine. These new engines were released last year and I’ve heard nothing but high-praise for their power and speed.

I got the auger home and proceeded to mix up a gallon of fuel (sans alcohol) with Amsoil’s 2-stroke oil. The manual states that you must not mix any leaner than 50:1 but I’m sure 80:1 or 100:1 would be just fine. Just to play it safe, I did mix this first tank at 50:1 for a “break-in”. I’ll probably move to 80:1 on the next mix.

All the new models sporting the Solo engines come with a 24 oz fuel tank, which should help increase the number of holes drilled between filling.

The starting procedure is a bit different from the Strike-lite, but is equally as simple and fast. Turn the ON/OFF switch to ON (Yes, I have managed to bypass this required step a couple late nights out on the ice). Pump the primer until gas starts flowing back to the tank. Slide the choke lever to the START position. Here’s where the Solo motors differ, you now need to press the “decompression button” which is located next to the primer bulb. Pull up the slack in the recoil and give it a pull. You need to press the decompression button previous to each time you pull the recoil rope. At first, I thought this might be a bit annoying, but you get used to it real quick.

The Lazer popped off with just a few pulls, I then let it warm up for a few minutes. When I first gave it a little throttle, it smoked a bit but I assume that was left-over oil in the engine from testing. Once the Amsoil laden fuel worked it’s way in, there was little to no smoke in the exhaust, as expected. All the hype I had heard about this engine was well-founded, it rips. If you’ve ever used a chainsaw, you’ll notice the similarities right away. The Solo engine seems to have oodles of power and revs ski-high, electronically governed at 12000 rpms, (yes, that’s twelve thousand).

Beyond standing in my driveway longing for hardwater and making lots of noise, I really have no more to comment on at this time. I’m sure this Lazer Pro with the new Solo engine is going to pop holes considerably faster than my old Strike-lite, albeit at a bit higher decibel. I’ll update further once I get out on some ice!

http://strikemaster.com/lazer_pro.html

Custom Hyfax for your portable ice house - Keep it local!

December 16th, 2009

Some of you may already know Paul or have already purchased some hyfax from him, but for those that don’t, I’d like to get this information out there…

If you need hyfax runners for your portable (which, yes, you do), pass up the manufacturer’s kit, keep the business local, and give Paul a ring.

After I saw his post on the board last year, I ordered up a set of hyfax for a Frabill Magnum. The fit and finish was top-notch and the hyfax held up extremely well throughout the season. Unfortunately, Frabill dropped the ball when they designed the bottom of the tub on the Magnum. The “channels” for the hyfax that are molded into the tub do not extend up the front, therefore, a hole eventually wore straight through the tub, just in front of where the hyfax ended.

Fast forward to the 2009 season… I picked up a Frabill Recon for when I don’t need the extra space, my first thought was hyfax. So, I contacted Paul to pick his brain on the best way to install a set of hyfax on the Recon and how to best re-do the setup on the Magnum. After sending him some measurements, he came up with a custom setup for the Magnum. Instead of 4, 1″ runners, he suggested 2 runners, 2″ wide that run all the way up to the top of the “skis” on the sled. He then suggested I use the 4, 1″ runners from the original Magnum setup, to outfit the Recon.

Here’s a pic of the finished product:

custom hyfax for your portable ice house

This kind of assistance is exactly why you want to keep your business local, expert advice and totally custom design.

Protect your tub, give Paul a ring @ (763) 516-6968 or email forplayer@comcast.net.

For more pics, check out his post in the classifieds on the message board: http://www.mnfishing.net/forums/showthread.php?t=1929

New sponsor - Welcome Bikini Ice Fishing Team!

November 18th, 2008

We’re proud to welcome another new MNFishing.net sponsor, the Bikini Ice Fishing Team!

If you’re not familiar with the Bikini Ice Fishing Team, you need to check out their site:

http://www.bikiniicefishing.com/

There’s a ton of photos and videos on their site to warm you up!

Also, they’re releasing a calendar this year for all you avid ice fishermen. I couldn’t think of a better addition to your wheelhouse! The Bikini Ice Fishing Team will be at “The Rock” nightclub in Maplewood on December 4th to celebrate the release of their new calendar. Doors open @ 7:00pm, show starts @ 10:00pm:


 

 

Please stop in the official welcome thread and say hi:

http://www.mnfishing.net/forums/showthread.php?t=1281

A few more teaser pics for you:

StrikeMaster - MNFishing.net welcomes a new sponsor!

November 13th, 2008

We’re proud to say that Strikemaster has been added as a MNfishing sponsor. Our goal is to set up sponsorships with local Minnesota companies that are well renouned for their quality products and excellent customer service, so Strikemaster is a perfect fit!

If you’ve never owned a Strikemaster auger, I highly recommend you take a serious look. This will be my 3rd season using a Strike-lite, their exclusive 4 stroke, 20lb auger and I’m extremely pleased.

Keep an eye out on the message board in the next week or so, you just may have an opportunity to win some cool swag from the Strikemaster folks. ;)


If you’re interested in some MNfishing threads on Strikemaster, feel free to search or click here:

http://www.mnfishing.net/forums/search.php?searchid=980

Also, be sure to check out their new site. Read up on their extensive line of power augers, hand augers and high quality ice fishing accessories. They post weekly specials on some great items, as well!:

http://www.strikemaster.com/

External power pack for the Lowrance XOG

November 11th, 2008

My only real complaint with the Lowrance XOG is that the battery life absolutely sucks. Normally I have it plugged in, whether it’s in the truck or on the ATV but there are times, especially early-ice, that I’m on foot and don’t have access to any power.

I searched the interwebs a bit but the only external power packs I found were quite bulky and just used AA batteries for the power source. My goal was to find something compact, at least not any bigger than the XOG itself, and something that was rechargeable.

While browsing my local Radio Shack, I stumbled upon exactly what I was looking for. The Lenmar PowerPort is extremely thin, compact and lightweight. It has an internal Lithium-Ion power source that can be recharged up to 500 times, will recharge a device up to 5 times on a single charge or power a compatible device for 50 hours.:

I paid $39.95, which at first seemed a bit steep but the PowerPort is so compact, I thought it was worth the cost. Plus, after playing around with it I found that I can power other devices as well, read on…

The PowerPort is very simple to operate, just plug it into a USB port on your computer to charge, there’s a LED light that let’s you know when it’s full. The PowerPort comes with a short USB cable that accepts 4 different included adapters:

According to the manual, the various adapters allow you to charge/power “iPod, PSP, Motorola RAZR/KRZR, Blackberry and other mini USB devices”.

For the XOG, I just plugged in the mini-USB adapter, hit the power button on the PowerPort and the XOG fired right up! Not only will the PowerPort power the XOG, it actually does CHARGE it as well. To give it a test, I totally drained the XOG then plugged it into the PowerPort and left it on. The internal XOG battery was fully charged within a hour or so, can’t beat that.

My cell phone also accepts a mini-USB connection so I plugged it into the PowerPort, worked here as well.

I’ll be putting this unit to real world testing once the early ice hits, I’ll give an update if I encounter any problems or find any other uses for the PowerPort. Reply if you have any questions!

View details from the manufacturer

Here’s some additional photos:

Icefishing - Korean style!

October 31st, 2008

Here’s some vid of a huge ice fishing get together in South Korea, looks like the Brainard Jaycees tourney might have some competition!


Ice fishing for lake trout = good sized muskie

October 31st, 2008

If you haven’t seen this video yet, it’s pretty cool. From the short description it seems that these guys were going after lake trout when he hooked into this muskie. Just goes to show, ya never know what’ll happen out on the ice!


Some facts about muskies that I found on the MN DNR website:

STATE RECORDS
Muskie: 54 pounds, 56 inches, Lake Winnibigoshish (Cass and Itasca counties), 1957.

Tiger Muskie: 34 pounds, 12 ounces, 51 inches, Lake Elmo (Washington County), 07/07/1999.


“The muskellunge is one of the largest and most elusive fish that swims in Minnesota. A muskie will eat fish and sometimes ducklings and even small muskrats. It waits in weed beds and then lunges forward, clamping its large, tooth-lined jaws onto the prey. The muskie then gulps down the stunned or dead victim head first.

Muskies are light colored and usually have dark bars running up and down their long bodies. That’s the opposite of northern pike, which have light markings on a dark body. Muskies are silver, light green, or light brown. The foolproof way to tell a muskie from a northern is to count the pores on the underside of the jaw: A muskie has six or more. A northern has five or fewer.

A sterile hybrid of the northern pike and the muskie–the tiger muskie–is stocked in several heavily fish lakes in the Twin Cities metro region. This species has dark markings on a light background, as on muskies, but has rounded tail fins, as on northern pike.”
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/muskellunge/index.html

ice fishing icefishing musky

ATV Ice Auger Mount from Ryan’s ATV Racks

October 14th, 2008

As some of you may know, I had a slight “incident” last season with my ice auger flying off the ATV in the middle of the lake. I accept total blame, as I was going too fast while towing my portable with the stike-lite perched precariously on the front of the wheeler. The ice auger was secured tightly in a pair of Kolpin “Gear Grips”.

The main problem with these “Grips” is they’re made from some type of plastic. Not only are the grips themselves plastic, but they’re also fastened down to a plastic base that allows easy removal when you’re not using them. All fine and dandy if you’re hauling a snow shovel in there but haul anything with some weight to it and you better not go more than a few mph.


Long story short, at about 25 mph, I hit a good sized drift that I didn’t see coming. Upon landing, both grips lost their “grip” at the base, breaking the little “tabs” that hold ‘em on. The auger flipped up, I hit the breaks and made a hard turn, just missing the power head of the auger. The gas tank went flying, the carb busted off, it wasn’t pretty. Luckily, Strikemaster has great service and $25 later I was all fixed up.

That being said, this season brought me to search for something better. Mad Dog ATV makes a mount specifically for ice augers, reviews are fairly good but I wanted something more “universal” as I’d like to carry a shotgun at times, or some type of long-handled tools while dinking around in the woods. Then I stumbled upon a product made right here in Minnesota, “ATV Yokes” by Ryan’s ATV Racks:

http://www.ryansatvracks.com/yokes.asp

Upon reading the details on their site, I find that the yokes are made of “round stock steel”, good start! Next I find a pic showing an ice auger strapped into the yokes… sold! I’m all set to buy but there’s one problem, can’t find the damn things anywhere! The dealer list on their site is filled with Gander Mtn locations but unbeknownst to me, Gander is scaling back their ATV sales to only two stores, neither had them in stock. I called the number listed on the ryansatvracks.com and left a message asking where I might find a set. In the mean time, I placed a call to the last dealer on the list and scored a set from Tousely Motorsports. They shipped ‘em out to me and they arrived the next day:

My initial impression on the yokes was very favorable. They’re heavy duty, thick, steel construction definitely won’t break in the cold. They’re also covered with a thick coating of PVC so they won’t be scratching anything you strap down to them:

Installation is a breeze, pick a spot on your rack and thread 4 bolts through the base up into the yokes and tighten down with the included nylon lock nuts:

Due to my past experience I decided it would be best to mount them on the outside rails of my front rack, therefore spreading the yokes as far as possible to provide a hold that would reduce leverage on the individual yokes. I never bothered to measure the allowable distance I had to work with for my auger but I lucked out, the spacing was perfect for the strike-lite:

I’ve got a shorter, rubber bungee on the power head side and one that’s a bit longer holding down the auger end. The yokes have 4 “loops” on the base that allow you to easily hook in a bungee or carabineer end.

I’ll be testing this setup with my shotgun in a few weeks on a duck hunting trip. The only hesitation I have at this point is where I mounted the yokes. They may have a tendency to catch on small trees or shrubs when tromping through the back woods. Beyond that, I feel much better about where the ice auger will be riding this season!

Mount and hardwire a handheld GPS on your ATV

October 5th, 2008

After fumbling around last season with my Lowrance XOG while attempting to keep a straight line on the ATV, I decided to scout out options for setting up a mount of some sort.

When I first purchased the XOG last November, there were no after-market mounts yet available. This season is a different story, RAM has developed a custom cradle for the XOG that is very solidly built, cost effective and can match up to any of their 1” ball mounts. A quick search brought up a nice looking site with good prices, I decided on the handlebar mount with a stainless steel u-bolt, a couple more bucks but no rust!

http://www.expressmounts.com/item-ram-mount-lowrance-xog-series-stainless-steel-u-bolt-mount/ramb149lo8.htm

I also purchased an adapter that allows you to attach the mount onto rails down to ½” diameter, as I wanted to stick the mount on my front rack.

http://www.expressmounts.com/item-ram-mount-adapter-for-handlebars/rap319.htm

Installation is very straight-forward, pick a spot, tighten down two nuts on the u-bolt and you’re done!

With the mount in place, I moved onto another thing that bugged me when using the XOG on my wheeler: having to use the “cigarette” style plug-in cord. My ATV has a handy 12 volt receptacle so you plug in accessories. All fine and dandy but you have a cord flopping all over the place and even more annoying, anytime you turn off the key, the power is cut off to the receptacle. I don’t know about other handheld GPS’ but the XOG displays a message upon losing external power, “External power removed. Press anywhere to cancel power down”. That bugged me. So, I decided to look into hardwiring a power cord directly to the battery. Another quick search on the interwebs and I found a cable built for just this application:

http://www.mountguys.com/product_p/gusb-5v-b-lowrance.htm

You can also make your own cable for less cash by modifying a “cigarette” style adapter. Just crack open the adapter, solder a couple wires on the main power points and wrap it up with electrical tape. I thought about going this route as I like to dink with stuff but decided to go this way because it’s tightly sealed and built specifically for my application.

The cord is plenty long, about 6’ (I only need about 24”) and has a nice 90 degree elbow, mini-usb connection:

The internal workings are sealed in a little box about halfway down the cable:

I attached an inline fuse holder as the description didn’t specifically say there was a built-in fuse (although there probably is one in there) and wrapped up the smaller diameter wires with electrical tape for protection. I also added a couple battery-post connectors so I could attach directly to the battery and always have power:

Here’s a shot of the cable tucked away in the birds nest of wire that I have going, (you can see the small, green LED light glowing, hopefully this doesn’t drain my battery over time):

Here’s where the cool 90 degree mini-usb plug bit me in the ass. Upon trying to actually plug in the XOG, I find the RAM mount prevents the plug from even coming close to where it needs to be. A small modification with the dremel tool and everything fits together nicely:

I also cut a small hole in “flap” that covers the receptacles on the left side of the XOG, allowing the flap to be in place, keeping dust and debris out of the headphone input while still allowing the external power connection.

While surfing mountguys.com for anything else I may need, I stumbled across something I couldn’t pass up. A small nylon shield that wraps around a handheld GPS to reduce glare, what a great idea!

http://www.mountguys.com/product_p/stomper-316-low250c.htm

You just stick some Velcro strips where ever works and you’re good to go:

I’m looking forward to getting out there and trail-testing this new setup, I’ll post an update once I’ve bounced around a bit…

A few more pics of the finished product:

First Look - Humminbird ICE 55 Ice Flasher

September 16th, 2008

*If you’d like to comment on this post, just register on our message board and view the thread here: http://www.mnfishing.net/forums/showthread.php?p=3082

If you haven’t heard the news yet, Humminbird has entered the ice fishing flasher market with their ICE series. I’m what my wife calls a “gizmo gadget” guy, so of course, I just had to pick one up! I went with the ICE 55 model (because it’s got the most gizmos and gadgets on it).

Disclaimer: I’ve only ever owned one other ice flasher, the Vexilar FL 20 Pro Pack. I used the FL 20 quite a bit over the last 2 seasons and was extremely happy with it’s performance. I’ve seen the Marcum LX-5 in action a couple times but have never actually used one myself, so I can’t really comment or compare on the Marcum.

I did a quick search last week and found a good price online. The unit arrived on-time and in relatively good shape:

Unpacking the box you’ll find that there’s some assembly required:

Assembly was straight-forward and revealed a couple observations, a few pros and a few cons.

Observations:

  • The familiar transducer “float” that comes with the vex is there, same exact thing but it’s black and there’s a different sticker on it.
  • A short cable is included that seems to do nothing, we’ll get to that in a bit.

Pros:

  • The main unit seems well built, has a little weight to it and the controls are laid out nicely.
  • At no extra charge, you get a heavy duty, zippered case to keep out the gunk. I never bought the vex canvas case so I can’t compare ‘em…
  • There’s a nice spot to wrap the cables, on the front of the unit. The two small “fingers” that you wrap the cable around are spring loaded, allowing you to lift up, turn at a 90, then easily slip off all the cable in one shot. Kind of handy.

Cons:

  • There’s actually assembly required. I don’t remember exactly how much I had to do on the FL 20 but I know it wasn’t this much.
  • The plastic case or “pack” that holds everything together doesn’t feel as solid as the Vex Pro Pack.
  • The battery charger is the old, “heavy” style deal. In this day and age, knowing energy conservation is on many people’s minds, you’d think they would’ve stepped up and included the newer, more energy efficient style charger (like the vex charger). One good side to this though, if this winter you find your hands are a bit cold out in the garage, just place them on the charger and warm ‘em up
  • The “status” indicator for the batter charger is a separate module that rests about 6 inches before the connectors. IF they had used the newer style charger, that could be built-in (like the vex). Also, the indicator LED itself is difficult to read. The module has text on it indicating, Green = Charged, Yellow = Charging and Red = Short/Reverse. Well, I plugged it in and off the bat it looked like the LED was Red, indicating a short or reverse hook-up. Consulting the manual, you’ll find this note: “The battery charger uses a yellow LED to indicate it is charging. On some models, this light might appear closer to orange than yellow. When this happens, the battery is still charging properly and should be left to charge until the LED becomes green. (They should note that the light looks red, not orange!)

Now to good stuff, turn the ICE 55 on one click and the first cool feature greets you, Auto Range. The unit will automatically determine the proper depth range for the location and lock you in. You also are introduced to what I believe has been a long time coming for flashers, a LCD, digital depth display. At a quick glance, it’s nice to just see what the depth is.

Next, the ICE 55 is virtually silent. If you get close, you can hear (and feel) a slight hum from the fiber optic wheel spinning and the normal “clicking” sound that all flasher units emit.

I wanted to show some “real world” shots of the flasher in action for this write up but didn’t really feel like heading out in the boat today and the end of the dock is only 5 feet deep, so not much action there. After reading the manual a bit, I find that the ICE 55 has a “Simulator” mode which “simulates on-the-water operation, providing a randomly-updated display.” Enabling you to better understand all the features of the unit while you walk-through the manual. Great idea!

Now a little run down of the controls:

1. The large knob located on the bottom-right of the unit is the Power/Range Dial. Everyone who’s used a flasher knows what this does, only thing different here is the “Auto” setting.

2. The large know on the top-right is the “Selection Dial”. You’ll use this to adjust gain, move the zoom area, change noise filter settings and move the target cursor.

3. The “Color” button is just to the left of the Selection Dial, on the ICE 55 you have 3 choices: RED/YELLOW/GREEN (the standard), RED/GREEN/YELLOW (don’t know why you’d want to confuse yourself with this one) and the COOL one, RED/ORANGE/YELLOW/LIGHT-GREEN/GREEN/BLUE.

4. Just below the color button you’ll find the target key. Hit this key and a tight, purple line appears at the top of the flasher. Turn the selection knob to move the line and the LCD tells you what depth it’s at. Very handy for zeroing in on a target.

5. Next button down is “Zoom”. Hit the zoom key and two blue lines appear on the right side of the flasher. Adjust the selection dial to move the marks, therefore moving the area of the flasher that you’re zooming in on, (2x zoom btw). This will take me a bit to get used to coming from the Vex, where the zoomed area was always on the left of the dial. But hey, you can move it, so cool.

6. Next we have the “Gain” button. Hit the button and adjust the gain, 25 steps. Couple notes here: The selection knob has click-stops so it’s nice to have a bit of feedback on what you’re doing. The gain “level” is also temporarily displayed in the LCD. The gain button also doubles as the backlight ON/OFF function. Just hold the button down till you hear a beep, let go and your backlight turns on or off.

7. Next is the “Noise” button. Same deal hear, hit the button, turn the selection knob to your desired setting, (which is displayed in the LCD, 1-10). This button doubles as the “Units” control. Press and hold to change between feet and meters.

8. Last but certainly not least, the “Beam” button. Hit this button to alternate between the wider (19 degree) 240kHz beam and the narrower (9 degree) 455kHz, higher resolution beam. The LCD has a symbol that is constantly displayed, telling you which beam you’re currently using. This button also doubles as the battery indicator. Hold it down until you hear the beep, release and the battery charge percentage is displayed on the LCD.

Definitely different: the “Support” cable.

Here’s where that mysterious “extra” cable comes into play. The support cable attaches to the top of the transducer via a little clip deally and is meant to take the strain off of the actual signal cable.
In my view, at this point in time, the support cable may be the single biggest draw-back of the ICE 55. It’s bad enough having one cable down the hole, let alone two.
The question is: Is this support thing really needed? I’m sure I’ll find out this season as I for-see much cussing and an eventual de-cabling…

With real-world, icy conditions still about 3 months away I can’t really comment on how the ICE 55 performs while fishing. It will be interesting to see how the LCD and the push buttons handle cold weather. Most importantly, how nicely will the new bird play with the Vexilars and Marcums.

Once the ice hits, I’ll update on how the Humminbird ICE 55 actually handles marking fish…

Here’s a few more pics:

Adjusting the gain, you can see the level displayed on the LCD:

Here’s a shot of the target line (you can see the depth of the target line displayed on the LCD):

This was the best shot of the 5 color pallete I could get, the picture hardly does it justice but you get the idea…

Manufacturer specs:

Cost: $ 499.99 MSRP
Cone angles: 9° and 19°
Power level: 2400 watts peak to peak, 300 watts RMS
Interference rejection: 10 levels (steps)
Zoom: Allows 2X magnification anywhere in water column.
Target separation: .5″
Transmit frequency: 240 KHz for 19°, 455 KHz for 9°
Battery: 12 volt/9 amp sealed lead acid
Battery current draw: unknown at this time
Battery charger: included
Display colors(strong, med., weak): Set 1 - Red, Orange, Green Set 2 - Red, Green, Yellow Set 3 - Red, Orange, Yellow, Lt Green, Green, Blue
Depth ranges: 0 - 200 feet, 4 manual settings: 20′, 40′, 80′, 200′ 7 Auto settings: 20′, 40′, 60′, 80′, 100′, 120′, 200′
Cases:
Warranty: 2 years
Description: Large, 526 segment bright 6-color fiber-optic display delivers excellent sunlight readability. Can choose 3 different color palettes for display. Adjustable Target Line. Digital % Battery status indicator on LCD, 6 backlit keypad control buttons: Zoom, Gain, Noise, Beam, Target cursor color(This is a unique purple target line which ice fishermen can set at a specific depth so they know exactly how deep to lower their bait or lure). Patent-pending backlit LCD display. Soft sided carrying bag. Winner of best new product award for electronics at the 2008 ICAST show.