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Catching Prehistoric Giants on VARIVAS Line

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VARIVAS Field Tester Report

By Brandon Brylinsky

It was only ten minutes into my kayak bass club’s tournament on Sodus Bay in upstate NY and my level of excitement was off the charts. I was working my favorite topwater frog over a fishy-looking patch of lily pads. I paused the frog for a few seconds when suddenly it disappeared. Not your typical topwater blow-up, just a subtle yet audible slurp and the frog was gone. It would have been so easy to miss that strike but I was on full alert and ready.

I waited a split second then reared back hard on my extra-heavy frogging stick, amped up on adrenaline with the start of the tournament. Instead of getting a full hookset though, my rod just stopped half-way through and refused to budge any further. It felt like I had set the hook into a brick wall. There was no mistaking it though, there was a fish on the other end of my line – it was big and it was angry.

Thankfully the line that connected me to that fish was up to the task. I was using VARIVAS Monster PE Si-X braid in the Japanese size 3 Gou (or about the equivalent of 52lb test) and 20lb VARIVAS Seabass Fluorocarbon Shock Leader. This setup has become my new standard for frog fishing and flipping/punching into heavy cover but this was it’s first real test. I’ve landed many largemouth in the 2-3lb class on this combo out of thick weeds but I had not yet tangled with a giant like this.

Unfortunately halfway into the fight I could tell, both from the brief glimpses I saw of the fish and the way it was fighting, that this wasn’t a bass that was going to help me in my tournament. Regardless, I wanted to land this fish and find out what it was. Maybe it was one of the trophy pike that I knew frequented the waters of upstate. I’ve also heard of some big catfish around here but that seemed unlikely. Whatever it was, it was giving me a run for my money. Several times it pulled me straight into a heavy thicket of lily pads and at least twice I had to forcefully steer it away from a dock covered with abrasive zebra mussels.
After a great fight that lasted probably a full 2-3 minutes, I had the fish alongside my Jackson kayak. I quickly realized that my relatively small bass net was severely undersized for the fish but it would have to do. Once again though my VARIVAS line performed flawlessly as I was able to manipulate the ornery fish head first into my net and with half the fish pouring out of it, hoist it up into my kayak.
To my surprise, the fish I landed was a +10lb Bowfin also known as a Mudfish or as they call them in the southern US, Choupique These primitive looking fish are practically dinosaurs, being the sole surviving species of an order of fish that date back to the Jurassic period. What’s truly incredible about them is they are able to breathe oxygen directly from the surface when needed. They also have a hard bony mouth full of nasty teeth capable of slicing through line in a second if you’re not careful.
Given these challenging factors, I’m totally impressed with how well my VARIVAS braid and fluorocarbon leader held up. Castability has been great with little to no memory. Knot strength has been perfect both with my line to leader connections as well as tying to my baits. And as I found with this epic fight with my first New York State bowfin, the overall strength and abrasion resistance could hold up under the most challenging circumstances. My rod and reel selection as well as my fishing fighting technique certainly played a factor, but I absolutely credit my VARIVAS line for this fun early morning victory.
While it would have been cool to score a giant bass for my tournament, I’m pretty thrilled to land a personal best dinosaur of a fish. I can’t wait to target these hard-fighting fish again in the near future. And you can guarantee that I’ll be back with my VARIVAS line tied on.

Brandon Brylinsky is a kayak fishing enthusiast and IT Accessibility Manager at Cornell University.

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