Friday, May 29, 2015

Proper Technical Apparel Care

By Caroline Nelson
Softgoods Guru

Have you ever washed your rainwear?  When it comes to technical outerwear there are a few small steps you can take to retain the quality of the garments. Rainwear or anything with a layered fabric composition should be washed. Many people are under the assumption that rainwear does not need to be washed since it is meant to keep you dry. Quite the opposite in fact. Most waterproof garments consist of a porous material which allows vapor to escape from the inside out yet keeps you dry on the inside. Over time these pores can become blocked by dirt and oils from your skin, and can be damaging to the inner lining. The image on the right is a good illustration of what can happen to the interior of your rain jacket if you do not wash it once or twice a year. All technical clothing items have a tag on the inside with direction for proper laundering techniques. Most of the time its best to wash your garments on the gentle cycle with cold/cool water using a tech wash detergent like Nikwax (always read the manufacturers suggested method).  Drying is also an important step in keeping your rainwear like new. Most rainwear, even high end Gore-Tex, may be treated with a polyurethane (PU) coating on the outer surface for optimal water resistance. This PU coating typically lasts for 20 wash cycles. By drying your rainwear on low to medium heat it reactivates the PU coating, making it good as new!

Nikwax offers a variety of products for cleaning and restoring your quality outdoor gear. Products like down wash for your down filled jackets (which should also be washed for many of the same reasons). TX. Direct wash-in can be used to re-waterproof most any garment, spray options are also available. By simply washing your waterproof garments once or twice a year you can avoid internal damage and prolong the life of your favorite jacket or pants.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lake Trout: Jigging for Summer Success

By Greg Barnes
Fishing & Hunting Sales Manager

Greg Barnes - 27" Lake Trout
Whether you are headed to a destination Lake Trout fishery or just looking for a change of pace in the BWCA; jigging for Lake Trout is a great technique.  In fact this is the fish that originally drew anglers to NE Minnesota / NW Ontario and the deep, clear lakes that can be found there.  In the early spring Lake Trout can be caught in under 40 feet of water by trolling spoons and crank baits.  However, it is after this, when they move to the deeps that will be addressed here.

When fishing inland lakes you are primarily imitating cisco, a common prey species for lake trout.  There are a variety of lures capable of achieving this.  Heddon Sonars, Kastmasters, Sebile Vibratos, Jigging Raps, Blue Fox, and Northland airplane jigs are all viable options.  Color patterns including silver, blue, pink, and green are the most time-tested fish catchers.  Tackle you may already have can also be used.  For example; a 1/4 - 1 oz. Jig head with a plastic tube is another popular rig.  Most walleye fishermen will already have a rod and reel appropriate for this application.  A medium or medium heavy rod lined with plenty of 20 or 30 lb. Braided line is a great set-up.  Fluorocarbon leaders can be added for a finicky bite, but are not necessary.

Marking these bait fish on a good quality sonar unit is the best way to locate where the fish are feeding in the water column.  When looking for spots on a depth contour chart I tend to favor areas with steep near shore drops instead of deep holes out in the middle of bays.  Either types of structure need to reach a depth of at least 60 feet to have good potential and it is not uncommon to fish in over 100 feet.  Often when watching your sonar you will find a school of bait fish first and that is a good spot to begin.  Drop your chosen lure underneath the depth at which you marked fish and begin to jig and retrieve vertically.  Lake Trout will hit the lure both on the retrieve and on the way down.  So, pay attention to any changes in speed while letting down because they could indicate a strike.  Anchoring at these depths is impractical, slow drifting or controlling your position with a trolling motor is ideal.   If fishing without a depth finder I use an easy technique that covers a lot of water. When first attempting to locate fish at a new spot I cover the entire water column.  This is a simple style of fishing, drop your chosen lure all the way to the bottom and reel up at a quick speed.  The aforementioned Sonars, Kastmasters, and Vibratos will be best for this.  It is hard to reel too fast because these fish are fast and prefer to chase their prey.
Mike Barnes - 29" Lake Trout

Good eating size for these trout is right around 20 inches and leaving the bigger ones will help your areas to produce fish year after year.  The the fish can be completely filleted or with the skin left on.  Recipes similar to those for salmon are quite good.  Pan searing with the addition of maple syrup or garlic is delicious.  Lemon butter sauces also accompany the grilled fish quite well.

If you have been looking for a new way to target Lake Trout or are interested in eating fish other than walleye on your next trip to the boundary waters then jigging is for you.  After the surface water temps climb above 60 degrees this technique will catch you fish in to the fall.  Get out and try it or stop in at Joe's for more tips.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Puppy Boot Camp

By Kevin Lunzer
Firearms/Hunting - Lead Sales Associate

While enjoying the warm weather of summer, it's hard to plan for a hunting trip that might be months away. We spend our weekends at the lake and we know that it only takes a few days to prepare for a bird hunt. Unfortunately, this isn't the case if you're looking to get your dog in the field for the first time. Statistics have shown that most electronic dog collars are purchased the week before the waterfowl season opens, but introducing this to your dog too late in the year can ruin the season for both of you. 

When purchasing an electronic collar, do your homework first. Purchase your collar well in advance of the hunting season and consider the type of hunting you'll be doing. Match the collar to you and your dog. Many collars have different levels of vibrate and tone in addition to the various levels of electronic stimulation. These collars also come with recommendations for the size and weight of your dog. If you're strictly a waterfowl hunter you'll want to look for waterproof collars. For upland hunters, you may consider collars with a longer range. You may also look for options like a locator beeper or beacon light.

It was Easter Sunday 2013 when I came home with my new duck hunting partner, Vixen, a 7 week old yellow lab pup. I spent the first few months teaching her basic commands like "sit" and "stay." By mid summer she was coming to the gun club with me a few times a week. I never shot next to her, but we would spend hours listening to gunfire. She was also exposed to many other dogs while she was there. This is a critical step if you plan on hunting with other people and their dogs. Eventually we worked on retrieving. We started with a tennis ball or training du
mmy and graduated to frozen birds. I took her duck hunting at 8 months old. I didn't expect much from her, but merely wanted to expose her to the environment of the hunt itself.

As the season ended and winter set in, I purchased a Sportdog Wetland Hunter425 collar and we began training with it. I chose the Sportdog collar because it is very simple to set up, easy to use, and is expandable for up to 3 dogs, should I need it. The feature that I use the most is the vibrate setting. I rarely use any electronic stimulation, I merely use "vibrate" instead of yelling "Come Here!" I tap the vibrate button and Vixen returns to me every time. When we put the collar on, Vixen understands that this is a good thing and we will begin retrieving.

If you're an upland bird hunter, you may want to consider the Sportdog UplandHunter 1875. This collar features a 1 mile range and audible beeper that can be set in quiet, 5 second, and 10 second intervals. It is waterproof and submersible and has an "instant locate" feature with the touch of a button. This is a great feature when hunting in grass or heavy cover.

Obviously, the Wetland Hunter 425 and Upland Hunter 1875 may not have the features you're looking for, but with a little research, you'll find the one that does. At Joe's we carry a wide variety of Sportdog collars and we would be happy to help you find the one that is right for you and your dog.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dress for Summer Success

By Caroline Nelson
Softgoods Guru

Columbia T-shirt with Omni-freeze
Now that summer is in full swing I hope you are all out and about enjoying everything this planet has to offer. From hiking mountains to rafting rivers it’s important to have the proper equipment, starting with the ones on your back. With all the advances in textiles it can be overwhelming to know which products to pick. The key to dressing for any type of adventure is layers. Starting from the base layer, moisture management is essential for hot or cold conditions. For hot weather, brands like Columbia and Mountain Hardwear have developed a way to utilize your sweat as a cooling agent. It can be identified by little circles covering the inside of the garment; these circles soak up sweat and help with cooling and quicker evaporation. (Omni-freeze & Cool.Q Zero) When it comes to colder weather, it’s important to stay warm and dry. Weather you prefer natural or synthetic fibers the product you pick should wick moisture, insulate, and be anti-microbial. Under Armour has a technology called UA infrared which is a thermo-conductive coating that absorbs your body heat to keep you warm. In summary, look for products made of polyester or wool and stay away from cotton. You can’t go wrong with brands like Smartwool, Hot Chillys, or Under Armour. They started out making base layers and they continue to be the best.

Moving on to clothing technology, depending on what activities you’re involved in there are many different ways to protect yourself from the elements. Everyone knows about sunscreen and bug spray but did you know that there are clothing items with this as well? UPF sun protection comes in all types of clothing as well as different degrees, ranging from UPF 15 to 50+. Insect Shield is a licensed technology used by many brands to repel bugs of all kinds. Clothing infused with insect shield is a great alternative to harmful, stinky sprays. Products range from shirts to socks and hats. Lastly, weather proof clothing; many brands have applied a DWR coating to pants and hoodies to help repel liquids. Brands like The North Face and Prana have done a great job of combining everyday style with technical function.

Marmot Rainwear
Last, but usually the most important, the outer layers. For summer it is essential to have good rain wear, something waterproof, breathable and durable. Most well priced rainwear is coated with polyurethane and fully seam sealed. Higher end jackets and pants are made with a waterproof laminate layer which is a water proof material in comparison to a waterproof coating which over time will break down and will need to be re applied. Water molecules are much larger than vapor molecules with allows vapor to escape and water to be repelled. A simple way to think about it is if you throw softballs at a chain link fence they won’t go through but marbles will. With that in mind dirt and oils can clog the pores of the material which can make it less breathable. Which is why it is important to wash and dry your rain wear, this will also reactivate any PU/DWR (polyurethane/durable water repellent) coating. Gentle cycle with a tech wash and tumble dry on low heat.

The North Face Thermoball™ Vest
For insulation layers I’ve found synthetic materials to work best in wet conditions. Most commonly used, thinsulate works like down but stays warm if it gets wet and will not weigh you down. A new technology from The North Face (Thermoball) is a synthetic insulation that looks like hundreds of tiny cotton balls and functions better than down and typical continuous filament. The North Face encases the Thermoballs in little squares which trap and hold warm air better than non quilted jackets.

Buff Headwear
Don’t forget accessories, ranging from hats and neck gators that protect you from the sun to bungee belts which simply keep your pants up. Buff brand makes a neck tube that you can use many different ways, for example a hat or full balaclava. The summer ones all have UV protection plus many other great features like insect shield. Arcade Belt Co. is a new little company out of Lake Tahoe, started by skiers and outdoor enthusiasts who wanted a belt to not only keep their pants up but function better than any other belt out there.  What makes this belt so different and spectacular you ask? It is made of a highly durable elastic which moves with you and won’t stretch out. People have said “it’s like turning every pair of pants into sweatpants”. The buckle is made of a high density plastic with a quick release snap, which makes it a perfect belt for travel since it has no metal you won’t have to take it off at airport security. It has a low profile and comes in many fun patterns, making it not only comfortable but fashionable.
Arcade Belts

I hope these few facts about modern outerwear will aid you in finding exactly what you need for the adventures ahead of you. As a world traveler and adventure seeker I can tell you, with the right equipment it can make any experience more enjoyable.