A relatively recent advancement in trail camera technology is the integration of cellular technology to transmit picture data instantaneously, making it easier for hunters and gamekeepers to keep track of their hunting grounds without the hassle of having to check these cameras in person. This immense convenience has made these types of game cameras incredibly popular nowadays, and many cite their ease of setup and use as a few reasons to use them.

Wireless Trail CameraSo, it’s a safe bet to assume that you’re interested in one of these cameras, right? What other than your curiosity would have brought you here, then? Thankfully, choosing a good wireless camera is nowhere as complex as the cameras themselves are. Like with choosing a conventional trail camera, there are a number of factors to consider, each of which are simple enough to understand. Even with the added technologies of cellular data and wireless transmission, you don’t have to be a tech guru to really “get” wireless cameras.

Some Tips

One of the first things to consider when looking for a wireless trail camera is SIM card compatibility. Those who have used cell phones with any regularity will probably know what one of these are, but just in case you don’t, a SIM card is essentially what ties a cellular device to a particular cellular service provider, such as AT&T or Verizon. Usually, there is little variation between the types of SIM cards each cellular provider makes available, but that doesn’t mean one should automatically disregard SIM card compatibility. When looking for a wireless trail camera, look to see if the camera is compatible with the SIM cards your mobile carrier provides. Typically, a wireless camera’s description page on a retailer’s website will indicate the types of SIM card the camera is compatible with, though user reviews and outdoor store workers should also be able to provide that information if you need to know. The SIM card is what gives the wireless trail camera it’s wireless capability, allowing it to transmit pictures to your email or phone. Make sure you take extra care in assessing this aspect of wireless cameras.

Of course, normal camera features such as trigger speed and detection area must also be considered. Ideally, you’ll want to look for a trigger speed of about 1 second or less, though there are exceptional cameras with slightly higher trigger speeds. As the name indicates, this determines how quickly a camera goes off when it’s detection area is breached, and faster trigger speeds will provide better, more accurate shots. Of course, detection area itself is an important feature to consider, as you’re not going to get very good shots if this is ineffectively small. You are going to want to look into cameras that have a guaranteed range of 50 feet or more, with 60 feet being the ideal for most situations.

Since wireless trail cameras are designed around a “set and forget” convenience, one of the most crucial things to consider about them is battery life and durability. This is information you’ll typically find with a little researching on the internet, usually on the product pages or in the user reviews for a wireless camera. When looking at these, especially within the user reviews, keep an eye out for comments about long battery life and an especially durable build.

Happy Hunting!

With these in mind, finding an ideal wireless trail camera shouldn’t be much of a problem. Just consider the types of SIM cards the cameras take, how durable and long-lasting they are, how far the detection range goes for, and how quickly the camera triggers. Looking for a good wireless trail camera takes no more effort than looking for a good traditional trail camera. There are just different things to look for, for the most part.


Okay, so I have not had a lot of experience with Humminbird brand fish finders. While I have heard a few of my friends say nice things about them in general, the PiranhaMAX’s my first formal experience with them. Thankfully, the fish finder leaves a good impression for the company, as this particular product delivers on what it’s built to do in just about every aspect. It’s not a terribly expensive fish finder, either! At about $150 MSRP, you get a nice Down imaging option, fish ID, tilting mount base for easier adjustment, and multiple alarm settings, which is a nice list of features that one would expect from a more expensive fish finder. Granted, that’s not to say this is a completely high-class fish finder at budget-price, but even with its flaws, the PiranhaMAX 197c DI is probably the best fish finder you could buy at such a price.

Humminbird PiranhaMAX197c DIThe first thing I noticed when researching the Humminbird PiranhaMAX is it’s Down Imaging feature. Now, for those not in the know, Down Imaging is how Humminbird refers to their 3D Imaging feature that they’ve included in many of their latest fish finders, and to see such a feature in a “budget” unit like the PiranhaMAX is quite a surprise. Basically, Down Imaging uses a more focused, downward beam to detect fish and debris from much lower depths than a regular imaging setting. Of course, this results in less imaging capabilities for the sides of the boat, but when you’re stationary the feature works quite well. And, in the case of the PiranhaMAX, the feature works as expected. There are also alarm settings to notify you when the imaging detects fish or debris underneath your boat, as well as some rudimentary Fish ID technology to detect what kinds of fish might be underneath you. These aren’t necessary features, but they’re nice to see in such an inexpensive fish finder.

Another nice thing about this fish finder is how compact it’s design is. I don’t have a large boat to use this in, but this thing seems to be suitable for even kayak fishing. It’s a portable fish finder, so it draws much of its battery power from an inside cell rather than from a complicated set-up involving a marine battery. This not only makes for a compact design, but an easy installation as well.

The screen’s also quite nice, which is somewhat to be expected considering the quality of this fish finder in the other respects. It has a full-color, 3 1/2 inch screen with clear indicators. The screen’s not as fancy as some of the more expensive models I’ve seen, but it still looks quite nice for a mid-range fish finder. In particular, the small screen, while being ideal for kayak and small boat fishing, can at times seem a little too small for its own good. If there’s any complaint to be had with the screen, I’d say it could stand to be maybe an inch larger, just so that the clear display could come out a little better.

So, all in all, you could say I’m quite happy with this fish finder. While I’m not yet a full-on Humminbird fan as of this purchase, I can honestly see why they have the reputation my friends give them. As a matter of fact, I’d go ahead and say that it’s easily the best fish finder under $200. It’s solidly built, feature-filled, and has got a nice, crisp screen to it. And if the PiranhaMAX is any indication of how well the rest of Humminbird’s fish finders are put together, I honestly wouldn’t mind picking another one up once this one goes out. But I trust I won’t have to do that anytime soon, considering how well this one’s made!


Finding an ideal fish finder can seem like a difficult task, especially in the case of kayak fishers. Kayaks are very small boats with not a lot of room to carry equipment or move around in. With something as typically large and complicated as fish finders, some might even think that finding a good fish finder for a kayak is impossible, or at least extremely difficult.

But this is not the case at all! Fish finders nowadays come in a variety of different styles and sizes to fit one’s needs, including for those who primarily go kayak fishing. There do exist fish finder options for kayak fishers! The key to finding an ideal kayak fish finder depends on your needs, however, and there are a number of points you’re going to want to keep in mind whenever you start looking for one.

best Fish Finder for Kayaks

Now, the most important thing you should consider when looking into kayak-compatible fish finders is the size of the thing. Obviously, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better in this case, so you’re going to want to look into smaller-type fish finders for fishing with a kayak. Ideally, you’re going to want a fish finder with a screen of 5 inches or less, as anything bigger will require some additional modifications on most kayaks to accommodate for the size; there do exist fish finders within the 6-inch range that can be mounted on larger kayaks, but these typically require installing a RAM mount.

Another thing one should consider when seeking a kayak fish finder is one’s own kayak. Even though a fish finder might be advertised as being “kayak compatible,” that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s compatible with your kayak, specifically. Take into account the size and dimensions of your kayak, and try to imagine where you’d install the fish finder. Some kayaks come with slots for specific brands of fish finder. Johnson Outdoors-branded kayaks are often made with slots to accommodate Humminbird fish finders, while Lowance fish finders can easily be fit into Wilderness Systems kayaks due to the way they’re built.

When selecting a fish finder, you may also want to consider just what kind of fishing you intend on doing. Fish finders nowadays have many different features added to them, and you may not want to pay the extra cash to have these. Many fish finders have GPS functionality, which is good for those looking to fish out around in expansive bodies of water, especially around reefs and sandbars. However, if you’re just looking to fish out at a nearby pond or water tank, GPS-less units will often work just as well for you. Other fish finders might also come with different imaging modes, like 3D imaging or Down imaging. These additional modes are often for deeper-set fish, so they’re not required unless you intend on catching things from the lower depths.

Finally, as always, keep an eye out for user reviews! While not the most reliable source of information, taking in the general attitude of those that use the product will give you an indication of how effective the device utilizes it’s advertised features. Looking for user reviews takes no effort at all when buying a fish finder online, as sites like eBay and Amazon have the user ratings and reviews right on the product’s page.

Keeping these things in mind, finding a good fish finder for your needs shouldn’t be much of a hassle. Make sure the fish finder you’re looking at isn’t too big for your rig, make sure your rig has a place to fit your fish finder and necessary attachments, consider the type of fishing you’re going to do, and look for user reviews. Keep these in mind and you’ll find that finding that ideal fish finder can be just as easy, perhaps even easier than, actually installing it on the kayak!


Now, I’m not too terribly familiar with Penn reels. While I have a couple of friends that swear by them, the Battle II’s my first formal experience with them. Thankfully, the reel leaves a good impression for the company, as this particular product delivers on what it’s built to do, for the most part. Sturdily built with stainless steel components, 6 bearings, and an instant anti-reverse mechanism, the thing has a nice list of features that one would expect from a more expensive spinning reel. Though, that’s not to say this is a budget-priced reel; I received my Size 5000 one for about $90, which is still about $30 off the MSRP. But, as far as mid-range spinning reels go, the Battle II’s no slouch in any department.

Penn Battle II Spinning Reel ReviewThe first thing I noticed when I first got my Penn Battle II was just how heavy it was. Again, I’m not very familiar with Penn reels, and I figure that this heft is something not unusual for Penn reels. When mentioning it to my friends, they didn’t seem to think the reel to be significantly heavy, so I blame my inexperience with the manufacturer. Those of you like me who aren’t familiar with Penn reels may also notice this heft, and might even find using it quite strenuous on the wrist. I know I did for the first few hours of use, but this is a small complaint. By the end of my first fishing trip with it, I was casting just fine with it.

One possible reason for the heft could be the fact that nearly every component in this thing is, as mentioned above, made of stainless steel. Which, while making the reel itself somewhat cumbersome to use, also makes it resistant to saltwater and sea breeze. Not all open-faced reels are good for seawater fishing, as many of you may already know, so it’s nice to see that the Battle II is just as suitable for offshore fishing as it is for riverside fishing.

The reel’s also quite smooth, which is to be expected of a 6-bearing spinning reel. The spinning mechanism feels nice and smooth, and not once have I had the thing jam. Taking apart the reel, I’ve noticed that many of its components are coated in a bluish grease, which might also account for how smoothly it operates. Having the parts come pre-greased is a nice touch on Penn’s part, and the entire thing just feels wonderful to use.

So, all in all, you could say I’m quite happy with this reel. While I’m not yet a Penn convert as of this purchase, I can honestly see why they have the reputation my friends give them. While I probably wouldn’t recommend the Battle II to those looking for a spinning reel for a beginner fisher, I’d recommend the thing wholeheartedly to anyone else who can get past the awkwardness of using a weighty reel. It’s solidly built, smooth, and suitable for seawater. And if the Battle II’s any indication of how well the rest of Penn’s reels are built, I wouldn’t mind buying another one of their own in the future.


Last time, we discussed the various factors you should consider when looking for a good spinning reel. Versatile and easy to use, spinning reels are considered ideal for a variety of fishing excursions. Well-made and well-maintained spinning reels can last for many years of fishing trips.

Choosing a Saltwater Spinning Reel

And part of keeping these reels well-maintained is knowing what might gradually damage your reel with repeated use. Because of their open-faced design, spinning reels are all the more vulnerable to the hazards and damage saltwater fishing presents, as the corrosive nature of salt water can do quite a number on a reel’s internal mechanisms. Not all reels are built to withstand this sea-salt harshness, and keeping in mind a few extra factors when looking for a good seawater reel is essential in finding a spinning reel that will withstand seawater fishing.

First of all, it is important to look for reels made of salt-resistant material. The sea breeze carries with it salt, which can be tough on many materials and will easily corrode rods and reel bodies not designed for seawater use. Generally, you’re going to want to go with reels that are made of stainless steel, aluminum, or graphite, as these are resistant to salt corrosion. Aluminum reels tend to be the most expensive of these, but there doesn’t seem to be any significant advantages to this material over the cheaper and lighter graphite-based reels, at least as far as corrosion resistance goes.

The size and location of the fish you’re looking to catch is also important when deciding a good seawater reel. As stated before, bigger fish in deeper areas need larger reels, typically with lower gear ratios (6:1 or lower), and this is no different in the case of seawater fishing. Similarly, lightweight reels with high gear ratios are good for offshore and dock fishing, where fish are smaller. Typically, reels that are good for shallow freshwater applications are suitable for shallow seawater fishing, provided that, as stated above, the reel is made of salt-resistant material.

Now, special consideration should be made for those wanting to go deep-sea fishing. Often, deep-sea fishers go for the more specialized conventional or multiplier reels, while spinning reels are often best for the shallower, in-shore trips. However, spool styles that allow for longer casting distances, such as some skirted spool reels and long cast spool reels, are still quite suitable for casting lines into deep water. But don’t forget to consider line weight! Being able to cast a long line won’t do any good if that line isn’t strong enough for those deep sea fish!

Finally, keep an eye out for reels specifically designed for seawater use. This will typically be advertised in the product description of most reels sold by online vendors, but occasionally their seaworthiness will be advertised right on the reel’s name. There is little doubt the “Daiwa Saltist Saltwater Reel” is designed specifically for saltwater use. But also keep in mind user reviews for these reels! A company or vendor may say the reel is good for both salt- and freshwater applications, but that doesn’t quite mean it’s good for what you have in mind. Seek out reviews that reflect the type of fishing experience you’re seeking to see if that “saltwater-safe” reel you’re looking at is good for the amount of saltwater fishing you’re planning on doing.

In conclusion, choosing an ideal reel for saltwater fishing only requires a few more factors to consider than choosing freshwater reels. Yet, these factors often pertain to the reels’ durability in saltwater and salty air, which is absolutely vital for those who don’t want their reels subject to rust and corrosion. Because of this, you should always closely consider the material and design of prospective spinning reels, and see if such factors meet whatever seawater excursions you may have in mind.


Due to their versatility in uses, particularly in light fishing applications, spinning reels are often considered ideal for beginner fishers, as opposed to the comparatively specialized baitcaster or conventional reels. To that end, whether you’re a novice looking towards your first reel purchase, or an expert looking to buy someone else’s first, the elegant, open-faced spinning reel is an excellent choice.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a choice to be made lightly! There are a number of vital factors to be considered before purchasing that flashy Pfleuger, that shiny Shimano, or even that affordable reel/rod combo that one sales associate kept insisting was a steal. It is important to know your fishing needs and the needs of a quality spinning reel!

how to choose the best spinning reel

Before anything else, consider the venue for your planned fishing excursion. The type of fish you’ll be catching, as well as where you’ll be catching your fish, is something any fisher ought to consider. And while spinning reels are often valued for their versatility in use, the size, weight, and design differences between them are still something to be considered.

As a general rule of thumb, you’re going to want larger equipment for larger, deeper-set fish, so consider heavier lines and larger reels for things like tuna and largemouth bass. Manufacturers and vendors will often indicate, through product descriptions or reel names like the “Daiwa Saltist Saltwater Reel” or the “Offshore Angler Spinning Reel,” the type of fishing the reel is built for, so be on the lookout for tells like these.

Mindful reel hunters would do well to consider a reel’s “Gear Ratio,” the number of times the spool within the reel will spin with every crank of the handle. Lower gear ratios, 6 turns or less (6:1) every crank are good for larger fish because of the amount of torque you’re given with every turn. Higher gear ratios, within the 7:1 or 8:1 mark, will generally suffice for smaller bait and fish.

Spinning reels have built within them ball bearings, small balls that regulate the smoothness and strength by which the reel spins. It is generally recommended for there to be between 4-5 ball bearings for optimal durability and smoothness, though more expensive options with more ball bearings are available. Reels with less than 4 ball bearings are prone to generating more heat due to the friction between parts, which leads to the material in these reels wearing out faster and failing more often. While more ball bearings don’t necessarily completely prevent wear and tear, they’re certainly worth the extra price considering less ball bearings often require more replacing!

The presence or absence of an “Instant Anti-Reverse” is also important when choosing a reel. Newer reels built within the last few decades are designed with this feature to lock lines into place instantaneously. While this is by no means a vital addition to spinning reels, it is often considered a valuable part of them. For one, the instant anti-reverse reduces stress on the gear mechanisms in the reel itself, stopping the line and reducing the pull on those gears. Reels with this feature tend to last longer in novice hands as a result. Additionally, it makes setting hooks in fish easier as well, as the instant lock gives instant physical feedback to the caster that isn’t there with older reels that have a certain amount of back-play.

Also keep in mind the reel’s specified drag system, as this can affect how efficiently your spinning reel handles when a fish is hooked in. Front-drag reel controls are quickly replacing those with rear-drag systems due to the efficiency and elegance in design, though rear-drag reels are still valued for accessibility and ease of use. Keep in mind, however, that front-drag reel systems have larger, more durable washers, so this type is better fitted for more seasoned fishers and those looking to fish more often.

And, as with any long-term purchase, pay attention to user reviews! It doesn’t matter if you’re actually wanting to buy your reel online, or if you’re going to buy it at a local sports supply, look to user reviews on reputable web sites to see if the reel in question performs as well as the advertisements indicate. A reel may advertise having 7 ball bearings, a 6.2:1 gear ratio and anti-reverse features, but if user reviews indicate the material’s prone to rusting in saltwater, what good would it be then to an offshore fisher? Reviews can inform not only on the quality of the reel, but where exactly a reel is best used, and in what settings it shouldn’t be used.

All in all, while there are a large selection of spinning reels to choose from, selecting one is no difficult task when keeping these factors, and your personal budget, in mind. But remember, cheaper reels are typically of lower build quality, so be conscious of the compromises you may be making in the name of thrift. A pricier, but well-designed reel will always be a wiser investment than an inexpensive, but less durable one!