Category Archives: Reviews

Hatsan BT65 QE PCP Air Rifle

Hatsan BT65 QE

In my last blog I talked bout the Benjamin Marauder .25 PCP air rifle. In this blog I’ll talk about another one of my guns. This one is the Hatsan BT65 QE which is made in Turkey. This gun is not is a toy and is bit on the heavy side of air rifles weighing in at 9.3 pounds and is 48.9” in length. As of this writing the price for the gun on the internet is $679.00 for the stock gun without any accessories. The Hatsan BT65 QE comes with a 1-year Limited warranty.

QuietEnergy Barrel

The BT65 QE stands for QuiteEnergy which is a fully shrouded barrel with a simple baffling system which is said to reduce the noise by 50%. This said I will say that this is the loudest gun I own in the PCP air rifles.


There are suppressors on the internet that you can purchase to quieting down the gun but I have not purchased one for my gun yet. The above photo is just one option I found on the internet.

Fully Adjustable Stock

The stock on my gun is synthetic but you can buy the gun with a wood stock if you prefer. Since I use my guns for plinking and hunting I opted for the plastic stock. The stock is ambidextrous and has an integrated picatinny rail beneath the forearm. The rail is not very good so I opted to cut mine off and added metal one to secure my 6 to 9 inch bipod instead.

Breech with 9 Shot Magazine Inserted

The gun comes with two nine shot rotating magazines that are smooth working but is difficult to figure out the last pellet unless you count them as you shoot. This was not a good design in my opinion. One thing you need to do when loading the magazines is to seat the pellets. Push them in and then take a pencil or something to press them down into the magazine. There are two rubber O-rings that will hold the pellets in place and they are very secure. One thing about this gun is that each time you cock it the Safety is automatically engaged, but is close to your thumb and easy to move to Fire.

Pressure Tank is Removeable

The gun has a detachable aluminum air cylinder tube (255cc) to hold the 200 Bar high pressure air and with my tweaked will be about 20 accurate shots between fills. I also purchased a spare cylinder for my gun that I installed a HUMA regulator into. The gun comes with a quick-fill nozzle and air cylinder discharging cap supplied. At full fill of around 200 Bars or 2900 psi the manufacture say you will get 27 shots at 1097 fps. Mine is set with my HUMA regulator to 915 fps and about 20 good shots as stated before.

The gun has a dovetail groove receiver for both 11mm and 22mm scope mounts.

I have a Hawke Sidewinder 30 SF IR 6-24×56 AO, SR Pro Reticle scope in 30 mm. But you can use any good quality scope on this gun as a PCP does not have any recoil.

The gun comes with what they say is an “Anti-double pellet feed” mechanism preventing more than one pellet loading into barrel. But I have loaded double pellets in my gun several times without knowing it. The gun also comes with a Sling and a cheap bipod.

Fully Adjustable Quattro Trigger

Quattro Trigger: 2-stage full adjustable match trigger for trigger travel and trigger load. Gold plated metal trigger & metal trigger guard. I have mine set to about 2 pounds of pull which is very light.

How accurate is my gun, take a look at the photos below for groups done when the outside temperature was 57* 30.03 in pressure 84% humidity and a 8 mph SSE wind at 25, 50 and out to 75 yards.

25 Yard Group
50 Yard Group in the Wind
Another 50 Yard Group in the Wind
75 Yards 5 Shot Group in the Wind

As you can tell this is a very accurate PCP air rifle and I was going to shoot it out to 100 yards today but it was just too windy. The gun is much more accurate than this 64 year old shooter is able to shoot. These shot groups were off a bench with the guns bipod and a rear sand bag. With a good vise the groups would be in the .500” center to center or less out to 50 yards for sure.

Hope you found this blog interested and I’’ do a couple more on my other two guns when I find the time. Thanks again for reading my blog.

AutoChart Pro – Create Your Own Maps

In this blog I’ll show you what you need to create your own high detail lake charts for lakes that have no charts available for them. Here in North Alabama we have four lakes the BDA lakes created by T.V.A. as part of the flood control of Pickwick Lake. These are smaller lakes with Cedar Creek being the largest of the four which includes, Upper Bear, Little Bear and Bear Creek. In this example I’ll be showing you what I’ve already mapped on a part of Little Bear.

First you will need a few things to get you started, first a Humminbird Sonar unit that is capiable of saving sonar recordings. Next a blank SD card for the recordings, a laptop or desktop computer for converting the records and finally the software to do the converting. As for the Humminbird units I suggest that you use one of their side image units, Helix 5 would do okay for this but the larger the screens like a 1100 series or in my case the Onix 10 will give you a much better image and detail after the charts are created. As for the software you will need Humminbirds AutoChart Pro to convert the records and a Zero Lines card if you have more than one Humminbird unit to use the charts in them.


Once you have your recording you load up the AutoChart Pro software and create your charts. In the image below I have already converted the recording to part of one of the lake arms. In this case I just created the contour lines showing the depths in one foot increments. The first image is the lake arm without any detail or what you would see if you turned on your Humminbird unit and were fishing this are.


As you see there is not detail at all only showing a rough shoreline, so you have no idea what is below the boat as far as structure, man-made cover or the depth unless you looked at your sonar for the depth.


Now look at the detail you get once you have converted the recording in the software to the chart. If you will notice the tan area in the lake arm are areas where I have not saved a recording yet. I’ll fill in those spots the few trips to the lake.


Now in the above image I’ve taken my side image recording and over-layed them into the chart so now I know what is exactly in the lake arm. Do you see the hard bottom ares (white spots), rock piles, bottom depth changes and even a treetop placed by another angler on the lake floor? You think this will help you in locating and catching fish?


And finally I’ve put the contour lines over the side image recordings and now have a lot more information to help me locate and catch fish. I can change the transparency so the contour lines are barely visible and know exactly where to make my cast onto that rock pile, tree-top etc.

Hope this lets you know what is available out there to be used in conjunction with your Humminbird units.

Tight Lines…. until next blog…

Bull Shad vs. BD Shad


The Bull Shad is on the bottom and the BD Shad on top.

In this blog I’ll discuss the difference between the original Bull Shad swimbait versus the spin-off BD Shad from Trophy Technology LLC. First of the Bull Shad is a homemade swimbait hand made in the U.S. versus the BD Shad mass produced from China. I’ll give the Bull Shad the thumbs up for the lure being made in the U.S. not in China to increase the bottom line.

There is quite a difference in the price of these two swimbaits. The price was obtained from Tackle Warehoue and there could be lower and higher prices out there if you search around for them. The Bull Shad sells for $49.99 were as the BD Shad sells for $24.99. So I’ll give the lower price a thumbs up as I can purchase two BD Shads for the price of one of the Bull Shads.

As for the color pattern I bought both swimbaits in the Gizzard Shad pattern as that is one of the dominate forage fish in my area on the Tennessee River system. As for the paint job I have to give the BD Shad another thumbs up as the Bull Shad looks like a very quick paint job with very little detail. The Kill Spot on both lures is a single vertical line instead of a round or oval dot from the real bait fish.

BD_Shad BS_Shad

Both lures are the same length at 6″ from the nose to the tail not including the carbon fiber tails. As for weight there is on a .1 ounce difference between the two in that the Bull Shad weighted in at 2.1 ounces and the BD Shad weighing in at 2.2 ounces. This could be because of the larger cheaper hooks on the BD Shad that has cheap bronze hooks where as the Bull Shad has Owner 2X black nickel hooks and Hyperwire split rings. I’ll give the Bull Shad the thumbs up for the better hooks and the slightly lighter weight.


Looking at the way the swimbaits are made I’ll look at the joints of the two lures. AS you can see in the above photo there is a difference between the two body joints. On the BD Shad on the left you can see the angled body which will cause the swimbait to have a wider snake like swimming action. The Bull Shad has a flat even front edge with causes the swimbait to swim with a tighter more natural swimming action. For this I’ll give the thumbs up to the Bull Shad for it’s more natural swimming action.


Now lets look at the BD Shad on the left and we’ll see there is a small rare earth magnet molded into the swimbait. This is placed there as a hook holder that causes the front hook to lay flat along the body and not hang down as it does on the Bull Shad. The front hook hanger is also moved forward on the BD Shad more than on the Bull Shad. So I’ll give a thumbs up to the BD Shad for this innovation.


 Now the last thing I’ll talk about is the tails on the two swimbaits. As you can see from the photo above both have carbon fiber tails. The Bull Shad is on the left and the BD Shad on the right. I have seen some of the BD Shads that have really fast cut tails that are not true to form. To me the Bull Shad looks more natural so I’ll give the thumbs up to the Bull Shad.

In conclusion I’ll have to say I prefer the Bull Shad over the BD Shad first because it’s American made not in China. I like the swimming action better than the BD Shad and finally because Mike Bucca uses high quality hooks and split rings on his swimbaits. Thumbs up to the Bull Shad!

Note: I had to purchase both swimbaits and have not been contacted by either manufacturers of the swimbaits. This is my opinion only and yours might be different.

Humminbird Helix Pixel Comparison 

In this Blog I’ll let you take a look at the difference between the Helix 5, the Helix 7 and the 899 units and the difference in how screen size and colors make a difference in the units. Ill start off with the Helix 5 unit. What I’ll be doing is taking Humminbird’s simulation mode and stopping the simulation in the Side Image display and zoom in a far as possible with the units.


This first shot is of the Helix 5 in normal view zoomed in on a tree in the simulation mode. The Helix 5 has 256 TFT colors and the pixel count is 800H x 480V.


How I’ll hit the + button and and zoom in at Zoom level one. Notice that you can still see pretty good details of the tree and the branches and I’m able to see a few fish in the middle of the tree limbs.


This image is of Zoom level 2 after I hit the + bottom once again. Now you will start to see that the clarity is starting to run together as the pixels blending together and you start to loose the branches and the fish in the tree.


Here is the lats Zoom level offered in the Helix 5 and now every thing has started to blend together and almost all the detail is gone. Now you can no longer see the fish at all in the branches and the branches themselves are now almost gone.


This first shot is of the Helix 7 in normal view zoomed in on a tree in the simulation mode. The Helix 7 also has 256 TFT colors and the pixel count is 800H x 480V.


How I’ll hit the + button and and zoom in at Zoom level one. Notice that you can still see pretty good details of the tree and the branches and I’m able to see a few fish in the middle of the tree limbs. Not bad as the pixel count is still the same as the Helix 5.


This image is of Zoom level 2 after I hit the + bottom once again. Now you will start to see that the clarity is starting to run together as the pixels blending together and you start to loose the branches and the fish in the tree.


Here is the lats Zoom level offered in the Helix 7 and now every thing has started to blend together and almost all the detail is gone. Now you can no longer see the fish at all in the branches and the branches themselves are now gone.


This first shot is of the 899 unit in normal view zoomed in on a tree in the simulation mode. The Helix 5 has 65,000 TFT colors and the pixel count is 800H x 480V.


How I’ll hit the + button and and zoom in at Zoom level one. Notice that you can still see pretty good details of the tree and the branches and I’m able to see lots of fish in the middle of the tree limbs. This is a much better image since now we’re using 65,000 colors instead of the 256 color count.


This image is of Zoom level 2 after I hit the + bottom once again. Now you will start to see that the clarity is pretty good and the branches and the fish in the tree are still visible.

Here is the last Zoom level offered in the 899 unit and still see the fish at all in the branches and the branches. So  in conclusion the higher the color level and the more pixels you have on the display the more detail you will have in the unit you decide to purchase. Hope this helps you understand the display and pixel count in helping you make the right decision.

Humminbird Helix Series

Humminbird’s New Helix Series

Since I work at a major outdoors retailer I have had the opportunity to put my hands on a couple of the new Helix series units from Hummingbird®. The only two units we have on display are the Helix 5 and the Helix 7 units. But from Humminbird’s own website I was able to obtain the specifications from the rest of their Helix units. They are also producing a Helix 9, a Helix 10 and a Helix 12 that will be available in 2016.


Humminbird’s Helix 5

I’ll start off with the Helix 5 SI/GPS unit which is priced at $499.99. This unit has all four options that Humminbird offers in the unit. It has GPS with an internal antenna, sonar which Humminbird calls Switchfire, Down Image and Side Image options. The screen size diagonally is 5” with 800 horizontal by 480 vertical pixels. The color display is TFT (see below for description of TFT color) with 256 colors. The units puts out 500 watts of power plenty enough for most shallow freshwater applications. The transducer included it not Humminbird’s HD or high definition transducers the one included is their XNT 9 SI 180T model. This would make a great low priced entry level side image unit for anyone looking to purchase their first down image and side image unit.


Humminbird’s Helix 7

The next unit that is in the Helix line is Humminbird’s Helix 7 SI/GPS unit which is priced at $699.99. Not too huge of a price jump but for what they offer in this units I’d probably say about $100.00 too high. The reason I say this is that the only big difference in the Helix 5 and the Helix 7 units is the 7” diagonal screen. The Color of the display is still 256 TFT colors and the pixel count is the same as the Helix 5 which should have a better picture than the Helix 7 since they both have the same number of pixels but with the Helix 7 they are spread out larger across the screen at 800 horizontal by 480 vertical pixels. The unit puts out 500 watts of power same as the Helix 5, and has the same transducer the XNT 9 SI 180T model.


Humminbird’s Helix 9

The next Helix model is the Helix 9 SI/GPS model introduced this year as well. The price jumps $300 this time to $999.99 still too high for the same features as the Helix 5 and Helix 7 models in that it too has 800 horizontal by 480 vertical pixels on the 9” diagonal screen. The color is increased to 65,000 TFT instead of the 256 as the two prior models. The power output jumps to 1000 watts but still uses the same model transducer the XNT 9 SI 180T. This unit will be available around the middle of November 2015.


Humminbird’s Helix 10

Now we’re getting into the two upper models in the Helix line the Helix 10 and the Helix 12. First the Helix 10 model specs., The screen size is 10” diagonally with a pixel count jumping up the 1024 horizontal by 600 vertical which should give you a clearer scrre in both the Down Image and the side Image views. The color is still TFT by again 65,000 colors. The power output is 1000 watts and the Helix 10 now includes Humminbird’s High Definition transducer the XHS9 HDSI 180T model. The price jumps up $500 from the Helix 9 model at $1499.99. The price is not too bad for a Down Image Side Image unit with a 10” screen. The Helix 10 should be available around the end of November 2015.


Humminbird’s Helix 12

Finally I’ll discuss Humminbird’s Helix 12 the top of the line unit in the Helix series. The price tag jumps big time on this unit $600 from the Helix 10 unit to $2299.99 and should be available by the middle of February 2016. The biggest difference in the Helix 12 from the Helix 10 is the pixel count jumps up to 1280 horizontal by 800 vertical which should give the user a very clear Down and side Image view on this unit. The color remains the same as the Helix 10 in that both have 65,000 colors and use the TFT screens. Both units have the same High Definition XHS9 HDSI 180T transducer and both have 1000 watts of power. These units are network capable and have double side by side SD card slots. The Helix 12 should be available in February of 2016 as well.

Link to description of Color TFT

The Differences between 256 Colors, 16-Bit Colors
Two hundred fifty-six colors, 16-bit colors are terms that describe “color depth,” the number of colors displayed on your computer screen. Early monochrome screens displayed white, green, or amber text on a black background. Computers with those screens use a single bit per pixel to represent color. Since a bit has two possible states (1 or 0), each pixel can be in one of two states, on or off. If the pixel is “on,” that means it is glowing, which shows up as white (or green or amber, depending on the screen).
256 colors
It wasn’t long before people wanted more color on their screens. The next step  were screens that could display 16 different colors. This requires four bits per pixel. Four bits can represent 16 possible states because 2 to the 4th power is 16. But with only 16 colors, you still don’t get a very realistic color effect.
The next step up was 8 bits per pixel, which allows 256 colors. That’s about the level of color you see in business graphics. When you get to 256 colors (8-bit color), you can start making cartoons and graphics that look like drawings. Icons, for the most part, use either 16 or 256 colors.
16-bit color
The 256-color scheme is pretty good for simple graphics but not for photo reproduction. As graphic displays on the computer got more sophisticated, people wanted to see photos on their computers and on the Web, so they added even more bits per pixel. With 16 bits per pixel (16-bit color) you get 2 to the 16th power worth of color combinations — 65,000 color combinations. That’s sometimes called a high-color display, and it’s good enough for most graphics. Most games use 16-bit color.

Map Cards – Lake Master 3.0 versus Navionics

In this Blog I’ll try to show the difference in the Navionic’s Hot Maps Premium and Platinum map cards and the Lake Master 3.0 map card. First off I’ll tell you that I have had to personally buy all three of these cards and I do not get any cards from either company. Price points on the cards are pretty close with the Navionic’s Platinum running around $199.99, the Premium at $149.99 and the Lake Master cost at $129.99.

One thing you need to understand is that the Lake Master cards are designed to work only in the Humminbird unit and not in the Lowrance units. Garmin and Ray Marine use their own mapping programs.

Both cards come with the SD card micro chip holder with the micro chip included. So no matter which unit you have they will work in either the full size SD card or the micro chip slots. These screen shots are from my Humminbird Onix 10ci SI unit. Also please note that the cursor was very close to the same location as I could get them for these screen shots.

Looking at the first card the Navionic’s Hot Maps Premium you will see that there is a lot of vacant blue areas on the map. This means that no one has taken the time to record the lake bottom and upload it to Navionic’s for update downloads. You can record the lake data and create an account with Navionic’s and upload the data to them and a day or so later you can download the updates and then it will show the contour lines for the area you did the recording on. If you will notice on the Navionic’s maps there will be contour lines that all of a sudden just stop. These are where the user recorded the sonar log and uploaded only to that spot and no further.


The map card screen shot above is the Navionic’s Platinum card and the brown area in the photo above is the original creek channel in this part of the lake. The white area is a feeder or ditch that is located on the flat. The closer the lines are together the steeper and faster the depth changes. The circular areas indicate either a high spot on the lake floor or a deeper depression on the lake bottom. The small dotted lines represent an old field road that ran on the flats before the lake was impounded. You might notice that there is some 3D highlighting on some areas of the creek channel and high spots. This is one of the features with the Platinum cards.


In the above screen shot is from the Navionic’s Premium map card. You can tell by looking at the light tan colored portion which is the land around the lake that there is no Google Earth overlay data. This to me is useless data that was not necessary at least for what I use the cards for. The colors are a lot lighter on the Premium card versus the darker colors on the Platinum cards.

Now let’s look at the Lake Master 3.0 map card. As you can see from the screen shot below there is a lot more contour lines which represent more of the lake bottom detail with this map. Looking at the map below there is very little areas in these snap shots that does not have the contour lines.


 The above screen shot has the Shallow Water Highlight option set to 5 feet.Lakemaster30_2

So wrapping up this Blog I would have to say that the Lake Master 3.0 card has a lot more lake data than either of the Navionic’s map cards.

I hope this will help you decide which map card is best for your fishing use.

Minn Kota Trolling Motor Armature Broken

Well on my fishing trip this past weekend I had my armature shaft snap on my Minn Kota. I had noticed that the trolling motor had a vibration that I had never noticed before that morning. I ordered the parts to make the repairs myself. If you ever need parts for your Minn Kota trolling motor you can order parts from Northland Marine. They have great turn around time on shipping out the parts and great prices. The total for the parts to repair my unit was $189 for the armature, brush set, seal kit, weedless prop and nut kit.


Here is the broken shaft and where it snapped. shaftbroke

My Tackle Box – River2Sea S-Wave’s

I just received an order that I had placed with River 2 Sea. In this order I had ordered three different lures. The lures I ordered were the S-Wavers, in three different sizes but one of the sizes was out of stock. I ordered two of the S-Waver 200’s, five of the S-Waver 168’s (out of stock) and 5 of the S-Waver 120’s. These lures are hard bodied swimbaits made famous for the California lakes. I’ve decided that since I will not get to do much fishing this year with the illness of my Mom I’ll just try for BIG fish when I do get to hit the lake. I’ve also ordered some Huddleston swimbaits, Spro BBZ’s in different sizes and a couple of Moreau Rats and Frogs. I’ll post a review on these lures once I receive them.


My Humminbird Onix Update

Follow Up March 10, 2015: Okay I had a chance to carry my Onix out this past weekend to make sure if my issue was repaired. Oh no, I’m still having the same problem. But I did just get off the phone with Humminbirds customer service and we think that the problem is with the transducer and not the unit itself. So they are shipping to me at no cost a new transducer to try. Once I receive it and have a chance to test it on the water again I’ll keep you posted.

Well I finally received my Onix back from Humminbird today from their note attached it was a software issue??? Bad news now is that I have been on vacation for the last three days and will not be able to test the unit for a few weeks to determine if had been repaired or not. Oh well at least I got it back!