John Papciak “The Midnight Rambler”- No Pain No Gain (And The Need to Suffer)

John Papciak

The Midnight Rambler

No Pain No Gain (And The Need to Suffer)

If memory serves me, it was late August of 1995. The spring run along the inlets was a distant memory. I was goofing around in the bays along the south shore of Long Island, mostly behind Jones and Fire Island. I was keeping myself entertained with small bass and weakfish. The latter was a new arrival and a bit of a novelty. The weaks hadn’t been around for a number of years, and it was pure fun to hook them on small twister tails and flies. This was quite easy fishing. No dangerous jetties, no crashing waves, no rocks to wrist your ankles on. No death marches for miles along boulder strewn beaches. The only hazards I can remember were mosquitoes, and the only thing we debated was the extent to which traces of DEET could be smelled by fish.

I know Zeno also professes a love for weakfish, but I’m not sure it’s for the same reasons. Easy access, without the crowds. And as the 90s went by, the weaks grew bigger and more abundant. There was a time when I’d gladly set my alarm for say 1am or 2am, just zip down the parkway, cast for an hour or two. Usually connect. And then zip back home, hop back in bed for a few more winks before catching the LIRR into the city. Simple pleasures – simple fishing.

Anyway, early one night I get a call from my fishing buddy Bob Jones. Do I want to go out to Moriches and fish the incoming? What? Now? This time of year? Why? Ok, I didn’t give him such a hard time, but that was what was going through my head. So off we went. I hardly doubt I checked NOAA – something I certainly would have done in the prime part of the season. Had it been June, I would have studied the tide, checked on the wind, and then spent all kinds of time deciding what types of buck tails I would rotate through as the tide progressed. Nope, pretty sure I just grabbed a handful of bucktails – probably in the same pile from when I dropped them there on the table in the garage – after that last trip in mid July.

I think this was around that time period when a huge fire raged in the pine forest around West Hampton. We had to detour off of 27 as the entire highway was closed due to the fire. All that driving, and detours, for what?

So we got on the sand to find a screaming southwest wind. And based on how the tide was now moving around the jetty, the best place was at the tip, casting directly into the wind and letting the bucktail swing with the sweep. Within 20 minutes I had lost a couple bucktails and was soaking wet. I was ready to quit right then and there. At least it was warm out.

But after another 30 minutes, I had fully adjusted, and was now quite confident I had the right sized bucktail, and it was working exactly as it needed, while I counted the reel cranks through the entire swing.

12029812_10153671653163421_462629454959212676_oNo, we didn’t get jack sh*t that night, but it felt good to be back in the game – a big fish spot, a VS300 matched with a Kennedy Fisher rod – more than capable of turning a big fish in that wicked Moriches current. And it felt good to be suffering a little as we hopped along the rocks like a pair of mountain goats.

Within 30 days we would be suffering in Montauk in a wetsuit, climbing rocks and ducking waves, whatever it took to get into fish. So at least that Moriches trip was good training.

That’s the thing about Surfcasting, there’s “fishing,” like sinker bouncing, and then there’s Surfcasting as we know it. I can’t tell you how many acquaintances come out to Montauk, not fishermen, who get it in their head that they will join me for an evening tide. They don’t know what Korkers are, they don’t know what a darter is. And there’s no evidence they’ve educated themselves on any of it. So after 15 minutes, is there any hope they will be enjoying being out there in the dark, getting hit by waves, tripping over rocks? Call me judgmental but I think I can usually tell who is cut out for this. And that’s quite OK, this ain’t for everybody. Sometimes I don’t get it myself. Why do this when I can just charter a boat, or soak bait on some nice sandy beach? I watched a charter boat come in last night. Four drunk guys, each with a 30 or a 40, posing for pictures, I’m sure the hero photos are up on Facebook somewhere by now. No suffering, except for the hangover.

And this brings me back to what I might call a primitive need some of us have to suffer. There is something about the physical effort, and having do deal with the dark, the waves and the rocks.

And there’s even more to this idea of suffering.

There’s a long standing belief among those I’ve fished with that ‘the less comfortable you are, the harder you’ll fish,’ – perhaps the longer you’ll keep at it, even if things are not panning out.

I know this for a fact from my years of fishing out of the back of a Ford Explorer (which I only bought because it was the only 4×4 in my budget with enough room to fold down the seats for sleeping). Take it from me, when the only creature comforts you’ve got are confined to what you’ve packed into an Explorer, you simply end up fishing more. You don’t wake up, turn over and enjoy another 2 hours of restful bliss. No, you wake up to a sore neck, you say to yourself “now this sucks…I might as well get out and put that goddam wetsuit back on.”P1010036

Even a slide on camper was considered palatial. I recall several memorable tides in snotty weather where we joked that the slide on guys were too comfy cozy in their nighties to realize just how serious of a bite they were missing (Ok, maybe we were a little jealous too).

I will concede the day will come, when age will have caught up with me – and this suffering sh*t will be left to you younger guys. Until then, I know the Montauk boulder reefs – and numerous other deep summer spots – will continue to reward those willing to suffer.

Sealed reel for under $100 ?

They say for every action there is a reaction….

Last few decades we spent exploring the upper range of surfcasting budgets. We bought reels that cost more than our mortgage and we didn’t just buy one. No one even bats an eye when seeing a $600 plus tag on a surf rod either and we are not talking custom sticks.

But to some extent I think we reached a saturation point in the top end of a market. Not necessarily in terms of sales ,but in terms of future growth. To you and me, this might mean very little ,but to those who live on inside of this vicious sales cycle, this means everything. Former editor of NE publication Gene Borque told me once, the name of the game is either grow or die.

So where do companies find growth when upper end has been satisfied? No one is reinventing the wheel, but a lot of companies are trying to come up with a product that will fit a segment they feel is underserved. Or to fill a hole in their lineup. Van Staal VR reel is a good example of that. It gives you an option of a high quality reel at a lower price with hopes you will upgrade to VSX when you are looking for “more” in the reel (not sure more than VR is ever necessary but that’s the truth). PENN is filling a slot in their line up with Slammer III , somewhere above Spinfishiner V and bellow Torque. Besides, companies like PENN need to constantly  upgrade and update their models unlike VS which flagship reel has not changed in a long time other than recent update to VSX model

So how is Bimini Bay Outfitters (you also know them as Tsunami products) changing the rules of the game? The same way they did with split rings, swivels, shads and even Salt Life Optics. By bringing in quality products at lower price.

But this new announced reel at recent ICAST event in Orlando is a head scratcher. A “sealed” reel under a $100????

Tsunami Shield Spinning Reel at ICAST 2016

I have not seen this reel in person but I got to know people behind Bimini Bay Outfitters pretty well over the years to doubt them. I still remember being shown a Airwave Elite prototype at Rivers End Tackle show few years ago and being shocked when told that the rod will be for sale under $200 finished with all comonents. You got to admit Elite is one hell of a stick.I still fish my Elites all the time, so I am not going to doubt what they are coming up with…….but I am curious to see it

Take a look at this video and you tell mw what you think. And please spare me with “its not a VS” emails. Its not supposed to be a VS!

Retail price :

3000-4000 – $99.99

5000-6000 – $109.99

Weight by size:

3000 – 9.5oz/ 4000 – 9.8oz/ 5000 – 16.2oz/ 6000 – 16.5

3000-4000 have 6 internal seals. 5000-6000 have 13 internal seals .

Neither should be cranked underwater (btw neither should your VS/ZB/Torque) but 5000/6000 should be submersible without leakage where the smaller models with less seals will obviously have more points of entry

I think its a wonderful time we live in with all the innovations and improvements. Now if we can only invent more striped bass…

Here is the video from Tackle Direct from this year’s ICAST in Orlando

PENN Slammer III & sand video

If you find an overload of info regarding a Penn Slammer III reels feel free to tell me to stop. Unfortunately we don’t get to go to ICAST show and check our other stiuff that might be of interests to surfcasters from big manufacturers. I find that most manufacturers that cater to surf fishing do not go there anyway, for example Super Strike, Gibbs or Fiberstar rods but big boys do so it would be cool to go one year just  for chit and giggles

Here is a look at PENN Slammer III reel in the sand

I already acknowledged in the video that this test has very little real life meaning. I do also acknowledge that some if not most of us will have to either lay or will drop our reel on sand on occasion

Not necessarily on purpose

Trailhead Automatic Deflators complete set givaway

Lets’s have a giveaway as I know we have been slacking in that department since I been away.

Today we’ll  To me its of those “cant live without” items and I had mine for many, many ears in the truck console. You set them on the PSI you want your tires to deflate, you screw them on and they do all the work. No more standing in rain, with flashlight in your mother and gauge trying to check your time pressure

You can get more info abbot the product at maxresdefault

enter giveaway Here by Entering your email address

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ODM demo day at Captree, new Slammer III reels and new short film preview by Stephen Gallant

This weekend at Captree Bait And Tackle in Captree Island

Team ODM and Captree Fuel, Bait & Tackle in Long Island will be hosting a casting demo day on Sunday July 17th from 11 am to 3 pm. Please mark your calendar and join us on this fun event day. The team is there to assist and answer any questions about ODM RODS and come check out their new models.

In addition, there will be few Penn Slammer pre-production reels available that you can check out during the demo . Slammer III is a winner of Best New Saltwater Reel category at this week 2016 ICAST in Orlando, FLPF-penn-slammer_zpspl9pxxtb

3500 E Ocean Pkwy  Bay Shore, NY     (631) 587-3430


That is one this…The other announcement is a new short film preview by Stephen Gallant

Many of you have seen Stephen’s short film Hard Days Night debut at this year Striper Day at Hofstra University

Stephen is tentatively scheduled to again present a new short feature at 2017 striper Day

Here is some new footage from Stephen and Brian O’Connor

Stephen is guide in MA and you can find more information by visiting

Speaking of Surf Fishing Guides…I was made aware that Tommy posted a giveaway while I was in Europe but the winner was never picked. So we will take care of that by drawing one winner whole will receive a free guided surf fishing trip with guide extraordinare, Bill Wetzel. The Trip is for 6 hour for one or two people. Winner should contact us via email at

and the winner is

AJ Burke

Congrats AJ

You should all check out Bill set at

srb 37

Issue # 38 is live

The New issue of the Surfcaster’s Magazine is up for your reading pleasure


You will find a total of 7 new videos including 4 new Surf fishing 101 videos

These are the previews, to watch the whole version of any videos please log into your SJ account

First Look at PENN Slammer III Reel

This is going to be a video heavy  week or so as we have a lot of stuff planned for you along with a new issue of SJ Magazine. First on tap is a First Look at PENN Slammer III Reel

Yeah, we call it a ”review” but it would be more fitting if we did it a year from now as a month and a half is a short time to get to know your reel real well. I always thought that every reel should gets its ass kicked during a Norester in Montauk. Not because I am in love with a place but because those conditions are so difficult and demanding on your tackle.

In addition to this review, we also have a part 2 where we burry this reel in the sand and crank it underwater to see how much water leaked into the gear box. Does it really mean anything to do  these type of video/test? Probably not. A good wave on a sandbar with a sound getting pushed inside every crevice of a reel is probably a better test than burying a reel in sand. However, if the reel performs I guess it does gives people a peace of mind if they ever drop it in the sand.

In any event, on the end of the day, although there are thousands of people that watch these videos I make them for people on this blog and magazine subscribers. And when you guys tell me, no more, then I’ll walk away into sunset with my camera.

Enjoy, part 2 coming in few days

Issue #38 video preview

We got a new issue coming up next week. Can you believe its #38 already?

Fortunately I had few days to finish up bunch of videos. I am pretty psyched that we are going to have over  40 minutes of new video content in this issue.

Here is a preview of the videos in the new issue

Episode # 16 bottle Plugs myself, Don Musso & Bill Wentzel

Episode #17 Sebile Stick Shads Dave Anderson & Patrick Sebile

Episode #18 Rod for Montauk SJ Rod Guru Lou Caruso

Episode # 19  Picking the Right Reel full length myself and  Craig Cantelmo from Van Staal

Surf Fishing Tip Of The Week #4 -SP Minnow modification with Dave Anderson

Surfcaster’s Journal Online Magazine
Tip Of The Week # 4
SP Minnow modification with Dave Anderson

Good to be back on US soil after visiting my grandmother. Would you believe the women is 91 years old and digs potatoes so fast by hand that i can barely keep up? That alone was worth two flights, ferry and a donkey ride..and enjoying the ambiance in a place where people forgot that deodorant is for armpits… Yes, I am kidding about a donkey but I do wish we still had some in town. They are fun to bother until they kick you in the you know where

Hope you guys are catching…from what I hear its been one tough June for a lot of guys