January 31, 2013
Gear Review: Motorola Talkabout MS355R Radios
By Kirk Deeter
Two-way radios are a great way to stay in touch when fishing. I've been using them more and more recently—part of that is safety-related. I typically like to work my own stretch of river, but I like to have buddies around. If somebody takes a fall, the others can help. And then there are simple advantages like, "I left my spool of 5X in the truck, mind if I walk down and borrow some of yours?" or "Hey, the blue-winged olives are starting to hatch up here, keep your eyes peeled."
My favorite scenario is sight fishing as a team: One angler in the water, and another on a high bank calling in the shots like a forward artillery observer, whispering into the ear piece of the caster (because I do think shouting spooks fish), "Next shot... three feet upstream, and two feet left of the last drift."
I tested the new Motorola Talkabout MS355R radios and they are now my favorite of any I have used or reviewed for Field & Stream. The number one feature is that they're waterproof. Drop them in the river, and you don't have to worry. They also float, so you can find them after they fall in without going swimming yourself. They're not too heavy or bulky, though the electronics are indeed beefy, offering a 35-mile range in flat terrain. In the river canyons, I've been able to reach out for a mile or more, which is better than most options. And the rechargeable 3.6 volt batteries should last through a typical fishing day, even if you're a prolific chatter.
As I typically do when I field test radios, I turned this set over to my 12-year-old son and his buddy, and let them do their worst. They're still crystal clear after being dropped on rocks, left in snow banks, and subjected to sub-freezing temperatures overnight.
Another great feature is the price. They are just under $100 for a set of two. When considering the durability, range and performance features like weather channels and privacy settings, this strikes me as a darn good deal.
I have a thing about cell phones on the river, or in a drift boat. They're okay for calling in emergencies or making sure your shuttle is in the right place at the right time. So I typically carry mine in a waterproof bag. But it stays tucked away. Somehow two-way radios are more appropriate. If you feel the same way, for the money, the Motorola Talkabout MS355R is a good choice.