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Fishing Gear

  • September 6, 2011

    How To Test Fishing Line For Abrasion Resistance


    By John Merwin

    by John Merwin

    In last week’s post I mentioned that this week I was going to talk about abrasion resistance in fishing lines. The ability of different types and brands of line to withstand being rubbed hard over any rough surface is obviously important. When a hooked fish drags your line across an underwater rock, you are of course hoping--maybe even expecting--that the line won’t break.

    Line companies make all sorts of claims as to the abrasion resistance of their respective products. And it’s quite true that some lines are more abrasion resistant than others. The problem comes in the way in which manufacturers measure abrasion resistance, which to my mind bears little relation to actual fishing situations. I think dragging a line under tension between your hands and across a rough-surfaced rock (as shown in the photo) is the best test. But first, let’s look at what the line companies do. [ Read Full Post ]

  • August 24, 2011

    The Verdict on Svelte Wading Soles

    By Kirk Deeter

    Several months ago, I reported on a felt sole alternative for wading boots being offered by Korkers called "Svelte". I gave it a glowing review. After all, it was "grippy" on wet rocks. It had kind of a "pot scrubber" texture. It was eco-friendly, less apt to carry invasive species. All the right things...

    My one caveat was that I was going to see how long they lasted before rendering a final verdict. Well, they didn't last too long. Not long enough to justify $50 a pair. I got about two months wear out of my test pair. Granted, I hike a lot in some rocky terrain, but two months wasn't a passing grade.

    I was just about to write a nasty gram, when I bumped into the Korkers people at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show. It turns out they were one step ahead of me. To their credit, they realized the durability issue, and will soon come out with "Svelte 2." At first glance, one notices that "son of Svelte" is much thicker, akin to the thickness of the standard felt wading sole. I think the texture also seems a little more coarse, which is a good thing, in my opinion. [ Read Full Post ]

  • August 15, 2011

    All Grown Up: The International Fly Tackle Dealer Show


    By John Merwin

    by John Merwin

    The International Fly Tackle Dealer Show--a fly fishing trade show--takes place in New Orleans this week, and you’re going to be hearing a lot about it. Websites and blogs devoted all or in part to fly fishing will be all over it, covering new products introduced for the coming season as well as whatever industry gossip comes their way.

    With that in mind, I thought I’d offer a little inside history of the whole deal, which also involves considerable personal history as well. Through the 1970s, both fly fishing itself and fly fishing media--then mostly magazines--were growing rapidly. There was no fly fishing trade association back then, nor was there any fly fishing media devoted to the trade. There was instead a general fishing-tackle trade show (formerly known as AFTMA, now called ICAST) within which the much smaller fly fishing community felt somewhat marginalized and lost.

    In 1979, when I was leaving my editing job at Fly Fisherman magazine to start what became Fly Rod & Reel magazine, I was also taking part in some industry meetings aimed at possibly starting a fly fishing trade association. Scott Rods founder Harry Wilson, Scientific Anglers head Lew Jewett, and Leon Chandler from Cortland Line were in the forefront at the time--all friends of mine and all now very unfortunately deceased. [ Read Full Post ]

  • August 11, 2011

    The World's Biggest Fishing Lure


    By Chad Love

    --Chad Love

    Ever have one of those "we're gonna need a bigger boat" moments? Well then, here's the lure to go with it...

    From this story in the Destin (FL) Log:
    It’s official: The world’s largest fishing lure is hanging up at the Village of Baytowne Wharf marina. Mark and Mary Ellen Davis, owners of the S.S. Spitfire Mercantile bait and tackle shop at the Baytowne marina, and a team of family and friends designed and built the massive lure over a 10-month period. Dubbed the Flatliner, it measures in at 10 feet, 10 inches tall and a whopping 355.2 pounds. Sandestin hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the lure Wednesday morning.

    “(People) have flocked in for pictures,” said Mary Ellen Davis. “It’s been incredible. I really thought it was going to be kids, and it’s been grown men hanging on it, literally hugging it, taking pictures. “It’s just very exciting,” she added. “It’s something we can look up to, something to show our kids.” Amanda Mochan, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, came in from New York to certify the lure as the world’s largest, which is a new category for Guinness. [ Read Full Post ]

  • August 10, 2011

    Cabela's LSi Fly Rod: A Balance of Functionality and Price

    By Kirk Deeter

    Let's cut right to brass tacks.  Sure, we can talk about fancy graphite technologies and all the other stuff that makes a $750 fly rod a $750 fly rod... but in truth, 99 percent of fly casters cannot honestly feel the difference. (It's like me and a $10 bottle of red wine vs. a $30 bottle... I sniff, I swirl, I roll my tongue, and then I go get a PBR from the cooler.) 

    And in fairness, there are a lot of cheap rods that are exactly that--cheap. Not just inexpensive. Cheap. As in, "Why did I pay $100 for this piece of junk that casts like a curtain rod, and is already falling apart?"

    The holy grail for fly rod marketers, therefore, is finding that sweet spot of maximum functionality, at a minimum price.  And based on the fishing I have done this summer with over two dozen different rods--and more importantly, having put different options in the hands of other casters, from total beginners to guides--the Cabela's LSi lives in that sweet spot. I've fished 4-weight and a 5-weight versions of LSi, both 8'-6" long.  They cost $180. [ Read Full Post ]

  • August 8, 2011

    Feather Fashion Absurdity: Would You Pay $1600 For A Chicken?

    By Tim Romano

    Unless you've had your head in the clouds for the past nine months, you've undoubtably heard about the fashion craze of women and a few men (think Steven Tyler) placing hackle feathers in their hair as fashion accoutrements.

    Fly tiers have been up in arms with shortages of hackle feathers, bird growers have undoubtably been making money, and fly shops have seen a serious influx of young attractive ladies making their way through the doors. [ Read Full Post ]

  • August 4, 2011

    Major Fly Brands Expand Their Reach

    By Kirk Deeter

    Where do fly fishing companies go to expand their sales horizons? Well, some go bass fishing. And some are hanging out at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, with the hope that they'll tap a demographic that includes hikers, bikers, climbers, and kayakers.

    For example, Simms Fishing Products just announced a series of sponsorships in the world of competitive fishing. And they're not messing around. You're going to see Simms products on six big-name professional bass anglers: Gary Klein, Shaw Grigsby, Aaron Martens, Kelly Jordon, Ish Monroe and Brett Ehrler. These guys helped Simms develop its new Pro Dry GORE-TEX Parka, Bibs and Pants.

    “Simms is the perfect company for me to partner with when you consider I spend 300-plus days a year outside in the elements,” Martens said. “Simms has everything I need to protect my skin from the sun, wind and more.”

    I wonder what kind of sponsorship deal it will take to get one or two of these guys to actually compete with a fly rod. [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 25, 2011

    King Shad Designer Strikes Out on His Own


    By John Merwin

    The guy in the photo is ABT Lures founder Allen Borden, shown at the recent ICAST fishing-industry trade show. The lure he’s holding is a four-sectioned hard-body swimbait called “Banshee.” It’s a good lure, but for veteran lure-designer Borden, it’s an even bigger bet.

    I got the story behind the story through a quick interview. Borden was a California roofing contractor for 21 years. Also a fisherman, he had ideas for new lures as so many fishermen do. About 10 years ago, he started fooling around with carving and then molding hard-plastic baits. Eventually he made some jointed hard-bodied swimmers that he showed at ICAST in 2003.

    Strike King, one of the major lure brands, picked up both the lure and Borden shortly thereafter. For the next 7 years, Borden was a Strike King lure designer creating such well-known jointed hardbaits as the King Shad. [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 18, 2011

    Stuff That Works: The Simms "Thirsty Trout" Bottle Opener

    By Kirk Deeter

    There's a special category in the fly fishing retail world labeled "accessories," which, in my mind, includes just about anything a fly angler buys that doesn't actually help them catch fish in any way, shape, or form whatsoever. This might be the most important product category for friends and relatives of fly fishers who want to buy gifts with sentimental value, but alas, have no idea (whatsoever) how to actually catch fish on the fly.

    That's why a lot of us have drawers full of Green-Butt Skunk printed socks, sterling flasks with dry fly etchings, toilet seats with a Royal Coachman motif, and wall clocks with classic fly patterns that mark every hour of the day. I will admit that I might be the most "poorly-accessorized" angler on the planet, having little use for neckties (if you see me choked by a silky fly print around my neck, that usually means someone either died or got married, which in certain angling circles is almost one in the same), fly-themed wallets, and the rest of the niff-naff that says, "I'm a fly fisher."

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 14, 2011

    From ICAST: Berkley Gets Really Into Garlic

    By Joe Cermele

    Yesterday at ICAST I had a chance to check out Berkley's new Gulp! and PowerBait products with product manager Brad Danbom. I noticed pretty quickly that aside from some funky shapes and styles coming out this year, Berkley suddenly got really into garlic.

    Almost everything in their 2011/2012 line-up devoted to trout is garlic scented. According to Danbom, many trout trends that Berkley picks up on start in California and migrate into the Rockies and the latest trend to do so is fishing with garlic-scented bait. For Berkley to go so garlic crazy, there must be an awful lot of people that think trout go garlic crazy.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 13, 2011

    Channeling Darth Vader While Fishing

    By Joe Cermele

    So I'm in Las Vegas at the annual ICAST industry tackle show checking out the latest wares (of which you'll see plenty over the next few weeks) and I bumped into Tom Tredup of RayGear looking rather Darth Vader-like. That's because he was wearing one of his new X-Shield masks, complete with vent holes for breathing and a dark, smoky finish. So what's the deal? Well, Tom believes that the X-Shield is the future of facial sun protection on the water. He's hoping you might consider replacing your sunglasses with some of his headgear.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 13, 2011

    How Do You Ready a Retriever For Hunting Waterfowl From a Boat?


    By Chad Love

    OK, all you boat-owning waterfowl doggers: I need some training advice...

    I have always been a walk-in duck hunter. In fact, I've never even owned a boat. But two things happened to me recently to help bring some change to my waterfowl hunting techniques.

    One, I turned 40, which means I am now officially decrepit and therefore can no longer pack in gear on a walk-in hunt without imminent threat of heart attack. Two, last season I very nearly drowned in, oh, about two feet of water and ice while busting through thick reeds with way too much decoy weight on my back. I had a "You're kidding me? I'm gonna die like this?" moment. I didn't. At least I'm pretty sure I'm still alive. Then I had the obligatory "I'm too old for this, uh, stuff" moment. [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 12, 2011

    Use Small Circle Hooks For Easy Release on Little Sunnies

    By John Merwin

    Summer always makes me think of panfish, or more specifically taking little kids fishing with bait and bobber. Small children need more or less instant results to hold their interest. The little sunfishes hanging around off the end of a dock are usually very accommodating. It’s a great combination.

    The biggest problem comes in unhooking and releasing all those little sunnies. Some will have swallowed the hook. I’d rather not have my young granddaughter see me wrench the guts out of a 4-inch pumpkinseed to retrieve it. So, a few days ago, I experimented with little circle hooks.

    The results were just great. As the close-up photo shows, little circle hooks jaw-hooked the small sunnies, making for an easy release. Specifically, I used size 12 Eagle Claw “Circle Bait” hooks, model L702G. The bait was Berkley’s Gulp! Alive! one-inch minnow, which comes in a liquid-filled jar and is very easy to use. (I was too lazy to dig garden worms.) [ Read Full Post ]

  • July 1, 2011

    Simms is Back in Felt

    By Kirk Deeter

    Simms Fishing Products has just informed its dealers that the company will offer three boot models with felt soles in 2012. You may remember that Simms was the company that swore off felt (after 2010) as part of its push against aquatic invasive species. (As most of you know, nasty things like whirling disease, New Zealand mud snails, didymo or "rock snot" and other threats to watersheds can be transported and spread via the boots anglers wear, and felt is a leading culprit.) In Vermont and Maryland, felt is banned, as it will be in Alaska next year. Many other states are considering banning felt boots.

    But despite that, Simms claimed that felt demand from customers was too strong to ignore. [ Read Full Post ]