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Each year, Field & Stream receives more than 100 entries for our Best of the Best gear awards. We don’t winnow them down to 15 winners by sitting at a desk and reading marketing copy. Instead, our experts take the tackle on the water and fish with it–hard, in all kinds of conditions. What survived the rigors of testing in experienced hands is here– 2013’s Best of the Best fishing gear.


Best Flyfishing Gear

The concept behind KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is plain enough, but converting it into flyfishing gear that really works under demanding conditions is another matter entirely. Our winners, though, clearly have the right idea when it comes to executing a simple design at a very high level. –Ted Leeson
Bauer MAC 2 Fly Reel
Sage Circa 589-4 Fly Rod
Scientific Anglers Built-In Cutter Tippet Spools
Patagonia Stealth Gear Bag

Best Baitcasting Gear

Just when you think baitcasting rods and reels can’t get any better, a manufacturer (or two) manages to come up with something that’s both unusual and extremely functional. This year’s winners, from St. Croix and Abu Garcia, prove that point. –John Merwin
Abu Garcia Revo STX Reel
St. Croix LegendXtreme Rod

Best Fishing Outerwear

There’s no trick to catching more fish. Just get on the water more often and stay out longer, no matter how tough or harsh the conditions. The real key is choosing gear that lets you stay out there, comfortably weatherproof, with tackle at your fingertips–like this year’s Best of the Best. –Ted Leeson
Korkers Guide Boot
SmartWool PHD SmarLogt Full Zip Jacket
Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Waders
Umpqua Feather Merchants Ledges 500 Waist Pack

Best Spinning Gear

Best of the Best is not only about high-end fishing tackle. This year’s winners in the spinning category have prices typically seen on mid-shelf gear, but their quality is top of the line. –John Merwin
Penn Spinfisher V Reel
Cabela’s Fish Eagle 50 Rod

Best Lures & Accessories

This year, one winner is from a manufacturer with a long and honored history in the angling world, while the other is from a technological upstart that few fishermen have even heard of. No matter; both do a masterful job of enhancing the fishing experience. –Joe Cermele
Lifeproof iPhone Case & LifeJacket
Rapala BX Minnow

Best Marine Electronics

Fishing electronics are evolving at an astounding rate, with features that weren’t dreamed of only two or three years ago. Among those innovations, Minn Kota’s latest entry is most impressive. –John Merwin
Minn Kota I-Pilot Link Sonar and GPS Unit