The Best Fishing Gear of 2020
Our test team of hardcore anglers picks the best fishing tackle of the year
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Now that the season of giving to others is over, it’s time to treat yourself. Spring is either here or just around the bend, depending on where you live, and you deserve some fresh lures, a new stick, and an outboard that doesn’t require divine intervention to start. To help you splurge on all the right stuff, we’ve rounded up more than 40 of the coolest, smartest, most innovative pieces of fishing gear for 2020. And we’ve used it all, so we promise you’ll be treating yourself well.
Camp Chef Everest 2X
You won’t catch any fish with this thing, but it’s certainly a great tool to have at camp when it’s time to cook your catch. Camp Chef gave a sleek new design to this light and portable two-burner stove in the company’s Mountain Series lineup. The Everest 2X has twin 20,000-Btu burners, and the matchless ignition will get both fired up in almost any conditions. The stove has more than 200 square inches of cooking space, which means you can crank out breakfast for you and a couple of friends and still be on the water in time for the morning hatch. —Colin Kearns
AFTCO Reaper Camo Technical Fleece Hoodie
AFTCO’s Reaper may look like just a regular sweatshirt, but it will take your hoodie game to the next level with fisherman-friendly features such as pocket closures and a cinch cord that keeps the hood in place. The fleece is stain-resistant yet super soft. But the real kicker is a built-in ventilated face gaiter. Wear it up when it’s cold or while you’re driving the boat, then put it down once you’ve warmed up. The Reaper is now available in two camo patterns to complement the original solid colors. —Pete Robbins
Cajun 4 Barb Stinger
Cajun 4 Barb Stinger • $22 with arrow Cajun
At the end of a 20-minute fight with a behemoth bighead or 100-pound stingray, you probably won’t be thinking about quick arrow removal. You’ll just be looking for the gaff and hoping that the arrow stays stuck. This massive four-barb point simply unscrews from the arrow—no pivoting barbs or quick-release gizmos. It’s designed to hold big soft-fleshed fish. Like all of Cajun’s stainless-steel heads, this one shoots straight and is tough as hell. —Will Brantley
Sage X Fly Rod
Sage X fly Rod • $900 Sage
No matter how far you can cast, there’s always a spot where you wish you could cast a little farther. A big river, say, where the noses of hefty brown trout dimple the bank eddies, just out of reach. Where if you take one more step, you’re wet. That’s what this rod is made for. When you cast it, you can feel the power of the butt section transfer to the tip to snap off tight loops with ease. The X looks sharp and has all top-end components, but what impressed me most about the 5-weight I tested is that I didn’t have to try harder to throw longer accurate casts. It’s simply got that extra 10 feet in it—to reach those bank sippers. —Dave Hurteau
Pelican G40 Personal Utility Case
If you spend much time on the water, you’re bound to splash, dunk, or drown your phone eventually. Protect your valuables with this Pelican case—a rugged water-, dirt-, and dustproof coffin that holds an oversize smartphone, USB cord, keys, and more. I stashed my essentials in one, clipped it into my packraft with a carabiner, and sailed through whitewater and nonstop smallie action without worrying that my phone would end up swimming with the fishes. —Natalie Krebs
Daiwa Tactical Stickbait Organizers
Daiwa Tactical Stickbait Organizers • $13 each Daiwa
With their long bodies and multiple sticky-sharp trebles, hard jerkbaits are tough to store without winding up with a jumbled mess. Now Daiwa has solved the problem with two new boxes that keep your lures in individual compartments with foam strips on the ends. Hook your trebles into the foam, and the lures stay separated instead of bouncing around and causing damage to the paint and hook points when you’re throttle down. —P.R.
Lamson Speedster S
The Speedster gets its name from its ability to pick up line super fast. A large outer diameter combined with a narrower-than-standard spool provides the extra zip, which comes in very handy when you’ve got a fish flying at you, or when you need to get running line away from your feet fast. The design also helps prevent line stacking, acting almost like a level wind. The Speedster S weighs next to nothing and has a rock-solid conical sealed drag too. —Joe Cermele
Simms G4 Waders
Available in traditional or zip-front models, G4 waders feature a three-layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell upper and a four-layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell lower. Simms claims they’re the most puncture- and abrasion-resistant waders ever made, and that they provide more comfort and freedom of movement than past G series gear. The compression-molded stocking feet feel like bedroom slippers but provide legitimate support. —J.C.
Simms G4 Boots
The boots are extremely lightweight and durable, with cushioning unlike any others I’ve worn. —J.C.
NRS Chinook OS Fishing PFD
NRS Chinook OS Fishing PFD • $140 NRS
When I purchased my obligatory kayak-fishing PFD, I chose the Chinook because its pockets looked worthy of cargo pants. I ended up relying on its lifesaving features when I flipped in rapids that were swollen with spring snowmelt. The vest popped me out of a hydraulic and to the surface just as well as a swift-water model, and the tough, ripstop nylon showed no signs of abrasion even though I’d pinballed off a bunch of boulders. The Chinook OS comes in red or classic orange, and it’s packed with features you’ll appreciate every time you fish: a high-back design that’s compatible with your kayak seat, a rod holder, and plenty of pockets for stashing lure boxes, pliers, and other essentials. And, of course, it’ll keep you afloat. —N.K.
Simms Freestone Fishing Hip Pack
Simms Freestone Fishing Hip Pack • $140 Simms
This pack is like a miniature rolltop desk, with enough compartments to hold your fly boxes, leaders, rain gear, and more. The belt is comfy, and the pack’s padded, rigid design keeps everything inside safe. On the outside, a variety of clasps, pockets, and tie-downs keep tools secure and within easy reach. —Matthew Every
Sunline Power 2C Fluorocarbon
Sunline knows there’s no one-size-fits-all fluorocarbon. A formula that excels for light-line drop-shotting may not work for heavy-cover flipping. That’s why it offers a variety of technique-specific options. The latest is optimized for power fishing, with maximized abrasion resistance. Also, for every 4-foot section of clear fluoro, there’s a 1-foot section of orange line, which you can see underwater but fish can’t, letting you spot a bite as quickly as you feel it. Power 2C is available in 165-yard spools in five strengths, from 16- to 25-pound-test. —P.R.
Garmin Force Trolling Motor
Garmin has upped the ante in the trolling-motor wars by mating its new Force motor to its existing space-age electronics. Now you can navigate or stay in place with the push of a button on the wireless yet exceptionally responsive foot pedal. The motor, which can be operated on 24 or 36 volts, is designed to thwart brush and weeds, and to be quieter, more powerful, and longer-lasting than the competition’s. An integrated transducer minimizes interference on your electronics, and an included cable management system prevents you from slicing the lifeline between the two. The motor even comes with a remote control that floats. —J.C.
Penn Torque Lever Drag 15XN
Penn Torque Lever Drag 15XN • $580 Penn
Penn’s Torque Lever Drag series has already proven its worth against giant fish. Now, Penn has added the 15XN (for “extra narrow”) to the mix. Whether you drop jigs on West Coast yellowtails or east-side amberjacks, this reel will help you beat them faster. The narrow spool is designed to lay line more evenly, reducing the need for perfect thumb leveling. And because the spool diameter matches that of a size 30 reel, it still picks up line incredibly fast. So far, I’ve used mine to deck some Jersey stripers and even to rip some tautog out of their rocky lairs. But I can’t wait to use this come tuna season. —J.C.
Gill FG300 Active Jacket
Gill FG300 Active Jacket • $230 Gill
Gill made its name in the world-class competitive-sailing arena, where staying dry and comfortable is every bit as critical to performance as it is for chasing fish. Now it has made a serious charge at the angling market, with a product designed specifically for the often-overlooked needs of female anglers. The Active jacket allows for full range of motion in the heaviest downpours, with a contoured hood and double wrist cuffs to prevent water from leaching in, all in a super-lightweight package. There’s a matching bib too. —P.R.
Grundéns Deck-Boss Sandal
Grundéns Deck-Boss Sandal • $42–$60 Grundéns
I pretty much live in flip-flops from May through September, and the Deck-Boss has made the living easy. Grundéns teamed up with SeaDek to create a sandal with the cushiest, comfiest footbed I’ve ever felt. They provide support all day, dry fast, and have excellent traction. —J.C.
Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Cooler
There are something like 4,783 roto-molded coolers on the market these days. So what separates one from another? Price, for starters. At $245, Titan’s 55-quart model gives you more room for less than the cost of other brands’ 45-quart models. But the real difference for me is the Microban antimicrobial protection built into the material and guaranteed to last the cooler’s lifetime. This means easier cleaning. I’ve splashed everything from fish blood to soda to barbecue sauce in mine, and it all rinsed away without leaving a mark. And because Microban stops bacteria buildup, it also means way less cooler funk. —J.C.
Shimano SLX DC
Shimano SLX DC • $190 Shimano
With last year’s Curado DC, Shimano brought its digital-cast-control technology into the average angler’s price range. Now it’s even more affordable, as part of the SLX 150 baitcasting platform. So you’ll be able to cast light lures into the wind with almost no fear of backlash, even if this is your first baitcaster. The SLX DC comes in both left- and right-hand retrieves and three different gear ratios. All six models weigh a scant 7.6 ounces and give you flagship performance at a midrange price. —P.R.
Jenko Fishing Big T Trick Stick
If you’re a hardcore panfisherman, this $120 crappie pole will match your $6,000 worth of depthfinders perfectly. The Trick Stick is designed for precision techniques, like skipping tubes under docks or plucking slabs from brushpiles using a Garmin Livescope. It’s a 7-footer with a medium action, fast tip, and nine guides designed for easy line flow and smooth casts with light jigs. It isn’t cheap, but it’ll become your go-to slab rod. —W.B.
Abu Garcia Ike Travel Rod
Veteran bass pro Mike Iaconelli has been hopping around the globe in his efforts to promote urban angling, and that has led him to create a series of signature travel rods with Abu Garcia. He designed these 7-foot rods to break down into four parts: the butt, the midsection, and a choice of two tips, depending on whether you want a medium or medium-heavy action. Each rod comes with a carrying case to make transport easy. —P.R.
Fenwick World Class Rods
Fenwick World Class Rods • $300 Fenwick
Fenwick’s World Class line of rods has seen many iterations over the years, but this latest revamping sets a new bar. By using modern Powerlux resin in the blanks, which surrounds the graphite fibers more thoroughly than standard resin, Fenwick has created the strongest, lightest World Class series yet. I used both spinning and casting models for smallmouths last fall, and I can tell you these sticks are incredibly sensitive and powerful. —J.C
St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass
St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass • $140–$160 St. Croix
If cranking is your jam, the newly revamped Mojo Bass Glass series is for you. Four lengths cover all the bases, whether you’re into squarebills, lipless baits, or even chatterbaits. These rods are made from premium linear S‑glass, yet they come at a price that won’t make you cringe. Aside from cranking, I used a Bass Glass heavy-action model all summer to throw frogs and rip bass and snakeheads out of some nasty junk. —J.C.
Yamaha F20 Outboard Motor
Perfect for lakes with maximum-horsepower restrictions, Yamaha’s new two-cylinder, 432 cc F20 is designed to provide portable gas-powered giddyap for your small boat. Lay it on its side in a truck bed, and it won’t leak. And because it’s 126 pounds, you can bolt it to a johnboat, launch in a ditch, and confirm what you’ve long suspected about that oxbow lake—that it’s full of monster bream. The new F20, like the F25 and F15 models, is reliable (this one has battery-free electronic fuel injection), easy to maintain, quiet, and fuel efficient. —W.B.
This article originally appeared in Vol. 125, No. 1 of Field & Stream.