That little span between the end of fall fishing and the beginning of spring fishing could be a depressing period of time if not for the winter holidays. Not only is Christmas a time to rejoice and celebrate with family and friends – it’s a time to rack up on great new fishing gear.
We’ve spent a great deal of time playing with the newest rods, reels and lures, just so you can have a leg up when making your list (or buying for others). It’s a tough job, we know, but after extensive research, we’ve narrowed things down to the coolest of the cool.
Few things will bring about looks of envy from your fishing buddies more than a really sweet, really sensitive, shiny new fishing rod. There are a ton of new ones on the market this year, and we’d love to feature them all. Space permits us to only talk about a few, however. These are some of our favorites:
Fenwick Intercoastal and Inshore rods (saltwater)
Along with its new Inshore rods, the Fenwick Intercoastal provides the perfect blend of quality components and ideal action for powerful inshore fish. We tested the 7-foot casting version in-house, and we were impressed with the fast tip, perfect balance and comfortable cork handles. We plan to give it a workout in Venice, La., this spring. The Intercoastal rod series is available in a 6-foot, 6-inch casting version, two 7-foot casting versions, two 7-foot spinning versions and a 7-foot, 6-inch spinning version. All actions are medium or medium-heavy. Retail price is $99.95. (fenwickfishing.com)
E21 Carrot Stix (bass & walleye)
Sporting a bright-orange finish, the E21 Carrot Stix rods scream for attention. They get it, too. A high-strength epoxy matrix is created from cellulose fibers taken from carrots and then wrapped around a graphite skeleton. Rods are then checked using a process known as Finite Element Analysis. Whatever that is, the end result is a rod that is free of weak spots and always loads evenly. These rods aren’t just strong; they are ultra-sensitive due to their fully exposed grip. Members of the outdoor media were so taken by the rods that they selected the Carrot Stix freshwater rod as Best of Show for new products at the 2007 ICAST. The rod will retail for $300. (e21fishing.com)
A new fishing rod is great, but pairing it with an old, scratched-up reel is a definite bummer. Fortunately, there are as many smooth new reels on the market as there are rods. Each season, we see the trend going to smaller and lighter without sacrificing power – this year is no exception.
Abu Garcia Cardinal 700LX (bass, walleye & saltwater)
The Cardinal 700LX series includes a body and rotor crafted from lightweight aluminum, seven High Performance Corrosion Resistant bearings, and stainless-steel components. It features a waterproof Carbon Matrix Drag system and is available in gear ratios 5.1:1 and 4.8:1. There are five sizes in this series, ranging from a 701 to a 707. Suggested retail is $109.99 to $119.99. (abu-garcia.com)
Shimano Stradic FI (bass, walleye & saltwater)
The Stradic FI marks an evolution in reels for Shimano. Incorporated into their classic line of reels are several new technologies, including Paladin Gear Durability Enhancement, Propulsion Line Management System and Aero Wrap II Oscillation System. Basically, these technologies drastically improve the components of an already great reel series to produce a brand new series. The reels comes in seven sizes, and each one casts incredibly long and reels incredibly smooth. If you’re looking for a smooth-casting, long-lasting spinning reel for a reasonable price – $160 to $200 – then this one is worth a look. (fish.shimano.com)
It never ceases to amaze us how innovative lure manufacturers are each new fishing season. New scents, new actions and new materials continue to make lure making the fastest-changing aspect of the fishing industry. This year, seductive swimbaits and premium crankbaits, along with an array of new scents and flavors for soft artificials, reign supreme.
Berkley Gulp! Alive! (bass, walleye & saltwater)
At this year’s ICAST convention, Berkley won the best of show in the Soft Lure category with its new creation, Gulp! Alive! The baits come in stackable buckets filled with Gulp! juice. This allows the bait to suspend in the juice and maintain its shape and scent. The freshwater line includes Minnows, Minnow Grubs and Leeches, all in various sizes and colors.
Berkley claims their original Gulp! outfishes live bait, and considering a used bait can be put back into the bucket to recharge its scent, it may be more economical, too. A 32-ounce bucket sells for $39.99, and a 16-ounce bucket goes for $19.99.
Gulp! Alive! Attractant has also been captured in a convenient spray bottle. Spray it on everything, from crankbaits to fishing line, Alive! makes fish bite. Retail price is $8.99 for an 8-ounce bottle. (berkley-fishing.com)
Berkley PowerBait Realistix Manic Shad (bass & saltwater)
Last year, the ChatterBait took professional bass fishing by storm. This year, small swimbaits have been all the rage. The Berkley Manic Shad takes the best of both worlds with an innovative swimming collar on the lure’s head that creates a unique swimming action.
The lure is available in four sizes ranging from 3 to 7 inches. A pack containing one acrylic head and replacement bodies retails for $6.49. (berkley-fishing.com)
Lindy Rattl’n Flyer Spoon (walleye)
Can’t decide whether to throw a spoon or a jig? Why not both? That’s what you get with the new Lindy Rattl’n Flyer Spoon. The Rattl’n Flyer combines the action of the traditional Lindy Flyer but in jigging-spoon form. Throw in the built-in rattle, and this spoon is all set for winter ice fishing trips, casting or trolling.
Available in three sizes and six colors, the Rattl’n Flyer also features Techni-Glo eyes and holographic foil for extra flash. It is constructed of a non-lead alloy for a balanced fall and lively action. Prices vary from $4.41 to $4.74, according to size. (lindyfishingtackle.com)
If you’ve been really good this year, perhaps you had an electronics upgrade in mind. If so, you couldn’t have picked a better year to curb questionable behavior.
Raymarine LifeTag (saltwater)
Anglers may look to big water to make a living for their family or just to live it up with their family members. But whatever the reason, safety can never be overlooked. That is why Raymarine developed the LifeTag wireless Man Overboard System.
The system works by affixing a small, 1 1/2-ounce pendant to each passenger. Each pendant broadcasts a signal back to a receiver, indicating the wearer is within a specified distance of the boat. Should that passenger fall overboard, the signal will be broken and an alarm will sound onboard, or the alarm can be manually triggered. Systems come with two pendants but can support up to 16, and they are compatible with SeaTalk chart plotters, radars and instruments. The system will track elapsed time, location of boat at the time of the accident, water temperature and bearing back to the victim. Base packages retail for $685, and additional pendants sell for $115. (raymarine.com)
Lowrance (bass & walleye)
Lowrance won best of show in the Electronics category at the ICAST show in July with its LCX-38C HD. The unit features an 8.4-inch screen, SVGA, 16-bit color with the SolarMaxTM TFT display to make it more visible in bright, sunny conditions. With 8,000 watts of peak-to-peak power, this unit can probe the depths and identify big fish in the lake. The 30GB hard drive comes preloaded with a lot of enhanced mapping software for exact depth positioning when on the water. The unit retails for $1,899.
For those wanting a larger LCD display, check out the LCX-113C HD with an amazing 10.4 inches of screen. And to get the finest detail in the industry, add a Broadband Sounder-1 sonar optimizer. The Broadband Sounder-1 delivers peerless echo clarity and the highest underwater definition ever achieved to any of the LCX or LMS units with screens larger than 5 inches.
For your travels to and from tournaments, fishing trips or vacations, an iWay 600C relieves some of the hassle of traveling. It has a 5-inch display with three mapping modes and a built-in database of turn-by-turn directions. It can store 1,000 addresses, five gigabytes of MP3 audio tracks that can be played through a full spectrum FM modulator on your car stereo and 25GB of detailed maps. Even if you are old-school and like using an atlas, this unit can still be valuable in showing you good places to eat, stop for gas and lodge along the way. The unit retails for $699.99. (lowrance.com)
Accessories: (bass, walleye & saltwater)
“Accessories” is a broad term, but it’s one we had to include. Rare is the angler who can’t use a few more accessories – from a new set of pliers to state-of-the-art bug repellant, or simply a good set of new polarized sunglasses.
Berkley Tec tools
Berkley has redesigned many of its fishing tools and accessories, and the results are impressive. Everything from digital scales and culling kits, pliers and sharpeners, superline shears, fillet knives and locking trigger grips for taming toothy fish are available. Tools for the garage, such as line-spooling stations and rod racks, are handy as well. Suggested retail prices vary from tool to tool. We particularly liked the Superline Shears ($24.99 with a sheath), the Power Pliers ($49.99 for the 6-inch model), and the Digital Scale and Culling Kit ($69.99). (berkley-fishing.com)
Solar Bat glasses
Dr. Gary Nesty’s Solar Bat line of polarized sunglasses is regarded as one of the best in the industry. With various sleek frame styles housing quality, impact- and scratch-resistant polarized lenses of three different grades (Noctular PNV, Noctular and Ecolar for all budgets), Solar Bats are always a good choice when shopping for new glasses. New for 2007 is the MPCY-Mossback Gradient Polarized lens tint, which combines the Mossback tint in the top of the lens with the HiConY tint in the bottom, creating maximum versatility for spotting fish in all conditions. Prices vary according to the frame and lens style, but expect to pay $110 to $165 for the Noctular PNV lenses. (solarbat.com)
ThermaCell mosquito repellent
If ever there was a better mosquito repellent than the ThermaCell, we’d like to see it. Without dealing with messy, smelly sprays or lotions, the ThermaCell repells mosquitoes and other flying bugs with amazing effectiveness.
Powered by a butane cartridge that provides heat under a repellent mat, the device emits a powerful vapor that, while nearly odorless to humans, aggravates mosquitoes and black flies to no end.
Two of the smaller devices provide enough protection to keep mosquitoes out of the boat. For a handy night-fishing gadget, check out the ThermaCell Patio Lantern, which provides not only mosquito repellent, but also a little extra light. Refill packs for both devices are sold separately. Retail prices begin at $22. (thermacell.com)
The words “quality raingear” and “lightweight” don’t often go together, but Stearns’ Breathable Nylon outerwear line fits the description. We’ve been using the Diamond Ripstop Jacket and Pants over the summer, and together they’ve kept us dry without being too hot and heavy. Numerous pockets with ample space are ideal for anglers. The jacket retails for $45.99 while the pants are $32. (stearnsinc.com)
What would a superline be called if it changed to match the conditions? Stren Microfuse, most likely. This amazing superline, which won best of show in the Line Class category during the 2007 ICAST show, is a thermally fused braid that, while nearly translucent underwater, glows a hi-vis fluorescent blue in daylight and blue neon under a black light at night. It’s really something you have to see to believe. The line is available in pound tests ranging from 2 to 30 in spools of 125 yards, 300 yards and 1,100 yards. Retail price is $18.99 for a 125-yard spool. (stren.com)
The new Evair Marine/Fishing Sandals will be a hit with all serious boaters and anglers. With a scant weight of 6 ounces per shoe, the sandals are made of ultra-light EVA foam, which absorbs heel shock and reduces foot fatigue. They feature non-slipping, non-marking, water-channeling outsoles, as well as an air-channel system for keeping your feet cool and dry. The Evair Sandals retail for $39.99. (fish.shimano.com)
The folks at Outdoor Specialty Products (OSP) keep raising the bar in terms of aftermarket products for keeping fish healthy and strong in your livewell. From the Next Generation Rejuvinade products, to the V-T2 Ventilation System, OSP has one thing on their minds – the health of our resources. The V-T2 Ventilation System provides a necessary airflow in your livewells that not only removes buildup of harmful gases, but more importantly lowers the temperature of the water in the livewell. It wouldn’t surprise us at all to see these as standard equipment on bass boats in the future. Look for new key products to be introduced in 2008. (bassmedics.com)
Hamby’s boat bumpers
One of the best investments you can make to protect your boat’s hull is a Hamby’s Light Beaching Bumper. This aftermarket version of the factory installable Original Protector Beaching Bumper caters to the do-it-yourself angler who beaches his boat often and wants to protect his hull from damage. The protector weighs a mere 4 pounds, but is made of super-durable urethane. Following the instructions and moving carefully along, the protector can be installed at home in less than an hour using the super-adhesive 3M VHB adhesive provided. The bumper retails for $189.99. If you’re ordering a new bass boat for next season, be sure to ask for a Hamby’s Original Beaching Bumper to be installed at the factory. The expense is well worth the provided protection. (hambys.com)
Sospenders inflatable PFDs
The advantages to inflatable PFDs are many, with the primary one being that they’re more likely to be worn when needed. With both automatic and manual inflation options, Sospenders PFDs are designed to inflate automatically via a CO2 system when submerged. They’re light, cool and comfortable enough to wear all day, even on hot days, and they’re compact enough that they don’t get in the way while casting and reeling. Sospenders are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Retail price for the 1220 World Class Series is $168.99. (stearnsinc.com)