By Bill Schultz
I’m picky and try to always use the best products for whatever type of fishing I’m doing. “Best” doesn’t always mean most expensive. I have a few products I’m going to give you my “quick” thoughts about in this article. As always, I hope the article is helpful and you find a product or two, or three. Hopefully it will help you whether in your boat, kayak, wading or just sitting on the shore. Let’s get off on the “right” foot with this article and start with a couple quite different, but great water shoes.
SperryTop-Sider SON-R Sounder Shandal
I spotted the Sperry SON-R Shandal at Canoecopia 2012 and it looked like the perfect kayak shoe. I wore it during most of my outings last year and it truly is a great kayak shoe. The outsole features metatarsal pods for improved sensory “feel” no matter the surface I was on. The hydro-grip rubber provides excellent traction and stability pulling a kayak over slippery rocks or transporting it from car to water. Also, the outsole is thick to protect when stepping on sharp rocks, flexible and has a great toecap for even more protection. Once out of the water, the internal drainage takes care of excess water. The breathable hydrophobic mess dries quickly, is cool on hot days, and has an anti-microbial lining to minimize odor. You should take a look at this outstanding, state-of-the-art, water shoe for your kayak activities. Even though designed for water, the SON-R is very versatile and is great for a variety of casual outdoor activities. www.sperrytopsider.com - $90
Keen Newport H2
My wife has been a huge fan of the Keen hiking shoes for quite a few years and encouraged me to give them a try. I did, and also find the hiking shoes tremendously comfortable and supportive. With that in mind, I wanted to give their Newport H2 a try for my kayak fishing and boat fishing. I have the Newport H2 in black, as does my wife, and we both love the look. The cushion and comfort of the sole is truly remarkable. The H2 goes from water to trail with ease, which I’ve done a number of times. I like the open design, which facilitates flushing sand from between my foot and the shoe easily once in my kayak. As comfortable as this shoe is, I’ve worn for a variety of other activities and even where with socks at times. The Keen H2 is an excellent all-around sandal that you won’t be disappointed in. www.keen.com - $100
Coyote Eyewear Polarized Bifocal Readers
I wear bifocals or use readers. I also fish clear or mostly clear waters, so polarized sunglasses are essential in spotting structure and fish. The Coyote USA Polarized Readers are one of the best items I’ve used in recent years. Since first putting a pair on, I can count close to 250 days on the water with them. The Coyote readers feature impact resistant, class one, polycarbonate polarized lenses that are non-glare, come in gray or brown and bi-focal power of +1.5, +2.0 or +2.5. I no longer waste time taking sunglasses off and finding my readers when unhooking a fish or changing a lure. If you need readers, the Coyote Polarized Readers are a must have tool for your fishing, and all your sunglass needs. If you don’t need readers, check out all the Coyote polarized styles. www.coyoteusa.com - $80
Frabill Power Stow Nets
I don’t always use a net, but when I do it’s always been a Frabill. I’m now using the impressive Power Stow Nets for both my kayak and boat fishing. For kayak fishing I use the Power Stow 3704. This net is a perfect kayak net with a hoop size of 14’ by 18” and 14” depth. The handle is 22”, so the entire net is 40” and fits perfectly in a flush rod mount behind the seat, in a rod tube on your crate or on the floor of your kayak. The Power Stow is lightweight, and important for kayak fishing, folds to 8” by 26” when not in use. If you’re chasing bigger critters, the 3706 has a 20” by 24” hoop and 21” depth. This version has a 36” handle and folds to 10” by 39”. After years of using Frabill nets, I trust the quality of their nets. www.frabill.com $44.99-$54.99
“Original” BogaGrip 15 Pound Gripper-Style Scale
OK, we all know fishermen are known for adding a little length and weight the big one. Me, I have a pension for accuracy. Back in the late 90’s I caught a smallmouth bass that measured 19 7/8 inches and I never said I caught a 20 incher, until I actually did. That being said, over the years I’ve always tested my digital scales for accuracy. There are some very nice gripper style digital scales out there, but I’d heard about the accuracy and toughness of the “Original” BogaGrip and needed to get one, which I did a couple years ago. I have the BogaGrip 15 Pound gripper style scale and feel totally comfortable with the weight I’m seeing for those big smallies I like to catch. In fact, if you catch a monster, you can send you BogaGrip to the IGFA to have it certified as a world-record. BogaGrips have over 2,400 IGFA world records to their credit. This great, and very accurate, scale is made of stainless steel and high-performance black acetal thermoplastic. These tough and resilient materials makes the BogaGrip very strong and resistant to conditions encountered while fishing in fresh or saltwater. I like the fact that the 15 pounder is very compact and like the fact, that unlike other gripper scales, the weight of the fish causes the prongs to shut even tighter. The swivel motion eliminates torque from a spinning fish and the importantly the shock absorber dampens a fish’s attempt to get free. Check out a dealer from the web site at www.eastabogatackle.com $124.95
Lines I Love!
In recent years, all I can say about some of the new lines is, Wow! I’m picky and demand a great deal from the lines I use. I’m typically fishing with reels that are rated for 100 to 135 yards of 6# mono line. For my smallie fishing, to get extra- long casts, I’m using braid/superline that has an equivalent to mono diameter of 2 or 3 pounds. When I spool the lines I use a mono backing, which allows me to put less of the more expensive braid/superline on the reel. I am using an 8 to 10 pound fluorocarbon leader because I mostly fish waters that are reasonably to super clear. All the lines I’m discussing handle the fluorocarbon leader perfectly using a uni to uni knot. As we get older, our eyesight isn’t quite as good, so I also want a line that I can see. I also want lines that are very easy to work with. I’d like to recommend four lines that I’ve put many hours on and have had great luck with.
Power Pro Super 8 Slick
This is a super smooth and extremely quiet line that casts forever. Unlike regular Power Pro, that has a slightly rough reel that makes noise coming through the guides, this line is made from 8 yarn Spectra, rather than 4. It is dental floss smooth, which enhances casting distance and just as strong as regular Power Pro, coming in 10 to 80 pound test. I’ve been using the 10 pound test, two pound equivalent diameter and especially love it in the Hi-Vis Yellow, but have also used it in Aqua Green, which, for me, is a little less visible. You’ll love this line!
www.powerpro.com - $19.99 for 150 yd. spool
This too is made from more strands of Spectra fiber and also is phenomenally smooth with an extra small diameter to pound test. I’ve been using Samurai for three years and love this line. The 15 pound test I’ve been using in Hi-Vis Yellow has an equivalent to mono diameter of 2.5 pounds. Samurai is a little more expensive than the other lines due to the fact that it is manufactured in Japan. I have nothing but positive things to say about Daiwa Samurai! www.daiwa.com - $27.95-$44.95 (higher pound test, less cost)
Here’s a line that has created a good deal of buzz over the past two years, and for good reason. I’ve been using the 8 and 10 pound test since early in 2011. In talking to the Berkley PR firm, I wondered if I was the first guy to catch a 6 pound smallie with the 8 pound. Who knows, but maybe? The Nanofil I use is Clear Mist, which makes it easy to see. It also comes in hi-vis chartreuse and low-vis green. It is made of gel-spun polyethylenel. Much like superline, this ultimate spinning reel fishing line consists of hundreds of Dyneema nano filaments. I am told that Dyneema is the world’s strongest fiber. I can’t argue with the casting distance and the sensitivity is really something. It has an extra slick feel and using the Polymer note, as I do, was told to make one more loop before tightening, which has work great for me. Give Nanofil a try and you’ll be just as please as I am. www.berkley-fishing.com - $19.95 150 yd. spool
Berkley Tracer Braid
This is a traditional braid that is possibly a little smoother than others. But, what I really like about Tracer Braid is the alternating high-vis and low-vis colors. These are each 2.5’ and make this line extremely easy to see. I have been using both the 8/2 and 10/3 with nothing but great things to say. For those of you who like traditional braids, that you can “see”, you’ll love Berkley Tracer Braid! www.berkley-fishing.com - $17.99 for 110 yd. spool
RAM Mounting Systems and in particular the camera mount
When rigging a boat or kayak, is there anything better for electronics, trolling motor support or even cameras than the products in the RAM line-up? The answer is “no”. On my Crestliner 1750 Fish Hawk my dashboard and bow locators are both on RAM Mounts and when I’m running on the water, my 60” shaft Minkotta iPilot is secured with a RAM Mount. I fish alone most of the time, which makes it tough to get video and pictures. Well, a couple of years ago I got the RAM Camera Mount with suction base and was off to the races. First, the camera base screws into any camera just like a tripod base would. And, the remarkable thing is I can affix this to my windshield with the suction mount. I’m ready for video and still photos. I know that your question is does the suction give out and come off? The answer is a resounding “no”. In May and June I’m on the big waters of Lake Michigan in Door County, Wisconsin and have made runs over very rough water with the mount affixed to my windshield. No problem. Great product line top to bottom! www.ram-mounts.com - $39.00
YakAttack PanFish and PanFish Portrait Camera Poles
I told you how I handle those photos and videos when I’m alone in my boat. But, what about all that kayak fishing I do, and again, alone. Picture and video problem solved with the YakAttack PanFish and PanFish Potrait Camera Poles. The Portrait is 6” tall and takes the RAM Camera Mount. It is designed for mounting with the YakAttack GearTrac or kayak mounting systems, like the Wilderness Systems Side Trax System. It’s designed for mounting in front of the paddler and is low-profile to be out of the way during the fight, but handy for the trophy photo or reverse angle videos. The PanFish Camera Pole is 28” is also designed to fit the GearTrac or other kayak track systems. This longer pole is designed for over-the-shoulder video with lightweight cameras. The picture of my kayak has the Kodak Play Sport attached. The PanFish features a split mast design with adjustable friction disks that allow quick and easy horizontal planning and works great with the RAM Camera Mount. Both these products are outstanding and take care of those of us who want photos and video, but are out alone most of the time. Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we all had our own photographer? The PanFish and PanFish Portrait are much more reasonable. www.yakattack.us – PanFish, $44-$65, PanFish Portrait, $35-$55 (more with RAM Camera Mount and Mounting Hardware)
I have a good sized garage, but, like most garages, it gets crowed very easily. So, any space savings is a huge bonus. Last fall I installed the Harken Hoister, putting one of my Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 kayaks out of the way with a system that lifts it to the rafters. And, the bonus is, how easily I can lower it to my Malone MicroSport Trailer or Malone Car Racks on my Subaru Outback. Harken’s World Headquarters are on the way to one of my favorite kayak fishing lakes west of Milwaukee. Known for world-class sailing hardware, the Hoister is a great product for any kayaker. It’s designed for one-person operation, and raises and lowers with a single control rope. A patented design lifts and lowers evenly, regardless of weight distribution. The self-locking safety cleat grips instantly if the rope accidentally released. And, as you’d expect from Harken, the hardware is stainless steel, with double core rope for strength, durability and long life. I followed the directions to the letter and it was really quite easy to install, and once installed, it was obvious I needed this great product. I will be installing a second very soon. www.harken.com - $109.95 - $159.95, depending on length and weight of kayak