2009 review - breathable waders and my all important album of the year

Bearing in mind that I do some work for Hardy & Greys Ltd., it's hardly surprising that I end up wearing their waders and wading boots most of the time. But that aside, they do some outstanding wading gear that continues to serve me really well for my bass fishing and also for my fishing photography in a lot of different places. And if it's any help, I still firmly believe that the "budget" Greys G-Series breathable waders are the best value for money ones out there. You simply will not go wrong using a pair of these things - see my thoughts from last year right here. To people who don't wear breathable waders for their fishing, then I can understand you are wondering why on earth so much fuss can be made about waders. But for those of us who virtually live in ours, they are just completely vital.

But my best waders of 2009 go to the Greys Platinum breathable waders - I have used these products over and over again throughout 2009 and they are doing really well. I have fallen a few times on sharp rocks and put various holes in them, but it's nothing that a bit of decent wader repair stuff doesn't sort out (see here, outstanding value). They fit really well and they are good for walking long distances in all kinds of temperatures, but one thing I don't understand is why they have put somewhat pointless gravel guards that don't work very well at the bottom of what are actually fairly expensive waders. The gravel guards on the Hardy EWS2 breathable waders are really good and do a fantastic job, so why not put those on the Greys Platinum ones ? I can accept the gravel guards on the far cheaper G-Series waders being of little use, but not on a far more expensive pair.

You also can't go far wrong using the rubber studded soled Greys Platinum wading boots for all kinds of surfaces, indeed you would not believe the grip these things give you on wet rocks for starters. I am seeing more and more anglers wearing these wading boots, but make sure to hose them down after fishing. Very good value for money, especially if you look around for a good deal. Lots of big fly fishing retailers offer really good deals on waders and wading boots - always worth checking out the adverts in a magazine like Trout Fisherman as well.

A decent pair of breathable chest waders do tend to be better cut than the cheaper ones, but whichever way you look at it, buying these kinds of fly fishing waders to use for sea fishing means that you are using a product intended for freshwater in saltwater. This is no great problem, but at the very least you should look to hose them down after a day out (saltwater) fishing. It makes sense to look after items like these. Not the most exciting of products, but utterly necessary for mobile bass fishing in the UK and Ireland - unless you fancy wet wading in cold water or sweating horribly in a pair of neoprene chesties.

The news that one of Norway's mightiest black metal bands was getting back together and recording a new album to follow their outstanding "Sons of Northern Darkness" was one of the best bits of news in 2009. I would have been completely gutted if their new CD had not been at least close to my top album of last year, and all along I was hoping that it would fly in via my letterbox and just blow me out of the water with the sheer might of it. Immortal's "come back" album of last year is without any doubt my favourite release of 2009 - "All Shall Fall" is just pure and utter class from the first riff to the last second. Insanely catchy yet wonderfully brutal black metal done in the way that only Immortal can do, with a massive production that likes roaring out my speakers and shaking our floorboards. Honestly, you don't even need to be into black metal to have this album freak the living hell out of you. It's that good. Perhaps not quite topping "Sons of Northern Darkness" from one of my top ten metal albums of all time, but very, very close. Don't believe me ? Check out a few tracks right here. Just immense. Immortal are at the peak of their game. Metal all the way.