Gear of the year 2012 - Part 1

It's that time of year again when I have a look at the fishing tackle that has impressed me the most during 2012, and yes, in case you were wondering, my falling for lure fishing in such a big way has I believe made me into a tackle tart of the highest order. I find it fascinating where a lot of our lure fishing gear is coming from, and although of course the bulk of it seems to be Japanese, French and American, I do hope that we see some more stuff being designed here in the UK as time goes on. As for me, well I feel incredibly lucky to be able to try out the fishing tackle that I do (and a big thank you must go to various people for helping me out so much), and I know that these experiences if you like are helping to shape what I want to use for my own fishing - and please note what I am saying here. Just because I like something does not mean you will, but I do my best to provide objective and honest gear reviews on this blog that I hope might help a few people out. I am sure you have noticed that I am playing around with a lot more Japanese fishing tackle these days, and this of course ties in with what is increasingly appearing here in the UK, plus the fact I am really finding that some of it is working really well for me. Give me another year and who knows where I will be though. It's all a huge learning curve for me and I am enjoying it more than ever. Here's Part 1 of my favourite Gear of the Year 2012 :

Best bass lure rod 2012 - Graphiteleader Argento RV 862ML-PE. What an easy decision to make. I can't think of many fishing rods I have used from whatever discipline that have made such an impression on me as this "budget" Graphiteleader Argento RV 862ML-PE. It's 8'6'' long, rated 6-28g and I can't think of anything I would want to change about it - see my original review of this awesome lure rod here. I also had a bit of a play with the slightly lighter 8'3'' version out in Ireland earlier this year and it felt just as awesome, as indeed do the 8'9'' and 9' versions. I must also mention the IMA x Apia Foojin' AD Energy Flow 92Ml lure rod, a rod that is continuing to blow my mind - see my review here and note that it has not gone back yet because I simply can't let go of it. How about I fight for it ? I have now played with a few different APIA lure rods on the quiet and I am fishing with one at the moment in fact that is completely freaking me out. More to come..........

Best soft lure 2012 - Fiiish Black Minnow. I have done ok on various soft plastics this year (Wave Worms, OSP 6'' DoLive Sticks, Hawg Wild 6' senkos etc.), but the standout one for me has to be the Fiiish Black Minnow. I can't get away from the fish I have caught on these lures and also of course the fish I have seen taken on them (check here for example). They just work. I have an increasing thing for fishing weightless soft plastics and perhaps my obsessive nature took me away from shads/paddletails a bit, but the Fiiish Black Minnow has brought me right back on them in a big way.

Best spinning reel 2012 - The Daiwa Theory, and the one I have been using this year is the 2500 size. What a fantastic reel at a great price, and it's light, smooth and seems to deal with our fishing just fine. After prolonged use I did notice a slight stiffness/rasping noise when opening the bale-arm and I think it might have been a dodgy bearing, but I sent it back to Daiwa and they sorted it out. A lot of reel for the money and it sits just great on my best lure rod of the year. I came close here to going for the Daiwa Caldia Mag Sealed reel, but as much as I love fishing with it, I can't help but feel that the Theory is offering better value for money. Both are fantastic reels.

Best any price fishing clothing 2012 - The Simms G4 waders. Pure, unadulterated class that don't come remotely cheap. See my feelings about these waders here. Plenty of waders work just great, but when you wear these Simms ones for long periods you realise why they have the worldwide reputation they do, but as much as they do seem to be a lot tougher than many waders I have used over the years, slip/fall on sharp rocks and you still stand a good chance of putting a hole in them - it's the nature of the game.

Best little thing no.1 2012 - Delalande Agrafe Rapide Inox clip with a swivel. A lure clip is hardly the most exciting thing in the world, but for a while now I have used and really liked the Delalande Agrafe Rapide Inox clips - now though you can buy them with a swivel attached to them and it seems to help prevent a lot of the line twist that you can sometimes get from fishing weightless soft plastics. I have been using the 29lb no. 6 size and I continue to think they are brilliantly simple clips that work perfectly - but now available with a swivel.

Best fishing accessory 2012 - Costa del Mar Rockport polarised sunglasses. I have worn these for virtually all my fishing and/or travel this year. Sure, they are the "budget" end of the Costa del Mar line-up and they are "only" polycarbonate (plastic) lenses as opposed to the higher end 580G glass lenses, but they seem downright incredible to me and these have been one seriously comfortable pair of sunglasses to wear for long periods - to the point that you completely forget they are there. The pair I have here has the Copper 580P lenses in them and I reckon the lens colouration is subtler than in the equivalent copper 580G glass lens - you might or might not prefer this, and in fact I think I do.

Favourite fishing destination 2012 - Come on, have a guess. Couldn't be Ireland could it ? I am loving getting to really know the coastline around Tramore and Dungarvan better and better, but I am incredibly excited about the bass fishing up around the north Kerry coastline. Sure, the weather is always going to be an issue up there, but I got a taste of the bass fishing earlier this year and I have heard many reports now of how insane it can be when it goes off. A place to spend more time. Ireland continues to do it for me, and although 2012 was a very up and down bass fishing year over there (and until I hear any different or it is proved to me otherwise, I put it down to the ridiculously up and down weather we have had all year), I am looking forward more than ever to 2013 and my various Ireland trips. I have also loved the Isles of Scilly since I first went there on a recce trip for my first ever TV series, but now that wrassing on plastics has become such a fun and effective way to fish I find myself wanting to go there more and more than I already did - not forgetting what has to be some of the best shore fishing for pollack there is. It is always going to amaze me why the Isles of Scilly are not crawling with anglers. Part 2 to come later this week.......