With not even a smidgen of a chance of going out lure fishing at the moment and with horrendous cabin fever setting in, I thought it might be helpful to give you some updates on how the gear I have been using/reviewing for the last year or so is shaping up. I don't speculate in my reviews and because of who I know/work with, some items are obviously easier to get hold of for reviews than others - albeit for whatever reasons, some things get used for longer periods than others..............
Lines - I just really like this Sufix 832 braid. It's very strong, plenty thin enough (ok, so not as thin as the more expensive Japanese 8-strands) and it just works. I haven't had a single problem with the line, indeed I am now convinced that my "issues" with the smaller spinning reels were down to spool profiles (see here). I only wish that we could more easily get our hands on the bright colours of the 832 in the UK. That YGK Nitlon fluorocarbon continues to perform flawlessly and I can't help but love that pricey YGK G-Soul 8 - it's up there with the Varivas 8-strand for me.
Wading - Although Simms Europe condemned by G4 waders when I sent them back for a look and hopeful repair of the neoprene socks, they continue to work very well. Would I buy them again ? No. As good as they are, I think they are just too expensive for what we put them through - but I am going to buy a pair of the new Simms G3 waders when they come out. My Simms Rivershed wading boots keep on going, those brilliant Orvis studs just refuse to look like they are going to wear down even a tiny bit, and I am starting to have some high hopes for these Five Ten SAR Canyoneering Boots. They seem to be excellent (and bright). I am continuing to wear these tough as nails Bassboots waders for most of my local fishing and they just keep on going - but you do sweat underneath them with a bit of walking/scrambling.
Reels - I am going to keep on fishing as much as I can with this Shimano Aero 4000, because it is really, really growing on me. I love the more expensive C14+ version, but the more I fish with this much cheaper Aero 4000, the more I am thinking it might be something rather special. The Sustains have done me proud, but I surprised myself by ending up using the 4000 more than the 2500 - my only thing of note would be that I think the bearing that the drive shaft goes through (it sits underneath the drag washers etc., you need a tiny, tiny Allen key to get to it) does need fairly regular oiling. Bearing in mind that my knowledge of servicing spinning reels is at best somewhat limited, one of my Sustains started to make a bit of a "rasping" sound on the retrieve - but once I got to that bearing and oiled it, the reel was back to being as smooth as you like, indeed "rasping" sounds on spinning reels as far as I can tell are often due to that particular bearing drying out. I absolutely love the handle on the Sustain 4000 and I wish all spinning reel handles could be like it.
Rods - Crumbs, with my lure rod issues, where do I start ? I love that you can buy at least two truly "proper" lure rods under the £100 mark, the 8'1'' Shimano Stradic and the 9' HTO Lure Game - you couldn't get two more different lure rods, but I think that's great. We want choice and we want value for money. There must be loads more good value for money lure rods out there now, but I have personally fished with those ones. I ended up selling my 9' Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo to a mate who was after a lure rod - it's an awesome rod and I did not like getting rid of it, but it was hard to justify the rod sitting there when I keep messing around with other ones. If there is one tiny thing that ended up bothering me about the Argento it's the handle, or rather the lack of some kind of grip (duplon?) where the back of your reel hand sits on the rod. That Major Craft Skyroad is a lure rod that I hope more anglers find out about. What a rod for the way many of us lure fish here in the UK and Ireland. The SLASH rods are something pretty special for the money, but I have fished mainly with the 8'6'' one so far. The APIA Flow Hunt continues to be a kind of benchmark in my head it's that good, but it's this 9'3'' APIA thing that is really freaking me out. I just hope that APIA rods become more easily available here in the UK.
"That" knot - I can see no point in using anything else. It's much stronger than any other way I used to use to attach braid to fluoro, and I know that I have got a few lures back I would not have got back before - ask the lads in Morocco who saw me straighten out the trebles on an X120, using "that" knot to join 20lb Sufix 832 to 20lb YGK fluoro. That lure was a goner with the knot I used to use, the Improved Albright/3-turn locking knot - yes, it's a good knot, but it's not in the same league as "that" knot. I have also simply given up worrying that "this" knot is ever going to catch in a rod ring, because it hasn't done so yet with any rod I have come across - and I was trying a rod out the other day with the most ridiculously small eyes on that I have ever seen whipped to a lure rod.
I might have mentioned it before, but my Ross pliers failed on me and I had to send them back to the US to have them repaired. I like them, but I have lost faith in them, plus the stitching on the sheath has come apart. I lent my pair of Orvis Sonic Seam waders to a mate and they split around the crotch area - what that says about us two is better left unsaid, but it's a shame because I was liking the waders. Unlucky? I think so, but it happened. There are plenty of good weedless hooks out there, but I can't find a pattern that I like more than the Owner Twistlock ones. Sure, like any hook they rust up over time, but I didn't actually lose one single weedless hook to a snag when bass fishing last year - so they work out pretty cheap in the long run. Oh, and Costa del Mar polarised sunglasses continue to work and work and work for me. Expensive but just frigging awesome.
Anyway, you all have a good weekend and I hope to catch up with some of you at the Swords show in Dublin tomorrow and Sunday. Another storm is raging outside as I type this, so stay safe around the coastline and let's hope that by about July the water might have cleared up!!