One thing I have never envied for one second is having to design and make fishing tackle - it can be exciting stuff to do, but I personally reckon that it's nigh on impossible to come up with a "perfect" item of fishing gear. Seek as many opinions as possible, do as much rigorous testing as time will allow, but I bet you that somebody somewhere will find some kind of fault with it. But is that "fault" really a fault, or is it the fact that this somebody wants something different from the gear that it was never meant to do ? Anybody working around bringing fishing gear to market is fast going to learn that you can simply never please everybody.
Take a lure like the Tackle House Feed Shallow above - one of the seriously killer ultra-shallow divers that I would bet more and more anglers are carrying. An easy lure to fish with, a lure that just works really well with nothing more than a straight retrieve, but for some reason it comes with hooks that would be best described as not being of the finest quality. Is this a "fault" though ? Lots of anglers do see it as a fault, and I tend to agree, but what about all the anglers who have never had any kind of problem with the hooks ? See what I mean. It ain't easy. One guy says the hooks are rubbish, the next guy reckons they are fine. The lure in the photo above is mine, and the original hooks have been replaced with decent trebles. Is it a fault, or are we using this lure in a way that it was not meant to be used ?
Look closely at the photo above and you will see a broken 12 weight fly rod that James's guide Arno is helping hold together so that James can land the GT he is hooked into out in the Seychelles. The fish came in, but the rod broke during the fight, and I can vouch for the fact that James was doing everything completely right (no high-sticking etc.) The same rod had broken the year before out in Gabon when James and I were on a trip there. He was fighting a fish at the back of the boat and the rod just snapped clean. Why ? No idea, but again, James was doing nothing wrong. The rod goes back to the manufacturer in question to be sorted out. We go on this big Seychelles trip and the same rod breaks again, in exactly the same place, and all James was doing was fighting a GT. Should a rod be breaking like this for no apparent reason, or is the angler asking too much of it ? No, it should not break, but it did - rods do break from time to time. I have seen all manner of rods break over the years via all manner of different reasons, and a fair percentage break due to angler error. But what about the breakages that occur for no apparent reason ? I remember filming years ago over in Ireland and one of my beachcasters simply snapped during a cast. No idea why, I got a new tip, and it never happened again. Did I do something wrong that I never noticed ? Did I ask the rod to do something that it was not designed to do ? Or was it just a freak occurrence ?
Look at a bass lure like the awesome MegaBass Zonk 120 Gataride - it slays fish, but there is a problem with it. That hinged bib is a weak point that I have personally experienced, but in reality whose fault is it ? The lure has a bib like this for a reason, and the lure works really well. But the bib is fragile and will break if you smash it into a rock. The lure is hardly cheap, but if we go and smash the lure into a rock and the bib breaks, whose fault is it ? Do we blame MegaBass because the bib is not as strong say as a fixed one, or do we look at ourselves and admit that we should not have smashed the lure into a rock in the first place ?
Was the lure ever even designed to be fished hard around structure which could smash the bib and render the lure useless ? I don't know, but much as I want to shout and scream when I do smash the bib from time to time, the lure kills, and in all honesty I should not be winding the thing into the rocks. But the lure works really well around the rocks. Are we using the lure around places here in the UK and Ireland where it was not actually designed to be used ? Are we exposing a weak point on the lure that only we are experiencing ? See what I mean ? Impossible to please everybody.
But I will tell you what I hear the most about - breathable chest waders. OK, the odd pair can spring a leak sometimes for no apparent reason. It has happened to me before, and I am sure it will happen again. I remember wading out with my camera one morning in a freezing cold northern BC river, only to feel a growing wet patch down my thermals. The waders had been fine the day before, but they had "decided" to leak that particular morning. Or did they ? Had I done something to them without even realising ? Pass. I blamed the waders, obviously. I am an angler and I demand a hell of a lot from the gear I use. Some stuff does just fail from time to time, and it drives me absolutely mad when something does fail for a reason that could so easily have been prevented. But as I said, I would not want to be a designer or manufacturer of fishing gear. The stuff is just so personal to the angler.
The same with bass fishing on the rocks and weed. The sooner we accept the fact that we are putting breathable chest waders through stuff that they were simply not designed for, the better. Honestly, I hear so much garbage flying back and forth about waders. They are not designed for "our" world. I wish they were, of course I do, and some are better than others at resisting what we put them through, but essentially they are designed for freshwater applications. So who is at fault if and when a pair goes wrong ? We fall on rocks and we rip our waders, at least we can have the gumption to hold our hands up and say we messed up........
It still amazes me though when I see so many fishermen putting their waders on over the top of things like jeans and then saying that their waders have definitely got a tiny leak because it feels a bit damp inside. Really ? This is where I really feel for the manufacturers, when they do all they can to make us good products that are designed to be used in a certain way, and we then go and use them the wrong way and complain about it. The least we can do is to admit when we have done wrong, but then on the flipside, make some proper noise when there is something genuinely wrong with a bit of fishing gear. Companies do listen. OK, some listen better than others, but stuff does get heard...........sometimes !!