Here we go then - my Gear of the Year for 2011 - Part 1 (Part 2 later in the week). I tend to use, abuse and do my best to evaluate a fair amount of fishing tackle through the course of a year and I use the stuff hard when I am out and about. Ask anybody I fish with for an idea of the grief I give my gear, and in the end the stuff that comes through for me I hope might prove useful to you in some way. I suppose at heart that I am a hopeless tackle tart, and in general I just enjoy using different bits of fishing tackle and trying to work out what it is that I like or don't like about the stuff. Remember though that my opinions are no more or less valid than yours, but of course it's my blog and therefore I am going to talk about the gear that I like. Oh, and the photo above is one I shot on Saturday evening. No bass caught, but holy cow the light was off the scale !! Here goes :
Hard lure 2011 - the IMA Salt Skimmer. Not only has this little missile of a surface lure caught me a bunch of nice bass this year (plus a load of pollack), it produced the single most savage take off the top from a bass that I have ever had or indeed witnessed. I just flat out enjoy using this lure, and that to me is what it's all about. I love the way it casts so insanely well yet lands nice and softly. So easy to work, incredibly stable, and it just catches bass for me. You would be surprised at the kinds of conditions that this "little" IMA Salt Skimmer can thrive in, and it cuts through or across wind like an arrow. I am more and more into surface lures that land softly or quietly and can then be worked as hard or as subtly as you require. The IMA Salt Skimmer is that kind of surface lure. The IMA/DUO Nabarone 125 (floating and sinking versions) did come close here. From a few experiences I have had this year I have a growing suspicion that the Nabarone 125 is a serious big bass lure (see here and here), and it's one that I have not used nearly as much as I should have been. There is always 2012 for that.........
Spinning reel 2011 - the Daiwa Luvias 2500. As much as I this brand new Daiwa Caldia 2500 Mag Sealed hugely impressed me the other day in Ireland, I have not used it nearly enough yet to give it the top prize. It seems to be a serious spinning reel though. The spinning reel I have really got on with consistently well this year has been the amazingly lightweight but seemingly tough as boots Daiwa Luvias 2500. Some bit of kit. I have dropped down a reel size for most of the year and I am really liking it like that. The Team Daiwa TDX 2508 spinning reel has also done very well for me this year, but the Luvias has just shaded it primarily because it is that little bit lighter. To be perfectly honest, both are easily as good as each other and the weight thing is marginal at best. But I had to pick one.
Lure fishing accessory no.1 2011 - without a doubt these incredible Ross Pescador 6'' pliers. They have given me faultless precision all year and are showing not one single problem. Not cheap for a pair of pliers, but then the best stuff never is. These things very much like saltwater, and how often can you say that about items of fishing gear ?
Lure fishing accessory no.2 2011 - the Vac-Rac rod racks that I always put on my car these days to transport my rods around. Can't do without them now. The days of ramming delicate lure rods into the back of my car are well and truly over. Why on earth did I not think of using these Vac-Racs ages ago ? (thanks Nick !!).There are smaller versions of them by the way that are perfect for carrying just one or two rods at a time.
Polarised sunglasses 2011 - same as last year. The frighteningly good Costa del Mar 580 sunglasses, and especially with the green mirror lenses. They work as well on the tropical flats as they do for bass fishing. I have recently been using the new Corbina frames with these 580 green mirror lenses in and I can't tell you how much they impress me. Not remotely cheap, but they are the best polarised sunglasses I have ever come across. Virtually welded to my face, but never indoors !! (see here for my feelings on that particular subject).
Non-fishing product 2011 - my Amazon Kindle. Talk about revolutionising the "joys" of economy class airline travel. I have always loved reading, and this Kindle has really got me back into it in a major way both at home and on the road. To be able to carry literally as ma ny books as I want in a thing as compact as the Kindle is simply incredible, and the screen feels just like reading a real book. The best book I have read this year has to be the awesome World War Z by Max Brooks. I hear that there is a film of this book coming out sometime fairly soon, but for the life of me I can't work out how a proper film can actually be made from this book - you will see what I mean if you read it. I don't want an iPhone or indeed an iPad, but this Kindle rocks my world.