Gear of the Year 2017 - Part 1

It’s around that time of year again when I like to look back on here at the fishing gear that’s impressed me the most over the last twelve months or so. As much gear as I might get to play around with, I think there might be some similarities to my Gear of the Year 2016 Part 1 and Part 2 posts, but because I don’t plan this I guess I’ll write these new posts up and see where I’m at when they are done. Another year nearly over and yet again we are some lucky lure anglers if you ask me with what is increasingly on the market at what are often some really good prices. As for where we might be this time next year with bass stocks and potential restrictions, who knows? Anywhere, here goes…………….

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Lure rod of the year 2017, whatever the price - I have thought a lot about this, and although I have been lucky enough to fish with a few not remotely cheap and really rather lovely lure rods this year, I still keep coming back to the rather more “budget” HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g (review here). Is it really that good? Well I knew it was something a bit special the first time I ever picked it up, but now that I have fished with it a hell of a lot? Yes, big time. This 9’ 7-35g Nebula is just ridiculously good, and I’d still be saying that if it cost a whole heap more. I have a similar specced lure rod here that is at least three times the RRP of this Nebula and which I have fished with loads and loads over the last few years, yet I am choosing to fish with the Nebula - I like it that much. I said in my review that it was a game changing lure rod, and I stand by that.

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Best hard lure 2017 - Not a new one at all, and my choice here is down to me loving it for my own fishing as well as loving it more and more as a lure for guiding work - it just catches bass in a bunch of different situations. It casts a mile, you can simply wind it in, it works in calm conditions, rough conditions, night time, and also in a good run of current. I like the size, I like the colours, hell, it’s been my go-to bouncier conditions hard lure for a few years now, and I haven’t come across anything else that has persuaded me otherwise - what has crept up on me about this lure in 2017 is how often I find myself getting our clients over in Ireland to clip one on and then seeing it catch fish. The IMA Hound 125F Glide is my hard lure of the year 2017.

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Best accessory 2017 no.1 - The excellent HPA 40 litre waterproof rucksack. I have used this rucksack as good as all year without any problems. Comfortable to carry, it holds enough gear for me (and that includes a camera plus lenses etc.), obviously it’s waterproof which is really handy, and it hasn’t failed and started letting water in around the bottom part of the rucksack.

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Best breathable waders 2017 - I have tried some other waders out this year, but still nothing has impressed me as much as the Vision Ikon breathable chest waders (review here). Logic says that there should surely be a pair of breathables out there that offer more for the money, but if there actually is then I haven’t come across them yet. A bit bloody brilliant if you ask me. OK, so the two pairs of not bloody cheap Simms waders I have owned are supremely well cut and are a smidgen easier to wear as a result, but the far cheaper Vision Ikons I have used have lasted longer and I’ll take them thank you very much.

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Best braid 2017 - Take your pick from Sufix 832 (review here) or Sufix Performance Pro 8 (review here). Yep, I’ve got a serious thing for Sufix lines, and the fact that they do two such good braids for such sensible money does it for me in a big way. Go for the Sufix 832 if you want a very slightly thicker but seriously robust 8-strand mainline, and then if you want an uber-smooth, very thin and very long-casting, high end Japanese style 8-strand braid, go for Sufix Performance Pro 8 - and the fact that this perfect mainline is also now available in a bright orange colour has immeasurably improved my life!

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Special mention lure rod 2017 - If the 9’ 7-35g Nebula hadn’t come along then I’d have gone for the sublime and bit more luxurious if you like Tailwalk Salty Shape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g (review here). A sub-£200 lure rod that is easily on a par with the outstanding Major Craft Skyroad 9’ 10-30g rod, this particular Tailwalk rod is arguably going to suit some anglers a bit better than the cheaper Nebula - but why? Because as much as I love a very fast action on a lure rod - like with the Ex Fast Nebula - the Tailwalk is not quite as fast, and for some anglers this makes it that little bit easier to fish with. I like the Tailwalk Salty Shape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g a hell of a lot, but I gave the Nebula the top spot because it’s priced so aggressively.

Gear that I have used for so many years now and continues to work so well that I have basically given up looking for an alternative 2017 no.1 - The Under Armour Heat Gear compression leggings and the Under Armour Cold Gear compression leggings and compression long sleeve top. OK, so I certainly wasn’t born to compress, and men in tights does garner me a few weird looks from time to time, but I just can’t imagine not wearing this Under Armour compression gear under my waders when I go fishing. It works that well. I am still on my original two pairs of Cold Gear leggings and compression tops, and that’s more than six  years of use now. OK, so I wear that stuff when it’s a bit colder, but it still adds up to a hell of a lot of use over six years, and I am only on my second two pairs of the lighter weight Heat Gear leggings that I wear when I don’t need the warmer Under Armour Cold Gear stuff - basically a hell of a lot. Over the last six years that I’ve been using Under Armour leggings especially under my waders I have taken the odd gamble to see if something else could do any better, and those gambles are now sitting in my cupboard because they were a complete waste of money. I include some leggings in that gamble category that are referred to on their tackle company websites as being specialist under wader wear - but they haven’t come close to how well this Under Armour gear works.

My biggest fishing like a tit moment of 2017 - When I broke the rather lovely Favorite Skyline SKY-862M 8’6’’ 6-21g due to landing a bass about as badly as you could ever hope to do so! Seriously, if it had been caught on video it would have made the most perfect “how not to do it” instructional clip. Fishing eh? You think you’re doing it ok and then fishing reminds you who the boss really is.……..

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