Best spinning reel 2017 - As much as I am loving fishing with the rather expensive Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel (review here), I can’t get away from how my mate Mark has lure fished for as good as all of this year with the somewhat cheaper Shimano Stradic 3000FK (review here) - it’s still very smooth via minimal maintenance, and as per my experiences with the reel last year, it’s a lot of spinning reel for the money. Same reel as last year then, apologies for that, but once more it’s the rather lovely Shimano Stradic 3000FK as my spinning reel of the year.
Best accessory 2017 no.2 - Sorry, really boring because it’s the same as it has been for a few years now, but as much as I keep an eye out for a lure clip that works better for me than the simple but quite brilliant Breakaway Mini Link, I still haven’t found one. Not one single failure since I first ever tied one of these lure clips on, plus it’s so damn simple to use and I like the Breakaway Mini Link as much with soft plastics as I do with hard lures.
Best soft plastic lure 2017 - As per above, sorry again for not being able to find something I like more, so it’s still the OSP DoLive Stick, and specifically the 6’’ version - although I have seen my mate Mark do really well on the smaller 4.5’’ ones as well when conditions allow. I’ve seen the white Albie Snax catch some good fish at night, I still love white senkos, and I think the Fiiish Black Minnow continues to be the best paddletail system by miles - but the DoLive Stick gets clipped on so much and it gives me so much confidence. My goal now is to start getting to grips with fishing the DoLive Stick at night, because I am hearing about increasing numbers of anglers catching some good bass like this.
Best “money no object” lure rod 2017 - The incredible Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S90ML 9’ 7-24g (review here), a rod that I very much want to own but am trying my best to resist! Incredible, just incredible. As I said in my review of this rod, whilst it is more than comfortable fishing a variety of different hard and soft lures, it’s as if somebody loved the DoLive Stick as much as me and decided to design a rod to perfectly fish with it.
Best waterproof jacket 2017 - I have used the Vision Kust wading jacket for a long time now, and my experience with it has proved to me once and for all that it’s the best jacket for lure fishing I have come across so far. Sure, it’s not that cheap, but you can spend a whole heap more if you wanted to - as I have done so in the past - yet for the life of me I can’t see what benefit I am getting over this outstanding Vision Kust wading jacket. Every single thing about this jacket works for me and how I go about my fishing. I know that Vision is a fly fishing brand, but their Kust jacket works perfectly for lure fishing in my opinion.
Best fluorocarbon leader 2017 - Save yourself some money and have a look at the fantastic Sufix Super 21FC (review here). OK, so it’s not one of those somewhat more expensive and slightly stiffer “pure” fluorocarbons such as Seaguar and Sufix’s own and very good Invisiline, but Sufix Super 21FC works perfectly as a leader material for our lure fishing, and if you buy those 150m spools then it’s some serious value for money. What’s not to like?
Best accessory 2017 no. 3 - The Owner Twistlock weedless hooks (Gary Yamamoto spec), and specifically the size 5/0 for the 6’’ long DoLive Stick. The more I fish with these hooks, the more I like them. The hook and that clever little hitchhiker thing with the centreing pin make it so easy to perfectly rig a bunch of different soft plastics, including the DoLive Stick of course. Not a cheap hook, and they do rust up a bit over time - but with how few I lose it’s hardly breaking the bank. I can’t remember the last time I actually snagged one up and lost it in fact, which means that I am throwing away rusted hooks more often than I am losing them.
Best way to carry my lures 2017 - As with lure clips above, sorry, but I still haven’t found a better or more cost effective way to carry my lures and have them easily to hand as the HPA bag I use. Use it with a shoulder strap and it’s as if your couple of boxes of lures weigh absolutely nothing. I like how the bag drains when I wade, and using a shoulder strap I expect to get about a year and a half out of this HPA bag before I need to get a new one. Annoyingly it’s not the zips that fail, far from it in fact, but it’s the straps on the bag that you clip the shoulder strap to that will eventually tear away from the bag because the stitching gives. About a year and half of use though at the price the bag is more than does it for me - I have tried a few of those more expensive Japanese lure waist style bags with lots of zips and bling and I didn’t get on with them. I can’t be doing with sling style bags either. Nope, when it comes to carry easily enough lures and being to very easily get at them, simple is far better for me, and this HPA bag ticks all my boxes.
Items that I could not have imagined spending money on this time last year 2017 - Lifejackets and PLBS. Lots more to come, but have a look above for some recent fishing safety related blog posts of mine for the time being.
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.2 - Costa del Mar polarised sunglasses. What more do I need to say? I am still wearing their awesome Permit frames with the ridiculously good 580G Green Mirror lenses in a lot of the time, but I am finding myself wearing their newer new Silver Sunrise Mirror lens colour for a lot of my UK and Ireland fishing and guiding.
Best accessory 2017 no.3 - Fenix HL30 headlamp. I had bought another of those Coast HL44 Dual Colour LED headlamps, but some wires started to come loose, and when it came to buy another one the specs and prices had changed - seemed to be less headlamp for the money now, so I went looking again. I’ve only had this Fenix HL30 headlamp since early September, but I really like it. It’s been with me in all kinds of weather, I like the separate red beam switch thing, it takes a couple of AA batteries and seems to last well, and so far it’s a really good and simple headlamp for not much money. I bought mine on Amazon if that is any help.
Album of the year 2017 - “Renaissance in Extremis” by the mighty UK death metal band Akercocke. What a comeback album. Black metal tends to be my thing over straight forward death metal, but this latest album by Akercocke is so varied and layered and progressive that I can’t help coming back again and again.
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