The last 2009 review - a few bits and pieces

It's expensive, but I still can't find a better braid mainline to use for my bass fishing than the eight strand Varivas Avani Sea Bass Max Power PE in 15lb and 20lb breaking strain - see here. But if you avoid wind knots (underfill your spool as in the photo above) and look after this stuff, it should last you for ages. Eight strand braid is just incredible stuff to use, but it does cost.......

Varivas also do a more "regular" four strand braid that is also insanely good and it's also somewhat cheaper - check out the 16lb and 23lb Varivas Avani Sea Bass Braid right here. There is plenty of good braid out there, but part of the reason why I have not exactly been looking around too hard for other kinds to use is that I just can't find fault with the current Varivas stuff that I have been using for so long now. When something notably better comes along, I will give it a try, but the Varivas braids have never come close to letting me down. As with all things in life, the best stuff always costs a bit, and all I can do is be completely honest with you. PowerPro is one of the really good, consistent alternatives out there and you will never go wrong using it. I am seeing a bit more high-end 8-strand braid coming onto the UK market place, and over time I will try some other ones out and report back.

As with decent braid, the best sunglasses cost proper money - but when you see the world through the awesome Costa del Mar polarised sunglasses, there is no going back. Their scary-good 580 polarised lenses are without doubt the best I have ever, ever come across. Sure, tell me all you like that you will never spend that sort of dosh on a pair of sunglasses, but it's amazing how many more anglers I am seeing out there who have done exactly that. The best is always going to cost. Decent polarised sunglasses are essential in fishing. I especially like the Copper, Silver and Green 580 Costa del Mar lenses for my fishing - the Silver and Copper for all kinds of conditions, and the Green for those really bright days.

I did what I should have done ages ago last year, and that was to buy a proper BogaGrip, the 15lb model - I picked mine up from BassPro when I was last passing through Miami on the way back from Bolivia. There are plenty of fish grips out there that do a good job, but the Boga just keeps on going for so many fishermen I know all over the world. Buy wise. Buy the best once. The only place I am aware of that does these fish grips in the UK is here. The Boga is without doubt one of my best buys from 2009.

I don't use a headlamp that much these days, but the other day I went wading with an old one of mine and trashed it good and proper. Cue a new headlamp just before I went over to Ireland at the beginning of December - I went and got the very lightweight but powerful Princeton Tec Apex 3 watt LED headlamp here, and it seems a stunning bit of kit to me. The fact that I can run it on (cheap) AA batteries means that I won't be killing a rechargeable battery by not using it for long periods. And to think of the days when we used to wander up and down cliffs in the middle of the night with great big mining-type headlamps and huge great batteries strapped to our waists. This little Princeton Tec one is an outstanding bit of kit.