Fishing Preview - Gear Reviews

This last weekend was an official Minnesota holiday, Opening Fishing.  Driving on any highway you were sure to see boats on trailers loaded down with gear usually heading north to lake country.  We has a chance to test out some new gear, here are a few items that will put more fish in your boat and make your buddies jealous.

Fenwick Technique Specific Walleye Rods:  The days of having a single rod for all your fishing needs have past.  Today, any serious fishing enthusiast has a number of rods in their arsenal for different species and even for a particular fishing technique.  Fenwick has a series of Walleye fishing rods that are built for just how you like to fish.  Whether you are jigging, rigging, bottom bouncing, trolling or throwing crank-baits, they have a rod built just for you. You may be thinking "how different can they really be?" (I was saying the same thing). I have seen the light.  I have been testing the 6' 6" Spinning Jigging rod and this thing is perfect for its job.  Throwing a jig and running it along a rock legde, I could feel every turn of my bait and bump against a rock or log.  You won't be missing a single nibble from the finicky walleyes with this thing. The TAC handle looks and feels like cork but is less slippery when wet and seems to hold up better to abuse than cork.  MSRP: $199.00

Penn Conquer Reels: Hunting for Monster Northern Pike?  This is the reel for you.  With over 80 years of building legendary reels for both salt and fresh water, Penn makes a reel for whatever you're after.  I have been testing the 4000 series model and it can handle any fish I hook onto in the lakes around Minnesota.  A couple cool features I found more than handy; the EAS easy access system makes cleaning and greasing the gearbox a simple operation, the Superline Spool has a "Eternal Alloy" rim for increased durability and a rubber gasket to keep your line from spinning on the spool.  One of the smoothest operating reels I have ever touched, it even ran like new after I dropped it in the mud.  I could still cast and retrieve like it was fresh out of the box.  MSRP:  $199.00

Frabill's Hiber-Net:  Storing a landing net has always been a pain in the backside, and collapsible nets have been around for years.  The new Hiber-Net takes self contained nets to a whole new level.  Two handed operation allows the net to completely store inside the handle.  It does take a little muscle to get the net to lock in the open position, but that also prevents it from buckling under the pressure of a monster fish at the moment of truth.  Once stowed it easily straps to the gunwale of the canoe or in the rod locker on your boat.  I was a little worried the netting would be snag and tangle prone, but found it to be above average in both areas. Available in 52" and 72" versions at $79 and $99 respectively.

Berkley Gulp! Alive Artificial Baits:  Traditionally there is nothing that compares to live bait, especially when hunting Walleye, but I have been made a believer in plastics.  One difficulty with spending time in canoe country is there are no bait shops around and keeping bait alive can be tough.  Well, problem solved.  In a head to head comparison, the Gulp! Alive leeches put MORE fish in the boat than live leeches.  They survived more bites so we used fewer of them and every few casts a quick dip back in the special sauce brought them back to new.  Never again will I worry about dead bait half way through my canoe trip.  MSRP: $5.99 (2.1oz) to $35.99 (27.5oz) 

 Gerber Gator Fillet Knives:  So, cleaning fish is no one's favorite task, but at least it can be easy.  The Gator Fillet knives from Gerber help do just that.  They are thin and flexible so you waste less fish while being razorsharp all the way to the needle point.  Piercing even the toughest, scaliest fish skin is not a problem for these blades and when it gets a little dull there is a sharpener built right into the sheath.  Combine a quality piece of steel with the Gator Grip and you have one serious fish cleaning weapon.  The Gator Grip is soft and comfortable for marathon cleaning sessions, and it even gets a little stickier when wet so you won't have to struggle to hang on to the thing.  Available in both 6" and 7.5" you can pick one up cheap, at $11.99 and $13.99 receptively we feel they are the best value on our list.

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