ver the years, perhaps decades, there are certain trends in fishing that come and go, and some even hang around as classics.
Within the industry there are more and more companies and organizations that are trying to make fishing better and easier for us all, and some are just out for the consumer dollar. New products are constantly revealed and heralded as the "hot" or "must-have" items for the new season. You will surely see that soon as the approaching New Year arrives.
But there are some fishing products that have withstood the test of time and earned the label "classics."
Others are just entering their own and more still are on the way. With 58 years of fishing behind me, I have acquired certain "tastes," if you will, for what I like and what I don't like to use.
I don't do a lot of product reviews and am sponsored entirely by my own wallet. Be that as it is, here is a rundown of fishing-related items and products that have made me happy over the long haul.
At least several columns could be donated to the myriad fishing line classifications out there today, but for a quick hit, I'll mention my current faves in string. For monofilament line I had a really good experience with Gamma PolyFlex in 4-pound test and hi-vis gold color last season. Initially I thought it was a little stiff for smaller diameter ultralight spinning spools, but the advantages for toughness and limpness in casting was a big plus. Sensitivity was excellent as well. We landed some 7-pound catties and 4- to 5-pound bass on this line with no issue. It's a tough line.
Leland Lures, a Trout Magnet offshoot, produces SOS monofilament line in a limp, castable product at 2-pound strength. Coil memory isn't extensive, yet it, too, is a very durable and strong line. Great for cold weather applications and ice fishing, as I landed a 22 inch largemouth through the ice last winter using it. I would also give high praise for Berkely Vanish Fluorocarbon Clear for you ultra-light freaks that want a thin, great casting and durable fluoro for trout and clearwater applications.
For Braids, I have stuck with Stren Super Braid in green, and at 20-pound test for most pond bass and catfish efforts. Test-drove some Gamma Torque in the same strengths. High praise on both of these lines for multi-year use under most conditions.
Depending on what you fish for, this can go in a lot of directions. To the bass fisherman, stickworms, like the Yum Dinger and the Senko, have been at the top of the market heap for well over a decade.
But for my bucks, the Stank X Bait Company, out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, just crushes the competition. American-made by small-time businessman Travis Crosman, the Stank X line of soft plastics will catch 10 bass per worm as opposed to the big-name brands barely holding up under two dinks. Colors galore and a penetrating garlic implant that just catches more big bass for me with the 4.25 and 5.25 inch Stix.
Probably the most versatile lure family is jigs, of all sizes and shapes, for all species. I use smaller jigs very heavily for panfish and smallmouth bass fishing options. There are a ton of companies out there, but I have made and tied my own jigs for the past two decades for 90 percent of my jig fishing.
For hair jigs, Punisher Lures make a good product, as does Spro. For micro applications for spring trout and panfish Trout Magnet jigs in 1/100th and 1/200th of an ounce have been good to me this season.
One lure that continues to catch stream bass and trout is the Rebel Teeny Wee Crayfish crankbait that has been an ultralight favorite for 30 years. Designed for 2- to 6-pound efforts, this lure will catch just about any specie out there. A Classic. For hardware with spoons and spinners, it's hard to beat Mepps and Blue Fox for varieties, sizes and colors. Blue Fox Flash and Rattle Flash spoons, up to one-quarter ounce, is one of my personal "secret weapons" for fooling trophy panfish.
Everybody has their favorites, but if you stick with a few of the leaders of the trade, then you will have spent money wisely and have products that last for years. For ultralight reels, I like the smaller Shimanos and Pflueger 1000 or 500 series reels, and you don't have to always purchase the top-end of either series for good, long-lasting wear. Lews is coming back into prominence and the Abu Garcia Revo line seems to be the standard now. What little baitcasting I do is in coaxing big blue catfish on the Potomac, so I like the 5000 and 6000 reels for them. Okuma makes a good product for the money.
Rods can, again, be addressed in multiple column space. Much of the selection lies with personal taste and preference. My favorite, all-time ultralight rod is a 5 foot 6 inch Bass Pro Shop Micro Lite in a brown finish …a 20-year old stick I paid $25 for and is still doing the job! Of the 30 or more UL sticks I currently own, this one just feels better than any of the rest and had landed thousands of bluegills, crappies, bass and much bigger game over the years. They don't make them anymore at BPS, and I do not like their current line of Micro Lites near as much as I did the originals. But that's me.
We could go on and on with the favorites list. Things like Rapala fillet knives, Lockett shad darts or the classic Ugly Stik rods from Shakesphere … the worlds most purchased rod. Classics. Just remember … buy what you need, but use what you have. Good fishin'!