I decided after the first of the year to give my honest, unbiased opinion on these products, but I feel like I have short changed some equally valuable items prior to this. There are products I have had for a while that I use and would recommend. This post is dedicated to these items.
Marsh Works – Chris and the team in the Deep South do a bang up job.
Plastics - Their plastics (Killa Squilla, Bayou Thumper and the Ripple Shad) have become my go to plastics. They are extremely well made, durable and most importantly they work. Sure, you can by similar products at a discounted price, but you get what you pay for.
Popping Corks – This has become my favorite way to fish for the SE slam (Reds, Specks, and Flounder). They HOLD UP to repeated abuse from STRONG fish. I had one cork rigged all fall and look forward to starting the spring with the same one.
Other items – They make a great spinner bait that will blow the Redfish Magic out of the water. They use split rings, so you do not need to worry about the fish pulling the jig off. The Buzz baits are loud, they can be worked fast or slow while staying on the surface and they have a great feel. Their jig heads hold up to repeated abuse from Oyster Bars, Pylons, and the abuses that saltwater dish.
Marsh Works also have other products that I look forward to trying this summer.
The next product was designed by Cory Routh. It is the Crate Pak, made by Precision Pak.
Crate Pak – This product might seem simple, but it actually has a lot of moving parts that increase its functionality. Take your standard milk crate, a staple in kayak fishing. Add a durable outer shell that has pockets, a three rod holder and loops to attach a easy carry sling to. Top it all off with a mesh top with a pocket. All closures are made from Velcro which allow it to stand up to a harsh marine environment. The crate easily accommodates everything a standard crate would, with the extra space to keep your favorite lures, tools and radio handy. This was my first season with it and rest assured, I will have a complete second set up for my other kayak. Great job guys!
Wild River Outfitters Kayak Light – This was the first light I purchased for my kayak. This was also designed by Cory. It is a durable light, small diameter mast and light which helps reduce wind resistance. It has a scotty base, which is great if you have a mount at the area you want the light, but if you do not, it requires extra rigging to make it work properly. The price was right around $40, which makes it a economical choice for those strapped for cash, or just getting in the game. I recommend this for entry level kayakers, as it is a good product, but it does not have all the bells and whistles that other products have.
Yak Attack – Yak Attack has really hit the market strong with the Visi Pole. I use and recommend the standard Visi Pole. It has a super bright light, SOLARIS reflective tape and an attachment for a flag (which all products come with). You can get a bare, Scotty, or Ram base, and it has a foam collar near the base which makes it perfect for a rod holder on your crate, or a recessed holder in the kayak. At approx. $60, it is the logical next step in regards to lighting.
Their next product is the amazing Visi Pole Carbon. It runs around $85, but everyone I have spoke to said it is well worth it. It has the same light as the standard Visi Pole, but a collapsible carbon rod for the mast. It all fits in a bag that seconds as a flag. Weight and space are kept at a minimum with this product and rest assured, this will be my primary light come the summer. My friend Rob Choi over at Angling Addict has recently reviewed this product. Check it out!
Petzel E+Lite – I made the mistake of using this as my primary headlamp on the water. It is a good product because it is light weight, and easily fits in the smallest pocket of my PFD, leaving no reason to be on the water without a headlamp. It makes a poor primary headlamp though due to the battery life an loss of illumination over a sustained period of time. With safety at a paramount, this $30 investment might be a good choice for someone with the disposable income to make the purchase. I am lucky in the fact that my mistake in the initial purchase actually enhanced my safety on the water.
Coleman Multi Color LED Headlamp – I made this purchase this fall and it has been a godsend. It has setting for low, medium, and high output white light as well as a blue and a red light output. It uses 3 AAA batteries that have lasted me about 2 months. I have replaced the batteries once and with the built in warning light, it tells me they will need to be changed soon. It is comfortable for me to wear without a hat or it turned backwards, but looses much of its effectiveness with it forward. It’s a better primary light at $30 than the E+Lite was.
See previous review of the HOOK 1 Hawg Trough.
Werner Carbon Fiber, Bent Shaft Camano – After summer of paddling, I thought I was conditioned for longer fishing trips. Even though I made these trips with very little problem, I found myself extremely fatigued the next day. After a discussion with many of my friends such as Mark Lozier and other experts in the sport, we narrowed the problem down to my paddle. I was using a Bending Branches Angler paddle which was a nice product (which I will review next), it was the cause of pain on trips in excess of four miles. After trying a few paddles, I narrowed my choice to a carbon fiber AT paddle, and the Werner Camano. My choice to be honest came down to local availability. I found the Werner at a local shop and made my purchase. At $415, it is an awfully expensive purchase, but you get what you pay for. I am my propulsion system on the water ant the extremely light weight of approx. 27oz (a little over a pound an a half), combined with the ergonomically correct shaft helped reduce my fatigue. This purchase was the right one for me, but I recommend testing the paddle (if possible) you are looking to purchase before you pull the trigger. Besides my Kayaks, this was the next best purchase I have made.
Bending Branches Slice Angler – This paddle appeals to the fishing masses. With a built in measuring device and a hook remover on the paddle what is not to love. For me it was two things. First at 35oz, the weight was noticeably more than my Werner. Second, it was the straight shaft (which is something I think I will never go back to). The product is extremely durable, and I am sure it is the right paddle for some people, just not for me. It is hard for me to recommend this to anyone, due to my love for the Werner, but as I said before, if at all possible “try before you buy”.
Ruthless Kayak Fishing – Here is my disclaimer. I am friends with both Cory Routh and Mark Lozier, and I have not been on a chartered trip with either of them. I am writing the following paragraph based on my experiences, observations, and professional interaction with both of them. I am truly OBJECTIVE starting now.
Cory and Mark are two extremely knowledgeable anglers and kayakers. Cory has a degree in Marine Biology and works in the field here in SE Virginia. He is the owner and operator of RUTHLESS fishing and a Native Kayaks endorsed guide. He also wrote “Kayak Fishing: The Complete Guide” If you are reading this, I am sure you own, or have at least read a copy of this book. Mark has been fishing in Hampton Roads since before Jesus was born! He has worked in a number of tackle shops in his tenure, and currently, in addition to his position with Ruthless, he is a representative for both Marsh Works and Team Diawa.
Back to my SUBJECTIVE view. Ok, I guess my joke’s about Mark’s age were a tad bit subjective, but the point is that he is definitely a fixture in the Chesapeake Bay fishing community. After fishing with both Mark and Cory, I can say that it took me years to learn what I could have in a few trips with them. I would be comfortable chartering a trip with them, and I will charter one for my father if he makes it back out this way. Professionally, they are tactful, thoughtful, educational, and enjoyable. They are not stiff, and I will put my name and reputation on the line when I say you will be pleased with your experience.
Well, this is about it for me this time. I want to clarify that I am not currently affiliated (at the time of publishing) with, or received any products for favorable reviews of any of the above products/services. My reviews are based on my experiences alone (with the exception of the Visi Pole Carbon).
My next review will be on my Malibu Kayaks, NRS PFD, TiCA Rods, Diawa and Shamano Reels, TFO Fly Rods, Lamson Fly Reels, and local paddling shops..