Saturday, December 5, 2009

2009 MGF Gear of the Year

It’s time for the eagerly awaited and highly influential first annual Mike’s Gone Fishin’ New Gear of the Year Award. Yeah, it probably seems a bit premature for year-end acknowledgements, but this year's nominations have been closed early because it has been strongly suggested that I purchase nothing else until after Christmas. It’s very likely that I have bollixed up enough gift ideas already.

This year the competition for New Gear of the Year has been tough as I have come a long way in filling out my fly fishing arsenal. New rods, reels, and accouterments galore have found their way into the closet (you have, no doubt, read about a few of them here) and all have made fishing this year a blast. So, drum roll please.

2009's MGF New Gear of the Year winners are...

Gear of the Year Winner - Folstaf Wading Staff

While this may seem a surprising selection, nothing I acquired this year contributed more to my fishing comfort and enjoyment than this sturdy wading staff. It seemed that, before I purchased the Folstaf, all my best fishing stories included a soaking of some sort; a slip on a rock, a step into a hole, an over-ambitious venture into swift water. And while such dunkings are fun to write and read about, they're not such fun to endure. The Folstaf has become my depth gage, my support staff, my insurance policy, and I no longer go into moving water without it on my hip.

The Folstaf is solid to lean on, compact to carry, and the shock cord assembly is convenient as heck. My home water, the Haw, is no piece of cake and wading it can be like walking on piles of irregular shaped bowling balls. The Folstaf helps me do it comfortably. Without the wading staff, it would have taken weeks longer for me to get back in the water following my ankle fracture and, for that contribution alone, it deserves this award.

If you're thinking about one, I recommend the 3/4" inch tubing version. Get one and wade safe.

Honorable Mention #1 - Redington Predator

Any stick that can supplant my Winston IM6 as my every day rod deserves respect. Granted, the Predator is more suited for the tight spaces and largemouth bass that constitute my usual haunts, but, even at that, putting the Winston aside was hard. The Predator handles big flies and big fish, casts well, looks great, and at under $200 is a terrific find. Redington's now owned by Sage and the Predator shows that lineage. I have the 6wt baby of the line and expect to be casting it for years. And, when it comes time for that new 10wt...

Honorable Mention #2 - Olympus Tough 8000

While it's not strictly fishing gear, this 12 megapixel, bombproof camera helps me preserve my fishing day and, hopefully, enhance the content of this blog. All of the on-stream pictures you see here are taken with the Olympus.

The Tough 8000 is dunkable, dropable, freezable, and sit-uponable; all features necessary in anything I carry onto the stream with me. (Well, maybe I'll try not to use the freezable feature, if I can). It's image stabilization software, macro settings, and 28-105mm zoom range make it the perfect fish in one hand, camera in the other, rod in your teeth image recorder and it will even take video. I could go on, but fear I would fall into hopeless techno-babble, so I'll stop now. I'll simply say it's my ideal stream camera.

And finally...

Honorable Mention #3 - Frank's Bamboo

This rod makes the list for no other reason than I like it and appreciate where it came from. Casting it may take some getting used to, but I'm certainly looking forward to the challenge. And there's just something about your first piece of bamboo.

That's it!!! I've picked up lots of new gear this year, but these stand out as the top additions to the pile. I would love to hear from you about your own new gear of the year nominations so post a comment with your ideas. After all, the Christmas embargo will be lifting soon.

P.S. Any fishing gear manufacturer (rods, reels, whatever) who would like serious consideration for next year's prestigious awards should feel absolutely free to forward me samples of their products for my thorough review.


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