Best New Fishing Gear for 2014
Industry continues to offer anglers problem-solving products
By Steve Pennaz
It wasn’t that long ago I figured the fishing tackle industry had reached what was likely the pinnacle of potential innovation, at least in some product categories. But to my pleasure, the industry responded by unleashing some of the most exciting new products seen in years.
From remarkable new reel designs offering incredibly high gear ratios for more line pick-up per turn to almost futuristic underwater camera viewing technologies, to lures that flat-out perform. The list below features products that should be in your boat come 2014.
I know this because I’ve put all of them through the rigors of real-world, on-the-water testing, and came to the conclusion for each: my fellow Fishhounds will appreciate this information.
Hot New Reel
It’s amazing how Abu Garcia keeps raising the stakes in the baitcaster game, both with its popular Revo low-profile line and with new round reels including the new Morrum ZX. I’ll start with the cool new Revo Rocket.
Abu Garcia Revo Rocket—Geared at an unprecedented 9:0.1, the Revo Rocket takes in an amazing 37 inches of line per turn. Compare this to a reel geared 6.3:1 that takes in 28 inches of line per turn and you understand that the term “amazing” is warranted!
I didn’t fully appreciate what the Rocket offers until I went head-to-head with an experienced flipper who showed me the advantages of speed…he hit more targets per hour than I could fishing a lower-geared reel and he caught more fish because of it. Plus, I’ve learned that putting the gas to presentations that don’t normally call for speed (like jigs) can yield some mind-bending results.
The Rocket is fun to fish, too. Spool speed is controlled by both a magnetic brake and sealed centrifuge system, making casting effortless. I don’t say this often, but this is a must-have reel for you hardcores out there.
New Soft Plastic
Berkley PowerBait Rib Snake – New to Berkley’s PowerBait line of scented soft plastics is a 5.5-inch straight-tail worm called the Rib Snake. Part of what makes the Rib Snake so effective is its series of thin ribs that run along the bait body, which not only provide maximum surface area for PowerBait scent but allow the bait to move fluidly. Likewise, this design helps the bait collapse easily for solid hookups.
I love the Rib Snake for drop-shotting, on a shaky head or mushroom head jig, or rigging Texas style. The tail rides up and flickers with the slightest movement of the rodtip. It can also be fished on a keel-weighted EWG for fishing as a jerkbait, emulating shad or other small baitfish.
The Rib Snake has been deadly on smallmouth for me this year, and largemouth love it as well. The fact the bait is so versatile makes it one that I’ll forever keep handy.
Sebile Action First – Patrick Sebile’s latest Action First hard bait designs solve several problems for bass anglers. This new for 2014 series is comprised of seven new baits, each featuring Sebile’s unique Xternal Weight System for longer casts, more accurate tracking and intense action.
I’ve spent the last several weeks fishing several models, including the Lipless Seeker and single knocker Vibe Machine. The Lipless Seeker’s action is tight and perfect for cold-water. The Vibe Machine has a wide wobble and is ideally suited for situations where less sound is better (like clear or pressured waters).
And if you think you have all the square bills you need, think again. The new Sebile Squarebill Sunfish looks and behaves like the real thing. I was impressed by how it deflected off wood.
Aqua Vu Wi-Fi & Looking Glass App – It was only a matter of time before underwater camera manufacturers brought wireless technology to anglers. Once again, Aqua-Vu scored a first with the recent launch of Aqua-Vu WiFi, which allows instantaneous, wireless streaming of underwater video on smartphones or tablets. Aqua-Vu WiFi also offers an exclusive video enhancement app called Looking Glass, which dynamically enhances, sharpens and clarifies underwater video in all light and clarity conditions, revealing fish, cover and structure like never before. Very cool…
Other Head Turners
Frabill Crankbait Net - We all know the frustration of getting a mess of sticky treble hooks caught in a landing net. For years it was just a fact of life but not anymore. I’ve been fishing the new Crankbait Net, one of three new models in Frabill’s Conservation Series line that feature hexagonal knotless mesh double-dipped in a durable vinyl coating to resist hook snags.