Pack Smart by the Anal Retentive Steelheader

With another steelhead season just around the corner, I've been getting all of my gear set. Digging through the closets, boxes and making up the check list and dumping a ton of dough on stuff. This is life for the hardcore steelheader. Over the summer, I started replacing equipment and on the list was a wading jacket.

I did some research, got input from several fellow steelheaders and tried on several different jackets. The one that won me over the Wright & McGill Big Horn jacket. The jacket is made of Aqua-tex which I guess is something similiar to Gore-tex. The jacket has a huge hood perfect for the days out in the snow belt. The jacket has two large front pockets, one small pocket on the left sleeve, and large pouch in the back. There was enough room in the two front pockets that I thought to myself that I might not need a vest anymore.

Over the years, I've seen too many people packing enough stuff that would tire out the hardiest of mules. Vests with endless zippers and pockets that hold a lot of useless stuff and half of the time they forgot what's in what pocket. I know several guys that have the high end Fishpond backpack/vest and I think its too much crap to haul around. I hate carrying a lot of stuff, the less the better and that's the result of me being an overly organized neat freak (you should see the inside of my work truck).

As Tim Gunn from Project Runway would say "make it work" I started to condense all of my terminal tackle. I bought a couple of small tackle containers and organized the trays. In one box was able to fit all of my floats, hooks, swivels, jigs and soft baits. In the other container were all of my sinkers. The tackle box fitted perfectly in the right pocket and in the left were the sinkers and containers I use for spawn and maggots. I have tippet spool tool that hold both leader material and tippets both in mono and fluorocarbon. I have a couple of retractors that hold a nipper and hemostat. When it comes to food I just snack on Snicker bars - they give the energy boost when needed and it keeps my stomach full.

Packing light makes sense and after a long day pounding the trails and slogging through water your body will thank you for it. Once the season I'll have a report on both the waders and jacket.

Killing Time Before the Season

Trip to the Florida Keys = $3000.00
Bait = $10.00
Camera = $200.00

Showing the world that BIG fish and having it posted on the Internet....


Evolution of a Word

Photographic evidence of where the term 'Dickhead' came from


Once in a while, I get one of those days where nothing goes right. Today was suppose to be a quick 3 hour morning at work, only to be stretched out for nearly 8 hours due to equipment failures and screw ups from the office. The hot and humid conditions didn't help either and by the end of the day, I was ready to strangle somebody.

The finale to my shitty day was when a moron smashed into the back of "ole Red" my 1991 Jeep Cherokee as I was going home from the grocery store. Waiting for the light to turn green and I looked back to see this black car coming up fast and WHAM!!! I braced for the impact and felt the Jeep go forward barely missing the car in front of me.

"What the fuck? Are you serious?

I got out to assess the damage only to see the bumper took the full impact. I asked the lady if she was okay. She goes on about adjusting the driver's seat and it went haywire and her foot came off the brake - real bright lady. Considering the force of the impact, the middle section of the bumper was dented and trailer hitch got hammered. The hitch almost punctured the gas tank and there was a slight crack in the fiberglass rear hatch. I was thankful for the lift kit because if it was lower the hatch would of been destroyed. Due to the Jeep's metal bumper, her new Mazda CX-9 got the worse of it - stattered front end, hood dented and cracked headlight. She wasn't sharpest tool in the shed as she commented

"My bumper has styrofoam pads under it??" 

I just had this I don't give a shit look on my face and returned to my Jeep. After all the bullshit of giving a statement to the cop, exchanging insurance information, and her bitching about getting a failure to control ticket, the 3 tubs of ice cream I bought from the grocery store had pretty well melted and leaked all over the back - fuck.

Kingpin Review

Over the past couple of weeks I've took my new Kingpin reel for (no pun intended) a spin. The reel is made by K.W Engineering of Poole, England and it's the latest pin to be offered here in Steelhead Alley. To the hardcore pinning crowd Kingpin was formly known as Arnold Kingpin. During the past winter, I was lucky to see the first prototypes at Erie Outfitters and I was very impressed with the reels and the work put into to them.

There have been several upgrades of the reels from the previous model such as the clicker being placed on the bottom and having a lower profile. Instead of grease bearings, the company uses oiled stainless steel ABEC 5 bearings as oiled bearings tend to perform better in colder weather. The reels also come in a variety of colors such as black, blue, red, and platinum and with a combination of colors.

Kingpin reels has two models - Series I and Series II. Both are 4"4/8" and weight slightly over 9ozs. The Series I reels are the most sensitive and lightest of the two. The reels have the distinctive "wagon wheel" spokes and the Series II reels have the circular holes. Both models come in fully and semi ported and the reason behind fully and semi ported are the degrees of sensitivity and flows. Fully ported reels are better suited for slower flows and semi ported for faster flows. For extra sensitivity and very low start up, the Series I fully ported is considered the best model. For lower sensitivity and faster flows, the Series II semi ported is the best choice. Personally, I don't like super sensitive reels with extreme low start up as I find they spin too fast in faster flows. Plus, I like a heavier reel because it balances extra long rods better. Those were the reasons why I bought the Series II semi ported reel.

The series II reel has the more classic look and some have compared it to the Mykiss reel in appearance. The biggest selling point for me, were the handles as they're set farther in. I prefer to use the tips of my fingers on the spool as a drag. The clicker has a lower profile and sturdier than my Bob James. The sealed bearing housing another feature that sold me as it makes getting any dirt or grit inside almost impossible, perfect as I'm a clumsy oaf. Being a customer that spends a shitload of money at the shop, I had first dibs on the reels.

For the past several weeks, I've been down on the Vermillion and Rocky trying the reel on the local channel cats and carp. The rivers were very low, slow and the flow depended on the surge from the lake. Several times the river would start flowing upstream and 20 minutes later the river would drop 8". During the times when the water drained back downstream, the reel started up fairly easily. It balanced well with my G Loomis GLX and I'm eagerly waiting for fall to try it out.

The Kingpin reels are not cheap and they start off at $442.00 for semi ported and $500.00 for fully ported. The reels come with a small hand wrench that removes the sealed bearing housing and an extra rear nut. After carefully reviewing other reels in that price class, the Kingpin had those extra features that I was looking for and I finally found the reel that I always wanted. I really believe they've produced the perfect Great Lakes centerpin.