Another steelhead season has come and gone and I’ve put my latest equipment through hell and some of it is ready for Wednesday's trash collection. If I were a hired tester, I would be that Samsonite luggage gorilla reeking havoc in the baggage area.
Korker Streamborn Boots
I’m pretty hard on boots, but in the past I bought cheap ones and by the end of the season, they were falling apart. The brand of boots was long - Redington - destroyed, Cabelas - FUBAR, and I even managed to wreck a pair of Chotas!! Last summer I purchased a pair of Korkers as a friend of mine got me a discount and I never turn down a bargain. Korkers are known for their interchangeable soles and the boots came with rubber and felt soles and a tool to insert them in. It was relatively easy to get the soles in and if you lose the tool a screwdriver on a leathermen tool would do just as good.
I really didn’t see the point of them adding the rubber soles as I wouldn’t even dare even use them in the water as that guaranteed a dunking in the river. Felt are practically useless in the snow and mud. I got the studded rubber soles and after several trips out some of the cleats started popping out. After that I started to lose several more and pretty soon I was down to 8 of them. I bought a bunch of cleats as I figured I was going to lose some every trip out because I‘m a clumsy oaf and shale rocks are a bitch. I didn’t lose as many cleats, but then the lugs came loose or fell out. By April, most the lugs were gone or the threading was stripped, so I had to use the felt soles. The boots themselves held up pretty well as in the past I’ve had the stitching come loose or the soles started to crack. The only tear was a small one at the back of one boot.
The positive notes were the boots were very light and drained water well. They are incredibly durable as this gorilla can inflict some major damage. On the downside, the lugs for the studded rubber were flimsy and couldn’t withstand a season of my hardcore fishing. At $34.99 for pair I would probably go through a couple of them a season. The boots also had an appetite for laces as I went through 4 pairs.
Overall, I would recommend them as they’re a good light weight boot, comfortable and durable. Hopefully Korkers will upgrade the studded rubber or come out with an aquasleath type of sole.
G Loomis GLX 13’ 2 pc Rod
G Loomis hit this one out of the park. This rod was specifically made for the Great Lakes region and float crowd. The rod is incredibly light as it made my 13’6” Raven feel like a plank. No more shoulder pain and it made those long days that more enjoyable. The rod is extremely fast and tip sag is almost non existent as most float rods suffer from that because of their long lengths. This resulted in lighting fast hook sets and I noticed I didn’t lose as many fish this season. The titanium recoil guides can be very soft in colder weather as I thought I broke one of them as it was bent back towards the blank. Simply breathing on it made it stiffer. Any ice on the guides can be simply flicked off or tapped into the water.
This rod is a pinner’s dream and don’t let the $550.00 price tag scare you away. It’s worth every penny and I wouldn’t hesitate to get another.
Wright & McGill Waders
A reasonably priced of waders for those who can’t afford the Simms or Patagonia. Like boots I go through a lot of waders. Prior to the past season I heard several good comments about these waders. They were in the $150.00 price range and competed with the Cabelas and Hodgmans. At that price I usually give them a couple of seasons.
They are a decent wader as I only had one leak at the knee and that was the result of me tripping and landing on a rock that tore the seam. They are made of Aqualex and I’ve never heard that type of fabric before. The waders comes with a belt, back support pad, built in gravel guards and 12” wide pocket.
The only thing I found annoying with the waders was the water balance system which the company omits from their website. The reasoning behind it was water in the lower legs helped balance the angler in faster water. I’m kind of confused with that logic, as you would want no extra weight to hinder your movement through the water. It was funny whenever I emerged from the water and my bottom legs had about 20 gallons of water and seeing all of that water gushing out. By the end of the season I had a total of 4 leaks all of them at the knees. I'll probably spend the dough and get a pair of Simms.
The Wright & McGill Bighorn Jacket
I bought this on the recommendation from several friends and it was in my price range. This jacket is also made from the Aqualex fabric. It’s a heavy four layer jacket has two large front pockets and I can hold all of my terminal tackle in them. Inside there are 3 pockets and two on the sleeves. On the front are two plastic rings that can used to clip on retractors for tippets and pliers. In the back there is a large pouch that hold a lot of stuff. It's very easy to unzip and retrieve items.
Feature I liked were the pockets and neoprene cuffs that kept out water. The things I didn’t like about it was the hood, as I found it too small it restricted my movement. I also felt the Aqualex fabric didn’t keep out the cold as good as Goretex as I felt the cold a couple times when the wind was strong.
This jacket can hold a ton of stuff as I rarely use my vest anymore. It's perfect for the winter months, but a little too heavy for the fall and spring. I'll give it 4 sacs out of 5.........