Give me a piece of fishing equipment and I'll find a way to destroy or render it useless. Some of it can be caused by my indifference to money and other times I'm a clumsy oaf. When I started fishing, I was a cheapskate and that was more by design. I bought the cheapest equipment money could buy. As a college student, I valued beer and women more than fishing. Once I started earning more money, I started buying better equipment and I was always on top on the latest trends. But even expensive stuff still hasn't been able to withstand the rigors of my abuse. It seems every time I write about equipment, I've had to replace something and here's the latest installment.
Simms RiverTek BOA boots
Add another pair of boots that couldn't withstand my torture. The Korkers were the latest victim as they literally fell apart. It was near the end of the season and my boots were close to being done. On one boot, the sole was literally being held by a thread. Walking back to my car, the sole tore off and the other was ready to come off. I shrugged, picked it up and continue to walk. Not wanting to call it a day, I did what any diehard steelheader would do, head to the hardware store for duct tape. I taped the soles back and resumed fishing. I got two years out of them which is a remarkable feat. Here the list so far
Cabelas - trashed
Chotas - toast
Korkers - fubar
This pass summer I bought a pair of Simms RiverTek BOA boots. The boots had the same lacing system as my Korkers. The wire lacing makes it easier to take off the boots and adjust them. They were lighter and the synthetic materials allowed them to dry faster. The only negatives I had were the cleats as they didn't grip very well. I ended up taking them out and replacing them with my Korker cleats. Halfway through the season, one of the laces started to fray and the fly shop where I bought didn't have the wire lace as they were a discontinued model. I was a little miffed that the sales clerk at the fly shop didn't tell me that when I bought them. However, the clerk told me to try a ski shop. I called one and lucky for me he had the lacing that I needed.
Simms Guide Jacket
The next purchase was a new jacket. My Wright McGill jacket was finally done. I had it for five years and it looked downright disgusting. The side pockets and front were stained from egg spooge and slime. The jacket also absorbed water like a sponge. I went with Simms again as I bought the Guide Jacket. The jacket wasn't cheap costing $300.00 and I vowed I would take better care of it. No more wiping my hands on it covered in slime and egg spooge. The jacket is very light and almost feel like a windbreaker. It came with 3 layers of Gore Tex and the first time fishing, it rained and repelled water like off of duck's back. It had two large front pockets, a back pocket and one inner pocket. In the front it a had couple pair of zingers for tools. Even several times out in the bitter cold, the jacket kept me warm and dry.
G Loomis GLX float rod
If there's a piece of equipment that has taken the brunt of my abuse, it's my float rod. The rod has the proof, grooves in the guides caused by the line, sliding rings cracked, and cork and the finish is filthy. The only problem I had with the rod was the cork handle as it started wearing out. Whenever it was cold, the sliding rings didn't grip very well and the reel would slide up and down the handle. A couple of times, the reel fell out into the water and nothing is more worse then a frozen reel. A couple years ago, I broke the tip when I was trying to whack ice off the guides. I sent it out and they replaced the top section for $40.00. Then disaster struck one day last fall when I stumbled down a hill. As I fell forward, my rod and right hand slammed hard onto a rock. Pain shot through my hand and I thought I broke my pinky finger. I looked at my rod and some of the finish had scuffs on it. The pain was so severe that I didn't fish for the rest of the day. I drove home with my hand in a bag of ice. The following week, I'm on the Grand. For the first 45 minutes I didn't get a bite and I head downstream. I start working the pool and I get snagged. I yanked and CRAAACK, the bottom section of the rod broke. It broke right where the rod the hit the rock last week. The blank must of cracked. I was a hot under the collar as my morning was done. There was no spare rod and I wasn't in the mood to drive 50 miles home and drive back out. Disgusted, I stormed off the river and called it a day.
The following day I shipped it out to Shimano in Washington and waited to hear from them. The following week, I get a call from customer service informing me that it will cost $120.00 to replace the rod. I promptly give out my credit card number and they ship it that day. I was hoping I get it before the weekend. I hated using my back up rod as it feels like a pole vault. Friday I see the tube in the apartment lobby and there's a huge smile on my face. I open it and out slides the rod. I unravel the cloth and it's brand new. I couldn't be more happy - new cork, new sliding rings and new guides. I figure in matter of a couple of years, the rod will look like shit.
Simms G3 Guide Waders
I'm fishing the lower Conneaut and the weather is bitterly cold for mid November. I wade into the water and about 30 minutes later my feet are getting colder and colder. I can feel moisture and I know where it's coming from. The neoprene feet must have a leak - crap. I also have some leaks in the knee section of the wader but they're so small that I don't feel it. Fortunately there are some spots where I don't stand in the water and it gives my feet some reprieve. For years, I sprung leaks in my older waders and I finally got fed up with cold feet and soaked pants. Tired of dealing with cheap Chinese shit, I shelled out almost $500.00 for a pair of Simms waders. Even the most expensive waders will eventually spring leaks. After the second season, I started to get leaks and sent them back to Simms for repairs. I ended up getting a free pair, because they couldn't repair them properly. But, even with a second pair of new waders, the inevitable happens - more leaks.
I have both the first and second generation of the reel. The second generation is much lighter and thinner in profile. I've had the reel for a little over three years and its performed flawlessly. Other than chipping off a small piece of the handle, I haven't had any other complaints. Every once in a while, I'll add a couple drops of sewing machine oil to help lubricate the bearings.
Fishpond Dragonfly Guide Lumbar Pack
I hate carrying a lot of stuff. Whenever I'm fishing, I'll see anglers wearing these massive vests. That's a little too much for me. I pack smart because at the end of the day, your shoulders and back will thank you. The Dragonfly is the perfect size as I only carry a small tackle box, tube for the floats and container of eggs. It has the one compartment, so I don't go digging around. The drop down fly table is just big enough to hold jigs. The front pouch has enough room to hold a couple spools of line. On either side, I can carry a couple small bottles of water. I generally wear on the side and its so light I barely notice it.
That's life for a hardcore angler, always upgrading and sending out equipment for repairs. I couldn't imagine if I owned a boat.