Showing posts with label Gear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gear. Show all posts

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.

What About Bob?


Last week I receive my $600.00 cheque from Uncle Sam. It was a one time payment part of the economic stimulus package that congress voted on. The president hoped that this would help slow the economy from going farther into the shitter. Some will use it for paying bills or to fill up the Hummer. I was planning on using the money to replace some of the fishing gear. What I really wanted was a new reel. 

Last winter, I purchased a Bob James reel after I decided to retire my Milner Kingfisher. The Bob James wasn't my first choice as the tackle shop didn't have any Milners or Islander reels in stock. I needed a reel that fitted into my budget, so I got it. I tooled around with it and noticed a couple of things that I didn't agree with, namely the handles and clicker. I decided to give it a try as I knew other anglers that had them raved about it. After a couple of months, my impression of the reel soured as I could never get use to the handles being so close to the edge of the spool. I preferred to use my fingers as a drag instead on my palm. The clicker was a huge pain in the ass, as it was placed on the top. Since I use my right hand to hold the rod, the clicker was right near my fingers and several times I engaged it while fighting a fish. Don't get me wrong, the Bob James is a well crafted reel, but didn't suit me. After the season, I knew there would be a new reel in my future.


Earlier that year, Erie Outfitters had several Kingpin prototypes just delivered. Kingpin use to go by the name Arnold Kingpin. I've heard of them, but didn't know anybody that had one. The reels did catch my attention and I was impressed with them. The folks at Kingpin listened to a lot of feedback when it came to developing this reel as it's more geared to the Great Lakes markets. First off, the handles were farther in and the clicker was placed on the bottom. The reel also had a sealed bearing housing. This makes grit or silt getting in almost impossible. But if grit or silt did get in between the spool and the backing plate, all you have to do is remove the screw and unscrew the knurled nut which holds the spool onto the backing plate. Simply remove the spool, clean out the grit and screw the nut back on. The reel also came with a wrench that removed the nut on the front, this allowed easy removal of the bearings. Instead of greased bearings, the company installed oiled bearings. The reel is on the larger size having a diameter of 4 7/8" and comes in several colors such as black, red, platinum, blue or a combination of colors.


Well I couldn't resist and asked to hold me a reel when they came in. After several months the first orders came in and I got the funky purple "steelie eater" Series II 478 fully ported reel. I'm sure I'll get some razzing from the guys telling me the color is  gay and only homos get reels in purple. Inside the box was a certificate of authenticity which is sealed by a wax stamp, wrench and an extra rear nut. I got it spooled with backing and mainline and hopefully this weekend I get a chance to try on the Rocky for carp and catfish.

Oh yeah, I forgot, anybody interested in a reel?

Christmas Came Early


Like any hardcore steelheader, I upgrade my fishing equipment every couple years. One piece of equipment that needed upgrading were the rods. Over the past several years, I've been using Raven rods, I have the 13'6" IM6 and 14' IM8 rods. Most of the time, I used the 14 footer because the rod had a stiffer blank. It was great for long distance hook sets and I was able to muscle in fish faster. However, the rod with my Milner reel made it hell on my right shoulder and after a day of fishing it was kaput. To help relieve the shoulder pain, I went back to the 13'6" rod and used it with my Bob James reel. It made the shoulder pain more bearable, but I wanted to go lighter and that meant I had to go way upscale.



Over the winter I saved enough money and I got the Cadillac of float rods - the G Loomis GLX rod. I had several friends that used them and they raved about the light weight and quick action. I bought the 13' STR1562 model because it was better suited for Erie's tribs. The rod's power is light, but most of Erie's steelhead rarely get over 10lbs. Plus, I fished using light leaders and tippets. This was the first rod I bought with sliding rings and it made balancing the reels easier. The rod wasn't cheap as it cost me over $500.00, but it was worth every penny, I'm hardcore and I expect to use the best. The rod came with the high frame titanium recoil guides. These guides are virtually indestructible as they can be bent back and quickly spring into position.

The rod only comes as a 2 piece so fitting inside a small car or pickup is going to be difficult, if not impossible. With the rear seat folded down in my Cherokee the rod will fit perfectly on an angle. But with the seats up, it will poke my passenger's eye out. It's extremely lightweight compared to the Ravens - it's like holding a feather in one hand and pool stick in the other. I tried it out on the river and it casts like a dream, I barely had to put any effort into casting. I caught several carp and the rod handled a couple of big fish well.

The rod is a first on the checklist of new items I need. I still need new boots, waders and a jacket. Money, money and more money - the life of an angler........

Fishpond Blue River Chest Pack

Fishpond Blue River chest pack

I'm very minimalist when it comes to things, especially when it comes to hauling my gear. The less is better, that's my motto. I see a lot of guys on the rivers that have too much stuff in their vests. They look like they're ready for a 3 week expedition and the only things missing are a sleeping bag and a frying pan. I usually see them fumbling about going through the endless pockets looking for something. Then I would hear them complain about their sore shoulders or back. I wanted something simple. I've had chest vests but I always found them cumbersome. A lumber pack was more practical so I headed over to one of the local fly shops. 

Blue River chest pack fly bench

The store is a high end fly shop and they had a wide selection of vests to choose from. One vest that caught my eye was the Fishpond Blue River pack. What I found appealing about it was it could be used a chest, lumber, or sling it over your shoulder. It measures at 9.5"x5"x7 is about 366 cubic inches. It had a large fly bench that had plenty of room for my streamers, egg patterns, nymphs and jigs. That meant no more fly boxes. It had enough pockets for all of my needs and it felt very light. Whenever I go fishing, I carry the basics - a single small box for sinkers, hooks, beads and swivels, forceps, floats, spools of 3X and 4X tippets, spool of 10 and 8 pound leader material and a leathermen tool. It had plenty of pockets and zippered compartments. There's also tabs and loops to attach various tools and spools of line.

So we'll see how this pack performs in the long run.