Monday, June 11, 2012

Gear Reviews

I have been wanting to do this for a while and a post from another blog inspired me to do post of my own. The blog was called Troutbugs and the main complaint is most of the reviews the author has read have been obviously biassed.  I'm going to try to change all that with these reviews of things I've bought this year. My reviews will go over the good the bad and the ugly with no true loyalty to a specific brand.   The only thing I will warn readers about now is I am cheap. My purchases are usually based on price, reviews or word of mouth. 

I had been looking for another reel for awhile for my 8wt. I really wanted just another spool for my Albright reel but what Albright wanted for the spare spool and shipping I could get a brand new one from Cabela's. Cabela's had a sale running on a Three Forks Disc Drag Fly Reel for $19. I have bought Cabela's products in the past and to me it's kind of like buying something from a large superstore. You get it with low expectations. That was no different with this purchase. When the reel arrived I was actually impressed at the quality of the reel and drag system. The reel was rated for 7/8/9 wt line. It held my 8wt line and backing fine and didn't add much weight to the reel itself.   One thing you find when you buy cheaper stuff is you don't get the little perks like different retrieve setups. I'm used to this being left handed and having to change retrieves many times before.  Although with this reel there was a new twist. Apparently if you tighten the screw that holds the spool on too hard, the spool does not move. Make the screw too loose and you get what happened to me. I was at a pond testing out the reel having a great time. When I cast stripped some line off the reel and heard the familiar sound of a reel falling and hitting my foot. I've had this issue many times with my Redington Crosswater reel so I was starting to wonder if this is a problem with the way I'm doing things or the equipment. I grabbed the spool put it back on and noticed it wouldn't stay on.   There was something missing.  It was the screw at the back. This screw is tiny and trying to find it in wet grass was impossible. I looked for a good 10min and even thought about coming back with a magnet. I decided to give up and look into how much it would cost to get another screw. Dreading this and expecting to pay $10 for a tiny screw I sent Cabela's an email. Come to find out they outsource their reel repair to a small company. I was given their contact info and I was surprised to get an email with in a few hours. I was told to send my address and a new screw would be sent to me the next day. The promise was kept and I received a package in the mail. It didn't have a screw but a bunch of other parts. I read the directions to find out what they were and realized I still needed the screw but I would have needed these parts as well. I contacted the repair company again explaining the issue. They were super understanding and again sent me the correct part at no charge. I have been using the reel since with no problems. The reel does the job and for under $30 you can't expect much. Just make sure you tighten the screws.

If you read my last wader fiasco you know I was on the lookout for new waders. Sierra Trading post had a sale on Redington Crosswater Chest Waders for $40.  I jumped on those and when I got them I thought they weren't going to hold up right away. My previous waders were LL Bean and seemed to be made out of a more durable material.  I've used the Redington waders about 5 times now and I've noticed a few things. I thought the material was weak because it was thinner than the LL Bean waders. What I realized was the thin material made the waders light and they were just as durable as the Bean's.  They became so comfortable I forgot I was wearing them.  The bad about them is they do not come with a wading belt. There is a draw string around the top but I really wished they came with a belt.  It's not a huge deal I have something else that works as a belt. 

My Orvis Wading Boots have been slowly falling a part for awhile. I bought them on clearance from a fly shop but I still felt I should get a few years out of them.  It has been less than 2yrs and already the felt soles are starting to separate from the main shoe. The inner sole has been shot for awhile and constantly slides when you put your foot in. The laces on one boot are coming a part. I'm not sure how to even describe it. It's like the outer lace is coming off and the inner paracord like material is what's left that allows you to tie the boot. I was thinking about taking them back to Orvis and seeing if there is a warranty on them that lets me replace them. When I went to do this I decided to check the size of the boots to see what size I would need.  I knew I wear around a 10. Checked one boot -10,  checked the other boot - 12?. What the heck?  Well now I know why they were on clearance. I know you're probably thinking how did he never notice? I never really did. I bought these boots as a quick fix when I lost some Korker souls and needed something to get me through the weekend.  I thought for sure I checked the sizes but I must have just grabbed the box that said size 10 and went on.  Either way there was no way I was going to try to do a warranty exchange with miss sized shoes.  I had been researching Simms and other brands. I even bought a pair of Redington CTX's off Sierra Trading Post.  That's one thing that sucks about buying online you can't try it on. The boots were way too high.  They were almost like snowboarding boots.  The boots were advertised as wading boots but I don't think fishing was the intention. They were returned. My buddies kept telling me about Chota's.  They kept raving about how long they last and how comfortable they were. After about the 6th person I decided to give them a go. The boots fit great and felt more like an actual shoe than the run of the mill wading boot.  They run $75 and they seem well made. On my first fishing trip trying them out I didn't have thick socks to wear in them. I wore my normal thin socks and some neoprene booties. The boots felt great until the inner soles started to slide around.  I can't stand that. I just kept seeing the Simms rep from the fly show in my mind telling me how the Simms inner soles are nailed down and prevent this.  I'm going to try super gluing the soles or using gel soles or something. I'll live with it for now and other than that I have no complaints about the boots. The felt of the sole performs great and the fit of the boot is comfortable.

I always have an issue of never having a fly box that can hold bass flies. I have a Plano but I wanted something that fit in my chest pack. I received a Orvis $25 off $50 purchase coupon in the mail and decided to use that.  Some of my friends have Cliff Boxes and I always thought they looked cool but were they really something worth having? I checked out the Cliff Bugger Barn and decided to pick it up for $22. I have been happy with it so far but you can only put so many large poppers in the box. I think I'll never go away from bass fishing with a back pack. I like the comfort of having all my bass flies with me. The box is sturdy and the foam is decent.  I'm not too sure these boxes are any more special than a plain old Plano box minus the foam. There really isn't any vents on them to allow moisture to escape and keep your hooks from rusting. The main thing I like about the box is that it fits in my pack and holds a good amount of bass flies.  It serves its purpose.

This is my last review and I haven't used it fishing yet but I have to share it because people need to know about this.  My front patio is mosquito haven.  It is so bad that my family hasn't enjoyed the patio in years. It really sucks to have a bbq on a beautiful day and you have to go hide in side or you'll be eaten alive.  A neighbor told me about a ThermaCell Lantern. At first the idea sounds just like a regular mosquito candle.  A heat source cooks something that smells and is a deterrent for mosquitoes. I was skeptical at first because candles don't work in my patio and I hadn't found anything that was really effective. With bbq season coming I picked up a lantern. They run about $20-$25 and you can find them at Walmart. They come with 3 smelly tab things and a butane cartridge.  How it works is you put the tab in the top of the lantern, screw in the cartridge into the center of the lantern then hit the start button a few times. That is all there is too it. You can put batteries in the thing and use it as an actual lantern/repeller. This thing works. We tried it out last weekend and when I first started it the mosquitoes hung out. The directions on the box said it takes about 10min.  Sure enough after 5min there were no mosquitoes in sight. I did find one here or there lurking. To me that is success because with out the lantern we'd have 10 mosquito's around us at all times. It was great to finally enjoy a meal outside and use our lawn furniture. I'm taking this lantern with me on camping trips and I put it next to me while gardening. Didn't get one bite! I hope this lantern can help others.



  1. Kevin, I enjoyed your reviews. I'm looking for some "cheap" waders and boots. I'll keep your review in mind before I buy. Thanks!

  2. NICE! My kind of shopping. It's always great to find quality gear at a great price.

  3. Nice reviews! for people looking to replace their worn out wading boots they should look into getting them resoled which will save some money. You pay around $70 and you get a really nice sole. This is one place that does it:

  4. Kevin
    Good stuff here---the waders I will give a try. That is a great price for waders. I really like the Redington products especially all their fly rods. Thanks for sharing some great products.

  5. Count me in as a fan of the ThermaCell lantern. Now that we have a porch and a yard, it was a must-have and it's done really well...

  6. Kevin, I'm both left-handed, and a cheapskate. Digging this.