By Mark Fike
Gear is something I tend to be picky about when I purchase it with my hard-earned money. Honestly, I spend my money on gear in one of two ways. I either buy something I know is inexpensive understanding I will have to replace it but knowing I can get at least two or three of whatever piece of gear I am using for the price of one extremely well made item, or I just do it right and get something that lasts the first time around.
What determines how I decide which way I will shop? If the item is something I won’t use much, don’t care about and is not pertinent to a safe or ethical shot, my health, or it is not being lent out to close friends or family, I might consider going the cheap route.
Things such as heavy use, letting my close friends or family use it or a consideration of my health necessitates that I spend money upfront and know I am in good shape and well-equipped. This gear review falls in the latter category.
Sometimes I get inexpensive rods and reels, but for the most part, I try to get a rod and reel that will take a beating and keep going. I don’t have a lot of time so sometimes my gear might not get rinsed off like it should. Because I fish from fresh to brackish and then into the salt, I need gear I can trust. I might be catching catfish one day, bluefish the next and possibly fighting a big ray too.
Penn’s Pursuit III combo is a perfect rod and reel for just about everything besides big game. Here are the specs:
Carbon fiber drag washers, corrosion-resistant graphite body, 4+1 stainless bearings, graphite blank with PENN Dura-Guides, and WINN grips.
I am not a fan of thin rod blanks in the grip area and balked a bit when I saw the rod. However, I have not had any complaints since using it a full year now. The rod is sensitive enough to pick up bites from spot I was catching last week, but has enough backbone to haul in a played skate.
I used this rod surf fishing and I also was hurling heavy Gotcha plugs off a pier in North Carolina jigging up macks and blues. The rod and reel was great for all of this.
We took it catfishing a few times and it performed well there. The reel comes in sizes 2500 to 5000. I am using a 3000 and it is perfect.
I think a lighter reel may do well if you were panfishing, smallie fishing or fooling around on a pier for smaller fish. I have no doubt these reels can handle strong fish, though. I love the reel. The rod is strong as well and I have no complaints other than being old school and wishing it had cork grips.
Again, the WINN grips perform well and never caused me a problem. The desire for cork on my part is simple preference, not performance issues. The aqua color may be a draw for your wife or girlfriend. Although aqua is not my favorite color, I easily overlooked it for the quality of reel I was working with. Good set up and worth the money. Most retail just under $100.
Skin cancer is a real threat to those of us that spend a lot of time outdoors. If that time is spent on or near the water, the threat is increased due to reflection and little shade available. Knowing more than a few people that have recently had to get skin cancer cut and even dug out of their bodies, I am taking a stronger look at how to protect myself so my kids have me around to harass them longer.
I started out with simple long sleeve shirts. While that was probably better than exposing my arms constantly, it was HOT. So, I experimented with a few different brands of shirts finding that some are OK at keeping me cooler and protected, but after a few hours of wear, they made me look like I jumped on a wrinkle bomb and saved the world.
I heard about AFTCO Yurei shirts while having a conversation with Kasey Cooley of Gunpowder Inc., a public relations company for a number of outdoor brands. Kasey suggested this shirt, so I read up on its features and decided to try one.
It has a super breathable fabric that is mesh-like. They call it Air-O-Mesh. When I picked up the shirt, it was not super light and it was very well made, so I knew it was not going to tear easily but it was not super heavy either. My first impression was that it might be a tad hot wearing, but at least it would last.
Once I put it on and wore it in the hot sun in 90 degree temperatures on a cobia trip recently on the Chesapeake Bay, I realized it was not hot at all. At least it was not hotter than any other shirt and I was not even really sweating although I felt like I would have been wearing any other shirts.
This shirt is breathable enough that the sweat evaporates quickly. The AFCOOL feature is what they claim wicks away moisture. It did for me.
We had bloodworms, bloody cobia, a skate we had to do surgery on, etc. I really did not worry about the blood much as the shirts have what they call AFGUARD 3M stain resistance. I did get blood on my shirt and I did use dish soap when I got home. I did not want to mess the shirt up. The stain is no longer on the shirt so the AFGUARD, along with reasonable care, does work.
This shirt also has the UPF sunblock in a 40 rating. That is important to me. There is no point at all in taking a chance with skin cancer if you can wear a comfortable shirt that will keep you cooler, drier and protected. This shirt is the ticket for hot days fishing in the sun.
I will be getting my dad one and possibly a friend one for a gift as well.
Summer is still in full swing. If you need a new rod and reel or a shirt to protect you from the sun, consider these two items. I tested them thoroughly and they are well made and do the job.