New gear reviews

Microwave line guide system

Invented years ago by the late Doug Hannon, “The Bass Professor,” Microwave fishing guides are a unique line-control system for spinning rods that reduces the line coiling effect, thereby increasing casting accuracy and distance. The initial stripper guide is where the magic happens. A cone shaped guide-within-a-guide knocks down the line coils that naturally come from casting a spinning reel. With conventional guides, these coils carry through the first guide, thereby causing additional resistance and vibration as the line continues through the remaining guides out to the tip. Slow-motion photography shows how the Microwave system knocks out the coils at the initial guide, providing a smooth, straight line flow through the rest of the guides. Using identically-rigged combos and line for nearly a year, one with conventional guides and one with the Microwave guides, I put the system to the test with both monofilament and braided line. The Microwave system is no gimmick. You can literally feel the smoother cast and lower vibration. Casting is easier, which is important in a kayak because the seated position is not optimum for achieving long distances. Longer casts, with less effort, was immediately obvious. Using the Microwave system, line issues over the life of the test were consistently cured. Frustrating line coils gathering in the mono just did not happen. Likewise, wind knots in the braid were non-existent. The guides, by American Tackle Company, are sold by most major rod building suppliers. Full sets include the stripper guide and a full set of snag free running guides. If you build your own rods or like having custom rods made, try a set on your next spinning rod and you won’t be disappointed. Some factory made rods, including models from Lew’s, can be found with the Microwave system. The guide sets are available in chrome, black and titanium. MSRP: Starting at about $30 per set.

More information: www.americantackle.us

RAM Roller-Ball Paddle & Accessory Holder

One key to successful kayak fishing is having your gear secure and where you need it, when you need it. The new RAM Roller Ball accessory holder works for a variety of items that have a round or nearly round handle. Paddles are the most obvious accessory that the Roller Ball grips hold in place. Simple but strong, it utilizes rubber balls that roll and spring outward as the paddle shaft is gently pushed down. The balls grip your paddle firmly, but release effortlessly and quietly when needed. The unit holds items with a diameter from 1 to 1 5/6 inches.  The base mount utilizes a T-bolt screw that is compatible with RAM Tough-Track and most kayak track systems. The base is easily tightened by hand and can be set at various angles, not just parallel to the kayak. This is especially handy for holding landing nets or gaffs at just the right position for quick and easy access. A spring-loaded plunger between the roller balls assures that there are always three points of tension for a secure hold. Another handy use is to hold your BogaGrip, or similar lip-grip tool, at the ready. And a molded-in eye at the base of the Roller Ball provides a secure location to clip a gear leash. Stake out poles, bait nets and many other items can be securely held in place with the RAM Roller Ball. MSRP: $17.99.

More information: www.rammount.com

Chris Holmes
About Chris Holmes 192 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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New gear reviews

Power-Pole Micro

The Power-Pole Micro anchor is specifically designed for small boats and works great on nearly any kayak. At the push of a button, your ‘yak is securely anchored in up to 8 feet of water. The bracket is permanently mounted to the kayak, but the light-weight driver unit is easily removable and transferable to other vessels. There are aftermarket mounts available for a variety of kayak brands and models. With a 1,500 pound capacity, it can also be used on duck boats, jon boats and small skiffs. Anchoring is effortless and extremely quiet. The driver unit includes a 15-foot power cable to use with a 12-volt onboard battery. There is an optional snap-on Micro Battery Pak that is as easy to use as those on a cordless drill. The driver unit comes with a portable key fob remote and a permanent mount dash switch. The driver unit fits any ¾-inch spike, and Power-Pole separately sells a variety of lightweight or heavy-duty spikes from 6 to 8.5 feet. MSRP: $595 (Micro Driver unit). Spikes $79.95-$99.95. * Power-Pole is currently offering a $100 rebate for the purchase of both a Micro Spike Driver and spike. See website for details.

More info: www.power-pole.com/micro

NRS Boundary shoe

It’s technically called a shoe, but the NRS Boundary is actually a knee-high, waterproof neoprene boot that’s perfect for kayaking — whether you’re paddling or pedaling. Launching and landing your ‘yak often requires stepping into the water or soft mud. Each Boundary shoe is glued, blind-stitched, double-taped at the seams and factory-tested to ensure waterproof performance. The shoes are warm, lightweight and offer great traction. The sole wraps around all sides, including up the heel, to protect you from sharp rocks and oysters. A slick interior surface at the top makes them glide on with ease. The neoprene stretches for a comfortable fit and adjustable straps at both the top and across the instep keep them secure even in the muckiest of muck. MSRP: $89.95 

More info: www.nrs.com

Bioenno Power 12-volt 12Ah Lithium Battery

Electronics on kayaks are becoming more common. GPS/fish finders, lights, USB phone chargers and Power-Pole anchor systems all require 12 volts. Large-screen color depth finders draw more amps, and when combined with other electronic devices, you need longer lasting batteries to get through a full day of fishing. Depending on the total amp draw of your equipment, these batteries can provide multiple days usage without recharging. Traditional sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries are heavy and provide lower amp hours in relation to their size. Bioenno Power lithium iron phosphate batteries are lightweight and fully sealed. Because they contain no liquids, the batteries can be mounted in any orientation — even upside down. This provides many options for installing the battery. Lithium batteries provide many more cycles over the life of the battery when compared to traditional SLA batteries. The Bioenno 12V 12AH weighs only 3.5 pounds and provides long-lasting power with no voltage drop over the course of use. The spade terminal connectors are bedded in epoxy and offer easy connections to your power cables. The battery comes with a two-year warranty. MSRP: $139.99, including a special lithium iron phosphate charger. 

More info: www.bioennopower.com

Chris Holmes
About Chris Holmes 192 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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New gear reviews

Action hat

Kayak fishing is somewhat of a solitary sport, and anglers are often off by themselves when they make a great catch. The first thing your buddies want to see is proof of your fish story. The Action Hat makes it easy. A specially designed frame allows you to mount your GoPro or cellphone on top of the hat for perfect, hands free point-of-view photos or video while out on the water. A simple but innovative design places a lightweight skeletal frame inside the hat for a solid mounting base that also provides flotation in the event the hat and camera fall overboard. In the normal position, the Action Hat provides camera mounting locations at the front and top of the hat. However, the frame can also be moved to the rear in the event you want to film what’s going on behind you. One size fits most and it is available in several hat or visor models. Want to convert your lucky fishing hat into an Action Hat? No problem. The frame is removable or can be purchased separately and can be added to your own hat with a few simple steps. Never miss another shot with the Action Hat. MSRP:$39.99

More information: www.actionhat.com

Ram rod HD rod holder

Kayak rod holders must be sturdy, easily adjustable and hold an endless variety of rod/reel combinations in many different positions. The Ram Rod HD Rod Holder is all that and more. Built with all the durability and ingenuity that kayakers have come to expect from Ram Mounts, this holder is strong and versatile. Holding both spinning or casting rods, the HD has the unique ability to lock solidly while trolling and also act as a rod tube for storage. Not just a simple rod holder, the optional snap-in double ball & socket attachment allows you to affix a GoPro camera or X-Grip phone holder. Now you can film that epic fish strike, or use your phone to connect to your favorite fishing app or do a Facebook Live Feed while being hands free on the water. And your phone is safe with a rock-solid attachment. The HD offers a variety of mounting options including bulkhead/flat surface and track mounting. Several available extension arms get your rods in the perfect position to fit your particular style and needs. Made tough for harsh environments, Ram products are proudly made in the USA and come with their simple, “if we built it, we guarantee it” warranty. MSRP: $41.49 (*varies according to mounts and accessories.) 

More information: www.rammount.com 

Chris Holmes
About Chris Holmes 192 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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New gear reviews

YakAttack Omega rod holder

From the innovative minds at YakAttack comes “the last rod holder you’ll ever need.” The Omega is designed to handle casting, spinning, large conventional and even fly rods — all with the same holder. Utilizing the all-new LockNLoad mounting system, the Omega easily attaches to all rail mount systems that are common on many brands of fishing kayaks. A rotating collar locks the rods in the holder, but easily releases if you need to get it out quickly. The base locks securely into the track and is solid enough to withstand strikes from big fish while trolling. A security latch prevents accidental release of the rod holder from the base. The Omega offers a wide range of adjustability to get your rods at the perfect height and angle you desire. It also comes in the Omega Pro model that adds an extension arm to get rods higher off the water, and helps with longer butt rods. Tough and durable, the Omega is packed with one-of-a-kind features that solve all of the issues common with other kayak rod holders. MSRP: Omega, $30, Omega Pro $40.

More information: www.yakattack.us

Old Town Predator PDL

The Predator PDL is a fishing machine that offers stability, maneuverability and fishability. Pedal power provides forward or reverse propulsion, all while keeping your hands free to handle your fishing rod. The rudder control knob is positioned for easy access and makes steering almost effortless. The Element seating system provides dry, all-day comfort and has easy adjustments. It comes in four colors: urban camo, lime camo, black cherry and regular camo for those wishing to also use the ‘yak as a stealthy hunting platform. It’s packed with fishing-friendly features like rod holders, mounting tracks, dry storage and a built-in transducer scupper that makes mounting fish finders a breeze. Six removable mounting plates allow easy customization for accessories without having to drill into the hull. Slip resistant Exo-Ridge on the deck and tankwell provides sure footing and fast drainage. Of course, the PDL drive is the engine of this kayak. The self-contained unit quickly and easily drops in and locks securely. The drive is quiet, dependable and provides fast propulsion that is easy to use. The propeller propulsion provides a 10.3:1 gear ratio and can reach speeds up to 5.5 mph. The drive has a 16-inch draft when deployed, and can quickly be pivoted for docking or avoiding underwater obstacles. The PDL Drive console weighs 21 pounds, and includes a carry handle for easy transport. Another unique feature is that the drive unit floats. The Predator PDL is an advanced pedal-powered fishing kayak that provides precise boat control, while keeping your hands free for fishing.

More information: www.oldtowncanoe.com

Chris Holmes
About Chris Holmes 192 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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New gear reviews

Yak Gear Ambush Kayak Duck Blind

Kayaks are increasingly seeing double duty as great waterfowl hunting boats. While some kayaks are available in camouflage, the vast majority come in solid, often bright, colors. But Yak Gear has solved the problem of hiding you and the ‘yak from a duck’s great vision. The RealTree Max5 camo pattern blends well with a wide variety of marsh and wetland terrain, and numerous vegetation loops allow for adding additional concealment with local grass and brush on location. The universal size and shape fits a wide variety of kayaks, canoes and small boats from 12- to 14 feet long and up to 38 inches wide. The blind is made of rip-stop nylon material to prevent tears, and it cinches down around the kayak with rope drawstrings. There are two concealment flaps that cover the hunter in a lay-out type position and easily flip open when it’s time to shoot. A large Velcro flap provides easy access to the real tank well. The Yak Gear Ambush kayak cover virtually turns your ‘yak into a large layout blind. It’s easy to put on and take off, and you can be set up and ready to hunt in just a few minutes. MSRP: $199.99. 

More information: www.yakgear.com

DryArmor Gun Case by Kolpin

Kayaks are for hunting too, but carrying a valuable firearm in a kayak demands special protection. The new Kolpin DryArmor gun cases offer exactly what the name implies — it keeps your gun dry with armor-tough protection. Offered in both shotgun and rifle models, duck and big game hunters can now safely kayak their valuable guns to their hunting area. The cases have fully welded seams and waterproof zippers. They are submersible, and float up to 30 pounds. A waterproof interior pocket offers additional protection for keys, wallets and other valuables. With two types of closed-cell foam for flotation and shock protection, the cases boast a soft fabric liner that keeps your gun scratch-free. The tough outer fabric boasts strategically placed polycarbonate panels that protect the action and optics. Featuring a padded shoulder strap and carry handle, the DryArmor case has Hypalon reinforcements at all high-wear locations. These are the toughest cases you will find. MSRP: $229.99. 

More information: www.kolpin.com

Chris Holmes
About Chris Holmes 192 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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New gear reviews

Penn Slammer III

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced spinning reel that’s built like a tank, the Penn Slammer III is it. Kayak fishing is tough on reels. Kayaks sit low to the water, and your reels will get wet and occasionally dunked. The Slammer III can take it with an IPX6 sealed system that keeps water out of the gear box and drag. What the tough full metal body, side plate and rotor slightly add in ounces is easily made up for in durability. CNC gear technology and stainless steel ball bearings produce a reel that is smooth and ready for heavy duty fishing. The Slammer III has a high line capacity spool that comes with a braid-ready anti-slip gasket. With eight sizes ranging from 3500 up to the behemoth 10500, there is a model to tame any beast you want to catch in your ‘yak. It comes standard with an oversized metal ball knob, but a rubber knob is also included if you prefer. If you’re looking for a reel that will stand up to the rigors of kayak fishing for years to come, look no further than the Penn Slammer III. MSRP: $249.95 – $349.95 

More information: www.pennfishing.com

StutterStep 4.0

Topwater fishing is exciting, but from a kayak it’s incredible. Louisiana’s own Rat-L-Trap introduced the revolutionary StutterStep in a 5-inch version last year, and the results have been phenomenal. The new 4.0 is a bit smaller, with a tighter tail-kick, but offers all the explosive fish-catching abilities of its larger sibling. Walking the dog is a time proven technique, and the StutterStep does that quite well. However, what differentiates it from other topwater lures is its ability to also StutterStep, wag the tail, wobble wake and turn-around twitch, with 180-degree turns keeping the lure in a small area that tantalizes fish into striking.  All of the actions are easy to learn and repeat. Fresh or salt, the StutterStep puts fish on your line — and the sharp, strong Mustad hooks keep them there. It comes in 14 different colors and guarantees to be the most action-packed topwater lure you have ever fished. Several videos are available on the company’s website to explain all the different techniques and to see the StutterStep in action. MSRP: $10.00 

More information: www.rat-l-trap.com

Jackson Coosa FD

The Jackson Coosa FD kayak offers hands-free fishing with the addition of the new Flex Drive pedal system. The bicycle-style drive turns an adjustable pitch, three-blade propeller with forward/reverse options by changing the direction of pedaling. It offers all the features of the proven Coosa HD platform, including the Hi-Lo Elite seat with adjustable positions. Integrated gear track surrounding the seating area allows for endless positioning of accessories. Large front and rear hatches feature new easy open latches. Several standard features like molded in rod tip protectors, a paddle blade keeper, two front transducer scuppers and molded-in screw points for an optional Micro Power Pole anchor make the Coosa FD fisherman friendly. The FD drive articulates along a heavy dagger to push up towards and into the hull, allowing for navigation over obstructions and shallow water. Grass and debris can be cleaned from the prop via the hinged cover just forward of the seat. When not pedaling, the straight tracking Coosa hull is easy to paddle and provides ample stability for standing. An electric motor drive option is expected to be available in 2018. MSRP: $2,999

Specs:

Length: 12’ 7”

Width: 35”

Weight: 115 pounds

(with drive and seat)

Weight Capacity: 450 pounds

More information: www.jacksonkayak.com

Chris Holmes
About Chris Holmes 192 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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New gear reviews

Plano V-Crate

Plano supercharged its version of the kayaker’s milk crate with the new V-Crate. Efficient kayak fishing demands organized, easily accessible storage. This universal crate comes with four large Plano tackle trays that are visible and secured with a rubber strap. The sides have a rail system to attach rod holders or other track-mount accessories. The V-Crate is an all-in-one storage system that can easily be mounted in most brand kayaks and has a convenient carry handle for easy transport. It features a large, open center compartment for bulky items, while the lower compartment provides waterproof storage for phones, wallets and other valuables. The unit is hinged for easy tilt-back access to the dry compartment. The V-Crate takes ‘yak-friendly waterproof tackle storage to the ultimate level and makes accessing essential tackle items from the cockpit easy — without having to be a contortionist. MSRP: $119.99 (Available late 2017/early 2018) 

More info: www.planomolding.com/v-crate

Trapper Tackle Hooks

Trapper hooks feature a unique design never before seen in fishing hooks. They are made from hi-carbon steel, with a sticky-sharp piercing point that produces solid hook sets. Getting a fish on the hook is one thing — keeping it there is another. The magic is in the revolutionary Trapper Box that comes on each style hook. The box eliminates the pivot point inherent in regular J-style hooks that allows them to rotate out, and makes it extremely difficult for fish to escape. That same feature also helps keep your bait in place. In 2016, the Trapper Dropshot-Live Bait-Finesse hook won Best Of Show in the Terminal Tackle category at ICAST. In 2017, Trapper did it again with another Best of Show for their new Round Bend Treble hooks that work great as replacements for your favorite hard lures. The hooks come in several popular shapes and sizes. MSRP: starting at $4.19 

More info: www.trappertackle.com

Wilderness Systems Radar 135

The Radar 135 features new “tri-power” capability. The standard kayak comes with a host of fisherman-friendly features and is ready to hit the water for traditional paddle power. The Radar 135 features S.M.A.R.T. hull technology which delivers Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness and Tracking throughout the platform. So what does that mean to kayak anglers? The boat stays straight when paddling, is stable for standing, turns easily on command and it’s fast. Kayak anglers will appreciate the built-in Slide Trax system down both sides of the hull to offer unlimited possibilities for custom mounting a wide variety of popular angling accessories. The large, flat cockpit makes standing effortless. Combine the large rear tankwell with middle and front hatches and there is ample room to stow virtually anything. The comfortable Air Pro Max seat adjusts to several positions and provides all day comfort on your rear. What about the other two power sources? The Radar 135 can be operated for hands free fishing with the optional Helix PD pedal drive system or the Helix MD,motor drive system. The center pods quickly remove to drop in either unit. The PD uses centrifugal pedaling to drive a large two-blade prop. The unit can be popped straight up at the push of a button to clear shallow water situations or stowed forward and out of the way. If you want a no-effort experience, the 12-volt battery-powered Motor Drive is the way to go. Whether you want paddle, pedal or power, the Radar 135 can handle it all. 

Quick stats:

34” wide

13’6” long

Weight: 90 pounds

Capacity: 475 pounds

MSRP:

Radar 135 $1499.00

Helix PD $1100.00

Helix MD* $1999.00

*Includes motor, battery, remote throttle and charger

More info: www.wildernesssystems.com

Chris Holmes
About Chris Holmes 192 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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New gear reviews

Abu Garcia Revo Inshore reel

The Revo Inshore has been continuously refined since its introduction several years ago, and it’s better than ever. Packing a whopping 24 pounds of Carbon Matrix drag, it will beat whatever swims in the coastal salt. The low profile frame fits easily in your hand and makes long days of casting effortless. It has superior corrosion resistance inside and out, including the seven bearings. The Revo Inshore is ready for all the harsh conditions kayak fishing throw at it. An extended, bent handle with EVA knobs provide a comfortable, sure grip. The aluminum spool packs on 235 yards of 20 pound braid or 180 yards of 12 pound mono. Weighing in under 8 ounces with a fast 7.3:1 gear ratio, the Inshore is perfect for working a variety of lures or live bait. A gull wing sideplate provides easy access to the braking system and spool. Pair the Revo Inshore with your favorite casting rod and be equipped to tame the largest of inshore beasts. Available in right- and left-handed models. MSRP: $249.95 

— More info: www.abugarcia.com

Hobie Compass

This nimble hybrid was born of Hobie’s premium line of pedal kayaks. Taking the best features and design of the popular Outback, Revolution and Pro Angler models, the lightweight Compass is an entry level kayak with all the fishability of those higher end models. As the country song says, “It’s got everything you need and nothing that you don’t.” Powered by the proven and powerful Mirage Drive GT, the Compass is easy to pedal, and the integrated forward-set rudder turns the kayak on a dime. The elevated mesh seat provides dry, all-day comfort, and the Compass also includes a built-in transducer plate to seamlessly add a Lowrance or other fish finder. Two molded in rod holders, an 8-inch round storage hatch and a mesh covered gear well up front provide ample storage. Recessed H-Track mounts on both sides provide lots of gear-rigging options. This Compass comes in at 68 pounds hull weight, is 34 inches wide, 12 feet long and has a total weight capacity of 400 pounds. It’s a light, stable, speedster that comes in two new colors- slate blue or sea grass green — with an MSRP of $1949.00. 

— More info: www.hobiecat.com

13 Fishing Fate Black rod

Coming this winter, 13 Fishing introduced the second generation Fate Black rods that deliver high-end design, without the crazy price tag. Don’t let the name fool you. These rods are a stunning “radioactive” green color from tip to butt, and are outfitted with Portugese cork blank-through handles and tangle-free guides with Zirconium inserts. Built on premium Japanese 30-ton HTC3 low-resin blanks, these rods look and fish like custom rods with an off-the-shelf price tag. They come in a variety of casting and spinning actions tough enough to tackle all inshore fresh and saltwater gamefish. They’re powerful, yet sensitive — and they won’t break the bank. MSRP: $99.99 

— More info: www.13fishing.com

Chris Holmes
About Chris Holmes 192 Articles
Chris Holmes has kayak fished in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and many places in between.

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