Spring 2023 Fishing Gear Guide
Written By: Todd Corayer, The Fish Wrap Writer
Every Spring I look for the most innovative products on the outdoor market that I think would benefit Rhode Islanders the most in their outdoor pursuits. We all want gear that works, isn’t fancier than need be, and won’t implode your wallet.
My favorite part of writing the guide is appreciating the cleverness, refined designs of older models and the pure joy companies can bring to outdoorsmen and women.
This year, the products I chose are stellar, reliable, clever, and will become essential whether you camp, hike, bike, fish, or lay under backyard stars.
Spring Gear Guide Products
Portion-friendly, stackable freezer food trays
Starting at $19.95
My Pick: The Ultimate Gift Set 4-Pack
What I Love: Variety of Sizes, Minimal Packaging, Easy to Clean, Safe in microwave, oven, dishwasher.
Souper Cubes® are clever, simple, and functional. This company took an ice cube tray concept, blew it up, tore it down, turned it over, and made it versatile, flexible, and strong.
Designed to hold various amounts of food from preparation to presentation, the premise is pure genius. When packing for the woods or putting food away for winter, These food-grade silicone trays make storing precise amounts of food easy. Their real genius is that they go from counter to the freezer to microwave to oven and back to dishwasher.
I tested the cookie tray, ½ cup, 1 cup and 2 cup sizes, as well as the two tablespoon version.
I started off freezing some chili. I made a batch of venison chili, portioned it into the one cup size, and froze it. A month later, the chili was perfectly frozen and lost no flavor. When I had a follow-up question my inquiry was answered. On a Sunday. By the owner! Their minimal paper packaging lived a second life as the starter for my wood stove. Full circle.
Unpacking at camp and remembering you are minutes away from cookies or a single serving of lasagna is priceless. Souper Cubes® ensures your food will be well packed and in precise amounts in containers that last.
Durable coolers are available in 20, 30 and 45-quart sizes.
Starting at $159.99
My Pick: LAKA 45 QT Cooler
What I Love: Tough, Very durable, Good Looking, Long Lasting
If you take nothing else away from this review, understand that LAKA coolers are perfectly constructed, true to their promise, and strong as hell.
My young son said they were “fire” which I believe means they’re the best anywhere.
Let’s be honest, while we need these coolers to get us through a variety of adventures, we also appreciate some style. LAKA coolers come in fun colors (9 in total), have cup holders tall enough to hold a 12oz cup, and stainless bottle openers on the sides. The gaskets are super sturdy and the drain plug doesn’t feel like it’ll be the first thing you lose on day one of your adventure. Also tough enough to hold that guy who always seems to be sitting in the way of your beer.
This is the right cooler for boats of all sizes. Use a divider to separate bait from lunch, pack it tight with cans, or load it high with food for a three-hour cruise that might go later. I loved the rubber feet that kept things steady in moving seas and were much appreciated in my 1926 cedar canoe.
I filled it halfway with ice, beer, and food on a Saturday for an overnight trip. By Sunday night, no noticeable ice had melted. For grins, I put the cooler next to my woodstove and dog, who’s roughly the same temp as the stove. The ice lasted until Thursday morning. I don’t know that you could ask for more from a cooler.
While the 45 qt is 25.5 pounds dry weight, they are meant to provide a vital service. LAKA coolers really should be called “providers” as this one became essential for me.
Rocky Lynx Waterproof Boots
Simply put, I love these boots.
Starting at $164.95
My Pick: Lynx Waterproof Snake Boot
What I Love: Comfortable, Rugged, Dependable, Waterproof
Fastest review ever: I love these boots.
Sure, they are situation-focused footwear but the more you wear them, the more reasons you’ll find to wear them more. Lynx are comfortable and secure right out of the box, with strong zippers and rugged lacing.
There is a sufficient stretch in the 26.5” side panels to allow for different size calves. I’ve owned several pairs of Rocky boots (dating back to their classic Corn Stalkers) and have enjoyed every version because they fit and last.
The Lynx offers a strong protection from snakes (not a high risk here in Southern New England persay) and from all those briars and brambles we endure hunting and hiking on all types of terrain. The camouflage Denier Cordura uppers are tough, tough like they won’t tear until you have worn the soles off them, which are made of real rubber with an aggressive lug pattern.
They’re waterproof, and while not insulated, I tested them through the winter, and with the right socks, they were plenty warm.
Rocky Lynx Waterproof Snake Boots are a worthwhile purchase, regardless of any resident snake population. The only downside is, you’ll be wanting to wear them every day for all sorts of projects because they are that comfortable.
Daiwa Saltist MQ Spinning Reel
Daiwa prides themselves on reputation, engineering, and testing.
Starting at $329.99
My Pick: Daiwa Saltist MQ5000 D-H
What I Love: Quiet action, Beautiful design, Light weight, Tough in saltwater
When I first tested the Saltist MQ5000 D-H, I wondered if there would be some letdown because I already relied on Daiwa Saltist reels and have fished my 4000 for hundreds of hours. I thought I knew what to expect right out of that black box. I was wrong.
The MQ5000 D-H is phenomenal, smooth, quiet, strong, and balanced. It was all I expected with three caveats: this Saltist exceeded all my expectations, drowned out any thoughts I had about reviewing it as simply “next generation” and made me stop fishing just to stare at it. There’s nothing wrong with loving how our gear works and looks, in either order.
When I first tried the Saltist MQ5000 D-H, it was freezing, grey, calm, January, and fishy. That first hooked striper came to the boat almost silently as each turn of the reel was smooth and direct. It built confidence quickly. I almost forgot to take a picture because I just wanted to cast it again.
The MQ’s aluminum monocoque (French for “single hull”) design eliminates body covers and hardware while increasing overall reel integrity. The Air Bail only takes a few casts to master if you’re more accustomed to having bails auto reset. I much prefer this style as it keeps you in contact with the reel and sets the line better, especially in wind, as it retrieves 37.8” per turn with a 5.7:1 gear ratio. Saltist reels weigh just 15.3 ounces and are exceptionally tough in saltwater.
There’s a lot in that black reel box and I can tell you it’s the best reel I have ever used for inshore fish like stripers, bluefish, black sea bass, bonito, and bonita.
Pull Start Fire Starter
A simple, clever and reliable way to start a fire. Not to mention entertaining.
Starting at $19.99
My Pick: 6-Pack Pull Start Fire
What I Love: Simple technology, long-lasting, dependable in any weather
They are old-world alchemy and modern-day technology. Even more, they are an insurance policy. The concept is clear and simple: tie one end around some wood, even wet wood, build a pile on top of that, then pull the chord. It smokes for a few seconds to let you know it’s ready then the whole deal burst into flames, even in winds stiff enough to dimple your tent.
They burn for 30 minutes, providing plenty of time to find dry wood and keep it going. Having blocks of Pull Start Fire lets you concentrate on other things, like wondering why it had to rain all day on your first Spring hike.
I tested them in some deep Vermont backwoods recently with some friends on a quick getaway. Okay – in a pretty stone living room fireplace – but it really was cold outside. We banked a fire, pulled the chord, and stood back. Reactions were the polar opposite: some hooted and hollered as it smoked then flamed while others stood silently then said, “I’ve never seen anything like that. They’re unreal.”
Yes, matches should always be packed but really, at 1”x2”x5” box size and a mere four ounces in weight, I’ll make room for a three-pack of Pull Start Fire bricks every trip, indoors or out. They are safe, reliable, and honestly, pretty cool to watch.
XTRATUF Après Fish Slides
A slip resistant and non-marking slide made for fishing.
Starting at $19.99
My Pick: Men’s Black Aprés Fish Slides
What I Love: Nonmarking, lightweight, incredibly comfortable
A shoe made for fishing on white boats where dark soles are not welcome.
These soles are slip resistant, which is of ultimate importance, and will not leave marks as you’re wrestling a fish over the rails. The footbed has a series of ridges that pretty much massage your feet. These are the slides you’ll wear all day.
Après Fish deserves accolades for being comfortable, cool-looking, one-piece, and versatile. I love that they’re constructed from BioLite®, a Swedish blend of industrial hemp from farms in Northern Europe and responsibly sourced polypropylene. BioLite® was a finalist in the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Solver competition and they’re recyclable.
The Après Fish weigh about eight ounces and are so not one season boat shoes. They’re designed to last and given how great they feel, they’ll become the favorite house shoe in no time. Men’s are available in black and women’s are offered in a really wild looking pink pattern.
Extreme Survival by Michael Tougias
A thrilling non-fiction read that tests the limits of the human spirit.
Starting at $19.99
“The friction of the oar handles soon wore away the frozen flesh on my hands.”
“Mike, sharks were the least of my worries. Drowning of hypothermia was going to kill me.”
Small snippets of real and terrifying stories weave through a gripping collection of survive or perish accounts, which author Michael Tougias easily braids into a new book.
For years I have recalled the horrific battle against every single odd that Tougias recounted in his classic Fatal Forecast. Ernie Hazard’s emotional and physical plan to be rescued from an Atlantic tempest after his fishing boat sank is included with other accounts from people who chose not to die or succumb to terrible fates.
Others, from the Pacific Ocean to Kyrgyzstan mountains, in rafts and mountains did, some by simply giving up but Tougias carefully decodes how survivors made unwavering plans to live, shared with personal anecdotes of survival lessons.
Extreme Survival is gripping, authentic, memorable, and absolutely a must-read reference for all adventurers who thrive on plans and who can adjust when they fail. There is much to learn from Tougia’s observations and all can be applied to our normal lives.
Survivors often later reflect on their near-death experiences then see the rest of their lives as a gift. Those who haven’t been on the precipice of death have opportunities to see the same way and Extreme Survival offers a few tips to keep us safe, happy, and thankful.
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