fish 2021

What’s the reel deal?

Posted 4/7/21

The changes in fishing trends are akin to the changes in fishing patterns themselves. One week, you may be bending rods left and right on one style of lure or bait setup. The next week, it’ll …

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fish 2021

What’s the reel deal?


The changes in fishing trends are akin to the changes in fishing patterns themselves. One week, you may be bending rods left and right on one style of lure or bait setup. The next week, it’ll be nothing to show. This is similar to the many small fishing accessories that pop onto the market through a flurry of social media promotions, landing in all your buddies’ tackle boxes. As we gain new technology, many of these will come and go, but some are here to stay. Much has changed in the market of fishing apparel with the development of new water-wicking materials showcased by companies such as HUK and Pelagic. But even on the general manufacturing scale, there are odd little tools that appear from time to time such as line-cutting tools, knot-tying tools, fish-holding tools and many others for every detail of need that may arise while practicing the sport.

As a way of reviewing just a few of the most recent fishing accessories to hit the market, I’ve selected a handful to share with you and determine whether or not they are worth your time.

Rod socks

First on deck is the rod sock. What is the purpose of a rod sock, you may ask? Well, have you ever grabbed a couple of fishing rods and hastily thrown them in your vehicle on your way to your favorite fishing spot? When you arrive, all you want to do is grab the rod and get fishing, but before you can, you must untangle the lines of the rods that were thrown together. The rod sock is designed to carefully slip over the length of your fishing pole and prevent tangles if rods are stacked or stored close to each other.

Do rod socks really work? In my opinion, they are one of the best new inventions of the decade. In years past, there have been many renditions of rod cases and fabric sheaths—earlier rod socks—within which you could safely stow your rod. However, cases became cumbersome to the fisherman on the go, and the fabric sheaths were difficult to put on and take off quickly due to their material, which caused snags when any hooks were involved. Today, rod socks are made of an expandable mesh that doesn’t snag on hooks as badly as fabric and also slips easily over the eyelets of the rod. Most have a rubberized loop at the bottom that can be hooked on the reel to keep it in place. At a price of three dollars, I highly recommend a few of these to anyone who travels locally with any more than two rods at a time. Even if you don’t travel with multiple rods, they look stylish and protect your rod from minor damage, normal wear and tear that might occur from traveling.

Face shield

This next item, in the category of fishing apparel, has drawn huge amounts of popularity: the face shield. Perhaps this is due in part to the current pandemic (the CDC says gaiters used as protection from COVID-19 should be double layered), but the neck-up style face shield is one of the most popular new fishing accessories out there right now. It is essentially a tube of breathable, stretchy polyester and spandex fabric that can be pulled up from the neck and over the bridge of your nose, effectively shielding your face and neck. It was originally designed for those long summer days when the sun beats down on your neck as your attention is fixed downwards at the water. It is additionally helpful to avoid the spray of water as certain boats move from spot to spot, along with the bite of wind while looking for that bite amidst a storm.

This item is so popular that I have witnessed countless individuals wearing it as their regular facemask in public due to its comfort and breathability. It comes in a large variety of designs printed onto the fabric, including the scale pattern of your favorite fish species, the American flag or, in my case, classic camouflage. At an average starting price of $10, I think the price point is a little high; however, in all practicality, it is a highly functional accessory and, when not in use, can easily be pulled down to rest around your neck.

Bubble box

The bubble box is a product I was unfamiliar with until I began perusing accessories to write about for this article. Being familiar with a lot of the more highly promoted products on the market, this one surprised me for its functionality and lack of market presence. It comes in several sizes, based on your capacity needs, and is quite simply an aeration tool for your baitfish.

The device is battery-operated and can be clipped onto the rim of your bait bucket or tank with a small hose and air stone running into the water to provide fresh air for the bait. I decided to splurge on the $15 model, which operates for an eight-gallon capacity and will run for approximately 44 hours on a pair of D batteries. What I found interesting was that the device will function if you only have one battery. So, if you are in a crunch and don’t have a second battery available, it will still work. There is a waterproofed on/off switch on top of the bubble box and the face opens into two hatches that house the motor compartment and the battery compartment; this can double as storage for your air hose and stone until needed. There is a small metal clip on the back of the box that is used for hanging on a five-gallon bucket or another style tank.

As I mentioned, there were a few sizes to choose from, ranging smaller and larger than the model I chose. What I like about it the most stems from personal experience. When I was a kid, my dad always had a fancy bait tank in the boat. It held about 75 gallons or so and had a built-in caged aerator on the lid that was supported by a separate boat battery, which would only be run occasionally to conserve the power if we were out for as long as a day. Assuming this bubble box works as advertised, it would be vastly more efficient in keeping live bait fresh. I’ve not had a chance to run it for 44 hours as promoted, but the output from the stone is adequate for a dozen or more bait. For the price, I would definitely recommend this to anyone transporting bait even a few times throughout their fishing season.

Subscription boxes

My final product review is merely an example of a booming industry: the subscription box. Subscription boxes themselves are not new, but the standardized marketing of them from multiple outfitters has become a reinvigorated marketing technique for even well-established tackle companies.

Small tackle companies have taken to starting some of their own subscription boxes filled with, of course, tackle from their company, but there are independents who collaborate with the big names to bring a well-balanced collection of items to the fishing enthusiast. One such box company from which I picked up a sample was Mystery Tackle Box. As the name suggests, they create a fun experience in each box by not revealing what is inside. The boxes are categorized by the customer’s target area of fishing—for example, bass versus panfish and trout—and don’t just simply contain lures and tackle designed for those species. The boxes also include decals from brands, a small informational pamphlet on fishing tips and tricks and an infographic built right into the box that doubles as a ruler for measuring fish.

Given the price of  roughly $20 a box, I was leery of what might be inside, but the surprise and variety definitely held up to the associated hype. In this particular box, I received three lures, valued at roughly $5 apiece; two bags of soft plastics valued at about the same if not a few dollars cheaper; and a decal and pamphlet. So, the value comes in just over what has been paid for the whole box, and the marketing certainly has me considering an additional purchase. Being as frugal as I am, I wouldn’t want to commit to the $20 every month, but for someone willing to spend money on their hobby regularly or who simply doesn’t know where to start to begin collecting tackle for fishing, I would say this is a great option and would make a good gift idea for the fisherman in your life.

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