Fishing action has really turned on in the month of May. Anglers are catching rockfish and sea bass in California. The Northeast is seeing an explosion of striped bass. Florida’s tarpon fishing in the Keys is in full swing. And Louisiana and North Carolina can’t get enough of the speckled trout action. There’s plenty of fishing and catching happening, but it’s also that time of the year when anglers notice what they’re missing. The fishing season is going to be a good one, so it pays to have the best gear in hand. Chances are something in the selection below could find its way onto your boat.
AFTCO 365 Ripstop Chino Fishing Shorts
Do you like short shorts? Not too short, but definitely above your knee. The AFTCO 365 Ripstop Chino Shorts are a perfect fit. Some anglers wear fishing pants. Others board shorts. This is a great option for regular-old shorts. The latest offering from AFTCO is made of a ripstop polyester and spandex blend, ideal for anyone who needs to be able to dry out quickly. And with UPF 50 protection, your thighs are safe from the sun. Hand pockets, back pockets and a hidden zipper pocket mean you’ll always have a place to store stuff. And, yes, there’s a specific pliers pocket for your side-cutters.
Daiwa Saltiga G Series Spinning Reels
The Daiwa Saltiga G Series of saltwater-grade spinning reels include models SAG4000-XH, SAG5000-XH, and SAG6000XH. What stands out is its full-metal construction with Daiwa’s Monocoque body concept, specifically designed to support a larger machine-cut Digigear made from G1 Duralumin. The new tech allows better cranking power and extra strength to the drive gear not commonly found in reels of these sizes. Of course, the reel body and bearings are magsealed. Each model excels differently. Use the 4000 for light casting and super-light jigging; the 5000 for shore casting and inshore targets; and the 6000 for reef fishing and jigging. A final key feature to know is the Airdrive Design (rotor, bail and shaft) that produces reduced weight, smooth rotation and quick response.
Pelican R60 Personal Utility Ruck Case
Use the R60 Pelican Ruck case to protect your personal gear that’s vulnerable to the elements. Don’t want it getting wet or dusty? Throw it in here. The case even handles being submerged underwater to depths of 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) for up to 30 minutes. Measuring 11.1 inches long, 3.9 inches tall and 6.9 inches wide, the utility case stores and shelters gear such as ammo, cell phones, fly reels, cameras or whatever else you might have along on your trip. Rubberized bumpers and impact-proof ABS outer shell safeguard against drops. Its IP68 rating blocks water, dirt, snow and dust. And a built-in pressure valve keeps nasty stuff out while balancing air pressure.
Plano Pro Series Tackle Bags
Plano’s Pro Series tackle bags are available in two sizes: 3600 and 3700. Both models include a fast-access top, held closed with durable magnets. A tough waterproof base keeps your tackle moisture-free on wet docks and boat decks. The durable UV-resistant outer fabric helps prevent that fading color so common with many older tackle bags. T-handles on the water-resistant zippers easily open and close three external pockets. When grabbing tackle for the skiff, this is the perfect bag to bring along. If I have more tackle than what fits in the bag, I’m probably over-packing.
Price: 3600 Series $74.99, 3700 Series $99.99
St. Croix Rift Salt and Jig Rods
The St. Croix Rift Salt and Rift Jig rods handle your favorite types of nearshore and offshore fishing. Key Rift rod features include SCIII carbon fiber for flexural strength and durability paired with Fortified Resin System (FRS) technology to reduce weight; Integrated Poly Curve mandrel technology; K-style stainless-steel guides with Alconite rings; and premium-grade handles.
In total, there are 16 boat models (Rift Salt) and 12 jigging models (Rift Jig). The Rift Salt rods are thin and lightweight options, but plenty versatile from 15- to 120-pound line, sized 6 feet, 6 inches to 7 feet, 10 inches in length, medium-light to heavy power, and fast or moderate-fast parabolic actions. St. Croix’s Rift Jig rods excel at vertical fishing, with models from 5 feet, 6 inches to 6 feet, 6 inches in length, offering moderate parabolic actions, and built for medium to extra-extra heavy power. Tip-tuned and beefed-up in the butt, each Rift Jig rod is optimized for battling fish in specific weight classes. Conventional and spinning models available in both Rift series.
Price: Rift Salt starting at $300, Rift Jig starting at $290
Z-Man HerculeZ Swimbait
I hooked the biggest tarpon of my life on a Z-Man HerculeZ swimbait fishing the waters of Florida Bay. Completely under-gunned, I was targeting snook and redfish with Capt. Bear Holeman when a 6-foot tarpon crashed the party. All I could do is watch in awe as the fish jumped before finally coming unglued. I should have added an under-belly treble hook on the swimbait’s extra eyelet. The pre-rigged HerculeZ swimbait is made from 10X Tough ElaZtech available in 4-, 5- and 6-inch versions. Pick from eight colors. The hooks included are black-nickel Mustad UltraPoints.