This is the time of year when many inshore anglers start prepping for the spring fishing season. The waters are starting to warm up. Baitfish are moving back into the bays, rivers and creeks. And many of our favorite fish species are starting to feed with gusto. The itch to get back on the water is unbearable.
So give your tackle a quick look-over. What’s missing? What gear needed replacement after last season? And we all know that one fishing friend who’s still wearing a pair of sunglasses held together by superglue or casting a rod patched together with duct tape — maybe they have a birthday coming up?
One thing I’ve noticed is that many anglers have a strong idea of what they want before they ever enter a tackle shop. So, check out these new options for inshore anglers. Bay boat, flats skiff or kayak — the vessel doesn’t matter. These new gear products might have a place in your arsenal.
Bajio Chelem Sunglasses
You might know Chelem, Yucatan, Mexico, as that clear-water fishing spot where permit and tarpon have knock-down, drag-out fights with shallow-water anglers. That’s where Bajio’s Chelem sunglasses get their name. The Chelem is a medium-sized frame that fishes well, with its lightweight bio-based nylon frame, rubber nose pads, and flexible hinges. Lens are polarized with proprietary blue-light-blocking LAPIS technology, while the lens coating is scratch-resistant and oleophobic. If you’re looking for 1980s nostalgia frames that seem popular with Instagram influencers, these aren’t it. But if you want quality fishing sunglasses from a company built on sustainability, give these American-assembled shades a shot.
Price: $209 | Link: bajiosunglasses.com
Bubba Tidal Rods
Available in three different series, Bubba’s Tidal rods will catch the eye of brand new fishermen, tournament-tested pros, and everyone in between. Probably the first thing you’ll notice is the creative use of vibrant reds, blacks and whites of the sticks. Each of the Tidal, Tidal Select and Tidal Pro lines feature spinning and casting rods, as well as different lengths, actions and backbone.
- Backed by a 5-year warranty, the Tidal graphite spinning rods are constructed with stainless steel, corrosion-resistant guides. At the butt end, there’s a split reel seat for sensitivity and a grip for comfort.
- The next step up are the Tidal Select rods, best described as workhorses. Backed by a limited lifetime warranty, the rods feature corrosion-resistant Fuji components and quality 24/30 Toray graphite construction. At the butt-end is a non-slip grip for all-day comfort.
- Captains and pros helped design the Tidal Pro rods. Constructed from top-of-the line Fuji reel seats and guides, a corrosion-resistant design, and 30T Toray graphite construction, this class of rods aims for the top of the mountain. The Tidal Pro spinning rod (7 foot, 6 inches, medium-heavy) will tame a 30-inch redfish and still be fun fighting seatrout. A unique, ergonomic carbon-fiber handle is finished at the end with the company’s recognizable non-slip grip. Yes, limited lifetime warranty too.
Tidal: $139 | Tidal Select: $199 | Tidal Pro: $329.99 | Link: bubba.com
Costa Backpack 25L
When I first saw the Costa Backpack 25L, it screamed camera bag. Now, to be clear, it’s a soft backpack that’s water resistant, so I wouldn’t pack cameras meant to shoot the next great outdoor documentary. But for GoPros and point-and-shoots that already have some built-in weather-protection, this backpack is perfect. There is plenty of space to add all the necessary accessories too, such as batteries, cards, chargers and everything else. Or you could use the backpack as a tackle bag to bring onto your buddy’s boat. Tackle trays, clothes, and drinks will all fit. Just don’t let your kid steal the pack for school!
Price: $90 | Link: costadelmar.com
Tenkara Carbon Fiber Landing Net
Don’t call it a freshwater net. The Tenkara Carbon Fiber Landing Net is perfect for seatrout and flounder anglers. Both species have a reputation for shaking free near the boat, so the 18-inch handle on this carbon-fiber net is useful. Plus, it’s lightweight and floats. Store it in a rod holder or a storage compartment, but keep it at the ready. Total length is 36 inches, weight is 16 ounces, and the bag dimension is 18 by 12 by 12 inches. When those specks and flatfish are out of season or under the slot, the clear rubber mesh net is easy on the fish for a healthy release.
Price: $139 | Link: tenkararodco.com
The XTRATUF Kiata is not a deck boot the company’s known for, it’s a high-performance sneaker. Tested in Alaska, the shoe was designed to be tough yet comfortable. A detail that stands out is the 3D knit upper, created from a single yarn for a seamless design. What’s better, it’s 100 percent waterproof. A lightweight sock-style upper blends with a cushioned midsole and perforated insole. Where your shoe meets the road, a TUFgrip outsole produces mega traction on flat surfaces or uneven bottom. You get to decide if it’s a boat shoe or one for the tiki bar.
Price: $135 | Link: xtratuf.com