ProMar Boater Floating Telescopic Gaff
This gaff ranges in size from 43- to 72 inches, allowing for compact storage and six feet of reach when fully extended. We used it to gaff salmon, halibut and lingcod over the rail of a 34-foot ocean boat and it worked great hoisting fish up to 50 pounds over the side. The three-inch gaff hook is razor-sharp, and is made from high-grade stainless steel, while the rest of the gaff is made from corrosion-resistant anodized aluminum. The EVA foam grip handle is easy to hold even in slippery conditions. The ProMar Telescopic gaff also comes in a smaller size, 28- to 45 inches, and retails for $37.99. With a range of 28- to 72 inches between the two gaff models, these units can cover a wide range of applications.
Spyderco Pacific Salt Lightweight Knife
Spyderco’s Salt Series features folding and fixed-blade knives made from H-1 steel, an extraordinary material that is completely rustproof and tough. Most blades combine iron and carbon to make steel. One downside of that material is that it can rust. H-1 steel combines iron and nitrogen to make a blade that is impervious to rust, making it an ideal choice in saltwater environments. It is also an austenitic steel, which unlike traditional martensitic steels, does not go through a heat-treating process. Instead, it is “work hardened” through the mechanical processes of shaping and grinding the steel. The areas “worked” the most—like the bevels and cutting edges—become the hardest. The result is a blade with differential hardness that provides an exceptional balance of strength, flexibility and cutting performance. The salt series comes in eight different models covering a range of sizes and applications. We tested the Pacific Salt Lightweight folding knife with the SpyderEdge blade and have been quite impressed with its performance. It’s extremely sharp and has remained rust-free after using it in saltwater conditions for an extended period.
MSRP: $123.80 to $135.90
This is classic Leatherman - tough, multi-functional and downright handy to have on your belt or in your pocket. This was our go to on-the-water tool in 2013 and will no doubt be the one we go to in 2014 and beyond until Leatherman eventually produces yet another awesome multi-functional tool. This one has 21 tools built into it and we’re not afraid to use them since the tool is covered by Leatherman’s 25-year warranty.
ProMar Trophy Series Collapsible Landing Net
MSRP: $22 to $39
We loved these collapsible nets from ProMar, which allow you to carry a large-capacity net, nearly always a necessity in Alaska waters, while saving on space. We tested the 20- x 20-inch net this season, which comes with a 22- x 38-inch collapsible handle and a knotless catch-and-release nylon-mesh net bag.
P-Line Adaro Jr.
The Adaro Jr. is a machine-cut aluminum tool that comes in two styles, weighs only three ounces and measures just over six inches. Because of its sleek size, the Adaro Jr. is ideal for both fresh- and saltwater applications, and it is available in both a split-ring model or with standard needle-nose jaws.
Plano Flex ’N Go Satchel
This multi-purpose tackle box features two sides, one featuring a bin with four- to nine adjustable compartments, and the other featuring two mid-sized tackle boxes held in place by flexible straps. The segmented design allows for greater organization in a more
Kershaw Camp 18
The Camp 18 is the biggest zombie-whacker in the Kershaw stable. In Alaska, that makes for about the right size camp knife. With an 18-inch blade, you can take on about any camp task with ease. Heck, you could probably use it to fillet a fish and with some of the lunkers that swim in Alaska waters, you might just need a knife that big.
Rapala EZ Glide 7-inch Fillet Knife
Featuring a non-stick, scalloped, PTFE-treated blade, this fillet knife from Rapala also utilizes a scallop design to introduce air between the blade and the fish, preventing any sticking and tearing when making your cuts. We tested the seven-inch model this past season on everything from sockeye to kings and it worked exceptionally well.
Kershaw Taskmaster Shears
These beefy shears are designed to handle the toughest jobs you can devise for a pair of scissors. If you are a dip netting enthusiast, consider adding a pair to your toolkit to clip the top and bottom of each salmon’s tail upon harvest. The blades separate for easy cleaning.
Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener 221
A quality sharpener is certainly an essential in Alaska, and this one fits that bill. The complete sharpener for field, home or shop use, the Guided Field Sharpener 221 is the first angle-guided, five-stage sharpening solution designed for sportsmen who need a complete, robust and compact field sharpener.
Cliff Outdoors The Articulator
In Alaska, we fish big flies, and many of those are articulated. Well, after years of shoving those patterns into boxes designed for something else, and often finding it an ill-fit, there’s now a fly box made specifically for articulated patterns. We love it.
Silver Horde Tackle Trapper
MSRP: $14.99 for a two pack
The Silver Horde Tackle Trapper will keep your lure safe and secured during transport while still attached to the line. With this device, the lure and flasher slide into the Tackle Trapper and secure the combo to the rod while still attached to the reel and line. Use this accessory to avoid hooks piercing other items during travel, and to have your rod completely ready to go when you
hit the water.
SG-20 Outdoor Adhesive
We used this product in 2013 and can state with certainty it’s a must-have for all Alaskan outdoor enthusiasts. The adhesive works on neoprene, canvas wadders, Frogg Toggs rainwear, Muckboots, other boots and wading shoes and basically any other clean and dry surface, when in need of a durable, water-resistant repair.
Black Diamond Icon Headlamp
This waterproof headlamp from Black Diamond is a necessity in Alaska — especially in the fall and winter when daylight is a scarcer commodity. The Icon is bright enough to fillet fish, prep tackle, and take care of any other camp chore necessary to hit the water first thing in the morning.
DeLorme inReach SE
The DeLorme inReach is a global personal communicator that provides two-way satellite text messaging, delivery confirmations, SOS alerting, remote GPS Follow-Me/Find-Me tracking and locating, and an Android and Apple operating system device interface for use with smartphones and tablets. We recommend that you don’t go off the grid without one of the compact, lightweight, waterproof, floatable and impact-resistant units.
Odor-Off Hand Soap
MSRP: $9.95 for 6-ounce bottle
Contributing Editor Greg Brush writes, “I found Odor-Off Hand Soap to be the ‘real deal’ in that it actually removes the nastiest, strongest odors out there. Initially I tested this product, which by the way has no masking fragrances, on the water. After handling bait, specifically salmon roe and fresh sardine fillets, it quickly and effectively removed these smells from my hands and rinsed clean. But the real test came at the end of the day, where I used it after filleting a batch of silvers for my guests, just prior to getting in my truck. (After all, who wants their vehicle smelling like salmon?) Much to my delight, Odor-Off removed 100% of this foul smell! Try it; I highly recommend it!”
Folbe Advantage Jr. Rod Holder
This downsized version works well for all salmon and steelhead applications. It provides effortless removal from the holder, even when the rod is buried by an angry Chinook and adjusts to many different angles and with the optional spacer washers, you can adjust them to even finer angles. Options include side, pedestal, flush or no mount.
Cliff Outdoors The Float Patch
If you spend any time at all floating Alaska’s streams and rivers, you’ll want The Float Patch so you don’t have to keep digging into packs or boat bags for the next fly. The Float Patch adheres to any flat surface on a boat and holds your flies securely.
Grizzly Cooler Grizzly 60
These coolers are tough, well-insulated and well-made. We have been impressed with their ability to keep ice in warm weather for a long time. This will be one of the last coolers you ever buy.
Testers found the box to be handy. For those who fish lots of different fly lines, label the boxes so you don’t forget which line is which. It’s quick to load a line into it, and quick to load a line off the box and onto a fly reel. Our tester suggested cleaning the line as you are winding it into the switchbox, ensuring the line is ready to use next time you need it.
LED Lenser F1
We were impressed with the amount of light coming out of this compact, 3.5-inch flashlight, as its’ 400 lumens lit the way on many occasions in 2013. The waterproof unit is built tough, perfect for Alaska, and is supported by a five year-warranty.
Pro-Cure Super Gels
MSRP: starting at $7.15
This stuff is really, really sticky and provides long-lasting scent even in heavy current. It simply does not wash off easily. Testers tried garlic, bloody tuna, sardine, garlic tuna gels on spoons and plugs to good success.
Platinum Edge Sun Readers
Platinum Edge Sun Readers feature a near invisible bi-focal in a crystal-clear polarized polycarbonate lenses. These glasses have been designed so that you can do a range of outdoor activities, such as fishing, boating, driving or reading, without changing your glasses. Our tester used the Shasta model with bronze lenses and said that the wrap-around side shields worked great on sunny days for spotting river structure and fish. He also said that the reader part of the lens is hardly noticeable and worked well, and he prefers to wear readers now to tie knots. Two lens color choices, three strengths and seven frame models available.
Costa Del Mar Tuna Alley
MSRP: Starting at $169 to $249
These frames offer a large, wrap-around fit to protect against outside glare and feature front frame vents to alleviate lens fogging, as well as a no-slip interior lining to keep the sunglasses comfortably in place all day. Also available with new Sunrise 580 lenses.
Costa Del Mar Double Haul Frames
MSRP: $169 to $249
This style from Costa’s collection of performance sunglasses features Costa’s signature three-hole vent system in the frame front to alleviate lens fog in extreme weather conditions, as well as sturdy integral hinges, co-injected molded temples and full eye coverage to allow full range of vision while on the water. Anglers can customize Double Haul in Costa’s patented 580 lenses in either glass or polycarbonate, with lens options that include gray, copper, amber, and blue, green and silver mirror.
Guideline Eyewear Mantis
These fit great, and the amber lenses help a lot in low light conditions—way better than brown or copper. The glasses incorporate polarized and lightweight polycarbonate lenses and offer very good value and performance for an inexpensive pair of glasses.
Our tester enjoyed the Nunzio in Crystal Photochromic Brown Frames with PhD Drivers Lenses, as they provided a near seamless fit and finish, long-lasting comfort and great vision clarity.
Smith Optics Outlier
One of our favorite frames of the year, these models from Smith Optics feature modern refinement and clean lines, which are complemented by the performance features essential to the brand’s DNA. The Outlier is a forward, stylish model that combines simple form with sensibly considered technical elements.
Baja Designs OnX 8” Driving LED Bar
Expect top results with this LED light bar, the only one on the market that has the distance of an 8-inch HID with the smooth spread of an LED. It’s an exceptional trail companion for Alaska outdoors enthusiasts. Ideal on your four wheeler, and especially in the waning light of fall.
Baja Designs 10” Stealth LED Light Bar
Epitomizing power vs. size, the Stealth LED Light Bar from Baja Designs produces an outstanding 4,200 lumens per 10-inch section while maintaining a slim, out-of-the-way profile. Light your way, or fillet fish and dress game after dark with these bright lights. We have been so impressed with the quality of the lights by this brand.