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Alaska River Wright Hand Net

MSRP: $95

www.akriverwrights.com

Made primarily from Alaskan birch, we found the Hand Net to be good-looking, functional and solidly handcrafted. Thermoplastic net bags, accommodating fish to 26 inches, are used because of their ability to protect the slime layer on the fish and also to keep hooks from becoming tangled in the netting, two critical details for our catch-and-release anglers. 

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Kershaw Pro Grade Spoon 

Handle Fillet 8.5-inch

MSRP: $22.95

www.kershawknives.com

An offering through the company’s Pro-Grade Specialty Fish & Game series, this fillet knife is almost twice as long as Kershaw’s previous spoon-handled knife, allowing salmon anglers a quick and easy way to fillet, then remove the bloodline with the same tool.

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Costa Del Mar Double Haul 

MSRP: $169.25

www.costadelmar.com

We loved these frames for Costa’s signature three-hole vent system, which helped alleviate lens fog in extreme weather conditions, as well as for their comfort and of course, trendy looks.

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Scheyden Precision Eyewear Jet-A

MSRP: $259-309

www.scheyden.com

With hand-ground, eight-layer mineral glass lenses, the Scheyden Jet-A frames offered superior clarity on the water over the past year, and whether spotting schooled Dollies in Bristol Bay or sighting silvers on Prince of Wales Island, they performed to the highest standards.

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Maui Jim Olowalu Sunglasses

MSRP: $319

www.mauijim.com

Featuring Maui Jim’s new proprietary MauiPure lenses, these light but durable frames held up to a season’s worth of fishing, looking great on- or off the water and helping us sight fish across the state.

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Vortex Viper HD 10x42 Binocular 

MSRP: $699

www.vortexoptics.com

They cost plenty, but proved to be worth it in the field, as these binoculars brought truly exceptional clarity, detail and resolution, even when directly compared against other binos. 

 

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Maui Jim Surf Rider Sunglasses

MSRP: $219

www.mauijim.com

We like the protection offered by the full-frame wrap-around style, and these glasses from Maui Jim fit that bill, and they held up to a year on the water.

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Smith Optics Chief Sunglasses

MSRP: $219

www.smithoptics.com

Among the more stylish sunglasses in our testing queue in 2012, the Chiefs also performed with the best of the best on the water, making them a favorite.

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Kaenon Polarized Eden Rose Honey

MSRP: $229

www.kaenon.com

Who says that polarized fishing sunglasses cannot be stylish? These comfortable-to-wear glasses offer full coverage and the polarized C12 lens is ideal for the glacial-fed waters of Alaska.

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Plano Fly Boxes

MSRP: $11.99-$23.99

www.planomolding.com

It’s not always the newest item on the market that has our testers excited. Simply put, everyone at the magazine uses Plano Fly Boxes of all sizes. The favored sizes are large for larger streamers, including articulated flies, and medium for everything from Woolly Buggers to caddis dries and nymphs. They are easy to open and close, store flies securely and fit well inside waders, jackets and gear bags.

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LoopRope 5-foot Tie Down

MSRP: $23.95

www.looprope.com

From lashing down your gear to using as a clothesline at camp, we didn’t find anything more versatile than the LoopRope, which is fully adjustable, linkable, safer than bungee cords and tangle-free. 

 

 

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Lazer Sharp Needle Nose Pliers with Braid Cutter

MSRP: $10.69

www.eagleclaw.com

With a handy carry-case and solid construction, these pliers from Eagle Claw were always at hand throughout 2012 and handled every task we threw their way. Coming in at a nice price-point, we also weren’t terrified to lose them on the water, as is often the case with other pliers.

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Bollé Reno Shiny Black TN

MSRP: $69.99

www.bolle.com

Lightweight, durable and functional on-stream, the Reno frames from Bollé offer the additional benefit of not requiring a second job to afford them. 

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Berkley Superline Shears

MSRP: $4.99

www.berkley-fishing.com

Yes, trying to cut braid and other superlines can be a pain, but don’t let that prevent you from utilizing their benefits; instead, pick up a pair of these shears from Berkley and snip away. We did.