1. OPST Dubbing Spinner MSRP: $23 George Krumm has been tying flies since he was seven, and in that time he’s used virtually every dubbing tool on the market. Whether tying small stillwater patterns or large Intruder-type flies, this is the best dubbing tool he’s ever used, as it’s heavy enough to spin dense composite loops for larger flies, yet small enough for dubbing loops requiring more finesse; it doesn’t roll off the table, and overcoming perhaps the most overlooked problem with other dubbing tools, it is short. Basically, OPST nailed it with this tool.
2. ThermaCELL ProFLEX Heated Insoles MSRP: $184.99 As temperatures dipped well below zero last winter, our testers appreciated a product that kept us from being driven indoors. Using a rechargeable, removable battery and wireless remote to control the heat setting between no heat, medium- or high heat, these heated insoles are also highly water-resistant and work in a range of footwear, including shoes, boots, wading boots and wader bootfoots.
3. HMH Tube Spinner Vise MSRP: $179 Tube-style flies are growing in popularity for a number of reasons. Although adapters are available to tiers, if you tie a lot of tube flies a dedicated vise designed to tie on tubes is the way to go. The HMH tube spinner is a classy looking, stout tube fly vise. With it you can tie on virtually any type of tube material and the mini drill-style chuck makes the problem of the tube spinning while trying to tightly wrap materials a thing of the past. This vise performs better than any of the tube fly-tying attachments. The shape allows for precise, simple materials application. This vise can be used to tie on shanks, too.
4. Pro-Cure Butt Juice Bait Oil and Super Gel MSRP: $7.87 for 2-ounce; $20.45 for 8-ounce During the first day of halibut fishing on a late August trip to Sitka, the bite was slow. After three hours of fishing, we only managed two fish. On the second, third and fourth days, we used Pro-Cure Butt Juice Bait Oil and Super Gel on our baits and jigs. We managed limits of fish quickly, and on the second day we landed a 70-pound mini-barn door. The combination of scents and UV additives bring the flatfish to your bait.
5. ProMar Hook Assist Landing Net MSRP: $29.99 to $64.99 Testers appreciated the suppleness, mesh-size and flat-bottom shape of the net basket. All of which aided in releasing fish easily. Nets come in four sizes, with openings ranging from 18×20 inches to 37×40 inches and handles ranging from 30- to 72 inches. We tested the second largest size with an opening of 28×30 inches and a 54-inch handle and felt that this was a good all-purpose salmon net.
6. Yeti Coolers Tundra 65 MSRP: $399.99 We loved having this heavy-duty, roomy ice chest in the field last season. Two inches of insulation and Yeti’s cold-keeping gasket helped keep our catches cold, and the polyethylene material and integrated, self-stopping hinges proved plenty durable for hardier expeditions. The handles are made from marine-grade nylon rope with textured grips for easy carrying.
7. ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Appliance MSRP: $26.99 This unit has proven to repel mosquitoes and that’s a seriously good thing when the swarm descends. We keep a unit on our person when bank fishing, as it creates an approximately 15×15 feet zone that the bugs don’t enter. One of the advantages of the system is that it reduces the need for bug spray, which can adversely affect salmon fishing if the spray gets on your tackle. The system travels with us and is great to have at camp and really awesome when field-dressing large game.
8. SPRO Power SplitRings MSRP: $4.99 Lure-making, on-the-water adjusting outdoorsmen love having a range of these split rings available. Made of the finest materials available, these are for your power-fishing needs and are sure to be durable enough to stand up to all Alaska throws their way.
9. R Ideas Fishing Butler MSRP: $3 per pair Using a pair of Fishing Butlers allows us to set rods up completely, break them in half, and not tangle with other rods during transport. This simple product is really handy and has saved us a lot of set-up time on the water, which equates to more fishing. R Ideas even put our logo on a sticker and applied it to the Fishing Butlers they sent us to test. We used them on several trips this year and have found them just as handy when storing rods for the season back at home.
10. P-Line Bobber/Trolling Weight MSRP: $1.49 to $2.99 Try this versatile weight, which has a swivel on either end, for both float fishing and trolling. For float fishing, attach one end to the mainline and the other end to your leader. For trolling you can achieve additional depth by using this weight.
11. Gerber Freescape Camp Kitchen Knife MSRP: $52.99 Our field gourmands were smitten with this knife, which is designed with inspiration from a Santoku chef’s knife. Food prep is aided by a sheepsfoot point, fine straight edge and flat belly for accuracy, but the knife’s full-tang construction of high-grade steel also means it can stand up to a range of campsite duties beyond the kitchen.
12. Eastaboga Tackle Model 130 BogaGrip MSRP: $124.95 We loved having a BogaGrip on the water again this year. The easy, one-handed operation made handling fish simple and the release efficient. The Model 130 will easily handle 30-pound fish, weighing them in half-pound increments.
13. Luhr Jensen Kwikfish Stretchy Thread MSRP: $2.49 We appreciated this product when adding bait wraps to Kwikfish and other plugs while back-trolling for salmon in 2014. Each spool holds 30 yards of thread.
14. Worksharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Field Kit MSRP: $119.95 This is one of the best solutions for sharpening all of your knives and tools both at home and in the field. The power sharpener can put an edge on all your knives—from fillet to pocket to serrated—as well as other tools like lawnmower blades, scissors, shovels, pruners, etc. We sharpened a range of items with the unit and found it easy to use, effective and versatile. With the addition of a 12V power inverter, the sharpener can be used in the field from your truck, ATV, RV or boat. The system also has a retractable honing rod for keeping an edge when you don’t have access to electricity. It’s compact and comes with a bag.
15. CRKT Big Eddy II Fillet Knife MSRP: $29.99 This fillet knife is also innovative in design—it’s got a hollow grind on the top side of the blade that creates an air pocket to lift the fillet and a flat grind on the bottom that allows the knife to move smoothly through the salmon. This model was designed by Russ Kommer after he spent countless hours filleting king salmon, and the 9¼-inch blade is capable of handling Alaska-sized salmon and halibut.
16. Frontier Safety and Supply Backcountry First Aid and Survival Kit MSRP: $180 The kit combines such useful tools as a Platypus water bottle, compass, Havalon knife, first-aid supplies, a mini flashlight, matches, fire-starter, water purification tablets, duct tape, rope and bug repellent in a Loksak carrying case. This kit will accompany us on many backcountry journeys.
17. Buck Splizzors MSRP: $90 This tool is a combination scissors and pliers which comes with a heavy-duty sheath. The multi-use tool features a rubberized all-weather grip, stainless steel replaceable blades, a bottle opener and two crimping tools. It weighs 8.3 ounces, is 8 ½ inches long and is backed by a forever warranty.
18. Leatherman Leap MSRP: $49.85 This is a great multi-function tool for your growing angler. One cool safety feature is that the knife blade can be removed until you want it attached. Needlenose pliers, standard pliers, wire cutters, saw, ruler, tweezers, bottle opener, Phillips and slotted screwdrivers round out the multi-tool lineup.
19. Coleman CT60 Realtree AP Camo Flashlight MSRP: $69.99 The high setting on this ultra-bright flashlight puts out 600 lumens with a 300-yard range and runs for 7½ hours on six AA batteries. Low setting is 200 lumens with 28 hours of run time and an over 95-yard range. We like the Realtree AP camo and the weather- and impact-resistant case.
20. RaptoRazor Combo Kit MSRP: $129.99 for combo pack; $79 for Big Game Skinner; $69.99 for Mako We tested out the Mako when gutting king salmon and it made easy work of some big chromers. Replacement blades for either knife cost $16.50 for five blades and both tools break down quickly for complete cleaning. The blade housing is made from aluminum, is lightweight and integrates an easy-grip handle that is hollow to accommodate a small survival kit. This is a solid knife kit for many fishing and hunting applications.
21. Spyderco Stretch Lightweight C90GRE MSRP: $199.95 We carried this blade around for the better part of the 2014 season and gave it an Editor’s Choice Award. Light, razor sharp and comfortable to carry, this should be high on your list of choices for your next everyday folding knife.
22. Rapala 6.5-inch Curved Fisherman’s Pliers MSRP: $9.49 The most popular size of Rapala Fisherman’s Pliers, these curved-nose models helped us get at hard-to-reach hooks, ultimately aiding in the successful release of countless fish in 2014. Made from nickel-plated carbon steel, these durable pliers include a split-shot crimper, side-cutter and a double-leaf spring for easy, one-handed operation.