1. Pristine Ventures PR-49 MSRP: $1550 The PR-49 Packraft Alaskana is an extremely versatile, packable raft for Alaskan adventurers. It weighs a mere 15 pounds and packs into most backpacks. That means that you can hike, bike, ATV or fly into remote rivers and lake systems and access more untouched places with less educated fish. The PR-49 comes complete with a 4-piece kayak paddle, air pump, repair kit, a seat and a cargo sling. It’s also ideal for big-game hunting or other serious river adventures and offers an impressive 850-pound max-load capacity.
2. LeeLock Columbia River Quick Change Anchor Nest with Large Anchor Can Assembly MSRP: $239.99 Anchor Nest / $329.99 Can Unit with 1/2-inch Lock; $335.99 for Can Assembly with 5/8-inch Lock The LeeLock quick-change anchor nest with the can assembly is the Cadillac of river anchor systems. It’s functionally sound and is great looking, too. The quick-change system is modular and can handle a Columbia River anchor system, an electric trolling motor bracket or the can assembly. The can assembly system allows easy, safe anchor deployment and retrieval of cylindrical, can-style anchors commonly used on sled boats. Anchoring for silvers in the lower Kenai or Deshka? This is a sweet system to use for those and similar situations.
3. Mustang Survival MD3183 Deluxe Inflatable PFD with HIT Pro Package MSRP: $321.84 Lightweight and comfortable, this top-of-the-line PFD with HIT (Hydrostatic Inflator Technology) is designed with exclusive technology that enhances safety and minimizes maintenance. The Hydrostatic Inflator Technology offers reliable inflation in a low-maintenance design that will only automatically inflate when submerged in 4 or more inches of water. Made for the most severe marine environments, the Deluxe Inflatable PFD with HIT also features the patented SecureZip closure system to ensure the PFD will stay closed during even the most rigorous activity, yet still opening effortlessly upon inflation.
4. Danielson Coated Steel Downrigger Weights MSRP: $13.99 to $46.99 We used the 8- and 10-pound round weights in the fall of 2014 to troll up late-run coho. They tracked straight and showed no line twist. We appreciate the vinyl coating, which will help protect the boat against unexpected impacts. Round weights are also available in 4-, 6-, 12- and 15-pound versions while the pancake design is made in 8-, 10-, 12- and 15-pound sizes.
5.Folbe Advantage Rod Holders MSRP: $51.95 Ever had a Kenai king bury your rod ina traditional holder so hard you struggle to get the rod out? That is a thing of the past with Folbe Advantage Rod Holders. In 40 years of fishing salmon, our tester concluded that these are the highest-quality, easiest-to-use rod holders for salmon trolling or back-trolling. The Advantage model is larger than the Folbe Advantage Jr. rod holder and will easily hold any salmon rod setup, and many halibut rods as well. Folbe Advantage holders are available in flush-mount, pedestal-mount and side-mount versions, and numerous extensions and accessories are available.
6.Deeper Smart Fishfinder for iOS and Android devices MSRP: $259 The Deeper Smart Fishfinder is a portable sonar that uses Bluetooth to link with your smartphone or tablet. It comes with a wall charger, car charger and USB cable. The transducer is castable. Imagine casting it into a river to find out how deep a run is so you can easily set your bobber and bait to the correct depth—or a lake. You can also use it from a kayak, boat or float tube. Our tester used it for fishing lakes from a float tube. He simply tied the transducer to the float tube with a three-foot piece of Dacron. The display is remarkably clear and the unit’s sensitivity is impressive. It displayed fish accurately and revealed bottom structure including weedbeds very well. Deeper is rechargeable and runs on a free app you download.
7. Scotty Float Tube Mount MSRP: $34.99 Basically this is the Scotty Fly Rod Holder combined with adjustable wrap-around straps and quick-release clips, making it available to use with your float tube or pontoon boat. The innovative, compact design allows for hands-free trolling, so you can concentrate on your bearing while your fly is still working.
8. Sea Eagle Stealth Stalker 10 Pro Package MSRP: $1,249 Turn your inflatable into the ultimate fishing machine. Designed for the pros, this boat includes 2 floor panels, 2 removable 360-degree swivel seats on 7-inch pedestals, 4 Universal Scotty Mount Pads, 4 Universal Scotty Deck Mounts, 4 Scotty Rod Holders and a motor mount. Also included are a set of oars and patch kit. Testers appreciated the versatility, rugged design and rigid floorboards.
9. NOCO GEN2 On-Board Battery Charger MSRP: $215.95 The NOCO GEN2 Onboard Battery Charger is a 2-bank, waterproof 20 amp smart charger. It keeps your boat batteries fully charged and maintained to provide optimum power and battery life. Once installed on your boat, all you need to do when you get home from a day on the water is plug it in. Since it’s a smart charger, you don’t need to worry about monitoring the charge—you can leave it plugged in for months if you like. This charger is light years ahead of the chargers we were using 15 years ago.
10. Scotty Laketroller Downrigger with Portable Clamp Mount MSRP: $97.33 Designed to allow anglers to troll lures at specific depths behind small watercraft, each of the Scotty Laketrollers has a special mount for different boat configurations—and all are backed by the Scotty lifetime warranty. We used the Portable Clamp Mount model on our drift boat and were able to pinpoint rainbows on the troll. It’s lightweight and easy to put on and take off.
11. Stearns 24 Gram Auto/Manual Inflatable Life Vest MSRP: $129.99 This vest is easy to wear, due to its low profile and comfortable fit. It can be automatically or manually inflated using 24 grams of carbon dioxide to achieve 22.5 pounds of positive buoyancy. It incorporates a D-ring for attaching items and reflective accents for added visibility. A re-arm kit is also available.
12.Lowrance Elite-7 CHIRP Gold Fish Finder/Chartplotter MSRP: $769 This 7-inch fish finder/chartplotter combines CHIRP Sonar with DownScan Imaging, a built-in GPS antenna and Navionics+ high-definition mapping. In our testing we found it provided clearer, sharper and more telling views of fish (sonar mode) and structure (DownScan Imaging). The ability to show sonar alone, the chart alone, the DownScan Imaging alone, or any two of these at once, or all three of these at once, on the 7-inch display makes this a very versatile piece of equipment.
13.Chinook Outdoor Gear Dropin’-Out Anchor Rope Bag MSRP: $44.95 Whether you are fishing for oversized salmon or steelhead or even targeting halibut and other bottomfish, this anchor bag allows you to quickly drop your anchor rope to float out with the fish. Once you’ve hooked your trophy, untie it from the bow cleat and toss the Droppin’-Out Anchor Bag over the side and chase down your fish. Once you’ve landed your fish, simply motor back to where you dropped off your anchor line, pick up the bag with a boat hook and retie your anchor line to your bow cleat.
14.Mustang Survival MJ5244 Catalyst Floatation Jacket MSRP: $401.21 Offered as the market’s only waterproof and breathable floatation jacket, the Catalyst also features an exceptional range-of-motion, zippered chest pocket and front hand-warmer pockets, underarm ventilation zippers and an integrated hood with reflective trim.