Here at Fish Alaska, our editors and field-testers spend a lot of time out on the water, so naturally they handle lots of different gear over the course of a year. And over the past ten years, that’s become quite a pile of equipment.
Most of what we see and use in a given year is quality stuff, made for fishing in Alaska and able to handle everything the elements throw our way. When evaluating products, easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest,but taking it all in, there are several products that we keep coming back to year after year. This is gear we can’t do without, and no matter how glossy the new product catalogs, stuff we always keep in our gear shops.
This updated workhorse is the best of the original Surge design, already one of the company’s two largest multi-tools, coupled with updates requested by professionals in the field. A powerful 4.5-inch frame features 21 tools, while 100% stainless steel and Leatherman’s no-questions-asked 25-year warranty means you can put this tool to work with confidence.
FoodSaver GameSaver Titanium
We love all of our FoodSaver vacuum-sealers, and this top-of-the-line member of the GameSaver fleet might just be the best, allowing anglers and hunters in Alaska to vacuum-seal their fish and game to enjoy throughout the year. The Titanium seals up to 15-inch bags and is equipped with a dual pump to help produce heavy-duty, repetitive seals. It is configured with built-in roll storage and a cutter, as well as a removable drip tray. The vacuum-sealer comes with two 10-foot rolls, one 11 inches wide and the other 15 inches wide, as well as three one-gallon dam bags.
The number one choice of freeze-dried backpacking food for campers, hikers, anglers and hunters for three decades now, Mountain House is a staple on all of our Fish and Hunt Alaska trips. From Chicken Salad and Chicken Fajita Wraps to the full meals, we don’t go into the field for a new excursion without some of these tasty treats in our packs.
Blue Fox Classic Vibrax
The Classic Vibrax is nearly synonymous with Alaska angling, and the old standby even received a new look in 2015, with flashy scale patterns and coordinated UV-tipped blades adorning the fabled flaw-free plating and low-frequency emitting two-part body. The hex-scale pattern adds realistic flash, while UV-finished tips reflect more light energy, strengthening the lures’ visibility. In all there are six new UV-enhanced colors to choose from. You really can’t fish Alaska much if you don’t have a selection of these in your tackle box.
Luhr Jensen Kwikfish
Long an Alaska classic, Luhr Jensen’s Kwikfish is the plug angler’s number-one choice in the Last Frontier, particularly for those of us gearing up to go chase chrome-bright kings. The company now offers a range of new colors to the 2015 Kwikfish line, including Silver Red Mamba, Silver Pink Mamba, Red Black Mamba, Metallic Blue Double Trouble, Metallic Green Double Trouble and Metallic Pink Double Trouble.
Grundéns USA Balder Rain Jacket & Bibs
MSRP: $148.50 each
Gage Storm Runner Rainwear
MSRP: $66 Jacket; $64 Pant
Gage Storm Surge 2.5 Hooded Jacket and Pant
MSRP: $107 Jacket; $97 Pant
If you want to stay dry, go with Grundéns, where salt- or freshwater anglers can find the product to suit their needs. Top examples include the Balder Bib Pants and Balder Jacket, which are packed with innovative features and tailored from heavy-duty PVC material specially developed for oil resistance and excellent cold-weather properties, meaning it not only protects in cold conditions but that it also maintains its flexibility when ice begins to coat the rigging. Basically, our review is this is heavy-duty protection for Alaskans who encounter the worst of our weather. On the other hand, made for both men and women, the fully-breathable Storm Runner jacket and pants are designed to be packable, weighing less than 26 ounces combined (including the waist belt). Fold it up into its own pocket, store in your daypack and it’s always ready to go should a storm roll in. Put it on and you get the protection and quality that has made Grundéns the leading choice of commercial fisherman working in the toughest environments on the planet. Last but not least, Storm Surge rainwear is built for maximum protection and certainly lives up to that billing. These garments are also engineered for superior breathability, keeping wearers cool and comfortable during the most strenuous outdoor activities.
XTRATUF Legacy Boot
Made to withstand every deck and dock, the flexible, neoprene XTRATUF Legacy boot is an Alaskan staple that provides all day comfort and protection. Available in 6-, 12- or 15-inch height, the boot is 100% waterproof, featuring a slip-resistant Chevron outsole and heel for grip traction on slick footings. The neoprene rubber is softer and lighter than ordinary rubber, keeping feet comfortable all day long.
Ande Monofilament Ghost
MSRP: $6.99 (1/4-pound spool); $13.99 (1/2-pound spool); $25.99 (1-pound spool); $45.99 (2-pound spool)
Ande Monofilament is our go-to line for tippet and leaders, offering a range of options all suitable for Alaska fishing. One of our current favorites, especially for low, clear waters, is Ande Ghost. As its name suggests, Ghost disappears under the water, making it our first line choice whenever we find the water low and the fish finicky. Ghost comes in a matte white finish in 12- through 50-pound-test.
G. Loomis Native Run GLX
This remains our all-time favorite single-hand rod for throwing big flies long distances. Since first casting it, and immediately watching the fly travel 20 feet farther than usual, we’ve been amazed at how easily it throws thread. These rods are made to handle big water, big flies and big fish—perfect for Alaska. They’re smooth-casting and beautiful to look at, with graceful tapers creating fast-actions that allow you to all types of lines effectively. The rods range from 9- to 10-feet in length and handle 7- to 9-weight lines. After testing many competitive models, this rod is still the best we’ve had for our Alaska applications.
Yakima Bait Mag Lip
MSRP: $6.99 to $8.34
This plug dives extra deep and comes in a 3.5-, 4.5- and 5-inch models. We’ve caught 15-pound steelhead on the 3.5 and fat Chinook on the 5-inch. The 3.5 dives to 14 feet and the 4.5 and 5.0 dive to 20 feet in optimum conditions. We appreciate the side grooves that snugly hold bait-wrap thread and the wide range of available patterns. The new Yakima Bait Mag Lip 3.0 dives to 10 feet on a flat line of 10-pound-test with 70 feet of line out at 2 mph. These plugs can also handle pretty fast current speeds, up to 4 mph. Finally, at trolling or current speeds between 1.5- and 2 mph, the Mag Lip 3.0 develops an erratic, random skip-beat action, proven to be deadly effective for a range of fish including steelhead, lake trout, salmon and more. With 48 different finishes to select from there’s a complete offering of colors to match most fisheries.
Scotty Rocket Launcher Rod Holders
Available in several different models to fit every need—including no mount, round flush mount, locking side/deck mount, locking flush mount and flush mount—Scotty Rocket Launcher Rod Holders accommodate all rods and attach to any Scotty downrigger boom. The models feature heavy-duty stainless steel construction, 360-degree swivel range and a unique side or deck-mounting bracket with a new lock-down feature. We love our Scotty Rod Holders here at Fish Alaska, and can’t see that changing anytime soon.