Essential Gear 2012

The SWS editors come up with 19 of the very best products to look forward to in 2012

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Quantum
Exo PT
The name of Quantum’s new line of reels, Exo, is shorthand for exoskeletal hybrid construction. The approach combines an ultra-rigid aluminum alloy in load-bearing areas with a lightweight composite that reduces weight by 50 percent in noncritical parts of the reel, yielding a build that’s as light as possible, with no sacrifice in strength. All Exo PT reels feature ported aluminum drive gears to shave excess weight. The 7.3:1 “burner” bait-cast gear set retrieves 31 inches of line per turn of the handle. The Exo PT spinning-reel rotor uses a polymer infused with long-strand carbon fiber, which results in a rotor that’s 2.6 times stronger than normal composites and has minimal flex under heavy drag. The reels are available in two spinning models (8- and 10-pound mono) and three bait-caster models with three different, levels of retrieve ratio up to 7.3:1. A range of rods is available, matched to each reel. www.quantumfishing.com
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Fin-Nor
Marquesa Two-Speed
The new Marquesa two-speed models from Fin-Nor feature a fast 6.1:1 retrieve at high speed and a powerful 3.1:1 retrieve in low gear, giving fishermen greater choice and control when fighting tough fish. Lighter and stronger than virtually anything else on the market, Marquesa reels were designed for fishing with the new braided superlines. Marquesas are precision-machined from 6061-T6 aluminum and feature a drag system that rivals most larger trolling-type reels. The two-speeds come in two models, the MA20II and the MA30II, and both are “topless” (lacking a crossbar) for easy spool access and control. $369 to $389; www.finnorfishing.com
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Daiwa
Saltiga Reels
Daiwa recently redesigned its line of Saltiga spinning reels for heavy-duty saltwater fishing, adding some truly innovative features in the process. The rotor bearing on spinning reels is one of the points most susceptible to saltwater intrusion, but Daiwa borrowed a trick from NASA’s fuel-delivery technology — using a nanofluid, in Daiwa’s case, magnetic oil. Magnets in the reel’s rotor-bearing area change the oil’s shape when a magnetic field is applied, forming a seal between the reel body and the rotor to prevent salt water, dust and grit from entering the rotor bearing and body. The resulting watertight seal, called a Mag Seal, creates much lower friction than common rubber seals. The five new sizes of Saltiga spinning reels cover just about any saltwater fishing situation. MSRP for the updated reels ranges from $1,099.95 to $1,299.95; www.daiwa.com
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Penn
Squall Lever-Drag
Penn's Squall lever-drag reels feature lightweight graphite frames and side plates, combined with a forged and machined aluminum spool. Marine-grade bronze main and pinion gears provide outstanding durability, and Dura-Drag washers provide an ultra-smooth drag even under extreme drag settings. "Switchblade" harness lugs on 50- and 60-size models disappear into the reel when not needed, and the ratchet drag lever prevents drag creep caused by hours of trolling and vibrations. The Squall comes with line-capacity rings on the spool so you always know how much line you have left, and the reel's bearings include a 5+1 shielded stainless-steel bearing system, plus an instant anti-reverse bearing with a silent backup ratchet. $159.95 to $179.95;
www.pennreels.com
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Shimano
Terez Rail Rods
Shimano has introduced three rail rods designed primarily for West Coast tuna fishing and for use with Shimano’s Talica 20II and new Talica 50II reels. The rods come in three actions — heavy, extra-heavy and XX-heavy, perfect for muscling super-big fish like cow tuna. The Terez rail rods feature Shimano’s TC4 blank construction, plus Fuji K frames and alconite inserts, all designed to work with PowerPro braided line. Shimano uses EVA grips shaped for overall comfort, with flat sides on the rear grip for fishing the rod under your arm and a flat spot on the bottom of the foregrip for laying the rod on the rail. The heavy-duty aluminum reel seat is built to withstand any amount of pressure applied to the rod. Terez H, $369.99; XH, $379.99; XXH, $389.99; www.fish.shimano.com
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**Okuma
Makaira Rods
**
Okuma's technique-specific Makaira rods, designed to pair with the Makaira line of reels, run the gamut of saltwater application. Nine live-bait/jigging rods, three 7-foot spinning and six 612- to 7-foot casting rods, rated from 12 to 40 pounds, are priced from $169.99 to $184.99. Retailing for $219.99, three spinning/popping rods for 60- to 100-pound line will take on bluefin tuna off Stellwagen Bank or giant trevally in the Pacific. For West Coast jigging, four 8-foot live-bait/jigging rods and three 9-foot jigging rods built to carry conventional reels are priced from $149.99 to $159.99. Trolling rods, three 6-foot roller-guide models for 30- to 80-, 40- to 100-, and 50- to 120-pound line, run $319.99 to $339.99. Three IGFA straight-butt stand-up rods rated for 30- and 50-pound line and one rated for 80-pound line are priced at $399.99, $434.99 and $519.99. Bent-butt rods are available as well. www.okumafishingteam.com
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Rapala
X-Rap Magnum 05
Rapala’s X-Rap line of lures has just been bolstered by the introduction of the X-Rap Magnum 05. Built with a small frame but constructed to withstand big-water bullies, the Magnum 05 is equipped with VMC 4X Perma Steel treble hooks, internal holographic foil, a translucent body and 3-D holographic eyes. The deep-diving lip allows it to reach and sustain depths of five feet, right within the strike zone of most predatory game fish. It tapes out at 4 inches long, weighs half an ounce and comes in 16 color patterns, including bunker, blue sardine and dorado. $14.99; www.rapala.com
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Creek Chub
Pin Popper
Creek Chub bowls a perfect strike with its Pin Popper line of topwater poppers. Both six-pin and nine-pin models are built of robust hardwood, super-strong stainless-steel through wiring, rugged heavy-duty swivels, triple split rings, oversize eyes and 3X saltwater-grade treble hooks. The six-pin version runs 61/2 inches long and weighs 21/2 ounces, with 3/0 trebles, while the nine-pin stretches 9 inches long, weighs 4 ounces and is fit with 5/0 treble hooks. The wild splash factor of the Pin Poppers inspires game fish from far away to come and investigate. Colors available are bunker, sardine, squid, sweet purple, red head and mackerel. $19.99; www.creekchub.com
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Halco
Hamma 85
Halco’s innovative Hamma 85 plug incorporates interchangeable lips, enabling the lure to work at depths between three and nine feet. Lips are changed simply by pushing the lateral locking pin in the head of the lure out to one side for easy removal, yet the patented locking pin maintains incredible strength, to prevent fallout. A custom-designed weight-transfer system provides the weight distribution for long-distance casts, then upon lure splashdown, the weight moves to the front for perfect swimming balance. With two fine-gauge Mustad No. 4 forged black nickel trebles and available in 10 color patterns, like Blue Angel, Gravy Train and Caviar, the Hamma 85 is ready for hard-core saltwater action. The plug measures 31/2 inches long and weighs half an ounce. www.halcotackle.com
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Sebile
Vibrato Jig
The new metal Vibrato jig from Sebile attaches to the leader at the center of the lure, which creates a fluttering action on the descent and a vibrating motion on the retrieve that uncannily mimic a wounded baitfish. The Vibrato makes power-jigging easy; the slow flutter rate on the fall creates a lot of flash and disturbance, enabling you to target suspended predators by letting the Vibrato drop and then popping it from time to time. An upper-back full wire extends from the front hook to the rear hook, creating a strong tie point, and a perfectly located center of gravity provides excellent control and action even in the lightest models. Vibratos come in a broad weight range, from half an ounce to 3 ounces, so you can fish at any desired depth. $12.10 to $16.59; www.sebileusa.com
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Yo-Zuri
Crystal 3-D Shrimp
Always on the cutting-edge, Yo-Zuri's design department figured out how to perfectly mimic a shrimp in a hard-body format with the Crystal 3-D Shrimp. Featuring an internationally patented 3-D prism finish, the lure produces a brilliant shine, with diamond-like reflecting
facets flashing in all directions to attract fish from long distances. Lifelike rubber legs, a pulsating feathered tail and slow-sinking action complete the realistic impression of a swimming shrimp. Color schemes available include ultraviolet and glow-in-the-dark patterns for any water condition. The lure is available in two sizes, 23/4-inch (1/4-ounce) and 31/2-inch (7/16-ounce), and comes in seven different color patterns, ranging from holographic hot pink to pearl blue. $12.95 to $14.95; www.yo-zuri.com
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Z-Man
StreakZ
Tough and durable, yet soft and pliable, the new StreakZ line of baits continues Z-Man’s string of successful soft-plastic designs. The soft potbelly design with an uncanny baitfish profile is built with the company’s super-durable ElaZtech construction to withstand repeated strikes without tearing or having to be replaced. Inherent buoyancy allows StreakZ to be fished in the entire water column, with virtually limitless rigging methods. The 33/4-inch version was designed specifically for finesse presentations to trout, and the 5- and 8-inch models can be worked effectively for striped bass and redfish. $3.89 to $4.99; www.zmanfishing.com
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PowerPro
Super 8 Slick
Designed for both inshore and offshore, with colors to suit both stained and clear water, PowerPro’s new Super 8 Slick lines are now offered in 10- through 80-pound-test. PowerPro Super 8 Slick is built with eight-yarn Honeywell Spectra fiber braided under high tension for a smooth surface. This results in exceptional casting due to reduced line friction over the guides; better line management, as it retrieves smoothly and lies evenly on the spool; superior knot strength; and high abrasion-resistance. Saltwater anglers can choose between marine blue and high-visibility yellow to match tactics and conditions. Both colors provide anglers with line visibility and excellent trackability in low-light conditions. PowerPro Super 8 Slick is offered in 10-, 15-, 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-, 65- and 80-pound test, available on 150-yard spools. All weights and both colors are also available on 300-yard and 1,500-yard spools. Priced from $19.99; www.powerpro.com
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Seaguar
Kanzen Braid/
Tatsu Fluorocarbon
Two new lines from Seaguar, a braid and a fluoro, answer a wide range of saltwater demands. For casting, Tatsu is the company’s strongest and softest line, a double-structure fluorocarbon made with two custom Seaguar resins extruded as one piece. Hard interior resin provides body and tensile strength, and the softer exterior enhances knot strength and handling. The two materials provide a strong yet sensitive and flexible line with exceptionally low visibility. It’s available from 4- to 20-pound-test on 200-yard spools. The second new Seaguar line, Kanzen, is a high-performance braid for casting, jigging and trolling. The high-density weave of ultra-thin strands was formulated for smooth handling, maximum knot strength and abrasion resistance. It’s available in 8- to 100-pound-test in green and 30- to 200-pound-test in white. www.seaguar.com
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**Hi-Seas
Grand Slam Select
**
Grand Slam Select is the newest premier monofilament fishing line by Hi-Seas. The 100 percent copolymer line combines strength, manageability, abrasion-resistance, knot strength and low memory. The highest-quality polymers make the line easy to handle and cast smoothly. Especially supple, it's particularly suited to spinning reels. The fluorescent clear-blue color does double duty. Above the surface, ultraviolet response provides high visibility, effective for line watching at low-light times of the day. Underwater, the line becomes clear and virtually invisible. Grand Slam Select is available from 4-pound to 30-pound-test on filler spools, as well as on 1- or 2-pound service spools. Starting at $6.99; www.hiseas.net
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Berkley
ProSpec
Berkley ProSpec, a premium copolymer monofilament, is the latest incarnation of the well-established and highly regarded Big Game line, with some substantial improvements. Designed for the extreme day-in, day-out performance that professional saltwater anglers demand of their lines, ProSpec features high abrasion-resistance, a smaller diameter per pound-test, and much more supple handling and lay on the reel. Its reduced diameter boosts the yardage capacity of a given reel size. Berkley claims a fill of 600 yards of 80-pound-test on a 50-wide offshore reel. Meeting the trend of smaller rods and reels paired with heavier lines than are traditional, ProSpec is the “line of the future,” Berkley claims. It’s available in ocean blue and fluorescent yellow, and pound-test runs from 12 to 130 on 1-, 2- and 3-pound service spools. Starting at $49.95 for a 1-pound spool; www.berkley-fishing.com
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Eagle Claw
Lazer Trokar TK400
Octopus Hooks
Practically every angler started his fishing career with Eagle Claw hooks, and the storied company continues to maintain a cutting-edge approach to its products. The Lazer Trokar TK400 octopus-style line incorporates incomparable technology in the tempering process of the Q741 wire, resulting in a durable scalpel-sharp point that retains its sharpness and strength through repeated tests. Sizes range from No. 6 to 9/0, and each black chrome-plated hook is built with a 22-degree offset to substantially increase hookup ratio. $11.99; www.eagleclaw.com
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Mustad
Tournament Approved 39944BLN In-Line Circle Hooks
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Adding to an already legendary selection of hook styles, Mustad introduces its line of Tournament Approved in-line circle hooks. Comprised of black nickel, the hook has ultra-sharp points that ensure a solid connection, and the Perfect Circle point is curved in for sure-shot hook-sets that hold tight. Sizes range from No. 4 to 7/0 to cover all inshore saltwater species from trout to tarpon. www.mustad.no
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Plano
Hydro-Flo
New Hydro-Flo StowAway utility boxes from Plano take the flow-through workings of the successful Hydro-Flo tackle bag one step further. Designs that keep water out can also keep moisture in, which can take a heavy toll on tackle. Hydro-Flo StowAway series offers lidded, divided tackle trays fitted with hundreds of small holes positioned on the top and bottom of the boxes. The holes create a breathable environment for stored tackle and lures so they can dry naturally, avoiding corrosion and mildew. The flow-through construction also allows stored gear to be rinsed in the boxes. Wading anglers will find the flow-through feature ends the problem of filling up boxes that then must be emptied, washed and repacked. The Hydro-Flo StowAway boxes come in three sizes: a standard and a deep size with the 3700-size footprint, plus a standard size with the 3600 footprint. $7.99 to $12.99; www.planomolding.com