2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

And the Winners Are...
In the name of research, the editors of SWS spent the last year testing as much new gear as we could get our hands on. (Hey, somebody's gotta do it.) The result is the first ever High Hook Awards for the most innovative tackle of the year. Whether you cast from a sled or into the surf, you'll find something you can't fish without. We sure did.
David Byrd
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

Go for the Gold
Unlike its lever-drag-equipped cousins, the International Torque (starting at $380) from Penn sports a star drag and an integrated side plate that houses a massive gear to amp up the power and retrieve speed of the reel. Designed for braided line, the Torque features heat-treated pinion gears and beefy drag plates to let you keep the pressure on big fish without backing down. An ideal reel for bottom fishermen who target grouper and snapper, the Torque is an equally worthy live-lining reel for anglers who pitch bunker to cow striped bass or king mackerel. If you end up in a situation where the fish just won't stay off the hook, you need not worry about the Torque wearing you down, as the lightweight aluminum-alloy construction is easy on the arms and wrists. Unlike many star-drag reels, this fish-catching machine has a power handle that matches a longer arm with an oversize grip knob. Penn Fishing Tackle; (215) 229-9415; www.pennreels.com
Manfred Koh
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

Sand Bag
The biggest decision a surfcaster faces is what lures to pack in his bag. Not only did the designers at Shimano recognize the need to organize effectively, they factored in the diverse range of lure sizes and styles used in the suds when they designed the Bluewave Surf Bag ($70). Eight lure tubes store plugs vertically, but unlike other surf bags, the tubes feature center partitions with holes for the hooks, and that means no more tangled mess. The partitions slide up and down vertically to make grabbing a plug easy, but, best of all, they can be taken out and slid into a second track, thus widening the width of the tube to accommodate large wooden lures. A foldout pouch on the front of the bag holds metal lures and bucktails securely, while a plastic flap acts as a wall between them to keep them separated and organized. The wall also makes it easier to grab a tin or bucktail with one hand in the dark. Shimano; (949) 951-5003; www.shimano.com
Manfred Koh
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

Long Bomber
There is an unwritten rule in surf fishing that multi-piece rods are not up to par for the serious caster. But when Daiwa released the Saltiga Ballistic surf rod ($400), the rules suddenly changed. Measuring 13 feet, three inches, the three-piece Saltiga bends as smoothly as a one-piece rod thanks to V-Flex technology, which allows the ferrules to flex evenly with the rod, thus eliminating weak points. The rods also feature Fuji New Concept guides that add more distance with braid whether using a spinning or conventional reel. The rear weight system screws out of the butt, allowing you to tweak the balance of the rod. We put this stick through its paces, firing everything from plugs to ten-ounce weights past the third wave. Daiwa; (562) 802-9589; www.daiwa.com
Manfred Koh
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

All for One
What's the best way to make some room for that cup of coffee on your helm dash? Outfit your sled with a CPV550 ($2,300) from Standard Horizon. It might not be uncommon to see electronics manufacturers incorporate a VHF radio into their units, but Standard Horizon went another direction. They integrated a fishfinder and navigation system into their DSC-enabled VHF. With the big three""fishfinder, chart plotter and VHF""all wrapped up in one organized package, the unit helps the small-boat angler reduce the clutter, while those with bigger boats can use the CPV550 as a space-saving back-up system should one or more of the main units fail. Features of the unit include a sunlight-viewable LCD screen, a picture-in-picture function and C-Map Max cartography loaded on the chart plotter. Standard Horizon; (714) 827-7600; www.standardhorizon.com
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

Read 'Em and Catch
If you can see the blitz but not your line when you need to tie on a lure, you're not alone. But don't settle for grandpa's reading glasses when you can have a pair of C-Mates (starting at $150). Available in six of Costa Del Mar's top-selling frame styles, these polarized lenses with a bifocal take the strain off your tired eyes. To tune your needs even further, Costa made the strength variable, offering bifocals up to +2.50 magnification. Costa Del Mar; (800) 447-3700; www.costadelmar.com
Manfred Koh
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

Short and Sweet Rhode Island Captain Steve Tempini got tired of his gear breaking down during trips to the canyons, so he started Old Harbor Outfitters and began churning out bulletproof angling accessories of his own design. We were most impressed by the Technical Shorts ($70). With rigid back support and a harness built into the material, you're ready to fight no matter how big the fish you're targeting. No more relying on your buddies to strap you in while line peels off the reel. D-rings sewn in at the waist allow you to instantly clip on an OHO fighting plate. That comes in handy when multiple clips pop on the trolling grounds and chaos ensues. Made of tear-proof, quick-drying nylon, the Technical Shorts also feature a cordura-lined pliers pocket and a dedicated safety-knife pocket that keeps a blade close at hand for emergencies. Whether you chase grouper or tuna, the OHO Technical Shorts will give you a decided advantage in organization and fish-catching success. Old Harbor Outfitters; (866) 374-4660; www.oldharboroutfitters.comManfred Koh
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

Tag, You're Safe
We've all had nightmares about falling off a boat and watching it motor into the darkness. Unfortunately, some anglers have had to live that nightmare. That's why Raymarine invented the LifeTag ($685). With this system, crew members get a wristband fitted with a locator beacon. Should someone end up overboard, the receiver detects that the person's beacon is out of safe range and an audible alarm goes off at the helm. Raymarine also rigged each LifeTag band with a manual activation button, while submersion in salt water will also sound the alarm. LifeTag can also be integrated with any Raymarine navigation system. When the alarm goes off, the GPS will automatically activate the man-overboard function and mark the position. Hopefully, we'll never have to see LifeTag in action, but we'll always feel better when it's onboard. Raymarine; (800) 539-5539; www.raymarine.com Side Bet
Wish you owned a sportfisherman? Join the club. But even small boats can pull a big-boat spread with the Siderigger ($350) from Reel Wood. This 71⁄2-foot retractable boom has a base that fits in a flush-mounted rod holder. Like an outrigger, the Siderigger comes with a release clip and cord that runs from end to end, allowing you to place a lure off to the side of the boat and widen your pattern. Two rod holders on the base let you deploy the Siderigger without sacrificing a gunwale rod holder, and they make it a snap to set out a lure and teaser combo in the proper, staggered position. We used the Siderigger to troll up everything from bluefish to bluefin on a 24-foot boat. Reel Wood; (919) 647-4588; www.siderigger.com
Manfred Koh
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

X-tra Special
The best lures are made to dance, but with nine joints running from the middle of the body through the tail, Strike Pro's Flex-X hardbait ($13) has a wiggle like no other. As the joints interlock similar to a bicycle chain, the tight "S"¿ formation it produces on the retrieve is the spitting image of a spearing, sardine, mullet or just about any other small baitfish. Because it's so versatile when it comes to matching the hatch, the Flex-X will be at home in your tackle bag whether you fish for Florida seatrout, Cape Cod schoolie bluefin or San Diego dolphin. And don't worry about toothy fish bruising this lure""the micro-skin coating Strike Pro puts over the holographic scale pattern can handle bites aplenty. VMC hooks round out this gamefish magnet and make it pretty tough for that trophy to shake loose. Strike Pro; (409) 621-1126; www.strikeproamerica.com
Manfred Koh
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

"A"¿ for ZeeBaaS
Rob Koelewyn blew the minds of anglers when he developed the Van Staal. He has since moved on, but to the delight of fishermen, he recently unveiled the ZeeBaaS ZX2 ($1,300). With hardened steel gears developed with the help of aerospace engineers, Koelewyn pulled out all the stops to make the ZX2 one of the most powerful spinning reels on the market. The reel uses two sealed drag plates constructed partly of carbon-fiber material that offer smooth drag pull up to 35 pounds. You won't find any drag washers in the ZX2. Currently, the reels are available with single or double line rollers, or a bail. Is it cheap? No. Worth it? Yes. ZeeBaaS; (203) 659-0015; www.zeebaas.com
Manfred Koh
2007 High Hook Awards

2007 High Hook Awards

White Hot
The race to make the ultimate braided line has been raging full-bore for some years, but Berkley recently planted a flag on planet braid with Fireline Crystal (starting at $15). The line may be white when dry, but wet it and you'll see that its translucence rivals that of monofilament. With an extra-smooth finish, this line out-casts mono by a long shot and gives you the advantage of zero stretch. We've used it in the surf and wreck fishing in water deeper than 100 feet and put the screws to loads of black sea bass and stripers. The thin diameter and sensitivity of the line makes it nearly impossible to miss a strike. Clear thinking, indeed. Berkley; (800) 237-5539; www.berkley-fishing.com
Manfred Koh