Choosing five favourite items of ‘fishing gear’ is not easy – there are many, many things I wouldn’t want to be without when I go fishing. Restricting it to just five is a tough ask, but here goes.
Jerk shads are my favourite style of soft-plastic lure, and Z-Man soft-plastic baits are my favourite brand because Z-Man’s 10X Tough Elaztech formula offers a lifelike action and extreme durability.
I enjoy the versatility of jerk shads and the way they tend to get bitten ‘on the drop’. I favour five-inch baits, but also use seven- and three/four-inch sizes.
I’ve got Z-Man Jerk Shadz in dozens of colour combinations, but New Penny is my favourite. It’s my go-to colour when I’m fishing anywhere new and one I invariably change to when the fishing is hard.
Of course, I don’t use New Penny exclusively (or jerk shads to the exclusion of other soft-plastic styles), nor do I use only Z-Man products, but I do favour a range of similar colours and styles from different manufacturers.
Manufacturers introduce new colour combinations all the time and I’ve had infatuations with many, most recently Bruised Banana, Sexy Penny and Atomic Sunrise (where do they find these names?). They all work brilliantly on their day, but I still use New Penny more than any other colour. I’d never go snapper fishing without at least one packet of five-inch Z-Man Jerk Shadz in New Penny.
The Z-Man five-inch Jerk Shadz in New Penny colour is the writer's go-to soft-bait in most fishing scenarios.
A good pair of polarised sunglasses not only protects your eyes from sun damage, they also enhance the fishing experience by reducing glare on the water, which allows the wearer to see into the water much better. They also guard against eye injury from miscast hooks, sinkers, lures or flies while fishing.
In my experience, sunglasses and boats never stay together for long. In a lifetime of fishing, I’ve lost too many pairs to count, mostly over the side, but also to accidental breakage. I’ve tried all sorts of straps and tethers to prevent lost sunglasses and they’ve all worked to a certain extent. I’ve also gone down the track of buying cheap sunglasses in case I lose them.
My current pair of Costa del Mars are not cheap. They are a good quality pair of sunglasses with excellent polarisation and tinted lenses that work very well in the marine environment. Miraculously, I’ve managed to keep this pair safe for eight years!
These glasses are comfortable to wear, though the soft rubber earpieces have long since perished and crumbled away, and the large lenses block out most extraneous sunlight. They are also really effective at seeing into the water.
I’ve tried various retaining systems, including one that floats should the glasses be lost overboard, but lately I’ve been using the Costas without a retaining strap since, without the rubber earpieces, it’s impossible to secure one.
I’ll probably lose these old favourites sooner rather than later – and given their age I should probably replace them anyway – but in the meantime, I’ll stick with them!
John doesn't leave the shore without his Costa del Sol polarised sunglasses.
I bought these bright orange lip-grips years ago from an American online retailer, but they’re readily available from New Zealand retailers these days.
While I also use Boca Grips and similar tools, the simplicity and lightness of the Fish Grip appealed to me, as did the bargain price! They come in a variety of sizes and this pair is big enough to successfully grip a decent-sized snapper.
Gripping a fish by its lip/jaw makes it easier to control or weigh, and makes removing the hook much easier. You can also hold the fish with the grips when reviving a fish you want to release. In the kayak, I found it a good alternative to the small net I carried and ideal for dealing with bigger snapper beside the boat.
The orange Fish Grip now lives permanently in the side pocket of my boat.
Lip-grips might not be the flashiest bit of kit, but they're indispensable.
Sun sense is a big thing these days and wisely, more and more anglers are taking care to protect themselves from the harmful effects of exposure to ultra-violet (UV) light (see Josh Darby’s feature on melanoma in the February edition of NZ Fishing News for more info). New Zealand is one of the worst places in the world for exposure to UV due to our generally clear skies, high sunshine hours and thin ozone layer. New Zealand has the highest incidence of skin cancers in the world.
While it’s easy enough to protect your body from the sun with appropriate clothing, we often forget about the face, even when we remember to wear a hat. Often even a wide-brimmed hat is not effective in keeping the face safe, since sunlight reflected off the water strikes the face from below. Sunscreens should be mandatory anyway, but over the course of a long day on the water, even the best sunscreen won’t protect your skin.
So, in recent years I’ve taken to wearing face shields that cover the whole of my face, from just under my eyes (protected by UV-blocking sunglasses), including my nose and ears, all the way down my neck. These face shields are made from UV-blocking stretch fabric. The simplest are straight fabric tubes, but more expensive models are shaped to fit the head and neck, with breathing holes over the mouth.
There are lots of brands available, with perhaps the best-known one being Buff. I’ve got several, including Daiwa and SwitchBait branded models, but my favourites are Simms.
Simms face shields are particularly lightweight, come in a wide range of colours, are easy to breathe through (so your glasses don’t fog up) and fit my head really well. I have two pairs: orange camo and pale blue.
Another benefit of wearing a face shield? I haven’t lost a cap over the side in ages. Pulling the back of the face shield over the cap keeps it securely on my head while travelling from place to place in an open boat.
Face shields come in a range of styles and colours.
I bought this little number on the recommendation of Mark Kitteridge. It’s a Moment 18mm wide-angle lens that fits an iPhone, as well as some high-end Samsung and Google phones. You also need to purchase the appropriate Moment phone case, because the lens is designed to lock onto the case via a bayonet fitting, not to the phone itself.
My device is an iPhone XS, but cases are available for iPhone 6 and upwards, Samsung Galaxy and Note, as well as Google Pixel XL and 2/XL phones.
As well as accepting Moment lenses (there are several – I also have a handy macro lens), the case protects the phone from impact damage etc. Just search online for ‘Moment’ to see the full range of cases and attachments.
In a small boat, a wide-angle lens is really handy. My phone is a dual-lens model with a main wide-angle lens that allows for an f/1.8 aperture and a telephoto lens with an f/2.4 aperture. It takes excellent 12MP photos, but even using the wide-angle lens, framing people and fish in a small boat can be difficult.
With the Moment wide-angle lens attached, I get double the field of view of the iPhone’s main camera, making it easy to fit all of the subject in frame, as well as any action beside the boat. And there’s no blurring around the edges, distortion or vignetting. The lens also fits over the phone’s telephoto lens, but you need to download the Moment Pro Camera app to be able to select which iPhone lens you are shooting with.
The Moment lenses have high-quality optics and the results are excellent. They are consistently rated the best lens for iPhone. Using one has made a big difference to my photographs and with the quality and consistency I now get from my iPhone, I seldom bother with my DSLR aboard the boat.
The Moment 18mm lens is compatible with most smartphones.
March 2021 - John Eichelsheim
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
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