Admit it: Part of the fun of being an angler, or of teaching youth how to fish, is all the cool gear you get to use. Sure, you can catch fish with a simple cane pole and a hook, but a little technology and a few fun gadgets just might make your experience better.
We’ve combed the aisles at fishing stores and online sellers to find the neatest new stuff out there. Do you need it? Probably not. Do you want it? Of course!
What it is: An ancient Japanese fly-fishing technique now for the masses
What it does: Makes fly-fishing easy. With just a handy rod, a few feet of fishing line and a fly, anyone can be casting in no time. Despite their simplicity — they’re collapsible and there’s no reel — Tenkara rods can land fish up to 22 inches. Badger Tenkara offers a nice, low-priced line (starting at $80) well-suited for youth and beginners. We’re also fans of the hardware from Tenkara USA; the telescoping Sato and Rhodo ($215 each) are great all-around rods.
Why you want it: Tenkara is simple to learn but takes forever to master — it’s always a new challenge.
What it is: A wearable ring that cuts fishing line
What it does: Cuts line quickly, easily and cleanly with no tools. The adjustable ring has a double-sided blade that effortlessly slices through monofilament and braided fishing line. It’s about as hands-free as you can get.
Why you want it: Fishing bling! It’s cool, fills a need and works well — and it was invented by a former Scout.
SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER
What it is: Next-generation water purification
What it does: One of our favorite water filters keeps getting smaller and better — making it an easy addition to your tackle box. The MINI filters out nearly all bacteria and protozoa, giving you a never-ending supply of safe water. The filter works like a straw, with no pumping or chemicals.
Why you want it: This company is out to change the world. Buying its products helps the company partner with organizations worldwide to provide clean water to those in need.
What it is: A pressurized, portable cleanup system
What it does: Invented by a surfer who was tired of getting sand in his car, RinseKit is a great tool for anglers, too. Fill it with two gallons from a typical household spigot, and it provides a powerful, pressurized shower with no batteries or pumping. Perfect for rinsing hands and gear. It’s efficient, too, as its strong pressure allows you to use less water.
Why you want it: No more fish smell in your vehicle.
STEINHAUSER DELUXE TANGLE-FREE ROD
What it is: A rod-and-reel combo that feeds line through the hollow rod rather than across it
What it does: Perfect for anglers of all ages but especially well-suited to beginning youth, the Tangle-Free Combo opens like a shotgun, allowing you to feed line through the barrel.
Why you want it: No more tangles. Way more fishing.
What it is: A high-tech, connected bobber
What it does: Uses Bluetooth connectivity and sonar technology to help you spot and catch more fish. Cast it up to 100 feet away and watch the magic: Upon contact with water, iBobber turns on and syncs with an iOS or Android device and free app to show fish location, size, water temperature and more.
Why you want it: The Trip Log feature is awesome. Capture detailed memories of all your on-water adventures and easily share to social-media sites or via email.
FRESHWATER RELEASE RULER
$14.99 to $24.99, releaseruler.com
What it is: A fishing ruler that helps you accurately estimate weight
What it does: Using a patented length-to-weight formula, Release Rulers give you a research-based estimation of a fish’s weight even when a scale is not readily available. Makes catch-and-release fishing much quicker, which is better for the fish and leaves you with more time to catch. Measure, photograph and release your fish in a split-second. Inshore, Offshore and other custom rulers are available for all your fishing adventures.
Why you want it: Those social-media brag photos will be so much more awesome with this proof of size.
CHUMS BEARTOOTH SURVIVAL TOOL
What it is: A pocket-size all-in-one survival device
What it does: Combines all the typical survival-kit items — paracord, mini-tools, gear-repair supplies, fire starter and more — with enough stuff to help you catch a few fish in a pinch. Even ounce-counters would be well-served to have this beauty stashed among their gear.
Why you want it: The 9 feet of paracord alone make this a must-pack. Add fishing gear? Priceless.
All prices are MSRP.