The spring fishing season is right around the corner, and if you’ve spent the past few months trapped inside by freezing temps, that first day on the water can’t come soon enough. Until then, the next best fix is shopping for a bunch of cool stuff you may (or may not really) need for the warmer months ahead. That’s why we’ve rounded up 40 new gear items you’ll find on tackle-shop shelves right now. From apparel to reels, and shades to coolers, everything on these pages has been battle-tested and earned our seal of approval.
Costa Untangled Sunglasses
Here’s your chance to pick up a stellar pair of fishing shades that not only ups your style but also supports a great cause. Costa’s new line of Untangled glasses feature frames made entirely of recycled fishing nets. The company joined forces with Bureo, an organization that collects discarded commercial nets in Chile and turns them into tiny pellets. Those tiny pellets can then be molded into a plethora of wares, including this new line of sunglass frames that feature Costa’s long-proven 580 polarized glass lenses. Of the four frame models in the Untangled series, the Pescador (shown) is our favorite. —J.C.
AFTCO Barracuda Geo Cool Hooded LS Performance Shirt
AFTCO says its Geo Cool fabric uses mineral infusion to keep you cool, dry, and protected from harmful UV rays. The Barracuda Hooded LS Performance Shirt maximizes this protection by also covering your arms, ears, and neck in fabric rated at UPF 50. And it is quick drying and moisture wicking, with mesh panels for additional venting. Afguard stain release helps you easily remove any number of spills or splashes that can occur in a day of fishing. —M.M.
Sunline Xplasma Asegai Braided Line
Sunline has taken advantage of the performance-enhancing qualities of Xplasma by P-Ion and used them to create a superior braided line with outstanding slickness, abrasion resistance, and water repellency. The line is very smooth, which reduces friction and increases casting distance. —M.M.
This may be the most advanced HD underwater camera available. The huge 10-inch screen has a super-bright display that is easily viewable in daylight. And the touchscreen allows you to zero in on camera-shy fish. Aqua-Vu’s modular XP camera transmits a high-definition (720p) color image and works in any water conditions, thanks to its Super Low Light Vu technology. The entire system is waterproof and has HDMI video output and 125 feet of cable. —M.M.
Huk Subphantis Packable Jacket
Even if the weatherman is calling for bluebird skies, you never leave your rain jacket at home. Huk is making this rule easier to follow with the Subphantis Packable Jacket. It packs down small, but this is no garbage bag with sleeves. The Subphantis is made from polyester and has strategic venting for maximum comfort and breathability. It’s 100 percent wind- and waterproof, and it dries out ridiculously fast, meaning you can put it back in its pouch not long after that pop-up shower and never have to worry about mold. —J.C.
Plano Z-Series Tackle Bags
All Z-Series models are zipperless and practically watertight. A plastic molded base stops the water and spray that accumulates on the deck of your boat from soaking in from the bottom up. Splash-resistant openings stop water from getting in from the top. And all the soft material on the bag has a water-resistant coating. I used the 3700 model all last fall as my saltwater bag. After years of dealing with corroded, stuck zippers and having to de-salt the contents of my bag, I was impressed. —J.C.
Loon Rogue Quickdraw Mitten Clamps
Nobody likes wearing gloves while they’re fishing, but sometimes you just have no choice if you want that winter steel or early-season walleye. Loon’s new Rogue Quickdraw Mitten Clamps are designed with oversize thumb and finger holes, so you can leave the gloves on while rigging up or removing hooks. A carabiner built into the grip also allows you to quickly attach the tool to a bag or wader straps without fussing with retractors. The Mitten Clamps feature jaws and a cutter to make quick work of adding split shot or trimming tag ends. —J.C.
Engel 7.5-Quart Cooler/Dry Box
Engel’s coolers/dry boxes do double duty on the water as indestructible lunchboxes and dry cases for phones, cameras, and other valuables or electronics. The new 7.5-quart version is identical to its larger predecessors but is super-portable. Key features include injection molding, high-grade insulation, an airtight EVA gasket, and stainless-steel fittings. And it’s stain- and odor-resistant and easy to clean. —M.M.
If you’re looking for a sub-$500 reel that can beat anything from trout to tuna, this is it. The Grande’s spool design increases backing capacity, its oversize palming rim gives you better control over hard-running fish, and the sealed Super-Torque drag slows down the speediest players. —J.C.
Simms G3 Guide Wading Boots
Wading in the new G3 Guide Boots is like wading in a combination of your favorite bedroom slippers and your most trusted work boots. This level of comfort and protection was crafted with hard-working guides in mind, but even if you only wade once a month, you’ll still appreciate the G3’s attributes. Beefed-up ankle support pairs with Simms’ unique Rivertread technology, which is aimed at giving you enhanced feel under the boot, making it easier to navigate tricky spots. A dual-density midsole also improves shock absorption, which will help keep your dogs from barking after a long day on the water. —J.C.
Rio Big Nasty Sinking Line
If chucking big streamers is your thing, you need to try some Big Nasty. Not only is it taperd to throw big bugs, Rio’s Multi-Density Control system allows you to choose the perfect line for keeping a fly wherever you want it to be in the water column at all times. This is next-level sinking line. —J.C.
Shimano Calcutta Conquest A
The newest version of Shimano’s elite Conquest is the benchmark against which all heavy-duty baitcasters will be measured. Built up from a lightweight, rugged Hagane frame, the ultra-high-end reel is fitted with a synchronized levelwind, Shielded Anti-Rust Bearings, and a Variable Brake System (VBS) that virtually eliminates backlash. Intended to subdue lunker bass, pike, muskies, and inshore saltwater species, it’s available in two sizes (300 and 400) and both left- and right-handed models. —M.M.
Humminbird Solix 12 Mega SI+ G2
Humminbird has established a new high point in fishing electronics. Mega Imaging+ now gives an insanely detailed view of fish and structure down to 200 feet and out to 200 feet on either side of the boat. Add Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar, which helps you see individual fish, and the G2 has unprecedented capabilities—but with an interface that’s easy to use. —M.M.
Frabill Magnum Bait Station
Keeping a large bait supply healthy and lively is no problem for the Magnum Bait Station. The portable injection-molded base has commercial-grade insulation. The aerator is integrated directly into the lid. It’s been tested in below-freezing temperatures, so it’s ice- or open-water-ready. —M.M.
The Deck-Boss line has options for every kind of angler, but they also offer real comfort—something your average pair of cheap rubbers doesn’t. Models include insulated boots for cold-weather outings, noninsulated ones for warmer days, and even safety-toe boots for any scenario where your lower digits might get smashed. I’ve spent enough time offshore to know it can happen, so I’ve been wearing the safety-toe model for half a season already. My feet don’t ache at the end of the day, and I probably wouldn’t notice if an entire bag of sinkers fell on my foot. —J.C.
Otterbox Yampa 35 Dry Duffel Bag
Carry it like a duffel bag or strap it on like a backpack. Either way, the Yampa is a versatile tote for anything from day trips far from the truck to multi-night camping forays at a far-off lake. The roll-top closure makes accessing your gear easy, and the rounded design makes the bag less bulky and easier to stash than some other dry bags. I used the Yampa as a boat bag last summer on multiple raft trips for smallmouths, and everything I put inside it stayed bone dry. —J.C.
Abu Garcia Revo Ike Spinning Reel
The new Revo Ike spinning reel was designed with input from Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike Iaconelli. The IM-C6 body is lightweight and rugged, lessening fatigue over a long day of fishing. The reel uses Abu Garcia’s Rocket line-management and spool-lip design for bomb-casting even the lightest lures. It also has a carbon-matrix drag system, 10 overall bearings, a C6 carbon rotor, and a round EVA knob. And it has a look that screams Iaconelli; in a word, loud—but in a good way. —M.M.
St. Croix Mojo Kayak Rods
St. Croix was smart enough to recognize that kayak anglers require specific gear to be successful. Enter the Mojo Kayak rod series, which has eight models that feature top-shelf components. What makes them ideal for the ’yakker is their shortened butts. This smart tweak makes it easier to cast and present baits while sitting low to the water. —J.C.
St. Croix Legend Elite Panfish
This year, St. Croix extended its Legend Elite series rods to cater to the panfishing crowd, with three light and four ultralight models. The rods have all of the expert craftsmanship and top-of-the-line components you would expect, including St. Croix’s high-end tooling, reinforcement, and tapering technologies. There’s one for every perch, crappie, and ’gill guy. —M.M.
Fiberglass fly rods have made a comeback lately, and the Butter Stick is helping to lead the charge. Newly revamped, this rod series starts at 5 feet 9 inches and maxes out at 8 feet, offering a line range from 1-weight to 8-weight. All Butter Sticks are three-piece rods for travel convenience and come with a lifetime warranty. The throwback look is also a nice touch. —J.C.