For the first time in fifteen years, long-time Chesapeake outdoor writer C. Boyd Pfeiffer has updated this classic book. It's a must-have, exhaustive reference and how-to guide to making, modifying, and maintaining fishing tackle of all sorts. This edition incorporates the considerable recent changes in tackle and rod construction and firmly brings the subject into the digital age of the twenty-first century.
Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, MD, 2013, 360 pages, 251 full-color illustrations (paperback), $24.95
Formatted as a compact field guide for students, scientists, researchers, and fishermen, the new Field Guide to Fishes of the Chesapeake Bay will enrich the time anyone spends on the waters of the Chesapeake, from the freshwater head of tide on the rivers to the salty Virginia Capes and the Atlantic. The science is solid, as it should be from two veteran Bay ichthyologists, but it also carries an engaging human touch that brings each species to life through brief but informative paragraphs on where and how often it turns up in the Chesapeake, what it eats, and why it is important ecologically, commercially, and recreationally.
Orvis Sling Pack
Orvis builds its gear for fly fishers, but some of us eclectic non-conformists use the company's gear for a wide range of purposes. This sling pack works well for we who wade deep and sometimes need to carry large lure boxes as well as a rain jacket and a water bottle. The pack hangs over one shoulder, completely out of the way, but with quick and easy access to gear. A plier sheath does its job, with a secure attachment point for the safety lanyard. A zinger attachment point with magnetic anchor keeps tools from swinging around. Foam patches inside can even hold spinners, spoons and jigs.
PowerPro Super 8 Slick Braided Line
$19.99 for 150 yards, www.powerpro.com
PowerPro, now a division of Shimano, has developed a new line, Super 8 Slick. It's manufactured of eight-yarn Spectra fiber braided under high tension for a smooth surface that reduces friction and line noise through a rod's guides. Available in four colors and strength from 10-lb. test to 80, it casts even further than original PowerPro, and its diameter is smaller, e.g., 10-lb. test is equivalent to 2-lb. test monofilament. Meanwhile, its Enhanced Body Technology gives it good knot strength and just enough stiffness to minimize wind knots.
Specialized Baits Lil Jimy Flashtail Jig
The Lil Jimy bucktail has already established itself as a standard lure for Chesapeake rockfish, speckled trout, redfish, and flounder. It even caught several silver salmon in Alaska in September. But Specialized Baits owner George Lenard has now made the lure even more effective by adding a flashtail, several long strands of flash material that extend beyond the bucktail hair to simulate the translucent tail of a baitfish. It's a tying feature developed by Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser. No need for a soft plastic tail added here. George ties these Lil Jimys in eleven different Minnow Patterns and weights from one-quarter-ounce to an ounce-and-a-half.
Berkley PowerBait Twitchtail Minnow
$4.99 for 15 tails, www.berkley-fishing.com
The Twitchtail Minnow is a versatile new three-inch soft plastic lure with a straight, thin tail that delivers continuous action even in little to no current. Set on a 1/0 Octopus hook, it makes a great teaser in front of a larger lure, and it works well on a double bottom rig, with or without bait. Available in fifteen color schemes, it even tempts rockfish as a trailer on the Siwash hook of a large inline spinner like a #5 Blue Fox Vibrax. At $4.99 for fifteen tails, a bag makes a great stocking stuffer.
Bait Chaser Tackle Mobjack Mullet
Donnie Smith, a hard-core inshore angler from Gloucester, has developed the Mobjack Mullet, a hand-crafted twitch-bait that has attracted an impressive string of citation speckled trout over the past year ($15 online). The 3.75-inch hand-painted wooden plug is built around a through-wire harness, with 3-D eyes and a red VMC SureSet tail hook dressed with Donnie's special "bling" (feathers and flash material). Six color schemes range from hot orange Mobjack Mauler to traditional Red Head. The suspending version weighs one ounce, the sinker an ounce-and-a-half. Tie it on with a loop knot and walk-the-dog underwater or swim it with occasional twitches.
DOA 4-inch Jerkbait "Silver Rush"
It has happened too many times to ignore. Several friends who fish for specks and puppy drum in the inshore areas between the mouth of the York River and the Great Wicomico have given up scented soft plastic lures to cast DOA's 4-inch jerkbait in color 414, Silver Rush (which they call "Black Death"). The tails are minnow-shaped with forked tails, but they don't have built-in action. Experiment with them on the retrieve. My friends favor one-quarter-ounce jig heads with sticky-sharp hooks. We decided to see if these little baits work on Upper Bay rockfish, and of course they do. Other effective colors include Gold Rush and Electric Chicken, which work well on a one-eighth-ounce jig head for winter pickerel. A bag of twelve tails costs $4.49.
Berkley Floating Dehooker
Another great stocking stuffer for $8.99, this well-made, stainless steel release tool is part of Berkley's Classic Tool collection. True, it's easy to make your own button-hook dehooker, but this one comes with a soft, floating handle that fits the hand nicely. It's just right for inverting a hook so that a fish to be released falls back into the water instantly with minimal handling, while one headed home for supper drops into the fishbox. You'll be surprised at how much fishing time it saves in speeding up the process of unhooking your catch, and it's easy on the fish you release. If you want to see how to use one, visit www.carefulcatch.com.
Castaway LTSMS8 Line Tamer 8' Spinning Rod
A light, medium power, moderately fast action rod of this length can add serious distance anywhere a Chesapeake angler needs it for stealth in a boat or wade-fishing. Castaway's innovative Micro Guide System eliminates the friction of line slap along the rod to supplement the length advantage, while the company's sophisticated graphite blend provides excellent sensitivity.