Thursday, 12 June 2008

Imax Bait Bag

I purchased my medium size Imax Bait Bag last summer on the recommendation of one of my fishing friends and it has turned out to be a very handy little addition to my collection of fishing luggage, helping to keep live worms and frozen bait in top condition throughout some very hot summer fishing sessions.

The bags size (9 in x 7 in x 9 in) is perfectly adequate for most anglers and the well thought out design provides three separate compartments which makes this bag much more useful than if it had just had one main compartment. The lower and top compartments are fairly small (the bottom one is apparently designed to hold the freezer blocks and the top one is for your sandwiches) however I found that the main compartment is plenty large enough to hold bait for a days fishing and still has room left for some cool blocks so I prefer to use only the larger of the three for my bait which then leaves space in the remaining two compartments for items of tackle, rags, fish bags etc.

As with the Imax Waist Bass Bag the quality of the materials used to construct the bag is very good and on my example the stitching has remained sound despite a great deal of abuse. The compartments are sealed using heavy duty zips which have behaved impeccably not giving me any trouble at all so far and as well as using heavy duty rot proof material for the outer construction of the bag, Imax have included an inner thermal lining to each compartment made from some kind of silver cloth. Quite what the lining is I don't know but it does seem to work as an insulator and has the benefit of adding additional strength to the bag.

To finish off the bag Imax have added a very practical and sturdy carry handle, constructed out of webbing and hyperlon foam which is attached to a webbing reinforcing on the top of the bag and this, along with the adjustable webbing shoulder strap, make the whole thing a doddle to transport up the beach even when it is fully loaded. At £7.99 this little piece of kit won't break the piggy bank, represents extremely good value and is likely to withstand a good few years of use and abuse.

Overall Mark: 10 / 10 - Well worth £7.99 of anybody's money.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Wychwood Riot Carp Rod

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realise that I'm no Carp angler so it might seem a bit strange to find a sea angler reviewing a Carp Rod. Truth of the matter is I spend an awful lot of my time chasing the local Bass with light gear and so, although I have not the slightest inclination to get involved with boilies or bivvies, a carp rod is my weapon of choice for a lot of my summer fishing. An unfortunate accident which wrote off my faithful old graphite carbon carp rod last summer put me in the market for a replacement and after a lot of thought I put my lot in with a 12 ft, 3lb test curve Riot.

Wychwood seem to have built up a name for affordable, quality gear and, judging by the examples I've seen, its a reputation that's well deserved. The Riot is built on a fairly sturdy carbon-fibre blank which counteracts the inherent weakness typical of slimline blanks by increasing the wall thickness and although the blank is not as light as you would expect from a top end manufacturer, the rod is still light enough to be held all day and has a crisp but forgiving action. The spigot fitting is of the traditional tapered type (with reinforcements) which means if it starts to wear it can repaired simply by cutting a fraction off the female section and, on my example at least, was a very good fit from day one.

Given the rod's price range I was expecting the whippings to be of questionable quality but was pleasantly surprised to find that its plain black wraps were of a good quality with a nice epoxy finish, which ensures that its five braid-friendly intermediate rings are well fixed to the rod. Wychwood seem to have got the ring sizes and spacings just right and the rings themselves look sturdy enough though unfortunately they are not genuine Fuji and do seem to rust when exposed to the saltwater environment if they are not cleaned in fresh water.

The butt is built in the now standard "bare bones" style with a plain Fuji carbon reel seat to hold the reel in place. Wychwood seem to have got the reel position about right and with collars at each end of the reel seat, a slimline foam bottom grip and anodized end plug the butt continues the generally smart appearance of the rod, although for the salt water environment I found putting a small plastic butt cap over the end of the blank offers the it much more protection than the aluminium plug, particularly when I'm fishing from the rocks.

Overall I'd have to say I'm really pleased with the Riot. It's performance and build quality are much better than you could expect from a rod in this price range. I've used mine to fish lures and plugs of various weights up to about 1.5 oz and have have also used it for light ledgering on a number of occasions with a 2 oz lead and it has handled everything I've thrown at it. It's only real weakness is the rings, but in all fairness to Wychwood it has been designed to be used in a fresh water environment and considering that the rod also comes with a rod bag and a lifetime warranty I think it's £50 price tag is absolutely staggering; how do Wychwood manage it?

Overall mark: 10/10 - I can't really blame Wychwood for the rusty rings as it wasn't designed for salt water use. If Wychwood had used genuine Fuji rings they would have got a 12/10 at the £50 price tag.