Cool Last Minute Gifts for the Angler
By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire
Dromida FPV XL Drone
Commercial fishermen have long known the value of aerial surveillance in spotting fish–in clear, calm weather, it’s possible for an observer in a small plane to see masses of fish that are miles distant, and these are often fish that would be difficult or impossible to locate for fishermen on the surface.
While hiring spotter planes is still the realm of the commercial industry due to the cost, these days recreational anglers can readily take advantage of the aerial view of clear water with the ubiquitous camera drones now available, some for only a few hundred dollars.
The potential uses are endless, ranging for locating schools of bait likely to hold blackfins or wahoo offshore to nearshore masses of king and Spanish mackerel, to pods of tarpon or snook on the beaches. In the northeast, anglers might readily use drones to find schools of bunker that lure striped bass and blues.
A drone I’ve had the opportunity to play with of late is typical of the moderately-priced, easy-to-fly and useful crop available this Christmas; it’s the Dromida FPV XL, which captures both still photos and videos in real time and beams them to your smartphone clipped into the hand-held flying control. It’s Wi-Fi enabled, and the 1080p videos it makes are more than clear enough for fish-spotting, surveying underwater terrain and more. Images can be saved to the included micro-memory card or to your phone, so running out of space is not an issue. It’s also very easy to pick up the basics of flying because an auto take-off system handles those tricky first two meters from the ground. It stays up for about 10 minutes on a charge–long range surveys are not in the ballpark, but you can cover a lot of watery terrain in 10 minutes and then get the drone back to a safe landing. At about 15 inches wide, it’s small enough to stow in a boat compartment until you need it. Price is about $250, from www.dromida.com.
Sebago Cyphon Sea Boat Shoes
I go through a lot of boat shoes because I wear them not only for boating and fishing, but also for pretty much everything else when there’s not snow on the ground. One of the best new models I’ve seen in the past year for the way I use boat shoes is the Cyphon Sea from Sebago, one of the older names in the Maine shoe business; they’re celebrating their 70th year presently.
The Cyphon uppers are synthetic fabric rather than leather, which I like both because they dry more rapidly and because they don’t require occasional treatment to prevent deterioration as even the best leather boat shoes do when worn wet regularly. They have non-marking soles, a biggie with those who cruise aboard far finer boats than mine but not so much of a problem on the carpeted floor of a bass boat nor the pebbled fiberglass of a flats boat. And the most unique feature is that the soles are actually vented on the bottom as well as on the sides, getting rid of water fast when you step over the side to beach the boat–or get caught in a rain storm. The insoles are also vented, and are removable for quick drying.
They have plenty of arch support and cushioning, too, comfortable for long sessions of standing on the bow casting. They’re quick-on and quick-off thanks to the elastic laces and no-tie fasteners. Last but not least for someone who wears boat shoes for pretty much everything, the sole is a bit more durable than some of the extremely “tacky” siped-sole models that are aimed primarily at making sure no-one slips on a wet deck. Those shoes use very soft rubber on the outer soles, and though it works, they don’t last all that long in daily use.
It doesn’t hurt that the Cyphon’s look good–much like a quality running shoe–they’re very light at just 10 ounces per shoe, and that they won’t break the bank; MSRP is $80; www.sebago.com.
ThermaCELL ProFlex Heavy Duty
Also in the shoe department, the new Bluetooth enabled ThermaCELL ProFlex Heavy Duty heated insoles are a winner. I’ve been using these things for years for winter time fishing–you cut the insole to fit the shape of your boots and then turn them off and on as needed with your cell phone to keep the cold from ruining your day on the water. They’d also be great for sitting in a deer stand, for snowmobiling, anywhere you’ll be exposed to the cold for extended periods.
The batteries charge with the included USB charger in about two hours, and can last up to 8.5 hours, depending on how hot you set them and how long your run them between shutdowns. The temperature can be set as high as 115 degrees, which is too hot for me after 30 minutes or so, but each user will find his own comfort level.
The company says this particular model is 10 times more durable than their standard ProFlex model, good for 1 million steps or more–though in my experience, feet get cold when I’m standing or sitting still rather than when I’m making a lot of steps. They are water resistant–but not waterproof so don’t go in over your boot tops when wearing them. They’re about $199; www.heat.thermacell.com.