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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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June 02, 2017

A Beefier Combo Spinning & Fly-Fishing Kit for Travel ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

To handle heftier medium/medium-heavy action spinning and fly rods/reels, I put together a beefier travel package to cover most fresh and saltwater applications. I began by purchasing Plano's All-Weather Tactical Gun-Guard Case, which brilliantly fills the bill for carrying angling or gunning gear come hunting season.


Plano Gun-Guard Case: the perfect travel case for your angling gear

Sandwiched between the top and bottom 1½-inch thick sheets of foam padding is a high-density 2¼-inch thick, perforated (pre-scored) Pick N' Pluck foam insert with which to customize your case: spinning rod and reel, fly rod and reel, fly box, lure box, packages of tapered leaders, tippet material, et cetera. This hard, sturdy plastic-molded Plano Gun Case, model number 108421, features a heavy-duty molded carrying handle, five (5) heavy-duty, spring-assisted dual-stage lockable latches, along with a built-in pressure-control release valve on the bottom of the case for ambient pressure/temperature changes. The valve in conjunction with an O-ring entrenched along the entire periphery of the case creates a Dri-Loc weather-tight seal. The case's interior dimensions are 42-inches long, 13-inches wide, and 5-inches deep. The only tools needed to cut (as opposed to ‘pluck') the foam to form and accommodate rods, reels, mini-tackle boxes, et cetera, is a snap-blade utility knife, ruler, and a Sharpie fine-point black marking pen for tracing. Some folks use an electric carving knife or a foam-cutting hot knife for smoother cuts. I prefer the snap-blade utility knife for better control.

After extended use, you may find that the edges of the cutout polyurethane foam inserts begin to wear. A quick fix of Plasti Dip (actually, a spray can) will reinforce the foam and prevent it from fraying. You can either wait until the issue arises or address the matter initially. The same would apply to the L.L. Bean Compact Spin/Fly case discussed in yesterday's Part I. However, I decided to use Plasti Dip on the Plano case foam and leave L.L. Bean case as is until I note wear. Be aware that working with solvents such as Plasti Dip will cause other issues if you do not know what you are doing. I'll address this momentarily when dealing with repair. In the meantime, let's begin cutting and creating the inserts to the relative shape of the items that you are going to place within the case: rods, reels, mini-lure and fly boxes, et cetera.

With the mid-section foam sheet placed in its case, set the edge of a rod's handle up against the 1½-inch non-perforated borders (top and side). Carefully measure, trace then cut along the perforated section that you wish removed.


Tools needed to start customizing your travel kit

Using your fingers, carefully push down and to the side to separate the foam while cutting in a straight line (no curves of any kind) to approximately mid-depth of the mid-section sheet. Then to facilitate matters, lift and remove the entire mid-section sheet from its case. Repeat the cutting procedure on the opposite side of the foam sheet in a similar fashion. Extending the blade of the utility knife a couple of inches to meet the cuts you made on the opposite side will easily separate the section for removal, creating a nice insert for one of the rods. Take it nice and slow. You will note that I basically followed the same layout of the L.L. Bean Compact Combo Spin/Fly Kit covered in yesterday's Part I.

There are Plano Gun Guard cases that feature wheels for easier transport; however, this model is perfect for our travel-angling needs. One could order a replacement mid-section foam sheet from Plano and reconfigure it to accommodate a pair of scoped long guns such as a slug gun, rifle, muzzleloader, extra barrel, et cetera. In any event, hold on to whatever foam you have removed for future alteration and and/or minor repairs. In our case (no pun intended), this Plano Gun Gear case will remain dedicated to our spin/fly/tackle accoutrements for travel. You'll note that I did this one step at a time; first the rod, and then the reel, and so forth.

Although the model #108421 Gun Guard case is specifically referred to as their All Weather 42 Inch Case, the interior length is actually 43 inches with a solid 1¼-inch non-pluckable foam border. That leaves you with a length of 40½-inches of foam sheet with which to cut and build your kit to custom fit rods, reels, mini-tackle boxes and/or gunning paraphernalia. You need that 1¼-inch foam border to firmly support these items along the periphery, so do not make the mistake of cutting and creating an insert into the border's edge.

Unlike a solid mid-layer sheet of polyurethane foam found in other gun cases, such as some Pelican case models, the perforated Plano Pluck N' Pull foam easily creates custom inserts for rods, reels, gun accoutrements, et cetera. Realize, however, that the best Pluck N' Pull shapes are cut to form either squares or rectangles. Making rounded corners or circles may jeopardize the integrity of the foam along those edges because you will now be cutting against and reducing the size of each ¾-inch cubed surface area. Also, a step-down type cutting effect would be the way to work around irregular shapes as with the fly reel shown. Maintaining at least a 1½-inch distance [two (2) cubes] between inserts will offer better support. Additionally, the convoluted construction of the eggcrate-like foam cushioning above and below the mid-section sheet serves to secure items firmly in place. If you do make a mistake in cutting, you can easily bond the foam piece(s) back together with either DAP Weldwood Original Contact Cement or Elmer's General Purpose Rubber Cement. But be warned that the fumes from those adhesives can impair the integrity of the O-ring seal running along the inner lip of the case. To avoid this problem, simply remove the mid-section sheet of foam that you are working with and move it to an area away from the case. Bond what pieces of foam you need then wait for the adhesive to thoroughly dry and until there is no odor remaining before reinstalling the sheet and using the case—usually a couple of days to be on the safe side. Good to go.

If you do decide to Plasti Dip the mid-section foam sheet, remove it from the case and carefully follow the directions on the aerosol can's label. Building up several thin coats of this rubber coating is better than laying it on thick. Again, allow the product to thoroughly dry and be odor free. In a well-ventilated area, work the aerosol spray back and forth with overlapping strokes, holding the can approximately eight inches away from the sheet. When spraying, avoid direct sunlight, high humidity, and breezy conditions. You'll note that I worked toward the front of the garage for good ventilation, out of the way of pollen, cluster blooms, polynoses, and other matter flying around this time of year.


Plano mid-section foam sheet sprayed with Plasti Dip


All Items Fit Neatly Into the Customized Spin & Fly Travel Case for Fresh & Saltwater Applications

Left corner: Cabela's Fish Eagle 54m graphite 4 piece 7-foot spinning rod (line weight 8–12 lbs. lure weight ¼ – ¾ oz.) ~ Shimano Sustain 3000 FE spinning reel.

Across top: Plano Guide Series model 3540 waterproof lure box ~ Wheatley fly box; Orvis canvas tri-fold fly wallets.

Right corner: KastKing Katmai #8 weight 4 piece 9-foot fly rod ~ KastKing Katmai 7/8 weight (gun metal) fly reel ~ packages of Cabela's and Rio tapered leaders ~ mini spools of tippet material.

Packages of tapered leader material, Wheatley fly box, and the Orvis tri-fold fly wallets fit beneath the Plano lure box. The mini spools of tippet material fit behind the lure box. You'll note that there is still plenty of room to create and further customize your kit. But for now, I'll consider this case complete. Last but not least, I'd put in a couple of Desiccite (moisture) packs for good measure. As foam can absorb and hold dampness, I would not store equipment (especially guns) in a sealed case for prolonged periods of time.


Other fine Plano cases for fishing tackle, archery & gunning paraphernalia; i.e., scoped rifles/slug guns, etc.

Plano has the perfect case for you and yours. For Donna and me, traveling to new areas to explore and enjoy our outdoor adventures is living life to its fullest. See you on the water, in the woods, fields, and mountains.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

June 01, 2017

Compact Spinning & Fly-Fishing Kits for Travel ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

When researching compact spinning and fly-fishing kits for travel, I was looking for a complete kit that had a dedicated rod and reel for spin fishing as well as a dedicated rod and reel for fly-fishing—not one of those generic, dual-purpose rods that serve as a substitute for both angling methods. That just doesn't cut it. The L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit is the ticket. With compact case dimensions of only 21½-inches long x 8½-inches wide, x 3½-inches high, it is a perfect size for easy carry-on transport, backpacking, or to stow in your vehicle and have at the ready at a moment's notice. How many times have you driven by a promising body of water and said to yourself? Boy, I wish I had my spinning and/or fly-fishing equipment handy. Well, with the L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit, you can now have a pair of completely dedicated compact travel rods and reels on hand for fishing both sweet water and the suds.


L.L. Bean Compact Spin/Fly Kit

The L.L. Bean spinning outfit features a dedicated 4-piece, 6-foot medium/light-action rod that is well-matched to a series 1000 reel. The spool is preloaded with 110 yards of 6-pound test monofilament line—not 60 yards as specified in the description, which I immediately questioned. After carefully measuring then re-spooling, I thought perhaps the reel had been inadvertently spooled with 4-pound test line so as to account for the extra 50 yards of mono, which would happen to agree with their lb. test/yd. spool capacity description; [4/110, 5/100, 6/60 is printed on the skirted spool. I compared the diameter of the line to spools of both 4- and 6-pound test monofilament I had on hand and tactilely determined that it was 6-pound test mono. Granted, there is no universal standard referencing line diameter versus breaking test strength, and I was not about to hunt down a spring balance in order to test tensile stress. In any case, it's better to have more line than less. Later, referencing fly line and backing, we'll see that more line can become an issue. That aside for the moment, the spinning reel has a generous gear ratio of 5.2:1, 4 ball bearings, a smooth drag, and an anti-backlash system.

The fly outfit features a dedicated 6-piece, 8½-foot medium-action 5-weight rod that is nicely matched to their 5–6 weight Angler model #1 reel. Its good-size arbor is pre-spooled with 290 feet of backing, an 84-foot floating fly line (yellow), and a 9½-foot tapered leader. A fluent disc drag sports a large knob in order to easily apply the brakes.


4-Piece Spinning Rod ~ 6-Piece Fly Rod ~ Fly Box ~ Lure Box ~ Carrying Case

Additionally, the pair of rods and reels is protected within a functional vacuum-molded Cordura nylon fabric case with a clear-plastic zippered top. The case is lined with high-density polyurethane foam with cutouts shaped to firmly hold reels, rod sections, along with a pair of miniature lure and fly boxes. The plastic fly box (with slotted foam inserts), which can hold many flies, even contains a trio of easy-to-access fly-fishing hook threaders—great for changing flies in low-light and/or cold conditions. Beneath the boxes, I added packages of tapered leaders and tippet material. Last but not least, the case has a durable Cordura carrying handle.

After stripping out line, casting, and fighting a few fair-sized schoolie bass before finally calling it a day, I noted that the fly line was binding slightly—atop the spool, just beneath the reel seat—even after carefully rewinding the line back upon the spool. Why? The answer is that I wasn't reeling and laying the line precisely and firmly back-and-forth along the spool as when it was first machine spooled at the factory. When I returned home, I simply measured the backing, fly line, and leader so as to determine accurate specs. I then removed 100 feet from 290 feet of backing then retied it to the spool, leaving 190 feet, which is more than sufficient when coupled to 84 feet of fly line and a 9½-foot leader for a total of 283½ feet (94½ yards). In all my years of fly-fishing both salt and fresh water, I rarely went into the backing; when I did, it wasn't more than a few yards. So now, even if I fail to wind the line evenly upon the spool, I'm not going to have a binding issue unless I'm really careless. Also, if I later decide to whip finish a loop and add a weight-forward sinking section, or switch to a longer 100-foot fly line, I'm good to go. L.L. Bean is certainly being generous in giving you more than less rather than the other way around, so I can't fault them in that. In any event, always be sure to allow for enough clearance so as not to damage the fly line.

Referencing the spinning rod, you will note that it does not have a hook keeper. That, too, is an easy fix. As I do not like retaining the hook in the leg of a guide, let alone one of its eyes, or impaled in the rod's fine cork handle, I prefer to secure the hook in a neat little item called The CATCH, manufactured by Adams WW, Inc. I have them attached to virtually every rod I own (spin, bait, and fly) — even if the rod comes with its own hook keeper. You'll note that the fly rod does come with its own hook keeper, yet I still attached The CATCH's compact size hook keeper to the wand. The hook keeper's slotted magnetic shield solidly holds and prevents the point and barb of the hook from catching you, your clothing, vehicle, and boat seats—not to mention, perhaps, a pet. The CATCH hook keepers securely attaches to virtually any size blank diameter in seconds via an ozone and weather-resistant neoprene O-ring. The CATCH lightweight hook keepers are available in three sizes: The CATCH compact size (black, orange, blue), The CATCH-BIG (black), and the CATCH-MEGA (black). http://www.getthecatch.com


Bob B's Big Bull's-Eye Fly & The CATCH Hook Keeper

Over the years, I've field-tested other brand-name hook keepers. For conventional spin, bait, and fly-casting rods, you want the CATCH hook keepers. Pictured below for the purpose of comparison is Fuji's EZ Keeper attached to the L.L. Bean travel spinning rod. The EZ hook keeper attaches in the same fashion as The CATCH hook keepers by way of an O-ring. Though, with the lure's pair of treble hooks exposed, it doesn't really much matter that those points and barbs are unprotected—unlike the single protected point and barb of the fly depicted in The CATCH's magnetic shielded slot. The EZ Keeper serves to hold a lure or fly, not to protect. Also, the EZ Keeper is available but in a single size, whereas the trio of The CATCH compact keepers accommodate hooks from midge-size 22–1, The CATCH-BIG up to 4/0, and The CATCH-MEGA up to 9/0. However, Fuji's EZ Keeper does have its place as a Tenkara line-management system.


Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow & Fuji EZ Hook Keeper

I first reviewed The CATCH hook keepers in Nor'east Saltwater back in August of 2013. The piece is titled Hooked on Hook Keepers. Click on this link for the complete article: http://www.noreast.com/articles/blog.cfm?b=35&a=4150.

Returning back to the pair of spin and fly-casting rods, both are finely wrapped and finished, boast genuine cork handles, 5 single-foot guides plus tip ~ 1 double-footed guide, 8 snake guides plus tip, respectively. The rods alone are worth the cost of the kit. And although the reels themselves are not of stellar quality—plastic components versus metal being the issue—you can always upgrade those items if and when the time comes while employing those same fine rods and suitably sufficient carrying case for many, many years. Our L.L. Bean compact combo travel kit will serve us at a moment's notice, always at the ready in our vehicle for unexpected, spontaneous adventure and action whenever our beefier equipment is back home taking up space.

In concluding Part 1, the fly reel is more than adequate, and the spinning reel stood up admirably against twenty-plus schoolie bass in a single outing. Moreover, the following day, I lost a nice-size striper (guesstimated at 30 inches) on the travel spinning rod as Donna was fumbling with the net right off the port stern. My point here is not to pick on Donna, but to make clear that the rod and reel easily handled a good-size fish in the suds, right up to the boat, the drag system having performed smoothly and flawlessly. As always, be sure to rinse your rod(s) and reel(s) with fresh water on return. Donna and I have both expensive and inexpensive equipment angling equipment that we have used, not abused, for decades. Take proper care of your equipment, and it will take care of you. Enough said.


L.L. Bean Travel Spinning Outfit ~ Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow ~ One of a Score of Schoolie Stripers Caught That Day in Our Compact Folding Porta-Bote (www.porta-bote.com.



Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats




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