One of the few things I do not see much talk about in the fishing groups is the support equipment we utilize in fishing. I’m not talking about lures, hooks, line type, or anything of that nature. I’m talking about those other things that you use that you just don’t really think about: the ancillary things!
Sure, people have this gear in the background of their photos and you don’t really dig into it while having a conversation. After seeing those things when you’re out there fishing, sometimes you want look it up when you get home because you’re curious about it. I would like to dig into that some more here in a series for you all especially in regards to the Surf Fishing world. This week, we are going to talk about a Fish Cleaning Station, Fillet Knives, and Sand Spikes.
In the military, we have support units, support equipment, and even supporting activities that help the “pointy end of the spear” units perform their mission. You can’t do the things you do without support (Could I possibly use that word more?) so how could it be any different when fishing? Think about it for a second: What gear do I have that is in a support role? I have a feeling you came up with a couple good ones, as did I when I started thinking about it. Yet, they don’t get the starring role that they deserve. Lets focus on a couple shall we? Before we do, I am NOT sponsored by any of these companies/tackle shops named in this article. I have not received any compensation (monetary or otherwise) for writing about them. Ok, now that is out of the way, lets continue.
One would say that this tool should be a prized possession of any angler but not all blades are created equal. I know several people that have some amazing knives for cleaning their fish and I will admit to having some envy ping me when I see them. I sadly, do not have an awesome fillet knife yet (shocker I know!). I have seen a couple that interest me (I’ll mention them shortly) but just have not pulled the trigger. Call it sticker shock (yes, they can be pricey) or just pure laziness but I have been using the knife I received with my fish-cleaning table from the Outsunny Company. It does the job and I know that there are thousand of different ones out there, but there are two that I know I’d buy in a heartbeat.
The first blade on this list is the Sord Fillet Knife. I recently learned about this blade while visiting Bay Breeze Bait & Tackle after the 2020 Pompano Blitz and was extremely impressed with it. The balance was excellent and the feel was superb. The G10 handle felt like I was holding a pistol grip (which I wasn’t expecting, but liked it) and you could tell that it would be hard to have that thing slip from your hands when cleaning. They offer a No Questions Asked Lifetime warranty! Seriously, go the page and look. Added bonus, they are a small business here in the Panhandle of Florida! They even have their direct contact information on the Contact Us page and yes, Steven does answer. If that doesn’t show you that they care about their customers and product, I don’t know what else would show you that they do!
Image from https://www.sordtools.com
I know what you’re asking: “Brian, why didn’t you buy one if you liked it so much”?
Well, two reasons (*ahem* excuses *ahem*) actually. One, I was exhausted after the tournament (kicking myself now) and two, I didn’t think I needed it at the time. In hindsight, I absolutely should have as I could have used it several times since that day (Red Drum are a beast to cut into with a cheap knife). It will happen eventually and I will tell you all about it.
The next blade on my list is a more common name you’ve probably heard of: Bubba Blade. They are a large company that has been in the game for a while and you can find their blades & equipment just about everywhere you can get fishing gear. They also have a lot of information about fishing and tactics on the site. I haven’t heard too many bad things about the Bubba blade company and the few knives that I’ve held felt really nice, albeit a bit large at times. Don’t get me wrong; a big knife is handy and extremely useful when you’re cutting up some fish. They have a one-year warranty and explain it all on their web page with the exclusions.
Photo from https://www.bubba.com
A solid fillet knife is a must have in your arsenal of supporting equipment. I feel a bit sheepish when I say that since I don’t have “THE ONE” yet and I’m telling you that it’s a must have. I have one and it will do for now, but “THE ONE” is coming soon. You know when I get it I will happily do a write up of it too for your viewing pleasure.
Three types of Sand Spikes I am using
I never really gave a lot of thought to these when I first started surf fishing. Sure, I had the PVC ones you get from the local tackle shop for $5.00 and they worked just fine! I was using them until I read about an angler that lost his rod (I’ve been there brother, it sucks) after his PVC snapped. That was enough for me to question if there was something better out there. I came across a video on YouTube from FishGum where Tony was using an all-metal sand spike from Beach Power Manufacturing. I realized that I needed to up my game because I didn’t trust my PVC spikes any longer.
I have one of their spikes and it is seriously tall! I wasn’t expecting that at all but they are solid. The spike end goes deep into the sand and the pegs on the shaft to stand on to bury it are solid. I’m not the smallest guy on the beach (I know, I’m being modest) and these hold up well to me jumping and stomping on them to get it buried in the sand. The hold is excellent! I hooked up on a 31” Black drum not too long ago and though the rod bent hard (greatest sight isn’t it?) but the spike held its ground. The cup where the rod sits is nice, wide, and a good height to get the rod out (or reel in from it if you wished). It is a solid piece of supporting equipment that I like.
My other sand spikes are the Anglers Fish-N-Mate Sand Spikes that I picked up from Half Hitch in Navarre. These spikes too have proven to be solid workhorses for me in my surf fishing time. I can honestly say, I have lost one though but it was not due to the spike failing but my own failure (my own stupidity of not watching the tide during a intense fishing time and it was dark). These too have the pegs that you can stand/stomp into the sand to hold. I have had several heavy fish pull on these as well and they hold up much better than I had anticipated. One of these that my Dad sent me has a bait trough on the spike. This has proved very useful lately in holding bait in the middle of my set up so I have a single place to grab instead of constantly running back to my cart each time. There is also a ruler taped down the side of them, which is a nice touch if you want to quick measure a fish before taking it up to your cart to measure for sure.
The only thing I didn’t love about the Anglers version is the rod sits too low inside it. There is a great cradle for your reel and it is designed to go that far down, but for me it created more work getting the rod out when a fish was on. Special thank you to Tom for explaining how I could make this spike better! I took Tom’s advice by drilling a hole and putting a bolt through the lower portion of the holder. My rods sit higher now in the cradle and still perform very well. I haven’t had one move on me yet (knock on wood, I don’t want to lose another rod & reel) that was placed properly.
Before the mod, My normal set up, After the mod
For the money, the rod holder upgrade was a good idea for me. It is a bit of insurance to ensure that my rod doesn’t become a contribution to Davey Jones’ locker and a poor fish is stuck dragging it around until it gets free. I am not knocking the PVC pipes that people use! Please do not take what I said about them like that, I just chose to upgrade.
There are so many pieces of ancillary gear that we can list and I will do my best to cover as many as I possibly can. The best part about writing is that you can get more ideas from your readers so feel free to drop me an email with something that you find in your support category. The email address that gets right to us is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, go forth and do good things!