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December 20, 2017

A COMPACT YET COMPLETE ANGLER'S TRAVEL CASE FOR SPIN, BAIT & FLY-FISHING

by Bob Banfelder

Whether you are specifically heading off to warmer climates for a bit of fishing this winter or simply traveling willy-nilly any time of year with no particular plans or destination in mind, it's always nice to have along your own fishing equipment. How many times have you driven by an inviting body of water and thought, "Ah, I wish I had brought along my fishing gear"? Donna and I had been in that situation on more than one occasion before I did something about it. What's nice is that I set up a compact yet complete travel case to accommodate all three angling applications: spin casting, bait casting, and fly casting—and with dedicated rods, respectively. Not one of those all-in-one combination rod/reel outfits that supposedly does it all.

There are, of course, a few hard and soft quality travel cases out there. However, I found the L.L. Bean Kennebec Angler's Travel Case to be one of the best for all-around convenience, holding a good assortment of lures, inshore and offshore rigs, a plethora of flies, et cetera. Regarding compactness, I'd like you to home in on the exterior dimensions of this well-made travel case. Standing upright, the case measures 33½" long x 4" wide x 8" high and will fit into most overhead compartments or under-seat space found aboard planes, trains, busses, boats, and certainly vehicles.


L.L. Bean Kennebec Angler's Travel Case

Just as important are the travel case's interior dimensions. The interior is 32" long x 3½" deep x 7¼" wide. One entire length is set apart for a given number of rod- sections; for example, spin, bait, and a fly-casting wands; the other length is comprised of six adjustable padded dividers, which form seven compartments for reels, extra spools, tackle, et cetera, inclusive of a zippered thick-padded pouch.


Lid interior: 4 zippered clear plastic compartments ~ tapered leaders; 2 zippered mesh compartments ~ pre-rigged packaging for fluke, porgies, etc.

Upper section: spinning reel; foam spacing divider and fly box, lure box (beneath fly box); zippered thick-padded protective pouch for small camera, phone, valuables, etc.; fly reel and tippet material; extra spools filled with weight-forward floating lines, intermediate, and sinking lines; bait casting reel.

Lower section: spinning rod, bait casting rod, fly rod.

Let's examine closely what I included in my L.L. Bean Kennebec Angler's Travel Case. So as to avoid blatant advertising, we'll look at a number of quality rods, reels, and gear from well-known manufacturers, which lend themselves well in putting together this angling arsenal. Selecting the correct number of rod sections is the key to organization because you do not want them jiggling around within the case. You want the rods to fit compactly within that designated compartment with very little wiggle room. Small blocks of custom-cut Styrofoam work well to lock items firmly in place. Also, plastic twist-ties neatly hold rod sections together.

I selected a Temple Fork Outfitters Signature Series TRS 704 3 piece, 7-foot spinning rod, each section measuring 28". That gives me 2" of wiggle room at each end of the case before inserting Styrofoam. I paired the rod with a Shimano Stella 3000FD spinning reel, spooled with Ande monofilament line. My go-to lure is a Kastmaster on which I epoxy eyes. Eyes affixed to lures pretty much serve as a bull's-eye for predator fish of many species that swim in our waters.


Foreground: 3-piece spinning reel/rod & go-to lure.

Next, I selected a Daiwa Ardito-TR 3 piece 7-foot bait casting rod, each section measuring 29¼", which gives me slightly less than 1½" of wiggle room at each end of the case. Perfect. I coupled the rod to a KastKing Spartacus bait casting reel, spooled with PowerPro braided line. My go-to lure is Steve Sekora's Glow Squid rig, upon which I affix eyes via epoxy. A fresh squid strip/mummichog (killie)/Glow Squid combination is the magic that will attract keeper-size fluke.


Foreground: 3-piece bait casting rod/reel, go-to fluke rig with sinker.

Lastly, I selected a Sage Xi 2 4-piece 9-foot fly rod, each section measuring 28½". That gives me 1¾" of wiggle room on each end. Great. I joined the rod to an Orvis Battenkill Mark III fly reel, which I've had for ages. I carry extra spools filled with Orvis, Teeny, and RIO fly lines; for example, weight-forward floating line, intermediate, and sinking line. When it comes to selecting leaders and tippet material, RIO fluorocarbon tapered leaders and tippets are hard to beat. My go-to fly is the Gimp, an often overlooked fly that absolutely belongs in every fly angler's arsenal. Also, a minnow imitation that I designed a decade ago—boldly named Bob B's Big Black & White Bull's-Eye Fly—is deadly. Both these fly recipes, along with the other lures mentioned above for spinning and bait casting, are covered in detail in my fishing book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook ~ For Salt & Fresh Water, available on Amazon. The book is endorsed by Lefty Kreh [international master, fly fisherman], and Angelo Peluso [nationally recognized angler].


Foreground: 4-piece fly rod/reel, go-to flies atop cork handle (see close-ups below).


Close-up: The Gimp


Close-up: Bob B's Big Black & White Bull's-Eye Fly

Of course, you can put together your own combination spin, bait, fly rod and respective reels, along with necessary gear and materials. Again, the important point to bear in mind is selecting a 3-piece rod for a 7 footer regarding both spin and bait casting rods, and a 4-piece rod for a 9-foot fly rod as all will fit compactly into the L.L. Bean Kennebec Angler's Travel Case with the aforementioned foam dividers. The case is handsomely crafted in a dark olive/briar color with orange accents.

The travel case may be carried in a number of ways as it has an attractive, durable cork-like suitcase/luggage-style handle, a wide non-slip padded adjustable shoulder strap that also allows the case to be carried horizontally, or it may be carried vertically via an end strap. The shoulder strap features a pair of clips for attaching small items as does the exterior face of the travel case, which also boasts a dual-zippered compartment running its length. Perfect for area maps or other papers. All exterior clips and zippers are reinforced with easy-to-grab taps. All corners, too, are reinforced with a non-slip material as well as "Box X"-type stitching at strap locations, a pattern that provides a high level of strength and stability. This is one well-constructed travel case.

Shown below in the foreground are the opened boxes (lures and flies), along with items that fit neatly within the zippered padded pouch. Remember, those upper compartments are comprised of six padded dividers forming seven adjustable compartments (inclusive of the zippered thick-padded protective pouch) for a totally custom fit.

Travel safely and confidently in that you have a place for everything and everything in its place. Happy Holidays, folks.


Foreground~ left to right: custom-cut foam block spacer; fly box; tackle box (which sits below fly box); cell phone ~ tri-fold wallet for fishing license, shelfish permit, boat registration ~ tri-fold wallet for drying wet flies (all items fit neatly into zippered padded pouch.

Bob Banfelder
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

Recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Who's Who in America


Several of My Crime Fiction Novels Incorporate The Great Outdoors

Top to Bottom:
Fiction:
The Richard Geist Trilogy


Dicky, Richard, and I
The Signing
The Triumvirate


The Justin Barnes Four-Book Series

The Author
The Teacher
Knots
The Good Samaritans

Trace Evidence

Battered


Nonfiction:

The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Hunting Smart Handbook: Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

The Essential Guide to Writing Well and Getting Published

December 19, 2017

Barnacles, Bryozoans & Boat Bottoms

by Bob Banfelder

On October 1st and 2nd, I had written a two-part piece for Nor'east Saltwater on Porta-Botes' foldable boats. Part One was titled Barnacle-Free Boat Bottoms? Better Believe It. In the piece, I stated that our foldable boat was impervious to barnacles, for it had sat in the suds from the beginning of the 2017 boating season until being prudently pulled because of threats of September's major tropical storms; namely, Irma and Jose. Surprisingly, there was not a single barnacle to be found anywhere on the hull, only a brownish-green marine growth slime, which cleaned up quite easily with boat soap, car brush, and a good hosing, so back in the brine she went after the coast was clear of impending storm damage.

Then, on October 15th, Donna and I pulled the boat anew to launch her elsewhere for another distant angling adventure. What had happened in that short period of time also surprised us. Amid the brownish-green slime were a few minuscule barnacles found along the hull—about a dozen. No big deal. They came off easily, along with the slime, using the aforementioned bucket of soapy water, car brush, and hose. However, a thin encrusted surface layer of something strange stubbornly remained after repeated scrubbing. Donna and I straightaway addressed the issue with a putty tool and pressure washer, gently scraping away at the crusty layer. After approximately an hour and a quarter, the hull came spotlessly clean. That's the magic of Porta-Bote's space-age polyurethane-copolymer material. For the structural black tubing running along the hull, a Brillo soap pad made for easy work in removing small sections of filmy grime in seconds.

It was not until I removed a pair of black vinyl inflatable boat fenders from our dock—where we had horizontally secured them all season long—that we now saw a series of thin, flat, circular, muted gray-white skeletal-like organisms to which several small barnacles were firmly attached. In our years of boating in the Peconics, we had never seen—or perhaps not taken notice of—anything like that before. Barnacles on our pilings for sure, along with grassy marine growth, but not those strange, blanched circular shapes. We wondered. What were those crusty creatures that had clearly adhered themselves to those black vinyl boat fenders? Their circular shape resembled something like that of a nautical sand dollar. Perhaps they created the crust found along the hull of our Porta-Bote. I say perhaps because they were not at all discernible on the light-gray hull.

After sending an e-mail along with photos to our good friend, Chris Paparo, manager of Stony Brook University's Marine Sciences Research Center, Southampton Marine Station, he immediately identified the crustaceous culprit as Bryozoans. A Bryozoan, aka moss animal, is an invertebrate comprising many marine and freshwater species.


A pair of boat fenders encrusted with Bryozoans and several barnacles.

Gentle scraping and pressuring washing had removed all Bryozoans, barnacles, and grassy marine growth from the fenders. The question is will we again leave our Porta-Bote in salt water or ever brackish water for drawn out periods of time? I had wondered if the crusty substance was some sudden invasion of a marine species that might not show itself again.

After a lengthy and detailed phone conversation with our marine biologist friend, Chris had explained that my latter concern was definitely not the case. "They've always been around; you probably just didn't notice them before," he said. I immediately thought back to those boating fenders. It was the second boating season that I had conveniently secured the fenders dockside instead of carrying them aboard a small boat. Chris went on to explain that the boat's polyurethane-copolymer surface, when new (or in our case, relatively new like those fenders) will help retard such organisms as barnacles and Bryozoans. However, as time goes on and the surface gets roughed up, Bryozoans, barnacles, and other marine growth will, indeed, attach themselves to those surfaces. Chris went on to compare the polyurethane-copolymer hull to that of a new fiberglass boat. "At first, that nice shiny fiberglass factory finish thwarts marine growth; however, as time goes by and the bottom becomes scabrous, marine growth will, indeed, adhere to its hull," Chris said.

Hence, bottom paints to the rescue if the craft is to be left in salt water for prolonged periods of time. However, you may recall from my October 1st article that marine bottom paints do not adhere well to Porta-Bote's space-age material. What to do?

Even though our Porta-Bote went practically seven months before being pulled from salt water, and without any sign of barnacles, then again for less than a month before collecting several barnacles as well as those crusty Bryozoans, I'd now think twice about leaving the craft in the suds for prolonged periods of time. Using the boat for the way it was intended, that is as a portable craft from water to property, is probably prudent advice. However, I wouldn't hesitate to leave our Porta-Bote in the suds for very short periods of time. Cleanup should not be an issue. Keep in mind that a gentle scraping with a putty knife will not harm the boat's hull, for it can be pulled into and from a sandy/rocky shoreline without fear of any damage save a few cosmetic scratches that will not affect performance. The boat is virtually indestructible as covered in my previous articles, being almost twice the thickness of an aluminum craft.

In any event, I have to make a retraction referencing my earlier statement in Part I of the October 1st article. Porta-Bote's space-age polyurethane-copolymer material is not impervious to marine growth. However, all things considered, Porta-Boat's cleanup when compared to the time and expense involved in prepping, priming, and bottom painting a similar sized aluminum or fiberglass hull would be far less. This is not a rationalization but a fact. Next season, I will play around with waxes and/or polishes to, perhaps, help retard marine growth then monitor the results and report back to you. Also, keep in mind that utilizing a pair of Porta-Bote's optional set of wheels when transporting the craft from vehicle to shoreline would help prevent scuffing up the hull before launching, which would otherwise enable marine growth as marine biologist Chris Paparo made crystal clear.


Porta-Bote ~ Shipshape, shiny, and about ready to be folded following removal of seats and wheels.


Port side of Porta-Bote port hull. All cleaned up and looking good as new, ready to be transported for another angling adventure.

Bob Banfelder
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

Recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Who's Who in America


Several of My Crime Fiction Novels Incorporate The Great Outdoors

Top to Bottom:
Fiction:
The Richard Geist Trilogy

Dicky, Richard, and I
The Signing
The Triumvirate


The Justin Barnes Four-Book Series

The Author
The Teacher
Knots
The Good Samaritans


Trace Evidence

Battered

Nonfiction:

The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Hunting Smart Handbook: Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game


The Essential Guide to Writing Well and Getting Published