Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tackle review: Korum barbel net, hooks and luggage

Somehow or other, without making any conscious effort to, I have ended up buying a lot of Korum gear in recent months. I must look a right tackle slut on the bank with all my matching paraphernalia
. I started out, using their readymade Quick-Stop hair rig hooks for fishing trout pellets and then, after losing a woefully inadequate tool for the job at a critical moment, I was off hunting for a suitable landing net for tackling the steep banks and big fish of the Severn. A large round net is what I wanted and the one I found that fitted the bill perfectly was by Korum. Next was the pole and I found a suitably long and apparently strong pole in another shop, again a Korum. My old bag was getting into a disgusting state and was not ample enough for tackle and bait so I went looking and found a nice shoulder bag, with enough room for everything I carry and comfortable with it. Guess what, another Korum product. Then I decided to get myself a rod quiver and when I found the exact thing, it was, and this is becoming tedious now, a Korum production.

How does it all work though? Is it worth the money? Is it functional? Does it look good?

Well, the hooks work very well. They are convenient, high quality and relatively cheap. They are also very, very strong. I destruction test my hooks before I trust them and I tried breaking one of these with pliers, bending it out of shape under a massive load but without snapping. To date I have landed a lot of powerful river fish with them, have never suffered a hook failure of any kind, and hookups are most reliable. The hair is very fine braid which tends to break on snags or in the mesh of the net but I like the limpness so much that I don't care if I have to retie every now and then. My only quibble is that these hooks are promoted as being extremely rust resistant and I prefer hooks that rust very quickly, breaking down to nothing after a short time. Losing a hook in a fish is one thing but losing one that is indestructible quite another, after all, hooks are cheap, disposable items that lose their precious and quite remarkable factory sharpness in just the one session, or every few hours when dragged around the gravel bed of fast flowing rivers, and should be discarded on an equally regular basis.

The net/pole combination does exactly what is required of it. The pole extends to ten feet or so, which is essential on a big river with steep high banks and overhanging vegetation. It breaks down into three tapered pieces, two long lengths and one short length with a brass screw thread that you can unship for ease in the unhooking of fish, all of which stow away inside each other. You can of course have two useful pole handles, one short pole for everyday fishing and one very long pole for when such a length of pole is very necessary. The pole is carbon and therefore very light, but not thick walled enough to be able to withstand crushing. The short section suffered damage within a few days when due to my own lack of forethought, Molly had a chew on it, resulting in a split which weakened the section to the point of uselessness. I pushed the section in place on the next section and made a repair by whipped the two tightly together with a length of 50lb bright green shock leader. This gives me the chance of undoing the work if I should get a replacement section, provides the useful accidental benefit of making a highly visible non-slip handle, but means I can no longer nest the sections or unship the net from the pole. The pole is quite pricey at very nearly thirty quid, but it was not the most expensive pole in the shop, and it is what you will pay for the lightness of carbon.

The spoon shaped thirty inch barbel/specimen net is made of a strong aluminium one piece frame with an equally strong alloy block, a pain to stow because it cannot collapse, but has proven to be trustworthy and is probably indestructible. The mesh, saturated with latex, is soft and pliable, kind to fish and easy to maneuver in the water. A genuine benefit is that the mesh washes out easily and does not end up stinking to high heaven, no matter how many fish are landed. The price of the net is low for such a good product, just under twenty quid. As a combo, the net and pole weigh, when wet, exactly two pounds which is a god-send because I don't have to remove the fish from the net to weigh up. I just hook the scales under the block and hoist the whole lot in the air and subtract two pounds from the total. Easy work.

The shoulder bag is really good value and works a treat. I can get all my gear in it, along with bait, sandwiches and flask. The shoulder strap is broad and well padded and when slung over the head and across the body makes all the weight just disappear. Great for mobile work. The base of the bag is a rubber compound which denies ground damp access to the contents. My only gripe is that the bag opens up like a bucket (in fact the bag is really a bait bucket) but without a flap to cover the contents when full to capacity and so in wet weather, water has open access. Not a problem under a brolly but for roving around I don't carry one and rely on a weather proof jacket. It does have velcro pads for closing the top of the bag but only when the bag is lightly laden are these actually useful. It has a front pocket with useful mesh pockets sewn inside. I keep all my unhooking and weighing tools in this for easy access. Good value too at around ten quid, if I remember correctly.

The rod quiver works as it should. Two made up rods are stowed up front under velcro flaps. There's lots of pockets for bank-sticks and net poles, etc, and a central pocket for an umbrella. I don't use it for an umbrella but just stuff things in it. I do keep a thick aluminium pole in this pocket, not to use on the bank, but to provide the quiver with just enough rigidity to avoid rod breakages caused by the inevitable, but always unexpected pratfalls that roving river anglers experience when traversing barbed wire fences or clambering around on steep slippery banks. The strap is the same as that on the bag and slung across the body is balanced and comfortable. When both bag and quiver are crossed over the chest it is easy to clamber fully laden over all the inevitable obstacles that one meets on the riverbank. And they look good, and feel good, they really do. A snip, at just under twenty quid.

I've just bought their catapult which does what all catapults do - fire bait, then tangle and twist - but has yet not seen enough use for comment, and I will certainly be getting some of their magnetic hook boxes as soon as I can.

Overall, I'm very well pleased with my all my new gear, in fact I'm keeping my eye out for other Korum products. It seems the people at Korum have been extremely thorough in their research and development. I'd like a more conservation minded approach to hooks but the luggage is well designed and attractive - I look the part and I feel the part, which is no small consideration when self confidence is such an important part of good fishing. Although I bought all the gear for a specific purpose - mobile fishing on rivers - it is flexible and I could use the same gear for my now occasional trips out the sea after bass. It's all good tough stuff (but I will accept that breaking the net pole is almost an inevitable future event) and I expect it to last for years and years, without fault.

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