10 items of equipment I’d recommend from 2018

10 items of equipment I’d recommend from 2018

Note that isn’t necessarily a ‘Gear of the Year’ type post (that my friend Henry Gilbey has written here and here) breaking down individual items such as the rod, reels, hard lures, soft lures etc.) but rather a list of ten pieces of equipment (in no particular order) that I personally recommend from using extensively during, or indeed, throughout the 2018 season.

Abu Garcia REVO MGX 30

Abu Garcia Revo MGX 30
This reel does look and feel like a ‘classy’ bit of kit – which as it’s one of Abu Garcia’s top of the range spinning reels you would expect.

I intend to write a full review about this fantastic ‘spinning’ reel in due course. I am very, very choosy when it comes to which reel I will attach to my Major Craft Skyroad 862ML. For me, the best reel for under £100 is the Daiwa Ninja 2500 or 3000 here (it actually only costs less than half that amount), however, it is just ever so slightly too heavy for the way I like my personal set up to feel – which is why I searched around last winter for something that ticked all of the boxes.

Introducing the Abu Garcia Revo MGX 30. The line capacity and overall size of the reel is just perfect (the same as a Daiwa 2500 or Shimano 3000), it is very light (193g), has a high gear/retrieve ratio (6.2:1) and is not overly expensive that I won’t cry when it seizes up (I bought mine for £147 but you’ll need to shop around as I’ve seen them for some ridiculously high prices). The best price I can currently find them at is here for £160 which is worth every penny.

Abu Garcia Revo MGX 30 Marc Cowling
Reels (like waders and boots) are perishable items as far as I’m concerned, and if I get one full season out of them I am happy – but this reel could see me through the winter and on into the spring…

It has been superb. Out on the open coast I have thrown everything at it whilst using it exclusively since March. I wouldn’t say I’ve particularly looked after it either, as I have actually only oiled the roller bearing twice and applied some grease on the shaft once thus far, and that had it purring again! The greatest compliment that I can pay it is that I purchased a Shimano Vanquish (that cost me £200 more that the Abu), but the Vanquish wasn’t even attached to my rod and I returned it, such is the overall quality feel, and now proven performance, of the Abu.

Xorus Patchinko 125

Patchinko 125 surface lure
It wasn’t until I actually fished with the ‘Patch 125’ that I was able to fully appreciate its qualities – I don’t know if this is the case, but to me, it feels like Xorus sat down and completely designed this lure from scratch?

I won’t lie, when it was released earlier this year I thought it was a bit of a gimmick, and it took assisting clients (who wanted to use them) to catch that eventually convinced me… Initially, I couldn’t see the requirement for a lure that would effectively sit between the excellent and proven Xorus Frosty II here and Xorus Patchinko II here respectively. How wrong I was, as for me, the ‘Patch 125’ brilliantly combines the best attributes of both of those lures.

Xorus Patchinko 125
One of many, many bass that couldn’t resist the 125 – sometimes the hype is justified!

If distance is required – the 125 will accomplish it with aplomb. If a modicum of subtlety is required – the 125 can achieve it on a slower and less vigorous retrieve. What’s more, even if the wind is in your face, this lure will still ‘cut through’ the air in the same ‘missile-like’ precision as its larger brother. I’m sure many lure anglers already have it in their armoury – but if you don’t, I would highly recommend purchasing one (currently available here).

Savage Gear Silencer 20lb Braid

Savage Gear Braid
My ‘go to’ braid and one that I advise my clients to purchase

Yes, I am ‘Pro-Staff’ with Savage Gear, and yes they did send me this braid to ‘try’ for the coming season. But quite simply, if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be recommending it. Very much like the rod, reel and lures I take fishing – the braid I use must meet my rigorous requirements, and I will only change from something that I know and trust if I am 100% convinced that it is an enhancement of what I am already using.

At £27.99 for a 300m spool here it offers tremendous value for money as it casts very well, knots snuggly and reliably, it sits on the spool exceedingly and consistently well, the strength and quoted diameter is accurate (which isn’t always the case) and most importantly, the abrasion resistance is outstanding – something that considering the type of ground I routinely fish and guide over is crucial. Furthermore, if you do have a mishap and end up with a wind knot, there is a very good chance that you’ll be able to ‘un-pick’ it. This stuff sits on all of my reels presently – that is how highly I regard it.

HTO Canine

HTO Canine bass lure
Cheap, cheerful and most definitely worth having one in your lure box – the HTO Canine.

One of a breed of lures flatteringly ‘based’ on the highly successful Xorus Patchinko II the HTO Canine here has become a staple in my lure box during 2018. I do carry the real thing too I admit, and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself as miserly when it comes to what I use (if an item works, I will purchase it and use it). But when you come to realise that you can buy four ‘Canines’ for the price of one ‘Big Patch’ (I have seen them regularly available at £5 each) and that it actually fulfils exactly the same objective it’s hard to ignore them.

South Devon Bass Guide Package Deals
A lovely bass that nailed a ‘Canine.’ I would have loved to have seen another one of my clients land the beast that snapped him off right at the net when using one a few weeks later…

Quite possibly a coincidence? But the 5lb+ bass above hammered one in rough, murky conditions when the two other anglers (that I was also guiding at the time) were using the real deal alongside him. Additionally, a client’s bass that I estimate weighed close to 7lb also snatched one and was brought all the way to the net before snapping him off (enough said as that one still hurts!) alongside many other bass that were landed on then this season. A great ‘spare’ to have tucked away at the very least.

Breakout Dry Bag/Rucksack

Breakout Waterproof Rucksack
I don’t there’s anything that I would change about my latest ‘Dry Bag.’ And again, at £24.99 you won’t mind replacing it at the end of each season if you need to.

I can’t get too excited about items of equipment such as bags, but (as I’ve said before) how I ever managed without a designated Dry Bag I have no idea! After one of the straps finally gave way (after being thoroughly abused) on the Overboard Classic that I was using here I embarked on a quick search one evening to find something both a little larger and cheaper – more as a ‘stop gap’ to last me the rest of the season more than anything else.

Coming across the 35 litre Breakout Waterproof Rucksack here at £24.99, after reading the reviews I decided to take a punt… And I’m so glad I did, as it has exceeded my expectations across the board. Tough, lightweight, very comfortable (especially the padded straps thankfully) and fully ‘rain proof’ thus far, you couldn’t really ask for more – plus I have found that extra 15 litres of space is particularly useful.

Jim’s Lures Level Sinking Needlefish

20g Level Sink Needlefish
Hand crafted, these lures are a piece of art in themselves – the bass appreciate them too it seems!

My number one (when I graded each item) from last season is solidly recommended yet again. I love lures that are either highly versatile (the OSP DoLive Stick here for example) or that have a very precise role to perform – and for me and many of my clients the Jim’s Lures Level Sinking Needlefish have been ‘bass producing machines’ at times!

Silver Needlefish for bass at night
I do have a real affinity for a Needlefish, primarily because they account for so many decent sized bass in darkness especially. Using them extensively in daylight is on my list!

They cast miles (useful at times when targeting underwater features from shingle beaches or whacking them out into the surf), are absurdly easy to use/work on nothing more than a straight retrieve and bass positively ‘hammer’ them. Note, that they come without split rings or hooks. I tend to use strong split rings (60lb breaking strain) and Size 2 Trebles (at least) often with two split rings linking together on the loop positioned in the centre of the lure (as above) to increase the odds of a more solid hook up-to-bass landed ratio. A truly great lure, that has accounted for dozens of 5lb+ bass for my clients and I. You can purchase them here presently.

Savage Gear 21lb Soft Fluorocarbon Leader

Savage Gear Fluorocarbon Leader
Invisible in the water, super soft and with a high knot strength – 100%. I concur!

After being broken off by two good bass last season (one of which had more power than anything I’ve ever experienced) when my 16lb leader snapped both times 6″ above the lure clip (a coincidence?) I was on the lookout for something just as malleable yet stronger for the 2018 season, yet was struggling to find something that I had full confidence in. Again, being completely transparent (excuse the pun) Savage Gear had sent me some their ‘Soft’ 21lb fluorocarbon here to use, therefore, in my early season sessions I gave it a go – And I liked it!

You get 35m of the 21lb leader for £9.39 and to say ‘it hasn’t let me down’ really doesn’t do this quality leader justice – as I have been hugely impressed by it throughout the whole season. There have been times (most recently here) when I was convinced it might fail, but session after session it impresses me more and more, and until something better comes along this is what I will be using. Moreover, I am convinced it has helped my clients and I to catch more bass on the DoLive Sticks this season in exceptionally clear water, over the fluorocarbon leader I was previously using.

Daiwa Shoreline Shiner Z97F Vertice

Daiwa Shoreline Shiner 97F Vertice
If I could only take one hard diving minnow out bass lure fishing with me, this would be it.

Prior to a session, many of my clients will email me asking if there are any lures they should purchase in preparation – the Daiwa Shoreline Shiner Z97F Vertice here is always top of the list within my reply. At 97mm in length and weighing 14.3g it casts superbly (up to 65m) alongside having the ability to swim/run in that enticing zone of between 30-80cm – yet importantly, it can handle shallow and turbulent seas concurrently.

Bass caught on a Daiwa Shoreline Shiner 97F
Deep water, shallow water, calm or rough, clear or cloudy, at range or close in – the Daiwa Shoreline Shiner Z97F appears ‘adept’ at attracting a bass if they are present.

The action is sublime on nothing more complicated than a straight retrieve, although the lure reacts very well (and so do the bass) when an occasional twitch is introduced. For me, this is the ‘benchmark hard lure’ as it is a great all-rounder that can be used in a wide range of circumstances and sea conditions.

Fast Find 220 Personal Locator Beacon

Personal Locator Beacon
£180 is the same price that I paid for my lure rod, but this item could save my life or that of someone else.

Having the ability to call for help (rather than potentially having to leave a client alone or unaided in order to find a mobile phone signal) was at the forefront of my thinking when I purchased the McMurdo ‘Fast Find’ GPS PLB here alongside piece of mind (not to be confused with the temptation to take more risks) during my personal and very often solo forays.

Once activated, this device transmits on the 406 MHz distress frequency (which is monitored by the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system) whereby the alert is then relayed to the nearest Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC). The PLB uses an internal Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to pinpoint a location to within 62m, to which (once in the vicinity) the Search And Rescue (SAR) services are able to ‘home in’ on your precise location using the inbuilt 121.5Mhz transmitter. NOTE: Make sure you register it in conjunction with the instructions.

Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire

Bass on a Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire
Some lure! Sometimes a lure comes along that represents precisely what the bass want and expect their prey to look like and behave – is this one of them?

A late entry! An ugly-looking lure and one that I took notice of (like many anglers I suspect) when Henry Gilbey wrote about it here. Is there something in shape, the movement or the noise that the Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire transmits? All I know is that there have been a couple of occasions where/when I have been fishing with a surface lure or weedless soft plastic without a touch – then I’ve attached the Spittin Wire and caught a bass within a few minutes as if by magic! Although it doesn’t cast better than, or look noticeably different on the surface than many ‘rival’ top water lures out there, this one has proved it’s worth in double-quick time it has to be said.

Big lure caught winter bass
My most recent capture on the Spittin Wire – a 67cm winter bass caught in relatively murky, exceedingly shallow (12″) water. If I’d blinked I would have missed the bass hitting the lure such was the ferocity of the hit!

Although it has proved deadly when fished quickly, erratically and with that ‘rolling’ action, the characteristic I like the most, is that I feel sublimely confident working it in extremely shallow water (over all similar lures) and especially when I’m retrieving it very slowly – to the extent that it is waking, popping, snaking and bubbling across a calm surface. There are many ‘must have’ lures out there, and I am just as guilty as the next lure angler of owning them, but this one could just be a little bit special – time will tell! At the time of releasing this post I could only find them for sale here.

My Book

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If you are interested in purchasing my book (that was released on the 8th October) titled ‘The Lure of The Bass’ please see my recent blog post here for details on how to purchase a copy. I have commissioned a second batch of books that I will receive in the next few days, therefore, please get in touch if you would like one (or you would like someone else to buy you one for Christmas).

Thanks for reading

Marc Cowling

DISCLOSURE: If you purchase any lures or equipment using the links contained within this post then I may receive a percentage of the sale as part of an affiliate program. Using these links will not cost you any more than it would from purchasing directly from the website(s).












  1. Thanks i enjoyed reading this article. I picked up on your use of two middle split rings on the needlefish lure to improve your hook up-to-bass landed ratio. I’ve been having an awful time lately with 4 out of 5 sea trout jumping off spoons and hard baits. Fishing in shallow water and once hooked fish come to the surface and thrash around and invariably unhook themselves. Double split rings have not worked for me. I searched the internet trying to find out how the Danes improve their sea trout landing rate and found a guy that believes he has the answer. If you search for Jens Bursell and release rig you will find a good bit of information not just on improving landing rates using in-line sea trout lures but also diving lures for pike etc. Mr Bursell comes across as a thinking angler and also a bit of a McGuyver soto build the rig you might need to invest in a few specialist items like solid rings, float stops and children’s beads (Hama midi size). I’ve finally got everything I need and I’ll be trying the release rig next chance I get. Fingers crossed it improves things! Could be something to consider for your own fishing if dropped fish persist.


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