Monday, September 30, 2013

Gear Review: Lifeproof case for Iphone

This day in age, I depend on my cell phone... even when fishing. My phone is primarily a way that my family can get ahold of me if they need to, but it also serves as a way to take pictures, read fishing reports, check the weather, view maps, send texts to buddies to brag about my latest catch and so much more. As much of an asset as it can be while fishing... there is one major downfall to my cell phone... it doesn't do so well in water.
I remember I was fishing at Hoodsport in November of 2006 or so and I had my cell phone (flip phone back in those days) in the pocket of my jeans. I was fishing for Chum in the cold Hood Canal waters and it was an incoming tide. I was moving to a spot I thought would be more promising when I tripped on a large rock and fell on my knee and didn't know it at the time but  ripped a small hole in my waders. I continued to make my way to the spot I planned on fishing and waded out in to the water, then seconds later, water flooded in to my waders and soaked my pants... and cell phone. The phone actually continued to work for a couple hours after that, until the salt water dried and corroded all the electronic components of the phone.  That was the first cell phone I ruined while fishing but unfortunately was not the last.
When I found out there was a company that makes a waterproof case for the Iphone (as well as other popular phones and tablets) I couldn't wait to get my hands on one. I bought a Lifeproof case about 4 weeks ago...thinking it could be an asset to my lifestyle...and since most of my readers also enjoy fishing, water sports, and the outdoors I figured it would be a good piece of gear to write a review on.
You can find the Lifeproof case here:
According to their website the Lifeproof case is
  • WATER PROOF (Fully submerge down to 6.6'/2m for up to an hour)
  • DIRT PROOF (Totally sealed from dirt and dust particles)
  • SNOW PROOF (Fully enclosed to keep sleet, snow, and ice out)
  • SHOCK PROOF (Built to Military specifications to survive a 6.6'/2m drop)

The case is made up of two halves that snap together to enclose the phone inside.

There is a rubber gasket that seals the two sections together.

The charging port is protected by a trap door that flips open for charging. The door also has a rubber seal to stop water from entering the case as long as the trap door is closed.
The headphone jack has a threaded cap with a rubber O-ring attached. When no headphones or accessories are being used the cap is screwed on to the case.
When you want to use headphones or other accessories you must unscrew the cap and plug in the headphone adapter. The adapter has a spot in the middle of the cord where you can store the threaded cap while using the adapter.

Before testing the case with my Iphone inside, I followed the manufacturers recommendations and assembled the case without a phone inside and then submerged it in water to make sure the case didn't leak. I then put the phone in the case and went about my regular adventurous life. Over the past month or so, I took the phone fishing in the rain, I put it in my cup holder while driving down bumpy logging roads, I let my 2 year old daughter play angry birds on it,  and I even listened to the Northwest Wild Country podcast in the shower. I am generally pretty rough on phones and cases so believe me when I say... during this time the phone was dropped more than a couple times as well.
See some pictures from some of my more extensive testing below.

PRO: After a month or so of regular use, I am overall very pleased with the Lifeproof case. I am happy with it's sleek design, while still maintaining durability. I have had some really large cases in the past, and though they were nearly indestructible I was never happy with how bulky they were. The Lifeproof case has proven invaluable when fishing or being outdoors in the rain or when I want to take a picture underwater. It also provides peace of mind when it's just in the pocket of a water soaked coat or inside leaky waders. The screen protector has been very scratch resistant so far and the case has been holding up very well to my active and adventurous lifestyle.
CON: The only negative thing I can say about the case is that if you use headphones often, or you have an accessory that uses the headphone jack (like the square credit card reader, auxiliary plug in on your car stereo, etc.) it can be pretty annoying having to unscrew the cap and put the headphone adapter in...especially when you have forgotten the headphone adapter at home and have to remove your phone from the case completely.
SUMMARY: If you live an outdoor lifestyle and have a need to protect your phone from the elements I would definitely recommend the Lifeproof case to you.
Do you have a fishing or outdoor related product that you would like us to review? Let us review your product! Comment below with your gear review suggestions.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting back to our roots...

     It's easy to get caught up in the gear race these days.... on an average trip to the river you can expect to see $30,000 jet sleds, $8,000 drift boats, $300 rods, $200 reels, and thousands of dollars worth of anchors, anchor systems, downriggers, flashers, dodgers, divers, plugs, jigs, floats, hooks, waders, wading boots, tackle boxes, wading staffs, fishing vests, leader holders, fillet knives, corkies, spinners, spoons, spin n glows, bait, landing nets, stringers, coolers, sinkers, pencil lead, swivels...... you get the idea.... this beloved hobby/sport/passion/lifestyle can be VERY expensive.

     I was thinking about that the other day.... the amount of money people spend on gear.... the amount of people that think they have to have the top of the line gear to catch fish. Now, don't get me wrong... I'm a firm believer in having quality gear... there's nothing worse then having a hook break because you bought a cheap jig, or ruining a fillet because your knife isn't sharp enough. I also feel that having certain items can definitely increase your chances of catching fish. For instance... if you have a boat you can definitely cover more water, which then will increase your chances of catching fish. If you have a dedicated rod designed for float fishing, a dedicated rod designed for pulling plugs, a dedicated rod for drift fishing, etc..... it will definitely give you a better chance of catching fish because you can focus on different techniques depending on water conditions and what method is working that particular day. If you have a nice net it will increase your chances of landing fish since it's generally more effective then trying to tail a fish or  beach a fish, but one thing that I think all of these items have in common is they are LUXURY items and are not a NECESSITY to catch a Salmon or Steelhead.

    I feel that nowadays we all get caught up in keeping up with the Jones' and if you're anything like me, you sometimes find yourself buying gear that you could probably live without. The fact of the matter is.... you don't have to have a $30,000 jet sled to catch a fish. Most of us caught our first Salmon on some really cheap gear or hand me downs from our Dads and Grandpas. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have stood in a freezing cold river in shorts or soaking wet blue jeans because I didn't own any waders yet. Most of us didn't start with expensive gear, didn't have boats in the beginning, and I'm sure have had to jerry rig non fishing items into tackle (nuts and bolts used for sinkers, etc.) at one point in time or another.

     I decided to write this blog about getting back to our roots... so that we take the time to remember where we came from. I want to hear the story of your first Salmon/Steelhead. Where did you catch the fish, what method did you use, what kind of gear did you use to hook and land the fish? Share your story! I'll be posting the story of my first Salmon soon.


Monday, September 16, 2013

The making of a fisherman...


“Yes! I found it!,” I exclaimed in victory as I held up the 10 year old spool of Stren 20lb test monofilament fishing line that I had found in the junk drawer of my parents living room . It was July 5, 1995 and I can remember it as clear as yesterday, because it was the day that my passion for fishing was born. It was my summer vacation between 5th and 6th grade and I had ridden my bike down to the small town of Steilacoom, Washington to see the 4th of July activities. Steilacoom was about 3 miles from my parent’s house and sits directly on the Puget Sound. Every year the small town of Steilacoom hosts a street fair, a street dance, a parade, and an evening fireworks show. That particular year my parents were working and we had no plans to do anything as a family, so out of boredom I took it upon myself to go participate in some of the activities. I ended up arriving before the activities had started so I  decided to go down to the small fishing pier attached to the Steilacoom ferry dock to see if I could spot any sea life. When I arrived at the fishing pier I was surprised to see several people throwing crab rings and fishing off the pier.

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching crabbers pull their pots and rings in full of red rock crabs. I was intrigued by how they could catch the crabs using so many methods. I saw people using chicken, tuna, salmon heads, and cat food. I watched as one older gentleman spotted a large red rock crab in a shallow area and tossed his ring in its general direction. The ring floated to the bottom of the Puget Sound about 10 feet away from the crab, and as soon as the ring hit the sea floor the crab changed direction and walked right into the ring. “I can do that!” I thought to myself. I then watched a couple teenagers reeling in fish after fish. They were all small fish, primarily sea perch from what I can recall. I also remember them catching some small eel like fish with spines on their backs and lots of little ugly fish that they were calling bullhead. I sat for hours watching the crabbers and fisherman in pure envy. I wanted so bad to catch some of my own, I was determined.

The next day at the breakfast table I excitedly told my dad about everything I had seen and how badly I wanted to go catch some crabs and fish. “You know, at your age you don’t even need a fishing license.”  He told me, “I need to run to the hardware store this afternoon, if you would like we can go look at fishing gear at the K-mart next door.”  He didn’t need to tell me twice, I went and gathered the $20 dollars I had gotten from my birthday that I had been saving for just the right purchase and by that afternoon I was the proud owner of a 12” stainless steel mesh crab ring that I had purchased at K-mart for $5.00. I had also acquired about 100’ of twine for free from the hardware store (it was the twine they leave by the front door so people could tie large objects to the roof of their cars). I had also purchased a pack of eagle claw fishing hooks and a few lead sinkers. I didn’t have enough money for a fishing pole but I remembered seeing some fishing line in my dad’s junk drawer and I planned on using it as a hand line. 

The next morning I took off bright and early on my quest to catch some fish and shellfish. I had a 5 gallon bucket hanging from my handlebars, and the crab ring strapped to my backpack. Inside the backpack I was outfitted with my 2 packs of fishing hooks, my handful of sinkers, a cheap Chinese pocket knife I had purchased a few weeks prior from a gun show, and the only bait I had been able to come up with on short notice….a can of Vienna sausage I had taken from my Parent’s pantry and a zip lock bag with small cubes of ham that I had cut from a single slice of sandwich meat. My only knowledge of fishing came from watching the anglers on the 4th of July and a little bit that I had read about in my older brother’s Cub Scout book and his Boy’s Life magazines.

Once I arrived at the fishing pier I promptly tied the twine to the crab ring, and then used my knife to punch holes in the can of Vienna sausage. I hadn’t thought about how I would attach the can of sausage to the ring and kicked myself for not thinking to bring along some twist ties. I used a little ingenuity and used a bit of my fishing line to tie the can down and then in my best attempt at a crab ring discus throw flung the ring out into the Sound. I watched as the ring gracefully left my hands and sailed through the air…. Then suddenly stopped in mid air and came crashing down against the pier. In my excitement I had been standing on the slack line when I tossed the ring. That was learning experience number 1 of the endless learning and mistakes I would continue to make over the years while learning the ins and outs of my newfound passion and hobby. I pulled the ring back in, remembered to make sure the line was free and tossed it out again. Once the ring was on the sea floor I tied the loose end to the pier and then went to work at rigging up my hand line.

I tied the thick monofilament to one of my hooks using my best attempt at a fishing knot I had seen in my brother’s Cub Scout book. I then slid a piece of cubed ham onto the hook and lowered the line into the water.  The hook and bait floated on the surface of the water moving back and forth with the waves of the Sound. “Shoot I forgot the weight!” I thought to myself as I pulled the line back up. I then tied on a sinker and lowered it down again. Within a few seconds I could feel a slight tug on the line as something was nibbling on the bait…then the line became taught as the fish took the bait and became hooked. “Yes! I got one.” I said to nobody in particular as I pulled the fish up out of the water using my hand line. It was a very small and ugly bottom fish but at the moment was the most beautiful fish I had ever seen. I released the fish with a smile on my face and then proceeded to go check my crab ring to see if there was anything in it.

To my surprise my crab ring had three large red rock crabs in it, half of my allotted limit. The 12” crab ring was lop sided from the weight of the three crabs as I pulled it up and I almost lost one as the twine got caught under it’s leg as the ring exited the water. “ I can’t believe it!” I thought to myself as I gently placed the crabs into my bucket.  This was the beginning of my most memorable summer of my childhood. I remember riding my bike down to the pier every single morning that summer. A few weeks later I bought a small telescoping fishing pole with money I scrounged up doing odd jobs around the house and taught myself to cast a spinning reel. From that point on my mom always had crab in the freezer and my dad was baffled by the amount of tuna cans and sandwich meat we were going through. Once he realized it was because I was using it as bait he started buying cheap cans of cat food for me and I started digging up worms from my mother’s garden. The highlight of that summer was when I caught my first dog fish using cut bait on my little telescopic pole with 8lb test line. I had to use the crab ring as a drop net to bring the dog fish out of the water. The only part of the fish that fit in the ring was the head and the tail hung haphazardly off the ring but I was able to land that fish and I couldn’t believe I had caught such a “large fish.” From that point on I was hooked…. A love for fishing, water sports, and the great outdoors was born.