Reviews 1

This page contains reviews of items of tackle which I don't stock, but which I can wholeheartedly recommend as being useful for anglers like myself. Prices, specifications and availability correct at time of writing.
For customer comments on my rods please check out the Nice Words page.


Aqua Sleeping Bag Cover

I prefer to sleep with my boots on when I'm night fishing, and only get in the sleeping bag when I absolutely have to. I'm also no fan of being zipped up inside a bivvy and prefer to use a brolly unless it's really hosing down. The fleece lined Aquatexx sleeping bag/bedchair cover from Aqua Products has proved to be just what I have been looking for to replace my ancient cover which was okay on the small bedchairs of yesteryear, but didn't quite fit my 21st century one!

The Aqua cover is simple enough, a waterproof outer with a removable fleece liner that Velcros all the way around, it is shaped to fit the foot of the bedchair and has four buckles to secure it to the chair's legs. There's not much else to add, except that dressed in my 'bunny suit' I spent a couple of early May nights under the cover without using a sleeping bag, and one muggy early June night I just lay on my doss bag with the cover pulled over me when it got a little cooler. Just the way I like it.

It's rare these days to find something of the quality of this cover that is manufactured in the UK. Price £49.99

Aqua Armo 120 litre Rucksack

Not so much a rucksack as a rucksack system - the system comprising of a rucksack and two carryall style bags that clip one to the top and one to the bottom of the rucksack. The main bag has a capacity of 75 litres, with the top and bottom bags making for a total of 120 litres. All three bags are made from hardwearing, and waterproof Cordura.

The top bag is padded, for insulation or protection, while the larger lower bag is not. Both bags have zip-round tops and carrying handles and internal pockets. The bottom bag also has zipped external pockets and a removable shoulder strap. For session fishing I use the larger bag for bait and the smaller one for food - if you're a greedy bugger your could swap that round!

The main rucksack is somewhat novel in design in that it is intended to be laid on its back to give you access to its contents via two zipped flaps which open onto two internal compartments, rather than the usual one accessed from the top found in most rucksacks. I was somewhat sceptical of this arrangement at first, but have found that in use it holds as much stuff as I have always put in the main body of a rucksack, but without the need to pull everything out to get at what's fallen to the bottom. I was also concerned at the lack of an external tackle box pocket, but again this hasn't been a problem owing to the ease of accessibility to the main compartments.

The two zipped flaps both have further zipped pockets inside and out, which are handy for permits, notebooks and similar stuff, like polaroids and so on. On one side of the rucksack is a full-length pouch, and on the other two half-length pouches. All three pouches have dual pull zips running around three sides - which means you can get into them whether the rucksack is lying on the ground or standing up. On the front of the rucksack are four straps that can be clipped to various buckles giving a range of possible strapping locations for unhooking mats, waterproofs, chair or whatever depending on how many of the extra bags are clipped to the rucksack.

On the 'top' of the rucksack is a small zipped pouch that opens to reveal a waterproof 'groundsheet' that can be put underneath, and clipped in place, to keep the fully adjustable carrying and waist straps and back of the rucksack dry.

I have yet to try carrying the complete system, but have been pleasantly surprised how well the rucksack carries with either the top or bottom bag in place - although the bottom bag does have a tendency to bump on the back of your legs. Despite being initially a little sceptical of the design of the Armo rucksack since using it on a number of trips I have realised that it has been designed as a really practical, well made, piece of equipment.

Considering this rucksack is made in England, just a few miles up the road from me in fact, the price tag of £89.99 is remarkable.

More details from Aqua products on 0845 1259399 or visit

(This review first appeared on this website September 8th 2006)


Over the years I have tried all sorts of footwear for fishing. Most of that sold in tackle shops is not much use if you have to walk any distance, and some of it has even been less than waterproof. Waders and wellies are fine if you have to get in the water, moon boots are okay for that too and they keep your feet a little warmer - at least until the liners get damp from sweat. The worst boots I have tried are those lace up types which have a removable thermal 'bootee' liner. Two makes of these were both painful to walk in, and completely useless for paddling in the margins - resulting in wet feet and liners that needed drying out. I can't recommend that type of boot for anything much, except maybe boat fishing if you suffer from cold feet.

So, what I have been wearing for some years have been various waterproof walking boots. Not all are equal though. For a fishing boot I would suggest looking for a few features. First of all it must be high enough at the ankle for the legs of your waterproofs to cover the top of the boot when you sit down. I learned this the hard way when sitting in an open boat with the pouring rain running off my overtrousers and into my boots! The tongue of the boot should also be waterproof, preferably with a gusset that runs right to the top. Tongues that are not waterproof not only let water in when you paddle, but they soak up water when it rains or even when walking through wet grass.

Three year old Chiruca Trekking boots!I had tried a few makes of boot, learning from my mistakes as I went, and decided to look around for a boot that met more of my requirements. Knowing that Pete Wadeson gets to review clothing and boots for shooting magazines I asked his advice and he instantly recommended I get a pair of Chiruca Trekking boots. That he hadn't recommended a more expensive boot was interesting. I headed for my local gun shop to look at them. While I was there another customer said they were a good buy, and was actually wearing a pair himself. That seemed like a good endorsement, so I handed over my cash. At around £80 they weren't cheap, but they weren't expensive either. That was in October 2001 and I have worn them on every fishing session since then - until they finally gave up the ghost in early December 2004!

In that time they proved to be both comfortable and dry. My one minor complaint with the boots is that the tongue is only gusseted about half way up (see picture above). I have done some long walks in them, scrabbled about on rocky reservoir banks, waded through mud, paddled in numerous lakes and rivers, fought my way through bramble patches and sat or stood in boats in the rain and snow. Through all that I have shown them the dubbin tin about three times! Considering the neglect and abuse they have suffered I'm not complaining. I was so impressed by these boots that I went back to the gun shop to get a replacement pair. But it was in vain, they no longer stocked them. I was scuppered - or I would have been in the days before the Internet!

The new Chiruca Canada boots.Thanks to good old Google I managed to find the Chiruca website (Chiruca is a brand name of the Spanish footwear company FAL), only to discover that the precise boot I had is no longer available - although it might well have been renamed. However, this actually proved to be beneficial. I kept searching and found a very similar looking boot - the Canada in their Top Hunter range. This  range of boots is designed for the European hunting market - chasing wild boar through forests and that kind of thing! A little more Googling and I tracked down a UK stockist with on-line ordering, so I took a chance and ordered a pair, even though the price tag was £119.00 plus postage. When they arrived I was pleased to see that they are very similar to my original boots, including the contoured insole and Gore-Tex lining, but they also have a fully gusseted, padded leather tongue which wasn't obvious in the specifications or on-line pictures.

Wearing them around the house for a day they felt pretty comfortable, so I took them fishing. The first session involved a twenty minute trudge through muddy fields, a walk that had left me limping after five minutes a few weeks earlier after buying a pair of Wychwood Lunker boots! The Canadas were as comfortable as my old pair of Chirucas from the off, and my feet were just as dry.

Having worn these boots for a while now they are living up to expectations and if they prove as hard wearing as the previous pair I'll be well satisfied.

Check out the Chiruca website and you'll see they produce some pretty impressive looking boots for wearing in rough terrain and harsh environments in their Top Hunter range. It's a pity this range of footwear seems only to be stocked by hunting and shooting shops in the UK. If you can't find a local stockist of the Canada boot try, which is where I bought mine from.

(This review first appeared on this website January 2nd 2005)