An inside look at #ItsRainingGear 2015

#ItsRainingGear (IRG) is back and by now I’m sure you’ve seen a little bit about it, but maybe you’re wondering how it started or what all these prizes are about.  So to begin with, IRG originated in 2014 during discussions with the marketing team at Stormr.  We wanted to give away some product but they thought it would be really cool if I could bring together some of the great companies that had supported me that year to deliver a MASSIVE giveaway to one lucky winner, and it was packed with some pretty cool stuff.  This year we decided to do it again and we got some really incredible support.  Eastern Mountain Sports is probably the biggest addition to the group, being one of the largest outdoor retailers in the United States.  G2 Gemini, Navionics, Vexilar, and Elite Tungsten are all back again and are joined this year by Lazer Trokar, Wright McGill, Yo-Zuri, Slop Frog Baits, Montauk Tackle Company, and one of-if not THE-premiere smallmouth guide in Upstate NY Bill Lortz of NY Northcountry Bassin.  It’s a HUGE package of prizes worth over $2,500 that’ll arrive to one lucky winner before the 2015 Holiday Season.  So what’s inside?

Limited Edition Strykr Series Jacket, Stormr USA.  MSRP $300

This is the greatest foul weather garment ever created.  I’m from Upstate NY and I have a thorough understanding of what cold is.  This jacket defies any layering principle you’ve been taught.  Last year at Black Lake, near the NY/Canadian border, it was 38 degrees at takeoff and reached only 55 with a north wind of 15 mph.  I wore my Strykr jacket and bibs, and all I had on under it was a pair of shorts and a dri fit shirt, with nothing but a pair of keens on my feet (I’ll tell you about those in a little bit!).  I was perfectly warm all day, and I wasn’t bogged down by the 5 layers others had on.  It’s the most waterproof clothing I’ve ever worn, and it’s no surprise to me at all when I see guys wearing it on the hit Discovery Series Deadliest Catch.  Oh, and it’ll float you if you fall in.  If you spend any amount of time in the elements when it’s below 55, you should try this jacket.  And if you ice fish you need it.

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Mt Pickett Pack, Paxis Pax.  MSRP $250

I met the great people from Paxis at ICAST 2015 and I knew immediately that I would be able to get a lot of use from their Pack!  Not only does it look cool and feel good, but it filled a need I had to help me be more efficient in the field and on the go.  It’s my everyday pack now.  I carry it on planes, I take it on day hikes with my kids, I have it on the boat, in the car, on my bike (one day I’m gonna take that 750 across the country!), and in the woods.  It’s great for fishing the small streams I grew up on, or for day trips with my kids.  And if you’re into using any kind of POV camera you’ll love how easily you can access replacement batteries, lense adapters, or cases.  With just one pull you have access to a great compartment, and then you can swing it back into place when you’re done.  You’ll love it.

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Footwear/Multi-tool, Eastern Mountain Sports. Combined MSRP: $250

There are two things I’ve had on me since I started fishing competitively and those are a pair of Keens on my feet, and a Leatherman on my hip.  I bought my first pair of Keens in 2005 with a gift card for EMS that my uncle got me.  I was looking for a shoe I could hike in, but also wear around zebra mussels and in creeks with other sharp objects.  I still have that first pair I bought, along with 2 others, and they’re the greatest shoe I’ve ever worn.  In my days as a corporate executive I even wore them with suites to trade shows when I’d be stuck behind a table for 8-10 hours because they’re just the most comfortable thing I’ve worn.  And they’re perfect on the boat because they can get wet, they breathe, but they have enough coverage that I rarely need sunscreen.  Plus the tan line they leave is really cool.  My Leatherman came as a gift from my brother for being his best man and it has ROOTY engraved on it.  It’s great for getting hooks out, cutting lines, doing minor maintenance on the boat or gear, and it folds away in a heavy duty leather case.  Never knew how much I would use it until I had it.  The stainless finish on it keeps it looking brand new to this day.  Having EMS come on board and want to participate in this giveaway was huge, and whoever wins this stuff will have it for a long time.

(2) MSD/NAV+NI Cards, Navionics.  MSRP $199 each ($398 total).

This year I really began to explore my Navionics features in a way I hadn’t before, starting in the offseason when I was still studying charts and looking back through years of data I’d collected regarding migration patterns and feeding habits.  Specifically, I was looking at an area where I had caught big fish, or large numbers of fish, and looking for other areas that would have similar results.  The new features and updated charts allow you to do things, see things, find things, that weren’t possible before.  Combined with another piece of technology from Vexilar that’s also included in this giveaway, you’ll even be able to map/chart your own bodies of water.  There’s even a great web app so you can look around a little bit while you’re at the office…on break, of course.

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Montauk Tackle Company.  $250 gift card.

It’s not every day that you find a clothing company that specializes in performance apparel for the whole family, and that’s made in the US.  MTCO is made in NY, and boasts 50+ UPF, moisture wicking, stain release, anti microbial, and it feels amazing to wear.  What I like best about it is that my whole family has stuff by them that we wear to the beach and feel cool in the sun, but we can walk right into a restaurant in the same clothes and look great, too.  You won’t believe how good it feels.

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Assorted weights, Elite Tungsten.  MSRP $100

Elite Tungsten makes the best weights in the fishing industry because they’re the highest grade tungsten (97%), and they’re diamond bored and insert free so they’ll never fray your line.  Higher percentage of tungsten means a smaller weight, and increased sensitivity.  You’ll attract more fish, feel more of what’s happening with your bait, and have to retie less due to damaged line caused by rough edges.  I started using these weights in August of 2014 and I can see a dramatic improvement in the fish I’ve caught.  A quick look through my Instagram feed and you’ll see it, too.

TK Elite Professional Hook Kit, Skeete Reese rod and reel, Trokar.  MSRP $250

The first tournament I ever fished on Lake Ontario was one I’ll never forget.  It was my birthday, and I bet I was sick 4 times.  But I caught about 20 huge smallmouth, and they all had to go on the beam to cull them.  I lost several fish, but one was really big, and I had this horrible feeling that it would cost me the win, and I was right.  Despite my giant bag of brown fish I was a pound short of my buddy, and came in second.  Afterward, he handed me a pack of Trokar hooks and told me had I used those I would’ve won.  In the years since I’ve gained so much confidence in those hooks that I can’t imagine using anything else.  My jigs are tied with Trokar, my treble hooks are Trokar, and my youth fishing clinics are done only using Trokar hooks.  They’re American Made, and when it comes to landing the fish of a lifetime there’s nothing between you and that fish that’s more crucial in that process than the thing keeping the fish on the line.  I wouldn’t put that level of trust in any other company.

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1 Mendota Rig Box, 1 Slop Frog Box, 1 Hat, Slop Frog Baits.  MSRP $75

I have caught probably 2,000 fish on the Mendota Rig this year.  Big ones, little ones, finicky ones, and aggressive ones.  I caught them deep (20 feet) and I’ve caught them shallow (6 inches).  People said this was a horrible year for Cayuga Lake, but it was my best there in my life, with 8 days over 20 pounds, countless fish in the 4-6 pound range, and 2 over 7.  If that’s a bad year, I’ll take it.  These are hand poured, American Made products designed to catch fish, and that’s exactly what they do.

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Custom Hoodie and Jersey, G2 Gemini.  MSRP $200

This is my second “official” year with Gemini, and they did a great job with my stuff yet again.  It is always on time, it has always looked perfect, fit perfect, and the colors look incredible.  The custom hoodie they made me is awesome, exactly what I wanted, and I wear it all the time.  A lot of Stormr fans wanted to know where they could get one when they saw it!  If you have a vision, they can create it.

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Assorted Baits, Yo-Zuri.  MSRP $75

Not many people know this about me, but when I started to really fish at that next level I was a predator fisherman.  Northern Pike, Musky, Tiger Musky, those were the fish I wanted to catch and I would go all day long looking for just one bite and the only baits I used at that time were salt water plugs made by Yo-Zuri.  And you would be surprised how many bass eat a giant jerkbait.  Especially smallmouth.  15 years later, and I still throw only Yo-Zuri jerkbaits.  Their action is like no other, and I have seen fish swim upstream 30 yards at full speed to hit it.

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A day on Lake Ontario, NY Northcountry Bassin.  MSRP $500 (airfare not included)

I’ve had three trips on Lake Ontario with Captain Bill Lortz, owner of one of the Elite guide services in New York State, NY Northcountry Bassin.  Every trip has produced giant smallmouth bass, and I don’t think I know anyone with a better knowledge of Lake Ontario than Bill.  This is the ultimate experience for anyone looking to come and catch the fish of a lifetime.  Bill has a beautiful new boat, high end gear, and everything you need.  Bring just your camera and you’ll bring home memories to last you a lifetime.

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Vexilar Sonarphone SP200.  MSRP $149

I’ve been using this awhile now and I quickly fell in love with it.  It’s a great tool for creating your own charts, or for anyone with a canoe or small aluminum boat that won’t support a traditional fish finder.  So if you have a favorite body of water but can’t find a card with updated charts, you can use this and map your own!  I also have a great friend that’s a guide in Chenango County who mounted it to an old tip up and uses it in conjunction with his Navionics App on his tablet to find fish when he’s ice fishing.  I personally have enjoyed having it to use on my canoe, so I can find fish in places where I can’t take my boat.

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So there you have it!  Some great products that are sure to make your time outside a LOT more enjoyable.  There’s no doubt you’re gonna love this stuff.  If it can help me catch fish it can help you too!

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