Traditional Fishing Floats

I am a huge fan of handcrafted items and I recently received a selection of different floats from Paul. Traditional handcrafted floats are one of my favourite items and I have a great selection from other float makers so I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of these.
When they arrived I opened the package with careful anticipation as there are a lot of float makers out there and being brutally honest some of them aren’t the best in the world (I include myself in this category as my handcrafted floats are cheap cheerful and I’m not too fussed if I lose one).

My first impressions were that they were very well made, varnished perfectly and finished off superbly. I was a bit wary as Paul’s floats start from just 85p!! If you are a handcrafted float collector you will know this is very cheap.

Having spent a couple of days now playing with the floats, I can honestly say that they are superb quality and an unbelievable price. Paul can arrange delivery pretty much anywhere in the world but you will need to contact him regarding the postage costs.

There is an impressive range of floats available on the website and they will cover most situations where a float is needed.


Check out the website and the Facebook page
Website: Traditional Fishing Floats
Facebook Page: /traditionalfishingfloats

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Fladen Maxximus Rod And Reel Review

Firstly I want to explain why I’m reviewing these two products, I had recently found out that a fishery near me had 17 catfish in it up to 34lb and as it was a species I had never targeted or caught before I had started to do research on the various components I needed to help me catch one of these fantastic beasties.  

The fishery for those of you who are interested is Hoar Park Fishery, Nuneaton Road, Nr Ansley, Nuneaton, CV10 0QU.  The owner John Lea can be contacted on 07703 643 988 to check availability on “Daisy’s Pool” (give me a mention if you do call please).

So on to the products themselves, I had contacted Fladen as I have used several of their products before and asked them for a recommendation on a rod and reel.  I was told by Rachel that she had caught catfish up to 44lb on the Fladen gear and that the Maxximus 3lb carp rod and the Maxximus FX1150 would be perfect for what I wanted.

I waited for the rod and reel to arrive to see what I thought to them (after all in fishing, a rod and reel is a personal preference to the angler even though we do go on recommendations) and when I opened the box I have to say they were very impressive.


The rod had a lovely natural feel to it without being too heavy, the reel seat had a professional finish to it, the handle was comfy and looked very smart and the line guides felt nice and solid.  All in all first impressions of the rod were that it was very good.


The reel felt really nice with a reduced weight graphite body and an aluminium spool and handle.  The handle and spool turned very smoothly with 11 stainless steel ball bearings and when I spooled it up with line, the line lay very nicely on the spool.

Okay the aesthetic side of the rod and reel were good but now it was a case of getting out and giving them a try as the proof would be in the actual battle with my target species.  I arrived at the lake and got myself set up, it wasn’t long before I had a take and the rod was nearly ripped off the rod rest but unfortunately the fish was only on for a couple of seconds before spitting the hook so I didn’t really get chance to see how they handled the fish.  


For the next hour I had a few little bleeps but nothing took the bait and then all of a sudden the rod was nearly ripped out of the rest again (these catfish don’t half take hard lol) this time the fish was on and there was a serious bend in the 3lb rod and line was being taken from a reel with the clutch set as tight as possible but that would still allow line to be taken before the line snapped.

This time I was in for a hell of a fight for 20 minutes with the fish taking me all over the place and every time I thought I was getting somewhere it would have another screaming run taking all the line I’d just gained but eventually I had my first ever catfish in the net and I’d caught myself not only a new species but a new pb as well.  

The catfish weighed in at 16lb 10oz which I was over the moon with but I couldn’t believe the action of the rod and reel it was absolutely fantastic they coped with every lunge and run the catfish threw at me making the fight an absolute pleasure.  

If your looking for a good quality rod and reel for either your carp or catfishing I can highly recommend the Maxximus range from Fladen, I am seriously impressed with them.


Website: www.fladenfishing.org.uk

Facebook: /FladenFishingUK

Twitter: @fladenfishing

POWERSOLVE ELECTRONICS LTD CREDIT CARD POWER BANK

Due to my social media management work I am increasingly finding myself looking for ways to keep my phone charged for longer periods of time.  

Now I already have a Powersolve PAF10AH4 which is a rechargeable power bank that has two sub output ports allowing you to charge up to two items at once. 

The main problem is that it is quite a bulky item for fitting into your pocket.

It was at this point that I started to have a look at some of the other products that Powersolve do. I came across the SPB1501 ultra slim credit card rechargeable power bank. 

 Now the first thing that caught my eye was that it was nice and small and had a nice rubberised plastic housing which I thought would help to protect it.

I then had a look at what it could do and it seemed to be exactly what I was after. The power bank is fully charged in three to four hours, extends the battery life of most smart phones by around 50% – 70%, will charge any device such as digital cameras, iPods, etc that charges using 5V UB charging technology and it even comes with a 3 year warranty.

When the product arrived it was well packaged and looked very professional but… Does it do what it says on the tin?  The first thing I did was to drain the power bank completely by charging three phones on it (they weren’t all empty of battery). I then put it on charge and it took 3 hours 15 minutes to charge Fully.


Now it may be the size of a credit card but it isn’t the thickness of a credit card (it is probably about the thickness of 7 or 8 credit cards) so did it fit in my wallet? It didn’t fit in the credit card slots but it did fit quite nicely in the section at the back where you put your notes.It charged my iPhone very quickly and it was even still charging when I had to use the phone. It comes with a small USB to micro USB charger and also has two Apple adaptors so that you can charge your apple devices with ease.


So was there anything I didn’t like about the charger? Well I couldn’t argue about the price as at only £15.95 (at the time of writing this) it is very good value for money. If I were to be really picky then I would say that it could do with a built I cover for the ports, mainly because if it is going in your pocket or in your wallet then there is a good chance of getting dust particles in the ports.Other than the ports this is a highly useful, well built and reasonably priced power bank that will tuck away into your pockets or wallets without causing too much of a hassle. Definitely a product worth getting if you use your phone or camera a lot.


You can find the product here…

PowerSolve Ltd SPB1501 Credit Card Power Bank

They do also have a Facebook page but this doesn’t get used very often…

PowerSolve Ltd Facebook Page

 

Highlander Outdoors Products

I have been looking at gas powered stoves for a while now and in particular I was looking at the jetboil system.  My biggest problem was it’s price as I thought that was extremely steep for what it was.

Looking around I stumbled across a company called Highlander Outdoors. 

What really got my attention was one of their stoves, it’s called the ‘Blade Fastboil 1.1L‘ and at only £49.99 it was nearly half the price of the jetboil!!

I sent off for one (along with a few other bits that I’ll review separately) and waited for it to arrive.

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It arrived really quickly and I immediately unpacked it to have a look.  It looked really well built and felt good quality too.

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Now it does say it’s an outdoor only stove but I had to quickly give it a try to see how easily it lit. (do this at your own risk if you do it indoors)

I was very impressed with how the ignition button felt and how easy it was to light the gas.

Now I packed it away (before I burned the house down) and waited until I had a spare few hours to go out and test it in my local woods.  Make sure you give the center ring time to cool down before you pack it away!!

Well I got a few hours spare so off my wife and I went into the woods, we went on a foraging session (make sure you get permission from the landowner before you forage) but it was really tough going and we only found a few shrivelled and decaying fungi for our efforts.

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We decided to stop and try out the Blade Fastboil and have a cup of tomato soup.

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Having found a nice tree stump to place the gas canister on, I set the stove up.

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Turning the gas on was once again really easy even with a bit of wind blowing through.

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We had a cheeky Robin come and watch what we were doing (you can just about make him out in the tree, middle of the picture).

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The stove cooked the tomato soup really well and as the name ‘fastboil’ suggests it boiled it very quickly.

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I served the soup up into the two cups and myself and my wife both said that considering its price this was an extremely good bit of kit that will see a lot of use.

It is very easy to clean and doesn’t weigh much either.  If your in the market for a compact stove then I literally can’t find anything bad to say about this stove.

Highlander Outdoors have several social media sites and a website.  I’ve included the links below so it’s easy for you to find them.  I hope you found this review helpful.

Ant

Facebook: /HighlanderOutdoor

Facebook: /HighlanderProforce

Instagram: /highlander_outdoor

Instagram: /highlander_military

Twitter: @Highlandersctld

Website: /highlander-outdoors.com

Two crazy Lure Nuts

Well I went fishing for a few hours on the cut today with a good friend of mine John Newnham.  We knew it was going to be difficult as the wind was ridiculously blowing us about so casting was interesting to say the least.

It was also hammering down with rain so we ended up soaked although the rain did stop occasionally just enough to let us dry out a bit before soaking us again.

We spent most of the morning trying various lures, John trying some that he’d been given but all to no avail.

After a couple of hours with only a few half hearted takes between us, I decided to put my old faithful 2.5″ Relax Lures Kopyto on (colour 056) a dropshot rig and sure enough within minutes I’d got a perch on. 

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I lost another two fish and then I gave John one of my Kopyto Lures and cast out again.

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I had another take which resulted in another perch and at the same time John had a take which turned out to be a zander.

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It was now time for us to head back to our cars, we each had a few more cheeky casts on the way back to the car and I had a take which resulted in a Zander coming to the surface,  I’d just said to John it’s not very well hooked when it shook it’s head and off it went.

Well that was it for us for the day nit despite the cold, wind and rain it was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours for two crazy Lure Nuts 🙂

Dropshotting with Flies

If you have followed my pages you will have seen that last year I caught some perch using flies that had been specifically tied for using on the dropshot.
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Recently I was reading an issue of Anglers Mail and lo and behold there was an article on fishing the dropshot using flies, also before someone comes out with horrible comments I’m not saying someone copied me or even that I came up with the idea as I’m fully aware it has been used many many times before I used it. The article did however rekindle my interest in using flies on the dropshot.

I have been looking at a company called ‘Trout Flies UK’ a lot lately as I am thinking more and more about learning to fly fish as it is the only style of fishing I haven’t done yet. It is a family run business and they produce some brilliant looking trout flies such as the damsels which I thought would be absolutely perfect for dropshotting as well as fly fishing.
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Looking on their website I found ’24 damsel flies in a water tight trout box’ (boxed damsel-trout-fishing-flies) which looked absolutely perfect for the job and at only £12.99 for 24 flies and the box I thought it was a bargain. Having got in touch with the company they were extremely helpful and also recommended trying some of the hothead flies that they make as well.

So now I knew what flies to get and waited for them to arrive. The package arrived really quickly and upon opening I was extremely surprised at the superb quality of not only the trout box but the craftsmanship of the flies. Considering the price of these flies the quality is simply stunning, after taking out the cost of the trout box (£6.99) the damsels work out at just 25 pence each!!!!!
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If you run out of flies the box will also be highly useful for storing jigheads in too.
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Okay so I don’t have the right tackle yet for fly fishing so these flies were destined to be used on the dropshot. I tied a couple of the colours on and I was going to start with a yellow, then changed my mind to a hothead, then an orange, finally settling back on the yellow.
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The weekend I was fishing arrived and if I’m honest I didn’t hold out much hope as it had been seriously raining the day before and the canal I was fishing with some friends was highly coloured (I couldn’t see the lures/flies under 1″ of water) and carrying some extra water.

I started out with the yellow fly on the dropshot but due to the colour of the water didn’t get any bites. I moved onto some of my soft Relax Lures and managed five perch but I still really wanted to get a fish on these damsel flies.
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About half way through the day I found some water that was a bit clearer so I put an orange damsel on and cast out my dropshot rig.
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Within a couple of gentle twitches my rod hooped over and line started coming off my reel, either this was a good sized perch or I’d managed to hook a jack pike.
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After a few minutes of reeling in and then losing line when the fish did a run I had a nice little jack pike in my net.

As the wind picked up and the rain started again the fish turned off and I didn’t get any more fish for the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the company, I proved to myself that I can catch fish on these brilliant flies from Trout Flies UK and I will definitely be using them again.
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I also tied up a split shot rig and a carolina rig but didn’t think the conditions were suitable for that rig so will try that at a later stage.

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You can find out more about the flies from Trout Flies UK via these links.

Website: www.troutflies.co.uk
Facebook: /TroutfliesUK
Twitter: @TroutfliesUK

Blob Fish Sunglasses

When it comes to sunglasses whether it is for fishing, driving or just walking, I have always gone for the wrap around ‘terminator’ style of glasses. Recently I fancied a change and decided that I wouldn’t rule any style out as long as they were polarised.

I started to have a look around and as always the £300+ Oakleys, etc pop up, now I’m sure these are fantastic glasses and well worth the money but… I’m a tight git and won’t pay that much money for a pair of sunglasses.

Now I’ve had a few pairs of cheaper sunglasses that have been adequate enough to do the job but the frames have let them down being built of cheaper materials and quite uncomfy.

I started looking at sunglasses around the £50-£100 range as I thought I would get slightly better than I normally do when I caught a glimpse of some interesting looking glasses with a price tag of $29.99 (approximately £20).

As previously mentioned I normally only go for ‘terminator’ style glasses but there was just something about these glasses that I liked. I took the plunge and got in touch with the company to see if I could get some sent to the UK.
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Two weeks later and I’m holding a pair of BlobFish sunglasses. Okay so the main question is did they suit me, I asked the person who is brutally honest about my dress sense… My wife!!
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My wife’s response of “they look so much better than your usual style” answers the question of whether they look good or not with no room for misunderstanding 🙂
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Okay so they suit me but are they any good? I have to say I am extremely surprised that a pair of sunglasses with a price tag of approx £20 can be as good as these are.

The feel of the frame is fantastic and you can tell despite the price they are well built, the lenses are again surprisingly good quality and the polarised function works extremely well (I can see through the water better than any other pair I’ve used).
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So if your looking for a reasonably priced pair of polarised sunglasses, I highly recommend having a look at these.

Check out their website and social media pages here…

www.blobfishing.com
www.facebook.com/blobfishgang
www.twitter.com/blobfishgang
www.instagram.com/blobfishgang

Ever wanted to make your own beer?

I used to make my own beers and wines in my early twenties but as university life turned to work life, I found I had less time to make my own beers and it gradually faded into a fond memory.

Then recently I saw an advert come up on my Facebook feed (I’d always found the adverts annoying till this popped up) advertising The Home Brew Shop and their NEW Courage Directors beer kit from Muntons I got in touch with them and having said I didn’t have any of the kit any more they helped me get all of the equipment I needed.
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The first thing that surprised me was the minimal amount of ingredients in the beer kit. There was two tins of concentrated wort (wort is the liquid extracts from the malt and other ingredients which are the beginning process of alcohol production), a pack of yeast, a pack of hops and finally an instruction booklet.

So what do you actually need in order to make your own beer? Well here’s a list (all of which are available from The Home Brew Shop) of items that will get you started…

1. 25 Litre Fermenting Bucket
2. Pressure Barrel
3. Stirring Spatula
4. Pressure Barrel Cap with Pressure Valve
5. Co2 Cartridges
6. Co2 Cartridge Holder
7. Air Lock Valve
8. Siphoning Tube
9. Suitable Sterilising Powder
10. Tap for Pressure Barrel
11. Stick on Thermometer for side of Fermenting Barrel
12. Home Brew Kit of your choice

You will also need some lubricant such as Vaseline to put around the thread of both the pressure barrel tap and cap. Some Brewing Sugar may also be needed if the home brew kit says you will need it.

Using these new kits makes making your own beer extremely simple and I thought I’d go through the basic steps (although it may differ slightly with different kits) on making your own whilst I tried out the new kit…
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Step One.
Make sure everything is thoroughly sterilised (soak everything for a minimum of 20 minutes) as contaminants are the number one cause of beer tasting absolutely awful. The general rule for making up your solution with powdered sterilisers is 2 teaspoons of powder added to 6 pints of luke warm water.
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Step Two.
Take your two tins of wort and soak them for 5 minutes in hot water to soften the mixture up.
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Step Three.
Open and pour your two tins of wort into your now sterilised and rinsed fermenting bucket.
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Step Four.
Pour one kettle full of boiling water into the fermenting bucket and give it a good stir to start mixing the wort and hot water together. Pour in another kettle of boiling water and stir for a couple of minutes to make sure it is well mixed.
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Step Five.
Pour in kettles of cold water until the fermenting bin is full to where the brewing kit states in litres and give it a final stir with the stirring spatula.
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Step Six.
Sprinkle the two packets of yeast and hops over the top of liquid – DO NOT STIR and put the lid on the fermenting bucket.
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You should see a small hole in the lid of the bucket, place the air lock valve in here. Now leave for however long your kit says, in my case it says 4-6 days.
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Step Seven.
If your kit requires you to add Brewing Sugar add it to your sterilised pressure barrel now, also make sure you screw in your barrel tap having put some Vaseline on the tap threads. Making sure your fermenting bucket is on a higher surface than the pressure barrel, take your siphoning tube and start to siphon your beer into the pressure barrel. Make sure that you don’t get any of the sediment at the bottom of the bucket.
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Step Eight.
Screw the pressure barrel cap on to the pressure barrel. (you will need to add the Co2 capsule when you are down to 20 pints but dont do it before or your barrel may explode!!). Leave the beer to sit and ferment for as long as your kit states, my kit says 3-4 weeks but I will leave it for 5-6.
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That’s it, your beer is now on tap ready to drink. These kits usually make your beer work out at around 60p-70p per pint so they are very good value for money!!

Okay so the kits been used, the beers been made but… What did I really think to it? Is it worth the hassle of making your own?

Well the first thing I will say is that since I made my own beer all those years ago the kits have not only become more simple with their ingredients but are also a lot simpler to use!! This is fantastic news as it means there is less things for you to do and less things to go wrong.

The kits themselves are extremely good, the instructions are simple and the beer tastes just like it has been poured out of the tap in your local pub!!

With how easy it is to use these kits these days if you have ever thought of giving making your own beer a try I highly recommend giving it a go.

These kits make it so simple and if you ever want to venture further into making your own from scratch your only going to need to add a couple of saucepans and another fermenting bucket to the equipment you purchased to make these kits.

For more information, tips and advise I highly recommend giving The Home Brew Shop a try, they are happy to deliver to you and their customer service is brilliant. Here are a few ways to get in touch with them and a link to the home brew kit I used too.

www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk
Facebook: /Home-Brew-Shop
Twitter: @TheHomeBrewShop

and the kit I used is Muntons Courage Directors

Seeing in the dark when fishing at night

As the winter is drawing in the nights are getting darker quicker and I am finding myself fishing more and more into the dark hours.

I have been trying various head torches and clip on cap lights, the clip on cap lights that I have tried aren’t powerful enough and the head torches are quite uncomfortable and bulky (unless you want to spend ridiculous amounts of money).

I stumbled across a Facebook page “Cap Light UK” which looked like it had a fantastic compromise in super bright LED’s built in to the cap itself.

Now I had tried a cheap cap with built in lights and although it was adequate lighting (just), it wasn’t bright enough to see a float in the dark or for any distance.
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The PowerCap™ from Cap Light UK has four LED’s built into it, two are dedicated low beam LED’s for working up close and the other two are high beam ultra bright LED for working at a distance (ideal for seeing your float in the dark on a canal)

The on/off switch is located discreetly located on the underside of the brim and can light an area ranging from reading distance right out to fifty foot.

There are three settings available using the four LED’s which are: low beam which uses the two low beam (obviously lol) LED’s under the brim of the cap, high beam which uses the two super bright LED’s under the brim and finally power beam which is created by using all four LED’s at once.

The cap runs on four CR-2032 Lithium coin cell batteries which are concealed in the sweatband and provide up to 75 hours of continuous use and you can easily replace them.

I will be mainly using the cap for fishing along the canal as dusk approaches and just into darkness, the question was how would this cap perform over the other caps and head torches I have used in the past.

Firstly the cap is made from good quality material and as such is much more comfortable to wear than some of the cheaper ones, it is also very lightweight and discreet which is an instant advantage over the more bulky head torches.
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When I was rigging up my fishing gear the low LED’s provided more than enough light to work with. Once I cast my bait out I switched to the super bright LED’s and could quite easily see my float on the far side margin (edge) of the canal. There were occasions where I needed slightly more light and when I switched to the power beam mode there was more than enough light to see everything.

Unlike head torches the lights aren’t that bright that they will scare the fish away but they are certainly bright enough to be able to see everything.

One thing that impressed me was the lack of light pollution to my eyes from the LED’s something the cheaper makes suffer from quite badly.
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All in all I was extremely impressed with the cap, the only improvement I could think of for this cap is to somehow make it water resistant as currently it is just like a normal baseball cap in that sense.
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To find out more about this brilliant cap and the other ranges they make, click on one of the links below…

Website: www.caplight.co.uk
Facebook: /CaplightUK

EDC Fire Kit from Polymath Products

If your into bushcraft, survival skills or camping you will probably have a fascination with how to start your camp fire.

There are lots of ways to do this from a bow drill right through to a modern lighter. I like to try and learn as many different ways as I possibly can in the event I ever need to create fire.
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I have tried various different kits but when I came across this one from Polymath Products I had to get one and give it a try.

The kit itself is all hidden away inside a shotgun cartridge (which is what actually caught my eye in the first place) and contains…

Fire Steel, 6.5mm Ø
Fire Steel Striker
10x 6cm Tinder Stick
Fire Powder Vial
Cartridge
Split Ring, 25mm
Match Striker Cap

Nice little selection in there but are they any good? The ferrocerium rod (it’s called a fire steel in their description but there is a huge difference between the two) is a good size and after I had scrapped the protective layer a few times there was a good shower of sparks produced when I struck it with the attached striker.

I was impressed with the waterproof waxed jute tinder sticks. They catch a spark really well and will burn on their own for three minutes, fluffing up one of the ends or breaking down into more loose fibres helps them to catch a spark even easier.

There is also a small vial of fire powder (I’m assuming this is something like magnesium powder) which you can sprinkle over your tinder in adverse weather conditions to help catch a spark and ignite a lot easier.

On the actual cartridge there are two match striking surfaces which work perfectly with safety matches or strike anywhere matches (the matches aren’t included but you can store some in the cartridge if required).

There is also a detailed instruction sheet which has explanations for starting and building fires as well as the survival uses of fire. (great tinder as well once you have learnt the information)

So now to actually testing the kit and see what it could do. The first thing I did was to get out my crusader cup might as well have a nice cup of coffee whilst testing the fire starting kit lol), as you can see I set three fuel tablets and a couple of broken down jute sticks in my bushcraft stove with some of the fire powder sprinkled over to see how it would fare.
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The jute and fire powder caught the spark very easily and after a few seconds I had enough fire going to place the cup on and make myself a nice cup of coffee.
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All in all I was extremely impressed with this kit, it just has that something extra about how it has been designed and put together that sets it apart from other fire making kits.

It is easy to carry, not too heavy and is very good value. I was even more impressed that you can buy refill kits (shown in the picture) rather than having to buy new kits every time you’ve used up the contents.
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The great thing about the refill kit is that you can also add the contents to other kits that you may use such as another of mine that I have pictured here.
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To purchase the kit click here EDC Fire Kit

You can also follow their social media pages here…

Facebook: /PolymathProducts
Twitter: @PolymathP