Product Reviews

by Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

"Thou shalt not bear false witness..." The Bible, Exodus 20.16

Fabricators beware, thy days are numbered.

Certain things have long been sacred. Among these are the ability of the angler to allow a previously caught fish to grow as large as the memory and imagination allows. You know how it goes: that twelve-inch trout is thirteen inches as it swims back into the creek, fifteen by the time the rod is cased, and a full foot and a half long (or better) by the time your friends show up to watch the game that night. This has always been made convenient by the process of estimating the measure of a fish's length by holding two hands apart from each other. In this way, the angler can use their remarkably consistent and unquestionably canny recall to precisely replicate the length of the fish. (These words are used advisedly, of course.)

Now, from the folks who brought us the Quick-Seine comes the end of the way things were. Their newest product, the Handi-Measure is a retractable tape that fits on the handle of a landing net, and extends over the frame to quickly and easily determine just how long that fish really is. This accomplishes two tasks in one: not only is the measurement placed against a standard, but the tape can be drawn over the bag while the fish is still cradled in the water, reducing any potential undue stress. As well, with a little creativity, one can actually manage to get the Handi-Measure to attach to the net on the opposite side of the yoke from a Quick-Seine, giving a net three uses in one.

In case you are interested in taking a complete measurement, the flexible material of which the tape is made will also allow you to measure the girth. Slipping it under the belly and guaging size is almost as easy as taking the length. You're on your own for the math after that, though. This only really works well if you're taking the fish out of the net, though, so if you want to leave the fish in the net, a guess is as good as it gets.

At 1 5/8" in diametre, and about 3/8 wide, this item takes up a minimal amount of space. Think of two dollars worth of 50 cent pieces stacked, but much, much lighter. In fact, the whole thing probably weighs less than a half-dollar's worth of...half dollars. Whether you choose to hang this on your net frame, your wading belt, the strap of your tackle pack, or wherever, it most likely won't even be noticed.

Just for the sake of determining the durability of the Handi-Measure, I began measuring every fish I caught. Although pulling out a tape for a bunch of 13" planters in the Lagoon seemed like a ridiculous thing to do, I found that the tape was very reliable, pulling out straight and retracting the same way every time. No problems on the functional end, and after a good deal of use, it still appears to be holding up well. There are no metal parts to rust, either - the case and exposed parts are comprised of plastics, and some inner parts of stainless steel.

Assuming you aren't fishing for enormous species, the 36" worth of draw length should give plenty of extra tape. Some Stripers, Salmon, Steelhead, and Saltwater species might defy qualification with the Handi-Measure, but by the time we reach the 36" mark, most of us are taking pictures anyway. (For those more familiar with other canons, "side B" is printed in centimetres.)

As an evidence of the thorough thought process that went into the design, the tape has an entire inch of "blank" space at the very tip end. (Before the 1-inch mark, that is.) What is so ingenious about that? It seemed like a waste of material to me until I pulled it over the first fish and realized that it was no fluke - it is a tab so you can pinch without losing the size of a finger width! The big idea of this product is well and good by itself, but as we all know, it's the little things that make or break a product. This is a little thing, but so very important!

So, be forewarned. With the advent of this new tape, the ease of prevarication has lessened considerably. You can consider this a good thing, or you can consider it not so good, but either way you may want to consider it. If freeing up vest space, keeping fish wet, being accurate, and/or simplifying the whole process appeals to you, a Handi-Measure might be worth the look.

The Handi-Measure retails for $13.95. If you don't see it at your local shop, you can contact the makers at:

Angling Designs, Inc.
820 South Monaco #264
Denver, Colorado 80224
Phone: (800) 896-8998
Fax: (303) 369-0495
~ TD

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