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New fishing gadgets arrive in new decade

One of my favorite NPR shows is “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.” Hosted by Peter Sagal, it airs locally on VPR Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to noon. One segment on this quiz show challenges contestants to distinguish between the real and the phony: actual news stories vs. made-up “news.” products on the market vs. imagined products, etc.
To make it more interesting, celebrities are invited to present that news (real or fake), or to try to hawk those products (existent or non-existent) as convincingly as possibly. Generally there are two phony items and one real item, and the contestant has to figure out which is the real one. Given how surreal the news has become these days, it is no easy task.
The same can be said of the many creative (or just plain strange) products that are available for sale. So, in honor of that show, I offer you a collection of six surreal fishing gadgets for the new decade, all listed affordably for under $100. Reversing the approach of the “Wait, Wait,” however, five of these are available at a real store near you (or on the Internet). Only one is made up, and thus currently available only at an imaginary store near you. Your task: find the phony one.
1. Tired of wasting time fumbling with fishing knots while the fish are biting? Are your eyes getting too old to see fine monofilament line? You’d like help with those knots, but you don’t want to buy ten different tools for the ten different knots you need. It sounds too good to be true, but for only $24.95 you can by “The Winder,” “a single tool … to tie every fishing knot and loop needed,” including the improved clinch knot. Just clip it to your vest, and you’re ready for anything.
2. Speaking of being ready, the most important part of one’s fishing equipment is not the rod or reel, but the terminal tackle: the fly, the lure, the bait. If it doesn’t attract the fish, you won’t catch the fish. The “Electronic Fishing Lure” is “a traditional lure vastly improved by artificial light.” Ranging in price from $9 to $14, these lures use battery powered electronic flashers “inserted inside lure bodies to make them strobe and attract fish. Whether you call them electronic flashers, electronic lures, or the technology electronic fishing, it makes little difference.”
3. Nobody wants a pile of fly line at their feet, getting tangled in their sandals or tripping them up while they play a big fish. Why not spend $27.97 and buy the “Automatic Fly Reel.” Just a flip of a lever, and this fly reel automatically reels in all the excess fly line in between casts or when you are playing a fish. It’s “the no-hassle way to reel in line.”
4. Don’t let fly casters have all the cool gadgets. The $99.95 “Fishing Companion” is the completely automatic rod-and-reel combination for the spin fisherman. Just set the drag, then “cast out your bait, put your rod in a holder … and sit down with a beer.” When a fish takes the bait, tension is detected on the line and a powerful electric micro-motor in the reel, powered by a rechargeable battery pack built into the butt section of the rod, reels in the fish — without breaking the line (assuming your drag is properly set)!
5. But where do you cast your bait? That’s where “Smartcast Fish Finder” comes in handy. Available for only $99.99, this sonar device is no larger than a big bait bobber. Attach it to your line and cast it out over the water. The data is broadcast wirelessly up to 75 feet directly to a wrist mount display that shows you exactly what’s below, down to 100 feet in depth. “Lets you find fish from the bank, dock, boat, ANYWHERE.”
6. Of course all of this new gear comes with packaging. Don’t be a slob and leave it on the shore, defiling the fishing hole for everybody who comes after you. For $12.95, you can get a Piopod Microtrash Container. It looks like the big rubber garbage can in your garage, except it’s only about 3 inches tall and 1 inch in diameter. Clip it to your vest. Now there’s a place to put “trash that accumulates during a day of fishing.”
Meanwhile, while you’re trying to figure out which gadget is phony, I’ll be out snowshoeing in two feet of fresh white snow — the best Nordic skiing and snowshoeing conditions I can remember in quite a while. The only requirements: boots, clothing, snowshoes, trees and snow. Unless I can find a pair of those auto-sensing motorized snowshoes that find a trail for me, and carry me along, while keeping my feet warm.
Editor’s note: Unlike the NPR show, our columnist declined to offer his voice on the answering machines of those who correctly identified No. 4 as the mythical product.

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