Shopping! What’s your favorite fishing tackle?

At about this time every year, anglers start doing some serious shopping for fishing tackle. It might start later than usual this year. With nightly temperatures hanging around zero-degrees, and seemingly no let-up to winter, our minds might not yet be wandering to the opening day of trout season, or to launching the boat for the first open water walleye fishing of the year. Before long it will be happening, though., which along with and is operated by Southwick Associates. This survey has been relied upon by the sport fishing industry since 2006 for some of the most revealing information needed to provide anglers with the fishing tackle they want. A small part of the extensive surveys performed each year by this firm is compiling of a list of favorite brands of fishing tackle. This was accomplished by contacting 18,559 anglers nationwide in 2013 in an Internet survey of brands of specific kinds of fishing-related gear most often purchased.

Specializing in information related to sportsmen, Smithwick Associates is responsible for gathering much more information for the fishing, hunting and outdoors gear industry, and for fish and game agencies.

Now, what are anglers buying these days?

Shakespeare was the brand of fishing rod bought by most anglers. With the time tested Ugly Stik in its line, this is hardly a surprise. Shakespeare was also the top brand in rod and reel combination and the top brand of ice reel.

Since we opened the subject of ice fishing, and it is the season for it, we will look at ice fishing gear. St. Croix was the number one in ice rods. Frabill, no surprise here, took the top spots for ice rod and reel combo and tip-ups.

Back to open water, the most often purchased reel was Shimano. This must have been a shoot-out among several close brands, I would guess.

The biggest surprise to me came with fishing line. The top brand was PowerPro. Seaguar, the name which brought fluorescent line to the market, was the top brand of leader.

There were no surprises among the fly fishing gear brands. Orvis and Reddington tied for the top fly rod. Orvis was the top fly reel. Scientific Angler and Rio tied as the top fly line brands. The top fly fishing leader was Rio.

As a reminder that the opening day of trout season is not far off, and you should check for leaks and wear in your fishing boots, the top wader brand was Hodgman.

Rapala was the top brand of hard baits, and Berkley Gulp was the top brand among soft baits. Strike King was the top brand for spinnerbaits and jigs.

Eagle Claw took the top spot in three categories: sinker, swivel and rigs.

Frabill already was recognized for being the top brand in two ice fishing categories. It also took two more categories: landing net and bait bucket/aerator. That total of four top spots was more than any other brand among the products on this list.

Rapala took a second top spot with fishing knife. Berkley got another mention with the top spot for fish scale.

Minn Kota was the number one trolling motor brand, another name that should not be a surprise to anyone.

We even get top brands for clothing, Columbia, and for rain gear, Frogg Toggs.

It is understandable if you disagree with some of these top brands. However, 18,559 surveys is a large sample size so results are quite reliable, if not necessarily completely accurate. And then, our opinions are of no interest in comparison with survey results.

We can benefit from a survey of this type, if we can assume that people buy specific brands based on their satisfaction with past experiences. Top brands are good places to start, at least, when we do our shopping for fishing gear.

Trout season opens in a little more than a month. What better way could there be to shake off the winter blues that to shop for fishing tackle. As there is every year, you will see plenty of new tackle on the sporting goods store shelves.

This year, for a change, there is no excuse for not getting all of the ice fishing you could ever want, and at this point there is no end in sight. We just get toward the end of one big winter storm when we get news of another winter storm on the way. Take heart, it has to end before too long.