We’d be lying if we said we wake up each morning frothing at the mouth with anticipation to strap a stripping basket to our waste before we tread around in the surf. While there are many great things about saltwater fly fishing from shore in New England, having to wear a stripping basket does not rank high on our list. Nevertheless, they are as necessary as any other gear we use, and we wouldn’t want to get stuck without one.
If you aren’t familiar with New England saltwater fly fishing, stripping baskets help prevent the fly line from becoming a tangled mess. Wearing one will only help make your life easier when trying to cast in the surf or off jetties and structure. The issue is most on the market have some sort of flaw. The standard plastic ones, while great for keeping lines organized, are bulky, not comfortable, or flexible. A lot of the softer ones we’ve seen, while more forgiving, tend to droop and expose line to surf.
Scientific Anglers released their ECOastal Stripping Basket last year, and since we started carrying them, they’ve perked many of our customer's curiosity. While the anglers we’ve spoken with seem to like certain aspects of the basket, the consensus seems to be that ECOastal looks functional only in certain situations. We finally got a chance to test one out and were floored by the results. If you’re ECOastal curious or looking for a new basket, you will not want to miss this review!
The ECOastal Stripping Basket has an open-faced design, unlike most baskets on the market which act more like a bucket for the fly line to be safely retrieved into and protected from the surf and wind. Instead, the ECOastal uses flexible rubber spikes to keep the line organized. Several customers looking for a new basket recently commented on the exposed front potentially dumping the line in surfy and windy conditions.
When testing the ECOastal in less-than-ideal conditions, the spikes held and protected the fly line adequately. As I waded up to my thighs and the surging chop pushed turbulent water over the basket, the line stayed securely wrapped around the spikes without overflowing too much into the surf. These situations make fishing challenging, but the ECOastal proved to have a very effective line management system, and the line seems to shoot through the spikes with less resistance than the plastic stripping baskets.
The ECOastal is made from foam, making it much more flexible, lighter, and comfortable than plastic stripping baskets. The open design allows for fluid single-hand retrieves, unlike the popular rigid baskets, which seem more suited for two-handed strips. Despite its flexible nature, the ECOastal seems to always bend back into shape and, most importantly, doesn’t sag downward. Another unique feature is the belt attaches to the frame by Velcro, so you won’t ever have to thread the belt through awkward slits.
After testing the ECOastal Stripping Basket for a few weeks, it has proven to be one of the most thoughtfully designed, comfortable, lightweight, and just plain-out easy-to-use stripping baskets we’ve used. The fears of the line dumping out did not come to fruition, and shooting the line through the spikes was a breeze. We were also blown away by how secured the stripping basket stayed strapped to our hips with an unconventional Velcro attachment. Unfortunately, the biggest flaw proved to be a costly one: Durability. The side of the basket suffered a rather large puncture wound; this could be due to negligence or a negative side effect of the ECOastal’s sparseness. As long as you treat the ECOastal as well as your rod and reel and not like a plastic bucket, you should see plenty of salty, striper-filled seasons of use.
Buy it HERE