Thursday, February 28, 2013

Disappointing


With the increase of daylight nowadays, Chul and I want to take advantage of it and hit a local mountain after work.  Loaded with our lightweight rods we fished a piece of water that last year produced some really nice fish.  The plan was to fish a huge pool that we have yet to fish as this piece of water is dominated by swimmers and cliff divers during the hot months.  It took us some time but we finally made it to our destination.  The area looked like a shithole.  Broken beer bottles and trash everywhere as well as new graffiti on the boulders.  What a dump.  Its a shame that SoCal is loaded with idiots that have no respect for our wild natural environment.  The pool proved a bust.  So we moved on.  The fishing was poor and we only managed a handful of fish none of any really good size.  What a disappointment.  Afterwards, craving a burger we looked in vain for a decent burger joint other than In-N-Out.  Although we found a burger stand it was not at all what I wanted.  The patty was obviously a typical frozen Sysco patty and clearly not what I wanted.  Disappointing all around.  Should have stayed home tying flies for our upcoming trip.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tip For Tying Small Beadhead Nymphs


Tying small (size 18 and below) beadhead flies is a pain.  Here is a tip to help you make the process a little easier and  more efficient.  Preload the beads on the hook prior to actually tying.  Do all 25 (if you can) in one night.  Store them in the TMC magnets that are provided when you buy your hooks and place them in a tackle box so that they don't rattle off.

In doing so when you are ready to start actually tying you can crank out a lot more flies and have a lot more fun in the process.  Of course this requires one lousy night of prebeading your hooks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hunter's Required Reading

With the hunting season over, the following months until the next season will be days on the vice tying flies or the water fly fishing.  But to get my hunting fix, days will be filled reading hunting/gun books or watching hunting DVDs.  I've order several books to hold me over for the next seven months until September.  Here are some of the gems:

The first is A Hunter's Cookbook by Robert Cuttbert and Jake Eastham.  This is a fantastic book.  Photographs are excellent and mouthwatering.  The book is filled not only with great recipes and how to cook game but also how to properly pluck, dress, draw, gut, butcher, trim and hang game as well.  Preparing each species from small birds (teal, pigeons, woodcock, snipe, grouse, quail and guinea fowl), large feathered game (partridge, ducks, pheasant, goose, turkey) venison, wild boar, goat, rabbit, hare, and squirrel are fully illustrated showing each step.  Recipes range from rustic to gourmet.  One of the best books on game cooking I have found.

Next is from one of the most prolific fine gun writers of our time.  A few years ago I read in an issue of Shooting Sportsman that Marco Nobili passed away which is a shame as he works are very enjoyable.  I picked up his Fine European Gunmakers from Safari Press.  Within its pages are beautifully photographed works of art from gunmakers throughout the Old World and even a section on American Gunmaker, Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company which is odd for a book on Continental guns.  Some of the gunmakers include but not limited to Beretta, Bertuzzi, Fabbri, Garbi, Hartman & Weiss, Peter Hofer, Kreighoff, Piotti among others.  This is a coffee table book and its loaded with pictures from some of best artisans in the medium of metal and wood in the world.  My only complaint is that the few pages of text is rather superficial and offers not much insight in each of these fine gunmakers but despite that its worth a spot on the shelf of any admirer of fine guns.  Pages are printed on high quality glossy thick paper.  This is gun porn at its finest.

Very little information, at least in English, regarding European Hunting is available in the states.  Most of the written material relates to estate bird shooting rather than big game hunting.  This is especially true for the Teutonic states and the Scandinavian and Eastern European countries.  Information is hard to come by until Senior editor of Sporting Classics magazine, Dr. S. Lloyd Newberry wrote European Hunter.  Having hunted in 33 countries of the Old World, Newberry shares his experiences hunting everything from various driven bird hunts to the capercaillie to alpine ibex to boar to brown bears to the various deer, moose and goat species.  This book also serves as a guide to those looking to visit Europe to hunt various game giving valuable information regarding customs, dress, traditions, procedural and logistical tips to make a trip more enjoyable.  The book starts with hunting history in the Old World.  If you are a member of the German Gun Collectors Association or, like me, a bit of a Germanophile this is definitely needs to be in your library.  There is a brief section regarding the major gun centers of each country and its gunmakers.  As of right now this is the quintessential hunting book for European hunting.  I have yet to find any better if you have let me know I'll check it out.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pacific Sporting Arms Grand Opening March 2-3, 2013

Pacific Sporting Arms has moved to a new location that, from the pictures, is more befitting the quality of guns it carries.  Grand Opening will be March 2-3, 2013.  According to the flyer I just received there will be food, drinks and celebrities (does that mean Tom Selleck will be there? After all he is a collector of fine guns).  All visitors will receive one free raffle ticket for a Beretta A400 Explorer shotgun and a free PSA hat.  All guns in store will be 5% off and 20% off all clothing.

New location:  912 W. 10th St., Azusa, CA, 91702

The Return

Ed's on furlough and Chul was one of the few who had President's Day off so we decided to fish.  We returned to the Kern to see if we could do better than what we did last weekend.  This was Ed's first time on this piece of water and we wanted to get him on his first KRR.   We started near an area we wanted to fish last time but was already taken by a few fly fishermen.  At the moment we entered the water Ed fished a seam on the other side of the river and on his second cast managed a to hook up on a 12-13 incher but after a short run popped off.  Chul and I fished upstream, where we saw several huge fish some trout, some suckers, and some pike minnow.  Refusing all our offerings, Chul eventually moved upstream and in time Ed followed.  Unwilling to accept defeat I stayed sight casting to these massive fish.  It was until I snagged a bush and snapped my leader did I concede defeat and moved to the pocket water that Chul and Ed were fishing after replacing my flies and tippet.
My First Fish of the Day
I fished a deep seam next to a boulder just below the hole Chul was fishing.  My thingamabobber sank and I set the hook.  The fish pulled hard and I managed to bring him to hand.  The fish was about 14 inches but skinnier than most of the fish I've seen in this river.  Meanwhile Chul hooked up on a unrelenting fish that refused to be landed.  I moved up in the fast currents to help him land it.  This proved difficult and but in time I managed to get it in my net.  His fish was the fish I wish I landed, 16 inches and fat and healthy with good color.  Chul would manage a few out of that hole including a double that broke off when each fish ran in opposite directions. 
Mayfly Nymph
With the BWO starting to hatch we decided to return to the truck and rearm with our dry fly rigs.  Arriving at the hole with the lunkers, trout were beginning to rise and with two fly fishermen making their way in the area.  I chose to stay at the hole to stake our claim and told Ed and Chul to get to the truck and get their dry fly rods.  As I waited for them trout continued to exploded on the surface.  As I drifted my flies through the hole trout continued to aggressively rise.  On one drift my bobber sank and I set the hook.  Bent to the cork, my rod went heavy and then began to dance.   I believe given the fight and how heavy the fish was it must have been one of those pike minnows.  As I began stripping line my tippet broke at the split shot.  I now suspect that the fish clipped the line against a submerged jagged rock along the wall.  As time pases I wondered why the hell those two were taking so long.  I looked down river and saw Ed fishing the same hole he did in the morning.   As fish continued to rise I stood there scratching my head.  What the hell is he doing nymphing when we have fish coming up!?  Chul finally got Ed's keys and made his way to the truck to rig up his rod.  I went downstream and asked what the hell is going on.  Chul and I made our way to the hole and with the hatch dying down Chul managed one fish on the dry before it died.  Afterwards we left and made our way up the road for new water.
Natures way of getting back at me.  Why I should have all my flies barbless
We fished an area of pocket water that we managed some fish last outing.  This is the area I caught a couple dinks and lost a very good fish the last outing.  We fished for a while with no luck.  As I made a backcast I snagged on a branch of a tree above my head.  As I pulled the tipped free, the line slingshot back at me and the fly buried into my thumb.  As I tried to free the fly I realized this fly was not barbless.  Fortunately I brought my pocket knife as I normally do not,  I dug into my waders to find my benchmade knife in my pocket.  I began the surgical cuts to free the barb.  We left after that and headed to our "honey" hole.
Underwater release
Ed, without a fish, was given the first run at the honey hole.  Although he managed a take or two, he couldn't get a hook up.  Unlike last week this hole was hardly spectacular.  I did have a huge fish take but broke off on some submerged boulders.  Chul took a 12 incher on a dry fly.  Ed had his last chance on a fish but broke off.  This ended our day trip and made our brutal way back home.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Heavy Rig At MVL

Friday's venture to MVL with Calhoun's 850 grain head and Sage Xi3 10 weight was a bust.  With this strange weather pattern, it actually felt like summer on Friday.  Rain is expected on Tuesday with cold weather to follow.  Perhaps it was this that caused the fish to be tight lipped.  At any rate it sucked.  Casting that heavy rig was not easy but I didn't expect it to be, I need some more practice with it.  Timing is critical.  Bill mentioned that you needed to really be fast on the backcast to generate enough power to throw that line.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fine Gun Calendar On Sale

Shooting Sportsman's 2013 calendar is 50% off.  It's only $7.48 available here.  Modern and vintage guns are represented with photographs by Terry Allen.  Great addition to any mancave or office (as long as that office is not in California or any other antigun state, as it would probably get you fired and have the cops called on you but if you lived in a gun friendly state like Texas or Arizona you'd probably be praised and might even get a promotion).  One thing I did notice on some of those side by sides is that some have single triggers.  YUCK.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Locked And Loaded

Just got back from Bill's house to borrow one of his Calico Syndicate Heavy Line rigs.  I have it for a week for some testing and evaluations.  I'll be trying it tomorrow on largemouths at MVL.  Hopefully I don't kill myself or anyone else.  This particular rig is 850 grains on a Sage Xi3 10 weight.

From When Rovers Were Real Rovers

Four Tin Land Rover Series Signs
If Only They Still Held The Camel Trophy
Picked up four Land Rover Tin Signs for the man cave and an excellent book on the 1994 Camel Trophy.  Although a great photo essay on the event, at 134 pages my only complaint is that I wish it were longer.  Nonetheless its an excellent addition to any library.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Carp, Not Today

Pale Mallard?  I've never seen one before.
Yesterday Chul asked me if I wanted to go carping after he gets off work.  I gave him a rather unenthusiastic response of maybe and asked him to call me when he gets off work and I'd let him know.  Waking up this morning I had a hankering to get a tug so I headed out to the local brown water to see if I could get a carp on a fly.  It was a waste of time and instead of getting hepatitis or some other waterborne disease I should have stayed home.  The moment I stepped out of the car it stunk.  Water is too deep and murky to successfully sight cast.  I made a few pointless blind casts until I noticed a dark blob in the water so I made a few casts to it not knowing exactly which side was the head.  I got a tug and I set foolishly set the hook like a trout and ripped the fly out of its mouth.  Game over and I quit after that and let Chul don't even bother coming.  I did see two large carp launch themselves out of the water but both were too far to cast to, besides I have never found casting to jumping carp to be successful.  The only positive today was I saw a pale mallard, a bird I've never seen before.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Suckerrr!!!

The Herpes-lipped looking Suckerfish
In the morning with Erika out cold, Tuck, Joseph and I left Chul to try and wake her up as we headed toward the river.  We would meet up later when she got her self together.  We found a nice stretch of promising water and the two of them hiked downstream as I took the pool and seams below us.  Once I navigated through the boulders I found a trout at least 16-18 inches a narrow feeding lane.  My continuous drifts though proved worthless as the fish only laughed at my attempts.  I moved up upstream looking for more agreeable fish.  With the water still cold from last nights freeze, the fish remained tight lipped.  I hiked back on the road to find the boys only to have the same luck.  Somewhere during this time I lost my Contour Roam.  By this time Chul and Erica made it to us and see drove to look for more promising waters as the weather warmed the river. 

Waiting for the water to warm up, we decided rather than wait at our location we would drive upstream to see if there was any water that had more potential.  After awhile we concluded our original spot was best and head back to it.  By this time we figured the feeding would be more active.  Instead of rock climbing down I would head off with Tuck and Joseph downstream and try different water.

We found a nice spot where we could see some rather large fish cruising along the sand bottom.  Once we made it down to the river we saw more fish.  We concluded that the ones we saw must have been suckers but there were a few trout feeding in the rocky portion.  Tuck fished it and I headed above stream of him.  After only ten minutes or so I looked back and Tuck and Joe had moved on so I took over that hole.  After a few drifts above the rocky section I managed  to hook up one a nice trout.  It flashed me his vibrant red sides and then came loose after a nice few runs.  The few fish that were cruising around were showing themselves and I tried to hook one up.  Eventually my bobber dripped and I set the hook hard.  Having lost now two good fish, this time I was not going to gently play this fish,  I bullied him in after he continued to make a few runs.  I was determined not going to lose another fish.  The fish fought hard and I landed him just to realize it was a 16- 17 inch suckerfish.  I moved upstream and fished for an hour or so until Tuck pulled up in his SUV on the road and called me back.  I asked everyone how they did and no one managed so much as a bite.

Since Chul's hole was the best of the weekend we decided to head back there and try it again.  Tuck and Joseph headed out first as the rest of us rerigged.  I made it down just downstream of the hole and Tuck was rigging up a three fly set up so Chul took the first cast.  Within a few minutes he hooked up.  Joseph having fished just upstream where he caught a few the day before made his way downstream and then took the spot and after a few cast he hooked up.  Then Tuck now rigged tried the hole and he then hooked up.  I managed to make my way upstream to the hole and started to cast but after several minutes the hole shut down.  I moved downstream with Joe and Tuck and fished the next few hour without any luck.

 
Way to go Butter Fingers.

My first decent fish of the year, even if the technique was less than attractive
After a while I decided I didn't want to fish the unproductive pocket water and headed back to the hole.  I found Chul and Erika there after fishing upstream and catching a 7 incher.  Erika had several strikes and kept popping off.  Eventually she had a nice one and snapped the tippet at the wind knot.  So I took the hole and after several casts with nothing to show I wanted to move to a nearby submerged boulder.  I left me line in the water and as I moved off my submerged boulder, I slipped and fell into a waist deep water.  As I climbed out of it to reach the other boulder I felt a huge strike on my rod.  Having my back to the line I rotated my hips and stripped the line while setting the hook with my rod in a sidearm motion.  Turning toward the fish now with my rod bent, Chul asked if I was caught up on a rock.  I said no I'm on fish and then the rod began to dance.  Chul jumped in the water readying himself to net it.  The fish fought hard on my T&T Helix 5wt.  I was determined not to lose another trout.  I was going to land this fish no matter how ugly and unconventional the hook set was.  The tippet was endangered of breaking as the fish weaved in and out of the submerged boulders.  In time I managed to get the fish out of danger and Chul's first attempt to net it failed but got him on the second try.  I tried to get a better picture of it other than a net shot but just when Chul was just about ready to take a pic I pulled a Tuck and the fish wiggled out of my hands.  After a good laugh, Chul couldn't believe I caught that fish.  I looked at him nonchalantly and said I meant to do that.  What you've never seen the falling and catching technique?  As the old adage goes you can't catch fish without the line in the water.

With Erika's rod out of commission I asked if she want to use my rig and see if she could get one as well.  After a few cast she had a hard take and she pulled it out of its mouth.  With the day ending we called it quits and headed to the trucks.  We waited for the boys to make it back.  They made it back and let me know they fished hard to get another fish a piece.  We headed back in town for pizza before making our way home.  All in all the trip wasn't a fantastic in a fishing point of view but these trips are just as much about camaraderie than it is about fishing.   So its always fun hanging out with friends, ribbing each other and general bull shitting that comes with juvenile behavior.

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Buster Wants To Fish"

The original plan was to attend the Fly Fishing Film Festival on Saturday but after some consideration the gang thought it better to fish rather than watch others fish.  With some rain in the forecast, we debated all week whether to cancel the trip or to go forward.  Checking weather patterns throughout the week the unanimous consensus was to get our lines wet. 

Saturday morning I met up with Erica and Chul at his house at 6:30 and we managed to get out around 7am.  Tuck had spend the night at Joseph's as he lived north of all of us, they would head out later and we would eventually met up on the road or in Kernville. 

We caught up with the boys in the canyon and we headed to the fly shop as Tuck and Joseph wanted to pick up flies and since Erica forgot her wading boots so she needed to rent a pair.  After getting the "inside scoop" we headed to an area suggested to us at the shop.  After arriving we looked the water over and decided to pass on it as it was too windy and deep to get a good drift.  We headed back into town to fish an area hoping to intercept large fish making their way out of the lake and into the river system.  This proved a waste of time.

First fish of 2013.  A real wall hanger.
We drove up into the 20 mile section and pulled over on a promising stretch of water.  On my first cast I hooked up with my first Kern River Rainbow.  My first fish of 2013, a dink, a baitfish sized dink, no bigger than the fish that are commonly caught in our local mountains.    If I wanted dinks I would have stayed and fished our local mountains.  Hopefully this first fish of the year is not an indication of the rest of my fishing season.  I wanted to win the bet, anyone who catches and verifies with photos a fish over 20 inches doesn't have to pay for dinner.  At least I was the first to catch a fish.  After more casts and I hooked up on another slightly larger dink.  Not impressive.  Even if the bet was on an aggregate total of all fish caught I'd still be buying dinner.  I continued on this seam as I couldn't really move since we had five anglers on the water.  At the end of my drift while on the swing I finally hooked up a legit fish.  I played him close enough to see his size and he flashed me his vibrant red stripe and then came lose.  Come on.  On this stretch Chul managed a nice 13 incher while the others didn't get any.

My second fish.  Another trophy.  Nothing like traveling several
hours away only to catch dinks.
For the rest of the day we drove around looking for better water.  The BWO hatch was coming off and although I wasn't seeing any fish coming up I regretted not carrying a second rod rigged with a dry fly.  So on the next stop I rigged up my four weight with a Harrop's Hairwing.  As it was getting late we found a nice stretch of water that Chul was getting hit on just about every cast.  He pulled some serious fish and even managed one on a dry fly.  As I approached him he told me to fish that section but the fish had already shut down.  Up above him Tuck managed one and Joseph landed  several.  None of any significant size.  Erica was skunked.  Fishing was slow for whatever reason perhaps it was the recent rains, the cold nights, or just us fishing the wrong rigs.

We left the river and into town for a dinner.  Everyone would have to pay for this meal. The original plan was to camp but since Chul brought Erica along, they had got a room in town.  Tuck, Joseph and I planned on camping but during dinner we debated whether to get a room also.  After having giving Chul grief earlier for not camping we decided to get a room ourselves.  Lucky for us the motel had a place to play pool.  We spent the night bull shitting, playing pool while drinking.  As typical with trips like these, most of the memories are these parts as these times are spent laughing and ribbing each other.  We eventually were kicked out during closing time, which was a good thing because we would have spent all night there if we could.  Erica and Chul headed to bed as the rest of us headed to our room and before heading to bed debated which state was the best (of course California was not in the running).  Day 2 to follow...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

First Cast Of The Year - Nada For Me

I got an invite from Chul to fish MVL this afternoon.  With our plans to fish the Kern this weekend in jeopardy, I wanted to get out and wet the fly line.  The lake had stocked trout on Tuesday so we expected the Bass might be targeting them.   I started with my Sage RPLXi 9 weight with a 350 grain  line and various flies managing a few short subtle strikes but no hook ups.  We fished for a few hours and Chul managed an average sized largemouth and a dink.  I switched to my favorite 5 weight after Chul went to his 6 weight and started catching his fish.  I thought I might end the day without even a pull until I had a vicious strike and once I set the hook a 4 pound trout leaped twice in the air.  I've mocked Chul all last year for fishing for these stockers and he has always been adamant about these fish being quality and not the typical stockers so common from our DFW hatcheries.  I've been skeptical until now.  That fish I hooked up struck hard, fought hard and bull dogged me the whole time.  I lost him at the boat unfortunately but I can say I was impressed.  That basically ended our day as the boat was due in at the marina.  No fish yet as of 2013.  Hopefully if tomorrow's rains are not out of control, I'll be getting my first fish of the year, a REAL fish, this weekend.

Boot Tip- Boot Care

The hunting season is now over for most for us.   Many of us have cleaned our gear- guns, clothes, decoys, dog gear, etc.- but we often neglect our boots.  In the past I have been guilty of this and its a serious mistake if you have quality gear. 

Boots need to be cleaned as leather is just skin and needs to be cared for.  The common enemies of leather are dirt, water and heat.

Dirt on the surface causes one of the most common problems such as cracking the leather.  Dirt is hydrophilic, meaning it attracts water.  Once it attracts water, it expands and deteriorates from the inside.  If you improperly treat your boots, that is applying wax to dirty boots, you actually seal in the contaminants within.  Excess heat can cause separation of the sole/rand. Trying to speed up the drying process causes the leather to be stiff and brittle.  This can result in deteriorating the bond between the sole/rand and the leather upper, which will eventually cause a separation. 

Dirty boots need to be washed off.  Do not dry wet boots to any heat source (campfire, furnace, fireplace, sunlight, etc.) Wet leather burns easily and will be come hard and brittle.  When drying boots, remove the footbed.  Boots can be stuffed with newspaper to speed up the process.  Leave it to dry at room temperature in a well ventilated room.

Use some sort of wax or oil after heavy use.  These products feed the leather as well as reconditioning scratched and stiff leather.  I use Meindl Sportwax but it is hard to find Stateside.  When I run out and no longer acquire it I will start using Ballistol.

How to use Sportwax:
Using your fingers, apply a thin coat of wax to the entire leather boot (apply numerous thin coats opposed to one heavy coat).  Do not forget to get the seams, the fold of the tongue, behind the grommets and as close as  possible the rand and sole.

Between each coat, gently heat the leather after the wax is applied with a hair dryer under low heat.  You should be able to see the leather absorb the wax.  Four or five coats are necessary for new or neglected boots.  For well maintained boots two to three coats are all that are necessary.  Do not overheat your leather.

When cleaning boots with wax, after applying wax then heat, wipe the leather with a paper towel to remove any grit or dirt.  The goal is to displace dirt and grit that are embedded in the leather with the wax.  if you do not remove the dirt at this stage, the dirt left in the leather will accelerate the drying process and you will have to re-wax much more often.  Repeat the wax-heat-wipe steps until no dirt remains.

Apply a thin coat of wax to rubber rand periodically (do not apply heat) as the rubber may dry and crack without moisture.

Let boot sit for  couple hours.  If after this period the boot has a glossy feel to it, then it is ready for the trails.  If feels overly sticky or there is still visible wax on the surface of the leather, reheat and wipe off the excess, as too much wax will actually draw moisture and dirt into the leather.

Storage
When not in use, store your boots in a cool dry place.  Avoid storing boots in rooms/closets where a furnace, hot water heater or air vent is present as continuous exposure to heat and high air ventilation will accelerate evaporation of moisture from the leather and may lead to shrinking of the leather if not treated.  Leather boots left dormant (especially dirty boots) for prolonged periods of time (more than a couple months) can still dry out and shrink if not treated with Sportwax periodically.  Remember leather is just skin, and skin without moisture will inevitably dry out, shrink and crack.

Don't neglect your boots as they are your most important piece of gear in the field.  Yes even more important than your gun.  Unless you have feet like Cody Lundin, you better kept those tender feet safe, you do not want to have your boots falling apart in the wild (I have seen it happen and its not fun).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Her Majesty Driving Her 110 Rover To Visit Her Gundogs


The Queen cruising around in her 110 and a brief encounter with a pair of rabbit hunters, I wonder if that would ever happen here, a pair of armed men so close to a Head of State.  (Not a chance).

Looks like they have a rambunctious black lab.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Minox BL 10x42

After my last few waterfowl trips, it became apparently clear that I needed a new field beater glass. I've been using a pair of Steiner Safari 8x22 that I keep in the center console of my Rover or my waterfowl bag.  It is okay but hardly great.  For waterfowl I leave the high end stuff at home as I usually am not wearing the binoculars around my neck but rather it is stuffed in my bag or pocket.  As such they get beat up pretty good from banging around with other gear, being dropped in the muck, and all the other abuses of normal field use.  So I leave the Leica and Zeiss binoculars at home.  So I looked long and hard for a replacement quality beater glass.  When I saw that Sierra Trading Post having Minox binos on their site I started looking into those.  I knew of Minox because of their classic spy cameras, that no self respecting spy would be without, but I didn't know until a few years ago that they made optics.  It was not until I saw them in the Akah catalog did I realize they made binoculars.  With all the coupons STP is sending out, I got mine 35% off with free shipping.  All in all not bad for $259.35 for German made optics. 

The big money spent on high end optics is for low light clarity.  Any binocular will look fine on a bright day but in dim light that's when big money optic earns it's keep.  While the Minox is no Leica, and I wouldn't classify it as high end, it still is a fine optic for it's price range particularly for what I paid for it.  I'm comparing the Minox with the Leica at sunset and while there is no contest, the Minox is not half bad.  It is clearly less bright and definition is not as good but it is acceptable for what I plan on using it for.  Remember I won't be using it for counting points on a big buck with it so it is a fine enough for my waterfowling needs where I drive near a pond or river and glass it  looking for quality ducks before making a stalk.  As long as I can tell if a duck is a quality bird is all I need from these glasses. 

These binos are made from polycarbonate and wrapped with rubber armor and given its power it is compact and lightweight.   Supplied with a neoprene strap, a one piece rear cover and individual front covers, they are comfortable in the hand and around the neck.  The front covers are not ideal as they are attached by a slit that easily pops off the strap.  Rubber eye cups accommodate eye glass wearers.  Waterproof up to 16 feet and because it is filled with nitrogen it is also fog proof which is perfect for duck blind work. These Minox are phase corrected roof prism design and multicoated lens coatings which provide great image quality.