Tackle changes so quickly these days and many if not most of the “reviews” to be found in fishing magazines and on the web are little more than a case of the reviewer handling the product for an hour or so and then deciding if it is good or bad. So proper long term tackle tests are few and far between. We hope that proper reviews, where the products have actually be tested in real life fishing is what makes LURETOUR worthwhile. So when I came across an old copy of the LAS magazine “Lure Angler” containing a review I wrote of the Flambeau AZ8 X-Large Tackle System way back in 2009 It struck me that since I am still using the bag regularly, it would be a great idea to do a follow up review a full eight years later.
What’s It All About ?
Ok before I let you know where the bag has failed and where it has stood the test of time, let’s give you a rundown of exactly what the AZ8 is all about.
The AZ8 is the biggest in a range of 5 tackle bags that make up the Flambeau AZ range, which run from the AZ2 Satchel which holds just one 3000 size box and one 4000 size box, right up to the AZ8 itself which holds (and comes complete with) 6 x 5004 size boxes, 1 x 4006 size box and a 00220 spinner bait box.
So the AZ8 is the big daddy of the range and certainly you can pack a lot of stuff in, fully loaded the bag will swallow up a lot of guys whole lure collections and acts as a great tackle station for keeping your stuff organised. The downside of course is that packed with all those boxes full of lures (particularly if there are a lot of soft plastic and jig heads in there) the bag can become very heavy and not that comfortable to lug around all day. Of course if you are using it as a boat bag, then this isn’t a big problem, but as a carry bag, fully loaded you could well be inline for a hernia ! However one of the strengths of the bag and what is in my opinion one of it’s best design points is that the 5004 size boxes that come with it, fit inside the box both vertically and horizontally, so there are a lot of different ways you can load the bag neatly..here’s a couple of pictures to illustrate.
So as you can see the bag will easily accommodate 4 x 5004 boxes inserted “horizontally” (or in this case 2 x 5004 and 1 x double deep 7004) and there is still quite a bit of room which can be really handy for stuffing in a spare hoody or sticking your coat in there if you end up getting too hot later in the day. There is also lots and lots of space outside of the main compartment, with a big gusseted pocket on the back which is perfect for a flask of coffee and your sandwiches, as well as the double drop down pocket on the front, sunglasses pocket (which is a great place to store a spare set of pliers) and two nice sized side pockets. In short, this bag has as much storage space and anyone could reasonably need !
Being big enough to store a shed load of tackle is one thing, but being tough enough to carry it without broken straps, burst seams, knackered zips and ripped material is another…so how has the bag actually stood up to 8 long years of constant abuse ?
You have to hand it to Flambeau, this is one tough bag ! I am very, very pleased to report that after having to put up with me for 8 years, the bag is still in near perfect shape. The chunky zips are all smooth and in perfect working order, the seams are still all tight, there are no rips in the material, the bag is still waterproof and on the whole looking pretty damn good considering the muddy banks, car boots, wet boats and bad weather it has coped with. It has been dropped off a bridge accidentally, it has had a boot lid slammed down on it and it’s even been pee’d on by a passing jack russell. It has had very few hooks stuck in it over the years as the lining material seems to be pretty hook repellent, but those that have been embedded have been simple to pull out with pliers, leaving very little damage to the bag at all. Another nice feature is the rigid plastic base which protects the bottom of the bag and means that you can put the bag down in all sorts of wet conditions without worrying that it will be soaking up water.
C’mon something must have failed !
OK, ok nothing is perfect and there are two areas that have come a cropper in those 8 years. The first was really user error. I slammed the boot down after putting the bag in on a particularly wet and rainy day and the strap got trapped leading to one of the clip connectors that let’s you remove the strap getting snapped in half. Too be fair the other one is in perfect working order, and it was easily replaced by a cheap carabiner, so if you can avoid smashing this particular piece of plastic with a VW Passat boot you should be fine.
The second is the elastic bungees on top of the bag. To be fair I was never really sure what they were for and I did have a habit of sticking jumpers under them and also the handle of my dead stick rod when fishing on reservoirs. In the end the elastic got a bit baggy and annoying and I just cut them off. No big loss. ( In fact I notice looking at pictures of the latest AZ8’s that Flambeau themselves have removed the bungees !!)
So would I be happy to reccomend the bag ? undoubtedly the answer is yes. I’ve had a number of items of luggage by other manufacturers wear out and become pretty much unusable in just a couple of seasons, so to last pretty much unscathed for nearly a decade, is a real sign of quality in my books.
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