I have a friend who leaned against a tree high on a riverbank. Unbeknownst to him, high water had eroded the roots, and both the tree and the angler tumbled down the bank into the river. My friend found himself trapped underwater because the shoulder straps on his backpack had become entangled with the root wad. Luckily his fishing partner had a knife and was able to cut the straps and save his life.
Another acquaintance accidentally released his anchor while navigating a Class III rapid. If he had a knife handy, he could have cut the anchor rope. Instead, his boat was swamped and he lost thousands of dollars worth of rods, reels, and other tackle.
If you spend time in the outdoors, you need a knife. A stone edge was man’s first tool, and our progression from the stone age through the Bronze Age and into the Steel Age gauge our ability to improve on this most basic tool. If you are stranded, lost, need to fashion a crutch, splint, or shelter, this is the one tool you must have. And if you’re going to have a knife, why not have a good one?
The Abel Native 5 ($495, abelreels.com) is a collaboration between two American manufacturers: Abel and Spyderco. The blade is precision machined in Colorado from a nitrogen-based, corrosion-resistant stainless steel called LC200N. A forefinger choil (finger groove) at the base of the blade allows you to choke up on the grip for increased leverage and control. The thumb hole allows you to open the knife with one hand, and the stout four-position hourglass clip lets you carry the knife where it’s quick and easy to get at, like on the strap of your sling, backpack, or on a vest pocket. The knife measures 4 inches when closed.
The machined aluminum handle is made from the same aerospace-grade aluminum alloy as Abel reels, and the Native 5 fish designs are hand-painted, type II anodized, and polished in Abel’s custom shop in California.
The knives are available in three designs: Bonefish, Native Brown Trout, and Native Rainbow Trout. The branding teases that there are two more to come. My fingers are crossed for an Eastern Brook Trout or a Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout