The issue of weighing and retaining fish is a constantly evolving process and one of the most innovative designers and manufacturers over the last twenty years has been Cotswold Aquarius. All of the design and manufacture takes place in the UK, making the company unique in the tackle market today. The Specialist Flotation Sling is the smallest in a range of three flotation slings, the others being the Aquarius Flotation Sling and the Euro Flotation sling. The descriptions are self-explanatory and obviously if you are fishing for pike or big carp then one of the other Flotation Slings would be more suitable. In fact I have the Aquarius sling as well which is ideal for any pike or carp in this country. However much of my fishing is for medium sized fish such as tench, barbel and zander, and the Specialist Flotation Sling fits the bill perfectly. The sling is designed for fish to be held safely and securely for short periods of time. It is constructed from fish friendly materials and the side netting provides good water exchange as well as allowing quick drainage when the sling is lifted from the water. It is available in either woodland camo or olive green and is supplied with its own sleeve for storage and transportation. The main central zip has double zips to help ease any handling issues. A nice little touch is the security clip positioned in the middle to ensure no disasters can occur when retaining that special fish. The top cross bars ensure that when the sling is deployed the sides are separated allowing any fish to lie easily in an upright position and in addition the buoyancy floats are sufficient to ensure the sling sits well in the water. This is an important consideration for both barbel and zander, neither of whom sit well in traditional sacks.
The stated length is 32 inches, (815mm), the width is 10.5 inches, (265mm) and the height is 18 inches (460mm). That is more than enough room for any sized chub, tench or bream and I have retained barbel and zander up to over thirteen pounds without feeling that the fish were squeezed in any way. Most of my fishing is on my own so on netting a good fish it is a simple matter to weigh the fish in the sling, zip it in securely and place in the margins whilst I set my camera up for the trophy shots. Once everything is ready I lift the sling out of the water, place it on the mat, take the required photos, put the fish back in the sling and carry it back to the water, ready for release. I don’t usually fish for zander during the warmer months but last summer I did an overnight session. One of the zander I landed that evening was hooked badly in the gill rakers and had lost some blood, and, fearing the worst I popped the fish in the sling overnight. I was relieved to find the fish fine by the morning and swam strongly away. This was confirmation for me that the sling does what its supposed to do, safely retain fish. A well designed and well made product.