Having a job where my car changes every two to three years, owning a decent stink bag for my keepnets to stop the fishy net smell soaking into the car is an essential piece of kit and one that has definitely stood the test of time.
However, the item that I’m going to talk about I've owned for more than 10 years (in several guises). I am talking about my trusty Rive box. I first came across Rive boxes while I was on holiday in France as a teenager, sometime around the mid to late 1990s. Up until this point I'd had a Matchbox with narrow-diameter legs that didn't really extend far and to all intents and purposes served only to level the box. The narrow-diameter legs also meant that for a big lad like me they weren't very stable and occasionally one would slip and I would either manage to save myself or get very wet!
The leg system also meant that there wasn't much room for attachments like keepnet arms and pole socks, and side trays simply didn't fit because there wasn't room for them to attach onto the legs.
When I first saw the Rive box I instantly wanted one. They looked extremely stable on any sort of bank, there was a side tray attached to it and a keepnet arm attached to one of the legs. I also noticed a sliding footplate that extended from the bottom of the box and kept the angler sat in what looked like a comfortable position. By going into a French tackle shop I managed to find out that the box the angler was sat on was indeed a Rive.
I returned from holiday and eagerly tried to find a shop that sold them. Of course, back then they were very hard to come by and I was unable to find one.
Fast-forward to 2006 and the distribution of Rive boxes was now establishing itself in the UK thanks to Nathan Hughes and a few other tackle distributors who imported other brands of French fishing tackle into the UK.
It was December 2006 when I purchased my first Rive box. It was a metallic blue with a black frame, 25mm-diameter legs, sliding footplate, massive side tray, plus a raft of spare trays, leg accessories and a wheel kit. Now when the poor delivery guy arrived to drop it off he knocked on the door and asked if I could help him unload the box because the couriers at the depot had to use a forklift truck to load it onto his van. You can imagine the look on my family’s faces when I'd been telling them how light Rive boxes were!
Now fast-forward to the present day and I have owned several upgraded models. These upgrades include more stable 36mm-diameter legs, which to my mind are the most stable legs on the market. In fact, they are so stable, several other manufacturers have followed suit in supplying boxes with larger-diameter legs. Rive has also developed the Open HSP system, which includes four legs attached to the sliding footplate for increased stability and allows the angler to remove a leg while the box is in situ.
My current box is the new Aqua one with a Drennan cushion. It is extremely stable and all my accessories still fit onto it. Therefore, purchasing a new Rive box isn't as expensive as it would be if I were to swap to a new manufacturer’s box. Another massive plus point to the Rive system is the versatility of the tray system, because most anglers now fish on a variety of venues from commercials to canals to natural stillwaters to rivers. With the versatility offered by the tray system I am able to have numerous rigs made up to cater for literally every fishing situation I might encounter.
I used to spend my working week away from home, so I purchased two deep trays to put all my rig-making tackle in and several winder trays so that at night after work I could make rigs and tie hooklengths in my hotel room rather than sit in the bar all night.
So onto my box, directly under the cushion I have a full-length 30mm-deep cross drawer. This has a few odds and sods like a spool of thick line for tying stop knots, a shot dispenser with large shot in it and another dispenser with olivettes in it. I also have a dispenser with micro swivels and various float attachments. Plus, I keep my fishing licence in this draw. Underneath the 30mm drawer I have another 60mm-deep front-opening drawer that houses all my odds and sods. Things like a shot dispenser with small shot in it, a couple of spools of line, disgorges, plummets, a marker pen, Tipp-Ex. You get the idea, all the small items that I might need while I'm fishing.
The cassette system that I take fishing consists of a lid plus two trays, including the base tray with runners on it to allow it to slide under my box. I store my Rive hooklength boards in the lid. I have boards that allow me to tie hooklengths from as little at four inches long for pole work right through to 12 inches for waggler work. My first proper rig tray consists of short pole winders which I use to carry a selection of small floats. The other tray is used for a selection of rigs that I might use on numerous and diverse venues.
I have a dedicated cassette for silver-fish fishing. This consists of a lid that I house my hooklengths in, plus two winder trays that hold shallow and deep rigs to cover everything from 6ft-deep swims right through to 15ft-deep swims. Having this versatility allows me to very quickly change from one cassette to another and fish knowing that I have the right kit for the right job.
Moving onto the accessories, I have two side trays, one large and one medium. The reason for owning two is quite simple, some commercial fisheries provide small platforms for anglers to sit on and a large side tray can overhang the edge of it. At the moment, Rive doesn't produce a leg longer than 1.05 metres and sometimes these aren't long enough to reach the bottom in the edge of some of the fisheries. So, I prefer to use a smaller side tray. I have several keepnet attachments, again in keeping with what is required by most modern commercial fisheries asking anglers to use three nets. I have a spray bar that allows me to rest the pole on when I have to hold my pole rig very still to get a bit. I have a two-point feeder arm and a wash bowl for cleaning my hands after making balls of groundbait up.
The point I'm trying to put across is that the Rive box system is extremely versatile and can be customised to suit each angler’s specific needs and requirements. It produces boxes to suit almost every pocket but I do think they could provide a more budget (cheaper) box to cater for that end of the market. That way Rive will cater for every corner of the tackle market.
The only negative point to my box and the one I owned previously is that at least one of the open clamps failed, which should not happen on a box that is worth over a grand. I also think Rive could supply legs that extend to over one metre because this would alleviate the problem of the large side tray overhanging the water. A leg of say 1.5 to 2.0 metres would be ideal (nudge, nudge, wink, wink!).
Over the last 10 years I have seen an awful lot of development in Rive boxes. Some have been quite big, like having a sliding footplate with four legs (the HSP system), having a leg clamp that opens to allow the angler to remove a leg while the box is in situ (the open system) and the bright colours that now adorn the framework. All these things have been amazing to witness. However, I do feel that for now improvements on boxes have reached their limit, so it will be interesting to see what happens over the next 10 years.