Standard issue hard plastic stripping baskets require modifications in order to make them safe to use in the Pacific Surf Zone. Additionally-these mods can make these stripping aides more fun to use. I have modified a new LL Bean Stripping Basket based upon the experience gained after using the modified Orvis basket shown above. There is an article on the Orvis Basket mods posted on Fliflicker.com in their "Tactics" section. LINK- http://home.xroad.com/members/710/RL%20basket.htm
The bottom of the LL Bean Stripping basket is flat and smooth. The seven (7) holes are the underside of the 7 cones inside the basket that help with line coil management. They do not provide drainage.
LL Bean Basket Inside Bottom
LL Bean's basket has nearly 20 circular impressions on the inside floor of the basket which can be used as hole locators. These are 1/2" diameter and I marked a dot in the center of each one and then drilled them out with a 7/16 inch wood bit. Back up the work with some soft wood or rigid foam to get clean holes.
Completed Drainage Hole Pattern in basket bottom. Also shown is Orange Stripping Cushion/Floatation foam on basket's rim.
The hole pattern shown above is what I feel will provide adequate drainage in heavy surf. After drilling-out the bottom, I placed a ring of 7/16 inch holes around the side wall too. These side wall holes are spaced on 3 inch centers with a 3/4 inch hole centered between each of those smaller holes. You can put fewer holes in your basket and then go fishing to see if you like the way it drains. I went through three (3) drilling upgrades on the Orvis basket project before finally getting it just right. Note:
Adding holes in your basket will also reduce the weight noticably.
The LL Bean basket comes with a plastic snap "Logo" buckle.
The LL Bean black nylon belt is soft and thin. I learned last time around that this type of belt is inadequate for heavy duty useage. It will wrinkle and scrunch-up on itself and not support the basket when wet & full of water. More importantly, the buckle is not suited for emergency egress. If you fall in a wave and get sucked out to sea in a rip, the first thing you need to do is jettison your basket. Have you ever struggled with those "pinch-style" buckles on your backpack? I have.
Uncle Mike's Sidekick Belt Buckle from Michael's Of Oregon.
I now use an Uncle Mike's " Sidekick Gun Belt". It has a heavy duty "saftey belt " style, latching buckle-which is a quick release device. The ballistic nylon belt is just the right stiffness to support a stripping basket in the surf zone.
Toothy Critter Tool
I carry a sheath and long nosed forceps on the belt and position them behind me so that they are out of the way until needed.
Completed Basket Modifications Ready to Fish
I like to put a foam cushion on the rim of the stripping baskets. It provides relief from knuckle busting when stripping hard and fast. I use the cushion as a stop to feel the basket's position. Because I strip until my hand hits the foam, I can strip without looking. As I feel the foam bumper with my knuckles and back hand, then I know the stripped line has just gone into the bin.
Use a small size hollow Fun Noodle (Pool Noodle). Slit it straight along one side. Snap it over the basket's rim and trim to length. Drill a small hole through the basket wall just below the foam at each end. Then use a tie wrap to secure it. I used a strip of vinyl tape under the tie wrap to prevent it from cutting into the soft foam.
Additionally, the foam cushion provides bouyancy. If I had to cut-away, then the basket would float and be easier to recover. Otherwise-these baskets sink. Some time after a fly change-out, I hook the old fly under the foam rim to get it out of the way and to keep from putting a wet fly in back into the flybox with the dry ones. Lastly-it adds a high degree of visability to your person-which can be safer.
Notice that I have intentionally covered the rod cradle on the stripping side (I'm a righty and strip with my left hand). Since a stripping basket is normally worn low and off to one side (my left), the basket naturally tilts downwards. If a rod is place accross both cradles, chances are good that the rod tip will be slanting downwards and be in the sand. I need the bumper there for stripping anyway. So I place the reel in the basket and the rod through the notch in the opposite side of the basket and that seems to work better when I am dealing with gear or fishes.
If you really get carried away with basket mods, you can add a rubber clip to hold a Boga Grip accross the front.
....And if you have a Boga onboard-then you'll want to tether it on a retractor.
I don't plan on adding the Boga to the LL Bean basket. I tried it on the Orvis Basket. It sure came in handy pleanty of times when landing halibut and sharks, but the occasional tangles and flyline fouling outweighed the benefits of having the gripper positioned there. It can be done.