I have been carrying the First Edge 5050 Survival knife for the majority of my guide trips so far this season, and so far it has impressed me thoroughly. Rick Shepherd, CEO of the company agreed to send us their 5150 Field knife, with the stipulation that I test it a bit for comparison before sending it onto David for extended testing and review. This past Thursday I had the chance to do so when I carried the 5150 on a trip to the backcountry of the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River – known locally as “Greenbrier”.
My client was a retired Florida Wildlife Officer who used to camp on his airboat while patrolling the Everglades, alone, for upwards of a week at a time. Even though he was 67, he was in fantastic shape and up for the challenge of a moderate hike and fishing some extremely rugged sections of stream.
The 5150 shone brightly in all manner of guiding tasks: Lunch prep, limb clearing, and even dressing out a trout were all accomplished with the aid of this fine tool.
Lunch prep consisted of slicing rolls and tomatoes, and both tasks were easily accomplished. No one will mistake a First Edge knife for a precision kitchen tool, but both blades perform adequately. The 5150 does a slightly better job in meat, while the heavier 5050 is preferable for vegetable processing. Both blades are slightly hampered by the friction from the blade coating. It is designed for durability, not for lubrication while slicing.
The next task was clearing a couple of tree limbs that have clogged a hole for more than a season. I have already used the 5050 to do this on a previous trip, and it is the best knife I have ever used for what is really more suited for a machete. The 5150 is not quite the chopper, lacking the heft of its larger 5050. I felt like I wanted to quit before finishing, having established that the knife preforms competently. The 5150 still throws great chips, it just takes 50% longer than its larger cousin. I was able to cut through 2 4″+ limbs in about 4-5 minutes each.
Finally, I dressed out a trout. Ironically, while carrying the 5050 I have not had a client who was willing to keep a fish actually catch a legal fish for harvest yet this this year- but I did this time. I caught an 8″ rainbow while demonstrating a technique known as a “reach-mend”. I cast my fly and laid the line over and upstream. After it had only traveled a few feet, my dry fly shot down, indicating a fish had eaten the wet-fly/nymph beneath. I set the hook and quickly landed the slightly larger than average rainbow trout.
Even after chopping the limbs, the Elmax blade of the 5150 was plenty sharp enough to gut the fish. A sharp blow to the head with the spine of the knife dispatched the fish humanely, and thebelly parted effortlessly as I made the initial cut. A more than solid job overall.
I dropped the 5150 in the mail to David today. I am certain that he will enjoy testing it. I have spent about 12 hours using and carrying the knife both at home and on the river. I did side by side testing on some strawberries and even cut up meat and vegetables for stir fry. I can say that the 5150 is a fine knife, robustly constructed and with a super-steel blade that keeps an edge even after being used to hack through about 9″ of wood.
Last Thursday was a fantastic day on the water. I always enjoy using a new knife, and to do so in the context of what was my most successful trip so far this year was special. I had great chemistry with my client, the weather was lovely for most of the day, and the fish were unusually cooperative. So cooperative in fact that on his first cast after lunch, my client caught two fish at once – one on the floating dry fly, the other on the sinking nymph. It is only the second time I have had a client pull this off. It is so rare in fact that outside of bait-fishing for perch I have only done it twice myself on a fly.
It was definitely the highlight of a great trip.