I mostly use VI and unix shells. For the debugging/testing...right now I use just email clients and the log4j stuff (we have log wrappers that catch the protocol layer). I also like ethereal for this kinda stuff.
I only refer to the RFC if I have to...and they really are only kinda useful because everyone violates them so you have to test and watch what REALLY gets sent. Howver I don't find the mail ones so hard...especially since most give the client and server traffic examples..
Eclipse & JBoss IDE (Makes debugging very easy).