Lately, manufacturers of both waders and wading boots have really focused on comfort, and we are now (gladly) faced with a great array of premium to mid-priced products that make our days – or precious hours – on the water that much enjoyable.
If you’re looking for a light-weight wading boot, the Redington Prowler stands at the top of the heap in that department: they come in at an impressively lean 820 grams. They’re also fashioned with a wide toe-box to aid blood circulation – especially appreciated in glacial waters. These are boots to consider when you’re spending long days on the water and insist on comfort all the way through to the final cast. They’re also built a little ‘heel-heavy’ which assists with the balancing act required in a moderate current. Overall, the Prowler is a little more flexible than most wading boots, which again raises the comfort level. Footbed is snug and medium-hard. Anti-abrasion panels all around and heavy-duty, non-corrosive hardware round out the package. They are stud-compatible, and an excellent value.
SAGE IGNITER fly rod
As soon as I assembled the 4-piece Sage IGNITER, I knew I had a formidable weapon in my hand. One of the first things I noticed was how light it felt compared to other rods in its category.
This rod has been touted as a specialist rod that does well to throw heavy sink tip lines, large flies and handle windy conditions. I decided to test the Igniter with both a weight forward 8wt floating line and a WF 8wt 15’ sink tip line.
Using a WF-8-F line, the IGNITER will produce a very tight, wind-resistant loop, yeilding an extra 10 feet of accurate distance to a typical cast. With a double haul technique, I was easily casting with accuracy out to 60 feet.
Surprisingly, the rod did not feel overly stiff which might detract from its feel; it had a nice, moderate flex.
For shorter range casts it performed as any rod might, but it really shines at 40 – 55 feet.
There’s great potential beyond a wet fly presentation for dry flying with bombers where the sheer size of the flies cause wind resistance. There have been more than a few times I would have been able to use some of the backbone the IGNITER has to cast to Salmon spotted at the tail end of a pool without having to wade further and inevitably spook the fish.
I also threaded a RIO InTouch 15 foot sink tip line (WF8F/S6 ) and tied on a large streamer. The IGNITER’s ability to cast such a set up was impressive. With a slight adjustment to my timing, I was able to cast the sink tip line very much like a regular line on a medium fast rod, and the rod cast the entire rig out very well.
The 8 weight IGNITER in the hands of a strong intermediate caster would open the door to a new level of casting accuracy, precision and distance. In the hands of an expert, the IGNITER becomes a tool, like adding a specialized driver to the golf bag.
In the hands of a novice, the subtle differences between this rod and another model might not be accessible until later, but, by no means would it be unsuitable.
The IGNITER’s ability to roll out a sink tip line and streamer aids in its ability to fish a variety of swift or deep water conditions. The fact that it can cover water accurately and precisely is a great help as presentation and feel are key to raising a fish and knowing that it has struck the fly. It’s well suited for bigger sport fish like steel head or Atlantic salmon.
The IGNITER could be recognized as a specialist rod, however it has many attributes that also make it a solid candidate to be touted as an excellent all-rounder, especially if you fish wide rivers that have variable flow rates.
A final note on aesthetics, the cork handle, guides, fit and finish of the wrappings were all flawless.
VOORMI Merino Dual Surface sock
After one long day of testing, I concluded that VOORMI hit on the magic formula.
The company consulted with guides and mountain professionals, then proceeded to make a dual surface sock, consisting of a fine-micron Merino wool outer layer with excellent thermal properties that is bonded to a low-friction, moisture-wicking inner layer. These low-bulk socks function perfectly when partnered with waders.
They also offer a good balance of compression and elasticity: snug enough to stay in place in a neoprene boot, but not so tight as to restrict blood circulation.
Two sizes are available: light hike (mid-calf) and ski (below-the-knee), together, they’ll have you covered for a wide range of cold-water wading.
BUFF Elite glove
Buff has done some deep thinking, and the result is the Buff Elite fishing glove.
Over the years, I’ve tested over a dozen gloves and what sets the best ones apart is fit, which leads to full-day comfort.
There are many fishing gloves available at every price point and you generally get what you pay for – especially when it comes to materials and construction – fit rests on those two variables.
The Buff Elite benefits from the best materials currently available: the palm is made of a tough, breathable, quick-drying synthetic suede bonded with an abrasion-resistant film to improve durability, an abrasion-resistant film is also fitted onto high-wear areas to reduce blisters and cuts (one area that inferior gloves commonly skimp on), grippy pull tabs for easy-on/off, the bonded stretch hem eliminates chafing (bonded fabrics rather than hi-volume stitching is the second area that inferior gloves skimp on), and the package is rounded out with an anti-microbial fabric prevents odors (third area… ): three consecutive days of salt water use, no rinsing, and no offensive smell to speak of.
This spec list won’t leave you wanting.
The gloves also provide the requisite UPF 50+ sun protection, and speaking of that, the Buff site provides a great explanation of what that is. I’ve copied & pasted it right here:
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) measures the amount of UV radiation that penetrates a fabric and reaches your skin. A fabric rated with a UPF of 50 will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. In other words, it blocks 49/50ths or 98% of the UV radiation. UPF 50+ is the highest possible rating. Samples of fabrics have been tested for UV protection by LEITAT—Textile Technology Institute in accordance with the standard AS/NXS4399:1996 “Sun protective clothing--Evaluation and Classification.”
RIO Metered ConnectCore Shooting Line
I tested RIO's 0.042" Metered ConnectCore Shooting Line with a Skagit Gamechanger and a Scandi 3D head and RIO has managed to make its already outstanding ConnectCore running line better.
It shoots effortlessly through the guides with both heads and overall, it’s super slick and doesn't tangle into a bird's nest when shooting line.
I did get a few small tangles when shooting 60+ feet of running line, but that was due to 35mph wind. Those tangles were quickly and easily undone thanks to its slickness. You would expect a new, out of box line to be super slick, and it was, but for how long? I've been fishing the non metered ConnectCore running lines off several reels for the last few seasons and I’m extremely happy with their longevity. I would expect the same from the new metered system.
The most appreciated feature is the RangeFinder system. Every 10 feet of line has alternating colors of straw yellow and orange in the 0.042" size. You can easily count how many color changes there are off the rod tip to accurately gauge the distance of a cast or to where you just got a fish to grab. Great for when you've got one going and want to rest it for a while. You can now count the color changes before reeling in, then go back later to where you were standing, peel off the exact amount of line, and be right in the strike zone with one cast!Or you can have a friendly distance casting competition amongst friends!
RIO’s Metered ConnectCore Shooting line features ultra-low stretch ConnectCore technology. Low stretch equals to better detection of soft takes and better hook ups.
Four sizes are available:
0.026″ – Orange/Gray. 15lb core. Ideal for heads between 200-450gr (3-5wt -Trout Spey)
0.032″ – Orange/Green. 20lb core. Ideal for heads between 450-575gr (6 to 8wt)
0.037″ – Orange/Blue. 20lb core. Ideal for heads between 575-675gr (7 to 9wt)
0.042″ – Orange/Straw Yellow. 30lb core. Ideal for heads over 675gr (9 to 11wt)
LOON Rogue micro scissor forceps
Small can be beautiful.
There are a few places I fish where I know that the rainbows max out at 12 inches and browns won’t exceed 16. These are the places where the compact LOON Rogue micro scissor forcep shines.
The forecep jaws are strong, finely textured and compact: perfect for extra-careful operations on those delicate little beauties.
The forcep also sports durable, sharp cutters, an eye clearing needle and a soft, grippy double-dipped handle for comfort.
Made of surgical quality stainless steel.
Tiny brookies will thank you.
(packaging incorrectly states that jaws are smooth)
CORTLAND TROPIC PLUS Bonefish fly line
Cortland has bucked the current trend of underrating tropical fly lines to produce a true-to-weight Bonefish line. The result is an increased capacity to stealthily present bonefish flies. Fewer frightened bonefish equals increased hook-ups - and as is the case with bonefish: every cast counts - so that alone is worth the price of admission.
The line features a slightly aggressive head coupled with moderate-to-subtle overall taper that loads rods easily and precisely for close shots, along with an elongated rear taper that provides excellent loop control when you need to carry line for long range targets.
Two other noteworthy features: the line is bone-white, so you can track your fly with precision. Also, this is the slickest Cortland line I’ve tested to date – provided your casting basics are in order, this line will easily help you attain an additional 5 to 10 feet of distance, and there are times when that’s the difference between producing an eat – or not.
Fishpond CROSS CURRENT Chest pack
This five-star chest pack is all about maximizing your time on the water.
One of its many attributes: the front features an ultra-convenient, quick-access, magnetic dropdown workstation for housing all of your essentials.
A main (large) compartment will hold three to four medium sized fly boxes. It’s fitted with large ergonomic pulls partnered with heavy duty YKK zippers. Both compartments feature stretch mesh pockets for optimal organization.
The pack rests on a suspender-type support system that is very balanced and comfortable: one reason for this is the integrated net slot on the back panel that can hold a long handle net as well as a large rear pocket designed for stashing a lunch or light jacket (note that the rear system geometry is equally adept at housing a small or medium sized net).
This is one of the most intelligent and practical designs that will easily convert both vest lovers and standard-styled chest pack lovers alike. The entire system rides high on the body, and I strongly recommend that anyone looking for a new and intelligent carrying system take a close look at this pack.
The Cross Current chest pack is fitted with several attachment points for all of your tools.
Made with recycled fishing nets.
Carrying capacity: 488 cubic inches
Redington WAYWARD Guide fishing shirt
A classic fishing shirt. No frills. Time-tested essentials only.
The goods: 3-season, mid-weight pill-resistant fabric that dries quickly. UPF 30+ sun protection. A design that is mindful of casting and overall comfort. Hidden, low-profile fly-box pockets along with hidden snaps that secure the collar for so it’s equally at home during windy days on the river or on the flats.
Superior breathability: I wore this shirt in a wide variety of weather conditions and never felt too warm or too cold.
My favourite thing about this shirt: hard-to-beat price. Buy both of two available colours and cover your entire fishing season in style.
ORVIS / Michelin PRO wading boot
In an industry-first collaborative effort with Michelin, Orvis recently trotted out the PRO Wading Boot. Michelin agricultural tires were the point of inspiration resulting in an outsole compound specifically designed for fly fishing.
Several days of testing supports Orvis’ impressive claims that the boot is highly abrasion resistant and greatly improves wet rubber traction.
A few specs: using Michelin tire geometry, it offers a wide footprint for stability, a higher ratio of surface contact, and an innovate lug pattern that reduces and improves pressure distribution – a seemingly small detail that only becomes evident, and appreciated, as your fishing day progresses. In addition, a two-layer midsole has a co-molded plate that provides improved stud retention and torsional stability.
The inner boot features a shock absorbing Phylon midsole that improves “river feel” and compresses less than standard EVA midsoles. Beyond this, the boot is higher cut for ankle support and lined with closed-cell foam, resulting in a great balancing act that gives you needed support while allowing you to confidently tread rivers and streams. Internal support and comfort are further enhanced with Ortholite to create a 3D molded insole designed for high-impact sports, delivering maximum comfort and arch support.
Orvis took aim at durability and targeted an all-too-common culprit: seam failure – by eliminating seams via use of an industry-first cast PU upper that eliminates seams while providing a zoned cage for added stability, grip, and abrasion resistance – all without added bulk.
Other thoughtful features: an oversized heel pull for easier on-and-off, top-tier laces that won’t fray, and they’re outfitted with high end hardware yet to be seen on other wading boots.
Last but far from least, these boots are ultra-light which, again, is something that you’ll appreciate as the day progresses.
The PRO wading boot is the most industry-disrupting product I've tested in a long while. Having undergone so many developments and improvements, this boot will be a star product for 2019.
RIO Skagit MAX Gamechanger fly line
RIO's new Skagit Max Gamechanger is a multiple density Skagit head that excels at turning over big flies and sink tips. Its seamless integrated densities avoid the hinging and kicking that can occur when casting sink tips, ensuring a smooth, efficient cast. This design will also give you an improved fishing presentation as it will have a much smoother transition through the water column.
I tested the 8/9 Float/Hover/Intermediate Gamechanger with a 5 foot intermediate/5 foot T-14 I-Mow tip, 3.5 feet of 10 pound flourocarbon leader, and a variety of very large flies from big 3/0 Dees to 35 mm shanks. Casting this line was easy and smooth. The powerful taper can really turn over my big flies even in the 50 mile an hour wind gusts I was experiencing while standing up tight against a 4 foot wall of shelf ice with no room behind me. I also found it far less "clunky" on landing. Less splash / increased stealth is always a good thing.
The multi density really helps with mending line. I was able to mend and correct my floating section without moving the sinking sections, which gave me the slow swing presentation I was aiming for to tempt a winter steelhead. I had control of how and where I wanted my flies to swim.
The Gamechanger heads have a good selection of grain weights between 425 and 725 grains and are between 23 and 25 feet in length with welded loops on each end. They feature RIO's XS (extreme slickness) and Connectcore technologies. A super slick, dirt repelling, ultra low stretching line that is sensitive to subtle takes.
The heads comes in 3 different density options:
The F/H/I is a good option for swinging between 2 to 4 feet.
The F/H/I/S3 fishes between 4 and 8 feet.
The F/I/S3/S5 head is the fastest sinking and will get you down between 8 and 12 feet.
These Skagit heads will need a sink tip to perform at their best.
I highly recommend these lines for those who want to have control of where and how you want your line and flies to fish in the multifaceted hydraulics of a rivers' pools, runs, and pocket water.
reviewer: John Miniaci
CAPITAL SPORTSMAN HEMINGWAY Poplin fishing shirt
Capital Sportsman decided that the fishing shirt needed a rethink, which resulted in the Hemingway Poplin fishing shirt.
It has standard components like a vented rear panel, tool loop, roll-up sleeve tabs and two large fly box pockets. To that foundation, they added an inventive roll-up collar for sun and wind protection: it folds down and under itself and remains invisible when not in use.
Casting comfort is addressed via a very generous cut (if you hover between a size medium and large, consider sizing down to a medium). Best of all is the fabric, which is 100% Poplin LeaderLite cotton. It’s a near-perfect fabric weave: slightly water resistant (water beads off of it), airs through very well and is efficient at both cooling and rapid drying. It also delivers a good degree of sun protection and stain resistance. Wikipedia has this to say about Poplin: shirts made from this material are easy to iron and do not wrinkle easily. My testing supported that. This shirt has become a standard in my fishing travel pack.
SIMMS Riverbank Chukka boot
SIMMS Riverbank Chukka is a solid, 3-season rubber boot with just the right amount of grid-fleece insulation. I’ve been testing them for 7 months, and not once felt too cold, or too warm in them. The sole performs very well during hikes in muddied areas by offering excellent traction (the TPU heel clip is responsible for torsional rigidity), while the ankle section is built up just enough to provide stability and the right amount of flexibility. The rear features a large pull strap for easy on as well as a chunky rubber prying ledge for easy off.
Overall, a really balanced and functional design – everything about this boot is just right.
Interior, moisture-wicking grid-fleece has an anti-microbial coating to inhibit foot odour
Non-marking for general boat deck wear
Scientific Anglers AMPLITUDE Smooth Bonefish fly line
I gave a ‘thumbs up’ to every single fly line that I tested in the last 12 months, and I realized lately that one of the biggest differences among them is that some - the specialty tapers, especially, and even more so with salt water lines - take a little time to get used to. Not so with Scientific Anglers AMPLITUDE Bonefish Smooth: this line is a crowd pleaser straight out of the box (it’s built with a medium-length head for line control and optimal casting and fishing at 60-80 feet). It’s well balanced, and I found the head taper and length to be an ideal match that exceled at delivering delicate presentations to really skittish fish. This line is the rare salt water equivalent to those fresh water lines that have the word “finesse” stamped on the packaging.
Scientific Anglers tricked out this line with the AST slickness additive, which really helps the line sail through guides. The line also sports a 3-colour system that helps you to determine what is off of the rod tip versus what’s piled at your feet on the casting deck.
I found this on the Scientific Anglers website, “A day of bonefishing will either be the most fun you’ve had with a fly rod or the most frustrating day of your life. Take some of the chance out of the equation with the Amplitude Smooth Bonefish,” and this neatly sums up what this line is all about. If you’ve been having difficulty getting fishy attention on the flats, this line is very worthy of your consideration.
Bonus: it’s also an excellent line selection if you happen to be targeting permit.
Built on a very stiff, no-tangle core for tropical conditions.
Top Salt Water Flies (book review)
… Flats fishing for the big three...
My first encounter with bonefish, permit and tarpon was with Captain Joe Gonzalez of Funny Bones Charter. His eagle eyes and stealthy poling put me in perfect casting position on many occasions. We landed our share of fish, but the most memorable days were the ones rife with frustration: fish tracking and following, but no takes! On those days, I got schooled on just how finicky these fish can be at. It's no wonder that fly tiers try to imitate their prey as closely as possible. It is one thing to imitate a shrimp's, crab's, or bait fish's physical characteristics using feathers and fur, but understanding bait habits and how they move in their habitat can turn a follow into a take.
Drew Chicone's, Top Salt Water Flies, published by Wild River Press, has nearly 900 pages, (divided into 3 volumes) that contain detailed recipes for 39 top producing flies for bonefish, permit, and tarpon.
Each well written and well thought out volume has large, clear, hi-res photos with easy to follow instructions on 8.5" x 11" quality coated stock pages that come in a patented Wire-O binding that opens and lays perfectly flat on your tying bench. Each volume is protected by a durable laminated hardcover.
The introduction in the Bonefish volume starts off with a thorough explanation of the tools and materials needed to tie these flies. It also explains some essential skills and techniques like properly attaching dumbell or beadchain eyes to hooks to tying in weed guards. Each has clear, numbered photos and tying steps.
The Bonefish volume contains 14 patterns with tying instructions, including Drew Chicone's famous Coyote Ugly Series. The Permit volume has 11 patterns, including Baum's Biscayne Bubble Gum and Bauer Crab – both of there patterns will increase your chances of getting a permit to commit! The 14 patterns covered in the Tarpon volume should do the same.
Chicone give tiers not only a clear, step by step guide to tying realistic and impressionable flies, but also an inside look into their originator's thought process on how to tie and fish them Interviews with fellow tiers, anglers, and guides compliment the tying process.
Large photos and instructions are clear and easy to follow for both beginner and seasoned tier. Each volume starts with patterns that are relatively easy to tie, and they lay a good foundation for some of the more complex patterns to come.
The books are also packed with beautiful stills of tropical scenery and silvery scales to get the blood flowing in anticipation of your next trip! Only this time, better prepared with handfuls of confidence-boosting patterns.
Drew Chicone’s knowledge and passion for tying and fishing really shine through. This 3-volume set is a “must add” to any fly tiers library.
Volumes can be purchased individually or as a set.
Reviewer: John Miniaci
SAGE Spectrum C fly reel
The size 7/8 SPECTRUM C fly reel that I tested comes very close to being a big-game reel. Specs include a large arbor and vented, concave spool surface for optimal line capacity, stacking and strength, a large, machined, one revolution drag knob with numbered and detented settings and an astoundingly powerful drag. Jacks are my go-to species when I have limited time for testing, and after four days, I didn’t have to dial in any more that 35 or 40% of the drag resistance to handle these salt water athletes.
I hand-tested the drag at full capacity and determined that the SPECTRUM C drag is underrated.
I really like the sealed drag system that morphs into a minimalist spindle housing, thwarting any dirt or debris. In the off chance that debris does enter the system, cleaning is accomplished in a snap due to the streamlined interior design.
Another great feature is the quick pop-off (or pop-on) spool that rests on a rubber gasket.
The entire SPECTRUM family features Sage’s exclusive SCS Drag package tuned per size to match fishing applications, and Sage’s one revolution drag knob for quick adjustment and reliable, consistent drag pressure. If you’re searching for a reel to balance out a modern fly rod, the entire SPECTRUM series deserves a detailed look. Series ranges from 3/4, 5/6, 7/8 and 9/10.
This baseline SPECTRUM is one of the better budget reels released in 2018. Some anglers are partial to more substantial reels – this model is right for them - and it’s offered a price that’s hard to beat.
Easy conversion from left- to right-hand retrieve.
Orvis Ultralight Wading jacket
The Orvis Ultralight wading jacket is undoubtedly the product of designers listening to customers who ask for and suggest specific features in a wading jacket. Orvis labels it a “a full-featured jacket” – and that it is (partial list appears at base of review).
What makes this wading jacket a standout, as the product name clearly points out, is its lack of weight: a size medium comes in at a mere 480 grams! This significant reduction in bulk means that you can carry it in a small day pack.
The welded, 3-layer waterproof breathable nylon shell along with YKK AquaGuard water resistant zippers and DWR finish put this jacket in the heavyweight class in terms of protection from wind and rain. In addition, the jacket is comfortable and offers excellent freedom of movement.
Other of the features you’ll appreciated most are the integrated Dolphin Skin cuff system for additional water resistance when landing and releasing fish. No more worries about fishing an entire day with soaked shirt sleeves.
Gear space is addressed with large front storage pockets and an internal tensioned mesh pocket for added storage.
That partial list:
Innovative side zip pockets feature four-way stretch power mesh to reduce bulk and increase ventilation
Rubberized tabs for tool docking
Rear yoke D-ring for net attachment
Three-way adjustable storm hood with laminated brim
HATCH Nipper 2
The Hatch Nipper 2 is crafted from 6061-T6 aluminum, protected with type II anodize, and finished with a misted texture for improved grip. That misted texture also means reduced reflectivity on the water. Flash diminishes stealth: all top tier fishing tools should have a matte finish.
Where Hatch distinguishes itself from the pack is that the cutting blade comes down on a flat surface, thereby completely eliminating the possibility of blade misalignment, which can occur on blade-to-blade nippers. Cleanly cuts through heavy gage mono and flouro like butter.
Nipper 2 also features a clever knot tension post to hold knot loops and small flies for making streamside rigging quicker and easier.
Top tier design, machining, construction and finish means you get a fishing tool that will last a lifetime.
Blades are replaceable.
PATAGONIA Micro Puff Storm Jacket
This jacket is Patagonia’s new standard-bearer, and it’s all about streamlined performance.
What the Patagonia did, essentially, was take one of their most popular products - the ubiquitous Micro Puff jacket – turned it inside-out, and added a protective and ultralight 2-layer waterproof/breathable H2No fabric shell. The result is outstanding in its weather-shedding capabilities, as well as for its warmth and comfort. Another big plus: it’s crushes down to the size of a sandwich, so it won’t take up valuable real estate in your pack or bag (PlumaFill insulation bounces back to full volume and into shape in seconds).
Other innovative features: tapered hood design, featherlight cuff fasteners.
Summary: the lightest, most weatherproof jacket in Patagonia’s famed line up.
LOON Blue Ribbon and Dust
LOONs Blue Ribbon desicant is described as a premium powder flotant. It’s the equivalent of crushed silica beads – the stuff in small sachets that’s included in packaging in order to keep delicate electronics and leather goods from coming into contact with moisture. Blue Ribbon is actually micro-crushed silica particles, so they get into every nook and cranny of even the smallest fly. A 2 or 3 second shake in the pop-top container is all is takes to eliminate all moisture from your fly. A simple yet brilliant product that works extraordinarily well. If you fish dries, this is a must-have accessory.
LOON Dust (applied to dry flies with a small brush, included) works on an even smaller scale (I suspect it’s the same stuff as LOON Blue Ribbon, only ground finer, but I can’t guarantee that). Once brushed on, you can work the powder into the fly fibers with your fingers – and it works extremely well, too. Due to the superfine nature of the particles, it’s particularly suited for CDC.
For increased floatability, it can also be worked into a fly line with your fingers. I conducted an experiment with this product that consisted of treating a natural fur and feather fly, then dunking it in water to see if it pops back to the surface. It did. At the time of writing, that fly has been sitting in water, in a glass on my desk, for the past 17(!) days. It’s still floating high & dry. ‘Nuf said.
BROOK Fly Box
Military spec was the term that came to mind when I first saw the Brook fly box and boat patch. The heavy duty hinge and 2.5mm thick polycarbonate box (plus lid) combine to make up something out of a Terminator film. Features heavy duty clip closure, dual, dense silicone inserts for high-capacity and ultra secure fly storage. Surprisingly, the box also floats.
Brook also makes a metal-backed fly patch and a large format boat fly patch, both of which sport the same bullet-proofness.
If you’re prone to abusing your gear, this is the stuff for you.
Tacky FLYDROPHOBIC fly box
One of the most innovative fly fishing objects that I saw at ICAST 2018.
It’s hard not to love a product that pays for itself, and this one will - possibly several times over – depending on how negligent you are with your flies.
The strong polycarbonate box is fitted with a top-tier rubber gasket and an eVent membrane that is applied an attractive trout-pattern vented box lid. This box ‘breathes’, and the result is non-rusted flies.
Contents remain very secure when pressed into the dense silicone base, and that base has vertical siping which allows for the unsurpassed fly organization and capacity.
Down side: one size only… I hope Tacky produces this box in other sizes.
I’ve been testing the Simms Bulkley jacket for the last 90 days in deadly cold temperatures, wind, sleet, snow and rain. The best way to describe the Bulkley is to call it the all-dressed pizza of cold weather jackets: it has everything.
Simms combined a total 160 grams of PrimaLoft insulation and added GORE-TEX cladding to create a very warm, waterproof fishing jacket for the coldest, harshest weather.
Among the many features that you’ll appreciate on the water (see Simms.com for the entire, etensive list), is an ergonomically tailored, 3-point adjustable, insulated storm hood (includes tether band for cinching up in the event of heavy winds or if boating). There are also a couple of innovations like a jacket hem that features waterproof GORE-TEX inside and out to keep you drier in deep wading conditions and a watertight cuff design to prevent up-sleeve water migration every time you reach into the water: these two things alone are just about worth the price of admission.
Extra toppings: Fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets help defrost your digits, two secure fly box compatible pockets and a super-smooth Nylon (anti-corrosive) YKK zipper.
What I like best about this jacket is the clean design that Simms has achieved despite arming the jacket with every ball and whistle needed for a cold fishing day.
Steelhead season can mean cold, unpredictable weather. This is the jacket for days like that.
LOON Fly Tying Tools
LOONs signature bright yellow, ergonomic, powder coated fly tying tools are well designed and constructed. They’re also easy to find on a messy tying bench.
The Ergo Hackle Plier is the last plier you'll ever need. Its jaws are smooth enough for delicate hackles, yet have a superior grip and tension for slippery hackles. Its rounded shape is excellent for palmering.
The Ergo Comb is a welcome addition to your tying bench, or in your fishing vest or pack. From combing out underfur and brushing out trapped fibers and hair from a dubbing loop to reviving a slimy tangled up streamer after landing a fish. Stainless steel teeth will make quick work of even the most stubborn of tangles.
The D Loop Tweezer is a game changer for those who love making their own dubbing brushes and composite loops! These 7.25" long, oversized tweezers will hold and lock your material in place thanks to its z shape. Transferring material from the D Loop Tweezer to your loops has never been easier. The smooth tips are also great for picking up hooks and beads.
The UV Infiniti Light is one of the best UV lights on the market. Its powerful light cures UV resins quickly, clear, hard, and tack free. Battery life is also long lasting and rechargeable using a standard USB cable.
Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish has become my head cement replacement: the ultra thin resin allows lots of time to work with and it dries hard, clear, and quick.
Loon Outdoors describes its UV Clear Fly Finish as "taking the UV light that is available underwater and reflects it as a color more visible to fish." This got me thinking about how this product can enhance the contrasting floss butts on my steelhead and salmon flies. What's more, an application of UV Clear Fly Finish also protects the floss butts and tinsel tags from fraying or breaking from a fish's teeth, making the flies more durable and longer lasting.
Zingers and salt water do not mix.
I’ve thrown out at least ten zingers over the years. If it isn’t the delicate steel cable that rusts out or jams the mechanism, then it’s the coil spring that decides to not cooperate – usually at the most inopportune moment. There were also a couple of zingers that I didn’t have to throw out because their metal D-loop attachments simply corroded and failed (it pays to scrutinize your gear regularly, especially if salt water is part of the equation).
Abel sent me their zinger one year ago, and I’m happy to report the following: it’s fail-proof.
It has taken numerous salt water baths and the cable hasn’t shown one iota of rust, that’s because Abel cleverly equipped it with a super-strong nylon cord (50lb. break strength) instead of steel cable. The internal mechanism functions as smoothly as the day I started using it, and the whole unit is sealed in a rustproof T-6061 T6 aluminum casing. Just like Abel reels, the zinger is beautifully anodized.
Comes with pin and top-tier mini-carabiner fastening options.
LOON Ice-off Paste
This week, we look at small things that can make a big difference during your fishing day.
Iced-up guides are a nuisance, but that can now be completely eradicated. Just rub the guides with LOONs Ice-off paste and enjoy 2 to 3 hours of fishing with clear guides: casting and stripping line means that the paste will need to be reapplied two or three times during an average fishing day, which works out to 3 minutes of minor effort versus 20 to 30 minutes of tedious ice removal. This is one of those products that will help you maximize your time on the water. Highly recommended.
Redington Butter Stick
I enjoyed fishing the Redington Butter Stick a little bit too much.
At one point, this crazy thought crossed my mind: why are you even bothering with graphite at all? Fortunately, the logical side of my brain kicked into action and shut that thought down.
For those who have never handled a fiberglass rod, I urge you to do so – at least occasionally. The one main shift to be mindful of is to slow down your casting stroke: nothing more complicated than that.
Due to the nature of the material (which is not better nor worse than graphite, far too many anglers are fond of pitting one against the other and this makes no sense whatsoever) - these rods don’t have a stout backbone. What they do have if significant heft, and it’s that heft which translates into significant swing weight, which propels a fly line. Yes, the rod mechanics are different than what you’d normally expect, but glass rods are fundamentally a joy to cast. Don’t buy the argument that glass cannot get the job done: anyone with a solid casting technique can use a mid-weight fiberglass rod to successfully accomplish much, if not all, of their trout fishing. Once you accustom yourself to the material, you’ll be able to deliver flies with pinpoint precision up to 45 feet, and landing your quarry is entirely different (again, not better or worse) than doing so with a graphite rod.
The Butter Stick features a generically calibrated and well-balanced blank that has wide appeal. Guides and finishing are top tier and the classic, artisanal look of the very well-appointed rod handle completes this excellent package, which also happens to be attractively priced.
I recommend the Butter Stick to anyone who is fond of fiberglass to begin with, as well as graphite-slingers who are looking to add a little variety to their fishing day.
Patagonia STEALTH Chest Pack
Patagonia’s newest 3L Stealth chest pack is a tiny, tough, light, stowable and highly versatile bag designed for minimalist anglers.
This pack is packed with features: features a main zippered compartment that contains a security pocket along with a large organizational stretch mesh pocket. A molded, drop-down front panel (secondary compartment) creates a flat workspace with additional stretch pockets. Sides are fitted with a Hypalon tab gear keeper, a stretch mesh pocket (flotant/dessicant) and a hemostat keeper. Both neck and waist straps adjust to accommodate layering. The straps also include a management system that prevent excess strap from flapping around and getting in the way.
The pack can be worn high or low, and it’s at home in both fresh and salt water environments.
A small package that’s all about easy access and organization. Features padded front and back panels for content protection. Highly recommended for those disciplined enough to take along the barest of essentials.
Made with tough, 210-denier Cordura 86% nylon/14% polyester ripstop fabric.
Abel SDS Fly Reel
What better way to initiate the year than with an outstanding reel? The one I refer to is the saltwater-specific Abel SDS, and it’s a standout on three fronts.
The SDS is based on a fully sealed, steroid-enhanced drag system that can take on far more than anything described in Abel literature: the size 7/8 “bonefish” model that I tested could have taken on a tarpon in the 30lb range - with ease. This drag functions smoothly, faultlessly and has stopping power to spare. On a related note, impeccable machining tolerances result in zero lateral spool chatter, even at high-speed tears.
Ergonomics have been addressed in two ways: the highly skeletonized spool and frame combine to produce one of the lightest and sturdiest reels in its category (you’ll note that Abel went so far as to machine weight out of the spool handle). Aside from reduced weight, the drag knob is among the largest, grippiest, most design-sensible control mechanisms you’re likely to find on any reel: it allows your fingers to just about “dig into” the reel, so that you can set it with lightning speed.
Smashing good looks: I used the SDS for just a few days, and lost count of the number of anglers, and non-anglers, who took their sweet time eyeing it – this reel is the fly fishing equivalent of driving a Maserati. Consult the Abel site to see the numerous attractive cosmetic variations that can be applied to any base model.
Balances well with new-gen fly rods.
Available in size 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12. Requires zero maintenance.
Recommended for targeting the biggest, baddest things with fins.
Simms Ultra-Wool Core 1/4 Zip Top
Complaining about the cold is a common theme in fishing, but thankfully that issue is getting increased attention from makers of cold-weather clothing. Garments area getting lighter, more comfortable and thermal properties are being upped every year.
For those days when the forecast can't keep it straight, Simms Ultra-Wool core 1/4 zip top is the foundation to a versatile layering system. Features an odor-resistant, soft Merino wool blend, resulting in a top that will keep you dry and warm in a wide range of temperatures and conditions.
This has become one of my preferred layering tops because it does double-duty by preventing overheating via the ¼ zip and the fabric itself, which breathes extremely well.
A small dose of Nylon and innovative patterning provides ease of movement. A fishing essential for days that keep many anglers away from the water.
Capital Sportsman Ultimate Hybrid Shirt
Capital Sportsman took stock of existing “Swiss army shirts” (with pockets galore), noticed that many pockets and features weren’t particularly useful, and began reducing… the result, in their own words, is “a shirt that you would actually use.”
The Ultimate Hybrid shirt features angling essentials like sleeve tabs with extended sleeve plackets for maximum functionality, corrosion resistant buttons and zipper (great for saltwater anglers), dual – and ample – front pockets, and one zip pocket for important items. It also sports a clever under-arm and back vent system that will keep you cool and not restrict your casting.
Particularly noteworthy: this shirt bucks the poly trend and is made with a 100% high quality cotton that’s woven medium-thin, so dry time is quicker than an average cotton shirt. The fabric also resists salt caking better than most cotton shirts, so it’s great for flats wading. The Ultimate Hybrid shirt is tailored slightly large, so boaters should consider sizing one size down if wind flap is an issue. Summary: an excellent fishing shirt that’s attractively priced.
RIO CREEK Fly Line
I haven’t paid much attention to small water lines only because my fishing rarely requires it, but I’m all the wiser after having tested the RIO Creek line. As the name suggests, it’s made for addressing small creeks, streams, brooks, etc.
The line really distinguishes itself in situations when the difference between a ten and a ten-and-a-quarter foot cast is enormous: its short front taper, allows for smooth and precise loading without much line out. Secondly, although it excels in the 10 to 20-foot range, it will accurately present weighted nymphs (or even small streamers) at 30 or 35 feet: it has enough body and head length for those occasions when that slightly longer cast is needed. If large dries are on the menu, it excels at delivering those quite unobtrusively. I consider this line an “all ‘rounder” whenever small water is part of my fishing day and I now keep one on hand at all times.
Winston PURE fly rod
Most fly rod makers turned out great products in 2018 - the bar was set high – so it took some great designing and crafting to make a standout product.
Annette McLean (Winston fly rod designer) hit it out of the park with the Winston PURE. The rod addresses tight applications parameters, then goes on to far surpass mere technical ability.
Fly rod makers will tell you that designing a fly rod is as much art as it is science. The PURE blends those two disciplines seamlessly.
I lost count of the 5-weights I’ve tested over the years, and there have been many excellent ones. To say that I’m blasé about mid-weight trout rods would not be wrong. So when a #5 Winston PURE landed on my desk, I had no expectations.
This year, the PURE is the rod that took me back to that moment, many years ago, when I fished – and intuitively felt – that I had an outstanding partner in a fly rod. The PURE ticks all the boxes: it loads buttery smooth, it casts and tracks accurately and it really amplifies feel: it telegraphs fish activity in a crystal-clear fashion. You’ve no doubt heard & read all of these things about other fly rods, but where the PURE really distinguishes itself is that it, paradoxically, balances the feeling of an ultra-light rod (because it is just that), with a good dose of authority: all of the greatest fly rods give anglers a heightened sense of confidence, announcing that this is the tool that will get the job done. It’s a rod that you know will be taken along, without fail, on all of your troutings. I run the risk of getting poetic if I go any further, so I’ll stop here.
Fish a PURE – and believe.
St. Croix MOJO TROUT fly rod
St. Croix has added muscle to their new line of MOJO TROUT fly rods. The MOJO is built on a responsive, amped-up blank with substantial swing weight: there’s some concentrated mass in the lower third that will really aid in propelling your line.
The 5-weight MOJO I tested was happy to comply when performing both aggressive and subtle mends, parachute casts, and placed both small dries and medium-sized streamers with precision. For assessment of underwater activity, a fairly supple tip section has been added. The end result is a trout-specific fly rod that features the best of both worlds: power and sensitivity. I tried to pinpoint this rods’ feel as classic or modern and arrived at the conclusion that it’s a fine combination of both.
The well-balanced blank features stealthy black line guides and reel seat. Fit and finish are excellent. Like every other St. Croix fly rod, the MOJO is an excellent value, but don’t let the entry level price tag deceive you: this is a fly rod that even seasoned anglers will enjoy fishing. Highly recommended.
Sage DART fly rod
The DART line of fly rods is built for small water, and what surprised and impressed me most about this rod was its performance range. Yes, it will deliver your tiniest bugs with the utmost precision at short to medium distances, and yet that deceptively diminutive, ultra-fluid blank will knock your fly line right out of the park, if need be (I tested a 3-weight). Again, this is a perfectly balanced, application-specific implement that abides to tight parameters: rod designers would do well to study this blank in fine detail. Anyone who casts a DART fly rod will raise an eyebrow – or two – and wonder wow, how can this tiny fly rod do that?
Oh, and the DART is just a ton of fun to fish.
RIO General Purpose TROPICAL fly line
I recently heard someone in a fly shop say, “OK, I just wanna grab something and go.” They were facing a wall bursting with fly line options.
Specialty lines and specialty tapers abound, and it’s hard to argue that choice isn’t a good thing, but there are some who just don’t have the time, or inclination, to look deep into the fly line catalog. For those, there are general purpose lines.
RIO has offered their General Purpose TROPICAL fly line for a few years now and I always load one of my reels with it. As its name suggests, the line covers many bases, so it’s an excellent choice for anyone with a target whatever is currently swimming attitude, or who is limited to one or two line spools.
This warm water line has a hard tropical coating to resist coral damage. It’s also made slightly heavier than its rating in order to handle large saltwater flies and for quick and easy loading, a feature all the more appreciated in a salt water environment. The 3-line series covers all of your salt water bases: a full floating line, a floating line with a 10ft. clear intermediate sink tip, and a full intermediate sinking line with a 10ft. clear tip. Highly recommended.
Okuma NOMAD fly rod
I met Denny Kaneoka of Okuma while having lunch at this years ICAST in Orlando. We talked fly fishing, and right after I finished my sushi, he recommended that I meet him at the OKUMA booth. He had two fly rods to show off. He also said that I would like them…
As I entered the booth, Denny handed me an 8-weight Okuma NOMAD fly rod, all lined up and ready to test. I barely glanced at the rod before bombing out some casts without effort. I was immediately impressed, mainly because the #8 bucked the current trend of steroid-enhanced salt water rods that were under-rated. OKUMA refuses to under-rate their fly rods – and that’s commendable. This was a true 8-weight, and it was a joy to cast because line feel was evident throughout the casting stroke. That feel is generated by the rods’ moderate-fast action, progressive taper and Winn foregrip (which also provides slip-resistant performance in any weather condition) – combined, they make this a truly unique fly rod series that will appeal to beginners and seasoned pros alike.
Later in the summer, I fished a 5-weight NOMAD for four full days, and I felt the same way I did at ICAST.
NOMADs are budget series rods, and they all boast highly responsive blanks that are calibrated to what I feel is near perfection. They left me wondering why there isn’t more buzz surrounding them.
The current series consists of 4-section, 5 and 6-weight rods that come with a travel case and list just under $200.
8 and 10-weight models run $219.
7 and 9-weight models are currently being designed / tested.
All NOMADS come with a manufacturer's lifetime limited warranty.
Hatch NOMAD 2 pliers
Every so often, a product is released and it becomes a standard-bearer. This is the case with the Hatch Nomad 2 fishing plier. Design, materials, machining tolerances, assembly and finishing are equal to that of reels in the four-figure range.
The plier body is balanced, lightweight, ergonomic and features a perfectly calibrated auto-tensioner that functions smoothly with the requisite tungsten carbide cutters. It also sports a lightly sand-blasted, non-slip matte finish which is non-reflective - as all fishing implements ought to be.
The jaws are designed / machined to perfection, and they’re deceptively aggressive: they feature an arc pattern that is unmatched for hook extraction or rigging. Upon close inspection, you’ll note that those tiny arcs are machined in 3D: the pattern builds up sharp - something I have yet to see on any other plier. I tested the Nomad 2 model, which is the smaller of two offered: it can take on big tasks, but will also deftly handle the smallest trout.
Comes with a top-shelf, US-made leather sheath which easily qualifies as a stand-alone product.
2018 Orvis fishing plier
Ergonomics, compactness, functionality, durability: they’re all part of product design and improvement - it’s what gear designers constantly think about. I recently tested several items that really up the bar in their respective categories. All are highly recommended.
For 2018, Orvis decided to optimize fishing pliers. Designed and made in the USA, they’re ergonomically designed to work with the natural shape and angle of your hand. I used them for one busy day and think that they are hands-down the most comfortable pliers to work with. Orvis also aimed for notable tech specs that include (type III) military-spec anodizing and cutters/jaws made of Crucible CPM S35VN for excellent corrosion resistance and edge retention. Not enough? They come with a top-tier, US-made leather sheath and are designed to be TSA compliant. Add it all up and you get a new standard in fishing pliers. They are a salt-water essential.
SoftScience FIN boot
It all starts with Trileon: a superlight-weight, stable, shock-absorbing closed-cell co-polymer (aka: light rubber compound), that also happens to be odor-resistant. SoftScience employs it in many of their models, resulting in some of most comfortable fishing-specific footwear available.
The maker relies on two concepts: (1) a small change in height, from heel to toe, keeps your foot more level than regular footwear by distributing weight across several foot zones and (2), a generous, wide fitting that allows your foot to spread naturally. An excellent option for those with wide feet.
The FIN rides 6” high and fastens up or comes off in an instant via a streamlined (snag proof) side zip plus web strap. Mesh upper is extremely well ventilated to prevent heat buildup on a boat skiff. Outsole is extra broad, grippy (but non-marking) and very soft – which reduces vibration when padding around on a skiff (fewer scared fish = increased chances of a hookup). A forefoot water flow system drains and dries quickly. I’ve seen guides sporting these. There are good reasons for that.
They’re also great for wading soft bottomed flats.
Fulling Mill flies
Overall, fly fishing gear has taken a pronounced upturn over the last few years. Rods, reels, wearables (... ) there aren't too many items that disappoint.
Flies are another thing.
I've been mostly disappointed with many on-line retailers, what’s worse, I've seen shoddy flies in fly shops: sub-par materials, wonky proportions, at times misguided pattern designs and inferior hooks. Lots & lots of inferior hooks. It's disheartening.
I met Chet Newbold, sales manager for Fulling Mill flies at ICAST and asked him to send me a variety of boxed trout selections as well as one crab selection. The entire range boasts premium materials and clean, precise tying. Hooks fall into the same category: strong and ultra-sharp (chemically sharpened, I presume). Traditional patterns abound, and new patterns, especially jig nymphs, boast very clever designs. I fished only one-third of the patterns supplied, and they all attracted attention. The crab patterns are nothing short of masterful and cover the entire sinking range from type I to type IV.
Fulling Mills is a categorical go-to for both fresh water and saltwater flies.
COLUMBIA PFG Dorado slip
The COLUMBIA PFG Dorado slip is comfortable, light and dries quick, but what puts this footwear over the top is its sole. It’s formulated with a high-performance rubber that makes it an invaluable partner on boat decks as well as docks: anti-slip was unquestionably a high priority when the rubber compound was developed for this shoe.
The medium-coarse upper mesh allows water to evaporate quickly all-the-while keeping your feet cool. End result is a top-tier boat shoe that’s both super-stylish and attractively-priced. Highly recommended.
2019 Orvis CLEARWATER fly rod
When designing the 2019 Clearwater fly rod, Orvis was determined to not leave its customers wanting: the new iteration is the most powerful Clearwater yet.
The rod features a minimalist look and an attractive gloss charcoal blank. Most notable is the rod action, which will absorb and release considerably more energy than the previous gen Clearwater line. Also, the blank is surprisingly slim considering its casting capability.
Rod building technology has gained so much momentum over the last few years that it’s possible for makers to imbue even entry-level rods, like the Clearwater, with performance attributes that come pretty close to mid-range products. It’s light in hand, and adept at handling a broad range of flies and fishing situations. This rod will not leave you hungry for that little extra oomph when you need it.
An impressive 27 models make up the entire Clearwater series and every one boasts a purpose-built profile, starting with medium-action small stream rods, then medium-fast freshwater rods and fast action big game rods. 8 two-handed models are also available.
Hi-grade line guides and clean finish round out the package. Summary: entry-level pricing coupled with remarkable performance. This Clearwater will prove to be one of the better fly rod values of the year.
BUFF UVX Mask + PATAGONIA Technical Sun Glove
I used to look at people wearing full-face buffs and stripping gloves and think, “Really? Just slap on some 30SPF and a ball cap and be done with it!” I’ve also seen BandAids employed as stripping sleeves, because… why the heck not?
I was wrong.
At a fishing lodge I recently visited, two overconfident troopers returned way before lunchtime to have their bloody fingers and hands tended to. Lesson: stripping gloves are an essential anytime you’re targeting a species that can rapidly take you into your backing.
What I also never considered was wind-burn. A full day on a skiff easily means between 90 and 120 minutes of speeding around, getting from one fishing spot to another, and all that wind (combined with salt) will take its toll on that pretty mug of yours. Full face buffs are the solution: BUFF offers numerous, comfortable, sun and wind-resistant models. Highly recommended.
You can combine Buff sun gloves and finger sleeves to battle an average bonefish. The glove itself offers both sun protection and includes a sticky pattern on the palm for an extra bit of grip on the rod handle – something you won’t really appreciate until a bone starts tearing away your line & backing. Buff finger sleeves offer a perfect amount of line slip and will never stick. An excellent combination.
The Patagonia sun glove boasts heavy duty construction and can handle any and everything including blazing GT runs. Features include integrated, heavy duty stripping pads and faux-suede sticky palms (they get sticky when wet). I noted that those sticky palms will actually absorb protectant fish slime – so careful when handling fish: use only your fingers when handling small fish, or remove the glove altogether when handling larger fish. Highly recommended.
WINSTON AIR Salt Water Fly Rod
It’s not easy being a salt water fly rod. That's what I was thinking while bringing in just a 6lb. mackerel. This particular fish had a full tank of gas and enough smarts to prevent me from thinking it would be an easy take. I released the fish and only then did I realize how much I enjoyed that short battle – and the Saltwater AIR had very much to do with that. At the end of the day I concluded that this is a salt water fly rod with soul:
Fast, meet Fluid.
Technically, this is a saltwater workhorse: it has a quick recovery rate, it can handle multiple species, even offering a good degree of sensitivity when casting to and playing smaller fish. It also responds very well to overlining (the 8-weight I tested practically demanded it). If I were forced to describe this rod in one word: versatile.
In addition to fishing the surf, I spent an entire week casting to nervous bonefish and permit. The most remarkable attribute of this blank is that it really helps you to accurately ease your fly into the zone: scaring away fewer fish greatly increases the odds of hooking one. The Saltwater AIR is a saltwater template. It offers power, precision and feels light in hand – it’s a rod that you’ll enjoy fishing the entire day.
The blank sports a stealthy matte finish with charcoal guides and a standard-bearing reel seat.
The Saltwater AIR has garnered much hype over the last 5 - 6 months, and with good reason. Highly recommended.
SAGE SALT KONNETIC HD fly rod
I’ve wanted to review the Sage SALT HD because I'm a huge fan of the generation one Sage SALT.
Those who whined about gen one’s apparent lack of power will be silenced - immediately. The #8 I tested could easily have been over-lined with a 9-weight line - although I always discourage anyone from doing so. The HD will conquer even high winds. Power/distance rating settled.
The HD really shines when a little finesse is required. It tracks better than any other SW fly rod I've tested in the last 5 or 6 years. I hate to write this, because it's a true rarity, but the Sage SALT HD will improve your casts, and it's due to Sage's proprietary Konnetic magic, which really limits lateral/overall wobble. It's often hard to make precise casts in salt water environments: wobbly skiffs, lots of line piled at your feet, windy conditions and a guide politely demanding that you deliver that textbook cast now! This rod will, very technically, help with all of that.
Fit, finish, hardware and cosmetics are all top-tier, and covered on the manufacturer's site.
I don't think that I've ever thought of any fly rod as a permit rod, but if you're looking for such an implement, this is it. Power & finesse, perfectly fused. Highly recommended.
RIO DirectCore Bonefish Fly Line
I like a little stretch in my fly line because it helps protect ultralight leaders and tippet. Salt water terminal tackle typically bottoms out at 8lbs, so tippet protection isn't an overriding issue. RIO keyed in on this fact and proceeded with the next logical step to their bonefish line development by adding DirectCore. Bonefish are crafty, and their takes can and often are subtle, so that greatly reduced stretch in the new DirectCore lines will easily amount to a higher number of detected takes. Another DirectCore advantage is that you get an improved feel of your fly while it's being stripped, or twitched - fast or slow. RIO built this line with a long head and rear taper for maximum casting versatility and a mid-length front taper to produce good turnover and efficient presentation of typical bonefish flies. The end product is a well balanced, wind-cheating, low-stretch tropical line. Stalking bonefish means scouting for every possible advantage to make your day a success, and RIO's DirectCore bonefish line delivers these two notable advantages.
2018 Abel TR Series reel
Abel’s newly revised TR reel is a stunner right out of the box. The company bills this as “the return of a classic…”, but anyone familiar with the previous generation will immediately note that the 2018 reincarnation is very streamlined - and modernized.
I tested the larger (# 4/5) of the two available sizes for one full week and really liked the pronounced palming rim and large-arbor spool. Combined, these two characteristics allow you to handle the largest trout. Testing also revealed that this is a superbly calibrated, trout-specific reel with near zero start-up inertia.
The TR’s other key attributes are its light weight, due to the partially ported frame that achieves a great balance of weight and aesthetics (it’s far more aerated than the previous generation TR), and an integrated precision-balanced clicker on the spool, eliminating the need for a counterweight. Rounding out the package is quick-change spool with a threaded release.
What I find most noteworthy about the new TR is that it is made up of only 21 machined parts, so the reel is very easy to maintain and can be quickly and thoroughly rinsed off.
Finally, there are milled silhouettes of a stonefly, caddis, and mayfly inside the frame – one of the nicest and most understated cosmetic flourishes ever included on a fishing product.
Summed up: Abel updated this reel where it really counts - without leaving the TR’s traditional benefits out of the mix. The 2018 TR series is a solid, streamlined, dependable and attractive line of reels that performs flawlessly. Comes with a lifetime warranty. Made in the USA. Highly recommended.
RIO InTouch Single Handed Spey 3D fly line
Triple density is what makes RIO's InTouch Single Handed Spey 3D fly line special. The new F/H/I version is a floating line, seamlessly integrated at the front end of the head into 10 feet of Hover sinking line (1 ips), and then into 10 feet of intermediate sinking line (1.5-2 ips). It ensures the fly stays down yet allows for complex mends and line control: it will lay out and, to a certain extent, remain at straight angle even after it’s submerged. The triple density coating is perfect for swinging soft hackles across fast, uneven flows, or stripping streamers. Finally, a thick handling section and a rear weight distribution can load a rod deeply for easy roll and Spey casts in tight quarters. This is a fishing essential that can address a multitude of challenging situations at a variety of depths. Unsurprisingly, this line won IFTD’s Best Freshwater Line award in 2017. Built on RIO’s ultra-low stretch ConnectCore. Available in WF3F/H/I through WF8F/HI.