C&F Design doesn’t make a habit of checking the community radar when designing a product. They do it their very own, very particular way.
Despite being widely regarded as a slightly odd box due to the carbonite cladding and spiral binding that holds the whole unit together, testing revealed that this – like most C&F products - is a remarkable piece of engineering.
Most noteworthy is its weight, or lack of it: an astounding 245 grams! – and that’s for the larger of the two available models. Keep this in mind while noting that it has a 450-fly capacity, integrated tippet cutter, three tippet spool slots that not only house spools but allow you pull the desired length without removing them from the box.
The box has one swing leaf to accommodate larger bugs, as well as two snap-lid compartments for your tiniest nymphs or dries. Two integrated magnetic pads allow for safe on-the water fly swaps. Four ingenious tool holders are located at various positions on the box.
This box can certainly take a few knocks, but isn’t for those who typically abuse gear.
Carried via a lightweight, ergonomic, adjustable neck strap.
RIO developed this line to sink at a uniform rate while maintaining taper for easy casting and presentation.
The WF8F/S6 has a sink rate of 6 inches per second. As I was rigging the line up onto my reel, I noted that the line to backing end was straight cut and must be tied to your backing line. The sink tip to leader section has a convenient seamless welded loop for easy leader connection change outs.
After a few practice casts and an adjustment to my casting technique to compensate for the additional rod loading and timing, I was very surprised at how similar the line behaved to a typical WF 8 floating line. That load affected the cast by creating a bigger diameter loop compared to a lighter WF8 Floating line. I tied on a variety of flies and can report that even long streamers were sailing in full control.
Casting accuracy was spot on and there were no tangles created except when trying to push my own casting ability. The slickness of the line was apparent and although the weight of the line allowed more rod load, at farther distances (50 feet plus), the cast was not quite as precise as a WF8 floating would typically - explained partly due to the larger loop.
The advantage of the sink tip seamlessly incorporated into the line is that there is no line “jump” – or inconsistency: all the energy is transmitted from the rod down the telephone line to the fly (when a loop to loop sinking leader is added to your floating line, what you get at the loop to loop connection is an energy transfer discontinuity or a hinge point).
The sink rate of 6 inches per second is fine for faster flow and deeper river sections in late spring early summer, or when working your streamers in lakes and spring runoff conditions.
A big plus with the Intouch WF8F/S6 is that the rear floating section can still be mended in order to get the belly out of your line and your presentation down to the fish as maintaining a tight line to detect a subtle strike is paramount.
Having this line in your kit rigged and ready to go will definitely have its advantages in fast flowing water and deep pools.
reviewer: Greg George
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.
Prowling the beaches can mean wind, heat, sun, salt spray, or just plain getting hit by a wave. Redington conceived the Drifter pant to take on all of that.
Doubled cuffs mean you can drag them around without worrying about significant damage. A handy, integrated tool loop is fit onto one of the front pockets (all of which are quick access: no zippers or Velcro). A reinforced pad, to clip your hemostat onto is fit onto the opposite front pocket. The fabric dries in a snap and has a hint of stretch.
Front pockets are full mesh construction – so they’ll drain instantly.
Top-tier stitching and non-corrosive buttons round out the package.
These pants deliver on every count.
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.
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 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.”
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)
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.
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
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.
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'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 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 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.
Other thoughtful features:
Deep heel cup for shock absorption
4mm self-cleaning multidirectional outdoor traction outsole
Interior, moisture-wicking grid-fleece has an anti-microbial coating to inhibit foot odour
Non-marking for general boat deck wear
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.
… 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Latchless closure, waterproof seal, allows wet flies to dry. ‘Nuf said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.