The International Fly Tackle Dealers (IFTD) show has been and gone for another year. There were more exhibitors and attendees than ever at this year’s show; which has been a trend since IFTD combined with the “gear” show ICAST.
While last year was relatively quiet regarding new rod releases, this year was the opposite. If you’ve been living in the backcountry for a year, you might not have heard that Sage announced their X series which replaces the popular ONE. Unfortunately for the rest of the brands, anything else new in rods was in the shadow of the X – not because the X is clearly the best but there was just so much hype! I cast almost the full range of line weights at the show and generally I found them a much more fishable rod than the Sage ONE it replaces. I think more anglers will find the X an easier rod to cast.
Scott released their new Flex series, which sit in the next price bracket down from their highly regarded Radian freshwater rods. Value for money, these are well worth a look and a good rod to compare with an Orvis Recon which sits in the same price range and has been a popular one for us in the shop.
Although it had nowhere near the fanfare of the Sage X, my personal favourite among the rods at the show was the new Winston Air. One thing that changes how a rod behaves is the fly line and Winston have designed line & rod together to get a perfect match. Winston have used Scientific Anglers and outsourced an expert to look at the precise flex and delivery capability for a specific line mass. To be honest, the technical aspect was completely beyond me but I will tell you that the Air, with its new trout line, was a match made in heaven and the nicest outfit I cast at the show.
This was an exciting year for packs and vests. Orvis have incorporated a new waterproof zip into their range that’s actually easy to open! Simms have released a new range at a premium price point called the G4 series. It’s been years since Simms did anything with their range of vests, partly because of stagnant demand but also because ‘if it aint’ broke, don’t fix it’. This year they’ve released a pretty radical-looking new one-size-fits-all vest. These should be available by the start of our trout season and FlyStream will keep you in the loop.
As I predicted a year ago… (http://flystream.com/2015/06/28/reel-features-waterproof-drags-part-2/) waterproof drag reels have begun to trickle through. Abel finally released their SD (Sealed Drag) reel in saltwater-appropriate sizes. The SD comes with a hefty price tag but hey, they look cool and are built tough. Bauer Reels was recently purchased by Winston and just like a Winston rod, a Bauer reel is a thing of quality and beauty.
Orvis have done something pretty massive and released a new Mirage saltwater reel made in Vermont. I’d say the sealing in the Mirage is better than any reel I’ve ever seen. In fact, this reel would have to be the most feature-rich saltwater reel on the market. As you turn the drag knob it clicks noticeably as you go through the range and with each click it adds about 1 pound of pressure. So with only a half turn you can go from no drag to full drag. Full drag is hook-breaking hefty (more torque than you’ll ever need). Their anodizing is the toughest, most salt-resistant finish possible (type III). These are also one of the easiest reels to change from left to right hand wind or vice versa. The reel foot is strategically curved around the stem so your leader doesn’t kink when you wrap it around it… the list of great features goes on. My only complaint is I think it could look prettier. Other than that, it’s faultless.
Fans of cassette spool-based reels will like the new Hardy Ultralite ASR. The new model is lighter, has a good drag for trout and because it comes with a few spools, they are great value.
Redington have released a new RISE family of fully machined reels that have strong drags whilst being super light. Redington have really nailed the aesthetics of this new reel. Trout anglers will go nuts over these and if you’re in the market for a new reel on a budget, you’d be mad not checking these out.
3D printing has started to trickle into fly design with some super-realistic patterns coming out from various fly brands. Meanwhile, Simms continue to pump out extraordinary apparel for fishing. Their new ‘Bi-Comp’ shirt is of particular interest.
Orvis have topped the accessories category in my view with the release of USA-made nippers and pliers.
Tacky Flyfishing continue to innovate fly boxes with the announcement of a new Dry Fly box that will hold flies securely whilst protecting fragile hackles. They were awarded an IFTD Best Of Show Fly Box award for their efforts.
Over the next couple of months these products will start to arrive in your local fly shop. For the latest in new and tested products, be sure to read ‘Behind The Line’ and ‘FlyStream Tested’ in FlyStream magazine.
When not fishing, Andrew Fuller helps run The Flyfisher in Melbourne. If you value expert advice with your flyfishing purchases, get in touch with Andrew and his team: www.theflyfisher.com.au