The Fly Fusion team tested the stillwater and nymph rods in Cortland’s new MKII Competition Series. Testers found the MKII Lake Rod (a 10ft, 6-wt) to perform very well on many different levels. The length of the rod provided a few advantages for the stillwater angling environment. It handled long leaders well and also provided extra leverage when sitting closer to the water in a pontoon boat. The rod also had enough backbone to handle the newer extra-weight stillwater lines. When battling larger stillwater trout, the extra length allowed for better control of the fish, which was critical when close to a doubled-anchored boat. The Fly Fusion team also enjoyed testing the 10’6”, 3-wt MKII Nymph Rod. This rod excels as a nymph rod. Even with the extra length it feels light and is sensitive in all the right places. It bends deeply and loads easily. The rod also is soft enough in the tip that testers weren’t breaking off fish at the hook set. The rod has a sharp-looking down-locking reel seat and a comfortable fighting butt for proper weight distribution. These rods will find a place in the hearts of the stillwater and nymphing crowd. (USD $675)
The line designers at Scientific Anglers gave their stillwater line series a facelift this year. There are five new lines for different stillwater situations. Three of them are designed to fish the upper water column. With a sink rate of one inch-per-second, the primary purpose of the Hover is to enable an angler keep the fly in the film. The Clear Camo is a stealthy line created with a muted, mottled core covered with a supple translucent coating. This is a full intermediate (1.25ips) line effective in environments where fish receive a little extra pressure. The Clear Midge Tip features a clear five-foot tip section with a sink rate of 1.25ips. Each of these surface–searching lines are designed a full line–weight heavy to aid in casting longer leaders and multiple flies. Along with the upper–column lines, Scientific Anglers also developed a couple of lines to reach fish deeper in the water column. The Seamless Density features line sections with varying sink rates allowing for consistently increasing sink rates, which in turn keeps the angler more in touch with the fly. The Parabolic Sink is created to entice trout in the lower water column. Designed to sink in a U-shape to suspend flies off the bottom, the line has a Sink 3 running line, a Sink 5 head, and a Sink 3 tip. The two deep–sinking lines have 10– and 20–foot hang–markers and are created two line weights heavy. (USD $89.95)
Over the winter months and into spring Fly Fusion tested Orvis’ Pro Wading Jacket, which is available in two colour combinations: black with ash, and grain with ash. Testers appreciated many features the coat offered. Orvis designed the coat specifically for the fly fisher who spends a lot of time on the water, and many of the features reflect this. There are anchor points for forceps on either side of the chest, making this essential tool very accessible. Below the hood, there’s a D-ring net-attachment for easy access. The waterproof jacket is also very comfortable, and has room for under-layers for those who fish in colder temperatures and need a waterproof shell. With water-resistant zippers and cuff systems, this jacket is built to withstand nasty fall, winter, and spring days. The coat has two hand-warmer pockets and two gear pockets. This coat is a great buy for anglers who spend lots of time on the water in inclement weather. (USD $349)
RIO DirectCore Flats Pro line impressed the testers on many different levels. Simon Gawesworth and the team at RIO created this line specifically for the demanding saltwater environment. The Flats Pro rides very high in the water so it’s easy to pick up and quickly recast to fast-moving targets. The line is available in a couple of different versions, including a full-floating model and a clear “stealth tip,” which has a six-foot clear intermediate tip. If you’re planning on chasing tarpon, bonefish, or permit on the flats, you’ll want to check out the RIO Flats Pro. Click here
It may have been fast-food restaurants that originally figured out how to improve on perfection—simply super-size it. Fishpond capitalized on this concept with their industry-leading tippet holder. The Headgate XL is an enlarged version of the popular Headgate tippet holder and utilizes many of the features that make the regular size model such a success. Like the smaller version, the XL uses a spring-loaded hinge so it’s easy to add and remove tippet spools. The XL also includes two rubber gaskets to ensure spools stay secure. The XL can hold up to five four-inch spools (or 13 regular spools).
Hardy has a rich tradition and proven track record for making outstanding fly rods and reels. The Ultralite MXT takes advantage of Hardy’s solid foundation, yet pushes forward in an innovative direction. Perhaps most notable about the reel is that the MXT is six to eight percent lighter than an all-aluminum version. Hardy designers accomplished this weight reduction by making a high modulus carbon fibre back-plate an integral part of the reel. The MXT also has a smooth, strong disc drag system that’s easily controlled by a colour-coded regulator. It’s tough not to turn heads when you create an innovative reel that’s light in the hand. Click here to check out the Ultralite MXT.
Of all gear in the fly angler’s arsenal, it’s safe to say wading boots receive the greatest amount of abuse. Anglers expect boots to support them on the crazy hike into the canyon and then keep them upright on the slick rocks once they get there. Perhaps a boot’s greatest attribute besides comfort is the ability to endure this constant abuse. Enter Korkers’ newest boot, the Wraptr. The innovative exterior construction features a one-piece, single-seam, abrasion-resistant engineered skin. Innovative and durable construction, extreme comfort, fast drying material, and internal drainage channels are the reasons the Korkers Wraptr turned the Fly Fusion testers’ heads this year.
A few Fly Fusion staff members have been fishing with fishpond backpacks for a number of years now, so when fishpond developed a fully waterproof backpack the crew was excited to test them out. They found the pack remains comfortable even after lengthy use and also found the pack has the right fastening points in all the right places, which made essential tools (like forceps) easily accessible. The pack also has adjustable gear straps for an extra rod tube, which can be positioned on the side that makes the most sense for an individual’s casting stroke. Testers also noted that they appreciated the interior zippered pocket and the clear stash pocket to help with gear organization. Aside from the fishy elements that make this a fantastic gear bag, designers also included an adjustable hip belt to ensure the different sized anglers will feel like the pack was created for them. All that, in addition to fishpond’s commitment to environmental forward thinking, makes this pack a great buy. Click here to check them out.
This year Loop added two new reels to their already impressive Opti Series, and one of those is the saltwater Gyre. Loop designers created the Gyre with hard-pulling saltwater species in mind. The reel’s V-shaped spool design allows for an impressive 300 yards of 30-pound backing when loaded with 12-weight line. The Gyre is designed to resist the corrosion that can occur in the saltwater environment, and testers were impressed by the smooth and powerful drag system. The drag adjustment knob is designed in a way that makes it easy for an angler to apply more or less pressure on a fish. The handle is also well-fitted which adds to the smooth feel of the reel. With the proven track record of the Opti Reel Series, this reel is a great buy for fly anglers who spend time searching for saltwater quarries. Click here to check them out.
Some of Fly Fusion’s gear testers don’t like the idea of an off-season, which means they can end up on the water during some inclement weather. But wearing a bulky coat can make movement difficult. It’s likely the Patagonia design team had this in mind when they created the Tough Puff Hoody. The hoody provides warmth without restricting movement or making the angler look like an oversized marshmallow. It is water-resistant is well-suited to cool days on the water. On heavy-precipitation days, the Tough Puff works well under a waterproof outer shell. It is made of an abrasion-resistant fabric for those days where you’re forced to create your own path. The foul-weather angling community is going to appreciate this offering by Patagonia. Click here to check them out.