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.
The Tacky team has done it again. The crew applied their innovative silicone mat and magnetic latch system to an enlarged fly box designed to house large streamers. The Predator has slats in the mat that run vertically in order to accommodate an added feature: a wishbone-shaped plastic piece that can be placed at the head of the fly to keep the head and the hook aligned in the box. This is especially convenient for streamers that are weighted at the head. The new box is 11-inches long and six-inches wide, so it has ample room for plenty of big flies. The powerful magnetic latch is a failsafe closing system and the clear top makes flies visible to the angler. The box is durable and functional, which are just a couple of the reasons the Fly Fusion team believes the Predator is a great buy. Click here to check them out.
The Upstream Plus has an attractively distinctive glossy moss finish, which is quite different than most other rods on the market. To complement the glossy moss blank, Douglas uses a very sexy cork finished reel seat. The rod is smooth casting as well. The caster feels more of the rod during the casting stroke, but the rod does not feel sluggish at all. It’s more of a medium fast rod and would feel good in the hands of a caster who appreciates a rod that bends more deeply. The rod has a unique deflection in that there’s some feel in the lower two thirds but it’s only subtle and not exaggerated in any way. Click here to check them out.
Anglers who love the traditional, distinctive GLoomis feel are going to really enjoy the IMX PRO. With this rod, GLoomis returns to its roots. The IMX PRO is a fast rod that’s very user friendly at the same time. It’s a rod that performs well in a variety of angling situations, so anglers who appreciate an SUV type rod will find an alignment with the IMX PRO. This rod does a lot of things well. The finish is a very classy glossy brown blank with near matching wraps. One of the finishing touches that really grabbed the testers’ attention was the logo—the company chose to ditch the fish and use the retro GLoomis logo. With the classic look and classic feel, this rod will do extremely well for GLoomis. Click here to check them out.