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.
From jackets, to boots, to waders, Orvis added a number of new wading options this year. Members of the Fly Fusion team tested the Ultralight Convertible Waders over the last number of months and thoroughly appreciated the comfort of the new design. The waders have a better overall fit especially in the midsection where Orvis removed unnecessary bulk. Testers also appreciated the easily adjustable shoulder straps and the FIDLOCK SNAP used to allow for an easy conversion of the chest section of the wader from the chest position down to the waist. Designers also streamlined the gravel guard at the bottom of the wader so as to reduce drag and water collection. The Orvis wader redesign includes both men’s and women’s models, and they’ll be available in January for a very respectable price ($298 US).
For the last number of months Fly Fusion team members have been casting the Orvis H3 and are overly impressed by the rod’s unique feel and superior tracking. Orvis set out to create a more accurate casting rod and they accomplished that though the design process. By strategically reinforcing the blank, designers were able to further dampen the vibration in the rod, so it has an incredibly smooth feel when it straightens up from a loaded position. The H3 is available in a variety of different weights and two different flex styles. The H3F is designed for a caster who appreciates a deeper bend in the rod through the casting stroke; whereas, the H3D is a faster rod designed to throw larger flies greater distances.
From bags, to tippet holders, to fly rods and reels, 2018 has a ton of new gear for the fly angler. Wondering what to ask for Christmas this year? Put together a list using the latest gear review in Fly Fusion. Subscribe here or find the latest issue on newsstands.
Hodgman developed an innovative interchangeable sole system to help anglers deal with the varied terrain they regularly encounter. The versatility provided by the H-Lock boots allows anglers to switch from felt to studded felt, and from to rubber or studded rubber depending on whether they’re in and out of a drift boat or scaling steep banks on a remote mountain stream. Testers liked the idea of the versatile sole system and found that it was easiest to change soles with the boot off the foot. Aside from the versatility of the boots, testers also found the boots to be quite comfortable. Designers created the VION H-Lock with durability in mind. The boots feature a molded toe guard and double-stitched construction. If you like a sturdy boot, and you live in an area where your boots see lots of different terrain,
be sure to check out Hodgman’s new offering. hodgman.com
A number of companies make good reels, but it’s the subtle details in a reel that set it apart from others. Such is the case with Orvis’s new Mirage. The Fly Fusion team tested out the Mirage II (designed for 3 to 5-weight lines) and had an overwhelmingly positive experience with the reel. The ultra-large arbour on this machined aluminum reel enables a quick retrieve and produces less line-memory. The fully sealed drag system is both smooth and easily adjusted— everything an angler would expect from a good reel. But what takes this reel to the next level is the Orvis design team’s attention to detail. The reel foot has a smooth radius, so when the angler reels up, wraps the leader around the base, and fastens the fly to a rod guide, the leader doesn’t kink. Also, the counterbalance (opposite the handle) is not a knob but is low profile so as not to catch on line or fingers. And the handle itself is perfectly fitting machined aluminum so there’s no give or wobble—which increases the smooth feel of the reel because the reel-handle is the primary point of contact when fighting a fish. Also, the spool is a quick-release type with no extra parts that can be easily lost while out on the water. The Mirage looks good, sounds good, and feels good. This is one of those “what’s not to love?” gear pieces from Orvis. The Mirage is available in sizes five sizes with the largest designed for 11 to 13-weight lines. orvis.com