Fly Lines & Accessories
Scientific Anglers (SA) spent a considerable amount of time in 2015 not only designing new lines, but also redesigning the packaging and naming conventions to make things easier for anglers to navigate. For starters, it brought back its entry-level AirCel line ($30). Originally created in 1954, the updated version has modern conveniences like welded front and back loops, and is available in 4- through 9-weight options. Next, it redesigned new saltwater-specific tapers for redfish, bonefish, and tarpon to improve casting and overall performance as part of its Mastery Series ($80). Lastly, SA created a new family of 14 sinking and sink-tip lines called SONAR ($75 to $90), which includes trout-specific tapers as well as the Big Water Taperthe world’s first fly line built on a 100-pound core.
The specialty line options from RIO continue to expand with the addition of the LightLine ($75) and InTouch Striper ($90). The LightLine is tailored for slow-action rods, like bamboo or fiberglass, and has a short front taper and design that makes it easy to cast on small creeks. InTouch Striper has a heavy front taper intended to load fast-action rods for close-range casts. It’s available for 8- through 11-weight rods in three density optionsfloating, sink tip, and full sinking intermediate.
Though the company celebrated its 100th year of operation in 2015, the last few years have not been especially profitable for Cortland. But it is rallying – with new financial backers and a new president – and is optimistic about the future. This year Cortland releases a handful of specialty lines, like the Liquid Crystal Guide Taper ($80), a saltwater line with a hard, smooth coating for casting around mangroves. Moreover, Cortland permanently fused the coating to the core so there’s no line stretch.
Realizing fly anglers and military operators have similar needs when it comes to gear containment, Umpqua collaborated with outdoor pack designers to create a new set of vests and packs called Zero Sweep (ZS). The idea behind the products is to lessen time wasted untangling line snagged on buckles, nippers, and other things either attached to, or dangling from, a pack – the company even went so far as to design its own buckles because nothing on the market was meeting expectations. The Surveyor 2000 ZS Backpack ($180) is for the angler who wants easy access to tools and flies on their chest, and a day’s worth of gear (lunch, jacket, water, etc.) stashed in a large compartment on their back. What makes the system unique is that smaller ZS packs, like the Rock Creek Chest Pack ($70) or the Swiftwater Tech Vest ($170), attach to the shoulder straps, making any number of storage combinations possible.
L.L. Bean is another company that took a step back and redesigned some of its most popular products. The Rapid River Lumbar Pack ($90) has more storage pockets and ports for tools than the previous version, upgraded zippers, and a padded belt. There are also two cinch loops on the bottom to hold a rod tube (while hiking) or pack jacket, making the pack a great option for “grab-and-go” situations.
While it’s hard to call something like luggage “exciting,” Simms came up with a new way to transport gear and clothing to your next destination with their new Bounty Hunter 100 Roller Duffel ($400). There’s a zippered pocket on top for a wallet, passport, keys, etc., compression straps to tighten down loads, two large zip-out interior compartments, a waterproof bag for waders and boots, and lockable, integrated rod storage. IFTD attendees thought so highly of the duffel’s design and functions, they voted it the best luggage item of the show.
Last year Fishpond rethought sling-pack design with the Delta Sling. They did it again for 2016 with the Summit Sling ($100) which includes the company’s signature dropdown fly/cargo bench, large pockets for boxes, and a waterbottle holster on the bottom. Additionally, it’s made with the company’s Cyclepond fabric; a waterproof material created from recycled abandoned or recovered nylon fishing nets. However, while it was the sling that won the 2015 IFTD award for Best Chest Pack/Vest, the Drifty Boat Caddy ($100) also turned heads. The unit has a molded fly/cargo bench, beverage holder, webbed pocket for tools, daisy chain loops, and other nooks to hold gear or flies. But it’s best quality is it can be strapped to the front of a cooler, over the gunwale of a boat, or directly to a raft frame. It’s great if you need additional storage and you’re already packing beverages in the boat or eating lunch on the tailgate.
Renowned saltwater captain and angler Bruce Chard joined the Airflo pro staff in 2014 and immediately got to work on a new signature line, the Chard Tropical Punch ($85). According to the company, the line has a compact front taper and extended rear taper to help with quick, accurate casts, especially in windy conditions, and has the company’s proprietary Super-Dri coating.