Fly Lines & Accessories
After it streamlined its fly line selections, unveiled a variety of new tapers, and redesigned some of its packaging in 2015, Scientific Anglers (SA) went back into the lab to improve on what many anglers already consider the slickest line on the market. The result is an additive called AST Plus that’s fused with the line’s coating. According to the company, it makes lines 40 percent slicker and 60 percent more durable than predecessors. And, since AST Plus is blended with the coating, the line’s slickness reportedly replenishes itself as the coating wears.
The first SA fly line ingrained with AST Plus is the new Amplitude ($130) series, which will debut in two of SA’s most popular tapers—the half-size heavy MPX, suited for trout and warmwater species, and the Grand Slam, created more for bonefish, tarpon, and permit. Each Amplitude line will have triple-colored, triple-textured coatings, and front and rear welded loops. In addition, SA added two triple-density offerings to its SONAR sinking-line selection called the SONAR Titan ($85). The idea was to create a dense sinking tip, then decrease the density through the taper and into the running line, so the SONAR Titan Hover/Sink2/Sink4 sinks at one inch per second (ips) near the running line, at 4 to 5 ips near the tip. The SONAR Titan Sink3/Sink 5/Sink7 drops at 3 ips near the running line, and 7 to 8 ips near the tip.
R.L. Winston Rod Co.
Already a noted rod manufacturer, Winston jumped into the fly line market this year with the Winston Energy ($100), a 2- to 6-weight trout line, and an 8-weight saltwater line. Though the Energy’s marketing materials could confuse Stephen Hawking, at IFTD, Winston’s new sales manager Jim Murphy explained the company reportedly worked with an aerospace engineer and its own scientific methods to tailor the weight of each line to offer the most efficient energy transfer when coupled with a Winston rod. Translation: higher line speeds and better accuracy. Moreover, Winston says its state-of-the-art line coating is especially slick when paired with its new low-friction Shooting Guides.
After a rejuvenating overhaul from top to bottom, the Cortland Line Company continues to come back strong. Two notable lines for 2017 are the Compact Float ($90) and the Omni-Verse ($80). The Compact Float is as the name implies, a floating line available in 5- through 12-weights, with a compact, aggressive head that makes it easier to load the rod and shoot line when you don’t have a lot of line out to begin with, or for casting streamers or bass poppers. It’s built on a braided nylon core and covered with the company’s proprietary HTx coating. The Omni-Verse taper has a long belly and overall head length of 62 feet, so in contrast to the Compact Float, it’s meant for extra-long casts and mending at greater distances—perfect for long-range presentations to spooky trout or carp. Cortland is especially proud of this line, its most versatile long-belly offering to date, according to the manufacturer.
In its marketing material, RIO said it plainly, “Who doesn’t want to fish a line with a name like Big Nasty?” Knowing the growing popularity of fishing big streamers to pike, muskie, and other hefty predators, the company created the InTouch Big Nasty ($90), a floating line in sizes 6- to 10-weight that has a short front taper and is designed to be slightly heavier than the industry standard to help load fast-action rods. RIO has also noticed the recent mass exodus of anglers to southern shores in the winter to chase redfish. For this, it created the Winter Redfish ($90) floating line, which also features a short front taper and supple core that is less likely to coil or tangle in cooler conditions, available in sizes 8- to 10-weight.
When it comes to gear and soft goods, Umpqua continued to revamp and add products to its Zero Sweep roster. One “why didn’t I think of that?” piece is the Guide Wader Belt ($50). Not only does this wide belt cinch around the waist and offer back support, but it’s also infused with storage pockets, places for tools and zingers, and a large port to hold a boat-size net—perfect for drifting anglers that jump out of the boat from time to time to fish on foot. Umpqua also killed two birds with one stone with the new Cooler-Gater ZS ($70), a wraparound apron that fits nearly any size hard- or soft-sided cooler (even the Yeti Hopper) and provides easy access to tools, fly boxes, or a tasty beverage stowed in one of the side holsters. These are two excellent options if you’re looking for a unique Christmas or Father’s Day gift for under $100. What’s more, the purchase of an Umpqua product helps further the company’s efforts to help protect Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
Fishpond also worked on finding simple solutions to common problems. Case in point is the Castaway Roll Top Gear Bag ($190), a rolltop, compressible storage option for not just tackle but also valuables like cameras and phones, which can fit in the storage hatches of most drift boats. The seams are welded (not taped), and you can remove the molded, padded interior so an empty bag packs flat inside your luggage.
In 2015, Simms took home the IFTD honors for its Bounty Hunter luggage. This year, the company added a few other travel pieces under the same umbrella. The Bounty Hunter Vault ($200) is a solid option for traveling with (and protecting) a lot of gear. Because it’s designed to hold up to 12 reels and nine 10-foot, two-handed rods, anglers have a lot of options when it comes to mixing-and-matching the right tools for any destination. Once you’re there, you can reorganize and repack in the new G4 Pro Sling Pack ($180). Since the pack is made from TPU-coated fabric with critically taped seams, you can wade deep and rest assured your gear isn’t getting wet. Take advantage of the large openings for easy access, the hideaway straps, and the magnetic docking stations for tools.
Last, Orvis improved some of its tools for 2017. Its nipper won the IFTD award for best accessory. But the Orvis Pliers ($250) also turned heads. Visitors to the company’s booth got a firsthand demonstration of the tool’s gripping power. Each pair, machined from aluminum and ergonomically designed to fit a hand’s natural shape, has replaceable jaws and cutters, includes a leather sheath, and is made in the USA.