Fly Fishing Retailer '07: Hair-of-the-Dog Recap

Next week MidCurrent will publish its annual “Four Feet of Anything” review of 2008 products revealed at the FFR show, but I thought it would be worthwhile finishing our on-site coverage by mentioning a few items and updates that haven’t gotten tons of press.
Ever since we had a chance to test a pair in Jackson Hole last year, we’ve liked what Kaenon is doing in turning their advantage in the sailing market into smart products for fly fishers. Their Rhino models make a great “full-coverage” choice, especially in saltwater. And of course their patented SR-91 lenses — which we discovered at the show can be ordered in prescription from any optometrist — are knock-your-socks-off good.
With travel not being the la-la land that it was prior to 2001, I continue to be amazed by the level of service delivered in the fly fishing destination business. A great example is Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures. We spent some time with owner Jim Klug at the show and were very impressed with the energy behind his endeavor. Take one look at the printed trip guides he provides clients prior to their journey and you realize that this is a company that really cares about the quality of the experience.
While not having anything particularly new design-wise, Cloudveil upgraded both their 8X and Crystal Creek boots, jackets and waders. After changing owners last year and being one of those outdoor companies that tends to draw the attention of “equity groups,” I will be curious to see whether Cloudveil can continue to innovate and hold the attention of the high-end market. So far, so good.
Dr. Slick has a few cool new items for ’08, among them their Extra Hand Tweezers, meant to be attached to a retractor, and a sensible new pair of large pliers, which at $35 were one of the best values we saw at the show.
As expected from a company that operates out of the limelight but continues to deliver utility year after year, L.L. Bean‘s 2008 plans are to offer a handful of new items to interest both regular customers and catalog buyers alike. For example, they have a new 8-piece travel rod that will retail for only $179-199, and a swordfish-bill fishing cap with two LED lights built into the forward edge.
Hodgman has a new men’s breathable stockingfoot wader and wading shoe for the extraordinary price of $109.95 and $54.97 respectively.
Fishpond will introduce a very sharp-looking new vest for women in the form of its $129 Firefly. Their new Wildhorse Tech Pack and Pawnee Gear/Boot Bag also caught our attention.
We played around with the light-weight graphite flybox made by Carbon Flybox Co. and were pleased to hear that they will be adding both a larger and smaller size to their product line in 2008.
And last but definitely not least we noted that Monic Fly Lines has four new taper designs planned for their clear saltwater lines, which are being used by most of the top anglers — especially the folks fishing tournaments — in the Florida Keys. They also have very cool low-melting-point shrink tube that can be used to instantly create a butt section loop or attach a butt section to a fly line.
Of course there are many more new products worthy of attention, and we’ll be sure to list them in next week’s review. Meanwhile we have to figure out how to fit 50 pounds worth of catalogs in our duffel for the plane ride home.

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