2008 Fly Fishing Retailer Show – Morning Three

Wading deeper into the concrete corridors of the Denver Convention Center brought us closer, yesterday, to the exhibitors who didn’t bet on a front-row position to sell their ’09 product. Among them: Hardy and Grey’s, who in their first year of handling their own distribution in the U.S. brought a staff of 10 or more to man a very active booth lined with dozens (hundreds?) of different rods and reels ranging in price from $200 to $10,000. A third British invasion (if you remember the Beatles)? May be. The first good news for fans of fly fishing gear with a long pedigree and deserved reputation is that Hardy will make the “Perfect” fly fishing reel again, using the exact same specifications used in 1923 (sans brass foot). Pick one of these little beauties up, and I challenge you not to want one.
At the other end of the hall, Ross touted a new, lighter Momentum fly reel for salmon and saltwater, as well as a higher-end expansion to their Ross Worldwide line, machined overseas, and the smart-looking new Vexsis, which has distinctive and very appealing double-convex shape (imagine two shallow bowls, one inside the other). In the middle, we had a chance to spend time with Hatch Reels, whose products are very impressive feats of engineering (8-layer drag systems — really) and an up-and-coming favorite of the other product reviewers we spoke to.
But the day was full of little surprises too. Tight Line Enterprises, who last year won the Ka’Ching award (retailers’ favorite) for the magnetic rod and fly holders, showed us a very clever little plastic device that makes threading tippets through tiny flies a breeze. A magnet holds the hook eye in a small groove; slide the tippet end down the groove and, voila.
Of course we’ll cover all the week’s discoveries in our extended show coverage (be sure to listen to last night’s podcast if you haven’t already), but I did want to mention one other interesting bit of news. At the end of yesterday’s show we had a chance to visit with the engineers at the Scientific Anglers booth. Seems there has been a bit of a “dust-up” over just how abrasive the new Sharkskin coatings have been to fly rod guides. Well, SA wanted to find out exactly how abrasive they are as well, so they put all the top fly lines from all the manufacturers through a 800,000-cycle test of tip-top wear. If you trust the measurements of a $750,000 Interferometer machine, turns out Sharkskin is among the least abrasive fly line coatings.

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  • Art McEvoy

    Interesting test of SA’s Sharkskin abrasiveness. Sharkskin coating results in very little surface contact on hard surfaces. It seems to be another issue when it come to wet skin, however. I’ve heard of a deep laceration caused by allowing the line to fly over wet fingers upon release. More data needed.

  • Andrew Grabham

    One thing I don’t like about the sharkskin is the noise through the guides! I guess as I get older and deafer it won’t matter so much. Any line is going to burn your hands if you try to stop a big fast running fish dead in its tracks. ANY LINE. However, I do find it hard to believe that this sharkskin line is LESS abrasive. I think it definately has some advantages in the right situations and smaller fish, but it nedds to come packaged with ear plugs!

  • Marshall Cutchin

    I suppose one thing that puts Sharkskin lines at an advantage in abrasion tests is the decreased surface contact with the guides. Interestingly, one of the most damaging types of lines to pass through a rod guide under pressure is monofilament (it’s one reason you see lots of ceramic guides on spinning rods). One rod builder at the show said that they often see tip-top problems with those who nymph fish with only their leader out of the rod tip. Any way you look at it, a PVC coating is going to produce very little in the way of friction on a rod guide. I think the SA test just proved that with any standard fly line coating, abrasion is minimal, and that most top lines produce about the same level of wear.