Gear We Love

For the inaugural edition of the new Midcurrent Fly Fishing Gear Blog, I thought I’d start us off with a little nostalgia: what is your favorite piece of fly fishing gear that’s no longer on the market?
It doesn’t take me long to select two pieces of gear that fit the bill: the Simms Guide waders and the Ross San Miguel 2 reel.
Simms Guides are the waders that started it all; the exploded micro-fiber face finish offered softness and eliminated that annoying ‘scrape scrape scrape’ when you walk, while the five-layer Gore-Tex from the knees down meant you could literally walk the booties off the wader before the fabric failed (I’ve done it). I’ve got two pairs; one circa-2000 (re-bootied in 2003) and one from about 2005. While the absence of pockets, wool-liners, or a zipper might mark them as dated, I like simplicity and I’ve never been more comfortable in a pair of waders.
rosssanmiguel.jpgMeanwhile, the Ross San Miguel 2 might be the best trout reel ever made. Over-engineered almost to a fault, with four ball bearings, a sealed drag, and a midnight black Knight Rider-era finish, this little reel (and it is far littler than modern large arbor reels) is one of the smoothest, slickest pieces of hardware ever made for fly fishing. You usually see this kind of engineering only in high-end custom automotive or industrial kitchens. At $425 in 2000, the San Miguel wasn’t for everyone, but you’ll still see many of these reels hiding out in their old-school royal blue bags among many guides’ private equipment.
What’s that special item lurking in the back of your gear bag, never to be sold or given away? Answer in the Comments section!

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  • Toss up between the Sage 389-3 LL and the G. Loomis GLX 1290-3. Everything else I’ve cast, carried, and/or worn can and has been improved upon, but these cannot.

  • Robert Morselli

    Agreed, Zach – that San Miguel was a masteriece. Ross also cut production of the Gunnison reels a few years back. I read somewhere that they “became too expensive to produce”. What a shame. Had I known this in advance, I’d have purchased every size available. I have a Ross G4 and it’s designed/engineered and beautifully crafted. As for fly rods, I really miss those Sage SLTs. They were cut from the Sage catalog about 3 – 4 years ago and replaced by a ‘similar’ line of rods that just don’t match the SLTs. In my view, the SLTs are (still) the standard-bearers for everything that a fly rod should be.

  • Adam McDowell

    I second the Sage 389-3 LL, I have a Sage 489-3 SPL and i cannot really tell a difference between the two. I would also add these to the list
    An oldshool Lamson Lightspeed – Probably the most maintenance free trout reel that I have found.
    Doctor Slick Scissor/Forceps combos (I think they are the 5″ ones)
    The old white Shimano Stradic reels (I know this is a fly-fishing site but these are in a lot of our arsenals) – Like the Lamsons, maintenance free and bulletproof

  • I agree with you regarding the Simms Guide Waders. Far and away the item I miss most, though, are the Charlton Signature Series reels (all of them.) The 8350C Charlton was one reel that was probably even a better trout reel than the San Miguel. For that matter, so was the Hollander P50 Phoenix trout reel. I also miss the old Sage RPLX series of rods, especially the 1090-3. Finally, add to that list the original GLX rods from Loomis, but especially the Mega models.

  • Flyrodder

    IMHO the Ross R and S serie and the Charlton’s Signature are the best flyreels ever made.
    Today, the Waterwork ULA serie and the Mako reels (from Jack Charlton), are the finest.