‘Tis the season. Aren’t quite sure what to get your favorite fisherperson? Here are a few high-quality, cleverly designed fishing essentials that are guaranteed to put smiles on faces.
If you’re facing cold and wind, but not necessarily moisture, Patagonia’s Fjord Flannel Jacket is just the ticket. The company took an existing and very popular product, the Fjord flannel shirt, made with organic cotton, and added a Therma-green insulating layer with a poly liner to keep things warm and windproof, then tailored it as a short jacket. Fly casting is unrestricted due to both internal and external rear pleats. The result is one of the most versatile and best-fitting jackets in the entire line. Can be worn as a one-off over a T-shirt, or used as a multi-layer component, so it’s a true 3-season piece. Made of super-soft, highly breathable flannel, eliminating the sweats if temperatures take a slight upturn. Features a standard, somewhat minimalist jacket cut, so makes for excellent hiking or boating wear. Concealed hand-warmer pockets round out the package. Streamlined, comfortable, light-weight, flexible and warm make this a fishing essential. $169
I’ve had the opportunity to test 4 different wading boots over the last sixteen months, and Orvis’ Pivot premium (Boa system) wading boot was a top-performer. They come with the standard fare you’d expect in a premium package: light weight, heavy duty construction and extreme comfort. What made the Pivot more notable is that they ride a little higher at the ankle than most other boots, thereby providing an extra secure fit and added stability. Orvis bonded extra-large tensioners to this model boot, improving an already solid (Boa) lace up system by providing extra-smooth closure and true proportional lace-up tension—a big part of that extra comfort. Dual rubber Vibram Idogrip sole provides excellent traction and durability. Can be outfitted with studs, if required. $199
The Redington VICE is a classically styled, fast-action fly rod that strikes the right balance between sensitivity and power. The 5-weight I tested was an enjoyable experience: equally adept at sensing small trout as it was at landing chunky bass. Intelligently built up multi-modulus blanks deliver speedy casting recovery along with a high level of accuracy and control. Subtle design touches (black anodized snake guides, saltwater-grade components) work together to create a truly outstanding fly rod value. $199 tag includes lifetime warranty—impressive. Available in a wide range of specialty sizes for unique applications.
If you’ve ever tried tying a knot with frozen fingers, you’ll know that keeping your hands warm and your fingers nimble is critically important. SIMMS ProDry gloves will get you through the coldest days of the season. Soft internal liner for warmth, coupled with a rugged yet flexible shell. Features Velcro sizing band and durable, and goat leather palms that are ultra-grippy when wet. One of the very few gloves that won’t obliterate sensitivity: even the most subtle takes won’t go disguised. Gore-Tex rounds out an outstanding package. $99
Tacky Fly Fishing has just added a fifth gem item to their catalog, the Dry Fly Box. Comes with all the high-quality features in their other products: strong magnetic closure, see-through/shatterproof lid and an innovative 3D silicone mat that will coddle your delicate dries. No more smashed hackles or ruined tails from here on. Your flies are worth it. Impressive storage capacity: houses up to 199 flies. $30
Dr. Slick Bullet Head Pliers occupy a category hot spot: not quite as dainty or delicate as a standard forceps, yet not as chunky/heavy as a standard fishing plier. Features a short, paddle-shaped jaw with an aggressive structure for handling even the most difficult operations. Additional goods include a robust side cutter and nicely textured foam grips. All of this in a 5.5 inch, compact design. Lanyard and holster Included. At $35, one of the best gear deals around.
Patagonia’s Arbor Backpack 26L is an updated version of an original Chouinard equipment design from the 80s. It requires a bit of discipline, in that you’ll have to learn how to pack properly, but once you’ve mastered that fine art this pack will become a lifelong friend. One large, main compartment plus one smaller zippered exterior compartment for instant accessibility to smaller items. It’s 26L of brilliantly streamlined, no-frills carrying capacity—the perfect size for a day’s worth of gear.
Other features: ergonomically designed shoulder straps and a padded back panel for extra comfort. Fully adjustable, tough, waterproof exterior, quick drawstring closure and a multi-point lash down system: everything the organized fly fisher needs. Made from 100% recycled fabrics with a PU coating and a DWR finish for excellent weather protection. $99
Can’t say there’s a lack of imagination in the fly line biz. Take a fly line, ramp up its body and adjoining tapers, and you get RIO’s new InTouch Single Handed Spey line. Fishing this line is a treat: comes with all of the benefits of a spey line such as excellent loop stability, excels at roll casting, and can propel flies far off with ease. Designed with a fine front taper for stealthily delivering the tiniest of flies, and of course is meant to be partnered with your single handed rod. Features RIO’s ultra-low stretch core. $85
Find of the season: EP Synthetic Trout Flies. I obtain my bugs from several sources, and I’ve noticed that far too many on-line retailers have gradually been cheaping-out on hook quality, tying materials and especially execution (something that fortunately hasn’t developed in fly shops, probably due to the fact that a sub-standard product means a salesperson is immediately face to face with a disappointed customer). So when you find an on-line retailer that consistently delivers the goods, and at a very fair price, you take note. EP Flies is one such retailer. Enrico Puglisi has mastered the craft and created a highly dedicated customer base by taking authentic pattern design to a new level. His saltwater creations are now widely imitated but rarely equaled. EP Flies has just released a broad range of synthetic trout flies that incorporate all of the hallmarks that define the saltwater series: hook quality as well as tying materials and execution are all top-tier. Body/wing/tail/hook proportions have all been considered in fine detail, and the materials selection combine to produce a fly that will last. Note that every fly in the EP Trout Series is tied with synthetic materials only, resulting in zero water penetration, so these bugs will float higher and much longer than their fur-and-feather competitors. High-quality flies, top-tier performance, and all at a very reasonable price ($2.50 per 3-pack), means no more stocking your boxes with sub-standard bugs. Highly recommended.
Orvis has just released a new-generation Battenkill disc reel which features a mid-arbor design. The streamlined and trouble-free Battenkill has a long and historically successful run throughout Orvis history. This model stays true to its heritage in looks and dependability, yet boasts a quicker retrieve rate and offers far more stopping power than the previous generation Battenkill. Underneath that mid-arbor is the same sealed drag system found in the Hydros SL, which incorporates six interacting carbon and stainless drag surfaces. Features an easy-to-adjust click drag via one of the best-designed drag knobs I’ve seen in years. Built of 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum with an ergonomic Delrin handle. Available in traditional black nickel finish at a very accessible in price. Covers line weights 1 through 11. Also available as a spey model. $149 – $199