Wondering how to spoil your favorite fisherperson(s) this holiday season? Here are a few suggestions that will accommodate every budget.
Flies. They’re tied on, cast, lost, some are discarded. We need them. Always. Orvis offers superb, boxed pre-selections for trout, bass and salt water species. Packages range from focused mini-selections like bead head nymphs, to full-blown bonefish extravaganzas that leave no fly omitted. All tied with top quality materials on top quality hooks for outstanding durability. Orvis does not assume responsibility for flies that end up in trees behind you. $12 – $129
Few would argue against the idea that Merino wool has been crowned king. The wool has excellent heat dissipation/retention properties, breathes exceedingly well, and has anti-microbial properties to boot. Start with Merino and it’s hard to go wrong. There are companies, like VOORMI, that do that—and go one step further by integrating stretchiness into the final formula, resulting in comfortable, activity-friendly items like the VOORMI Thermal II Baselayer ($129). It can an be worn alone, under a shirt, soft shell, or fishing parka—this is a 3-season garment that won’t disappoint.
The Scientific Anglers VPT (Versatile Presentation Taper) is just that. If your day consists of launching small- to medium-sized flies at every conceivable distance, this is a go-to line. Scientific Anglers is, in essence, offering anglers a multi-duty, multi-species fly line capable of addressing everything from crappie to trout and, in a pinch, smallmouth—quite the balancing act when you consider it. If you need to cast larger flies, Scientific Anglers now offers an improved version of their popular GPX series fly line, which has recently been rebranded MPX. $85
Wading staffs come in a variety of configurations: “snap-to” (elasticized) models, solid one-piece models, and telescopic. Solid staffs are mostly relics from decades past. Snap-to models rate high on the list of clunkiest and snaggable objects one can take to the water. Telescopic models make the most sense, and Fishpond’s Wading Pro staff rates high in both functionality, and comfort. It’s a full-length staff that is instantly adjustable via two quick-snap collars. A rubberized grip with an extra-large cork cap really kick up the usability and comfort level. Carbide and rubber tip included with each staff. A staff all others should be modeled on. $100
If you’re someone who tries to avoid waders whenever possible, then you’re familiar with wet-wading shoes. At last count, there are only a handful of fishing gear manufacturers that make wet-wading shoes and Simms’s Rip-Rap shoes set the standard. They feature a rugged and grippy Vibram sole that’s patterned exactly like Simms’s top-tier wading boots (the pattern works very well on slippery surfaces, so kudos to Simms for applying it to their wet shoe), drainage is near instant, and the comfort level is high due to the contoured insole and soft, padded upper. Mesh exterior with elasticized, quick-on lace system keeps debris out. One of the best wet shoe values. $100
Tacky Flybox made a considerable splash last year by fitting a hard polycarbonate case with a medium-hard, micro-slit silicone insert. The fly fishing world gave the product a resounding and deserved thumbs up. Flies are visible, they stay in place, and the box can be super-packed due to the slit geometry. This year, Tacky Flybox is offering more of a good thing with the addition of a Big Bug Box ($32), for your chunky streamers, and a compact Day Pack Box ($20), which houses a few flies for local fishing situations. The boxes also feature powerful, snap magnetic closures – nice touch.
RIO Powerflex Plus leaders and tippet now offer a 20% increase in strength, without sacrificing suppleness (verified by fishing the entire range) or upping diameter. I’ve mentioned on many occasions that the most important thing a gear manufacturer can offer any angler is increased confidence, and RIO is offering just that: who wouldn’t want to fish knowing their terminal tackle is now able to handle 20% more strain than before? I asked RIO to send me a large batch of these leaders for testing, which I did at home, using a variety of weights on the entire leader range. The 20% claim bears out. The leaders also provide excellent energy transfer, greatly assisting with fly turnover. $9.95 per two-pack. Corresponding tippet spools are wound with 50 yards of material, $9.95/ea.
The lowly zinger, which no one pays attention to, often fails. It has happened to all of us, and with good reason: the vast majority of zingers are constructed with the cheapest of materials. Add inferior manufacturing to the equation and you have to wonder why it has taken this long for someone to say “enough.” Last year Abel said “enough” and produced a zinger that bears all of the outstanding qualities featured in their world-class reels. The result is a fail-proof, fool-proof, salt-water-friendly zinger that far outperforms every other zinger out there – and can justifiably be considered a fishing essential. It features a dual attachment system, super-strong 36” quick-retracting cord (40lb. test), and aerospace-grade machined aluminum housing. $60
New product reviews are the reviewer’s staple, but every year I like to (re)profile an item or two that has been around for a little while: items that have stood strong for at least some measure of time. This year, I selected the St. Croix Avid fly rod as that candidate. The current pearl-green Avid has been available since 2012 and, according to St. Croix, will remain available at least through to the end of 2016. The rod’s superb blank formula has garnered a loyal following among North American trout enthusiasts. Anyone looking for a sensitive, classic trout rod can’t go wrong with the tried & true Avid. St. Croix designers and engineers achieved a classic feel by exploiting proprietary, lab-based developments like Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) technology, which essentially eliminates ferrule transition points with the goal of optimizing energy transfer, resulting in one of the sweetest casting and fish-playing instruments currently available. Packed with pertinent goods like slim-profile ferrules, select grade cork handle, all backed by a St. Croix lifetime limited warranty. If you’re looking for an outstanding value in a trout rod, key in on the Avid series. $270 – $310