One of the funnier moments at this year’s FFR show occurred after a young employee of Cliff Outdoors offered to drop a 5-pound hammer on one of company’s new polycarbonate fly boxes. First, I wanted to know if they had in fact packed the small sledgehammer for their flight from Wyoming. Then, after enduring the hammer drop, I suggested that they trademark the “Cliff Hammer Test;” you know, paint the thing yellow and make it a required part of the annual gear testing for all new fly boxes. Not surprisingly, they liked the idea.
There was more to the 2008 Cliff product demonstration, of course. They have two new fly boxes coming next season, one for freshwater and one for salt. Both feature clear, molded polycarbonate casing, and both incorporate some of prior years’ successful features. The Super Days Worth™ is an impressive little $24 fly box with a triple-layer design for maximum fly storage. First, a magnetic layer on the bottom is meant to hold nymphs and other small flies. Then a removable leaf in the middle holds a layer of slit blue foam that is Cliff’s trademark solution for larger flies. The top is set up with 7 rows of blue foam for dry flies. At 6″ by 4″ by 1 5/8″ this box easily fits in a fishing shirt. The company’s second new box is their Clliff’s Crab Shack™. The seem to have taken the very positive response about their oversized Bugger Barn and Bugger Beast and included the same design features in this new, smaller polycarbonate box. The Crab Shack is 6″ by 4″ by 1 5/8″, and we like the rounded corners and edges.
We also spent some time with Carbon Flybox Company owner Bryan Russell, who promised that in 2008 there will be two more sizes of their light-weight, carbon-fiber boxes available for purchase. The current C1 box measures 3.5″ by 5.5″ by 1.5″ and retails for around $70.
Bags and Luggage
Fishpond has a bunch of new 2008 products that display their distinctive styling, among them the Pawnee Gear/Boot Bag ($119), the Westwater Boat Bag, with a molded waterproof bottom ($129), and several high-end ($229-349) rolling duffels.
Tools and Accessories
Westwater Products demonstrated an interesting new strike indicator at the show this year. The Thingamabobber was inspired by guides in the U.S. west who’ve taken to using tiny balloons because of their buoyancy and sensitivity. The big advantage of the Thingamabobber, from what we could see, is its durability. The new strike indicator comes in a variety of colors and in both 3/4″ and 1″ diameters.
Dr. Slick‘s new 2008 products are designed to increase angler convenience and decrease fly tier fatigue. They’ve added a line of bamboo handled tying tools that the company says will enable you to tie longer with less hand fatigue. Other new products from the company for next season: self-closing extra-hand fly tweezers; 6 1/2″ Pisces stainless straight pliers with anvil cutters and rubber handle grips (these seem to be a great value at $35); bead tweezers; and new all-purpose and hair scissors in their Eco (economy) line.
New exhibitor Brunton — a company best known for their compasses — had some cool high-tech gadgets on display at the show this year. Among them were their Echo Wide-Angle binoculars ($229), which boast a 492-foot field of view, the $119 ADC Summit, a waterproof handheld weather gauge/altimeter/barometer instrument, a cool low-profile Gannet Two-Burner Stove, a nice little unit for $80.
Water treatment product maker Aquamira was showing off their new Frontier Pro Ultralight Filtration System ($19.95), which is a straw-style filter that attaches directly to water bottles, bladders and hydration packs.