WE’LL BE THE FIRST to admit to a kind of hesitant obsession with fly fishing gear. In the back of our minds, we know that beyond being able to deliver a fly to a fish, fooling that fish into eating and then playing it quickly, the rest is frosting. As a wise old angler once said when the bite was hot and a novice was struggling with his leader, “Just put on four feet of anything.”[pullquote]GENERALLY, we are united in the belief that all rod design has been progressive and that the ideas about fly rods in the past were so bad as to make it amazing that people were able to fish at all. — Thomas McGuane[/pullquote]
Nevertheless, a portion of our love of the sport comes from just plain enjoying the gear. Many of us do drive to the local fly shop to shake a few rods, spin a reel, finger wader fabric, or scrutinize the fly bin for some superbug that will set off maniacal attacks by the most difficult fish. We gaze at taper diagrams on the backs of fly line packages without a clue as to how all those little variations in diameter will help us catch fish, though we’re sure they will.
There’s always something that would have been more fun to catch with a slightly softer rod or a reel that didn’t buck like horse each time a fish got his head. Reel handles, for some, can provide particular pleasure or be “all wrong.” Waders have been known to shrink in direct proportion to the number of beers consumed in the off-season, and “comfort” suddenly stands out on a label. And of course there’s always a better line and rod combo — the kind that can turn a tailing loop into a slick presentation, even with our skinny wrists.
But an undeniable truth is that none of this matters if we don’t go fishing, or if we lose our curiosity about what we are doing and why we do it. And so our guidelines for evaluating 2010 products are the same as they are every fall. We asked ourselves, “Will this product make us want to fly fish more?” and “Will it encourage us to try something new?”
This is MidCurrent’s third year of presenting an annual round-up of the Fly Fishing Retailer Show new product offerings. With the world economy now also entering the third year of a global recession, many manufacturers have laid off of the grand-scale product introductions we saw in the early 2000s. Nonetheless, there are plenty of great new ideas in fly fishing — some of which may actually change the way you fish next year. Happily, there’s still a lot to be excited about.