New and Improved Gear – Spring 2018

Ergonomics, compactness, functionality, durability: they’re all part of product design and improvement, and it’s what gear designers constantly think about. I recently tested several items that really up the bar in their respective categories. All are highly recommended.

For 2018, Orvis decided to optimize their Fishing Pliers. Designed and made in the USA, they’re ergonomically designed to work with the natural shape and angle of your hand. I used them for one busy day and think that they are hands-down the most comfortable pliers to work with. Orvis also aimed for notable tech specs that include (type III) military-spec anodizing and cutters/jaws made of Crucible CPM S35VN for excellent corrosion resistance and edge retention. Not enough? They come with a top-tier, US-made leather sheath and are designed to be TSA compliant. Add

it all up and you get a new standard in fishing pliers. They are a salt-water essential.

Triple density is what makes RIO’s InTouch Single Handed Spey 3D fly line special. The new F/H/I version is a floating line, seamlessly integrated at the front end of the head into 10 feet of Hover sinking line (1 ips), and then into 10 feet of intermediate sinking line (1.5-2 ips). It ensures the fly stays down yet allows for complex mends and line control: it will lay out and, to a certain extent, remain at straight angle even after it’s submerged. The triple density coating is perfect for swinging soft hackles across fast, uneven flows, or stripping streamers. Finally, a thick handling section and a rear weight distribution can load a rod deeply for easy roll and Spey casts in tight quarters. This is a fishing essential that can address a multitude of challenging situations at a variety of depths. Unsurprisingly, this line won IFTD’s Best Freshwater Line award in 2017. Built on RIO’s ultra-low stretch ConnectCore. Available in WF3F/H/I through WF8F/HI.

The triumvirate of essentials when looking for a wading staff: is it compact, light and strong? Orvis’s 2018 Ripcord wading staff fulfills all three parameters, and goes one better. The design was adapted from avalanche probe technology, resulting in a four-section collapsible wading staff that assembles in seconds. It’s built with light and strong 7075 aluminum and integrated kernmantle climbing cord that won’t absorb moisture, fray, or stretch. It comes with an extensive accessories kit that includes a very clever fly retrieval tool: depending on how many flies you cast into the trees, this is an item that can very possibly pay for itself in saved flies. Built-in gear keeper retractor attaches the staff to a neoprene sheath that is easily attached to a wader belt.

One of the golden rules of fly fishing gear maintenance is to never put your gear in storage unless it is completely dry. Mold, odor, deterioration and corrosion are the usual, unfortunate results. SIMMS has neatly solved this issue, for reels at least, with the Bounty Hunter mesh reel pouch. Reels remain both protected and exposed to air circulation at all times.

The Scientific Anglers Amplitude Trout fly line is made for delicate deliveries to trout. Tech note: Amplitude is the first series to feature the AST PLUS slickness additive – I can confirm that the coating is super slick, glides through rod guides virtually frictionless and is extremely tangle resistant (note that this is a low-friction textured coating, unlike the Mastery series which has a smooth coating). In terms of architecture, it features a compound taper that will allow you to cast dries and smaller nymphs a solid 45 – 50 feet with precision. The kicker with this series, as per Scientific Anglers: due to the AST PLUS coating, the line will last over 8(!) times longer than other line on the market – outstanding by any measure.

The SIMMS Dry Creek Z sling pack is a feature-rich pack designed for the wettest excursions, complete comfort and quick access. Welded seams throughout with an extra-large opening on the main compartment that is fitted a T-Zip zipper for complete waterproof protection. A perfectly located tool port sits on an extra-large, very comfortable, contoured strap (the Z series sling is constructed to sit higher and more flush on the back than previous generation SIMMS sling packs). Other intelligent touches include an exterior pass-through pocket for a net, user friendly interior stretch‐mesh storage pockets and an extra-large Velcro patch for tools or fly patch. SIMMS also aimed for durability by using a waterproof 840D TPU coated nylon fabric to create a rugged, puncture and abrasion resistant pack. Far and away the best sling pack I’ve tested in 2 years.

Scientific Anglers’ Mastery Short Belly Taper (SBT) is a short-bellied fly line with an extended handling section. My overall impression: this is a beautifully balanced line that Scientific Anglers must have spent an enormous amount of effort on getting just right. It’s built with more mass distributed at the front which assists in turning over weighted flies, performs beautifully fluid roll casts and manages light presentations when used with long leaders: the short-head makes it possible to deliver flies at short-to-medium range with pin-point precision. The SBT is a chameleon of a trout line with wide appeal. Built with a camo non-spooking tip.