New & Improved Gear: June 2018

Abel TR Series Reel

Abel’s newly revised TR reel is a stunner right out of the box. The company bills this as “the return of a classic,” but anyone familiar with the previous generation will immediately note that the 2018 reincarnation is very streamlined—and modernized.

I tested the larger (# 4/5) of the two available sizes for one full week and really liked the pronounced palming rim and large-arbor spool. Combined, these two characteristics allow you to handle the largest trout. Testing also revealed that this is a superbly calibrated, trout-specific reel with near zero start-up inertia.

The TR’s other key attributes are its light weight, due to the partially ported frame that achieves a great balance of weight and aesthetics (it’s far more aerated than the previous generation TR), and an integrated precision-balanced clicker on the spool, eliminating the need for a counterweight. Rounding out the package is quick-change spool with a threaded release.

What I find most noteworthy about the new TR is that it is made up of only 21 machined parts, so the reel is very easy to maintain and can be quickly and thoroughly rinsed off.
Finally, there are milled silhouettes of a stonefly, caddis, and mayfly inside the frame—one of the nicest and most understated cosmetic flourishes ever included on a fishing product.
Summed up: Abel updated this reel where it really counts, without leaving the TR’s traditional benefits out of the mix. The 2018 TR series is a solid, streamlined, dependable and attractive line of reels that performs flawlessly. Comes with a lifetime warranty. Made in the USA.

Highly recommended.

LOON Tin Weights + Floatants

If you’re an angler that has given some thought to river and stream pollutants, then you’ve probably considered reducing you use of lead (split-shot). Going a step further by eliminating lead usage altogether is no longer seen as an insurmountable task, and that’s where tin comes in. Not considered a heavy metal, it offers a satisfactory sink rate and rates extremely low as a toxic pollutant. LOON has just expanded their stable of products with English-made tin weights. The weights are offered in cleverly designed (AKA foolproof) and refillable twist-pot dispensers and come in 9 sizes ranging from 0.1g for skinny water all the way to 3.2g for obtaining immediate depth in heavy currents. They’re double cut at both ends, for adjusting or re-use and have a durable matte coating, making them far more stealthy than your average lead split-shot. What I liked most about them is that they’re textured, so they won’t slip down your tippet section like average split-shot. Two color schemes available: matte charcoal and matte camo.

Dry flies—they need to stay high & dry to function properly, LOON has risen to that challenge by offering no less than five floatant options. I tested all of them. Aquel is LOONs premium, silicone-based floatant. It covers flies well in warm environments, and does just as well (won’t glob up or get goopy) in cold environments. Flies float high and continue to do so for a long time. This is a five-star product.

Royal Gel is the same product, but includes an additive to boost iridescent reflection that mimics clear wings or reflective casings.

Payette Paste comes in a ferrule wax container, and has the consistency of a soft wax. This is the go-to solution when you’re obliged to cast into a waterfall. You’ll have to take a few extra seconds to rub this paste into the fly, but once done, strike water penetration from your list of concerns.

Fly Spritz 2 comes in a spray format and is water/alcohol based. This is a quick solution for more delicate flies that won’t respond well to a thick layer of paste—or even regular silicone floatant. Two spritzes (one on each side of the fly) is enough. Careful not to over-spray your flies—like I did—as the product can leave a fine, chalky residue after drying.

Finally, LOONs most innovative floatant solution: Lochsa. This is an ultra-low viscosity gel that will quickly penetrate even the most tightly wound fly bodies. Can be used on any fly, but really excels on CDC and soft hackles. Another five-star product.