Fly Fishing Products I Sort of Like: 2015
Instead of a “Great Fly Fishing Products for 2015” article, I decided to tone it down a bit this year, just to keep expectations reasonable. Some of these products are new, and others are not. Okay, actually I like these products quite a bit.
Abel Sealed Drag Reel
This is a new model from Abel. As with many new products in the fly fishing “industry,” I’d heard that this one was coming for many months and that they were still tweaking it. I suppose it’s good when the development of a new product moves at glacial pace, as this usually indicates they’ve worked the bugs out before they bring it to market—a novel idea for some companies.
They’ve done a great job on the Abel Sealed Drag Reel. It was designed in part by famed reel designer, Joe Saracione. (By the way, we have a couple of Joe’s classic reels here at the shop and they’re absolutely beautiful.) It should prove to be a worthy competitor for the Hatch Finatic, currently one of my favorite high-end reels. As with all Abel reels, the fit and finish is extraordinary, and you can get them in all kinds of sexy colors. Personally, I don’t feel that red fly reels should be allowed on trout streams, but I’m just old school. I guess I would fish with a person who owned a red Abel, as long as they kept their distance on the river, and provided lunch.
The Abel sealed drag, like a number of other reels, utilizes stacked discs of aluminum and Rulon to provide friction. It’s very smooth and I doubt fresh or saltwater is ever going to get into the system. The reel is fairly narrow, the same as its Super Series cousins. I appreciate this, as wider spools require you to do your own level-winding in order to ensure the line doesn’t bunch up on one side and bind things up.
These reels are expensive, $625.00 for the 5/6 model, but they’re worth it.
CF Burkheimer Fly Rods
In the past, I’ve written an entire blog on the Burkheimers. Burkheimer is a legendary name in the two-handed (Spey) world, but they still fly under the radar in the single-handed world. That being said, their market share is growing every day. The craftsmanship on the rods is superb, and they cast beautifully. Everyone should have a Burkheimer in their quiver.
Lamson Liquid Fly Reel
The Lamson Liquid is creating problems in the retail business. It is a cast reel and quite inexpensive—$99.95 for the 5/6 model. The problem is that the Liquid is such a nice, lightweight reel with a wonderful drag, that some people are wondering why they need the more expensive reels. But you do. Take my word for it. But if money is tight at the moment, the Liquid is an outstanding, inexpensive reel.
We use a lot of CDC flies on the Bighorn River because they simply work great. While CDC flies are naturally buoyant, their buoyancy can be improved with the right fly flotant. Lochsa is one of the few fly flotants that won’t gum up the CDC barbules. We’ve used Dry Magic for years, and it works, but I think Lochsa is the new champion.
Merino Wool Products
First of all, Merino is a breed of sheep with fine-fibered, soft, highly-breathable wool. There are other breeds that have wool with similar qualities—the American Rambouillet for example. These kinds of wool have become very popular today. I’ll devote an entire blog to it soon, but here’s what’s going on: back in the day, you could punish recalcitrant children by making them wear a wool shirt all day. This was because most wool used back then was course-fibered, and therefore itchy. But the wool being used today by companies like Smart Wool, Ice Breaker, Simms, Patagonia, or Duckworth is vastly superior to what we had to endure in the old days.
Wool has some wonderful characteristics. It is a great insulator, water resistant, hollow, breathable, and naturally odor-resistant. It has a wide comfort range. An old Spanish proverb says, “Wherever sheep’s feet touch the ground, the land turns to gold.” I can vouch personally for the fact that wherever sheep’s feet touch the ground, there will be sheep shit all over the place—Spaniards tend to overstate things. Then again, if you look at the prices of the new wool garments, maybe they were right all along. Yet, while the stuff is expensive, I think it’s worth every penny.
Here’s an interesting piece of information about wool garments: U.S. Special Forces soldiers love the stuff as their next-to-skin material. This is because of all the positive qualities previously mentioned, but primarily because wool won’t melt into your skin when exposed to heat.
We carry wool garments from Simms and Patagonia. You won’t be sorry if you buy it.
Kast Steelhead Glove
For years, outdoor recreationists have searched for a glove that will keep their hands warm and dry, while still providing the ability to tie knots, send text messages on their cell phone, and lovingly fondle large game fish before they are released unharmed. Sad to say, that day hasn’t arrived yet. However, Kast Steelhead Gloves are moving in the right direction. They will keep your hands fairly warm and dry, and you can fish with them as long as you don’t try to tie blood knots with 6X tippet. These gloves are very high quality and even won a Fish Alaska Magazine “Editor’s Choice Award.” That’s a big deal because Alaskans are crazy, and will often be found hunting or fishing when normal people are boarding up their windows, praying for divine intervention. Anyway, Kast Steelhead Gloves are waterproof, windproof, and breathable. They have a very light fleece lining made out of a material that stretches just a little bit, and they have a cuff that allows you to tighten the glove up on your wrist. Cost is $79.99 and worth every penny.
Simms Dry Creek Boat Bag
This is a great, waterproof boat bag. It comes in two sizes. It has interior dividers and a strap attachment for carrying it to and from the boat. It has a zippered lid envelope. But the really cool thing is the magnetized Catch & Release buckle system that spins automatically into the lock position. So you can zip the bag closed if want to, but if you need to get in and out of the bag easily, just use the magnetized buckle system. I like the system so much that if the fishing is slow, I’ll play with it for hours. Very clever.