Stuff that Works: Noteworthy Fly Fishing Products

The quality of fly fishing tackle has increased dramatically over the last 50 years. Not long ago people were using cane or fiberglass fly rods, reels without drag systems, catgut leaders, silk fly lines that had to be greased frequently in order to float, and hooks that were relatively dull and brittle. Maybe this explains why our grandfathers all carried those little flasks of whiskey in their fishing vests. While I’m well aware that some anglers today choose to use classic tackle, they generally don’t do so in order to be more efficient and effective. We’ve come a long way in the fly tackle industry. Here are several current products I recommend as cutting edge in quality and innovation:

Sage One Fly Rods

If Sage has lost a little market share over the last several years, the One series will get it all back. This rod is significantly lighter than its predecessor, the Z-Axis. The Z-Axis was a great fast-action fly rod, but the One takes it all to the next level. One series rods average 15% to 25% lighter than the Z-Axis, with increased strength and performance to boot. All this is due to a new, proprietary manufacturing process called Konnetic Technology. Simply stated, this technology stacks and compresses a greater number of lengthwise graphite fibers into the rod blank. These are the fibers that make the rod truly perform. Say what you will about high-tech resins, it’s the graphite that propels your fly line and Konnetic Technology allows more graphite and less resin. It is this efficient blank “density” that creates a lighter, stronger rod. I’ve played with the 9’ 6 wt. and 9 ½’ 6 weight and they are very impressive. Remember, these are fast-action rods, so you will probably prefer them in the 6 and 7 wt. models for nymphing and throwing streamers. Certainly they are great tools in the lighter line weights as well, but you might want to overline them for close-in work. The One took top honors at the 2011 International Fly Tackle Dealer Show for “Best Fly Rod” in both freshwater and saltwater.

I’m looking forward to Sage utilizing this technology in their Spey rods, but we’ll have to wait until next fall to see this. Try these rods out, and I believe you’ll agree with me that the rest of the industry will be playing catch up for awhile.

Hatch Finatic Fly Reels
They’re simply the best out there. I wrote about Hatch in a previous blog, and now they’ve lightened the reel further with the introduction of the Finatic model. Still the same bombproof, stacked-disc, sealed drag system, still has the reel foot as an integral part of the frame, still the ultimate example of dependability and performance. The Finatic makes what already was the best reel on the market, even better.

Scientific Angler’s Textured Fly Lines
I’ve been a SA Sharkskin fly line fan for some time. Sharkskins simply float and shoot better than any fly line out there. However, anglers have complained about the “zip-zip” noise it makes as it goes through the rod guides, and they’ve noticed that the line has some abrasive qualities—not on rod guides, but on fingers. Personally, I think anglers are making too big of a deal out of these negatives, but if these things are a deal breaker, the Textured series of fly lines has addressed the problems. The Textured lines approach the performance of the Sharkskin without the troublesome side effects. The tapers and colors are dialed in, and this premium, durable fly line should give you many days of great service. By the way, all SA premium fly lines now laser inscribe the line’s type and weight on the fly line itself. Much better than sticky labels which fall off your reel spool. Technology is a wonderful thing.

Rio Leaders and Tippet
Rio is the overwhelming favorite of our guides. This stuff gets the job done. The tippet is strong, has good knot strength, and comes on a spool with an ingenious tippet tender that keeps your tippet from unraveling; plus it also allows you to pull off the desired amount easily. The tippet tender was probably the main reason so many guides switched over to Rio years ago. Rio leaders are tapered well, and come in a variety of lengths and sizes. The 3-packs have become very popular in recent years.

What is a Buff? Why, it’s a “seamless, multifunctional headwear” thingy. It’s also “the most versatile, simple and effective article of technical clothing you can own.” (I’m quoting from their website.) Okay, Buffs are basically a small tube of material you can wear around your neck, pulled up over your head to cover your ears, pulled over your cap to keep it from blowing off in the wind, pulled up to cover most of your face – you can wear it all sorts of ways. It basically serves to protect you from the sun, or to keep you warm, or both, depending on the type of Buff you choose. You can wet it when it’s real hot and use it to cool off. You can use it to clean your sunglasses (microfiber material). You can even tail a steelhead with one. There are Original Buffs, Reflective Buffs, Wool Buffs, Junior and Baby Buffs, Storm Buffs, High UV Protection Buffs, and Insect Shield Buffs, just to name a few. There’s even a CBS Survivor Buff. And there’s a multitude of colors and designs. And oh yeah, there’s now a Buff for dogs. Anyway, I don’t know how we got along without them all these years. They really are quite functional.