Sunday, July 15, 2018

Fishpond Thunderhead Chest Pack

Fishpond has been around for about 20 years and during that time, has risen to one of the top brands in fly fishing accessories. Headquarted in Colorado, their focus on the past decade has been sustainability by manufacturing products made from post-consumer waste such as recycled fishing net nylon and up-cycled industrial waste nylon.

For 2018, they've adapted their Cyclepond material into several new submersible packs. The one probably of most interest to the broad range of coldwater, warmwater and kayak anglers is their Thunderhead Submersible Chest Pack. Made to protect your gear in the worst conditions, it features waterproof submersible zippers, 1680D TPU coated recycled nylon, integrated tippet holder and much more. MSRP was TBD, but expect it to be around $200.

Orvis + Fishe Groovy Sling Pack

In 2015, Linda Leary founded Fishe Wear with the purpose of creating functional fishing fashion for women. After two successful years of growth and many new products, Fishe has teamed up with Orvis to create a new sling pack featuring Fishe's original Groovy Grayling pattern.

The Groovy Grayling Sling Pack allows for all-day comfort, while providing beaucoup accomodation for fly boxes, tippet spools, tools and other necessities. A side bottle holder that fits medium-sized stainless canisters as well. MSPR is $89.

Orvis Clearwater Revival

The budget offering in the Orvis line of reels has been the Clearwater. These die-cast reels feature a matte gray powder coat finish and a powerful inline, Rulon to stainless, stacked disc drag system. It also has a positive click drag knob for consistent settings.

For 2019, the Clearwater has been given an upgraded look that more closely matches the higher-priced Mirage series. Also, there's a new member of this family - a cassette version that comes with a casette spool on the reel, along with two spare spools. This offers the fly angler the option of loading different weight lines on the same reel. Or different type lines (floating vs intermediate vs sinking).

Orvis Mirage LT fly reel

For 2019, Orvis has taken one of their most popular reels and made it 30% lighter and with a narrower spool. How light? The LT3 - for 8-weight rods and lines - weighs a mere 4.3 ounces.  Why a narrower spool? While the debate of wide spool vs narrow spool will probably rage on forever, the majority of seasoned fly anglers prefer spools around 1 inch in width. Being that the Mirage is a reel experienced anglers will fish for a lifetime, it all makes sense they buy what they prefer!

Despite it's dashing new look and light weight, the Mirage LT offers the same features as the regular Mirage: machined from 6061 aluminum, hard-anodized, with a sealed, maintenance-free drag system, with no start-up inertia and a fine-tuned drag adjustment.  MSRP will range from $329 to $389.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Taylor Anomoly fly rod

Casting the Anomoly 8-weight at ICAST
Taylor Fly Fishing started out as a reel company.  And then expanded into the rod business. With engineering backgrounds, design and innovation was the strength of TFF. When the company braintrusts aren't in design mode, they're out testing - that means fishing their prototypes.

Like premium rod makers Sage, Winston, Orvis et al, Taylor utilizes proprietary nano resins and super high modulus carbon fiber to create rods that are extremely strong, yet lightweight. The latest in this technology are their new Anomoly rods. These light blue rods feature a thin profile and titanium recoil guides - lighter, stronger, and virtually unbreakable.  Rod models are all 9-foot, 4-piece, with three weight models - 4, 5, and 8. MSRP is $649.  And come with a lifetime warranty.

These rods cast as well in our testing as several of the top premium rods from the big names, and even better than some.  The one caveat is that they're made overseas. Still, considering that the top USA rods are over $800, the Anomoly series should be another strong seller for TFF.

Taylor Enigma 2.0 series reels

Another upgrade in the Taylor Fly Fishing lineup for 2019 is the Enigma series reels. The Enigma ESD (Exterior Sealed Drag) was created as a hybrid between a sealed and unsealed reel.  The drag is unsealed, while the clutch and bearings - parts most likely to fail or freeze - are completely sealed. The Enigma has been their best selling fly reel, with a base price under $200. 

For 2019, the Enigma 2.0 still offers the exterior sealed drag, but with a slightly upgraded carbon fiber drag system, and a smaller frame to lessen weight. But what caught the eye of many IFTD attendees was the reel's elaborate fish imagery hard anodized into the reel spool. Contributed by renown artist David Danforth, it gives a buying option found in the most expensive reels yet at a very affordable price. Reel sizes range from a 2-weight to a 9-weight, with MSRP from $199 to $219.   

Taylor Revolution Z fly reel

Several years ago, Matthew Taylor came up with a design for a better fly reel for budget buyers.  He funded his idea through Kickstarter and Taylor Fly Fishing was born. As Taylor's customers expanded their fishing horizons, Matt decided to upgrade his offerings to meet their needs. The Revolution has been their top-line reel the past couple of years. It's sealed, stacked disc drag system offered an incredible 25 pounds of drag pressure!

For 2019, the Revolution has been replaced by the Revolution Z. Lighter, smoother drag, and zero inertia. To make the reel as light as possible - to help balance the new ultralight saltwater rods like the Winston Salt Air and Sage Salt HD - the frame is made of carbon fiber. According to Matt, it's the toughest carbon fiber on the planet!  The Revolution Z comes in four sizes, to handle lines from 4-weight to 12-weight. MSRP is $460 to $550.  It also comes in multiple colors that are the Taylor trademark. 

Winston introduces new PURE light line series

At IFTD this week, Winston introduced two new rods - the Salt Air (previewed earlier) and the PURE light line series. The PURE is a moderate action rod with a very slim profile, designed for open loops needed for fine dry fly presentation. Yet when test casting the 8-foot, 4-weight, it put out a great deal of line for this type of rod. It's not  quite as lot as the fast-action Air series, but light enough to cast all day with no fatigue.

Winston attributes the qualities of the PURE rod to the Boron III technology, combined with advanced taper design. Like all Winston rods, the PURE is handcrafted in Twin Bridges, Montana, and carry a lifetime warranty. There are 10 models ranging from 7-foot, 2-weight to 9-foot, 5-weight.  MSRP is $850.  Blanks are also available for $425.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Pelican Catch 130 kayak with HyDryve

Yesterday we mentioned a new low in the price point of pedal drive kayaks - Brooklyn Kayak Company's $1500 PK11. Well, yesterday we saw two more kayaks at that price point - and even one under 1000 dollars!

The most intriguing of these new low priced pedal yaks is the Pelican Catch 130.  This is the first pedal drive model in their line of thermoformed boats. The Catch 130 uses the same stable, open cockpit design as their popular Catch 120 model. What's unique is the pedal system, which they call "HyDryve". It uses two flippers that move back and forth, just like the Hobie Mirage drive.  In fact, it looks and works almost identical to the Hobie drive.  This is no coincidence - the patent on the original Mirage drive expired last year, and Pelican makes no apologies for having copied their drive.

Pelican did make one improvement. Because their yaks are thermoformed - two molds of HMWPE plastic joined together - the drive slot is more susceptible to stress fractures. To avoid this, they've added a heavy duty plate for the drive to sit in. Should the plate crack, it can be easily removed and replaced.

Being a thermoformed yak, the Catch 130 is lightweight, a mere 68 pounds minus the seat and drive. The rudder system is easy to operate, and the stadium-type seat has been upgraded from the original Catch series. MSRP is just $1499.