Each July, the International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD) show is held in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with ICAST, and it’s there that companies unveil the latest flyfishing gear—from rods and reels to poppers and packs. This year yielded a bumper crop in terms of excellent new releases, with major product introductions from companies large and small. Here are 19 of my favorites. Some of the products are available now, while you’ll have to wait until the fall and spring for others.
Orvis’s new flagship rod was designed with one key objective in mind—accuracy. The blank is constructed to make loading easy, so that the rod generates line speed super quickly, requiring fewer false casts. According to Orvis, the rod has a 77 improvement in impact strength compared with past models, and it tracks incredibly well with very little wobble at the end of a casting stroke. It’s an expertly crafted fly rod that comes in two flavors—F, for a moderate action, and D, for longer casts, bigger flies, and better performance in windy conditions.
Smith has developed a new type of frame technology called QuickFit, in which a wire-core mechanism is molded into the frame. A simple flick of the wrist and bend of the frame tightens or loosens the glasses, so you can adjust them for demanding and more relaxed conditions. Combine that with color-filtering lenses and optional prescription compatibility and you’ve got one badass pair of fishing glasses. Available from regular to XL sizes for all you bucket heads out there.
Korkers has eliminated stitching on their new Wraptr wading boot. Yeah, you read that right. The place where most boots fail—the stitching—has been virtually eliminated from the company’s latest boot. Because of this development, the Wraptr is not only mega-durable, but also lightweight, since less fabric is needed to hold the boot together.
This husband-and-wife duo first took the fishing world by storm with their catchy designs and state-pride-themed hats. Now they’re at it again with a remarkably good-looking button-down for all-day action on the water. It boasts UPF 30 UV protection, a super-light polyester feel, a functional fly patch, and quick-dry technology.
The Tough Puff was made for bashing through the bush and standing around all day in a favorite steelhead run, swinging flies in chilly water. It’s an update on a previous best-seller; made of a more durable, breathable face fabric; and is treated with a DWR water repellent. It also has elastic cuffs for landing fish and two oversized pockets for fly boxes.
Flymen’s latest popper took home best in show for freshwater flies at IFTD with this bug. If you’re a largemouth fan, it’s easy to see why the pattern claimed top honors, given its massive front cup for aggressive popping. What’s more, it’s constructed of lightweight yet durable EVA closed-cell foam and finished with a thin coat of flexible epoxy.
Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Pack
Fishpond’s newest pack is truly 100-percent submersible, and it’s built with an extremely robust 1680D, entirely recycled TPU-coated fabric. It’s one of the most robust backpacks I’ve seen in a long while, and it’s designed for the angler who likes to push boundaries a bit. Its open design lets you dictate how the inside is arranged, and the pack is perfect for protecting sensitive camera equipment and gear.
Soft Science Terrafin Wading Boot
$90 Soft Science
A newcomer to the fishing scene, Soft Science has released what they are calling the “ultimate wading boot for flyfishing.” Bold. But, I must say, I’m pretty intrigued by this company. The shoes are incredibly light (about 10 ounces), look really damn good, and are built with a proprietary sole called Trileon. The idea is that the sticky bottom conforms to rocks, but is still lightweight and provides impact-resistance with great support.
Buff USA Aqua Gloves
$30 Buff USA
Buff makes the best gloves for fishing and rowing out there—period. This year they are upping the game with the lightweight Aqua Gloves. Features include pull tabs at the wrists and middle fingers for easy on-and-off; a silicone palm for great grip; a double layer of fabric between the index finger and thumb, for increased durability; a bonded hem at the wrist that eliminates chafing; and, of course, a 50-plus UPF rating.
Tacky is back at it with the Predator Box, one the best streamer boxes I’ve ever seen. It measures 11x6x1½ inches. The silicon slit system uses polycarbonate ribs molded into the box—thus eliminating the need for adhesives (think about those hot car days)—that have perfectly spaced slits for storing large hooks. The box also boasts neodymium magnetic closures, and comes with five “wishbone” pieces, which hold articulated flies in place like a champ. The box is a touch heavy at 21 ounces, but if you’re a streamer junkie on a boat, or like to have the big bugs with you, it shouldn’t much matter.
This product may change fly tying forever. Each “brush” consists of up to five different materials on a stainless-steel wire; by simply turning the brush once around a hook creates a fly. Not only are these composite brushes good for flies, but they also work well for making homemade jigs, spinnerbaits, and other types of baits. Fair Flies aims to have over 100 different colored brushes available. Watch the video below to get a better idea of how this works. It’s incredibly simple and genius.
Redington i.D. Reel
$90–$110 Redington Fly Fishing
Redington’s new i.D. might be the most fun reel to hit the market in a decade. Its flat back surface is blank, and you can choose between images of donuts (my favorite), state flags, goofy sayings, and fishy artwork to customize it to your preference. Word on the street is that Redington plans to unveil a template down the line so you can trick out the reel with any image imaginable. The reel also has a smooth rulon disc drag, a large arbor, and a comfortable handle to boot.
Vedavoo Rod Holster
Like everything Vedavoo makes, this thing is simple. By dropping the butt of a rod through a loop and buckling a strap around the grip, the holster secures your rod in place, making for easy fly changes and for easy transport. Imagine having something like this while wading the salty flats, or when bass fishing and you need a second rod ready for carp. Simple, smart, and completely made in the U.S.A.
The T. Rex Mini Drifter is an angler’s dream. It’s a legit tough-as-nails, four-chambered, drop-stitch-floored fishing vessel, complete with frame and handles. And somehow it weighs only 115 pounds, and can easily be stuffed in the back of a car.
I can’t think of anything that goes better together than fishing and beer. The only thing that could perhaps improve the pairing is having a vacuum-insulated growler. Enter the Drinktank Insulated Growler, which keeps brews cold for 12 hours. Not only that, with the add-on keg cap, you can chill your beer with a blast of CO2, turning the growler into a mini-keg for your boat, backpack, or trunk.
Here’s a novel idea: Instead of getting a replica mount of the trophy fish you caught on vacation you can go a pseudo-Gyotaku route and contact the Catch and Release Print Shop. They will create a print of your fish to the exact length and close to the proportions on archival paper and inks with your name, and any other information about the catch. They have partnered with three different artists and have 1,500 different species of fish to choose from, so it’s a solid bet they can make you a print no matter what you catch.
Bonafide Kayaks, a newcomer to the kayak-fishing world, launched themselves at IFTD this year. The team is well-versed in the ways of ’yak fishing and has designed its new kayaks from the ground up. With a focus on stability and paddling performance, the kayaks also have a genre-blending hybrid cat-hull design. Keep an eye out for Bonafide, because there is a good chance they could blow open the fishing world.
With the new G Series, Scott Rods has turned a classic rod into a magic wand. Scott launched the original G series in 1976, and revamped it in 2006. The latest iteration is not a do-it-all model, but, for lovers of medium-action, smooth-casting rods, you’re going to enjoy the hell out of the new G Series. It’s 20 percent lighter than the original and bends super deep, all the while retaining a stable feel. Go cast one at your local shop.
Simms took first place with the all new SolarFlex Armor Shirt in the general apparel category at IFTD. And rightly so. It’s probably one of the most technically advanced shirts ever made in regards to sun coverage. But to me, the best part about the shirt is the patent-pending integrated hood and sungaiter system, which at first looks bulky but I can assure you that it is far from it. The SolarFlex Armor Shirt is also anti-odor, moisture-wicking, and UPF 50 rated, and features a cooling material that reduce its temperature by up to 30 percent when wet.