Buyer's Guide 2003 - Flyfishing Tackle

The best in fly rods and a beautifully engineered reel.

Field & Stream Online Editors

1. Ross | Evolution Large-Arbor Fly Reel
Some large-arbor trout models are so big and heavy they can throw off the balance between rod and reel. The Ross Evolution retains the fast-retrieval capability of large-arbor design yet is engineered to be lighter, so it balances with lightweight rods. These are beautifully machined reels, and the No. 2 size (suitable for a 5-weight line and backing) is a paltry 3.9 ounces-so you won't tire out before the trout do. $250¿¿¿$330; 970-249-1212; www.ross-reels.com

2. L.L. Bean | Travel Series 9-Piece Fly Rods
Everything about L.L. Bean's new travel rods is easy. These nine-piece beauties break down into 13-inch sections, so they're no trouble to carry. The ferrules have alignment marks for quick assembly. Casting is smooth, which isn't always true of travel rods. Even the case is easy: Sleeves sewn around the inside of the tube let you stow the sections in order. Plus, they're not hard on the wallet._ $225¿¿¿$245; 800-441-5713; www.llbean.com_

3. Sage | TCR Fly Rods
The fast line speeds, tight loops, and long casts of the TCR will enable the serious flyfisherman who demands technical precision and distance to ace any angling test. This ultraslick-action 9-footer-available only in 5- or 8-weight-is designed for skilled casters working tough conditions: high winds, spooky fish, delicate placements. It's a highly refined rod for the flyfishing connoisseur. $700¿¿¿$725; 800-533-3004; www.sageflyfish.com

4. Winston | Ibis Fly Rods
Winston is best known for its state-of-the-art, high-end fly rods, but those in the new Ibis series sport the moderate action of much costlier products at a bargain price. From the delicate 3-weight, perfect for stalking small streams, to the burly 9-weight, designed specifically for stripers, these four-piece sticks are ultrasmooth and deceptively powerful. Great for anyone just getting into flyfishing; veterans will appreciate the price-to-performance payoff. $295; 406-684-5674; www.winstonrods.com