Greetings from the International Fly Tackle Dealer trade show in Orlando. Tim and I (and our F&S brother Joe Cermele) are working the floor, soaking everything in, and getting glimpses of the new fly tackle that will be introduced in the coming months.

It’s a good crop. I’m more excited this year than I have been in many years. The American Fly Fishing Trade Association has done a fine job with organizing its part of the show, and a major element of that is the “New Product Showcase,” which features 250 new entries–by far more than I have seen in recent years.

I’m seeing a lot by way of reels, clothing, accessories, and so forth, and we’ll be breaking down some specific product reviews in the coming days.

But as a passionate fly angler, what flips my switch most are fly rods, and I’ve seen, and fished, one particular model that is a legitimate game-changer.

I’m talking about the Scott Meridian.

Now, those of you who have followed this blog over the years know that I wear my affection for Scott Rods on my sleeve. Granted, I’m a Colorado guy, and Scott rods are made there. I think the “Radian” is one of the best fly rods of all time. Now the company has introduced the “Meridian” which is a saltwater counterpart to the Radian. (Retail $865.)

Radian has always been billed as a “where fast meets feel” rod, meaning, it has oomph, but it’s also a finesse stick at the same time. Pinpoint casts, with the ability to bust wind and hoof at distance. That all has to do with the taper and materials, which specifically aid in the “recovery” during the cast. There’s no wobble, and no vibration… it all comes back neatly in line as you make the stroke.

That’s one thing for a river rod, but an entirely different challenge for a salty rod. And while many fly junkies were expecting (even jonezing) for a Radian-salt-incarnation to come out hot on the heels of its freshwater predecessor, it’s taken a couple years for that to happen.

I give Jim Bartschi, president of Scott, and his company high praise, because they didn’t rush it. They worked on it. And they got it right.

Let’s face it: fast (power) is a prerequisite on the flats. All the good rods have that. But feel? That’s a different animal. And it’s damn hard to work finesse into an instrument that’s also designed to bust out the long toss. That’s like mounting a scope on a cannon, and expecting that to pay dividends.

What I can say is this: I’ve actually been fishing a Meridian prototype for a month. At 60 feet, it is the most accurate rod I have ever used. It throttles up to 80 feet without hiccups. Beyond that distance, I have no interest (nor ability) to make an honest assessment. That said, I do believe it fires shots more accurately, on the money, at saltwater distances, more reliably than any rod I have ever fished.

I think the Meridian is the best saltwater rod ever made.

Not the longest. Maybe even not the most accurate. But it is clearly the best combination of both realms. And if it doesn’t win “Best Saltwater Rod” kudos this year at the show, that’s not a reflection of the rod… rather, it’s a reflection of how the voting happens.

Anyone who really fishes knows this one is something special.

More coming… stay tuned.