When I first saw Rex Huang standing at his booth yesterday wearing a chest-mounted apparatus with a fly rod sticking straight off of it, I chuckled. Then I saw him remove the rod while the reel stayed mounted to the chest plate. I bit. Huang’s Rexfly Casting System ($65), it turns out, is pretty interesting, and after learning how it works and trying one at the casting pond, I actually think there is some value here…at least in certain flyfishing situations. What it allows you to do is cast only the rod, which Rex says reduces arm fatigue and can actually increase casting distance. When you hook a fish, the rod quickly snaps back onto the reel, and you can slide the whole combo (reel attached) off the chest mount in a flash. This is all made possible by a special plate that mounts between your reel and rod. So here are a few initial pros and cons I came up with.

Con: Though Rex does make a model with an incorporated chestpack, the systems stops you from being able to wear the chestpack of your choosing. If you like a hip pack or a vest, then the system won’t be in your way.

Pro: In any situation where an insanely fast strip is required, the Rexfly stops you from having to tuck the rod under your arm, allowing you to use both hands to really rip a fly. I can see this coming in handy in for species like false albacore and stripers.

Con: I don’t see how your line wouldn’t get wrapped around the reel or spindle when it’s mounted to your chest. Perhaps not on every cast all the time, but in the heat of the moment, right after a big browning sips my fly, I can see catastrophe striking in that second it takes to get everything recconected and off your chest. In a casting pond at a trade show, things often go very smoothly.

Pro: If you’re fishing heavy rigs for a long period of time (ie, a chuck-n-duck steelhead rig), losing the weight of the reel might really lessen your day’s end jelly arms.

Rex gave me one of these mounts for further testing, and I’m really itchy to get one on the water in a real fishing situation. There are questions of durability and practicality that I think will only be answered with fish on the line. What do you think? Good idea?