Jul 23, 2016

Greg's Rod Picks from IFTD / I-CAST 2016

Best New Freshwater | Best New Saltwater | Best Of Show
It was a great time at the big show this year. Lot's of great new stuff but most of all a great time spent getting to know some people in this industry that work hard and pour their heart and passion into making it better for all, every single day.

The purpose of this article is not for me to pick winners and losers but instead showcase to you (our customers) what I saw that you might be interested in. I love gear and will proudly proclaim that I am a gear junkie. I enjoy spending time always seeking a better fly rod, reel, line, bag, tool...you name it. If it gives me an edge then it's a winner.

Fly Rods

It's pretty clear in the fly rod industry to build a better rod we must reach for higher tech materials and/or resins. This is the theme for 2016 coming from Sage, Winston and G.loomis. Outside of that the only unique contributions comes from building niche products like the OHS from Echo. Ask me if fly rods are improving and my answer will quickly be yes but mostly only in materials. Today's fly rod tapers are pretty well established for the intended use. Whether you need dry fly, nymph, saltwater, predator, two hand or any other technique one can find rod tapers that best suit those techniques and fishing situations. As far as what fly rods we like, it leans heavily on our own casting preferences and personalities. If I were to name one characteristic improving in today's high tech fly rods it is the expanded range that they load thus also expanding on the range that the load is felt. Every fly rod has a sweet spot; today's rods seem to have widened that sweet spot. While this expression rings true for the first three entries ahead it also happens to be the tagline for the Winston AIR..."Widen your sweet spot with the new Winston AIR." Back to the original question..."Are today's fly rods better?" Yes, they are much better, at a wider range of uses, load feel and fit a wider range of casting personalities.

Sage X

The New Sage X took the show. Best New Freshwater, Best New Saltwater and Best of Show.
I read somewhere that this three category win was the first ever for a rod series. The New X delivered exactly what it claimed, faster recovery, deeper loading, crisp tip stop and produced incredible tight loops. Match that with an elegant fit and finish Sage is known for and the X becomes one tough rod to beat. On the pond the X held true to its claims and did it with style and grace. The real test of course is on the water and I am so looking forward to time with these new sticks. Single, Switch and Spey models $895-$1095

R.L. Winston Air

"Widen your sweet spot with the new Winston AIR." 

Super Premium, Ultra-Lightweight Boron III Technology and featuring New SuperSilica Resin System. This new line of 3-6 weight freshwater rods from Winston could have easily taken the freshwater award. A clear cut winner in my eyes!

Winston Air

Paired with legendary finish Winston is so well known for into a high energy progressive action from a new SuperSilica resin creating an incredible accurate presentation all came together into one sweeet little fly rod. Year after year this fly rod company and its wonderful group of people continue to impress me with their relentless forward driving passion in the factory as well as on the stream. To build a rod this good can only come from countless hours on the water. Awesome job Winston!
Four Models 3-6 weights, $945

G.Loomis Asquith

Labeled as a Global All-Water Fly Rod in part due to the cooperative effort between G.Loomis with Chief Rod Designer Steve Rajeff and sister corporation Shimano. The New Asquith starts its life in Japan from some extremely high tech material, then finds its way into the Washington State based G.Loomis plant where the finish work is completed. On the pond the Asquith is light and responsive. It tracks a straight line in near perfect form. Swing weight is impressively light. This is another entry into the show that could have easily taken a win. 4-12 weight and 5 spey models $1000-$1400

Scott Flex Series

Scott Flex Series
The New Flex is a mid price point rod designed to offer fast performance with a fine tuned flex and recovery. It did not disappoint. The flex displayed a great amount of power while retaining a good balance of feel. The rod blank finish is classic to Scott natural and the components are premium all coming together into a aesthetically pleasing fly rod.  This is a great American made stick for a price that isn't out of the ball park. 3-8 weights, $475

Redington Hydrogen Trout Spey

Hydrogen Trout Spey
The Hydrogen series of single hand trout rods came out last year and in that time this lightweight rod has left quite the impression. When I heard Hydrogen was to expand into trout spey for 2017, I instantly knew this would be a home run. Now that I have seen and cast the new trout spey model I can honestly say it's out of the park. The med-fast action allows for a deeper load into the blank for great feel while the butt provides great power both for scandi  tight loops and/or skagit power. The downlocking skeletonized reel seat helps reduce the weight and looks great. Shown here with the new Redington Rise Fly Reel. 2-4 weight, $349.95

Redington Predator

Always a favorite the newly update Predator gets some added horsepower to tackle the whole chickens and bunnies. Fresh or Salt, wherever Predators Roam! 5-12 weights with additional specialized bass and pike/musky models, $299.95

Redington Vice
Redington Vice

Classically Styled Fast Action full range of rods from fresh to salt. The Vice replaces the aging Voyant series of Redington Fly Rods. Besides a full on color face lift the New Vice receives advancements in the use of multi modulus carbon fibers that greatly enhances control, recovery and accuracy. Add saltwater grade components, black anodized snake guides and a lazer etched reel seat indicating rod weight and the package comes together to form a really sweet rod.
3-9 weights, $199.95

Echo Bad Ass Glass
If you follow the fiberglass crowd you will naturally gravitate to the BAG (Bad Ass Glass) Series of rods.
Bad Ass Glass
I admit they are pretty cool looking but really Tarpon on Glass?! But that's the idea behind this big heavy glass stick. Bonefish, Steelhead, Permit, Tarpon. Get your groove on glass fans!
8-12 weights, $274.99

Echo OHS (One Hand Spey)
My real interest coming from the Mr.Tim Rajeff is the new Echo OHS (One Hand Spey).

Measuring in at 10'4" with 6-8 weights. My prediction for this show was that someone is going to show up with a single handed spey rod...Ding, Ding, Ding...we have a winner! While I was hoping for a trout model too, it's a start. I got to spend a little time on the pond with the 7 weight equipped with the new Airflo Skagit Scout head and it HUK'D!
OHS spey handle

A unique feature of the OHS is it comes with two different fighting butts. One is normal standard nubby and the spey version is 2.5"providing you something to underhand some leverage with. 6-8 weights, $474.99

More Echo's
Several other new models coming out of the Echo camp. EPR is rated "Stupid Fast" intended for salt fanatics chasing fins that weigh more than you do. The New DRY is pretty obvious. Boost Reach designed for beach casters both east and west. And the 8 piece trip designed for the backpacking crowd. We'll have more on these when they arrive.

Take Survey - 2017 New Fly Rods - What New Rods have your interest?

This one question survey let's you tell us what fly rods you are curious about. Check one or as many as you want and if your fly rod of interest is not listed use the write-in spot. 

Complete List of Show Winners

Best of ShowSageX 590
Fly Rod: FreshwaterSageX 590
Fly Rod: SaltwaterSageX 890
Reel: FreshwaterRoss ReelsColorado LT
Reel: SaltwaterAbel ReelsSDS
Fly Line: FreshwaterRIO ProductsInTouch Big Nasty
Fly Line: SaltwaterRIO ProductsWinter Redfish
Leader / TippetRIO ProductsRIO Saltwater Mono
Fly Pattern: FreshwaterAqua Flies, LLCStu Foxall’s PrawnTruder
Fly Pattern: SaltwaterUmpqua Feather MerchantsContraband Crab, Chicone
Fly Box / Storage SystemTacky Fly FishingTacky Dry Fly Box
Fly Tying Materials / EquipmentFreestone DesignsThe Go Box
Men’s WadersSimms Fishing ProductsHeadwater Pro Waders
Women’s WadersHodgemanWomen’s H4 Wader
Wading BootsSimms Fishing ProductsRip Rap Shoe Felt
Check Pack / VestSimms Fishing ProductsG4 Pro Sling Pack
LuggageUmpqua Feather MerchantsZeroSweep Cooler-Gater
Men’s OuterwearPatagoniaMinimalist Wading Jacket
Men’s General ApparelSimms Fishing ProductsIntruder BiComp L/S Shirt
Women’s OuterwearPatagoniaWomen’s River Salt Jacket
Women’s General ApparelSimms Fishing ProductsWomen’s Rip Rap Sandal
Youth ProductUmpqua Feather MerchantsZS Wader Chest Pack
Accessories (under $100)OrvisU.S.-Made Aluminum Nipper
Eco-friendly ProductFishpondThunderhead Duffel
Boat / Personal WatercraftOutcast Sporting GearFish Cat 5 Mat
BookAngler’s Book SupplyFusion Fly Tying
DVDRIO ProductsFavorite Fly-Fishing Knots
Gift Items (under $100)Umpqua Feather MerchantsZS Guide Wader Belt
P.O.S. / Booking SoftwareThe Outfitter ProOnline Booking System
Coming soon I will share my Top Reel Picks...


Gorge Fly Shop Internet Sales Manager | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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