Bauer's Rogue Reel, new tying vises and material
BauerRogue Fly ReelIntroduced this year, the Bauer Rogue is a useful and intelligent design from a company already notable for high-quality large-arbor reels. Two interesting innovations set this one apart. First, the arbor is machined to a shallow V into which much of the backing is wound; when the V is filled the balance of the backing and fly line are spooled over this flat foundation.
The upshot is that backing capacity can be maintained without increasing the diameter of the spool (and hence overall reel weight) or increasing the spool width (which can promote uneven line buildup and binding). The consistency of drag tension from a full spool to an empty one may show a slight decrease from other Bauer models, but if you drill that deep into your backing, you've got bigger things to worry about. Overall, it's a smart idea that preserves all the large-arbor advantages in typical fishing situations but makes that reserve backing available when you need it.
The second feature is an exceptionally smooth, fully sealed drag that employs a carbon-fiber disk. I had the chance to field test the Rogue 2 (for 4- to 6-weight lines), which comes in at a pleasingly light 4.6 ounces, and was impressed with the performance in every respect. Nicely machined and handsomely finished. Six models are available from 4- to 13-weight. $335 to $555. www.bauerflyreel.com
Marc Petitjean'sSwiss Vise Master
The Swiss Vise comes in three models: the SVM Master model, the heavy SVB Base Model (weighing slightly over three pounds) and the light SVC C-Clamp Model. The head and jaw are identical on all three vises. Each vise comes with a carrying case, three tube-fly mandrels (1 mm, 1.5 mm and 2 mm) and an informative and comprehensive DVD. The locking, cam-lever jaw accepts hooks from size 32 to 9/0. The jaw angle can be adjusted for a tenacious, parallel hold. And a stable of accessories are also available: bobbin rest, profile plate, trash bin and accessory posts.
The Master's two-part base readily converts into a c-clamp when required. And the articulated extension shaft extends or angles the jaw head into various tying positions, including vertical and reversed tying. Reversing the jaw head, for example, aids in weaving patterns. The head can assume any possible tying position. To appreciate the extreme versatility of these vises, the tier should view the included DVD. The more you know about this vise, the more you will appreciate its quality and adaptability.
A star wheel in the head arm adjusts the head angle. An alignment tool allows true hook-shank rotation. There is also a rotation handle and braking system. Two material clips appear on the head arm. A clever tool key, secured in the shaft base, tightens and loosens all fittings. The jaw head reverses and accepts mandrels for tying tube flies. Once you release the fly, it stays in the jaws until a gentle squeeze drops it. Now you can catch those small flies before they scurry into the rug. The jaws have a recessed curved channel-a full quarter inch from the jaw tip-for holding large hooks. The channel is far enough from the jaw tip to allow adequate space for small, tender hooks. The price is coupled to the quality and design. The creative design, the extreme versatility and utility make the new SVM Master an heirloom. Master model $675; Base model $543; C-Clamp $516. www.petitjean.com
Axiom Fly Rods
Temple Fork Outfitters
Temple Fork Outfitters has become an established "player" in the fly rod market by primarily focusing on offering quality rods in the low- and mid-level price points. Many anglers initially bought TFO rods as backups, for friends or kids, or simply as a price-point purchase, and only subsequently realized how well they performed.
The TFO's new Axiom rod incorporates a process that sandwiches Kevlar between two layers of graphite pre-preg. When tubes are bent (be they fly rods, golf clubs or copper pipes) they are under tension on the outside of the bend and under compression on the inside of the bend. Those forces tend to flatten the tube into an oval shape, reducing the tube's strength and reducing the rod's casting efficiency. The Kevlar in the Axiom helps reduce the rod's ovaling tendency, resulting in better tip damping, less bounce and flatter, smoother casts.
The Axiom has a fairly fast action, which some will like and others won't. Cast one and decide for yourself. However, for all but small waters and short, delicate casts, the Axiom rods are great. I have the 5- and 6-weights rigged and ready for spring shad and pond fishing, and the 8-weight set up for pre-spawn largemouths.
The rods are a deep royal blue with gold accents, and the reel seat is anodized a gunmetal blue. The grip (reverse half wells on the 5-weight, full wells on the others) is made of high-quality cork, with decorative burl inserts on all but the 5-weight. The Axiom comes in 5-, 6-, 8- and 10-weights and are all 4-piece 9-footers. $249.95 for the 5-weight, and $274.95 for the other models. www.templeforkflyrods.com
Hareline DubbinTinted Mayfly Tails
Tapered, synthetic paint-bristle tails first appeared in 1976 when John Betts of Denver, Colorado, took some Winsor& Newton university-series brush bristles and dyed them various solid colors and color combinations. He marketed them under the term "Microfibetts," which names its creator.
Now Hareline Dubbin offers its own updated version, Tinted Mayfly Tails. They appear in a variety of colors and only fashionable fly patterns should wear these lovely subtle tints. Dependant upon tail density, each tailing pack should offer enough fibers for 75 patterns, more or less. The tails range between 11/4- to 13/4-inch-long, long enough for any dry fly. This is one way to produce a seductive pattern for the angler as well as for that reluctant rainbow or brown. $1.25 per pack. Contact Hareline for the nearest retail store. www.hareline.com
Somewhere around the time my third digital camera spontaneously leapt into the drink I decided (well, to be honest, I received a mandate from my better half) to look for a waterproof camera-or else.
A kayaking friend recommended the Pentax Optio W30. Given the amount of time I spend in and around water, not having to worry about getting my camera wet was worth the price alone. While initially it was the camera's waterproofness that attracted me (up to 10 feet for 2 hours), I soon also came to appreciate the versatility and picture quality the W30 offers. The number of features packed into this little camera is seriously impressive: 7.1 megapixels, 2.5-inch LCD screen, image stabilization, macro mode (for those intimate stonefly portraits), ability to shoot movies with sound, even underwater, as well as a 3X optical zoom and 4X digital, and manual override are just the beginning.
Like many digital point-and-shoot cameras, low-light capability seems limited without going into "manual" mode. And for a camera that is obviously intended for wet outdoor use, a rubberized grip/casing would be great to see. Still, a camera that easily fits into a vest pocket and allows you to get a picture of that trophy fish without the nagging worry of dunking it, the W30 should be standard issue for anglers. $300. www.pentaximaging.com