SA's Customizable Sinking-Head Line

SA's Customizable Sinking-Head Line

Plus, Scott's G2 rod; Simms' waterproof shirt; and a do-it-all vest jacket

  • By: Buzz Bryson
I'm fortunate that I get to fish some diverse waters, even here in my home state of North Carolina. And I'll be first in line to fish on top when there's a good hatch going. But when surface action is off--and face it, that's most of the time--I'll put on a sinking-head line in a heartbeat. Most of us do, or would like to. The problem for many is that a sinking-head line is just as expensive as a floater. And while many fly shops have floating lines you can test-cast, rarely do they have demo sinking lines available, or a suitable place to test them.Without the ability to test-cast several lines to find the one that best suits your rod, choosing one becomes trial-and-error, and too often unsatisfying and/or expensive. Enter SA's Custom Tip Express. The stats show the line has a slightly longish 33-foot level head, which at 14 grains-per-foot means it weighs a hefty 462 grains--more than you'd need for most rods, even given the standard recommendation to use a sinking head that's two line-weights heavier than the rod rating. And that's the point. The head is level, and can be cut back to match any rod from 6- or 7-weight up to 12-weight (or heavier, if it suits your style). SA prints a guide on the back of the box, but the formula for tweaking the line is simple: Essentially, with each foot you cut off, you're reducing the head's weight by the previously mentioned 14 grains. For instance, if you prefer your 9-weight striper rod to load with the equivalent of an 11-weight head (330 grains), you need to remove 132 grains from the Custom Tip Express' head-weight of 462 grains. That's about 9.5 feet, give or take. And that's what I'd recommend you do: Cut off a bit less, say 8 feet, and test-cast the line with the leader and fly combo you'd typically use. If it still seems a bit heavy, cut off 6 inches or a foot, and try again. That's the beauty and intent of this line: You customize it to fit your rod and your style. The Custom Tip Express has a single-strand monofilament core, an intermediate density running line and a sink rate of 7.75 inches-per-second. And it retails for only $39.95. Evergreen Nets A fine fishing net is a thing of beauty, and something to be passed down to the kids. It's no wonder then, that so many superb woodworkers who also like to fly-fish enjoy building and selling nets. In other words, there are a lot of beautiful landing nets out there. Some of them are made by Dave Baumgart of Evergreen Nets. Working out of his shop in Binghamton, New York, Dave hand-selects his hardwood stock, crafts each of his nets individually, sands the frames until, as he likes to say, they are as smooth as glass, and then adds an even smoother and more glasslike finish. What really sets his nets apart, though, is the clever addition of an "Integral Magnetic Release" consisting of a strong magnet built right into the top of the frame, and another that's attached to a leather strap that in turn attaches to the back of your vest, or to your belt. If you need the net, you just pull on the handle to separate the magnets. When you're finished with it, just bring the two magnets together again for a secure connection. Evergreen Nets offers three models with the magnetic-release option: the 17-inch Catch-and-Release Net; the 15-inch Stream Net; and the 14-inch Spring Creek Net. All models are $115 with the magnetic release, $90 without. -- P.G. Scott G2 Rods In the January/February FR&R I reported that I had immediately fallen in love with Scott's new G2 rod on the casting pool at the 2005 Fly Fishing Retailer Show. But first impressions are sometimes wrong, and I really needed to fish the G2's before I could reach a final conclusion about them. The Scott folks were kind enough to loan me two of the G2 rods, a 7-foot, 7-inch 4-weight, and an 8-foot, 8-inch 5-weight. The 4-weight was simply a delightful wisp of a rod, yet it had enough power to poke out a nymph or small streamer if needed. The 5-weight was a different rod, designed for bigger water and bigger flies, while maintaining tippet protection in close. Both were moderate-action rods, with purposefully different design and intended uses. Appearance-wise, the G2's are a bit retro--and I like that. The blanks are unsanded, retaining the "snake-belly" finish. The grips are similar to, but not exactly like, those of the original Scott G rods, sort of a Western (reversed half-Wells) grip. The reel seats are up-locking, with black aluminum hardware and handsome figured wood inserts. The wraps are a nice honey color. My first impression held up well when I fished the rods: The new G2 is an exceptionally fine piece of gear. It is light, and it feels lighter. Scott rod designer Jim Bartschi says this is because mass has been removed from the tip. The relatively stiff butt improves control without sacrificing the rod's pleasurable casting qualities. The original G rods excelled at short- to mid-length casts, and so does the G2. But it's in casting longer distances that the G2 surpasses its predecessor. Whereas the original G series handled longer distances just fine, the original rods demanded somewhat more control from the caster. The G2, however, is more forgiving at distance, and that's a great improvement. Scott calls the action "medium" or "Eagles" action, as opposed to the S3's fast or "Kiss" action, or The Fibertouch's medium-slow or "Marvin Gaye" action. Fit your style. Fit your mood. The 11 G2 rods are available in 2- through 6-weights, and 7-foot, 7-inch to 9-foot lengths. All are 4-piece, and retail for $595 (blanks are $385). Simms 3XDRY Guide Shirt The 3XDRY Guide Shirt is new from Simms for 2006. The shirt is UPF 30 for sun protection, and incorporates the 3XDRY finish to shed water, along with stains and odors, from the exterior. And it is a fishing shirt: There are two hook-and-loop closure chest pockets (large enough for sunglasses, wallet, fly box or the like) and a smaller zippered pocket. The articulated sleeves roll up and button, as you wish. And there's mesh venting at the yoke, to help with the really muggy days. This 3XDRY technology itself is more than hype. Originated by the Schoeller company in Switzerland, the process is likened to the leaves of certain plants: They remain clean because dirt cannot adhere to their finely structured surfaces, and thus is easily washed off by rain. The same idea has been transferred through nano-technology to fabric, and the result is that many staining liquids just slide right off the shirt material, while others simply rinse off with a stream of water. In my product-testing of these shirts, I poured some water on the fabric and, emboldened by how quickly it ran off, I decided to challenge the nanosphere technology with ketchup. The "stupid sauce" didn't run off the way the water did, but danged if it didn't come clean with just a bit of running water. So I squirted more on, rubbed it in, and held it under the faucet again. Holy horsefeathers--it rinsed right off: no stain, no smell. Now, that's trick enough in itself. But pour water on the inside of the shirt and it wicks right away; the fabric is breathable. The 3XDRY Guide Shirt is "techy," yet it is also a handsome shirt that looks just as good in the restaurant as on the flats. It comes in four colors, blue, dark yellow, green and khaki, and in sizes S-XXL. Suggested retail is $49.95. The Adventure Flyfishing Company All-Season Vest-Jacket If you're looking for the Hummer of fly-fishing vest-jackets, you've just found it. The Adventure Flyfishing Company's new product is about as close to a do-it-all fly-fishing jacket as one could get, lacking only a couple of Snickers bars, and perhaps some matches and a knife. The "vest-jacket" moniker, as one might expect, comes from the zip-off sleeves. They, along with the rest of the vest, are waterproof, windproof and breathable. The sleeves also have neoprene cuffs with adjustable hook-and-loop straps, so your arms will stay dry while you're casting in a downpour. There's a removable waterproof "skirt," which provides additional wind- and waterproofing. So right off, the vest-jacket gives you a raincoat-vest combo. Did I mention there's a detachable, waterproof hood? Although keeping dry is important, that's only the beginning. The vest-jacket has pockets to spare--enough that you'll need several trips to rediscover where you stored everything. The larger pockets are zippered; the smaller ones utilize hook-and-loop fasteners. There's a "Retractor Cavity," with adj-ustable coil retractors, and a "Tippet Cavity" with a tippet dispenser. Stick with me, here; we're still on the outside. There are drop-down pockets containing interchangeable fly trays. Closing the fly-tray pockets--they have zippers, backed up by hook-and-loop closures for hurried fly changes during a hatch--keeps the foam-lined trays and their flies secure. Then there's the requisite large bellows pocket in the back. It's dry too, but if you leave it unzipped, the mesh lining will help with cooling on hot summer days. Bottle pockets? Yep, there are two of those. There's even more (a see-through license holder; a hydration bag and tube). OK, inside. As a glasses wearer, I was happy to see a glasses pocket (fleece-lined to reduce scratching, thank you). There are also a couple of weatherproof-zippered dry pockets, with swivel snap-hooks to keep keys and such secure. And completely waterproof pocket inserts for your cell phone, black book or whatever. Then there are a couple of flat pockets for files, thermometers and maybe a couple of cigars! Six hook-and-loop closure pockets hold the odds and ends: split-shot, flotant, bug spray, leaders, more tippet, strike indicators and lottery tickets. The Adventure Flyfishing Company All-Season Vest-Jacket is about as well put together as any piece of fishing apparel I've seen. The vest-jacket is expensive, at $387. It's also heavier than the average vest, in large part because of the hydration bag and the quality construction. But if neither of these considerations gives you pause, you'll have one fine and functional piece of gear. Rotary Fly-Tying Techniques Despite the abundance of good fly-tying books on the market, nothing, aside from an actual lesson, is more helpful to new and intermediate tiers than a well-made video or DVD. The reason is simple: Rather than trying to imagine an entire complex process based on text and a series of still photos in a book, you get to watch, as many times as you want, every little snip and wrap the video tier makes until you're sure not only that you can do it yourself, but that you can do it the way it's intended to be done. Mike Holt's Rotary Fly-Tying Techniques starts with the obvious: A set of nine separate segments, each depicting an extremely practical tip or shortcut for working with a rotary vise. All the action is filmed in extreme close-up, and Mike takes his time both in tying and in explaining so that the viewer, no matter how inexperienced, won't miss a trick. But he doesn't stop there. Once he shows you how to drive that rotary machine, he encourages you to take it out for a series of spins. Specifically, he leads you through the tying of six distinct fly patterns using the techniques he has just finished teaching you. Employing the same reassuring voice and easy-to-follow, zoomed-in view of the vise head and his fingertips as in the techniques segments, Mike guides you in the construction of the Adams; the Little Brook Trout; the Partridge&Green; the Stimulator; the Prince Nymph; and the Ginger Flymph. That's a fairly complete basic fly box right there--especially if you do most of your fishing on the East Coast (Mike Holt lives, fishes, runs a fly shop and makes his DVD's in my home state of Maine). Not only is Rotary Fly-Tying Techniques a great way to learn how to get the most out of your rotary vise, but it is also one of the best basic fly-tying videos I've seen. I wish I'd had it back when I was still learning how to tie, and had just invested in that new Renzetti Traveler. Retail is $24.95. --P.G. Wade Deeper Scott Fly Rods 800-728-7208 www.scottflyrod.com Scientific Anglers www.scientificanglers.com Simms 866-585-3570 www.simmsfishing.com The Adventure Flyfishing Company 877-435-9347 www.theadventureflyfishingco.com Rotary Fly-Tying Techniques 207-453-6242 www.rotaryflytying.com Evergreen Nets 607-428-0423 www.evergreennets.com