New Gear

New Gear

  • By: Ted Leeson
  • and Darrel Martin
Scientific Anglers Mastery Textured Fly LInes


Mastery Textured Fly Lines
There’s no denying the outstanding performance of a textured fly line, so I was most interested in field-testing SA’s new Mastery Textured lines that are smoother than the rougher Sharkskin but offer the same advantages. The surface of the line is dimpled, like a golf ball, and the texturing promotes casting distance and durability, while reducing memory. I spooled up both a Textured GPX (a standard SA design) and the new Textured Nymph/Indicator line, with a honkin’ big front taper for turning over indicator rigs and a longer rear taper for improved mending. That both lines delivered the goods handsomely and floated high came as no surprise. But the texturing was my real interest and I found it a marked improvement over the Sharkskin in terms of finger abrasion (the Sharkskin is abrasive) and, to a lesser extent, casting noise (the Sharkskin is noisy), with no discernible loss in performance. These lines are a useful compromise for anglers who appreciate the casting characteristics of the Sharkskin but can’t quite put up with the drawbacks. At $79.95, it’s also less expensive. The textured finish is available on Magnum tapers, saltwater lines and the Coastal Express line for surfcasters. —Ted Leeson


Although the new Winston Passport rods, which replace the Ascent series, are priced as entry-level rods, they may become a green card to stay in Winston country. These rods offer smooth power. Passports range from a 7-foot, 6-inch 3-weight to a 9-foot, 10-weight. The handle, described as “a cigar grip” on the 3- to 6-weights, is more akin to a reversed half-Wells; the 7- to 10-weights have full-Wells grips. All are four-piece. Described as “fast action” by Winston, I found the progressive casting bend closer to medium-fast. For this reason, the rods have a smooth throw with an adequate and satisfying sensation of load and unload. The 6-weight that I cast—a 9-footer at 3.6 ounces—pushed a long line when asked. The dark-bronze finish blends with ruby wraps, and the nickel-silver reel seats include wood inserts, quality usually unknown at these prices. Passports range from $199 to $203; rod blanks, from $99 to $102. All rods come in an attractive olive green, conveniently sectioned Cordura tube and Winston’s unconditional lifetime guarantee. These rods are not high-end Winston, but for the price-point and casting comfort they’re worth considering. Now a grandfather can afford to buy a grandchild a Winston. —Darrel Martin


Hardy has two new rod series: the Proaxis for salt water and the Zenith for fresh water. Both series are four-sectioned rods with fast recovery. Selected saltwater rods will be available as one-piece models. Sintrix, originally developed in the aerospace industry, is Hardy & Greys’ new proprietary composite rod material. It’s a graphite bonded with silica nano-spheres impregnated in resin. The silica nano-spheres apparently defy compression better than any other material, resulting in a rod that is at least 60 percent stronger than an equivalent rod. And due to its strength, a blank requires less material, resulting in a rod up to 30 percent lighter than standard.

Interested in the freshwater series (in which there are 11 rods), I recently tested a 9-foot, 5-weight Zenith rod. I was stunned by the lightness (at 2 9/84 oz.) and performance. Casting was pleasant yet powerful, bending into the top third of the rod with fast recovery and nil tip bounce. This attractive rod is a deep olive-gray with rich olive-brown wraps and a striking, skeletal two-tone reel seat. With a touch of Old World charm, three small plugs protect the ferrules and store in a special pocket sewn on the rod bag. Zenith suggested retail prices range from $595 to $745. These new rods should be available early 2011. Perhaps “revolutionary” is too weighty a word for fly rods, but the astounding Sintrix technology may merit the label. Both the Zenith and Proaxis series rods, which come with Hardy’s Worldwide Extended Warranty, demand serious attention. View the Hardy & Greys Sintrix rod test and action at —Darrel Martin


Building on the remarkable success of their Micro-Puff Jackets and Puff Pullovers, Patagonia’s new Nano Puff Pullover weighs a scant 9.4 ounces. The word nano comes from the Greek for dwarf and into English as a fractional number—one-billionth. Small indeed. The Nano packs down to nil and stuffs into its own left-chest pocket. The highly compressible, hydrophobic, “warm-when-wet” 60-gram Primaloft traps heat with extraordinary efficiency. The synthetic insulation is quilted to prevent clumping or drifting. A 1/2 front zipper vents excessive heat. A full-zipper version, which I would prefer, will be available this fall, the company says. The elasticized cuffs and hem trap warmth. A wind-blocking, moisture-shedding DWR shell and lining create a tough, practical garment. Recently, in a damp, windy northern Spain, my Nano accommodated a remarkable range of weather conditions: wind, rain, drizzle, cold and even sun. It truly is Puff the magic Pullover. Only the warmth tells you that you have it on; $150; —Darrel Martin