R.L. Winston's Vapor Series Rods

R.L. Winston's Vapor Series Rods

Plus, a jacket from Simms; Cloudveil's vest & BossTin split-shot

  • By: Paul Guernsey
  • and Buzz Bryson
Simms Gore-Tex PacLite Jacket For the angler who travels light and fast, pack space is a priority. With essentials such as food, water, beer and a camera taking up limited real estate in your vest or pack, a rain jacket that compresses into a small zipper bag becomes an invaluable asset. And if it weighs in at just 11 ounces, you'll never question bringing it on your next outing. What's more, if it keeps you dry during even the hardest of rains, you've got yourself a winner. The Simms Gore-Tex PacLite jacket is all of those things.Made with a single layer of PacLite fabric, which is lighter and more breathable than two- and three-layer Gore-Tex materials, the Simms jacket will keep you dry in almost any situation. The fit on the jacket is roomy enough for several layers of fleece, so most anglers will find it to be an excellent shell for winter fishing. A single waterproof-zippered chest pocket keeps things simple and dry and a waist drawcord fine-tunes the fit. My only complaint about the jacket is that the hood cannot be rolled up and snapped into the collar until needed. $199.95. -Jim Reilly Wind River's Black Canyon Gear Bag My old camera bag-the one I've carried along rivers everywhere for the past 10 years-finally gave up the ghost at the beginning of last season. Since then, I've been using my Wind River Black Canyon Gear Bag to cart my cameras, reels and other fly-fishing valuables through airports and across streams, and I've been happy with the service it's given me. Among its many features, the 1,700-cubic-inch Black Canyon bag is convertible, which means that it has a removable outside pocket that easily converts to a waist pack. In addition to the removable pocket, there are two generous, double-zipper side pockets that hold plenty of stuff. The bag also contains a ripple-foam tray, which is also removable-and when you do remove it, you'll find a set of foam dividers at the bottom of the bag that you can use customize the main compartment into several smaller compartments. The bag is built of water resistant, 600-denier fabric, with a completely waterproof PVC bottom. But perhaps my favorite feature is the bag's ability to float, even while loaded with 12 pounds of gear! $124.95. -Paul Guernsey R.L. Winston Vapor Series Rods OK, let's talk about the elephant in the room: Yes, these are Winston rods; and, no, they are not made in Winston's Twin Bridges, Montana, factory. However, the Vapors are fine, mid-price fly rods built to Winston's high quality and performance standards. Sporting a metallic olive-green finish and surprisingly nice components for the price, the Vapors look good out of the tube. On the water, the 81/2-foot, 5-weight I tried this past fall had a moderate-to-fast action without being overly stiff. The rod cast particularly well at short- to medium distances. A strong headwind coming off the lake thwarted my attempts to cleanly lay out any casts with real distance, but for a 5-weight the rod performed quite well even under these 6- to 7-weight conditions. One of the heavier rods in the series, such as the two-handed 6/7-weight, would likely have worked better in those circumstances, and with it maybe I would have caught one of the big browns cruising the beach. There's always next time… The Vapors are available in 3- through 10-weight, with two-handed models in 6/7- and 8/9-weights, and all come with unconditional lifetime guarantees. $279-$289 for the single-handed rods, and $389 for the two-handed rods. -Jim Reilly Cloudveil Nunya Vest The Nunya is a vertical-pocket vest, a design that is becoming increasingly popular. At first glance, it appears both simple and straightforward. Functionally it is, but there are plenty of small touches that show the folks at Cloudveil are serious fishermen. Consider the brushed tricot-lined sunglasses pocket, for instance, or the mesh lining that provides terrific breathability. Another nice touch is that every zipper on the vest has a pull tag, so you can access all pockets easily, even with gloves on. The nylon rib-knit collar offers comfort and a bit of sun protection. The primary cue that this is a serious vest is the lack of gimmicks; it's all business. The front fly-box pockets are sized to hold large boxes, while the rear pocket will easily hold a wadded-up rain jacket or fleece pullover. Plus, there's a hydration pack in there, with tube channels over both shoulders. There's also a smaller zippered pocket, oriented horizontally, that will hold a water bottle or a couple of 12-ounce cans. And there's more as well, but you get the idea. Despite all these features, the vest, which is constructed primarily of a durable, lightweight and non-piling nylon taslan fabric, weighs only 19.5 ounces. $135.