New Gear

New Gear

  • By: Darrel Martin
  • and Buzz Bryson
Korkers Chrome Wading Boot

Korkers
Chrome Wading Boot

Korkers’ new Chrome wading boots offer a variety of improvements over earlier models—for one, you don’t need a sole-assist key to mount or dismount Korkers’ OmniTrax interchangeable soles; it’s now easy to do by hand.

These boots also have the low-profile Boa speed-lacing system, which allows quick on and off and an adjustable fit. The system uses thin steel cables as laces and you adjust the fit by a rotary dial located at the top of the tongue. Pushing the Boa reel down firmly locks the reel on the laces. Pulling it up releases the tension. The Boa is simple to dial in for precise fit and comfort. When the Boa reel turns, the lace cable slides, smoothly snugging the boot to the shape of the foot and avoiding unequal pressure points.

Furthermore, Chrome boots are light enough for air travel. A pair of size 9 Chromes weighs only 39.8 ounces. The hydrophobic fabrics and mid-sole drainage ports aid in drying, keeping the boots light. Screened-on toe protection and few seams make a tough and sturdy boot. There are even miniature D-rings for securing gravel guards. Although no boot entirely prevents the spread of aquatic invasive species, the removable OmniTrax sole and waterproof fabric facilitate thorough cleaning. But remember, even if you reserve a specific sole for a particular water, the rest of the boot can harbor invasive species.

The “standard” Chrome model includes felt and Kling-On outsoles for $179.99 (sizes 7 to 15); the Chrome with Kling-On and studded Kling-On outsoles is $199.99 (sizes 7 to 15). The OmniTrax sole options allow an angler to change footing for varied conditions. There are outsoles for slippery moss, sharp stones, submerged debris, wet grass, edgy pebbles, glossy shale and granite slabs. You pack the outsoles you need for any given water. Another improvement is the redesigned sole itself. Except for the toe slot, the interchangeable outsoles now reach to the outer edges of the Chrome boots for increased grip and far superior balance; they are not merely insets, as on earlier models.

Sizing is also simplified. According to Sam Houser, sales and marketing support coordinator, “Korkers new True Fit sizing allows you to order the same shoe size as your street shoe. No more going up one to one-and-a-half sizes. If you are a size 10 street shoe, you purchase a size 10 Korker Chrome.”

I would add, however, that due to the variable thicknesses and lengths of wader feet, it is best to try on the Chromes before purchasing. I wear a size 10 street shoe, but my waders and I fit best in a size 11 Korkers Chrome. www.korkers.com

—Darrel Martin

Temple Fork
BVK Rods

Temple Fork Outfitters is best known for providing moderately priced fly rods, and they’ve continued that tradition in 2011 with the launch of their BVK series, the acronym representing Bernard Victor Kreh (that’s “Lefty” to you and me).

The BVK is attractive on several fronts. First, it has eye appeal, with rich-olive blanks, carbon-fiber reel seats and finely finished bronze-colored anodized-aluminum components. The stripping guides recoil and the snake guides are chromium-impregnated stainless steel. The grips are cork, with a front ring of EVA-like foam. Not the finest cork, but a very durable combination.

The proof is in the casting and catching. And this rod does each task wonderfully. I find these BVK rods to be well sorted out, having a smooth, fast action, without offering a stiff or heavy feeling. Summing up the BVK’s performance, in a word . . . well, I’d just say, “Wow!”

I’ve cast and fished the 5- and 8-weight rods, both 4-piece 9-footers, and each wowed me. They really are light (2.9 and 3.2 ounces respectively), feel lighter in the hand, and sing when I cast them. One indication of weight: I can’t tell you how many times I reached for the 8-weight rod, picked up one bag, then put it aside thinking it was the 5-weight, only to find it was, in fact, the 8.

These rods are also strong. My good friend Chuck Laughridge tortured the 8-weight on false albacore, landing dozens over the fall season with nary a mishap. And, several Bandito Fly Fishing Club members gathered at Atlantic Beach for a long weekend of fishing and fraternizing, and worked over the 8- and 9-weight models without trouble.

I was bred to catch trout, and they remain my first love. The 5-weight is a terrific pocketwater or driftboat rod. And that 8.5-foot 4-weight is, by my thinking, going to be the perfect all-around rod. As soon as I get my hands on it.

Oh yes, the price. The BVK rods (there are now nine models, all 4-piece, ranging from an 8-foot 3-weight to a 9-foot 10-weight) cost between $224.95 and $249.95. www.templeforkflyrods.com

—Buzz Bryson

Positively Magnetic

Years ago Dave Whitlock, a doyen of American fly-fishing, trudged toward the beaver ponds on Montana’s Big Hole River. The glorious day promised tight tippets. As he clambered through thick brush, Dave’s elastic-tethered net snagged. He did what we all do: He kept walking, waiting for the net to pull free. It did not. He turned around just in time to receive the net between his eyes. After regaining consciousness, he gathered his spiteful net and continued on his way with two black eyes.

Few experienced anglers lack a hostile-net incident. Even with a benevolent net, there’s a connection problem. Fumbling and frustration usually come with releasing a net to land a fish and returning a net to its post after releasing your catch. Today, the most convenient and effective connector is the rare-earth magnet. Permanent rare-earth magnets (neodymium magnets) have extraordinary power, yet they release with a firm, quick tug. The magnets also snap home with a powerful click. (I have wondered, however, what effect such magnets might have on the body. Dr. Steven Egge, my family physician, told me that the influence appears to be minimal. He and his colleagues know of no problems that might arise from having a powerful rare-earth magnet against the body, other than affecting magnetic-sensitive devices.)

My only problem with rare-earth magnets, thus far, is an annoying accumulation of fine, metallic sand on the magnets. However, I no longer fuss with obstinate, unruly snaps and clips, so it’s an acceptable tradeoff. Here are two modern magnetic net systems.

Keep and Release Net Connector
The Keep and Release connector attaches to any net. The special divided leather strap, the “riverfork,” fastens to the top of the net hoop. The other strap connects to your vest D-ring. Screws secure both straps, and a 30-inch elastic tether prevents net loss. For security, each strap screw requires a drop of nail polish or cement. The hemispheric magnet allows net rotation while maintaining a powerful bond. If you already own a net, this may be a friendly and functional connector. A sharp yank releases the net. Reattaching the net to the vest is simple; when the magnets are close, they leap together. Retail $30; keepandrelease.com

Otter Nets
Anglers lacking a net may consider the Otter Net, made by Curt Noetzold, of Hailey, Idaho. These handmade nets use no tropical woods. Instead, Curt creates angling art with reclaimed, instrument-grade domestic hardwoods. For the handle, Noetzold uses beautifully figured walnut, maple and myrtle burl. Yew, figured walnut, and figured myrtle form the hoop. Six coats of marine-grade polyurethane and steel-wool polishing produce a tough, glass finish. Furthermore, these nets hold a surprise—a rare-earth magnetic button, uniquely embedded in a reinforced hoop arch, secures the net to the vest magnet, creating a clean profile.

There are five models, ranging from the Warm Springs net (12.5" by 8" hoop and 19" total length with nylon bag; $110) to the South Fork (18" by 9" hoop and 32½" total length with clear bag; $160). The clear thermoplastic rubber bags have ¾" openings. www.otternets.com —Darrel Martin