Day One of the IFTD trade show is drawing to a close. The Drake Magazine fly fishing video contest will go down in a few hours. Showgoers for the most part have expressed satisfaction with the New Orleans location (except perhaps for those who spent a tad too much time on Bourbon St. last night), but rumors are circulating that next year's show will return to the West--potentially to Reno, Nevada. Attendance is down from its peak in the early 2000s but does not appear to be much worse than the last two or three years. No doubt the ongoing economic doldrums have a lot to do with that.
Meanwhile it's always fun to look for the unexpected gems that stand out.
Rio Products has five new line releases and an entirely revamped leader lineup. For the two-handed anglers out there (Spey is in Rio's collective blood), they have released a new, all-around, general purpose spey line called the Unispey, which will be available in a full floater, as well as as a shooting head and a part of Rio's existing VersaTip system. Intended for beginning spey anglers as well, the line has a black section that clearly illustrates where to carry the line to properly load the rod.
Simms Fishing Products is one of the few fly fishing companies that is actually growing in a down economy; their expansion into the conventional fishing market has largely been a success, and their clothing lines have expanded and sold well.
Simms 2012 Guide Wader
R.L. Winston took the cover off three new rod lines last year, so this season they have kept it simple, expanding the BIIIx into a line of five-piece models but otherwise leaving their lines unchanged. As always the boron-heritage lines from Winston are powerful lifting rods, but with the IIIx iteration they have also dialed in the tips, resulting in a smooth, hard-charging caster's rod. Both the 10- and 12-weights are especially excellent striped bass, large permit and tarpon sticks.
Scientific Anglers always has a slew of new lines, but this year we're seeing something slightly different. Many of the popular tapers in the Sharkskin series are switching over to the even more popular Mastery Textured lineup.
Fishpond carved a name for itself making great angling-specific bags and this year they've gone back to the well with three updated new designs.
The Nimbus Guide Pack is a monster hip bag with enough space to stash a jacket, fly box (and heck, probably even a sleeping bag!) Retailing for $109, it's intended for serious all-day angling in places where weather might change rapidly.
Scott Fly Rods is one of those companies that usually refreshes certain series in a predictable pattern. Their bread-and-butter fast action trout and salt rods (the S4 and S4s respectively) are still in the middle of their cycle, but it's time for them to unveil their middle-range rods, and they've done something surprising this time around, with three new models. Previously, the A3 series (descended from the Scott "Alpha" line) had included both single and two-handed rods.
Scott A4 (Click to Enlarge)
This year, the new A4 series will run only in single-hand models, starting with a 7 1/2-foot 3-weight and running up to a 9-foot 12-weight, all for the same price of $375. The A4 has been updated to be lighter, faster, and have better quality wraps and components (Check out Scott President Jim Bartschi's audio interview here!)
While most manufacturers tend to wait for the yearly trade show to unveil their new offerings, Sage took the covers off a little early this year with the new fast-action, ultralight "ONE" series of rods.
If you're an angler living in the West and have entrepuneurial spirit, this is the best time of the year. Here's why: after a major spring/early summer runoff, when freestone rivers were bent out of shape and trout were anything but easy to find, the waters have settled and are dropping, running completely clear but high enough to make trout feel good all day long.
A few months ago, a number of Sage Z-Axis fly rods, as well as Simms G4 waders, mysteriously appeared on the sales racks at 16 Costco locations throughout the country. And, true to form, the super-big-box retailer had drastically slashed prices, knocking hundreds of dollars off the MSRP.
But, alas, it was a short-lived phenomenon. When those companies heard about their products being sold through Costco (apparently, they were sourced to Costco by different agents and accounts), both Simms and Sage snuffed out sales by actually repurchasing their own products, at retail price.