Fly anglers are overloaded with gear choices—rods, reels, boots, waders, lines, packs, bags, boxes, vests, apparel and more. It seems harder and harder to know what's worth coveting and what's worth ignoring. Gear reviews are a great way to explore in-depth what might be right for you, but not every piece of gear is suited to a full-length review and, even if it were, there's simply too much of it to get to. With that in mind, we periodically showcase what's working for us right now, to hopefully offer more helpful feedback on gear that's worth a second look.
All gear is welcome here: new, old, cheap, pricey, and so on. The goal is to provide useful feedback on gear that works—not to help gin up marketing for new products. Sometimes, great gear has just hit the market, other times it's been here doing good work all along. And, as always, our feedback comes with a promise: Unlike many magazines that publish gear roundups for products they've never so much as seen in person let alone put to work, we've actually used and field tested every piece of gear we write about.
Scott Wave Fly Rod
I’ve been more than a little surprised by the takes on the Scott Wave since it was introduced a few months back as a mid-price range replacement for the Scott Tidal, slotting into Scott’s lineup as a more accessible option than its flagship saltwater rod, the Sector. “Fast,” “definitely a fast action rod,” “ultra-fast!,” “fastest ever!,” much of the feedback on the Wave has read. But guess what? It’s not. At all.
That’s not to say that the Wave doesn’t excel at generating high line speeds crucial for saltwater anglers. It does. But it accomplishes that task thanks to the rod’s recovery speed, not due to unwanted stiffness. To this angler, the Wave is a rod that offers a much deeper flex profile than most fast action saltwater rods, one that isn’t the least bit tippy, and one that rewards a longer, more relaxed casting rhythm.
It’s an action I’d call medium-fast if I was inclined to call it anything at all; which I’m not—as those blanket labels of rod actions almost always leave an enormous amount of important things unsaid. In the models I’ve fished, it seems to love a true-to-weight line, which is something of a rarity in the world of saltwater fly rods these days.
Overall, the Scott Wave is a well balanced, excellent performer that I’d reach for before many other brands’ flagship saltwater rods (and their significantly higher price tags). It also happens to be an absolute pleasure to cast and fish and one that brings along that Scott “feel” so many of us love.
— Chad Shmukler
Simms G3 Guide waders
In a day and age where everything just kind of feels disposable, it’s nice to see a pair of waders designed to last more than just a season or two. Yes, the Simms G3 Guide waders are made for guides who might spend more time in their waders than they do out of them, but that’s the appeal, even for those of us who might only fish a dozen or so times a year. The durable and breathable waders might last the average angler several seasons, and with Simms excellent warranty system, the new and improved G3 Guide waders could be the last pair of waders the casual angler will ever need.
The upper half of the waders is crafted from three-layer Gortex and sports some nice features — I particularly like the removable tippet-tender pocket and the mesh suspender system, which makes these waders some of the most comfortable I’ve ever owned. But the waders really shine below the waist, where there are four layers of breathable Gortex in an ergonomic design that allows for greater range of motion, durability and, again, comfort. The waders feature low-abrasion gravel guards to keep rocks and sand out of wading boots and a low-profile wading belt system that helps hug the mid-section and keep deep-wading anglers safe should they end up in the river. Comfort and durability. I’ll wear these waders for years.
— Chris Hunt
Scientific Anglers Amplitude Textured Infinity Salt Fly Line
Saltwater fly lines are tricky creatures. Typically built with aggressively front-weighted tapers to help anglers quickly load their fly rods for rapid deliveries to elusive flats-dwelling quarry, a lot of saltwater lines—while excelling at the aforementioned task—end up being otherwise unwieldy, inelegant beasts. Laying down quiet casts, picking up long lengths of line for efficient retargets, carrying a lot of fly line in the air without slapping the water on your backcast, and so on can become troublesome with many of these lines. The alternatives—lines with more delicate tapers—can reverse the paradigm, but still leave you with shortcomings. Scientific Anglers’ Amplitude Textured Infinity Salt fly line is one of the first lines I’ve fished that seems to check all of my wish list boxes.
The Infinity Salt is a half line-weight heavy, which allows it to quickly load even stiffer saltwater rods. More importantly, the line’s taper features an extended head, which distributes the head weight of the line over a much larger area vs. typical weight-forward saltwater lines. The result is a line that offers improved accuracy, the ability to carry longer lengths of line, the opportunity to lay down more delicate casts, and allows the angler to pick up more line off the water for single-backcast retargets than, quite possibly, any saltwater line I’ve ever fished.
With specialty line offerings for bonefish, tarpon, permit, and more, Scientific Anglers bills the Infinity Salt as a do-it-all performer. As such, you’d expect a jack-of-all-trades line to introduce compromises. But, thus far, I’ve yet to find any.
— Chad Shmukler
BUY THE SA INFINITY SALT FLY LINE
Simms women’s Waypoint Jacket
I took the Simms women’s Waypoint jacket on a weeklong small-boat excursion through Alaska’s Inside Passage, and it didn’t disappoint. Light and comfortable, it was daily wear — the surrounding Tongass National Forest is the largest temperate rainforest in the world, and it lived up to its name. Whether we were hiking a rainforest trail or braving one of the frequent downpours while fishing for halibut and rockfish, the jacket held up nicely. I loved the lined zippered pockets that really did a nice job of keeping my hands warm, and I was able to adjust the bottom hem so it was tight against me, preventing water from dripping down into my rain pants. The one drawback? Sizing is a little off — I normally wear a large, but found myself kind of swimming in this jacket. Thankfully, with the adjustable hem and the adjustable hood, I was able to make it fit just right. Overall, the Waypoints jacket is a great option for fishing and braving the elements — I’d recommend it for casual anglers or ladies who are just looking for something light and dependable. It’s a solid option, to be sure.
— Toni Furniss
BUY THE SIMMS WOMEN’S WAYPOINTS JACKET
Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody
Patagonia’s Down Sweater Hoody has been an unexpected favorite in my winter jacket rotation. I live in northern Wyoming where the winters are long and brutal, and I usually favor thick, barn-style canvas coats. I opted to try out the newly redesigned Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody starting in October. I thought it’d get me through fall, but I’d have to stash it in the coat closet once winter really settled in. To my surprise, this hoody has been a staple in my wardrobe, even on sub-zero days.
The Down Sweater Hoody sports a windproof shell that’s made from 100% post-consumer recycled nylon, according to Patagonia. The shell is windproof, and the hoody is excellent at trapping heat thanks to its 800-fill-power down. The hood has an adjustable drawstring on top, allowing you to cinch it down on the windiest and coldest of days. The two zippered side pockets are roomy enough for keys, phones, and wallets, as are the two inner drop pockets. Patagonia includes Tenacious Tape with this hoody to handle any small tears in the shell. As with all Patagonia products, the quality is excellent and I’ve had zero issues with durability. This Down Sweater Hoody will be a mainstay in my winter wardrobe for years to come.
— Spencer Durrant
BUY THE PATAGONIA DOWN SWEATER HOODY
Hardy Ultralite X fly rod
Billed as the beloved Ultralite on a dose of Creatine, the Ultralite X is exactly that. I took the 9-foot, 5-weight version of Hardy’s high-performance rod with me to the Yukon and put it to work on shallow-water lake trout that congregate in river and creek mouths in anticipation of the fall spawning run. While my guide suggested a 6-weight, I opted for Hardy’s heavy-duty Ultralite X, largely because it was built for situations just like this — big water, big flies and big fish, and all that in the “ultralight” package. The verdict? As billed, the Ultralite X is a rod designed to throw everything but the kitchen sink at trout, bass or other freshwater creatures.
It’s super fast — maybe the fastest 5-weight rod I’ve ever cast. It handled big, gnarly streamers and a sink-tip line just fine. It also sports a rapid taper, and the butt section is a bit outsized in order to allow anglers to kind of put the hammer down on retreating fish that might be headed for a rootwad or a snag. But it’s also kind of scaled down. Single-foot snake guides reduce its profile a bit and it is a light-weight tool built using Hardy’s renowned Sintrix blank (although this model is a bit enhanced with a higher percentage of high-modulus fiber). Years ago, I cast a Hardy Sintix 10-weight, just for kicks, and it’s nice to know that groundbreaking tech is still being put to good use by the company. The Ultralite X is a rod designed for experienced anglers who have some advanced casting ability and are in search of both speed for quick recovery and line pickup, and for strength to keep hard-fighting fish out of structure or heavy currents.
— Chris Hunt