It’s spring. Depending on where you live, you might already be sweltering in near-record temperatures or still heading out to scrape ice and snow off your windshield in the morning. But regardless of where you call home, the rivers are calling to many of us. Manufacturers don’t care where it snowed last night, and they’re pushing forward with a host of new items for the eager-beaver fly anglers out there. Whether you’re in the market for a new fly rod, a new tenkara rod, some new outerwear or a new pair of wading boots, or something else, we got you covered.
Here are some of April’s most promising options on the “new stuff” front.
Redington Original Kit
Redington continues to lean into its combo kit approach, and why not? It’s a great way to reach new or budget-minded anglers after an affordable, yet solid fly rod along with a dependable reel spooled with proven-quality fly line from RIO. Buyers should be ready to hit the water within minutes of walking out of the store. Its newest offering, the Redington Original Kit (pictured at top), is kind of a throwback rod-and-reel combo that might emote some nostalgia, at least from a design perspective. The Original rod is a medium-fast-action product that some will find familiar.
The medium-fast rod action is welcome, considering the ongoing race to make every damned fly rod faster and lighter. The Original comes in two sizes: a 5-weight for trout and an 8-weight “all-water” version for bass, salmon, steelhead, pike, etc. The company even markets the bigger rod as a capable saltwater implement. Both rods come with a corresponding Crosswater fly reel, RIO Mainstream freshwater fly line in the corresponding weight and 100 yards of Dacron backing. Both are also equipped with a RIO Powerflex leader (4x for the 5-weight; 0x for the 8-weight). The best part? A fly-curious angler can get their hands on all of this for less than $200. Retail: $199.
Orvis Wide-mouth Guide Nets
We talk a lot about taking care of fish once they’re on the reel and brought to hand. There’s the whole “keep ‘em wet” movement designed to keep fish in the water, at least partially, while we remove the fly, and the old-school “hero shot” is starting to become a bit passe. But one thing we don’t talk about enough is how to properly net a fish — which may be the best thing we can do for wild trout (or bass or panfish for that matter).
Orvis’ new Wide-mouth nets make it easier for us to be easier on the fish. And, as the name implies, it’s all in the mouth. By extending the loop of the net, Orvis is making it easier to dip a net under a fighting fish and bring it to hand, ending an exhausting fight for the trout, bass or… whatever, honestly. And a big plus with these nets? There’s plenty of room to maneuver inside the well of the net — it’s easier and more expedient to remove a fly when you’re not squeezing your elbows together. The new nets are made from a durable composite that will keep its shape, and they support a deeper, hook-resistant net bag. If you’re not a net-carrier, you should be, and this one is worth a look.
The Skwala Thermo 150 Hoody
Billed as the “most comfortable and versatile fishing shirt you’ve ever worn,” Skwala’s new Thermo 150 hoody is, indeed, pretty slick. Skwala has done a nice job introducing subtle stretch into its clothing and outerwear lines, and this light-weight hoody (with some heavy-weight attributes) sports the company’s comfort-first approach. The shirt is something of a hybrid — it has the sun protection (50+ UPF) of a more traditional hoody while also possessing moisture-wicking ability usually reserved for a Merino garment (and yes, Skwala uses ultra-fine Merino fibers in this product). This makes the shirt nice and soft, yet cool and comfortable. Does it live up to its billing? Only one way to find out. Retail: $129.
Simms Men’s Freestone Wading Pants
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I. Hate. Waders. But they are a necessary evil in many parts of the country and during much of the fishing year when staying warm and dry is absolutely vital. And then there are times when a full set of bulky waders is just too damned much. The new Simms Freestone Wading Pants might be the compromise outerwear for wader-haters like me — they’re light and breathable and great for a July morning … and you won’t be sweating through your underpants once the sun hits its zenith after lunch. Simms’ latest pants offering includes a gusseted and zippered fly (you may not think this is a big deal, but it beats the hell out of dropping your pants to your knees when nature calls) and hip pockets perfect for a few necessary items, like a spool of tippet, spare leaders, your phone or even a small fly box. The pants sport four layers, top and bottom, and a pair of belt loops with an adjustable wading belt. Just like their big brothers — the Freestone chest waders — the pants sport the front and rear leg seams that should make these things last longer. Retail: $329.
Tenkara Rod Co. Yari Japanese-made tenkara rod kit
American-based Tenkara Rod Co. is now offering its first Japanese-made tenkara product in the Yari, a traditional tenkara rod that features “old school” attributes like a soft action and lighter weight. This is what tenkara was all about when it was earnestly introduced to the states some 20 years ago — it’s what was appealing about the tenkara discipline to a lot of small-water anglers who love the intimacy of creek angling and value short, accurate casts, perfect drifts and wild trout pulled from high-mountain brooks. Fully extended, the Yari is 11 feet, 10 inches long and it weighs just 2.3 ounces. It’s a mix of carbon fiber and fiberglass (yup … it’s a noodle!). It comes with all you need to chase small-stream trout, including 10-and-a-half feet of level line, three dependable tenkara flies, a wood line holder, a rod tube and a rod sock. Retail: $295.
The G. Loomis IMX-Pro V2
What’s this? A new high-end fly rod for less than $600? Yup. Good on you, G. Loomis. Billed as an all-purpose fly rod for every possible freshwater application, the new G. Loomis IMX-Pro V2 “boasts a mix of standard and technique-specific actions curated to offer anglers tools to elevate every on-water experience.” Predictably, it’s on the faster side, but it’s not a rocket launcher. Rather, the rod appears to be built for the freshwater angler who might have to consistently and accurately hit 40 or 50 feet. Using the oft-marketed “blend of new technologies,” G. Loomis says the rod recovers better than its peers and is lighter than expected thanks to the company’s G7 resin and Conduit Core tech which “removes excess wraps of graphite and replaces them with a proprietary material that’s of equal strength, but dramatically lighter in weight.” The hopeful outcome? Anglers will love the moderately fast line speed and the lighter weight, which takes less of a toll on the body over the course of a day. In other words, G. Loomis is marketing the IMX-Pro V2 as your new “daily driver” fly rod. Retail: $595.