Summer’s end is here for those of us in northern climes, and not too far behind for many others. As we drove through Grand Teton National Park earlier this week, the willows had a distinct orange tinge to them, and the morning chill was more of an autumn bite.
Bring it on. After a season of devastating Canadian wildfires, severe drought, tropical storms over the desert and just plain, unrelenting heat, many anglers will welcome the first few weeks of fall with open arms. And, with the winter travel season quickly approaching, many will be looking for some new gear.
With that in mind, fly fishing gear manufacturers aren’t about to throw in the towel on gear rollouts. August has been a happening month in that regard. From a new premium fly rod from Scott to new footwear from a couple of reputable brands, let’s explore some of the new gear hitting shelves this month and in the weeks ahead.
Scott Swing fly rods
The Montrose, Colo.-based rod-maker is after the “swingers” in our pastime. The company has a long history of building innovative fly rods for every application, and the new Scott Swing series (pictured at top) is designed for those who swing streamers for big-water trout, steelhead and salmon, either with single-handed rods or longer two-handed implements.
Noting the many “disciplines within the discipline” of swinging flies for salmon, steelhead and trout, Scott has crafted 14 different fly rods, from an 11-foot, 8-inch two-handed 4-weight for trout to a 16-foot, 1-inch 10-weight spey rod for the liveliest king, sea-run brown, steelhead or Atlantic salmon an angler might encounter. Single-handed rods are included in the series, too — the 9-foot, 8-inch 7-weight is billed as the ideal fly rod for big-river trout.
All Swing rods, according to Scott, “feature progressive loading actions, fast recovery speeds, directional stability, and a light-in-hand feel” that comes from the company’s new tapers with its “multi-directional, multi-modulus layups, ARC2 reinforcement, Carbon Link resin system and the very finest components.” Head here for our full writeup on the release of the Scott Swing fly rod series. MSRP: Staring at $1,095.
Patagonia Forra wading boots
We’d be a bit more surprised about the number of industry professionals going out of their way to profess their love for Patagonia’s latest wading boots if they weren’t the product of a partnership between the Ventura, CA-based gearmaker and Fitwell, an Italian bootmaker best known for building technical footwear for all manner of high-consequence outdoor pursuits — such as ice climbing, high-altitude mountaineering, and alpine rescue.
We’ve been testing them for a few months, and are similarly impressed. As such, we won’t be the least bit surprised if Patagonia’s new Forra wading boots — which may just be the lightest wading boots currently on the market without skimping on essential qualities such as hardiness and ankle support — continue to turn heads. Check our full writeup about the Forra boots here and stay tuned for a full review. MSRP: $299.
Bajio polarized readers
Bajio, the reputable manufacturer of high-end polarized sunglasses is releasing a new “radically clear, polarized, blue light-blocking” reader that’s intended to be used by anglers who don’t necessarily need prescription sunglasses, but who might like just a bit of help with the “up close” work — tying knots, adding tippet, sharpening hooks, etc.
The target audience for Bajio’s new reader sunglasses is the angler who switches back and forth between polarized sunglasses for general fishing and up-close reading glasses for detail work. Each pair of readers can be built to order, and they’re available in every full-wrap frame the company offers. What’s more, the lenses are available in four different lens options and three magnification powers. Once ordered by consumers, the readers can be shipped in as little as 48 hours.
Since, as of this month, readers are now available in all of the company’s full-wrap frames, customers can enjoy all the other benefits that come with Bajio sunglasses, like vented rubber side shields, ergonomic rubber nose pads and two-way hinges. MSRP: Starting at $229.
Hardy Sovereign fly reel
Years ago, when our regular contributor Chris Hunt lived in northern California, a coworker of his fell ill and had to give up fly fishing. "He gifted me an old Hardy Princess fly reel, " Chris recalled. "It was a thing of beauty, and even though it was at least 40 years old, it purred nicely when trout pulled line from the reel. I’ve had a soft spot for Hardy reels ever since."
Enter the “return of a legend,” as Hardy puts it. The company is reintroducing the world to its classic fly reels, starting with the new Sovereign fly reel. As the company puts it, the Sovereign is the “remastered” version of the company’s classic reels that have essentially remained unchanged since the 1970s. The Sovereign features a self-lubricating disc drag system, tool-free changeability from left- to right-hand retrieve and a “poacher’s” switch that can silence the patented — and wonderful — click as line is pulled from the reel (if you really think the “click, click, click” sound is what’s keeping you from catching fish). The reel comes in the most-common line weights, is constructed of bar-stock aluminum and is made in Hardy’s ancestral home in Alnwick, England.
It’ll be available to consumers in September. MSRP: $750.
Grundéns Bankside wading boots
Grundéns new Bankside wading boots are meant to accompany the company’s Boundary stockingfoot waders, and to work seamlessly with the Grundéns’ HEXAGRIP cleat and stud system for better traction. That doesn’t mean the boots will just magically cease working if you pull them on over a pair of competitor-brand waders, just to be clear. The boots’ Vibram sole has long been recognized as one of the best sole materials for non-felt grip on slippery surfaces, and the corrosion-resistant lace hardware looks to be durable and functional (it’s also saltwater-safe, for you estuary steelhead, salmon and sea-trout anglers out there).
The boots come with a waterproof Nubuck leather upper that’s scratch resistant and just bulky enough to offer some reasonable rock protection. They also offer an EVA midsole that’s molded in the heel—this locks the foot down to keep it from sliding in the boot under tough wading situations. MSRP: $249.99
Grundéns Deviation Sherpa ankle boot
Speaking of Grundens boots, here’s another — albeit one that’s not technically fly fishing or fishing gear at all. Grundéns claims their new Deviation Sherpa ankle boot rests at the nexus of durability and comfort. Made for all-day wear, the new boots sport a high-pile fleece liner, neoprene side panels to make slipping into them a breeze and a non-marking, lugged rubber sole that’s ideal for the boat and beyond. The boots, says Grudens, offer slipper-like comfort while being 100 percent waterproof.
Whether they become the latest trend in fashion remains to be seen, but we suspect there are more than a few anglers who might find these slip-on, fleece-lined, waterproof boots to be exactly what they doctor ordered after a long day of standing in frigid water chasing fall striped bass, steelhead, winter trout, or what have you. MSRP: $149.99
Hardy Marksman Z fly rod
According to Hardy, the new rod “leverages the latest in performance materials to deliver a level of strength, reduced weight and durability unmatched on the market.” What’s not unmatched? These claims, of course. But rather than slide into a natural pessimism, I’ll give the company its due — it collaborated with saltwater fly fishing guides for the Marksman Z’s design, which is a good thing for anglers who are in search of that one rod that’s perfect for the flats.
“Built with Sintrix FLT that is applied to an updated mandrel design, the Marksman Z was created with a strong butt section that gives you increased lifting power in the lower section of the rod making it strong enough to pull big fish from cover yet extremely light in the hand,” the company claims. If true, it’s the latest in a string of saltwater fly rod evolutions from high-end brands that are working like crazy to address the typical broom-handle feel that bigger rods often possess in order to provide the strength and line speed flats anglers need.
The Marksman Z, it’s worth noting, recently took Best Fly Rod honors at ICAST 2023. Color me Marksman Z curious. MSRP: $995.
Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Infinity Warm
Just released a few days ago, this new line seems poised to be a favorite of smallmouth and late summer trout anglers. Built on a coldwater core but with a tropical coating, the new Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Infinity Warm line aims to fill the gap left by those days when it's too hot for a coldwater line, but not quite hot enough for the overall conditions to call for a tropical line — think late summer smallmouth and trout fishing when blazing sun and hot boat decks conspire to cause coldwater coatings to get sticky and go limp, but water temperatures still call for a coldwater core (not to mention being within the safe range for C&R anglers to chase trout).
Built on SA's most popular taper, its Infinity taper, the Infinity Warm is a half line-size heavy. MSRP: $99.95.