New fly fishing gear: December 2023

What's new on and off the water this month
new patagonia black hole bags
Patagonia's latest incarnation of its beloved Black Hole line of bags (photo: Tim Davis).

Fly fishing manufacturers aren’t taking the holidays off. Some intriguing items are new in December, including a premium saltwater fly rod from a legacy rod maker, the latest incarnation of a beloved line of do-everything bags and packs, and an interesting riverside coffee-making kit for those cold winter mornings on the river. Check out the new gear that caught our eye this month.

Patagonia Black Hole Bags

The aptly named luggage and pack line that’s earned something of a cult following among Pagaonia customers since 2004 is back and more responsibly constructed than ever before. The new Black Hole bags (pictured at top) now sport a 100-percent recycled thermoplastic polyurethane coating. The TPU material is what makes the Black Hole virtually bombproof, but for every 1,000 yards of TPU that’s produced, 75 pounds of the material goes to waste. Patagonia is now buying the “waste” product directly from other factories and channeling the material into the construction of its storied Black Hole bags.

One more improvement: the Black Hole is now easier to repair than ever. From its Reno, Nevada, repair center, Patagonia techs will now be able to replace worn or torn components of the bags, like new base, side and top panels. But be warned, the company says. Some of the replacement panels, also made with recycled materials, may not be color matching.

Such is the price for environmental responsibility. MSRP: $39 to $419.


st croix evos salt
Photo: St. Croix.

St. Croix Evos SALT

Back in October, we gave you the first look at the new Evos — the premium fly rod that marks a fly fishing “reawakening” of sorts at legacy American rod-builder St. Croix. This month, take a look at the new Evos SALT. Using its MITO graphene and its “next-level carbon fiber matrix” made up of a hybrid mix of the company’s well-known SC carbon, St. Croix hopes to appeal to the saltwater fly-fishing crowd with a rod that it describes as “fast with feel.” There’s more to it than that, of course, but until we get one out on the water, we can’t say much more.

We spent a bit of time with the freshwater Evos a couple months back and were impressed by it. Here’s hoping the salty version of St. Croix’s new premium rod leaves us feeling warm and fuzzy, too. The new Evos SALT comes in weights 6 through 12, and is backed by St. Croix’s 15-year warranty. MSRP: $1,025.


hardy 1912 perfect fly reel
The Hardy 1912 Perfect fly reel (photo: Hardy Fly Fishing).

Hardy 1912 Perfect fly reel

Nostalgia is enjoying a rebirth these days at Hardy. In addition to its newly “remastered” Sovereign fly reel we brought to your attention in October, the company is digging even farther back — its reimagined 1912 Perfect fly reel is new just in time for the holidays. Originally slated for September but now available, the new 1912 features Hardy’s old-school check mechanism that’s intended to keep running fish from pulling line off the reel too quickly and fouling the retrieve. It’s also got that nostalgic narrow-spool design, just like the original. The reel is engineered from bar stock aluminum, comes in a smooth gunmetal gray and features a gorgeous red agate line guard. As Hardy puts it, “this reel boasts not only beauty but durability.” MSRP: $895.


toadfish fixed filet knife
Photo: Toadfish.

Toadfish Fixed Fillet Collection

Designed for both performance and comfort, this new family of fillet knives comes with 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-inch models, each one designed to tackle fish of different sizes. Good for both fresh- and saltwater anglers who harvest food from the waters, the handsome blades might be just the item for the stocking this season. The smaller blades look to be ideal for gutting and cleaning, and the longer knives seem more appropriate for slicing out the ideal filet of salmon, trout, walleye or redfish. The grippy handles and the secure sheaths (complete with a bottle opener) aim to keep the hands safe from titanium-coated stainless steel blades. MSRP: starting at $25.


pakacloud fleece sweater
Photo: PAKA.

PAKACLOUD fleece sweater

Last month, we introduced you to Paka via the Paka Apu parka. This month, we're including another PAKA offering, the PAKACLOUD fleece sweater, a feel-good product that’s not only functional, but sustainable. According to PAKA, the new alpaca-sourced fleece outperforms synthetics because the alpaca wool features hollow air pockets that reduce heat transfer and hold warmth close to the body. Constructed of baby alpaca wool, recycled polyester, Merino wool and recycled nylon, the fleece sweater is about as environmentally conscious as they come. MSRP: $165.


The VSSL Nest pour over kit and grinder
The VSSL Nest pour over kit and grinder (photo: VSSL).

VSSL Nest Pour Over Coffee Kit

This is one of the coolest ideas out there for those early morning jaunts to the river. The VSSL Nest Pour Over Coffee Kit is basically two coffee cups and a portable coffee-maker, all in one. Cleverly “nested” together in a handy cylinder, the kit breaks into five parts — two cups, a lid, a pour-over coffee cradle and a stainless steel coffee filter. By itself, it’s a great way to achieve fresh coffee on the river — all you need is hot water. Add in one of VSSL’s portable coffee grinders, and you can even have ground-on-the-spot coffee. No power cord needed. MSRP for the Nest kit: $75. MSRP for the VSSL G25 grinder: $160.


Tenkara USA Ukiyo rod

The patriarch of American tenkara fishing is back with a new rod — the Ukiyo. In recent years, tenkara rods have stopped being just exclusively long and supple high-stick implements. Some manufacturers are crafting shorter rods for tighter quarters, all while still ditching the idea of a fly reel and 100 feet of fly line. The new Tenkara USA Ukiyo is only 9 feet, 9 inches long, and it breaks down and packs into a 15-inch cylinder when completely retracted. In a first for Tenkara USA, the rod doesn’t feature a cork grip. Instead it sports a textured “graphite swell” grip. In all, it’s the lightest, most compact rod Tenkara USA has ever offered, and billed as the rod for tenkara anglers looking to take their tenkara to “the next step.” MSRP: $190.