New fly fishing gear: October 2023

What's new on the water this month
evos fly rod
Photo: St. Croix.

It’s fall, fellow fly fishers, no matter where you are in the northern hemisphere. You might still be slathering on sunscreen on the Gulf Coast of Florida this week, but just a few days ago, anglers in several parts of the country saw their first official snowflakes of the season. That means that fly fishing gear manufacturers are ramping up for holiday sales, and there are quite a few new items debuting across the angling spectrum this month. From new low-light sunglasses lenses to a new and freshly anointed award-winning saltwater fly rod, we’ve boiled down the new items for October so you don’t have to.

St. Croix Evos fly rod

Seriously, who doesn’t have an old St. Croix Imperial in the corner of the closet? Perhaps a trusty old 6-weight that you occasionally still use for early season carp, before the 30-pound females show up and demand something with more backbone, because it's still an excellent fly rod?

But, about a decade ago, St. Croix, the American fishing rod manufacturer based in Park Falls, Wisc., came to the unfortunate realization that competing in the premium fly space was an expensive proposition, particularly for a company that just wanted to make good fishing rods. So, while it never ceased its fly rod manufacturing (you can still get your hands on a perfectly good Imperial at a very reasonable price) it did pull back from the premium fly rod market.

Until now.

The company’s fly fishing arm, under the guidance of longtime fly fishing industry stalwarts Tom Larimer and Zach Dalton, is in the midst of a renaissance, and, for the first time in years, St. Croix is offering a fly rod that’ll go head-to-head with other big names in the fly space. Enter the Evos (pictured at top).

The company’s new rod features a matrix of St. Croix’s legendary SC series of graphite materials. St. Croix built the Evos' using high-modulus and high-strain SCVI carbon, high-modulus SCIV carbon, the company’s premium SCII carbon, and is the first and only rodmaker to use functionalized MITO graphene as part of its effort to craft a fast-action rod capable of across-the-spectrum applications, from trout to monster carp. The company markets the new rod’s ability to deliver “radical hoop strength, optimized loop stability and absolute accuracy.

We’ve been fishing the 9’6” 7-weight Evos for the last few weeks, chasing everything from Icelandic sea trout and Atlantic salmon to Alaskan steelhead. At first blush, the Evos is a fast rod that can throw big flies and sink-tip lines with reliable efficiency, pick up long lengths of line with ease, and recover remarkably well. Look for a full review in the months ahead, but know that, for now, at least, we’re impressed. We’re sneaking this one in a bit early, as the Evos won’t officially be available to consumers until November 1.

Welcome back, St. Croix. MSRP: $975.


bajio violet mirror sunglasses low-light chelem frames
Bajio's low-light Violet Mirror lens offers polarized performance even on socked-in, snowy, Alaskan October days (photo: Earl Harper).

Bajio low-light Violet Mirror lens in glass

We’ve got plenty more to say about Bajio’s low-light violet mirror lens. For now, let us just say that this lens has become one of our most dependable and go-to on-the-water performers over the last year or so. Now finally available in glass, Bajio touts its violet mirror offering as “the first truly polarized low-light transmission lens on the market.” Its new violet mirror lens is ideal for cloudy conditions and for fishing mountain streams where shadows and early shade come into play.

With a red base and a violet mirror finish, the lens offers 20% VLT while blocking 95 percent of blue light and 90 percent of yellow light. MSRP: $259.


Simms Confluence waders
The new Simms Confluence waders (photo: Darcy Bacha).

Simms Confluence waders

More waders? Do we really need another set of breathable, waterproof waders? How much more “innovation” can we stand, right?

Two words. Knee pads.

Simms’ new Confluence waders might be the first pair of waders to really dial in the “knee construction,” as the company calls it (not knee pads, but … well, potato-potahto). Over the years, Simms and other wader manufacturers have tried and failed to build waterproof, breathable waders with functional knee protection. Even John Frazier, Simms’ able PR guru and media manager, acknowledges that early efforts at knee guards drifted into “gimmickry.” But, after years of trying everything from stick-on pads, inserts and the like, Simms thinks they have a winner in their new Confluence waders.

How’d they do it? We’ll let John explain:

“The best way to describe how the knee construction is incorporated into the wader is to think of it as an inlay or as if it’s integrated into the fabric. A tailormade hole is cut into the wader that the knee construction is nested in. On the inside, the outer perimeter of the knee construction is neatly bonded to the fabric in a similar fashion to how we attach our neoprene stockingfeet to our waders. The end result is an incorporated knee construction that moves and flexes in a way that accommodates that natural motion of the body.”

Then, add in some modestly stretchable fabric and a host of other “expected” features in the new set of waders, like anatomically correct left- and right foot booties, an air-mesh suspender system and a few pockets here and there, and the Confluence might, indeed, offer up real innovation in a market where all products can generally look and feel the same. MSRP: $549.95.


hardy marksman z fly rod
Photo: Hardy Fly Fishing.

Hardy Marksman Z saltwater fly rod

Fresh off its win in the saltwater fly rod category at the American Fly Fishing Trade Association Confluence event in Salt Lake City last month, the new Hardy Marksman Z fly rod is obviously turning heads. Hardy has long built rods on its dependable and uber-vast Syntix blank system. The Marksman Z is no exception, but the rod’s new Syntrix FLT blank features a new mandrel design.

Not surprisingly, the Marksman Z is a fast rod — all Syntrix rods tend to be. It’s offered in weights 6 through 12 and in both 8-foot, 10-inch and 9-foot lengths. The company is even offering the rod in a one-piece model — this would be a solid option as a boat rod for a saltwater guide, a South Florida boat captain or for someone who can store it in a rod carrier atop the car. MSRP: $995.


Newport NT300 electric outboard motor
Photo: Newport Vessels.

Newport NT300 electric outboard motor

Perfect for the tricked-out fishing kayak or even a micro-skiff, this sleek and simple electric outboard might be the ideal motor for prowling around the blackwater rivers of the Southeast or even just your local bass pond.

The Newport NT300 features a brushless, direct-drive motor that’s purported to be maintenance-free and easy on the draft. It comes in two shaft lengths — 24.6 inches and 29 inches. Both are great for shallow-water stealth for avid bass, panfish, bowfin and pike anglers. Buyers can choose between the Newport 36V30 lithium battery or the 36V40 lithium battery. The motor can produce a peak power of 1300w and gets an estimated 66 miles of range with a top speed of 6.5 mph. Maximum run time is 30 hours. Try to get 30 hours out of your old Yamaha on one tank of gas. MSRP: $1,199.

toadfish dry box
Photo: Toadfish.

The Toadfish dry box

Speaking of small boats, here’s a handy addition to just about any small craft. The Toadfish dry box is a great all-purpose storage dry box for smaller items — think leaders, tippets, small tools, small fly boxes or even your cell phone.

Crushproof, dustproof and waterproof to three meters for up to 30 minutes, this indestructible little storage companion comes with Toadfish’s pledge to help fund efforts to rebuild flagging inshore fish stocks, like snook, redfish and tarpon. It features “lure pads” on the outside — but they’ll just as easily hold a Tarpon Toad or a Clouser — and the company’s Soft Touch non-tipping suction base to keep it where you left it. MSRP: $55.

dragontail ragnarok tenkara rod
Photo: DRAGONtail Tenkara.

DRAGONtail Ragnarok 400 tenkara rod

DRAGONtail founder Brent Auger designed his company’s latest tenkara rod himself as a testament to how he likes to fish. The 13-foot, 3-inch tenkara rod (when fully extended) weighs a paltry 3.1 ounces and features a supple tip section, with a bend that starts about midway up the rod. This, Auger says, allows the rod to flip line smoothly and cast either traditional tenkara level line or furled and tapered lines with the same effectiveness. Auger particularly likes that the rod, even at more than 13 feet, is easy to maneuver and cast and doesn’t feel bulky like other longer tenkara rods. He also claims that it will bend appreciatively when fighting larger fish.

“There are rumors that we put fiberglass in this rod, but that is incorrect,” Auger says. The rod is constructed using a blend of IM12 carbon fibers. The rod collapses to just two feet in length and it slides nicely into a 26-inch rod tube, making it an excellent backcountry or backpacking fly rod. MSRP: $124.99.


Scientific Anglers Amplitude Textured Bonefish Plus and Amplitude Smooth Bonefish Plus fly lines

SA’s new textured “bonefish plus” line is exactly that — it’s a half-size heavy, a thoughtful inclusion into the company’s growing lineup of carefully engineered fly lines. Saltwater anglers deal with wind all the time, and it comes from all directions and can show up on gray, blustery days or bright sunny afternoons. Having a bit more “umph” at the head of a fly line can stabilize a cast or just add a bit of needed distance when the wind tries to grab a cast.

This line is based on SA’s popular Grand Slam taper and includes an extended head with the short front taper so anglers can better cast longer leaders. The texture on the head of the line allows for more floatation, the company says, while the “shooting texture” added to the running line makes for easier, longer casts. The company’s Tropicore technology ensures the line stays stiff and slick in warm environments, according to SA’s promotional materials.

SA announced a number of new fly lines this month, including its Amplitude Smooth Bonefish Plus line — it’s the same as the textured version, minus, of course, the texture. This line is treated with the company’s AST Plus “slickness additive” for better shooting ability and long-term durability in saltwater environments. MSRP: $129.95 (textured); $99.95 (smooth).


hardy sovereign fly reel
The stunning, old-is-new Hardy Sovereign fly reel (photo: Hardy Fly Fishing).

Hardy Sovereign fly reel

I love nostalgia, and if there’s a company that oozes it, it’s probably Hardy. The company with roots in Alnwick, England, has “remastered” its Sovereign fly reels that were first introduced in 1987. New features to the “old” reel include a self-lubricating, sealed disc-drag system and a new on/off “clicker” for that “reel” nostalgic feel when big fish pull line from the cylinder. Finally, the reel can also be changed from left- to right-hand retrieve without tools. Nice touch. MSRP: $595.