The fall fishing season is upon us, and fly-fishing gear manufacturers are pushing out some new items worth a look.
From a stipper caddy to a new Scandi shooting head, a conscientiously constructed cold-weather wading jacket to a new rotary tying vise and a few items in between, here’s a quick look at some of the most promising new items for September.
Simms Freestone Z wader
The new Simms Freestone Z waders (pictured at top) are a refreshingly affordable zip-front wader offering from Simms — they retail at a reasonable $479.95. This is the second iteration of the zip-front Freestones, Simms’ wildly popular entry-level wader line, but it’s the first time we’ve seen features typically reserved for Simms’ higher-end waders — like Simms’ front and back leg seams and neoprene gravel guards — make it into the Freestones. The waders feature two large zippered pockets on either side of the waders’ front waterproof zipper. They also have two zippered and fleece-lined front pockets for warming up chilled hands and fingers. The boots come in two models — the traditional stocking-foot (anatomically engineered) model with neoprene gravel guards or a boot-foot model that is compatible with Simms’ cleat or stud systems.
Waders are investments, and the new Freestone Z looks like a safe bet for anglers in the market for a good pair. Retail: $479.95.
RIO Elite Scandi Launch shooting head
As Spey and two-handed casting continue to evolve, RIO just keeps churning out products to meet the demand. The company’s new RIO Elite Scandi Launch shooting head is purported to be the ultimate head for casting and shooting small flies with a floating line.
According to the company, the Elite Scandi Launch shooting head adds more weight at the back end of the head, which adds weight to the D loop. For the record, most Scandi heads are built this way, but RIO has taken it a step further and added even more weight to the butt of the head. A gentler front taper also allows for a more delicate and precision presentation — hence the appeal among two-handed anglers who like to fish smaller flies.
As two-handed fly fishing continues to grow in popularity, look for line-makers to continue the R&D that answers the call of a growing market. RIO’s new shooting head series is worth a look, and, given its mission of casting smaller flies, there might be some “Spey-curious” trout and smallmouth bass anglers itching to try a two-handed rod. Retail: $64.99.
Simms Bulkley Insulated Wading Jacket
Built for cold weather, Simms’ new Bulkley insulated wading jacket is designed for when “premium warmth meets unwavering wet and windy weather protection.” The jacket is Gore-Tex constructed with two layers, and lined with a breathable polyester layer to help trap warmth. It’s got an adjustable three-panel hood, and five total pockets — four outside, and one inside.
It’s also one of Simms’ newest efforts at constructing waterproof outerwear that keep customers warm without the long-chain PFAS chemicals that don’t break down and have been found in waters all over the world. This, alone, makes the jacket something special (and likely explains the price tag).. Definitely worth a look. Retail: $499.95.
Loon Outdoors Flexistripper
At first blush, you might think that Loon’s new Flexistripper is the funniest-looking (and maybe the ugliest) hat you’ve ever seen. Who has a head that big? Peyton Manning?
And then, of course, you’ll realize that it’s not a hat at all — it fits around your waist and features a “lid” pocked with spiky, flexible pegs meant to catch fly line while you’re stripping line in. This is for the beach anglers and the striper addicts out there, and it’s generally meant to be a light-weight replacement for the ubiquitous stripping basket.
Yeah, it looks funny. But, for anglers who get tired of sand-blasted fly line or just frustrated by wave action that pushes line up around your ankles, function is what matters. For serious surf casters, this product is worth a look. Retail: $60.
Nirvana V2 rotary fly-tying vise
The new Nirvana V2 rotary tying vise marks a level up in the company’s tying hardware department. It looks to be a sturdy addition to the tying table, particularly for seasoned tyers who like to crank out a few dozen flies per session.
The vise features adjustable jaws for a variety of hook sizes, and boasts a rotary bearing system with adjustable tension. It’s got a heavy base plate and features a lot of working room, a blessing for tyers with larger hands and fingers. The rotary handle is a nice feature — some rotary vices are compact and the handle is tiny or non-existent.
If you’re in the market for a new vise, and don’t want to drop a ton of cash, consider this rather affordable alternative. It’s available only through retailers or online.
Tenkara USA Fly-Weight Jacket
No, you don’t often see a tenkara rod-maker offering up apparel, but it speaks to the growing acceptance of the tenkara fly-fishing discipline. It’s become a mainstream fishing method, and the company that introduced tenkara to North America is taking that cache and running with it.
The new Tenkara USA Fly-Weight jacket is made from tightly woven and breathable polyester, and weighs a mere 9 ounces. It’s uber-portable, and can be stuffed into an average-sized pocket. The jacket is marketed as both water- and windproof, but for warmer fishing conditions, it features zippable vents near the armpits. The hood is adjustable, as is the hem. The garment is meant to fit tightly — Tenkara USA recommends choosing a size larger than what you might normally wear. The company backs the product with a lifetime warranty. Retail: $89.99.