So 2014 was a pretty cool year in fly fishing. The industry continues to develop specialized gear to match the every broadening pursuits of many fly fishers. I can’t say we had any breakthrough technology or true watershed products come on the scene but we have seen the evolution and maturation of many. The funny thing about it is that in some ways we are going both high tech and retro all at the same time. The beauty of our passion for all things fly fishing is that it has the one thing that all other types of fishing truly lack and that is style! So as I reflected back on 2014 and eagerly await the onset of 2015 I thought it was a good time to reflect on some of the more notable trends of today. This of course is one guys opinion so feel free to disagree and shake your head if you like.
- Glass is Not Dead! (Sorry Cameron, had to borrow that one) If you would have asked someone 5 or even 10 years ago if you would have ever imagined the day that fiberglass would be all the rage I think the guys at the shop might have asked you what you had in that flask. Not only can you get custom made glass from many fine rod builders but it is not available as stock rod offerings from most of the major rod manufactures and a few smaller ones as well. I guess you could say that slow is the new fast. As many graphite tapers get faster and faster there seems to be a rekindled love for the relaxed stroke of glass. If you are still wondering what all the rage is about, stop up at the shop and take an Orvis, Seele, Redington, or Echo out to the lot and check one out. You might be surprised at how it suits you.
- Fly lines continue to diversify and the manufactures marketing departments hope you drink the koolaid! So let me give you the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is actually more great than good. It doesn’t matter if you like Rio, Scientific Angler, Airflo, Orvis, etc….. We have such a huge set of options at our finger tips from textures, to coatings, to tapers you really can find the perfect line for you. Years ago fly fishers had to cobble together shooting heads, running lines, etc… because they just were not on the market yet. That is not a problem we have today and I for one am thankful. Along the bad side of things is that with all these options come some confusion. As rods get faster, todays 5 weight line is yesterdays 6 weight line. In other words in order to bed the rod with 30 feet of line out, the lines have changed with the rods. We even have line classes in the “half of a line weight up” category. In addition we have multiple taper options to boot. Long story short, as exciting as it is to have so many options, it can be very easy to buy the wrong line! The truly ugly part is that sometimes the over zealous marketing departments of some of these manufactures would have you believe that the “bass line” and the “carp line” and the “pike line” are all very different and very specialized. Pay no attention to the fish on the box! Understand your rod, look at the head length, front and back taper and pick the one that makes the most sense for the way you fish because often the only difference is the picture of the fish on the box!
- Is the vest dead? I for one don’t think so but you really see more and more fly fishers option for some of the amazing sling packs that are on the market today and yes, I am a convert. Not only have sling packs made a big splash in the market over the past few years but now they can be had from giant guide sized slings down to super light weight versions as well. (yes, I own both!) I’m not knocking the vest guys out there but if you haven’t checked one out to see what all the fuss is about you might want to give one a spin…. yes, pun intended. You see when you fill a vest with “stuff” that “stuff” stays in front of you where your arms are performing all the duties of fly fishing. With a sling pack, the only time your “stuff” is in the way of your arms is when you spin it around to your front to change a fly, weight, tippet, etc… Otherwise it is on your back and out of your way.
- Destination travel is awesome but so is exploring you own back yard. As more and more of us get bitten by the bug hard I have seen a trend for local exploration and expansion of our fly fishing palate. For example, you might be saving up for the bull redfish trip of a lifetime to the Louisiana bayou but a the same time you are now exploring local impoundments for carp to sharpen your hunting and presentation skills. On that note, make sure you stop up at the shop on Dec 30th for a great presentation on Bull Reds in the Bayou! (Details are on the shops main site) I recently spoke at a TU meeting about carp on the fly and I was totally blown away by how many fly fishers had either just started carping or were really eager to try and hungry for knowledge. Many of us are truly blessed to have some pretty cool fishing right around the corner so get out there and fish!
- Look out guys…. here come the ladies! Today there are more women in fly fishing than ever before and a great many can flat out fish! I think this is great for our sport and look forward to seeing this continue. If you have a problem with it I’m not sure what to tell you other than that it is 2014 and you might want to get with the times because I don’t see them going away any time soon. So ladies, welcome to the old boys club. It appears you already know the secret hand shake!
- For every product mass produced in China you can find one that was hand made in a small shop in the United States. For many of us who have a hard time watching so many of our products get mass produced overseas, there are options! Is it worth it to pay a premium? To many of us it is. Even the larger manufacturers will often have a portion of their line built stateside and a portion imported. Take fly reels for example. You are looking for a switch/spey reel for steelhead. You might like high tech large arbor Lamson reel which are made extremely well. Not your taste? Perhaps the Abel switch reel with the click/pawl drag is just retro enough for you. Want to go further? You can have a reel that is hand cut on a lathe in a custom shop and assembled by a skilled craftsman to your specs, signed and numbered. All of that sound too pricey? No worries, the quality of even some of our imported products have grown leaps and bounds over their predecessors. The world really is your oyster!
- The likes of GoPro have truly changed how we see our sport. It is astounding how many people who were not videographers or film makers by trade are turning out breathtaking footage for our entertainment, inspiration, and education. Add in underwater extensions, consumer drones, and you have al the makings of some amazing stuff. I would caution you though in one sense. Don’t forget that often the beauty of what we do is the quiet, solitude, peace that fly fishing brings to us. Don’t get so worked up trying to “capture the moment” that you fail to “capture the moment”!
I hope 2014 was a good year for you. If work or family obligations got the better of you, we feel your pain! Carve out some time to stop up to the shop or hit us up online and lets talk fishing! Plan a trip, grab some gear, and get ready for an amazing 2015. Thank you all for the support and the time.
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,