Fly Fishing Gear Trends For 2015

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

We just got back from IFTD and there are some pretty clear trends for the coming year.

The IFTD show is an exciting event. A great opportunity to have a look at what’s coming up in fly fishing gear. This was my 10th IFTD show and it only gets more fun every year. Sometimes products seem to come out of nowhere and other times there is a definite zeitgeist. This was one of those years. There are some trends that I’m pretty excited about and I think you will be, too.

The big news is that fly fishing is about to get a lot more affordable. I’ve been saying for years that what the industry needs is a mid-priced American-made fly rod. In 2015, I’m getting what I asked for in spades. Several rods for both freshwater and salt will be hitting the market for about $425 from the likes of Scott, Winston and Orvis and the Accel from Sage at $595. Quality, made-in-America rods from some of the best manufacturers in the business. I can only see this trend growing and that’s good news for fly anglers.

Asian rod prices seem to be on the fall as well. Echo is bringing some very good rods to market for as little as $89! Rod manufacturers who are already in the mid price range are expanding their offerings. Mystic has some very interesting Spey rods and a women’s rod for the coming year.

Fly rods are not the only gear that’s getting more affordable. One of the most exciting things coming next year are some truly affordable waders from Simms. The new headwaters wader line is pretty impressive. You will now be able to buy Simms Zipfront waders for $399.

There’s also good news on the way for women and kids. A few more women-specific rods and waders are on the way as well as some nice technical apparel from companies like Mavin Fly. One of the coolest things I saw are the kids sling packs from Veedavoo. These packs are just as technical as the adult packs but scaled down for anglers who are small but serious.

Several of the big name rod companies are making a move to castability over speed in saltwater rods. Scott and notably Sage seem to have said “enough is enough, let’s make rods folks can cast.” The Scott Tidal and Sage Salt both look very promising, especially for anglers who only fish saltwater a couple of times a year.

Fiberglass is still alive and well. There are a few new offerings in glass. The most exciting to me is Echo’s new fiberglass Spey series. This has got Louis written all over it! I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on one. These rods feel so good it hurts.

There’s some very cool stuff happening with fly lines also. Airflo is raising the bar with some new lines designed by some of the top guides in the business. Bruce Chard has joined the team and designed a dynamite saltwater line. Kelly Galloup has a signature line of streamer lines for 2015.

RIO has a new innovation that I feel deserved Best In Show. A new fly line selector app for iPhone, iPad and Android. It’s easy and incredibly detailed. It’s never been simpler to find the perfect line for your specific rod and style of fishing. If you have a smartphone you should download it now! Search RIO line selector in the app store. RIO also took home an award for their new permit line.

Scientific Anglers has some very cool new packaging. This might not sound sexy at first but it’s kind of brilliant. The taper profile is printed large on the front of the bow, making it very easy to understand each line at a glance. The Sharkwave Seige took best freshwater line.

Fishing packs are getting even more high tech with lots of waterproof options including rolltops from Umpqua and Fishpond and true waterproof zipper packs from Simms. Umpqua has some remarkable features including packs that carry an extra rod strung up and ready to go! Simms has some great puncture-proof materials and cool tackle bags designed to hold Plano boxes. Fishpond has expanded its offerings in recycled fish net fabric which brought home awards. It’s only a matter of time until one of these companies offers jet packs.

A few other notable items.

The new Simms G4 pro jacket borrows design from military contractors to produce a fishing jacket that deserves the description ‘Special Forces’!

Adipose Boatworks has some high tech oar locks that make rowing a drift boat so easy guides will feel guilty for taking the tip.

Nautilus introduced their new Silver King saltwater reel to a flurry of awards. It’s pretty freaking awesome!

Orvis introduced the H2 one-piece. Possibly the sweetest one-piece rod on the market

Winston came out with micro Spey rods. Lightweight two handers made specifically for two handed casting. They’re quick to say these are not switch rods.

Lots of cool new products from Veedavoo and Finn Utility, two companies who makes some of the highest quality packs and bags in the business. I’m glad to see these guys growing.

There were so many cool new products at the show this year that it seems unfair to just touch on these few. You can check out our Facebook page for a complete list of award winners and of course we will be posting detailed product videos from IFTD starting shortly. So stay tuned for more hot news on cool gear for 2015.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “Fly Fishing Gear Trends For 2015

  1. Fly rods for women?…
    Pink grips and rod bags made our of lace?…

    Mid price US made rods sounds good. Although mid priced… These are more expensive than the top end rods during the 1990’s.

    I hope the rod companies stop with the ridiculous stiffening the rod’s actions. The rods have become unfisable. Fishing at 80+ feet distance is magazine advertisement scenario.

    I wonder how the fiberglass rods will be picked up by the general public? These folks are used to ultra stiff rods and will they really get to appreciate a rod that will cast 15-20 feet rather than 40-60 feet?…

    Maybe the gear companies should consider affordable fishing shirts? Prices around $90 (and higher) is getting nuts…

  2. great article Louis as usual…

    Glad to see more american manufacturers getting into the lower to mid price rods as it does get pricey. I own a lot of different rods and my Winston GVX is still my “go to” rod when it comes to a 4wt. A bit slower, which I like, and I would put it up against any rod in the industry. There are great rods out there that are not > $700 USD. Another great rod for the money is the Scott A4…

    With that being said the Wintson Boron III is just an incredible rod and the new Helios 2 (I have ALWAYS been critical of Orvis rods) might be the nicest rod I have ever casted. I ponied up and bought a H2 recently and look for ways to fish it as much as possible – just an incredible stick. And yes, this was after being overly critical in the comment section of Orvis in your Orvis article a while back… lol!

    The easier we can get a child into good gear the better we are as a fly fishing community…

  3. So did’t you like the silver king better than your monster? Which would you choose now? Advantages of one vs. the other?

  4. The RIO line chooser is not really revolutionary. It is a slick propaganda piece, falsely disguised as a helpful app as it doesn’t really choose anything for you. For example choose a Sage Method 590-4, a rod that requires a heavy line to work properly and tell the app that you want to catch trout with a delicate presentation, the app will say to use a Rio Trout LT; a line that doesn’t even load the rod because of its lightness. The only thing this app does is lead the angler to buy RIO line, not the right line.

    • I too am not impressed with this ‘app’.
      The list of brands and rod models give you the idea there’s some science behind it but it’s basically a very simple ‘tree structure’ without real valuing.

      Basically they say delicate presentation => LT.
      Otherwise go Gold.

      Jeez, we need an app for that?…

  5. Pingback: August 1, 2014: Feather and Fin Link Round-Up | Feather and Fin

  6. I think it is great that we are now able to get really good quality women’s fishing gear and clothing. However, the prices are ridiculous! I don’t mind paying for clothing that fits well but I simply can’t justify some of the prices. Mavin Fly gear looks great but it is way out of my price range.

  7. The trend to me looks to be more of the same. There really is nothing interesting coming out of the major players in the fly fishing industry currently except “flash” and a lot of back patting. Nothing is really innovative here, there are no new groundbreaking materials or rethinking of the way we do things.

    It used to be an event I paid attention to when one of the major rod manufacturers introduced a new rod series…say every 2 or 3 years. Now we have at least one , maybe two, new models from each manufacturer every year that they claim is the greatest thing since graphite itself. Nothing interesting here…hell, I know great casters who still hunt eBay on a regular basis for GLXs made 20 years ago.

    Lines? It seems to me that we are just binging on creating increasing specialization…which was interesting 6 years ago, but not anymore. We don’t need to carry around two lines for fishing streamers, two lines for fishing nymphs, and two lines for fishing dry flies.

    Reels…nothing incredible there. It’s amusing when one of the biggest events is Ross doing a limited re-run of the Gunnison reel they sold 20 years ago. The San Miguel news was interesting to a few of us as well, but nothing innovative in the reel department. Not sure where they can go from here honestly.

    Waterproof packs are innovative? We’ve had these things for years and years. Not sure why manufacturers decided this would be the next craze. I will say the Simms boat bag is interesting and is a rethinking of the traditional design which might prove worthwhile.

    I’m sorry but I can’t see a market for micro-spey rods. It seems like Winston trying to create demand where none exists (and that comes from someone who really enjoys Winston rods).

    It seems like the spey/switch craze that fueled the industry for the past 4-5 years has run its course and it will be interesting to see what the next industry push will be.

    The new G4 jacket really isn’t exciting…it seems more likely that they borrowed a rejected design from a military contractor and applied it to a fishing jacket.

    The biggest news: the lowly zinger has finally cracked the $50 barrier with Abel’s latest offering!

  8. Hey, Louis. I’m in the market for a new rod. I’d thought it was going to be a Sage ONE or maybe a Scott Radian. I cast the Sage ONE, the Sage Method and the Scott Radian back-to-back last June, and was really impressed with the ONE. But then Sage announced the ACCEL, so I waited till after August. Then it was nearly impossible to find an ACCEL to cast.

    Two weeks ago I was able to cast the Sage ACCEL against the Sage One, and also a Winston Boron III LS. And, when I got done – I was surprised that I liked the Winston LS the best.

    My cast off was short-lived, as I only had 20 mins — but as headed off to go do an errand for the wife, the shop guide from Western Rivers FlyFisher (Salt Lake City, UT) told me that I really should try a Scott G2 the next time I come back to compare rods.

    So, here’s my question. When you have $800 – $1K to throw down for a new stick, and it’s going to be your go to rod, and called into action to throw tiny flies / protect light tippets, cast medium-sized streamers and nymph from time-to-time — and the angler is interested in medium-to-fast action type of performance … what rods make-up the short list? What should one be looking at for the new mix of rods coming out for 2015?

    Why’d I like the Winston Boron III LS over the Sage ONE and the Sage ACCEL? Both were super nice rods, but I felt that the ONE was a little over the top for my everyday fishing on the size of rivers I typically fish — especially when my average cast distance is 25 – 35 yds. And, I really liked the ACCEL — it cast really nice. But the Winston was lighter than both of the Sage rods, and the casting was truly effortless — I could see myself fishing it all day long without any strain or fatigue, and the line went wherever I willed it to go without any thought or effort.

    – Mark

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