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FFR 2007 - Show Me The Glitter!

The big draw of the Fly Fishing Retailer trade show is, of course, the gear.  With three casting ponds, hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of new products with which to play this show is a lot of fun for a gear-head!  It would be impossible to bring you ALL the new stuff from the show so we'll bring you the highlights we were excited about.  Much of what you see here will be covered in detail in individual articles and reviews in the coming year.  Stay tuned for the complete inside scoop!

This article is still being completed.  We will be adding more products and comments over the next few days. Check back often for updates. Thanks!

The high point of the 2007 show for me was the chance to meet a fellow who has been my fishing hero for as long as I can remember.  When I met him I started to say I'd been a fan since... then he stopped me and asked me not to go on.  He said he could see the gray in my hair and didn't want to be reminded how long he's been fishing!  Of course I'm talking about the inimitable Lefty Kreh!  The trip to Denver was worth the time, effort and expense just for this one moment.

Rio introduced the Rio Gold fly line - they say "it's the ultimate fly line with a revolutionary design that allows for incredible loop stability at distance and a unique taper that allows a rod to load at close range and a positive front taper that delivers perfect presentation of flies between sizes #22 and #2, the RIO Gold is the ultimate all round, floating line for freshwater fly fishing."  We'll find out because Fly Fish Ohio is going to give it a serious test and a full review!

Sage wowed us with the new BASS series of rods.  The first priority of these specialized rods and lines are meeting the requirement of BASS tournament length restrictions.  Two models are offered.  The heavy duty Largemouth and the lighter duty Smallmouth.  Uniquely these rods are sold only with a matching line.  The line is an integral part of the complete system and they mark a new direction for Sage.  I spoke with Jerry Siem, Sage's rod designer extraordinaire, about the rods and he even took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to show me how they cast and how they should be used.  This isn't your father's fly rod!  Look for a full in-depth review and an interview with Jerry Siem in the near future.  This is smokin' hot stuff!!!

 

 

 

 

The Sage Largemouth and the Sage Smallmouth - original thinking from an industry leader!

Wright & McGill packed another surprise into our visit to Denver.  You have to see and handle the new W&M boron rods to appreciate their quality.  At MSRP price points below $350 for a switch rod and below $300 for a single-handed stick, these get our vote for best industry value in 2007!  Casting beasts with aesthetics far beyond their moderate price points, the new W&M rods come packaged in a rod tube made from the same unique boron material as the unbelievably light and powerful fly rods themselves!

It's almost hard to describe how nice these rods are.  Fly Fish Ohio has arranged for a review sample of the switch rod - a tool that might just be perfect for our winter wiper fishery on the Ohio River.  Two things will come from this - we'll all find out if spey and switch techniques are applicable to our inland waters and we'll find out how inexpensively a curious angler can assemble a quality kit to give it a go!

The Pro Line Cedar Creek series of footwear offers a great water resistant option for the non-wading boat or canoe-bound angler.  Featuring a Vibram slip resistant rubber outsole and EVA midsole for shock absorption, the shoes are priced very competitively.  Pro Line also showed the new Summit Series of boot-attached chest waders.  They are a great deal at an MSRP of $170.  Available from a big box store near you....

 

St. Croix showed a new line of Legend Elite fly rods, so you might ask why we've pictured their spinning rods.  The answer is simple.  Every fly fisherman should own a quality spinning rod.  St. Croix's made that easy with a line of 4-piece rods that retail for a song!  This 6'6" Triumph is rated for 4 to 10 lb test line and sells for just $100! 

St. Croix Premiere spinning and casting rods, pictured above, are made in the U.S.A. and retail for a hot $150!

West Water Products debuted the Thingamabobber which they claim combines all of the best strike indicator elemnents in one simple design. We are tempted to agree - what a neat idea.  A little, tough balloon with a lined grommet to protect the line and the indicator from damage.  This has a market far larger than just fly fishing...

 

 

Thomas & Thomas showed their new rods and confirmed that a full array of 5 glass Heirloom rods will remain in their line-up.  “Sweet and Subtle” best describe the action of the Heirloom series of Thomas & Thomas fly rods.
 

Highland Mills Rod Company showed some neat new budget bamboo (left and below) in a variety of tapers. I cast a $550 8' 6wt that comes complete with two tips. This isn't at all what I expected - these are very, very nice rods! And the reels absolutely rock for $249 MSRP!  Click pawl drag and S-handles are the stuff of fantasy for most of us - but not anymore!  You can bet you'll see some of this bling hanging from my gear next season!  Highland Mills also showed a line of made in the U.S.A. bamboo (the American series) featuring unique tapers and slick hardware for a suggested retail price of $1299.  They also exhibited the Signature Rods, 3 distinctly different rods that are based on well known taper designs from master builders Hiram Hawes and Jim Payne. 
 

Albright exhibited a line of truly excellent fly rods at a very competitive price point.  The new Tradewind series (right) is available in sizes from a 7'6' 3-wt to a 9' 12wt with all the stops in between.  With a suggested retail price point ranging from $195 to $225, this is performance you can afford.  And you can hang a new Albright Bugati fly reel (above and below) on that rod for a sweet $69.  This is good news for beginning fly fishers and experienced anglers who need tough gear for short dollars.  In the hand this stuff doesn't feel like it cut any corners. Definitely a must-see if you're in that market!

 

Scott displayed their new Concept rods in the Warm Water Series.  "These rods have been specially designed to repetitively deliver air resistant, big bugs accurately into structure" is what the advertising copy had to say.  The rods are beautiful to look at, fast as lightning and light in the hand.  And they are B.A.S.S. tournament legal at 7' 11".  Is this a new trend in fly rod manufacturing?  Stay tuned for all the details as the Fly Fish Ohio team has already made arrangements to ride one of these hot new ponies.  Available in 6, 8 and 10-weight, all are three piece rods.

 

 

Will Mullis and Nick Pujic (left) have done something amazing.  They've introduced a new magazine (below left) aimed directly at the fly tying aficionado.  From full dress salmon flies to the latest in smallmouth bass patterns, this is one rag that needs to be on your tying desk.  Hatches magazine is printed annually and is available from a book store near you.  Below, Nick shows some of his legendary form as he blasts a cast out on the new TL Johnson SLX saltwater 8-weight.  All kidding aside, we saw 10' of backing leave the rod tip!!!

Speaking of TL Johnson, this is one busy company! The SLX (above and above right) is one of the lightest and most powerful graphite rods we've had a chance to cast.  Note the REC guides - nice touch guys!  But that's not all.  TL Johnson also showed the (much) less expensive SLT series (right) and the full line of Fish Creek (below) rods.  There's some awesome value in those sticks.  For more about TL Johnson, take a look here.  Rumor has it that TL Johnson will also debut a full line of warm water rods.  Reputed to include four models encompassing 4-weight to 10-weight actions, the rods are designed for bluegill, bass, muskie and everything in between.  At 7'9" this marks the beginning of a new trend in rod design - short, powerful rods for close accurate casts from canoe or kayak.  Hallelujah!!

Orvis wasted no time in upgrading the Zero Gravity series!  The new ZG Helios is said to take all the performance of the Zero Gravity line and remove only the weight. They were definitely light in the hand, with the 8-weight mid flex coming in at nearly an ounce less than the ZG reviewed on this site.  The 8' 4" 4-weight was a true monster, capable of prodigious line speed yet delicate delivery.  There's a reason these guys have been in business for 151 years...  We'll work on getting a review sample in to put it through its paces.

Cliff products showed the new Crab Shack and the Day's Worth.  Boy, oh boy!  Whodda thunk fly boxes could get so cool?

Check back soon as we'll be adding more pages of new gear from the show over the next week!

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