Over the past decade or so, I’ve tried just about every alternative to felt soles that has appeared on the market. The results were always disappointing; in my experience, felt surpassed them all by a comfortable margin, and studded felt was the very best.
- By: Ted Leeson
The expanding popularity of winter fishing, even among anglers who don’t habitually throw around the word “extreme,” is beyond dispute, as is its chief obstacle—the weather. To stay on the water, you have to stay warm. The alternatives—hypothermia or existential despondency—are unpleasant to contemplate and potentially lethal.
- By: Ted Leeson
Time has a way of muddling cause and effect. It’s difficult to know if the fly-fishing vest evolved because anglers needed something to hold all their gear, or if fly anglers carry so much stuff simply because someone invented a place to put it. Either way, it was love at first sight, and the vest now stands as the iconic representation of fly-fishing even among non-anglers. Although chest packs and fanny packs have emerged as alternatives, they seem most popular for less gear-intensive forms of angling—steelheading or the flats, for instance—where such packs are enormously useful. But for day-in/day-out trout fishing, far fewer anglers seem to have made the change. For them, a vest remains the most congenial approach.
- By: Greg Thomas
- , Zach Matthews
- , Darrel Martin
- and Buzz Bryson
In my opinion, the late Jack Charlton’s legacy is that he designed and built the two best fly reels ever made. Ever. We could debate that over a single malt, and I acknowledge there are exceptional fly reels other than the Mako—and its predecessor, the namesake Charlton reels—but I don’t know anyone who thinks he can trade up from a Charlton.
- By: Zach Matthews
- , Buzz Bryson
- and Ted Leeson
Why on earth do we need a fly reel that pulls over 30 pounds of drag? That was the question when Hardy unveiled its new Fortuna X fly reel at the recent International Fly Tackle Dealer Show, in New Orleans. Jim Murphy, President of Hardy North America, and Andy Mill, renowned tarpon angler and author who helped develop the product, said it’s all about big fish. They explained: If you’re fishing IGFA class tippet, you are limited to a maximum10kg breaking strength, so you don’t need that much drag. If you’re going for big billfish, tuna, shark or the like, however, and aren’t concerned about records, this reel allows an angler to really put pressure on a fish. That said, if you’ve never fished an outfit with 20-plus pounds of drag, especially on a longer rod giving more leverage to the fish, you’ll quickly find out why people use fighting harnesses.
- By: Buzz Bryson
- and Darrel Martin
Years ago Dave Whitlock, a doyen of American fly-fishing, trudged toward the beaver ponds on Montana’s Big Hole River. The glorious day promised tight tippets. As he clambered through thick brush, Dave’s elastic-tethered net snagged. He did what we all do: He kept walking, waiting for the net to pull free. It did not. He turned around just in time to receive the net between his eyes. After regaining consciousness, he gathered his spiteful net and continued on his way with two black eyes.
- By: David Hughes
Once you’ve booked that trip of a lifetime, you almost immediately bump into the twin set of questions: “What do I take?” and, “What’s the best thing to take it in?”
Trips rarely get ruined by any absence of gear; don’t worry about that, unless you have size 14 feet and forget your size 14 wading boots. If that happens your anatomical predisposition may prove troublesome; for most of us, lodges carry anything you may have left at home, within the range of averages for fitting and gear. Size 14 boots don’t fit the average.
- By: Darrel Martin
- , Ted Leeson
- and Jim Butler
Fly Rod & Reel reviews the Ross RX reels and Evolution rods, Patagonia Nano Puff pullover, Abel's nipper and Nautilus FWX reels.
An ounce of Protection
- By: Ted Leeson
- Photography by: Cathy Beck
- and Barry Beck
Whether it’s a winter escape to the tropics or a trip farther north in high summer, you can’t say enough about warm-weather angling—packs of bonefish “Hoovering” the flats, lolling tarpon, trout dimpling under sapphire skies, peckish bluegills on a farm pond, shirtsleeves and shorts, sandals and shades. On warm, sun-soaked days and mild, congenial evenings, everything conduces to a larger and fuller fishing life.
Stash and Carry
- By: Ted Leeson
Perhaps the only common denominator among all the guides I’ve ever known or fished with, on rivers or lakes, flats or inshore waters, is that every last one of them relied on some kind of gear or tackle bag. Experience teaches, often harshly, the two fundamental, equipment-related precepts of an angling life: first, if you don’t have something, you’ll end up needing it; second, if you don’t keep it packed and ready to go, you’re going to forget it.