As each year comes to an end, we are bombarded with lists of everything imaginable. For example, “Top 10 Movies,” “Top 50 Celebrities,” “Best Dressed,” “Worst Dressed,” “Best Cross-Dressed.”
Some aren’t so good, like “Top 10 Alien Encounters” or “Worst Animal Attacks.” I’d hate to be No. 1 on either list.
Some are just plain wrong, like “Best 10 Politicians in Washington.” The words “best” and “politician” should never be used in the same sentence.
Most lists are often the opinion of one person. For example, Forbes Magazine’s “Top 10 Fly Fishing States” by their feature writer Monte Burke: Louisiana did not make the list. Normally that would get my goat. But I understand poor Mr. Burke suffered a terrible childhood — he grew up in Alabama.
Well, as my mom used to say, if you don’t like a list, make your own (that’s off the top 10 things my mom used to say).
So here’s my “Best of 2013:”
Best Overall Fly Rod — The Winston Boron III, Sage One, Scott Radian, Orvis Helios 2 and Hardy Sintrix all sell for about $800.
Who would pay that much for a fishing rod? I’ll answer with a question — who would pay $60,000 for an automobile?
What you get for that money is technology so advanced that NASA wants it.
They are ALL great rods, but the Hardy Sintrix wins by a tip top. This rod does everything but cast itself.
Best Value Fly Rod — In the under $250 range, there are many excellent choices from TFO, Echo, Redington, Orvis and St Croix. All their models come with warranties. Break one for any reason, send the rod back with $25 to $35 to cover shipping, and they send you a repair or replacement.
For 2013, the TFO Mangrove took the saltwater world by storm. Right at $250, it was designed by Flip Pallot for quick loading and accuracy, two features kayak anglers demand most.
Best Budget Fly Rod — There are some very good rods for $125 or less. The all-graphite Cabelas 3-Forks and Bass Pro Dogwood Canyon — each retailing for $59 — make you wonder why anyone would ever buy one of those cheaply-made fiberglass rods sold at department stores.
The Redington Pursuit and the Rise Green Series tie for the nod for 2013. Both offer a moderate-fast action and good performance for just at $100. And with a warranty included, it’s a solid investment.
Best Fly Reel — For salt water, a machined, anodized, large-arbor reel with disc drag is best. With a little care, it will last a lifetime. For freshwater applications, a die cast reel with disc drag will suffice.
For saltwater uses, the Orvis Access, TFO HSR, Allen Alpha II, and Cabelas RLS are all great values for the money. But Allen wins out because it comes in “Ragin Cajun Red.” The Orvis Encounter gets our pick for best freshwater reel.
Best Fly Line — The best type of line for most Louisiana waters is a weight-forward floating line. For saltwater fishing or bass, where big flies are cast, a stiff core is desired. Lines from Rio, Cabelas, Orvis all are recommended.
This year’s winner is the Teeny Bream and Bass Line. For freshwater use, it’s an excellent casting line and comes in at only $30.
Best Web site — In fairness, I have to keep my own site (laflyfish.com) out of contention.
No problem — there’s several wonderful homegrown sites and club-based sites dedicated to our sport.
Luke McCoy’s OnTheVise.com has emerged in the past year as one of the premier fly tying sites, and for that reason, receives this honor.
Best Blog — Fishing blogs are stories that are fun to read. Several in-state bloggers are among my favorites: “LA Fly Guy,” “Kayak Fishing with Kevin,” “Mountains to Marsh,” “El Camino Blues” and “Cajun Fly Fisher,” to name a few.
It might not have awesome photos or videos, but Roger Stouff’s “Native Waters” is truly fine reading. Stouff, a Native American from Franklin who has authored several fiction and non-fiction books is a gifted writer and deserving of this honor.
Best Event — Several state clubs conduct conclaves — one-day events featuring seminars, fly tying demos, casting instruction, vendors and much more. The New Orleans Fly Fishers also held their annual “Rio Grande Fly Fishing Rodeo” in September.
This had to be a tie. The Cane Country Fly Casters held their first-ever “Natchitoches Fishing Expo,” and it was a great success with about 2,000 attendees. The North Louisiana Fly Fishers held “A Day With Davy Wotton” in August, featuring the world’s foremost expert on wet flies. It, too, was a great success.
Best Fly Tier — Many nationally recognized tiers call Louisiana home. Folks such as Kirk Dietrich, Fred Hannie, Marc Pinsel, Dirk Burton, Ron Braud and Stephen Robert, to name a few.
Jerome and Dena Hebert of Youngsville had the honor of being featured at the Federation of Fly Fishers International Expo in West Yellowstone back in September. They are worthy of Best of 2013.
Best Fly Fishing State — This state’s scenic lakes, rivers and backwaters hold fly-loving bass and bream, and it’s marshes are thick with hard-fighting reds and specks. The offshore fly fishing is world-class. And it’s home to the greatest outdoors magazine and fly fishing column.
Yes, Mr. Burke: It’s Louisiana!