I hate lists. So much so that, after submitting The Best of 2013 last year for publication, I felt ashamed and disgusted.
Much like I feel after watching a Miley Cyrus music video.
That all changed a month later when I learned that the column had received over a million Facebook likes, mostly from North Korea.
Those wacky N-Kors! When they’re not singing songs of praise about their leader Kim Jong Il, they’re reading my column.
I feel truly humbled.
With that in mind, I’ve come up with another best list for this past year:
Best New Fly Rod
The Temple Fork Outfitters Finesse Series fiberglass rods have been the surprise of the industry.
Conceived as a niche product, it’s been a hot item for folks who enjoy fishing small waters or in tight quarters.
The softer action also makes big bream feel like big bass.
Make no mistake: This is not your grandfather’s fiberglass. The latest generation of this material is very lightweight and provides reserve power for long casts if necessary.
The Finesse Glass rods sell for $190 and come with TFO’s no-fault lifetime warranty.
Best New Fly Reel
3-Tand reels is the creation of Rob Koelewyn, founder of the now-defunct Van Staal reels, once considered the best for saltwater use.
At this summer’s ICAST show, the 3-Tand was voted Best New Fly Reel.
The 3-Tand comes in the TF and T series. Both are machined aluminum with carbon fiber drag systems.
The TF-70 — priced at $209 — is rated for 7- or 8-weight lines, and is an excellent choice for reds and specks. The T-70, an upgraded version with a sealed drag, is priced at $349.
I tested out the smaller TF-50 for bass. This reel is very lightweight, with a butter-smooth drag. Best of all, the fleur-de-lis symbol on the spool goes great with my custom-built black and gold rod.
Best New Fly Line
Often, the biggest problem with making long casts to redfish isn’t the cast itself but setting the hook once the fish eats the fly. Fly line has an incredible amount of stretch.
The new Rio In-Touch line corrects that.
Built around their proprietary ultra-low-stretch ConnectCore technology, the Rio In-Touch Gold line not only offers better hooksets, but better cast timing, mending and longer durability.
At $89, it’s not cheap. But for a line that’ll last 50 percent longer, it’s a good value.
My friend Pete Cooper Jr. wrote the book on “Fly Fishing the Louisiana Coast” — literally. A member of the Louisiana Outdoors Hall of Fame, he’s written for countless magazines, pioneered offshore fly fishing in our state, helped create the state’s fly rod records and has set many of them himself.
Pete’s website, Louisiana Fly Guy (www.laflyguy.com), contains many of his articles, fly patterns, a daily blog, fish and game recipes, and much more.
If you ever wanted to catch flounder on the fly, Pete’s website is the place to learn how.
Club of the Year
All of Louisiana’s 10 fly fishing clubs offer a mix of education, fishing and fun. But the Fin-Addicts Fly Fishers of Houma have taken the “fun” part to a new level — perhaps even to a weird level.
In addition to several on-the-water meetings, the club held a “micro fishing” contest, where smallest fish wins.
The Fin-Addicts also held an Iron Fly Tying contest. In IFT, you get a hook, a hodge-podge of materials and a limited time to tie your concoction. It gets even more interesting when another required material is added just minutes before the finish.
Event of the Year
This award goes to the Federation of Fly Fishers Gulf Coast Council for their Sixth Fly Fishing Fair held in Ocean Springs.
The FFF-GCC consists of members and affiliated clubs from Louisiana, Mississippi and South Alabama. The event raised monies for the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, which is involved in the restoration of Gulf striped bass.
A close runner-up goes to the North Louisiana Fly Fishers’ annual Master Series held in July, which featured Dave Whitlock. Whitlock — and this event — were discussed in my September column (now available at LouisianaSportsman.com).
Fish of the Year
The Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association recognizes the 10 heaviest fish caught on fly rod for each species. In January, Charles Johnson Jr. caught a 9.25-pound sheepshead on fly in Lake Eloi. In April, Ben “Fishtaco” Roussel caught a 4.07-pound choupique.
Both fish are currently tops for their species on the state record list.
However, our readers in North Korea aren’t interested in big fish. For that reason, the award goes to Rob Bergeron of Gonzales for his 1 ¾-inch bluegill, which took first place in a Micro Fly Fishing contest back in August.
We understand it’s been mounted.
Video of the Year
There were several great videos posted this year by charter captains — particularly Capt. Greg Moon and Capt. John Iverson — showing flies cast into schools of rampaging bull reds. Definitely check those out!
However our award goes to “Spring Warmwater Fly Fishing” posted to Youtube by the Tensas Outdoors Boys.
These two youths catch just about every species of freshwater fish on fly rod, including several nice bass. Thus proving — once again that anyone, any age — can master this sport.
Here’s wishing our readers — even those in North Korea — a blessed Christmas!