For 2011, it’s a new toy heaven

Yellow Cotton Bay still delivers the goods, but it’s just a shadow of its former self.

Many of the new products featured at September’s International Fly Tackle Dealers’ Show will be available for Christmas. Trouble is, there’s so many this year, you may find yourself agonizing to the last minute what to ask Santa for. If you wait too long, you might end up with “soap on a rope” under the tree. Even worse, the soap might be the liquid variety which has a tough time staying on the rope.

I’d rather have a fly rod or reel. Wouldn’t you?

As stated, the scale of new rods, reels, waders, boots and other accessories for next year is unprecedented. According to, a leading website for industry-related news, 305 new products from 80 companies were introduced at this year’s IFTD Show!

The other big news to come out of the Denver-based show was that, come next August, it will be held at a location east of the Rocky Mountains for the first time ever.

Can you believe … New Orleans?

There could be as many new products next year at the Big Easy as there was at Denver if the current trend to build lighter fly rods continues.

When we say fly rod ‘weight,’ it can mean either the rated line weight for the rod, such as “3-weight” or “8-weight,” or the actual mass of the rod. To avoid such confusion, let’s go scientific and use the term ‘mass’ instead.

When Orvis introduced their Helios series a few years back, it set a new standard for low-mass fly rods. Until then, a typical 9-foot, 8-weight rod — the most popular for inshore saltwater — weighed between 4 and 5 ounces. The Helios weighs in at just 2.9 ounces!

Mention the $795 price tag to most folks, and they go into shock. As my mom asks, “Who pays that much for a fishing rod?”

Just like golf clubs, computers, phones and televisions, the technology of rods is always advancing. A state-of-the-art rod will always cost a premium, so as to recover the initial costs of materials, research and development.

As time goes on and that technology matures, its cost goes down.

That’s exactly what’s happening with the advanced resins, graphite and structural composition of the Helios. So much so, that for 2011 Orvis is able to put most of it into a new line of mid-priced rods called the Access.

Access rods feature four-piece blanks, premium-grade cork handles and anodized fittings. The 9-foot, 8-weight model weighs a scant 3.2 ounces and sells for $375.

Break an Access rod for any reason, send it back and they send you a new or repaired rod. For 25 years. It works out to about $15 per year to own this rod.

When the Helios came out, two of their competitors told me, “The rod is too light; it won’t hold up.”

Crow is now a popular menu item for those folks. Seems everyone has jumped on the mass-reduction bandwagon.

Sage has redesigned their popular TXL-F light-action rods with “micro ferrule” technology and featherlight fittings. All the new TXL-F rods tip the scales under 1.9 ounces.

Ever since Sage discontinued the XP several years back, there’s been a cult following for this wildly-popular fast-action rod. Prices on EBay are higher than what the rod originally sold for.

For 2011, Sage is bringing it back with a new name, the VXP. In my testing, the 9-foot, 5-weight felt as smooth and powerful as the XP, and hitting the 90-foot mark on the distance test was no problem. Best of all, the price will be same as the original, around $500.

While most companies are opting for lower mass, St. Croix is upgrading to higher strength by incorporating the new 3M Matrix Resin to the SCV graphite used on their Legend Elite series.

Supposedly the nano-silica particles in this new resin pack together under compression to reinforce the carbon fibers, thus preventing “micro buckling” of the fibers, which can result in immediate breakage or permanent weak spot.

Loomis is trying to adopt both the Orvis and St. Croix technologies into their new NRX series rods. These are 15 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than their current GLX rods.

Steve Rajeff, Loomis’ chief rod designer, notes that NRX construction combines lighter yet higher-density carbon married with nano-silica resin systems, and the latest advances in curing technology.

Rajeff says they’re the best rods he’s ever cast. I believe it. After all, the dude can cast a fly line 240 feet!

The issue will be price. The saltwater models, which everyone is raving about, run from $740 to $855.

Winston also made news by announcing its popular boron rod, the BIIX, will be replaced by the BIIIX, with a stiffer midsection and butt, and more boron material. What was the BIIX will be converted into the GVX, a lower-priced series ($495).

The folks at Winston love boron. Sometimes I think Christopher Walken works there, and every so often, comes out shouting, “More boron! I need more boron!”

So what new toys are there for folks on a budget?

The Passport is Winston’s new moderately-priced offering, made in China. It will sell for $199.

Redington has their new Pursuit series of rods and reels. The large-arbor reels are cast aluminum with a centerline disc drag. They’re not anodized, so this is basically for freshwater use. But it’s a heck of a reel for $59.

Their Pursuit rods will have greater appeal. The four-piece models are priced at just $119 for either fresh or salt, and come with a lifetime warranty.

The most popular budget reel for salt water has long been the Orvis Mid-Arbor Battenkill. For 2011, it gets an upgrade and a new name — the Access (yes, same name as their new rods). The big change is in the drag, from glass composite to carbon fiber.

In my evaluation of the new Access reel, I found it to have a smoother, wider drag range than the old Mid-Arbor, and greater high-end resistance. There’s no price increase either; the 8-weight model stays at $139.

If you’re really excited about the new low-mass rods, but not about their heavy price tags, take a look at the new Temple Fork Outfitters BVK Series.

These Korean-made rods have been “engineered using new materials that dramatically reduce weight while creating an aggressive blend of power and strength.”

I tested out the 9-foot, 8-weight BVK, and found it to cast much like my powerful TiCR, also made by TFO. Main difference is the BVK 908 weighs 3.2 ounces compared to the TiCR at 4.2 ounces.

You’ll notice that 1-ounce difference in the swing weight. Which means when you make a hard stop on the forward or backward stroke of your cast — as recommended for a good cast — there’s not going to be extra momentum tugging on your hand to soften that stop.

The BVK sells for $249, and comes with the TFO lifetime warranty.

There are many more products I could talk about, but space is limited. And besides, you want some surprises when the 2011 catalogs come in the mail after Christmas. U


When it comes to marsh fishing, this month can be special.

As Cormier’s 2nd Law of Flyfishing tells us, clear water favors flies. And barring several days of high winds, the clarity should be outstanding.

There are three approaches to consider depending on the weather.

After a strong cold front, when the reds and specks go deep, switch to an intermediate sinking line, or add a sink-tip connector to your floating line. Use flourocarbon for your leader and tippet.

On mild, calm days, early and late, both specks and reds will hit topwater poppers. Once the bite slows, try streamers like the Apte Tarpon Fly or the Whitlock Baitfish.

On mild, windy days, the fish will remain on flats but be more bottom-oriented. Stick with the floating line, but go to Clousers, Charlies, Borski crabs or Haley’s Comet.

Watch out for the Redzillas. This is prime time for 20+-pound reds in skinny water.

In fresh water, many reservoirs in our state offer great early winter pickerel fishing on fly. Try red/white Seaducers off grass beds.

On overcast days, try working the treelines of coves or dead-end canals for sac-a-lait using fluff butts about 3 feet under a float.

Stocking of rainbow trout is full tilt this month at the Little Missouri and Mountain Fork rivers in the Ouachita mountains. Olive or black woolybuggers in size 10 or 12 are a best bet.

About Catch Cormier 275 Articles
Glen ‘Catch’ Cormier has pursued fish on the fly for 30 years. A certified casting instructor and renowned fly tier, he and his family live in Baton Rouge.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply