2024 Editor’s Choice Time Tested Reviews

Each year, the Winter Issue of Fly Fusion features the latest and greatest Fly Fishing Gear put to the test by our editorial staff.  These guys and gals receive a boatload of products to use and abuse for the season before giving their honest opinion on durability, performance and bang for your (hard-earned) buck! The thing is, these fly fishing manufacturers keep raising the bar, making new and innovative, eco-friendly tools to up our game and this year there was just far too much to cover in the pages of the magazine!  So, here are a few more of our Editor’s Choice for 2024 products to check out!


Scientific Anglers – Absolute Trout Leader

Reviewed by Kastine Coleman

This was a three pack of Absolute Trout tapered leaders by Scientific Anglers, and was great for trout fishing. I was using a 9-foot 2X leader, and was able to turn over trout flies, small and large, perfectly. The taper seemed ideal: a long, thick butt section with an aggressive front taper to deliver energy fluidly for a perfect presentation. I know that someday, having an extra pack of these leaders in my pocket will save me time and stress on the river.

Reviewed by Brian Chan

The Absolute Trout Leader is the backbone of Scientific Anglers’ selection of freshwater tapered leaders.  They are made from a proprietary copolymer blend that maintains suppleness and high knot strength, while at the same time minimizing water absorption. Absolute Trout leaders are available in 7.5- and 9-foot lengths, in sizes 0X to 7X, to cover the vast majority of trout and other fish species encountered while fishing lakes and streams. Scientific Anglers claims up to 40 percent better wet knot strength as compared to other competing leader brands. Absolute Trout leaders are available in singles or packs of three in 100 percent recyclable packaging.

Sage – Enforcer Reel

Reviewed by Derek Olthuis

This reel screams durability. From the moment I picked the reel up I could feel it is a robust, solid construction that wont easily fail. The recent ultralight trend sometimes comes at the cost of longevity. This reel appears to be built for the toughest conditions and a lifetime of service. Pairing the construction with a drag that tightens down, without sacrificing a smooth release of line, moves this reel into the essential gear category and makes it suitable for battle against the strongest fish you can find.

Orvis – Women’s PRO Fishing Jacket

Reviewed by Kastine Coleman

This is a great jacket. Its hood tightens nicely to keep out wind and rain. It also stays up when I put it over my cap, even when moving around. The Neoprene wrist cuffs keep water out when casting and releasing a fish and the inside seams on the jacket are well-sealed. I used the jacket on days with some rain and it held up well, though I never did get to test it during a downpour. I love the length, the athletic cut, and the blue ink colour.

If I had a gripe, it would be that the jacket is almost too warm. It’s thicker than regular shell wading jackets and for that reason it’s perfect in the early season in Newfoundland, but too warm for mid-summer. The pockets are shallow but tall, and I could only fit a small fly box in through the zipper. And there are no attachment points for clippers, a thermometer, or other angling implements. For me, a bulk of material at the seams across the front of the shoulder/armpit area restricted some movement throughout my cast.

Adamsbuilt – Green River Waist-Wader

Reviewed by Jim McLennan

I wasn’t familiar with the Adamsbuilt brand, but I am now. I’ve long been interested in a pair of waist-high waders, noticing as I do how infrequently I need the upper 30 percent of chest-high waders. These are comfortable waders with features I particularly like; they’re seamless between the knees, they have feet-shaped feet, they’re flexible, they’re heavy-duty without being heavy-weight, and they breathe well. There’s an inside pocket and two water-resistant front outside pockets for stuff that needs to stay dry. What else is there?


Reel Flies Realistic Flies

Reviewed by Brian Chan

Reelflies.ca is an online company based in the province of Ontario. Over the past 20 years this company has offered very competitively-priced fly patterns covering a wide variety of fish species found in North American lakes and rivers, as well as a selection of tropical saltwater patterns. Over 2,100 fly patterns are available for purchase from their website and more creative patterns are added each year. I was able to land some nice rainbows on several of my local lakes using a selection of their resin backed scud patterns. Check out their website www.reelflies.ca while planning your next fly fishing adventure.

Reviewed by Kastine Coleman

This reel has an aesthetic design, and a solid feel. It’s great for trout fishing, and mounts nicely on a 3 to 5-weight rod. It’s easy to switch from left to right-handed retrieve. The spool is narrow, but the retrieval rate is fairly quick for the arbour size. I enjoyed the sound of the reel with its click-and-pawl design. It helped set the mood as I landed a brook trout in the still morning air.

The drag was easy to adjust with a simple twist, however, to make the adjustment, you have to remove the spool, making mid-fish corrections out of the question. I might suggest the reel is a little heavy for its size with its use of aluminum, but at a great price point, it would be a great addition to anyone’s trout fishing lineup.

Reviewed by Jim McLennan

I’m a fan of Fishpond products, but when I received this item I thought it was too complex and complicated for an old fud like me. I thought I might give it away. But as I fiddled with it and used it, I learned that every tab, thingy and doodad was designed with a purpose. When I loaded the whole thing up it felt heavy in the hand, but the foam shoulder straps and molded back panel transformed it into something very comfortable. The Ridgeline is both backpack and fishing vest, and the backpack can be removed for use by itself. Its typically Fishpond-durable and has approximately one million pockets. Im keeping it.

fishpond – Tacky Original RiverMag

Reviewed by Bob Covey

It’s dusk on my favourite stillwater. My fingers are freezing, dinner is now going to be a bag of chips on the ride home, and if I thought scrubbing the bathrooms earlier would mitigate my wife’s eye-rolling at how late I’ll pull into the driveway later this evening, I better now add a load of laundry and a foot massage, for good measure.

However, if one of the big fish showing up on my sounder takes my chironomid before complete darkness forces me off the lake, the payoff will be worth the penance.

It’s times like these when my new Tacky Original RiverMag Fly Box really shows its better benefits.

Like many lake anglers, I have no problems sifting through my selection of size 16 to 20 midge patterns—so long as I’m in my warm home, sitting under a bright light and have a workbench handy to catch any mishandled flies.

On the water, it’s a different story. Picking out a size 20, Ryan Ermet-tied “R.E.-fuchsia,” among the dozens of other minuscule chironomids that might match what the trout are sipping on, can be a fumbling, bumbling, curse word-mumbling pain in the hatch.

Not anymore, thanks to this new box. First off, I don’t have to open the darn thing to see what’s inside—a surprisingly uncommon feature in tackle boxes, considering what we risk losing each time we open them. Secondly, if the open RiverMag does tip off axis, the magnets hold the patterns in place—even if I’ve tossed them in there haphazardly after going too long without a bite.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the aesthetic of a neatly-filed fly box as much as any other angler. But when I’m flipping through flies, trying to match the hatch or get my indicator to sink into the lake before the sun does, time is of the essence.

Of course, actually tying on a size 20 chroni in low light with desensitized digits is a different challenge, one which the RiverMag isn’t much help with, but thanks to this thoughtful product, digging the bug out of the box in the first place is no longer an excuse.


CatchFlo – Racer Knit Brown Town

Reviewed by Bob Covey

“What … are those?”

Coming from my sister, that question could have been directed at anyone—or anything—in her general, sassy orbit. But in fact, she was asking about my new shoes. My new Browntown Racer Knit CatchFlos, to be specific.

This was big. My sister had long ago given up on trying to make heads or tails of my choices in clothing, let alone footwear. I tried to sound casual. “Those are mine. Nice, eh?”

“They’re so fun!” she replied.

Confession time: When I first slipped on my BrownTowns, I wasn’t sure where exactly I’d be wearing them. Despite the angling theme, they’re not really for fishing.

But they’re still about fishing. And the more I put them on, the more I started to enjoy how they invariably sparked up an angling conversation: About my favourite brown trout season (I like spring), my favourite brown trout pattern (wooly bugger, obvs), and my favourite brown trout stream (have you been up the Zippermouth?).

Like the tippet I used last spring to catch a brown trout on a wooly bugger at Zippermouth Creek, these kicks are so light as to barely be noticed. They’re perfect as cabin sneakers, deck wear and boat shoes.

My Browntowns might even help me catch a fish—if those spontaneous chin-wags with fisherfolk glean new info which I can apply to my own angling quests, that is.

And if not, they still caught the eye of my discerning sister. To me, that was a personal best.

Karmik – Lost and Found Decals

Reviewed by Brian Chan

Losing a piece of outdoor equipment, whether it is a landing net, box of flies or even a rod tube, happens more often than we think—especially during busy seasons on local fisheries where hiking and/or wading are involved. Karmik Outdoors has come up with an identification and recovery program designed to get your lost gear back to you. Think of it as a relatively inexpensive type of outdoor equipment insurance where someone that finds your lost item can arrange for its return. Decals that are designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions are attached to your gear.  Each decal is registered with your contact information. Finders contact you by scanning the QR code on the decal and then entering the ID number, or they can contact Karmik online and enter the decal ID there. Rewards offered to finders include 10 packs of decals and monthly and annual prize packs. Visit Karmikoutdoors.com for complete details about this unique lost and found outdoor gear program.

Scientific Angler – Tippet

Reviewed by Frank Brassard

Ive used SA products for years. It is my opinion that, bang for buck, they produce the best tippet on the market. Everything from the quality of the tippet material itself, to the low memory retention and performance in cold weather, to the spool delivery, is unparalleled.

Cheeky –Sighter 350

Reviewed by Derek Bird

Id never used a Cheeky reel before, so I was excited to test out the Sighter 350. The most noteworthy aspects of the reel were the smooth drag and the amount of line it held. I actually wasnt fully sure what to expect from a reel priced below $200, but I found the drag to be as smooth and effective as any trout reel Ive used in the past few years. The drag knob is highly accessible and easily adjustable. For me, this was one of the top selling features of the Sighter. Along with the smooth drag system, the reel is extremely quiet. Theres very little noise when pulling line out, and its completely silent when reeling up. So what are you giving up at this price point? The drag system is not sealed, but Im not sure if youd find a reel for this price that has a fully-sealed drag. I also struggled somewhat with the spool release system. The latch seemed to stick, making it a bit of a challenge for the spool to release. Overall though, the Sighter is an inexpensive reel that doesnt feel cheap. The reel is an excellent purchase for anyone whos looking for a smooth functioning workhorse for an affordable price.

Rio – Bank Robber Fly Line

Reviewed by Kastine Coleman

I’m already a fan of a few Rio fly lines, so it didn’t take much convincing to spool the “Bank Robber” on my 5-weight. This line did not disappoint. At 90-feet in length it was a breeze to cast, even in the wind. It did exactly what the package suggests, carrying big bushy flies with ease. Mending was made easy with the long back taper, allowing the perfect dead drift for dry flies.

The head of the line is 45-feet and rear loaded, however even the front of the line performed well on its own for shorter casts. My casts were accurate, and each pick up and lay down was gentle. This line, true to my past experiences testing some of Rio’s products, didn’t coil, and didn’t need to be stretched before fishing, even straight out of the box.