2021 Gift Guide | Sage Sense

Tested & Reviewed by Jeff Wagner

A good rod doesnt need to be expensive or flaunt unnecessary technology no one can identify. It does, however, need to be the rod that you reach for and dont think twice about when fishing. The Sage Sense is that sensible nymphing rod. This was the primary rod I reached into my quiver for this season. Most days, I deliberate on which rod will fit the particular style of fishing we are embarking on. Not so with the Sage Sense. Not once did I question its ability or utility, instead I focused on the river and what flies might bring up a fish. My home waters are the medium to small streams of Central Colorado. The Sense fished them all well. As a nymphing rod, the Sense has relatively slow action and a soft tip, features designed to protect the light tippets nymphing anglers tend to favour. Sage’s well-established grip—snub-nosed, half-wells cork—feels comfortable and well-balanced in hand. The rod is subdued in appearance but strong in performance—all the better to high stick spooky fish in a run or a riffle. The Sense’s Generation 5 blank eliminates the tip bounce that many 10-foot rods can’t shake and most impressively it casts everything from thinner Euro-nymphing lines to traditional, heavier trout lines. I successfully fished everything from small multi-nymph rigs to larger dry-dropper rigs and small streamers. When you stack it against other mid-range rods, the Sense stands tall. 

Visit Sage online for more info.

2021 Gift Guide | Patagonia Guidewater Sling Pack

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Olthuis

This pack is a great addition to any angler looking to go minimalist or to throw it into your larger backpacking pack as you head into the backcountry. Its compact size is large enough to hold anything you really need for a day of fishing without the bulk of unneeded items. The zipper is strong and seals the bag with ease. The material is durable and tough meaning it should last a long time to come. Perhaps its only downfall is the lack of a water bottle pocket. As you wander from camp for the day it is really nice to have a spot for a water bottle. Overall this pack was the perfect size for many of my days this year and often it was easy to forget it was even on my back with the lightweight and comfortable design of the pack.

Find the Guidewater Sling online at patagonia.com

2021 Gift Guide | Sage Sonic

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Bird

In order to better understand each rod, some feel it necessary to contrast the Sage Sonic to the Sage X. But as a person who owns both rods, I feel a side-by-side comparison does both rods a disservice because it promotes an unnecessary focus on the specific components. This can lead to an unfortunate oversight of the overall telos of the Sonic. The Sonic is designed to be a mid-priced fly rod that delivers in a variety of situations. When I set it against that bar, the rod exceeds my expectations. The Sonic is a buttery wand with cork that is velvety to the touch. The rod’s flex and recovery rate is a marriage of love, not utility. I fished with the rod all summer, which meant I fished nymphs, streamers, terrestrials and small dries. The rod performs ably with each. If you’re in the market for a versatile fly rod that feels good and casts well, I highly recommend the Sonic. For me, the first cast felt effortless and subsequent reps made me want to keep casting. I’ll continue to fish the Sonic long after the testing period is over. Accolades to the Sage research and development crew for a job well done.

Hop on over to Sage online for info on the full Sonic Family!

2021 Gift Guide – Scientific Anglers Absolute Leaders & Tippet

Tested and Reviewed by Derek Bird

I’m under the impression that the less you notice leader and tippet, the better off you are as an angler. If you’re tippet is always breaking, you notice it. If your leader is always twisting and knotting up, you notice it. My summer fishing SA leaders and tippet I rarely noticed it, and when I did it was my own fault (like forgetting to change from 5x to 3x when fishing a large Chubby, which makes any leader do all kinds of funky things). The leader and tippet withstood the normal rigors of an angling day including a few wayward casts into rocks and branches. SA sent me a wide variety of tippet from 0x to 7x and I thoroughly enjoyed testing them all. The 1x and 2x performed well for bull trout and Coho, even in clear water conditions with smaller flies. And the 3x through 7x fished extremely well in all trouty situations. Possibly more important than me not noticing my leader and tippet, neither did the fish even in clear water conditions. After a season of using the product, SA’s Absolute Clear Leader and Tippet receives a five star rating from me.

Check out the full line SA Absolute leaders and tippet today!

2021 Gift Guide – Korkers River Ops Wading Boot

Tested & Reviewed by Derek Bird

I’ve been wearing the River Ops all season and I’ll continue to wear them after the testing period. The Korkers team created a boot that’s impressive from top to bottom. River Ops are comfortable over long distances, they’re lightweight and they’re sturdy. Although my pair looks well-travelled now, the boots don’t show any sign of deterioration. The product designers placed features in all the right places: the ankle wrap provides stability and comfort; the upper boot provides the perfect balance between flexibility and support; and the interchangeable soles are effortless to switch in and out. In all the miles I hiked, many of which were through challenging terrain, not once did I experience any malfunctions with the sole system. Hats off to the Korkers crew. These boots are fantastic.

For more information visit Korkers online!

New & Noteworthy | Outcast OSG Clearwater

No matter what kind of angler you are, at some point you’ve probably pondered buying a boat. It’s a rite of passage, really, to daydream about floating down a beautiful river with just you, the scenery, and all the fish downstream. One of the more frustrating things about purchasing a boat is that it’s not a cheap endeavor. Fiberglass drift boats can cost as much as a vehicle, and some of the smaller single-person inflatables just don’t provide enough storage or rowing power. Enter the Outcast OSG Clearwater.

The Clearwater, brand new for 2021, takes some of the design elements from Outcast’s multi-person inflatable rafts and transitions them to a sturdy, well-appointed, single-person frameless raft. For gear heads, the Clearwater features trampoline-style cargo spaces in the front and the rear, allowing you to pack up to 450-lbs. of gear (including yourself, of course.) The open oarlock system accommodates longer strokes, allowing you to really get after it in rough water, if need be, and the high back seat sits on top of an inflatable thwart, allowing for excellent visibility and rowing. The best part? The boat only weighs 35-lbs. and can easily fit in the back of a pickup truck. No trailers required.

$1,299 | outcastboats.com

New & Noteworthy | Yeti Trailhead Chair

Let’s be honest. Does anyone truly need a $300 camp chair? No. But, as always with Yeti, the Trailhead Camp Chair is another example of the company taking a simple product, over-engineering it to the max, and coming out with something that looks great, performs very well, and will stand the test of time. Falling squarely into the “just barely related enough to fly fishing accessories for us to include it on this list,” the Trailhead is the ultimate camp chair. After a long day of walking and wading, it’s good to know you’ll have a sturdy, comfortable chair waiting for you back by the campfire.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Trailhead is just how well-built it is. This thing is solid. Featuring a lightweight crossover frame that snaps into place with color-coded tensioners and the forgiving Flexgrid fabric, the Trailhead can support up to 500-lbs., yet remains comfortable while sitting for hours at a time. With an included cup holder, and extra-strong feet, there aren’t many things Yeti didn’t think of; speaking of which, the entire chair is UV-rated, meaning it won’t break down in the sun over time.

$299.99 | yeti.com 

New & Noteworthy | Airflo Superflo

The new SuperFlo series from Airflo features three different tapers designed for all your trout-fishing needs: the Tactical Taper, the Universal Taper, and the Power Taper. Each is meant to solve a different problem. The Tactical Taper, available in 2- through 6-weights, features a delicate front taper and an extended rear taper, perfect for placing tiny dries on a dime from any distance. The Universal Taper is designed as a more do-it-all line for anglers who may nymph, throw dries, and toss streamers from the same rod on the same day. It’s available in 3- through 9-weights, which should cover a variety of situations. At the other end of the spectrum is the Power Taper, an aggressively weighted line meant to throw far, turn over larger flies, and counteract today’s fast-action rods. It’s available in 3- through 9-weights. Each of the SuperFlo lines is 90-feet long and features welded loops on both ends. No matter where you find yourself in trout country, Airflo has built a SuperFlo line for you.

$100 | airflousa.com

New & Noteworthy | Scientific Anglers Absolute Tippet Supreme

Fluorocarbon is an interesting material. For starters, it’s nearly invisible under water, it has a higher abrasion-resistance than monofilament, and also sinks faster than mono. While that doesn’t make it ideal for dry-fly fishing, many anglers use it on small dry flies. That being said, fluorocarbon is an absolute must for nymphing or throwing streamers, and especially in salt water. In recent years, the fluorocarbon game has been somewhat stagnant, with no real notable advancements. This year, that’s changed.

The team over at SA has developed a breakthrough fluorocarbon material, improving the break strength over its previous material by up to 33%. The innovation here begins with the material: it features a unique dual-layer construction, with a softer outer layer to help knots grip into themselves and a harder core that provides much of the tensile strength. While each 30-meter spool comes in at a hefty $29.95, if SA’s strength claims are true, it will be worth every penny the next time your knots hold on the fish of a lifetime. Absolute Tippet Supreme is geared mainly to big-game and saltwater anglers, and is available in 8-lbs. Through 20-lbs., with SA’s patented cutter spool and easy ID tippet band.

$29.95 | scientificanglers.com

New & Noteworthy | Orvis Bugout Backpack

Fly-fishing packs have taken a number of forms over the years, starting with vests, then transitioning to backpacks, chest packs, hip packs, and sling packs. We can say pretty confidently we haven’t seen a pack like this come along in a while. From a host of innovative features to standard Orvis-quality construction, the Bugout Backpack is a solution for those anglers looking for the next great pack to wear on the water.

Designed as an angling pack, but just as handy as a carry-on, the Bugout Backpack offers all the features an angler would need: a back-panel integrated net holder, an external water bottle or rod tube holder with an extended sock to keep rod tubes from going anywhere, and accessory docking stations on the shoulder straps. It also features an internal zippered drop pocket with a removable divider, a tricot-lined sunglasses or phone pocket on the top flap, as well as a padded front pocket that will fit a hydration bladder or a laptop (though ideally not both at the same time.) But perhaps the most innovative feature is the side-entry access. By simply swinging the backpack around like a sling pack, you gain access to the main compartment, which has been a gripe of ours about backpacks for a long time. For those that need additional storage, the Bugout Backpack is also compatible with the new Chest Pack and Chest/Hip Pack.

$189 | orvis.com