9 Best Reusable Bottles for Anglers (2019 Unranked)

9 Best Reusable Bottles for Anglers (2019 Unranked) thumbnail

With the #kickplastic movement in full effect, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts are paving the way for everyone to stop supporting single-use plastic water bottles. In an effort to do so, the amount of purchasable reusable outdoor bottles has skyrocketed. With this increase in market quantity, finding the perfect water bottle that suits you has grown into more of a chore than ever. Luckily, we at Flylords gathered our top picks for which water bottles we feel meet the needs of anglers and explorers in any endeavor they pursue. Here are our top picks for which water bottles will stand the test of the elements (and look good doing so).

For this list, we based our decisions on 3 factors; durability, practicality, and price. While there may be some other contenders in the genre, we focused mainly on traits that would make this water bottle specifically useful to anglers on the water, as opposed to everyday usage. That being said, factors such as temperature control, ease of drinking, and material used were a large factor in determining what products DID and DID NOT make our list.

1. Kleen Kanteen

Classic Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Starting off the list is a strong top spot competitor. The Kanteen is noted for its “stronger than most” metal shell and is a refreshingly solid water bottle. On long hot days on the skiff, this bottle can keep ice in and heat out. However, due to its tall slender frame, it’s more likely to topple over and spill, so keep that in mind if wind rolls in. Overall, this water bottle is a worthy investment, especially when considering the price.

Durability: 8.5/10, Practicality: 8/10, Price: 8.5/10 ($25.00)

 

 

2. Camelbak Chute Mag

Insulated Stainless Steel

camelbak chute mag

Image courtesy of Amazon.comNext on our list, we have the Camelbak Chute Mag water bottle. This bottle is designed with convenience in mind. With its magnetized handle, the cap can be stored right on the side of the bottle, and you never have to worry about losing it (you could even keep a few flies on there). Now, while not standing quite as strong as competing Yeti and Kleen Kanteen bottles, this vacuum insulated, stainless steel build is sure to keep ice cold and coffee hot all day on the water.

Durability: 8.5/10, Practicality: 9/10, Price: 8.5/10 ($25.98) 

   

 

 

3. Simple Modern Summit

Wide Mouth Vacuum Insulated 18/8 Stainless Steel Powder Coated

simple modern water bottle
Image courtesy of Amazon

This water bottle is one of the lesser accredited brands but has been shining bright with its durable, as well as attestable water bottles. With its vacuum-sealed design, it will keep your drinks at the perfect temperature all day. Not to mention, If appearance is going to a be a deciding factor in which water bottle you’ll take on your next adventure, these bottles come in an array of designs and colors in order to perfectly match your preference. Coming in at one of the lowest prices for our list of insulated bottles, the Simple Modern Summit packs some of the best bang for your buck in the market.

Durability: 7.5/10, Practicality: 8.5/10, Price: 9/10 (21.99)

buy here at Amazon

 

 

4. Epic Nalgene OG

Wide Mouth 32 oz  Water Filtration Bottle 

Nalgene OG
Image Courtesy of Amazon

A new spin on an old classic. The Epic Nalgene OG is all of what you love about Nalgene, a bottle brand that has stood the test of time, with some added twists. The built-in water filtration device removes 99.99% of Tap Water Contaminants, so no matter where you are, you can fill up and get moving. While this product is one of the least durable bottles on the list, it can still take a hit. Now, if keeping your ice-cold drinks ice cold is a priority, you may want to look into the insulated bottles offered by Yeti, Hydroflask, etc. However, if your focus is on filtration, and you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, this bottle is the ticket. 

Durability: 5.5/10, Practicality: 9/10, Price: 6/10 ($34.95)

Click here to order on Amazon

 

 

 

5. Hydroflask

Stainless Steel & Vacuum Insulated – Wide Mouth

hydroflask
Image courtesy of Amazon

Being one of the most popular reusable water bottles on the market, there is a reason Hydroflask has made a name for itself. This bottle, with its stainless steel, vacuum insulated construction it’s one of the best in the game when it comes to temperature retention. With its sleek and streamlined design, it can fit in backpacks, fly bag pockets, bottle sleeves, or wherever else you keep your gear. Now, when it comes to taking a hit, the Hydroflask is of the less durable steel bottles mentioned, so if your traveling into uncharted territory, consider keeping a backup bottle in your pack. Also, because of its popularity and gorgeous design, this bottle will also run a bit higher than other’s that have been mentioned on this list.

Durability: 8/10, Practicality: 8/10, Price: 7/10 ($29.95)

Click here to order on Amazon

 

 

6. Platypus SoftBottle

1-liter soft bottle with Closure Cap

Platypus soft bottle
Image courtesy of Amazon

Unlike any other bottle on this list, the Platypus SoftBottle serves a purpose of its own. For those who like to pack light, these 1-liter bottles can be folded up and stored anywhere. They can also be used as a bladder for an attachable drinking tube and kept out of the way for hydration on the go. While this bottle doesn’t have the durability, and temperature control technology of many of the other bottles, it is an excellent way to utilize space and stay unencumbered. Not to mention, each 1-liter bottle is just under 15 dollars, so you can pack a few and swap them out when empty.

Durability: 4/10, Practicality: 8/10, Price: 9/10 ($14.59) 

Click here to order on Amazon

 

 

7. S’well

17oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

swell water bottle
Image courtesy of S’well.com

Also available in larger sizes like the 25oz, the S’well is a sleek, modern solution to the single-use plastic issue. Sitting at about the size of a traditional water bottle, the S’well is built to fit just about anywhere to be easily accessible, and out of the way. Built with a triple-walled construction, this bottle holds its own against some of the best-insulated bottles in the game. It is also surprisingly durable considering its seemingly delicate frame. This bottle may not be the first choice for many outdoor adventurers, but if you’re looking for a low profile reusable bottle to bring on the stream, don’t count S’well out.

Durability: 7/10, Practicality: 8/10, Price: 7.5/10 (26.25)

Click here to order on Amazon

 

 

8. Brita Premium

20 Ounce Stainless Steel Filtering Water Bottle -BPA Free 

 

Brita filtering bottle
Image courtesy of Amazon

When it comes to getting a filtering water bottle, why not go with the brand that revolutionized the game. This water bottle allows you to filter water anywhere, to make sure you stay hydrated and clear-headed no matter how long your out in the sun. Featuring a stainless steel frame, built on carrying loop, push-button lid, and built-in drinking straw this bottle may as well have come off of Batman’s utility belt. The only downside to this water bottle is its noticeable fragility (in comparrisons with our other steel bottles). However, with a little bit of care, this will be one of the most versatile bottles who will have ever owned.

Durability: 6.5/10, Practicality: 9.5/10, Price: 6/10 ($35.00)

Click here to order on Amazon

 

 

9. Yeti Rambler

18oz vacuum insulated Bottle

yeti rambler
Image courtesy of Amazon

Over the last couple of years, Yeti has made a splash in the outdoor industry, specifically in the Temperature Retention game. Sitting as one of our favorite water bottles, the Yeti Rambler is the workhorse of stainless steel canteens. Built with an 18/8 stainless steel body, a leak-proof triple haul cap, and a finish of Duracoat coloring to ensure no cracks or fading, this bottle is engineered to take a beating. If you’re looking for a water bottle that can stand up to any test you put it through and don’t mind spending a few extra dollars, make the investment and get yourself a rambler.

Durability: 9.5/10, Practicality: 8.5/10, Price 7/10 ($30.00) 

In closing, there are so many different water bottles on the market right now that do so many things. Depending on your style of adventure, as well as personal preferences, picking the right one is about what makes you happy. Now toss some stickers on your bottle, and get out there and go make some memories.

Click here to order on Amazon

 

 

 

Article written by Flylords Team member Wills Donaldson 

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Product Spotlight: Yeti River Green Collection

Product Spotlight: Yeti River Green Collection thumbnail

Sponsored by REI and Yeti

As Yeti continues to dominate the drinkware and cooler market, it’s hard to keep up with new products and new colorways, but this latest drop definitely caught our eye. Introducing the River Green Collection!

We had a shoot planned with Captain Abbie Schuster up in Marthas Vineyard to target some Fall Albacore running off Edgartown Mass, so our friends from REI sent up some new products in Yeti’s River Green Collection.

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Although Yeti says the collection is “INSPIRED BY GLACIER-FED RAVINES IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST, RICH WITH EMERALD UNDERTONES” we thought it fit pretty well in the northeast as well…

untitled (101 of 311).jpgOn the shoot, we were testing out the new Hopper M 30, Yeti’s 12 OZ rambler with hotshot cap, and Yeti’s new day trip lunch bag. Here’s what we thought:

Let’s start with the Rambler 12 OZ Bottle with Hotshot Cap:

I am going to be quite honest when saying this is the first time I’ve reviewed a drinking mug, but dam, this thing is the real deal!

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Coming in at 12 OZ this rambler is the perfect size for a cup of Joe, and since we were on a boat for most of the trip having a 100% leakproof Hotshot Cap was crucial. The selling point for us here was also the River green colorway. If you are in the market for a new mug or are looking for a good gift idea, this is definitely a great option. Coming in at 29.99 with the Hot Shot cap included you aren’t killing the bank (Especially for a Yeti product). Click Here to Shop. 

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Yeti’s Daytrip Lunch Bag:

It took me a little while to understand where this would come in handy. $79.99 for a lunch bag? What’s wrong with a paper bag??

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That’s when it hit me, all those years of having soggy lunches floating around the cooler. The Day-trip Lunch Bag eliminates soggy lunch, as Yeti says “Pack a lunch you’ll actually look forward to”. It’s the little touches on this bag that make you realize Yeti didn’t leave out any details. Like the magnet closure, and the way the front of the bag hinges down effortlessly. The cherry on top of the cake? The bag is lined with hours of insulation, heck you could throw a few beers in there if you wanted to and this could become a small portable cooler! Click here to shop!

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The Hopper M30

I think it’s safe to say we were saving the best for last here…untitled (170 of 311).jpg

Every year Yeti finds new ways to improve their products, and the update to it’s previous Hopper was a big one. They somehow found a way to eliminate Zippers completely on this model. Using their new HydroShield™ Technology – a strip of ultra-strong magnets – this soft cooler closes on its own. The first few times you use it you kind of need to ask yourself (What kind of wizardry is this???)….

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I’ve read some other reviews about the cooler being hard to open, and needing three hands, and although at times it’s hard to open with one hand, I still think this is a big improvement from Yeti’s last model and worth the upgrade. Not to mention the cooler looks badass, and comes in River Green!

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We spent 3 days in Marthas Vineyard loading this thing in and out of boats and cars opening it up for drinks and food, and we loved it, Abbie loved it. Coming in at $299.99 this cooler is definitely an investment, but it’s also backed by Yeti’s 5-year warranty, and would be a killer addition to your drinkware arsenal! Did we mention it came in River Green? Click here to shop. 

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We had a killer time testing out these products in Marthas Vineyard! And we are excited to see what Yeti comes up with next!

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Shoutout to Abbie for the day on the water, and to REI and Yeti for supporting this #sponsored review.

G. Loomis intros the NRX+

After almost a decade, Loomis has introduced the successor to the wildly popular NRX series
by Chad Shmukler

The G. Loomis NRX, first announced in 2010, is one of the most heralded fly rods of all time. That first year, G. Loomis sold more NRX rods than any prior rod debut. The NRX was Loomis’ successor to the also wildly popular GLX, leaving it with big shoes to fill. But fill them it did, and for almost a decade, while some other rod makers churned out one new flagship fly rod after another, the NRX remained among—if not squarely atop—the pantheon of high-performance fly rods.

If the NRX faded from the conversation these last couple of years, it was likely due only to Loomis’ own 2016 introduction of the oddly-named, price barrier-shattering Asquith which, perhaps unsurprisingly, also turned out to be one of the finest fishing tools on the market.

When the Asquith hit the market, some six years after the NRX’s introduction, and was positioned to lead Loomis’ fly rod lineup, many speculated that Asquith was the successor to the brand’s longtime flagship offering. But the folks in Woodland, Washington were clear from the start: the partially Shimano-built, co-branded Asquith was its own unique project. When and what would replace the NRX was to be determined.

With the introduction of the new NRX+ (or NRX “Plus”), G. Loomis has finally answered the question of what will succeed its longtime standard-setter. Preserving the namesake of its almost decade-long best-seller, the new NRX+, according to Loomis, “reimagines” the proprietary compound taper design found in the NRX. Originally employed to reduce swing weight and failure rates, Loomis says that, this time around, it has applied a similar process to yield improvements in loading efficiency and rod feedback. The result, the rod maker says, is something akin to an NRX that’s lighter, more powerful, features faster recovery and, perhaps most importantly, offers a noticeably bigger “sweet spot” at all casting distances.

The “NRX+ provides the power, line speed, and loop stability expected from modern fast-action rods, without compromising ‘feel’ and finesse in the short game,” says G. Loomis.

The NRX+ Freshwater models (above) borrows from the bold, slate grey and cyan blue styling or the original NRX, while the NRX+ LP models (below) offers a more traditional fly rod aesthetic.

As marketers do with every new fly rod introduction, the folks at G. Loomis have come up with a bunch of fancy names for the brand’s advancements in graphite, resins and blank construction. Much as with the modification and continuation of the NRX namesake, Loomis has continued the namesake of its tech. The NRX’s Mega Modulus graphite has been replaced with Mega Modulus+, which Loomis reports is 15% lighter than the graphite matrix in the original NRX. The GL7 resin in the NRX is now replaced with GL8 resin in the NRX+, which reportedly offers the same strength and impact resistance as the GL7 while requiring less material, which in turn reduces overall weight.

This is a good time to point out that tapers, graphite matrixes, resins and so on, if you’re not already clear, are what make fly rods what they are. Whether a rod is fast, slow, flexes mostly in the tip, bends deep into the butt, recovers quickly or slowly, offers great “feel” and feedback or is a dead-weight broomstick … all of these things are, at least in a very significant way, determined by those core building blocks of a fly rod. They’re also bits of technology and spec that almost everyone in the world of fly rods pretends to understand but, in truth, almost always doesn’t.

The good news is that most anglers need not understand tapers and graphite matrixes and resins. If marketing mumbo-jumbo on rod tech—rather than first-hand casting experience, word of mouth and trustworthy recommendations, for instance—is how you’re making your buying decisions, you’re doing something wrong. Rod makers, on the other hand, most certainly need to understand these core technologies. And the good news, for NRX faithfuls and NRX+ hopefuls, is that longtime G. Loomis rod designer Steve Rajeff and the other folks at Loomis felt that the advancements they had developed in these arenas finally represented an opportunity to build a better rod than the NRX they had been confidently churning out of their Woodland, WA factory (and winning awards with) for almost a decade—perhaps as long as any rod maker has ever kept a rod model positioned atop their lineup.

Like the original NRX, the NRX+ lineup is split into 4 distinct categories—the NRX+, NRX+ LP (Light Presentation), NRX+ S (Saltwater) and NRX+ Switch/Spey—comprised of 26 individual rod models. Pricing ranges from $795 to $975. Available October 2019.

For more information on the entire NRX+ lineup, visit G. Loomis.

Review: Orvis PRO waders

As a longtime gear junkie and reviewer, I’ve come to expect a certain level of quality from certain brands.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I hold Orvis gear in high regard.

Lately, though, each new release from their shop in Vermont has exceeded my already high expectations. Their Ultralight Convertible wader garnered wide acclaim upon release, as did their Ultralight wading boots.

So, when the new Orvis PRO waders showed up on my door (the day before a weeklong trip to Alaska’s Kodiak Island), I couldn’t wait to get them on the water and see if they lived up to the ever-increasing standard Orvis sets for gear performance.

WHAT WORKS
New fabric

Orvis built the PRO waders with tons of new features, but the most meaningful change is the switch from traditional DWR-coated nylon to a proprietary Cordura fabric. Per the Orvis marketing department, no other wader on the market is built with Cordura fabric, and thanks to Cordura’s inherent strength, the PRO waders are the most puncture-resistant ones money can buy.

After three months of intense use, I can’t refute any of the company’s marketing claims. The PRO waders definitely feel more durable than any other non-Gore-Tex wader I’ve used or own. They’re hefty, but in the same reassuring way my current workhorse waders and longtime industry standard-setter — the Simms G4 — are.

Another similarity between the G4 and the Orvis PRO is how their proprietary fabric is layered. Both feature a four-layer upper section with five layers in the legs — an ideal design choice for waders built to last through the toughest fishing situations anglers get into.

Time will be the ultimate judge of durability, but based on early returns from heavy field use, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Orvis PRO waders last as long and other pair of waders has before springing a leak (224 days of fishing spread over two years, per my fishing journal).

Removable knee pads

The other big innovation in design with the Orvis PRO waders is the integrated, removable knee pads. Orvis used Ortholite X-25 foam for the pads, and says that particular foam won’t compress over time.

As someone who fishes a lot of small creeks and streams, I’m often crouching on my knees to throw a cast onto a glassy pool. The knee pads certainly make that a more comfortable experience, but that’s not all they’re good for. For the walk-and-wade guides, and even those with a drift boat, added knee support comes in handy while kneeling to remove flies from a trout’s mouth, getting a good angle on a picture, or even kneeling next to the fire or grill while making lunch.

That Orvis made these removable is even better, because the knee pads may not be for everyone. I’m a fan, though, and it’ll be interesting to see if other wader-makers follow suit.

Pockets

A fishing buddy of mine once complained when I let him borrow a pair of waders. He said, “There’s too many damn pockets in here. I’m gonna lose all my stuff!”

Personally, I don’t think there’s such a thing as too many pockets. Orvis agrees, it seems, because the PRO wader has a big fleece-lined handwarmer pocket on the front of the wader, along with a waterproof zippered pocket. Inside, you’ll find a stretch mesh pocket with a removable, compartmentalized gear pocket. The stretch mesh pocket is nice for phones, wallets, and keys, while the removable pocket has plenty of room for extra fly boxes, tippet, nippers, floatant, and the various other accoutrements that find their way into waders.

Again, I love that Orvis created a removable pocket — and one that’s more user-friendly than their old Velcro waterproof phone pouches. Guides and industry professionals demand varied performance from their gear; giving them the option to remove pockets or knee pads shows an integrated understanding of what exactly anglers deal with while on the water.

Comfort

When the Orvis Ultralight waders came out, I fell in love immediately because wearing them never made me feel like I was wearing waders. Hiking, walking, crouching, and sitting all felt normal — not constrained the tiniest bit.

The PRO waders aren’t that comfortable, but they’re close. They’re reassuringly hefty, so you won’t think twice about busting through thick brush. You won’t forget you’re wearing waders, but they don’t feel bulky or constraining.

Part of this likely comes from a new seam design Orvis used with the PRO wader. Per their marketing materials, the new design lessens the number of seams across the wader, and strengthens the ones that exist.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Gravel guards

For whatever reason, the gravel guards on the PRO waders don’t seem to fit as snugly over the top of my boots as other waders. Even when wearing them with Orvis boots, the fit is looser than I’d like. When using the PRO waders, I often reattach the gravel guards to the D-ring on my wading boots at least once while on the water.

This could easily be an issue with my size of waders (big feet and long legs), but it’s something I’ve noticed with my Ultralight waders as well.

FINAL WORD
The Orvis PRO waders are finally a legitimate contender to the throne. With the new puncture-resistant Cordura fabric, removable knee pads, plenty of pockets, and overall comfort, it’s hard to find a fault in these waders. Priced at $498, they’re less expensive than competing waders. And Orvis’ warranty service is legendary — I’m rough on waders, remember? — so regardless of which you choose, you’ll be well cared for.

In the world of waders, I won’t be the least bit surprised if the new Cordura fabric gives Gore-Tex a run for its money. Time will be the ultimate judge, but I’d be surprised if this big step forward from Orvis doesn’t force other wader-makers to make their own move.

Overall, for a $500 pair of waders, I’m not sure I’ve used anything better. Orvis has, once again, made something truly stellar.

New Product Spotlight: Duck Camp Co Ultralight Rain Jackets

New Product Spotlight: Duck Camp Co Ultralight Rain Jackets thumbnail

We recently had a chance to test out the new Duck Camp rainjackets in the Charleston Lowcountry. Not only did they keep us dry, but they were also extremely breathable and functional for warm days on the water or in the field. We sat down with the Duck Camp Co team to ask a few questions about what makes their new rain jacket so kick ass.

Flylords: When we first got the rain jackets we were very surprised by the actual material of the jackets, it almost felt like a cloth texture. Could you tell us a little about the material used in the production of these?

The jackets are made from a 3-Layer waterproof/breathable fabric similar to some Gore-Tex fabrics we’ve tested. Beyond being extremely watertight and breathable, the backing of the fabric is super soft to the touch and really comfortable to wear, even with short sleeves – that’s the 3rd layer. We went through a lot of fabrics looking for the perfect one to create a rain jacket that you can wear in late summer/early fall to keep you dry, but won’t either stick to your skin or trap your heat. It’s also great as a shell in colder weather when rain is threatening.

Flylords: The jacket seems to breathe really well, was this a goal in the design of the jacket? Are there any features that you want to mention in regards to breathability.

Absolutely! Hunting seasons kick off on September 1st, but most places are still oppressively hot. No one wants to wear that heavy-duty insulated jacket when it’s 80 degrees outside. And that lightweight “slicker” jacket you have does nothing but trap your own body heat inside, making you sweat, and sweat, and sweat. So when we were looking for a fabric, we had to have the highest breathability available. Our fabric comes in at 25,000g/m2, which essentially means that over a 24 hour period, 25,000 grams of water vapor will pass through a 1-meter square piece of fabric… or in layman’s terms, really breathable. If you want us to continue to geek out, it’s got 6 pockets, has a 10k waterproof rating, hood with adjustable toggles, adjustable waist cord and packs into its own pocket.

Flylords: We know Duck Camp is both a hunting and fishing brand, where do you see these jackets being used the most?

Honestly, these jackets are really versatile. Teal blinds, fishing trips, local watering holes. They look good and give you a great chance of bagging your limit! And if you know how to layer, this piece will get you deep into the fall with the right stuff underneath. Merino wool base layer, mid-weight shirt, and rain jacket will take you through the 1st split of duck season or early bow season no problem. Add a fleece or down jacket and you may even make it till Snow Goose Conservation! And you should always pack it on the fishing boat no matter what time of year.

Flylords: What colorways are these jackets coming in?

Since we see these being used mostly in the 1st half of your season, we have made these in our Early Season camouflage patterns. Also “Mallard Green” for fishing and everyday use, Early Season Wetland for Marshy Waterfowl and Early Season Woodland for Whitetail and Flooded Timber hunters.

Flylords: What is your team most excited about with these jackets launching this month?

As a young brand, it is hard to come out with a full system in year 1, but we want our customers to know that we are committed to being a full-service, high-performance outdoor brand. This is the first product that we think could compete with any brand on wet weather performance and we are excited to see how people like it. We want people to get it out there, test the hell out of it and give us their feedback.

Flylords: How much do the jackets weigh? Why did you decide to go with such a lightweight design?

12.2 ounces, which is about as light as you’ll find. We definitely saw a gap when it came to lightweight/breathable rain gear. Most of the more modern outdoor hunting/fishing brands seem to be really focused on either Western or high altitude pursuits, but we are from the Gulf Coast, where it may still be 70 degrees on Christmas Day. We need high-performance hunting apparel for that warm weather and this is the first piece we know of that really hits all of the bases.

Flylords: Anything else on the horizon heading into the end of this year?

We will be launching some super-tough field pants and a durable fleece hoodie this fall as well that we are excited about. We know there is a lot of work that goes into scouting/planting/maintaining the land and we wanted to create a few pieces that also work when you’re working. Look out for Duck Camp Brush pants and our Head Guide Hoodie in mid-October.

To purchase a Duck Camp Co Rain Jack visit this link and check them out on Instagram at @duckcampco.

Gear Review – Duck Camp Co Bamboo Hoodie

YETI intros the Hopper M30, the latest evolution of its genre-defining soft cooler

The third incarnation of YETI’s beloved Hopper line looks to be the best yet

by Chad Shmukler

It’s been 5 years since YETI introduced it’s Hopper series of soft coolers which, much like the roto-molded hard cooler Tundra series that turned YETI into the 500 pound gorilla it is today, redefined what any of us could rightfully expect from a cooler. The Hopper was also YETI’s first serious foray beyond what was then its bread-and-butter Tundra line, and the subsequent success of the Hopper lineup no doubt sparked YETI’s willingness to keep churning out gleefully over-engineered new products—insulated cups (Ramblers), waterproof duffels and backpacks, beach chairs and even buckets!—that continued to make us wonder how we managed to settle for lesser versions all these years.

Not content to rest on the laurels of its success with the first Hopper series, YETI introduced version 2 of the Hopper in 2017. Though it may have looked similar, version two was a considerable leap forward in usability thanks to little more than a zipper design change. The second incarnation of the Hopper was a boatload easier to get in and out of, held more and was easier to clean.

Along the way, YETI expanded its soft cooler lineup with a bevy of variants—the box-shaped, more diminutive Hopper Flip series and even a “Backflip” version that was larger and built to function like a backpack.

Now, half a decade since the first Hopper hit the market, YETI is back with another evolution of the series—this time dubbed the “M30” (spoiler: the “M” is for magnets).

Much like the evolution of the Hopper 2 over the original, the YETI Hopper M30 seems aimed at improving the usability of the already user-friendly Hopper Two. Rather than another zipper re-design, this time around YETI has ditched the zipper altogether. Replacing the waterproof zipper closure is a bigger, badder version of YETI’s magnet-driven HydroShield™ closure system—which YETI faithfuls may be familiar with from YETI’s Sidekick dry bags.

The HydroShield™closure system is designed to allow quick and easy access to the Hopper M30’s interior, to offer an extra-wide mouth opening, to self close, and also be fully leakproof and waterproof when not obstructed by debris. For extra security, the HydroShield™ closure also features two quick release buckles that work in tandem with the magnets to, as YETI puts it, “ensure [the Hopper M30] can withstand being tossed around.”

The new YETI Hopper M30 is available immediately through YETI.com and YETI retail dealers for an MSRP of $299.99.

Patagonia used 10,000,000 plastic bottles to make its new Black Hole bags

The iconic brand is on a mission to go 100% recycled

by Chad Shmukler

Did you know that the clothing industry pumps more carbon into the air—roughly 1.2 billion tons—than all international airplane flights combined? The creation of materials used throughout the clothing and apparel industry, whether natural or synthetic, is a carbon-intensive process, and one most often powered by coal-fired power plants. Using recycled materials can prevent an enormous amount of carbon from ending up in the atmosphere. And that’s why Patagonia is on a mission to completely eliminate virgin materials from its manufacturing.

If reaching their goal of using 100% recycled materials sounds like pie-in-the-sky snowflake stuff, consider that, as of this year, Patagonia has already made it to 69%—leading the charge on the use of recycled synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon, as well as natural fibers like cotton, wool and down.

Sadly, the industry average is a paltry 13%. But Patagonia wants that to change. According to the brand, if the clothing industry as a whole recycled at the same rate as Patagonia, the atmosphere could be spared the same amount of carbon emissions that would be generated powering every household in the state of California for an entire year.

The latest in Patagonia’s recycling mission is its new line of its revered Black Hole bags. The new Black Hole line of bags have body fabric and webbing that are now made with 100% recycled materials—mostly plastic bottles.

According to Patagonia, 10 million plastic bottles went into this year’s lineup of bags—which includes everything from the latest version of the venerable Black Hole duffels, backpacks and rolling luggage to ultralights, waist packs, cubes, totes and even mini-hip packs (read: fanny packs).

On top of using 100% recycled body fabric, Patagonia’s Black Hole bags are also made in Vietnam at a factory that produces zero wastewater. The facility treats all of the wastewater from their manufacturing onsite and uses it to water trees around the factory—eliminating wastewater pollution in nearby rivers and stream while recycling that water into the natural environment around the factory.

To see the entire lineup of new Black Hole bags, visit Patagonia.

The Ultimate Fly Fishing Gift Guide (2019)

The Ultimate Fly Fishing Gift Guide (2019) thumbnail

Buying gifts for anglers can be a tricky task. Whether you’re a participant, or someone not quite familiar with the sport, picking the perfect gift is often an intimidating and sometimes stressful endeavor as each angler possesses a unique taste. That being said, we here at Fly Lords wanted to take the guesswork out of the process and deliver to you the ultimate fly fishing gift guide for 2019.

Whether this gift is something small for a friend, or the gift of the year, we explored the internet far and wide to culminate a plethora of options that will fit anyone’s budget! Like what you see? Click here to be taken to our buyer’s directory.

 

How to choose (for non-anglers)

When it comes to finding a gift for the angler in your life, it feels like there are a million options to choose from. So, when trying to find the perfect gift to give, focus on the person you’re buying for, not an exact item or brand. If they are someone who never seems to be outside of an airport terminal, focus towards a gift that embodies travel such as a backpack, or rain jacket. If they’re more of a weekend warrior, consider smaller gifts like a water bottle built to last, or a cool hoodie. By matching the lifestyle of the person you’re buying for, as opposed to their estimated taste, you’re far more likely to find the perfect present they didn’t even know they needed. (But just in case, it never hurts to save the receipt)

Finally, remember that sometimes it’s better to think little! Whether it’s a holiday, or just a token of gratitude, sometimes its a hat, shirt, or replacement tool that ends up being the gift that means the most. Not everyone needs something big and flashy. Plenty of times, just the simple reminder of knowing you care is more than enough.

Contents

Quick and Easy gifts

Gifts Under $100

Gifts $100-300

Gifts $300 and Over

Handmade/ Personalized Gifts

Quick and Easy Gifts

Fishpond Arrowhead Retractor

arrowhead retractor
image courtesy of East Rosebud Fly and Tackle

Anglers love their gadgets. Perfect for keeping clippers or holsters close; the arrowhead attractor is a sleek and dependable way to make sure you’ve got everything you need on the side of your hip.

Tacky Fly Box

orvis tacky fly box
Image courtesy of Amazon.com

This fly box is streamlined to carry 168 flies, and can slip into just about any pocket you have. Built with a shatter-resistant polycarbonate body, as well as a magnetic closing system, this is the ultimate all in one box for any angler.

Smith Creek Rod Clip

smith creek rod clip
Image courtesy of Amazon

One of the most looked over, yet useful devices an angler can carry on them, the Smith Creek rod clip is a fly fishing must-have. Being small, yet extremely durable, this rod clip provides a third hand to anyone removing a hook, changing flies, or dealing with a nasty tangle.

Fishpond Beavertail Fly Patch

fishpond fly patch
Image courtesy of Amazon

Say goodbye to sheep’s wool and say hello to the Fishpond Beavertail Fly patch. Gone are the days of twisting and bending hooks out of weathered patches. The durable foam pad allows for dependable storage of wet flies, as well as easy access for a quick fly change. With an easy to use velcro attachment system, this patch can be slapped onto any velcro surface withing seconds.

Loon Outdoors Rogue Spring Creek Forceps

loon forceps
Image courtesy of Amazon

Every smart angler knows to never leave home without a pair of forceps, and to never settle for a sub-par make. Loon outdoors provides a compact, top quality pair of forceps that are sure to last as long as you can keep track of them. Made with a comfortable grip finish, as well as a rust-resistant finish, these forceps are all you could look for, and then some.

Yeti Rambler 18oz Water Bottle

yeti rambler 18oz
image courtesy of Amazon

What’s more important than staying hydrated? Nothing. With the stylish and extremely durable yeti 18oz rambler, you can keep water cold ALL DAY, and look great doing it.

Gifts under $100

Dead Drift Fly Fishing T-shirt

work less fish more gift
Image courtesy of Dead Drift Fly Fishing

Work less, Fish more; truly a motto to live by. A perfect gift for the angler who seems to spend more time in the office than on the water, this athletic poly blend t-shirt is a quick and easy way to remind someone (or yourself) what really matters in life. Not to mention, because of its durable construction, you can wear this shirt on and off the water (With a few washes in-between).

Buff USA Aqua Gloves

Buff USA aqua gloves
Image courtesy of CampSaver.com

A fan favorite on the river, keep your hands cool and safe from the sun’s harmful rays. These gloves come in a multitude of styles that are sure to match the hatch when it comes to each angler’s unique taste.

Duck Camp Co. Bamboo Hoodie

Duck camp co. hoodie
Image courtesy of Duck Camp co.

 

Made from a 67% bamboo blend material, this hoodie will allow you to blend in with your surroundings, and keep you feeling comfortable all day. Moisture-wicking technology combined with soft lock seams come together to keep you dry and on the water all day.

Orvis Safe Passage Shoulder Sling Pack

Orvis sling pack
image courtesy of Amazon

One of the most convenient over the shoulder packs, as well as one of the most cost-efficient, the Orvis safe passage shoulder sling pack is designed with comfort and practicality in mind. Constructed with specialized pockets for water bottles and fly boxes of all sizes, this pack never fails to accommodate any angler’s preferences.

FlyLords Artist Series: Lucky Hat

lucky fishing hat

Born in the journal of Ed Anderson this hat came to life with the quote ” There is no explanation – a good hat can mean the difference between the words “skunk,” and “epic”. Supply is limited, so don’t miss out on the lucky hat that may be just what you need to finally land that once in a lifetime fish.

Patagonia Neoprene Socks with Gravel Guards

patagonia gravel guard gift
Image courtesy of Patagonia

In the midst of summer. wet wading is every angler’s relief. However, there’s no need to toss aside your wading boots just yet. With Patagonia’s durable neoprene wading sock, you’ll be able to keep debris out, all while keeping cool and looking cooler.

Columbia PFG Tamiami II Long Sleeve Shirt

PFG tamiami long sleeve shirt
image courtesy of Amazon


This shirt specializes in comfort and breathability. Perfect for the long days spent on the salt, the PFG Tamiami shirt is constructed of omni-shade UPF 40 fabric, as well as Amni-wick moisture-wicking fabric in order to keep you protected rain or shine. An essential to any angler to keep your skin, and state of mind safe.

Gifts $100-300

Scientific Anglers Amplitude Trout Line

amplitude trout line
image courtesy of Amazon

When it comes to fly-line, nobody does it better than Scientific Anglers. With their new line of amplitude line, SA utilizes patented divot technology to get your line further and smoother with each cast. Specializing in accuracy, this is the ultimate trout line.

Costa Del Mar Black Fin Sunglasses

 

costa black fin sunglasses
Image courtesy of Amazon

Made to look good and function even better Costa’s 580 Polycarbonate provides high clarity, impact- and scratch-resistance along with lightweight all-day wear-ability. If you’re looking to take your fishing game to the next level, look no further than the sunglasses that are built by hand and backed for life.

Fishpond Nomad Mid Length Net

fishpond nomad mid length
image courtesy of Patcrick’s fly shop

“We’re gonna need a bigger…net”. Don’t find yourself on the river trying to cram your new PR into a tiny outdated net. Trust one of the most popular brands in the net game right now and upgrade to the Nomad Mid-length net. By prolonging your reach, and increasing your grip, kiss the awkward fish fumble goodbye, and say hello to the easiest net job you ever experienced.

Moonshine Rod Co. Drifter Series Rod.

Moonshine Rod. Co. drifter series
Image courtesy of Amazon

Moonshine is making a splash in the rod industry right now, and their rods back the hype. Introducing the Moonshine Drifter series rod, available in sizes from 3-8 wt. there’s a rod for any angler. As if the High-performance graphite and grad AAA cork wasn’t trustworthy enough, this rod is backed by a no-fault LIFETIME guarantee. There are very few rods on the market that have this much value, for such a low price.

Simms Dry Creek Z Hip Pack

simms back country dry creek z gift
Image courtesy of Back Country

Built with the ingenuity one would trust from a pack made by SIMMS fishing, The Dry Creek z Hip pack is everything you could want in a fly bag and more. Engineered to be completely waterproof, the Dry Creek Z’s patented TIPZIP technology keeps your gear safe and dry. Built big enough to hold all your geat and then some; you’ll have to buy more fly boxes just to fill the main compartment.

Yeti Panga Waterproof Backpack

Yeti fly fishing bag
Image courtesy of Amazon


Taking a place on our 2019 list for The Best Fly Fishing Packs That’ll Have Your Back, the Yeti Panga Waterproof backpack is as sleek as backpacks come. Capitalizing on patented THICKSKIN TPU lamination, and Hydrolock zipper technology, this bag is here to serve and protect from any and all elements. The pack is also compatible with the Yeti Sidekick Hopper, which can be easily attached to the back for added storage and accessibility.

Gifts $300 and Over

Orvis Pro Wading Jacket

orvis pro wading jacket
image courtesy of Amazon

When it comes to an all-day fishing trip, the last thing you should have to worry about is staying dry. Luckily, the Orvis pro wading jacket has your back. Engineered with a waterproof rating of 20,000mm and a breathability rating of 15,000g, no jacket performs quite like this one. Designed with the rugged outdoors in mind, the pro wading jacket is a class above the rest when it comes to keeping your dry and comfortable.

Abel TR Click and Pawl Reel

Abel TL reel
Image courtesy of Abel reels

Scientifically engineered to last, this C&P reel is one of the most versatile high-end reels on the market. Made in the USA, this reel utilizes a time-honored click-pawl system that protects light tippet while preventing overrun with a Quick-change spool and large-arbor design. If that’s not enough, all Abel Reel designs can be personalized to match the heart and soul of any angler.

Thomas and Thomas Zone Rod

thomas and thomas zone rod
Image courtesy of Trident Fly Fishing

When you’re buying a T&T rod, you know you’re making a sound investment. However. something that makes the “zone” a little different from most other rods is its willingness to compete. Adaptable, durable, and surprisingly affordable, the “Zone” ditches the frills and sparkles most high-end rods decide to boast, and focuses purely on functionality. Built with Thomas and Thomas’ premium rod tech, the “Zone” is one of the best rods an angler can find for the price.

Redington Sonic Pro HDZ Waders

redington hdz waders
Image courtesy of Amazon

If you’re looking for waders that manage to match their functionality with their ingenuity, look no further. The Redington sonic pro HDZ waders are a testament to wading technology and could be considered the most practical waders on the market. Built to withstand the most rugged conditions, the Sonic Pro HDZ waders include their patented TIPZIP waterproof front zipper, two-sided fleece hand warmers (with waterproof zippers), a large water-resistant pocket, and an integrated tool dock. If it’s time to toss torn and tattered waders, make sure to make the investment that will pay off for years to come, and invest in a pair of these bad boys.

*Note: Wading boots are not included in this list, but can be found HERE

Yeti Tundra 65 Cooler

yeti tundra cooler
Image courtesy of Amazon

When it comes to the Yeti Tundra 65 it’s going big or go home. There’s no need to explain why this cooler reigns champion amongst all other coolers but were going to tell you anyway. #1 in insulation, as well as #1 durability, Yeti coolers have made a name for themselves in the outdoor gear world. This cooler can carry just about anything but the kitchen sink (and maybe that too, depends on how good you are at packing), and keep the load at the perfect temperature for days. If you’re looking for the cooler that’ll last the rest of your life, look no further than the Yeti Tundra 65.

Classic Accessories Colorado XTS Inflatable Pontoon Fishing Boat

pontoon fishing boat
Image courtesy of Amazon

One can only go so deep with a standard pair of waders, not to mention, what about fishing lakes… or strong rivers? Drift boats are too expensive, and where can you store them? Here with a solution to all these problems is the CA Colorado XTS inflatable Pontoon boat. This boat comes with everything you need to get on, and off the water. Including over 20 insulated pockets, a swivel paddle seat, and a detachable transport wheel, this boat’s main focus is convenience. Not to mention, it can be deflated and folded up to fit in the back of your car (with room leftover!). Additional features include a removable stripping basket, adjustable footrests, quick fill valves, and a built-in anchor system, making this one of the most versatile pontoons in its price range, and the perfect gift for any angler looking to extend their fishing adventures.

Handmade/ Personalized Gifts

Brady’s Handmade Nets

Brady's handmade nets
Image courtesy of Wild Fly Productions

Crafted by father and son, these nets embody the spirit of fly fishing and the connections the sport creates. Each net is individually constructed purely by hand in South Carolina, and can be customized to meet even the most specific preference of any angler. With an unbeatable price, these nets are the perfect way to show someone you really care, as it’ll be a staple to their fly fishing loadout for many years to come.

Hand-Painted Customized Abel Reel

customized abel reel
Image courtesy of Abel Reels

One reel to rule them all. Hit the water with an all-new, customized VAYA reel from Abel Reels. Making their second appearance on the list, Abel enables any of their reels to be customized with a hand-painted finish that can be modified to incorporate over 70 different designs! Show someone you truly know them with the unique gift that will distinguish them from anyone on the water.

Handmade Scott Splitcane Flyrod

Split can scott fly rod
Image courtesy of Scott Fly Rods


Inspired by the rod’s that started it all, The folks down at Scott Fly Rods are preserving history within each one of their customized split cane rods. In collaboration with Naoki Hashimoto of Hokkaido of Japan, these rods are works of art created through masterful precision and care. Pay homage to where the sport was born and embark on your next journey with a true one-of-a-kind tool that can be matched by no other.

Buyers Directory:

Fishpond Arrowhead Retractor

Tacky Fly Box

Smith Creek Rod Clip

Fishpond Beavertail Fly Patch

Loon Outdoors Rogue Spring Creek Forceps

Yeti Rambler 18oz Water Bottle

Dead Drift Fly Fishing T-shirt

Buff USA Aqua Gloves

Duck Camp Co. Bamboo Hoodie

Orvis Safe Passage Shoulder Sling Pack

FlyLords Artist Series: Lucky Hat

Patagonia Neoprene Socks with Gravel Guards

Columbia PFG Tamiami II Long Sleeve Shirt

Scientific Anglers Amplitude Trout Line

Costa Del Mar Black Fin Sunglasses

Fishpond Nomad Mid Length Net

Moonshine Rod Co. Drifter Series Rod.

Simms Dry Creek Z Hip Pack

Yeti Panga Waterproof Backpack

Orvis Pro Wading Jacket

Abel TR Click and Pawl Reel

Thomas and Thomas Zone Rod

Redington Sonic Pro HDZ Waders

Yeti Tundra 65 Cooler

Classic Accessories Colorado XTS Inflatable Pontoon Fishing Boat

Brady’s Handmade Nets

Abel customizable reel (VAYA series)

Scott Split Cane Fly Rod 

 

This article was written by Flylords team member Wills Donaldson 

15 Fly Fishing Gifts Your Dad Will Love This Fathers Day

Flylords Holiday Gift Guide 2018

 

Review: Sage TROUT LL fly rod

Can Sage’s new TROUT LL fill the big shoes of its beloved predecessor?

by Cosmo Genova

The rod tube hadn’t been on the counter for more than ten seconds before a voice from behind me perked up: “Is that the new Light Line?”

In the hour I spent at the fly shop, I was approached by numerous similarly intrigued anglers, a couple of which had owned the previous iteration of Sage’s dearly beloved LL (or Light Line) series of fly rods, designed by Sage founder Don Green over 30 years ago. I had not had the privilege of owning the original LL, and that was why I was there—for some shop chatter with those who had.

I had gotten my hands on the newly released, modern incarnation of the Sage TROUT LL—in a 9’ 5wt—and wanted to get my buddy’s take on it. He manages the shop, and I hold his words on fly rods and technical trout fishing in the highest regard. He’s a master explainer and can turn seemingly complex topics like rod actions, line weights, tapers, casting strokes, and the lot, into something logical and digestible.

On paper, the Sage TROUT LL is a series of specialized medium-action rods ranging from a 7’9” 3wt to a 9’ 6wt which draw inspiration from the trout-focused Light Line rods of the past. Described by Sage as a “versatile tool designed to cover the majority of scenarios faced by a trout angler,” and having a “modest casting tempo” and a “smooth but versatile action,” the TROUT LL is fundamentally a dry fly rod that can do everything else decently well too.

I liked the TROUT LL from the very first cast, and so did those I shared it with. Far more than a casting pond prodigy, the rod was a joy to fish, and within a relatively short time on the water I could see why the old Light Line had developed such a dedicated following.

True to Sage’s description, it’s a silky smooth caster and a rod that does everything you ask of it. Sage has a winner on their hands with this rod, whether you were a fan of the revered LL of old or are new to the series. If you love dry fly fishing and prefer a medium to medium-fast action, you’re going to be very pleased with how this rod performs.

WHAT WORKS
Quality

When you’re talking about high-end, premium fly rods, it’s hard not to compare them. But ultimately, selecting a rod in this “class” will come down to individual preferences, as you’re unlikely to find rods that are objectively bad at that tier of the market. While more budget-friendly options may be capable of getting the job done, it’s hard to argue with the level of quality, control, and flex recovery that premium rods offer over their less expensive counterparts. And when we further narrow the topic of conversation to making perfect casts, mends, and drifts on tough, dry-fly-sipping trout, being armed with a rod from that premium tier can truly make a difference (I can hear the frantic typing of the keyboard warriors already). Do I own many flagship rods? No. Do I think they’re typically better? Of course.

Case in point: the Sage TROUT LL. This rod oozes quality. The Konnetic HD mahogany blank comes with Fuji ceramic stripper guides and chrome snake guides wrapped with bronze primary and gold trim thread wraps. The grip features a walnut wood insert, a bronze up-locking reel seat, and a Super Plus snub-nose, half-wells cork handle. The rod also comes with a really nice cloth rod bag and brown powder-coated aluminum rod tube.

But most importantly, it performs like an $800 rod ought to. Having cast and fished many of the big-name trout rods in the game, I would certainly say that the TROUT LL deserves to be uttered in the same breath by nearly every metric. In terms of quality of the product and performance on the water, the TROUT LL is a premium piece of kit.

Flex appeal

While I couldn’t get my hands on an old Light Line to compare, from what I’ve gathered from the internet, talking to folks who have owned them, and my fly-shop-buddy’s sage (pun intended) wisdom, the TROUT LL is a comparably better rod than its predecessor. Like other contemporary top tier rod series with a legacy, the TROUT LL has the same feel and flex that people love, but with the benefits of modern graphite technology. The TROUT LL’s Konnetic HD blank material greatly improves accuracy and loop control and provides more power and feel. My fly shop buddy explained that while some might confuse a deeper loading or slower rod action with “feel,” that is not really the case. In reality, the design and action are fundamentally the same, but the rod flexes more and recovers faster. This deeper flex and faster recovery greatly improves your perception of the rod’s load (what some might describe as feel), which ripples into pretty much every aspect of your casting and fishing.

Control

What I like the most about this rod is its control. It responds immediately and accurately, and because the rod recovers so quickly, it allows you to make split-second adjustments without fighting collapsing loops. The rods feature a relatively supple tip that transitions to a “smooth easy-loading mid-section that increases feel and feedback throughout the casting stroke.”

The commanding medium action is a joy to cast, mend, and fish and the delicate tip really helps on quick hooksets and fighting fish on light tippet.

Though the TROUT LL might not have the same punchiness of a faster action, distance oriented rod, this thing can fling. While it shines in 30-60ft range, it’s not terribly difficult to send a full line across the casting pond. And when rises start popping up around you, you’ll also really appreciate the close-quarters accuracy and finesse of the TROUT LL. I fished the TROUT LL paired with the RIO Technical Trout, RIO Trout LT, and Cortland Finesse II in WF5F and enjoyed them all.

Just as noteworthy casting prowess is the control the TROUT LL provides on the water. Mending, feeding line and managing slack are some of the most important aspects of dry fly fishing, and here the TROUT LL also excels, making long drag-free drifts a relatively easy task both to perform and control.

Versatility

The TROUT LL is unquestionably a dry fly rod—topwater is where the LL is really going to shine. If your primary goals are laying down the pinpoint, delicate casts, setting up the perfect drift, and nail a top-feeding fish, the TROUT LL is a helluva good choice. That said, there’s nothing about its design that would prevent you from effectively drifting an indicator or throwing a streamer—two things that many of us also like to do when chasing, well…trout.

WHAT DOESN’T
Looks

Sage went with a no-frills, classic look for the TROUT LL that may leave some wanting. I like the simple look and the fact that the LL’s performance is left to speak for it, but some might want to flaunt the fact that they just spent $800 on a graphite stick. Based on looks alone, you’d be hard-pressed to guess the price tag from across the river, but in the hands of a competent angler, you’ll likely be able to tell once they start fishing.

FINAL WORD
The Sage TROUT LL carries on and improves upon the Light Line rods of the past. Benefiting from advancements in modern material technology and manufacturing processes, the TROUT LL offers the classic feel that people have grown to love from their legacy Sage rods, while also providing faster flex recovery and better all-around performance. With an $800 price tag, this rod is marketed towards the high-end dry fly fisherman, and if you’re a committed guy or gal who appreciates top-tier gear and spends their time and money chasing trout on technical water, the TROUT LL is for you.

Wherever you’re fishing, the medium action is delicate enough to drop flies on spooky trout yet powerful enough to reach across the river and turn over long mends with relative ease. In addition, the soft tip does a great job of hooking and fighting fish on light tippet—and its classic aesthetic lets its performance do the talking.

Despite the fact that it may sound cliche to say so, the TROUT LL is a rod that truly becomes an extension of your body, smoothly and intuitively reacting to your commands and enabling you to create the exact presentation you’ve imagined.

Review: ECHO BASE fly rod

The $89 BASE punches above its class in nearly every category

by Johnny Carrol Sain

If you’ve got kids of a certain age, you’ve likely viewed the Pixar flick Ratatouille, in which the lead protagonist, Remy—a rat—is inspired by Chef Gusteau’s proclamation that “anyone can cook.” It is possible that no other company more tightly follows the vision of its leader than ECHO fly rods follows Tim Rajeff, who proclaims that anyone can fly fish. You don’t need years of practice, and you certainly don’t need wads of money. But Tim knows that you do need the right fly rod.

The ECHO BASE I own is a workhorse of a rod that I’ve put through the paces for various species of warm water fish for nearly four years. You can learn a lot about a rod in that amount of time.

WHAT WORKS
A pleasing action

ECHO says the BASE is a medium-fast action rod. Personally, I’ve found the action difficult to define because I throw so many different types and sizes of flies, but whatever it is, I like it. Casting the BASE is an enjoyable experience.

On the lighter stuff, sure, I’d call it medium-fast with a lean more toward the medium. Heavier Clousers, bunny strips, and big poppers slow the action down considerably. It’s nowhere near glass levels of softness, but it is a languid, very liquid feel. Smooth is a good word for it. Overall, let’s call the action a comfortable medium.

Presentation

I don’t worry about dainty presentations because none of the fish species I pursue really care about them. That being said, I’ve slipped a few tiny streamers into some minuscule moonshine-clear pools without alerting the resident smallmouths until one was hooked. And I did it with accuracy. The BASE is a surprisingly accurate rod out to about 50 feet and even a bit beyond.

It’s not a spool thrower, not in my hands anyway. Maximum casting distance is 65-70 feet for me, and in pursuit of bass, bowfin, gar and drum, pinpoint accuracy at those distances is rarely needed. One fine summer day, I did unfurl a dandy toss that perfectly intercepted a couple of cruising grass carp more than 60 feet away. I’m not saying that’s the norm, but I wasn’t shocked.

Backbone

Pretty much anything I’ve tied on, the BASE has handled from size 10 nymphs for spooky panfish to 2/0 hollow flies. Only when trying to stretch my casts with the beefiest of flies does it feel like the BASE is laboring and only on the biggest fish have I wondered if the BASE had the guts. Twenty-inch largemouth, 17-inch smallies, 18-inch spotted bass, two-foot gar, 8-pound freshwater drum, channel catfish long as my forearm— all have succumbed to the BASE.

The grass carp was, perhaps, the ultimate test. And, though it took a while, the BASE eventually wore it down, too. Tackling 15 pound grass carp in mild current is a lot to ask of any 6-weight rod.

Build quality

The graphite BASE is a deep ocean blue accented with black and silver wraps. It features chrome guides, an anodized reel seat and two grip options. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and excellent customer service. Just a few months into my ownership of the BASE, a sloppy backcast led to a collision between the rod’s tip and a heavy Clouser. The dumbbell weight cracked the tip. But after a quick call to ECHO, a new tip was on the way and I was back in the water with it in less than two weeks.

The price

The BASE costs $89-$99 depending on what size you want. This include a sock and hard tube.

I’ve got some buddies who dig the finer things in life, including expensive fly rods. I won’t throw out the brands they own, but when I put the BASE in their hands, they were shocked that a sub-$100 rod could compete—fiercely—with their rods costing five to seven times more. As for me, in a comparison with their rods, I could not tell that more dollars spent would equate to making me a better fly caster. And I sure as hell wouldn’t want to bang up and down the creeks I roam with a rod that costs nearly as much as my set of off-road tires. I’ve abused this rod—beat the crap out of it, actually—from falls on slick rocks, to clambering up bluffs with it in hand, to traipsing down brushy deer trails hoping not to snap it, to asking way too much of it on big fish. The BASE has not let me down.

WHAT DOESN’T
My 9-foot 6-weight weighs in at 3.9 oz. Some might consider that a little heavy. I’ve logged several four- to six-hour fishing trips, crammed full of blind casting with the BASE in hand, and never thought twice about the weight.

FINAL WORD
A lot has happened over the last four years: I finally finished my college degree (after a 20 year hiatus). My hopes for the country’s future took the steepest of nosedives. I became a grandparent — twice. But one thing that did not happen was me finding a better fly rod for the price for my local smallmouth bass or pretty much anything else I want to tackle. ECHO’s BASE is the penultimate everyman’s fly rod.

The BASE is a good—really good—fly rod at an incredible price. It punches above its class in nearly every category. Regardless of your skill level or your bank account, with ECHO’s BASE anyone can be a fly angler.