June 23, 2021
Dave Scadden’s Backslash XXX
Frameless inflatables are quick and simple to use and easily get you into places that don’t get fished much—small streams and/or big rivers with poor ramp access. But with a one-person inflatable you have to try to fish and row at the same time. With the new Dave Scadden Backslash XXX, one person rows while two people fish—just like with a drift boat, but at a fifth of the price—and you don’t need a trailer.
The fully rockered, self-bailing raft comes in a single bag and weighs less than 70 pounds. The Backslash XXX ($3,000, davescaddenpaddlesports.com) has a whitewater-rated hull design, rigid floor, and an integrated motor mount and keel. It inflates in five minutes, and since there’s no frame, there’s no assembly required. You just inflate the compartments.
Every saltwater rod in the world is advertised as “fast action” so the term isn’t all that helpful. For the sake of comparison, the Maverick ($550, sageflyfish.com) loads faster and easier than the much stiffer Sage Salt HD, with better one-backcast performance for quick deliveries. And it’s $400 cheaper. Here’s how they do it: Instead of a soft tip section—which you might imagine helps load a rod down into the midsection—the Maverick has a stiffer tip section that drives the energy down into the midsection, loads the rod quickly, and launches the cast not just where you want it, but when you want it. That same tip section gives you a powerful pickup, especially when dealing with heavy sinking lines, and lifting power for bigger gamefish. It’s the kind of action I love for flipping flies under mangrove branches for tarpon, snook in the dock lights, and GTs and sailfish where you use oversize flies at close ranges. The Maverick comes in sizes 6- through 14-weight, and the two lighter weights are also wonderful, quick-shot freshwater rods for smallmouths and other species where you want to spend more time fishing and less time backcasting. The hardware stands out as well, with two oversized Fuji ceramic stripping guides, extra-large chromed snake guides, a hook keeper hidden in the reel seat, and the line weight laser-etched on the uplocking reel seat band.
Hardy Ultralite LL
Howard Croston is the current FIPS/Mouche fly-fishing world champion. He was part of the 2009 gold-medal-winning Team England, and he has competed in 16 world and European championships. When he won individual gold in the most recent world championships in Tasmania, he was also captain of Team England, so it’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about competitive fly fishing and Euro nymphing.
Croston is Hardy’s product manager, a world champion, and he found time to design Hardy’s Ultraclick UCL reel (left) and the Ultralite LL rod series. Although Croston has participated in more than 90 tournament casting events, this is not a tool for launching long lengths of fly line. It’s a precision instrument engineered specifically for Euro techniques. It uses Hardy’s latest carbon fiber and resin system called NSX SINTRIX, different than Hardy’s previous versions of SINTRIX, with a “classified” ingredient that helps create lighter carbon fiber prepreg that is equally strong.
With Croston’s guidance, Hardy has improved the line guide spacings to eliminate line sag, and moved to a downlocking reel seat so the weight is farther behind your hand for better balance. (On regular Hardy Ultralite rods, the reel seats are all uplocking.)
The rods ($795, hardyfishing.com) are available in eight different sizes from 9'2" to 11'2" and from 2-weight to 4-weight to suit your style, and the waters you fish. The sweet spot might be the 10'8" model rated as a 0/2-weight in recognition that AFFTA line weights are mostly irrelevant when you are fishing with only a short length of narrow, level fly line or just monofilament outside of the rod tip. There is no “grain weight” for casting. This is all about tactical close-range fishing and the highest level of sensitivity between you and your flies.
Angler Sport Group Magnet-ique
External fly patches can be tricky—sometimes the loops catch the hook, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it takes superhuman effort to extract your crimped-barb flies from a wool or Velcro-type patch. Powerful magnets can solve this pesky problem.
The Magnet-ique MagSingle ($19, anglersportgroup.com) uses a single neodymium magnet inside of a cupped polymer fly holder. A noncorrosive steel backer goes inside your jacket, vest, or waders. Unlike some other patches that require a pin to affix them, a powerful magnet holds your flies and also secures the patch wherever you’d like. Want to have it on the outside of your waders? No problem, there’s no puncture.
The MagDouble ($30) has two internal magnets, holds twice as many flies, and also comes with a stainless-steel carabiner as an alternative attachment method.
Scientific Anglers Euro Nymph Kit
Here’s why you’d want a Euro Nymph Kit: You want to try Euro nymphing, but you don’t want to remove your regular fly line from your reel. Or maybe you just want to switch back and forth during the day from Euro nymphing to distance dry-fly fishing. This kit has a 20-foot floating Euro Nymph Tip (0.025" diameter) you can loop right on top of your regular fly line, and SA’s Absolute Euro Nymph leader. The 13.5-foot 2X monofilament leader has an integrated Absolute Tri-color Sighter. It’s looped at one end and has a tippet ring on the other end to attach your thin tippet. The kit ($25, scientificanglers.com) comes with a foam storage spool so you can remove the tip and the leader and convert back to traditional fly fishing.