Here's a quick rundown of some of what I thought were the most exciting fly rods on display at the 2018 International Fly Tackle Dealer's Show in Orlando, FL. The show seemed a bit on the smaller side this year, but I think that's due to the change of venue for next year. This isn't an exhaustive list of all the fly rods at the show, nor is it meant to be a study in the new rods on the market. These are the rods that, for one reason or another, caught my interest or got me the most excited. As always, if you have any questions on the rods here don't hesitate to ask!
I hope you're all doing well!
Waterworks-Lamson debuted the Center Axis rod at the IFTD Show 2017, but at this year's show they introduced the Saltwater version of the rod and reel combo. The designers realized pretty early on that the larger and heavier the reel, the more effective the Center Axis design would be. With the 3-piece integrated arch design they were able to transfer more power to load the rod without any accuracy robbing flex between the rod and reel. And, if you like the action of the Waterworks-Lamson rods, but you're not ready to make the leap to the Center Axis innovation, they're available in standard reel seat configurations.
The Waterworks-Lamson Center Axis Saltwater Systems are available in 9' 6-, 7- and 8-weight fast action configurations with a system price of $799.99
Fans of a certain British motoring show might have heard that some of the best English sports cars were built by "blokes in sheds". This pretty much sums up the feeling I got when I met with John Mauser, owner of Mauser Fly Fishing. His passion is contagious, his attention to detail is impeccable and the quality and castability of every Waterman rod reflects his long flyfishing and guiding experience. The Mauser Waterman series fly rods are handmade in North Carolina of the best materials and parts that Mauser is able to obtain. And, he has a constant drive to improve. Just to demonstrate the thought that goes into these rods, Mauser has sourced a US made snake guide that is more circular for less line drag and has concave feet for better connection to the rod blank while using less thread and epoxy to keep the weight down and sensitivity up! That's "just" a snake guide!
The Mauser Fly Fishing Booth at IFTD 2018
The awesome Mauser Waterman 890 rod. Mausers are available in 4- through 12-weights
L.L. Bean had four rods on display during their hosted luncheon this year. Two new rods, the Apex and the Double L, and two updated rods, the Streamlight Ultra II Switch and the Quest Fly Rod Outfit. Apparently I only had lunch on my mind because I only managed to get pictures of the Quest Outfit!! My apologies for my one track mind!
The L.L. Bean Quest Fly Rod Outfit, available in 4-9 weight models, 2 piece and 4 piece versions. Includes Rod, Reel, Fly Line, Backing, Leader and reel-on case.
L.L. Bean says the Quest Fly Rod Outfit is their "...highest value flyrod outfit ever" at a retail price point of $129-$149.
The other new L.L. Bean rods for 2019 are:
Streamlight Ultra II Switch Rod -
New tapers and materials for a lighter and stronger blank
All models are 4 piece
Anodized aluminum reel seat
6-, 7- and 8-weight models
Includes nylon covered fiberglass rod case
Double L Fly Rod
Medium fast taper
Multi-directional scrim (the pattern in the graphite sheets) for a stonger, more sensitive rod
3- and 4-weight in multiple lengths
Matching graphite rod tube
Apex Fly Rod
Fast action for high line speed and tight loops
Multi-directional scrim for stonger, more sensitive rod
3-10 weights with various lengths
Matching graphite rod tube
Thomas & Thomas introduced their new Zone series of fly rods and managed to score an IFTD Best of Show Saltwater Fly Rod award with it! The new Zone rods will be available in weights 3-10, with 3- and 4-weight rods being medium fast action and the rest being fast action fly rods. According to T&T, these rods are hand built in their Massachusetts shop alongside their flagship models, but with a much lower price point to bring Thomas & Thomas rods to more anglers than ever before.
A rack full of Thomas & Thomas fly rods always reminds me of a box of fine cigars!! Beautiful design, incredible craftsmanship and a joy to handle. Just like a box of your favorite robustos!
The Zone rods may be entry level for T&T, but they don't skimp on quality components. Natural finish carbon construction, anodized aluminum hardware, hand rolled blue fiber reel seat, premium quality cork grips and Thomas & Thomas Blue wrapping thread.
With Orvis rods the emphasis was on updating classics this year. The entry level Clearwater line of fly rods got a full revamp with completely updated tapers across the whole line. Unfortunately, I didn't get any details on how the taper had changed, but I'll do some research and see what I can find out. I've been using a Clearwater Frequent Flyer travel rod for a number of years now, so I'm excited about trying out this new taper!!
|For the 2019 model year Orvis has updated the tapers on the whole line of Clearwater rods!|
|Clearwater rods are currently available from 2- to 12-weights and 6' to 14' lengths in single handed and switch/spey varieties.|