IFTD 2018 had a slightly different feel to it than past years. Spacier is probably a good way to put it. It was a smaller, sleepier show missing a few big players. You have to believe this was the calm before what would be the storm when the show moves to Denver next year. That being said, the less overwhelming than normal environment allowed us to really focus on those who did show up to play. And they brought out some heavy hitters.
RIO’s new line of flies will be a great addition to the shop. Spearheaded by Brita Fordice, the saltwater series has that guide-fly-like, simply fishy allure to it. The Smelling Salt tarpon fly is definitely making its way into my personal box, the Participation Trophy has all the features of a great Biscayne bonefish bug, the Guido Shrimp gurgler is well done and the Hopedale Crab has Louisiana written all over it. Umpqua also has a winner with Hochner’s One Armed Bandit, a twist on a classic belize-style crab pattern.
Thanks to Just Add H20 and RDistribution, the oh so effective and versatile Polar Fiber has now been engineered into a dubbing. With Polar Dub you can expect great micro-movement, the water shedding properties of Polar Fiber, and subtle UV flash that is going to be killer in the flats game.
Nothing less than you’d expect from Simms. They stepped up to the plate with another kick-ass line of performance wear, packs and footwear. The biggest standouts to us were Simms’s mods to the Solarflex series. They partnered with Veil Camo to introduce science-based camo patterns that look great to us and don’t look like anything to fish. They shortened the neck on the Solarflex crewneck. With the neck being an extremely sensitive area, and a neckgaiter to keep it protected, the new Solarflex crewnecks won’t have any constriction on your gullet. The Flats Sneaker got a makeover. It’s now lighter, more comfortable with the Right Angle Footbed, and easier to fold into a stripping basket or suitcase.
Skinny Water Culture’s tanguis and pima cotton shirts are the pinnacle of comfort, with fresh new designs to compliment them. Flood Tide’s new lines range from “feel good coastal lifestyle” to “I’m here to party”. I.E. look for the raccoon riding a mullet tee that definitely has a spot here.
The new arctic white finish for the Tibor Signature Series stole the show. Not only does this finish make for the prettiest reels you’ve ever seen, but it also offers improved hardness and abrasion resistance. Also noteworthy are the Orvis Mirage LTs – a lighter, slimmer version of the Mirage USA. As well as Abel’s revamped TRs and the new out of this world color patterns. Including two tone frames and spools.
Sage released a couple of specialty stunners. The Igniter replaces the Method. It takes what the Method is known for and introduces the new Konnetic HD technology to the mix. What you get is a more lightweight cannon with that super quick tip that Method lovers love to love, a reinforced mid section for more power and better hauling, and a tip that is a touch more responsive for better accuracy. The other rod, the Dart, blew us away. For us to come back harping on a small water rod, it had to have been something memorable. This is a 0-4 weight series that actually has backbone and is ridiculously fun to cast. Designed for small creeks with little casting area, we can also see this rod making its way into the ultra-light tackle bass world.
Fly lines & backing
RIO expanded their DirectCore series with the DirectCore Bonefish taper. This line is not for everyone, it’s for the flats angler who likes an ultra-long taper to aerialize a lot of line and make extremely soft presentations. The no-stretch core allows the angler to optimize his or her timing by feeling the load all the way through. Also coming from RIO are some cool new backing colors including purple, green, and a light pink.