Product Reviews

All our preparation, consideration and decisions regarding our gear come to the test at the moment we begin our first cast. The gear has to perform at the level we demand . . . as we expect it to . . . as we know it will. That's what this section is all about. Performance and expectation!

The products . . . rods, reels, lines and the rest of the angler's arsenal . . . featured in these articles are evaluated by our staff of anglers. These anglers come from every level of the sport . . . novice to expert. Each has a different perspective, and experience level from which they view and evaluate "quality and performance" in the products reviewed. This is good . . . it provides you with definite information from the eyes of real anglers fishing their streams, increasing their knowledge and taking this opportunity to share it with you.

For recent reviews go to the BB here

Amphibian Flip Fin
By Ron Eagle Elk

Walking like a human in swim fins just isn't the way it is - until now. Omega Aquatics has a new product which just may change the way we think about fins - and how we use them. Here's the answer.

Super Days Worth Fly Box
By Richard Komar

Richard discovered a larger fly box which seems to work for his uses, take a look. It may solve some problems for you too.

Sage TXL, 7'10" for Four Weight
By Ron Eagle Elk

Ron says getting this rod from his friend Tom was a mixed blessing. Tom likes one kind of action in a rod and Ron prefers another. So what happens when Ron has an opportunity to fish the rod? Hmmmm.

Drosdak System™Smart Tapered Leader™
By Ron Eagle Elk

Ron Eagle Elk had an opportunity to try another leader connection system. This one advertised "For individuals who have vision or manual dexterity difficulties..." Ron admits to being nearly 60, so he should qualify. Here's his take on it.

Swift Sandal and Torrent River Runner
By Steve Zweber

Knowing Steve fishes a wide variety of water and places, we asked him to evaluate the 'Amphibian' series from Korkers. He hiked, fished and spent time in his drift boat with the Torrent River runner and the Swift Sandal. Here is his report.

Elkhorn Classic Fly Reel
By Andy Carr

Andy researched and decided to buy the Elkhorn Classic Reel to go with his new bamboo rod. Many things to consider. Here are Andy's requirements and why he picked it.

Elkhorn Cane 'Big Thompson' Fly Rod
By Andy Carr

Here is another winner of the FAOL Monthly Drawing. This one a 4 wt 7'6" 2 pc, 2 tip bamboo rod. Think all 'off-shore' rods are junk? Read this.

Advanced Elements DragonFly1 Kayak
By Elliott Warshaw

Elliott won this kayak in the FAOL Monthly Drawing. If you've been considering a kayak, this may be the easy way to start. Stable enough for an 11 year old? Here's the report.

Temple Forks Outfitters Cassette Reels
By Captain Barry Evans

Been thinking about a new reel? Replacing one maybe? New rod which needs a reel? Here's something to consider. Temple Forks has introduced a series of cassette reels in two sizes...including a large arbor option. Here's Barry's take on them.

Scientific Anglers Mastery Redfish Taper
By Captain Gary Henderson

Have you seen the huge number of 'speciality' fly lines on the market? Seems like there's one for every possible fishing situation. Are they any good? Flats Dude received one designed for redfishing; here is his report - along with a little background.

Smart Shield Sunscreen Towelettes
By Steve Zweber

Did you know there are more cases of skin cancer (Melanoma) in the US each year than any other type of cancer? What are you doing to protect yourself? Steve tried out the SmartShield Sunscreen Towelettes - here's his report.

Temple Fork Outfitters TiCr Fly Rod Blanks
By Capt. Barry Evans

Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) is making their TiCr blanks available to rod builders. Capt. Barry had an opportunity to get his hands on a couple. Here's his report on the finished products.

Wind River Black Canyon Gear Bag
By James Castwell

Looking for a place to store and carry your gear to the stream? Someplace to keep everything in the boat? Castwell got one. It may be the best thing since sliced bread.

Chota STL Wading Boots
By Vickie Eagle Elk

Need new wading boots for your stocking-foot waders? Confused as to what to buy? Find yourself lost in sorting it all out? You aren't alone. Here's one ladies answer after trying different brands.

Stormy Seas Floatation Vest
By James Castwell

How valuable is your life? Are you putting yourself in dangerous fishing situations recklessly? Or are you not wearing your PFD because it is heavy, hot, bulky, and really not designed for fly fishing? There IS a better way.

Chota Kick Boat Booties
By Ron Eagle Elk

When Ron was offered an opportunity to field test a pair of Chota Kick Boat Booties he almost said no. He said, "I mean, c'mon, a bootie? Just another flimsy, usless piece of fishing gear that will sit in the back of my closet, right?" These Chota "Booties" are some serious footgear. There's more...

Scientific Anglers
Mastery Series Streamer Express

By Benjamin A. Hart

Benjamin had visions of birdsnests as a result of memory when he first opened the box of this fly line - but being a pro, he spooled it onto the reel anyway. The big test came with a recent steelheading's the results.

Pacific Fly Group Vest
By Al Campbell

Unveiled at the Denver Show in September '04, Al bought one for himself and worn it to the FAOL Idaho Fish-In. Here's his report on it.

Sage TXL 00wt Rod and Sage 3100 Reel
By Jeff Winikoff (Jeffw)

Jeff was the winner of the September, 2004 drawing. The prize was a Sage TXL 00wt rod, a Sage 3100 fly reel, and a DT00F line. Jeff lives in western Washington where he has the perfect small streams the rod was designed for. How did it perform? Read his review.

J&W Outfitters Fishing Backpack
By Al Campbell

There are times when you simply have to have something to get your gear to where you want to fish. There are a lot of backpacks on the market - Al Campbell has found one which really impressed him. Expensive? Not if it does the job!

Wind River Gloves
By Al Campbell

Finding cold weather fishing gloves which actually work, are reasonably priced and allow you to function properly has been an ongoing problem. Al has been testing some - here are the results!

By Richard Komar

Are you still looking for the right watercraft? Do the inflatables and pontoon craft leave something to be desired? Richard Komar had a list, and after months of searching he finally found one that filled the bill. Here it is!

L2L Connector System
by Scientific Anglers

By James Castwell

Have a problem tying knots? Eyesight not what it used to be? New to fly fishing? All good reasons to take a serious look at a new product by Scientific Anglers. A Line to Leader (L2L) connector system which has been engineered to actually work. Read this one.

Cortland Sylk Line
By James Castwell

About a year ago we had a survey on our Bulletin Board asking what interest there might be on a 'synthetic' silk line. The Cortland Line Company has indeed produced such a line. Castwell ran it through the tests on a one-piece Classic Wulff cane rod. Here are the results.

WilliamJoseph UltraLight Rain Jacket
By KW Morrow

There are all makes and brands of rain jackets everywhere. A fisherman needs one which sheds rain, is breathable and comfortable for actual fishing. Here's Ken's review on one he tested recently.

Furled Leader DVD by Kathy Scott
By James Castwell

Have you tried fishing a furled leader yet? Interested in making your own? Kathy Scott has done one which really does a great job of explaining the process. Take a look at this.

Nautilus Reel by Old Florida
By James Castwell

On the recommendation of Capt. Paul Darby, Castwell obtained a reel via Old Florida's "Traveler" program. Here is the newest of their reels - on bonefish in the Carribean. Is it as good as advertised?

St. Croix Legend Ultra (the new one)
By James Castwell

Can you believe St. Croix took their new IPC technology (developed for the Legend Elite) and used it on the new Legend Ultra? Castwell took it to South Andros for bonefishing. And....?

Albright Rod Test
By Al Campbell

The weather finally cleared enough for Al and his neighbor to put the new Albright rods through the test. Four series of rods in very affordable prices - how did they do?

Hardy Perfection Fly Rods
By James Castwell

These rods have been out for a while, but getting Castwell's hands on one took some doing. Downright scarce in the USA. But he prevailed and here's the review of a special glass rod!

By James Castwell

Stumbling around the stream in the dark? Trying to tie on a fly with insufficient light? Can't find your butt? Maybe you need a really effective light source?

Lee Wulff Classic Bamboo Fly Rod
By Deanna Birkholm

How do you 'review' a cane rod? If each is an individual work of a maker it is difficult to say the least. This review however, is of a PRODUCTION rod. What's more, a one-piece rod. How is it? Read on.

Waterskeeter River Tamer Deluxe Pontoon Boat
By Al Campbell

As many of you know, I won't do a product review unless I can try a product out thoroughly and put it through a few good tests to see if it is worth the money it takes to buy it. That means I usually have the product for months or even a year or more before I write about it. Durability is one thing I think is important in a product. Here's the report!

Rod Holders That Work
By James Castwell

Castwell's tried to create a rod holder for the car, but so far nothing worked - until now! He found a company which produces all sorts of handy goodies with strong magnets. Here's the rod holder.

Dr. Slick Scissors
By Ronn Lucas, Sr.

Ronn recently investigated hair salon scissors for tying purposes - and after the sticker shock, he decided to see if Dr. Slick had a good alternative. Here's what he found.

Launching Gear
By Al Campbell

How do you get your pontoon craft to the water? Do you load it first? How difficult is it to pack back to the vehicle at the end of the day? Maybe there IS a better way?

Headwaters Vest
By Al Campbell

Choosing a vest is not easy. Is it big enough? Pockets for your needs? Will it wear well? How about comfort? If you are a pack rat carrying everything you possibly might need, then what? Al Campbell with the answers on two new vests from Wind River.

Wind River Entomology Kit
By Al Campbell

Matching the hatch requires knowing just what the hatch is! No more guessing, here is a product to help you capture the insects and identify them too. Al Campbell came across this one - and wanted our readers to know about it.

Redington Crosswater Fly Rod
By Steven H. McGarthwaite

Stevens teenage daughter wanted to learn to fly fish with him. Time to purchase a fly rod for her. So many choices, he picked the Redington Crosswater. Here are his comments on this modestly priced rod.

Mastery Series New Trout Line
By Steve Zweber

Steve was perfectly happy with the fly lines he has. Then we sent him a brand new line to try. Did "new and improved" catch a fisherman? He gave it a thorough try. Read the report.

New Ott Light For Photography
By Al Campbell

Al wrote a series here on FAOL about Digital Photography, and lighting is an important part of how well your images appear. It usually requires a complete set-up of lights to get it right - until now.

Cortland Line Winder
By James Castwell

How do you change lines? Remove lines to store over the winter? Load new lines on reels or spools? There are 'stationary' line winders which do the job well - here is a PORTABLE one, under $50.00.

The Peak Vise
By Al Campbell

So many vises to choose from...what is a person to do? Al Campbell with another, the Peak Vise. American made, priced under $200. Does it meet Al's standards?

The Dingo Vise
Denny Conrad

Denny Conrad received an email asking if he thought there was a market for a a stainless steel vise. He saw the pictures, was it as good as it looked? After some thought and discussion he ordered one. Here's the scoop.

Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

Here's a brand new item which could spoil a lot of the fly anglers fun. On the other hand, who doesn't love having a new goodie? This one attaches to your landing net (or not) and seems to be a slick idea.

Cobra Vise
by Al Campbell

DH Thompson has introduced it's first rotary vise. Sure looks interesting. Does it live up to the Thompson name? Al gave it a full range of is his opinion.

by James Castwell

It's not another stripping basket - they don't work for Castwell at all. But it is something entirely different! Outside a square box? For sure. Fish the salt? You should read this.

Gatti FRHP Fly Rod
by James Castwell

And another country heard from! Italy! Gatti sent a prototype of what may be the lightest 5 weight rod yet. This one is so new it isn't generally availably yet. JC had it at the Idaho Fish-In - here's the scoop!

Sage TCR Fly Rod
by James Castwell

The newest technical rod for the real casters is here. Castwell and the LadyFisher had a chance to cast it - and Castwell fished it. Is it "as advertised?" This one is a real surprise!

Mageyes™ / Hateyes™
by Al Campbell

Are your arms getting too short? You have to hold something out farther than your arms can reach to read it? How about tying the fly on the tippet? Or threading the tippet back through the loop for a improved clinch knot? Al Campbell has found help for us all (even if you may not be part of the over 40 crowd).

Aquapac Camera Bag
by Hillfisher

What do you do with your camera when you're fishing? Have you lost that lifetime shot because you didn't take your camera? Or worse, used a disposable and had poor photos? Is there a better way? Hillfisher has tried a couple waterproof camera bags - and he found one that works. Photos to prove it too!

Cortland 555 Rocket Taper
by Allen Crise

Have you seen or tried the new Cortland 555 lines? Here's an on-the-water test by Allen Crise who has been fishing the '444' lines. Is it really better?

Marryat MP Vise
by James Castwell

Looking for a vise? Castwell has owned a few over the years - and he 'discovered' this one. He really likes it - is it 'the one' for you? Read on.

Two New Lamiglas Blanks
by Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

For those who still associate the Lamiglas brand with slow, heavy fiberglass rods, be prepared to have your perception changed. Thomas had the opportunity to cast and fish two new rods, The Perigee and the Esprit. Here's his report.

Quick Seine
by Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

Learning which fly to tie on your tippet can be a problem for folks new to fly fishing, as well as to the old-timers with a mixed hatch. Pastor Thomas has found a solution. Here is the easiest method he has found!

Frog Hair Tippet Material
by Jeff Fields

Yet another tippet material? "Finer Than Frog Hair?" It's not fluorocarbon, but it is entirely different. Does it work? Here's the review from one of our Chat Room Hosts, Jeff Fields (the grizz).

G.Loomis Adventure Reels
by Tom Kirkman

Have you been searching for a good fly reel which doesn't cost a mortgage payment? How about one in the $100 range? Is it out there? Tom Kirkman with a good look at the G.Loomis Adventure Series Reels.

Dan Craft Five Rivers Rod
7' 6" 4 piece 5 weight

by Dennis Conrad

Dan Craft is producing his own blanks for the Five Rivers series rods. Dennis owns other Dan Craft rods - how does this one measure up? It's the 7' 6" 4 piece 5 weight.

Hexagraph "Miramichi Guides' Choice" Salmon Rod
by Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

Salmon flyfishers take notice! You may or may not have heard of the Hexagraph Miramichi Atlantic Salmon rod, but if you haven't, you should.

BT's Fly Fishing Products
by Al Campbell

Al doesn't usually take 14 months to evaluate a sampling of products. But in this case he wanted to answer his own questions on reliability and durability of a couple of BT's products. Here's his verdict!

Five Rivers Blanks from Dan Craft Enterprises
by Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

Signature IV multipiece series, a 6-piece 4 weight and a 5-piece 5 weight, both 9 foot. Thomas cast a few other multi-piece rods available and was not favorably impressed. Is this series of rods different? Or better? Read on . . .

Hedron Mirage and Perfect Rubber
by Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

These new Hedron products present the tier with a whole new spectrum of tying opportunities, and should provide for sparks of ingenuity to light new torches in design. From stillwater to bluewater, and everything in between, these will help us to create "something illusionary" with new creativity.

Conranch Hackle
by Bob Petti
Reprinted with permission from Global Fly Fishers

With over forty years of experience behind him, and a flock that's almost a half a century old, Dennis Conrad knows how to grow hackle.

Whiting 100's
by Ralph D'Andrea

Considering a full saddle in one color contains only about 3 or 4 domininant sizes of feathers, you are looking at a pretty sizable investment - what's a recreational tier to do? Here's a real solution!

LS2000 Epoxy Rod Finish
by Tom Kirkman

It's called LS2000 High-Build, and while the name is somewhat misleading, the product isn't. Tom Kirkman with a test of this new product for rod finishing. If you are a rod builder this is one you need to read.

OTT-LITE TrueColor FlexArm Plus
by Al Campbell

Do you have trouble seeing the flies you are trying to tie? Arms not long enought? There may be a solution - Al Campbell tried something new for a tying light - he says the results are "remarkable"!

Ronn Lucas Sr's. Spey Hackles
by Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

Do you tie steelhead or spey flies? Have you been looking for really good feathers? Here's Thomas Duncan, Sr. with a great find! May be the answer to your hackle problems!

Finite 2 by Fin-Nor
by J. Castwell

Have you always wanted a 'special' reel? One you have drooled over? Maybe one for a special purpose? Castwell finally got his - and here is the review.

Scientific Anglers Wet Tip Express
by James Castwell

Castwell was invited up to British Columbia to fish for Coho Salmon - with a fly rod from a boat. His host told him to bring a 375 grain line from SA. It was Castwell's frist experience with this kind of line. How did he do? Read here!

Al's Pick of the Show - 2000
by Al Campbell

Al is a buyer for a Scheels Allsport stores. Here's his pick of the Fly Fishing Retailer big show in Salt Lake. And the reasons why. Looking for a pontoon craft? Here is Al's choice!

Float 'n Tote
by James Castwell

We don't own a float tube right now, so JC had to enlist a friend who lives in one. The friend already had another 'rod holder' - so how did this one compare?

Redington Reels
by Al Campbell

Jim Murphy at Redington gave Al Campbell a challenge: He challenged Al to compare the new Redington reel to the best reels he owns and let him know how it compared. Al did that, comparing the Ross and Lamson to the new Redington AS5/6B. Who wins?

U-40 Ferrule Lube
by James Castwell

Just a chance conversation may have saved the loss of more than one fly rod in our house! Castwell says when he's wrong he's really wrong! Here's his chance to correct it - it's U-40 Ferrule Lube. If you're not using it you may be taking changes you don't even know about . . . like breaking a rod!

by James Castwell

Castwell finally found it! The solution for those who wear prescription glasses - Fitovers! Polarized sunglasses which fit over your regular glasses. These are not clip-ons . . . They fit - over!

Redington DFR Series Fly Rods
by George E. Emanuel

Several of the Fly Anglers OnLine bunch attended the Somerset N.J. Fly Fishing Show, and had the opportunity to cast and fondle the Redington DFR series Fly Rods. Here is the verdict!

Purell Hand Sanitizer
by George E. Emanuel

We are all aware of the difficulty in maintaining sanitary habits while fishing, what with all manner of parasites in the stream, and on the fish, not to mention germs associated with normal bodily functions. I found a solution!

Royal Wulff Triangle Taper Fly Lines
by Al Campbell

We've been telling folks how great this lines are, but Al wasn't convinced. Until he figured it out. Have you found these fly lines? You may be missing a real winner.

BWSports Gear
by Al Campbell

Al found these folks. They produce a unique line of gear for fly fishermen. Here's the information in Al's usual in-depth manner.

Hammerhead Gear Retractors
by Al Campbell

Al has been sitting on this one for a while - but it was worth the wait. If you think 'zingers' are great, wait until you read this. Here's one that doesn't break or fall off losing your stuff.

Angler's Choice Tying Materials
by Craig Gitting

Craig was one of the May Winners in our Monthly Contest. We asked him to give us his impressions of the materials he received in his prize box. What did he do with them? And did it work?

Multi-Plier 600 Series
by James Castwell

Looking for the "perfect" tool to answer all the fly fishers needs? Castwell did a search prior to the FAOL Fish-In. Here's what he discovered.

Action Optics Polarized Glasses
by Kate Reust

The hunt for Polarized sun glasses for the FAOL Fish-In was NOT going to be simple. Lots of brands that have lots of flash, lots of price, and little practicality for someone gearing up for a major fishing trip! Here's Kate's report.

Phos Yukon Reel
by Ed Dayton

Here is a product review by fly shop owner Ed Dayton. He not only stocks them, he fishes the Yukon reel. From the professional to the personal, here are Ed's thoughts!

Teton Fly Reel #7
by James Castwell

This Teton Fly Reel took a trip to Andros Island, Bahamas. Castwell and friends used it on the famous Andros Bonefish. And how did it perform? Did it live up to his expectations? Here are Castwell's comments and recommendation!

Robert Venneri Reel Seats
by Al Campbell

Al is a rod builder. If you read his series on building a graphite rod, this is one you don't want to miss. He knows the difference!

Reel-E-Good Winder
by James Castwell

Getting a new fly line is neat. But getting that line on the reel can be a problem. Here a solution . . . and it really works.

Mustad Hooks
by Al Campbell

If you read Al Campbell you know he is "straight arrow" - just tells it like it is. Here is his comparison of Mustad to the other chemically sharpened hooks. Are Mustad hooks really best?

Scott SVS906 Fly Rod
by George E. Emanual

This didn't start out as a Product Review! George just wanted to buy a good back-up rod. Well, that's not what he got! Take a look . . .

Pacific Fly Group
by Al Campbell

Does anyone out there care about the 'average' fisherman? Why is everything so high priced? Al took a good, long look and found a company at the Salt Lake Retail fly fishing Show that does care! Take a look . . . Here is Al's Pick of the Show!

Miller - Freeman
by Jim Birkholm

Castwell does a Tip of the Hat! Here is his Pick of the Salt Lake Show.

Stearns Ultra #1131
by Deanna Birkholm

Fly Fishermen do tend to take more chances than couch potatoes. And how often do we think of safety? Not until it is too late. Here is the LadyFisher's Pick of the Show!

Coleman Thermoelectric Cooler
by Deanna Birkholm

Taking a long trip on the road? Just need something that works for the local trips? Or between home and the summer cabin? Something that will keep stuff cold with no messy ice and sloshing water? We have a recommendation!

Marsoops Glasses Retainers
by Al Campbell

Have you ever lost a pair of glasses? Maybe in the stream or overboard? Or left them in a "safe" place only to have them lost or badly damaged? Well, so did our product tester Al Campbell. And he has a solution!

Gatti Fly Rod Blanks
by Al Campbell

Fishing vacation just days away, Al works into the wee hours to build this rod. Just so we could have a Performance Test! Of course, he did do a little fishing with it. Did he like it? Read on . .

Elkhorn Rods - Model eX3
by Randy Fratzke

Braving the January Iowa winter, Randy thoroughly puts to the test the Elkhorn eX3 Model EX 9045 rod. Check out his article on the setup, testing and end result of fighting fish on a new — quality built — rod.

From the IFTD Show in Denver
September 18th - 20th 1997
Picks of the Show

Sage SPL Rod
The Ultimate "Little-One"

The Ladyfisher's pick ... the ultimate light rod ... finally, done right!

The Thousand Mile March
To Fleece or Not to Fleece

Our own WebAngler finds a cure for the common trade show ... and a little comfort when wading on a foreign floor - or local stream.

Is J. Castwell's choice a DRAG?

In search of a 'zinger,' J. Castwell picks high tech and new tech in the Sth reels.

The Perfect Rod(s)
The People Using Them

NWFly found a "Fine, Honest Fly Rod" company and a fly shop duo to blend into his view of the Pick of the Show.

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice