Product Reviews

Scientific Anglers Mastery Redfish Taper

by Captain Gary Henderson

Back in the early 90's, Tim Stallings called me up from his well known tackle shop, "Tim's Tackle Box," in Orlando, Florida. Saltwater fly-fishing was in its beginning popularity, and Tim wanted in. Tim knew I did a little off-shore chartering, and guiding on our east central Florida coast.

I met Tim at a little quaint restaurant for lunch that overlooked one of our beautiful lakes in south Orlando. Over a hamburger and beer, Tim posed a question that left me, well, a little stunned. "Would you be willing to set up a fly shop in my store? I'll give you free run of the whole thing; just get some good stuff in there." I felt a little humbled, and a lot of pride that Tim would ask me to do that. There were others, I thought, far more qualified than I to take this on. But before we ended our pleasant and delicious lunch, I agreed.

I was given two entire runs of shelves, four end caps, and a glass display counter to fill with tying materials, saddles, necks, fly-rods, pre-tied flies, and even my own creations. The dealers were notified and meetings were set up. The glass counter was reserved for the fly reels and vices.

I had contacted Scientific Anglers and they sent out their area representative, I'm pretty sure his name was Sil Dawson. I had certainly heard of Scientific Anglers, but never used any of their products. Sil took our Scientific Anglers order, and within a few weeks, Tim's Tackle Box had a brand new fly shop to go along with the plethora of various fishing equipment.

Since I worked full-time elsewhere, I spent my spare time, which wasn't much, hovering over my end of the shop, like a brooding hen over her chicks. I reordered, gave tying demonstrations on Saturdays, and listened to opinions of others who came in to shop, or just hang out to shoot the breeze with Tim. I soon realized that opinions on fly-fishing equipment, methods, theories, you name it, were a dime a dozen. And some of those opinions could lead into rather heated arguments if not headed off in time. Of course, I had my opinions, but always tried to keep an open mind and listen, but as far as fly-lines, I felt pretty strongly about one company (one that I won't mention here) that I had pretty well grown up with since my dad swore by them.

A few weeks passed and Sil came in one afternoon when I happened to be at the shop. He dropped a box on the counter next to where I was tying. "Try this out and let me know what you think." I picked up the box that contained a brand new type of line. It was Scientific Anglers' new Mastery series; new to them, and certainly new to me. And as luck would have it, I was heading out that weekend to Anna Maria Island, on our west coast, for two weeks of vacation and a whole lot of fly-fishing.

That evening, I tied on the new Scientific Anglers' WF9F line to my Valentine Planetary reel. The line had a nice feel to it, and once at the beach, I took the skiff over to one of my favorite flats, unloaded the nine-weight and let 'er rip. This new line was something else. A perfect taper, it just felt like it was custom-made for my rod. I sadly took it off the reel ten years later, and replaced it with Air Cel Supreme II, another great line by Scientific Anglers. Two of the reasons I like the Supreme are, 1). It really floats, even rather dirty, it still floats. 2). It's screamin' orange. I can see it! And, being a saltwater fly-fisherman, it's important when I'm casting the full length of the line trying to cover as much surface as I can when there are no redfish tails in sight.

A few weeks ago, Deanna Birkholm (LadyFisher), called me and asked what weight line I used as my primary, then asked if I wanted to demo a new line. I was hesitant, since I had no clue what was coming in the mail, and I was thoroughly hooked on Scientific Anglers, remember, I had been using their product for over fifteen years. As my dad always said, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Several days past and the package arrived!

Inside the pouch was a new "specialty" line by Scientific Anglers. Nice box, I thought, but I've never been one to get excited about a bonefish taper, a bass taper, or any other line that takes aim on a certain species of fish. But I still remained a little excited about the box. It had a fly-fisherman stalking the flats with a few reds tailing in the foreground. Heck, I'd buy the original artwork, if I could.

Hurricane Wilma had blown through south of us the day prior to me receiving the new line, and the wind was still whipping around the house and off the lake at about forty miles per hour. A cold front pushed Wilma through the area, and it was quite chilly out, so trying this new line on the flats was totally out of the question. The package included a nice booklet explaining the new line, and other products by Scientific Anglers. Interesting. However, I was still skeptical that this "specialty" line could be any better than what I was using at the present? It takes a turn from here.

The line is Scientific Anglers brand new Mastery Series Redfish Taper with a "Tropi-Core" braided monofilament core. Reading from the stats, the taper is somewhat different. The front taper on this nine-weight is 4.5', the belly is 20.0', and the rear taper is 5.5' with 70.0' of running line; 100' total line length.

The coating felt slicker and smoother than the usual "tropical" lines I had previously tried and didn't like…too much coil memory in cooler temps, it's not always ninety degrees on the flats. The line comes equipped with the patented "AST" coating (Advanced Shooting Technology), very nice feel. But I still didn't like that word "Tropi-Core."

It was still early afternoon, so I decided to cut my Air Cel Supreme II from the backing, and strap on the new Mastery Series Redfish Taper, and head to the front yard since driving to the flats was out of the question. The air temps were around fifty-five degrees, and low humidity.

Stripping the entire line from the spool at my feet, I began feeding line on my back and forward cast, and immediately felt a difference in the loading of the rod, seemed heavier. I carried about forty feet of line in the air, then let 'er rip. The entire line easily shot through the guides of my G.Loomis IM6, nine-foot, nine-weight. That just can't be. No coil memory and no enhancements on the line; just right out of the box. I picked the line back up, and once again, double-hauled and shot the line, the entire line. Cast after cast, same results. But how would it float?

I fish waters less than eighteen inches deep on the flats, and "floatability" is extremely important. So the next afternoon, wind still rather brisk, I walked down to the lake behind the house, and, once again, stripped the line from the reel and cast out into the lake. It was little harder to see with its Horizon (light blueish) color, since I was used to the bright orange Supreme, but the line sat high on the film. That's all I needed to know. And still, no coiling.

The new Mastery Redfish Taper by Scientific Anglers is a keeper and at the suggested retail price of $59.95, I found the new line to be well worth it. I can't wait to get a little saltwater on it.

I wish to thank John Mazurkiewicz with Scientific Anglers for taking the time to send me the line.

I'm not much into change, or new-fangled gadgetry, but I personally think that anyone who stalks the shallow saltwater flats for redfish, this is definitely a line they should consider. I'll be using it.

'Til next time.

A note from the author:
A very short time after Tim Stallings, owner of Tim's Tackle Box in Orlando, Florida, and I put the fly-fishing section in his shop, Tim passed away. His tackle shop was a place to gather, to laugh, swap tales and learn. Fare well, my friend, you are missed by many. ~ Capt. Gary

Scientific Anglers
3M Scientific Anglers
3M Center, Building 223-4NE
St. Paul, MN 55144-1000
Call 1-800-430-5000 for the location of your nearest dealer.

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