When the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show combined forces with the giant ICAST trade show in Las Vegas last July, it gave the annual event a whole new feel. The underlying message? That fly fishing is for everyone. This was also evident in the many brightly coloured rod-and-reel combos for kids on display, as well as the likes of waders and clothing designed specifically for women. And, of course, there was the usual array of new rods, reels, fly-tying materials and more for anglers of all levels. Here are our favourites.

Best Tool: EZ Tie

Best Tool: EZ Tie

Blood knots are handy for joining sections of leader material, but many anglers have difficulty tying them. Enter the EZ Tie. Made from anodized aluminum, brass and stainless steel, this compact tool can handle lines of various sizes, and still produce perfect knots every time. Best of all, it’s so easy to use, you can tie knots in the dark. Keep it on your vest, and banish those sloppy blood knots for good. EZ Tie, (303) 475-5022; www.eztiesystem.com

Best Tying Material: Fish-Skull Fish-Mask

Best Tying Material: Fish-Skull Fish-Mask     

Fish-Mask solves the problem of adding realistic-looking eyes to the heads of nymphs and streamers. Made from clear fluoro-epoxy, the unweighted heads allow flies to naturally suspend and undulate. Simply tie your pattern, slip on the Fish-Mask and secure it with thread. The result is a perfectly finished fly with large, prominent eyes. The heads come in eight sizes, with ultra-realistic glue-on eyes. Flymen Fishing Company, (704) 846-2634; www.flymenfishingcompany.com

Best Wading Boot: Devil’s Canyon

Best Wading Boot: Devil’s Canyon

At the forefront of wading boot innovation, Korkers’ latest offering promises comfort, durability and a steady footing. The Devil’s Canyon has a new midsole that drains water quickly, keeping the boot light while providing extra support and comfort. The OmniTrax interchangeable sole system offers nine different soles for various conditions, while the M2 Boa lacing system prevents laces from coming undone. Korkers, 1-800-524-8899; www.korkers.com

Best Landing Net: NetStaff

As its name implies, the NetStaff is a combination landing net and collapsible wading staff. Designed for the rigours of stream fishing, the NetStaff comes in two basket sizes: nine inches wide for trout, and 12 inches wide for salmon and steelhead. Both models extend into a 54-inch-long wade staff. There’s also a small hook on the bottom of the staff for retrieving flies from branches, or gear dropped into the water. NetStaff, (440) 992-0444; www.netstaffoutdoors.com

Best Watercraft: OSG Stealth Pro

Best Watercraft: OSG Stealth Pro

When it comes to inflatables for fly fishing, Outcast leads the field with a lineup of durable, well-designed boats. The latest offering is the one-person Stealth Pro. Easily moved by oars or flippers, it’s comfortable and roomy, with enough storage space for day-long fishing excursions. And since there’s no metal frame, the boat weighs a mere 35 pounds and packs into a luggage-sized bag. Outcast Sporting Gear, 1-800-966-0976; www.outcastboats.com

Best Line: Perception

Best Line: Perception

A floating line for trout anglers, Rio’s Perception incorporates several new technologies. The MaxFloat tip floats higher than any currently available fly line without increasing line diameter, while the MaxCast coating allows for longer, more accurate casts. Then there’s the ultra-low stretch ConnectCore base material, which makes for better strike detection and hookups. An EasyID tag on the front lets you instantly identify its weight. Rio Products, 1-800-553-0838; www.rioproducts.com

Best Youth Combo: Journey

To keep fly fishing vibrant, it’s essential to introduce children to the sport when they’re fairly young. Available in bright pink or brilliant blue, Ross’ Journey outfit includes a 4-weight rod, a reel pre-spooled with premium Scientific Anglers line, a Cordura case and an instructional DVD. At just 7'6" long, the rods are shorter than usual, with handles designed to fit small hands. The reel is balanced to the rod, and the outfit casts beautifully. Ross, 1-866-587-6747; www.rossreels.com

Best Reel: Signature Series 5-6

Best Reel: Signature Series 5-6

The newest (and smallest) entry in Tibor’s Signature Series, the 5-6 is light enough for freshwater fish, but rugged enough for saltwater. Easily changed from left- to right-handed retrieve, the ventilated spool and frame sport a strong, grippy Delrin handle. The sealed aluminum drag system comes in four colors, allowing buyers to customize their reels. Tibor will even engrave the personalized nameplate for free. Tibor Reel Corp., (561) 272-0770; www.tiborreel.com

Best Rod: Boron III LS Rod

Best Rod: Boron III LS Rod

Winston, one of the finest custom rod builders, has a new series of nine medium-fast-action rods designed to provide greater accuracy and more delicate presentations—perfect for going after big fish on light tippets. The four-piece Boron III LS rods are available in weights 2 to 5, and lengths ranging from seven to nine feet. As with all Winston rods, the craftsmanship is immaculate and the hardware is first-class. R.L. Winston Rod Company, (406) 684-5674; www.winstonrods.com

Best Tying Aid: Versa-Clamp

Best Tying Aid: Versa-Clamp

Tying flies while on a trip can prove challenging. Wolff Indiana’s Versa-Clamp makes the process easier by letting you attach your vise to almost any sturdy surface. This ingenious clamp accommodates a wide range of thicknesses—simply move the bar to the appropriate spot and tighten. You can also rotate the clamp 90 degrees and use it to hold a lamp. Wolff Indiana, 1-800-888-3832; www.flyfishingvises.com

 

Saskatchewan editor Wayne Phillips is a veteran fly fisherman.