Observations of the Pros

You'll always find quite a number of fly-fishing guides, authors, instructors and notable personalities at the trade show. Virtually all have earned their stripes and have a wealth of knowledge about fly-fishing.

You'll always find quite a number of fly-fishing guides, authors, instructors and notable personalities at the trade show. Virtually all have earned their stripes and have a wealth of knowledge about fly-fishing. In an entirely unscientific manner, I asked several for their thoughts on new products at the show, with one caveat: Since it's quite common for pros to endorse products, their thoughts had to include products other than those they endorse. Bob Popovics - While some attendees were bemoaning what they saw as a lack of big new items, Bob Popovics was more than happy with neat new stuff he was finding. After rattling off a dozen or more items, I stopped him and asked for his top half-dozen or so. Bob quickly cut his list to Tibor's really big Pacific reel (which he endorses), Ocean Wave's Bandana sunglasses, Peztl's Zipka LED lamp, Ott Lite's color-corrected fly-tying lamp, TyGer wire leader material and Hareline's new flash material. Anonymous - For a number of years, this well-known personality has been predicting what manufacturers delivered big time at this year's show: very fine rods costing considerably less than in the past. ''There were several manufacturers there with excellent rods, in terms of action and finishing, at great prices. A whole new concept has come to pass, the rod market has changed and you'll see the reel market follow right behind,'' he says. Heed his words. Rick Ruoff - While Ruoff is probably best known for his knowledge of the Florida flats and for hosting Orvis' ''A Sporting Life'' on ESPN2, he is an extremely well-rounded angler, having fished all over the world. He was particularly taken with several of the William Joseph offerings. ''These guys have some very innovative products,'' Ruoff said. He showed me what he meant on the Split Day pack and Emerger fanny (or chest) pack. Gene Quigley - Quigley is a well-known guide in New Jersey. Turns out he's apparently a fashion hound as well, since the first item he mentioned was the new shirt from Day's Catch. ''They're airy, comfortable and good-looking,'' he said. He, too, thought the new Tibor Pacific with the Gorilla handle was great, and he liked the new color-blended popper heads from Rainy's. Nick Curcione - ''There are a lot of new two-handed rods that are great for beach and jetty fishing,'' Curcione said. ''But I want to emphasize that these are not the be-all and end-all rods for saltwater fishing. They're not spey rods either, and they're not the rod to use in a head wind. They are intended for double-handed casting with shooting heads. Used that way, they can give you a lot of distance in the surf and off of jetties.'' Curcione also noted that the continued development of interchangeable head lines (such as those RIO, Airflo and Scientific Anglers offer) was especially useful to shore-bound anglers. Lou Tabory - Tabory, of course, is a noted East Coast saltwater angler. It was hard to get him to stop talking about Orvis' new T3 rods (Lou is an Orvis adviser), but then he also had good things to say about some of the new Redington and Sage rods. ''The Sage 8-weight in that new series [SLT] has a great feel. It would be especially good for teaching bonefishing, since it loads well and would have incredible accuracy at 25 to 50 feet.''