With winter a fading memory and summer still looming, now is the perfect time to head streamside and wet your line. Before you do, though, check out these five new pieces of fly-fishing gear well suited for spring angling in the South.
While Scott has released versions of the SC, a three-piece bamboo fly rod, in the past, this revival, handmade by Naoki Hashimoto, of Hokkaido, Japan, stands among the industry’s finest split-cane models, with a warm buttery finish, smooth taper, and hollow center, which reduces weight and improves handling. With each cast, the SC is well balanced when flexing and recovering, and gently coaxes out line. The SC, available as a three or four weight, will suit anglers looking to make precision casts and feel the nuance of each strike. If you scoff at bamboo-rod obsessives, it’s only because you haven’t hit the Chattooga or the Davidson with the SC and felt a brown trout clamp down on a caddis. From $3,250; ScottFlyRod.com
Nothing can foul an outing more than a badly designed pair of waders. However, Chota’s new Bob Clouser Series South Fork Wader—whose namesake invented the Clouser minnow, likely the single greatest saltwater fly pattern ever tied—will never compromise your time in the stream. The innovative suspender system allows you to convert the waders from waist to chest high by unfastening two clips and then simply pulling up or pushing down the torso section, so you can adjust to varying water depths without any fuss. In addition, lightweight fabric through the hips permits easy walking between fishing holes, while five-layer durable laminate in the knees and seat prevents a slip from tearing a hole in the lining. There’s an unfortunate shortage of fly-fishing gear manufacturers in the South, but Chota, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, could forever replace the big-brand-name waders that you currently don. From $279; ChotaOutdoorGear.com
My Korkers wading boots have spent the bulk of their existence in the bed of my truck, subject to South Carolina’s soggy winter and spring; but, despite this, they show no sign of giving out anytime soon. The new K-5 Bombers with double- and triple-stitched seams and water-defiant fabric, are more than capable of handling such abuse. The five-layer ankle supports, which keep the foot in place but never feel suffocating, ensure the Bombers remain as sturdy as they were their first day streamside. Likewise, whether you’re wet-wading the Saluda or stalking mountain creeks in the Smokies, the interchangeable felt and rubber soles will keep you glued to the rocks and ready to wrangle in your prized haul all season long. From $199; Korkers.com
From briefcases and field bags to hunting coats and fly vests, Filson makes products that last as long as you’re around to use them, and the new Angler’s Rain Shell is no exception. The attached hood, elastic cuffs, water-tight sealed seams, and nylon exterior will defend against spring showers, but the jacket breathes enough so that it doesn’t turn into a sauna if heat and humidity rise. Plus, the Angler’s Rain Shell is far handsomer than many of the overly sleek fishing jackets that crowd the market. Your time at the river is sacred so don’t let a downpour send you fleeing for the truck. From $195; Filson.com
The original Tightlines Sling Pack, released in 2012, won fans for what it’s not: complicated, fussy, indulgent. Hand-stitched by founder Scott Hunter and his small team, the American-made sling boasts one large pouch for fly boxes and spare leaders; five loops for clipping on forceps, snips, and spools of tippet; one discreet zipper pocket for small odds and ends—and that’s about it. It’s a triumph of simplicity. This season, Vedavoo will release an even more streamlined version, which will feature a sewn-in pouch, rather than a detachable one, and forgo a couple of buckles, improving its ergonomics. The sling will still sit comfortably across the shoulder, though, so after a long walk to your favorite honey hole, you’ll still feel fresh for a full day on the water. From $129; Vedavoo.com
JR Sullivan is an editor and a writer based in Charleston, South Carolina.