The Best Fly Fishing Gear Now: 2019 IFTD Awards

Simms came out as a dominant force in fly fishing at the International Fly Tackle Dealer trade show last week in Denver. The brand took home 10 top awards from the show, from waders to outerwear to accessories.

The leaders in the world of fly fishing can brush their shoulders off after last week. A few brands dominated top spots in their categories.

Simms took home 10 awards with a clean sweep of the apparel category. Abel Reels and Ross Reels took home the saltwater and freshwater reel categories, respectively. Sage took two out of three of the rod category.

Scientific Angler locked down for line and tippet. And Fishpond took home three awards for thoughtful and fresh gear in three different categories. But it was Scott that took home Best of Show with its Sector Series for fishing the salt.

Here, we lead with the Sector, break down 10 more top items from the show, and list the rest of the awards.

Top Awards From IFTD 2019

Overall Best of Show — Fly Rod (Saltwater): Scott Fly Rods, Sector Series

Scott Fly Rods Sector Series

The rod is a fast-action, state-of-the-art, tech nerd’s dream rod. And at $985, it’s certainly expensive. But it ain’t the most expensive thing out there! It’s hand-crafted for high performance, with its innovative Carbon Web technology and Ceracoil guides with PVD coating.

Youth Product — Gear/Apparel: Fishpond, Tenderfoot Youth Vest

Fishpond Tenderfoot Youth Vest

For the kiddo who loves to fly fish as much as the adults in the room, this is a sweet little vest. With all the accouterments of a grown-up’s vest and a sized-down fit for the littler anglers, Fishpond leaves no one out with this addition to its lineup.

Fly Box/Storage System — Gear: Fishpond, Fly Dock

Fishpond Fly Dock

Fishpond’s recent acquisition of Tacky Fly Fishing also gains the brand a third award in the Best of Show category. This nifty little feller can stick in a billion places, and it’ll hold a grip of flies from streamers to nymphs. The Velcro bottom allows for easy transfer from fly box to your fishing vest, or anywhere you deem Velcro might belong. At $8, it also won’t break the bank.

Eco-Friendly — Gear: Patagonia, Black Hole Gear Tote

Patagonia Black Hole Gear Tote

Yay for eco-friendly! Patagonia, of course, reins it in with its 100-percent-recycled Black Hole Gear Tote. It’s an all-around bag that will hold everything from fishing gear to beach gear to everything you need for a quick overnight. And you can feel seriously good about owning one.

Chest-Pack/Vest — Gear: Fishpond, Flathead Sling

Fishpond Flathead Sling

The Fishpond Flathead Sling is a slick, innovative, and, frankly, cool way to carry your gear. Big enough to carry a coat, a water bottle, and your supplies, it’s still agile and small enough to not be annoying on the river.

Details like side pockets, an easy-access topper for flies, and an ambidextrous design add thoughtfulness to this pack and grabbed it the top spot in its category.

Fly Rod — Freshwater: Sage Fly Fishing, Trout LL

Sage Fly Fishing TROUT LL rod

The Trout LL rod series is designed to give anglers an optimized experience for wade fishing, light tippets, close casts, and small flies. Blank taper optimization and specialized length offerings aim to make this an ideal dry fly rod.

The Trout LL is available from 3- to 6-weights in lengths ranging from 7’9” to 9’.

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Fly Rod — 2-Handed/Spey: Sage Fly Fishing, Trout Spey HD

Sage Fly Fishing TROUT SPEY HD rod

The design of this rod creates a lighter class of spey rod for the trout enthusiast. Sage is introducing five models from 10’3″ to 11’3″ and weights from 1 to 4. And soon, enthusiasts of the brand will have new options for covering as much water as possible in the method they prefer.

Reel — Freshwater: Ross Reels, San Miguel

Ross Reels San Miguel fly reel

A throwback to the San Miguel of old, Ross Reels will be re-introducing the slick and redesigned San Miguel in December of 2019. The fast retrieval on this rod is pretty spectacular, and the canvas Micarta grip allows for a no-slip hold in all sorts of conditions. Plus, this reel is just pretty.

Reel — Saltwater: Abel Reels, VAYA

Abel Reels VAYA fly reel

The sister company to Ross, Abel took the Saltwater category with its totally gorgeous VAYA reel. It’s considered a reel for “light salt,” and its incredibly low weight profile speaks to that. It’s highly adjustable with a partially ported frame.

One of my favorite touches on this reel is the milled fly pattern silhouette that is relevant to the size of each model. And the hand-painted motifs knock it outta the park. This one is both functional and beautiful — nothing wrong with that.

Men’s — Waders: Simms Fishing Products, G4Z Stockingfoot Wader

Simms Fishing Products G4Z Stockingfoot Wader

The Simms G4Z Stockingfoot Wader is a beast of bodily burden. Made of GORE-TEX Pro Shell, the three-layer upper combines with four-layer lowers. Compression-molded stocking feet cut bulk while focusing on comfort and durability. These are cool waders for cold weather without compromising on a thoughtful athletic action for the angler in motion.

The fabric is the coolest part. It feels soft, almost suede-like without the thickness. Simms uses the same fabric for the women’s G3Z wader, but on the women’s model, Simms went with a side zip.

Women’s — General Apparel: Simms Fishing Products, Bugstopper Leggings

Bugstopper Leggings

I personally love Simms Bugstopper Hoody, so the genius of a pant isn’t lost on me. Permethrin-treated garments are the serious business when you’re in Bug Town. And it works — even through something nuts like washes.

Plus, the leggings are fun with a bit of a pattern, but nothing too overwhelming for those of us who don’t like to be too flashy.

IFTD 2019 Awards: Best of the Rest

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Nicole Qualtieri
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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt/Fish Editor. She’s an avid outdoorswoman, and you can find her anywhere from the back of a good horse in Whitefish to solo hunting the breaks of Montana, to backpacking with her border collie in the Absarokas.

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