IFTD Awards 2022: The Fly Fishing Gear That Stole the Show

Simms proves, yet again, to be one of the top innovators in the industry by taking home a pile of awards at the International Fly Tackle Dealer trade show in Salt Lake City, including Best of Show.

The IFTD Show was notably smaller this year, but that didn’t stop industry leaders from showing up and showing off some exciting new fly fishing gear for 2022. Simms was undoubtedly the big winner of the week, taking home the top honor for its G3 Waders, along with eight other category wins.

Sage Fly Fishing had a great showing as well, seeing three of its fly rods make the list of top products for the year. There have been some serious innovations in fly fishing and rod construction, and Sage was eager to show off what they’ve been working on.

So, let’s start at the top and work our way through some of the best new fly fishing gear from IFTD 2022.

Best of Show: Simms Fishing Products – G3 Guide Stocking Foot Waders

Fly Fishing Simms G3 Waders

The Simms G3 Guide Stocking Foot Waders ($599) have made quite the impression in the fishing world.

Winning Best of Show, Best Women’s Waders, and Best Men’s Waders at the 2022 IFTD show, it’s safe to say they’ve secured their standing as one of the best industry-wide. Combining superior fit, breathability, and durability, these waders are a workhorse.

Simms brought more than waders to Salt Lake City and also took home awards for:

Best Freshwater Fly Rod: R.L. Winston Rod Co. – Air 2 9’ 5 Weight 

Fly Fishing Air 2 Fly Rod

The Air 2 is an all-purpose, graphite, four-piece, freshwater fly rod with a new taper design. The reduction in materials makes it incredibly lightweight while also giving it a faster action.

Available from 3wt-6wt, there’s an Air 2 for almost every freshwater application. Coming in at just over the $1,000 mark doesn’t make it a budget rod, but the quality and craftsmanship are hard to touch if you want a lifelong travel rod.

Best Accessory Under $50: Oros Strike Indicator 

Fly Fishing Strike Indicators

This Oros Strike Indicator ($10/3-pack) offers a legitimate solution to an irritating problem in the fly fishing world. Adjusting a strike indicator can be a pain. Cold, wet fingers often fumble with trying to wiggle traditional indicators to a new spot.

I know that I’ve left my indicator at the wrong depth, just so I don’t have to mess with it. This simple twist-on-and-off design gives your line a solid bite while being easily adjustable with a quick twist.

You can mash the thing between your palms, twist, and adjust your depth; no dexterity needed. 

Best Spey Rod: Sage – Trout Spey G5 

Fly Fishing Sage Rod

The Trout Spey G5 ($650) from Sage is, as the name implies, the fifth generation of this series.

Advances in the blank construction make this rod lighter and more responsive than previous renditions, meaning the angler has a better sense of rod load and better control of their cast. The G5 is seriously appealing to the eye. With its deep-brown blank wrapped in olive threading, it has a truly classic look to go along with the upgrades in function.

Sage also took home awards for two other fly rods this year:

  • Saltwater Fly Rod: R8 Core (which we’re very excited about)
  • Specialty Fly Rod: SENSE 

Best Luggage Bags/Backpacks: Sea Run Cases – Expedition Classic Travel Case

Fly Fishing Cases

The Expedition Classic Travel Case ($569) from Sea Run Cases is about as top of the line as it gets. Finished in Italian leather and canvas, it looks a bit more like high-end luggage than it does a fly rod case.

As far as function goes, it’s double-walled, airline-compliant, and can store five fly rods and six reels. In hand, it feels substantial and durable. This is not a case you strap to a backpack due to weight. However, it is a case you can trust will keep your gear secure in the underbelly of a commercial flight.

Best Gifts: Cody’s Fish – Wall Art & Ornaments

Fly Fishing Art

Cody’s Fish swept the gift category. The company’s Fish Ornament took home Best Gift Under $50, while the Brown Trout License Plate Art secured Best Gift Over $50. At first glance, it may seem like your ordinary, everyday license plate art, but these are a step above.

Cody travels to each destination to collect vintage plates, many of which adhere to a specific standard, such as only being stamped Prison Made. Cody’s Fish offers a variety of species of fish and wild game, as well as apparel and even rod racks. These things are cool and definitely got our vote for the best gift of the show.

Best Chest Pack/Vest: Simms Fishing Products – Dry Creek Z Sling Pack 

The Dry Creek Z Sling Pack ($229) fits that awesome space between wanting to pack it all and wanting to be minimalist. Not quite a full-on backpack and more than a chest pack, it carries everything you need, easily accessible, but out of the way.

It’s lightweight, fully submersible, has an easy in-out net sleeve, and has plenty of attachment points for all your accessories. Though I personally tend to default to a lumbar pack or chest pack, the appeal of a lightweight sling with room for snacks is definitely there.

Best Youth Product: Orvis – Encounter Outfit 

The Encounter Outfit ($159) from Orvis nabbed the Best Youth Product award for 2022, but honestly, it’s a great starter package for anyone just getting their feet wet, children and adults alike.

With the complete setup being under $200, it’s a budget-friendly way to dive into fly fishing without sacrificing function. Plus, when your 9-year-old inevitably snaps the tip off, the learning lesson for them won’t be quite so devastating as it would be to let them use one of your own.

IFTD Awards 2022 Wrap Up

With the lack of social gatherings and the move back toward in-person events, it was no surprise that this show was smaller.

There were some notable absences from companies that have been regular award-winners in the past. Several of the companies in attendance just haven’t come out with new gear for a while. Supply chain issues might also have something to do with this.

That all being said, the show had a uniquely intimate feel. It really gave those in attendance the time to dive deeper into the new product specs. We seemed to be able to have more thorough conversations about where the industry is heading.

All in all, this year’s show was a good one. It inserted that thirst for water back into us after what felt like a long winter.

Other Awards Winners

With 33 categories, we couldn’t include them all, but here are a few more of our favorites:

Rachelle Schrute
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As a fifth-generation Montanan, Rachelle Schrute comes from a long line of western hunters and anglers. Born in western Montana, she spent countless days chasing mountain elk and mountain trout with her family. She is heavily involved in Montana's conservation and wildlife management practices and has served in leadership roles within multiple conservation organizations. Rachelle is a certified Wilderness First Responder, and often spends her summers as a Wilderness Guide in Yellowstone National Park. When not gear testing or writing, you can likely find her hunting, hiking, fishing, and cooking wild game with her two children.