(By Tim Romano)
Cheeky Launch Fly Reels MSRP $229 – $249
Cheeky spent almost two years developing their newest reel and it shows. I’ve been personally fishing the Launch 350 (line weigh 5-6) for about six weeks now and for the money it’s very nice. The first thing I noticed about it, which isn’t advertised by Cheeky, is how buttery smooth the drag and reeling is. I normally like a little click, but this thing is deadly silent feels good on fish takes and reeling too. Combine that with a new line like RIO’s Elite series and you’ll be very happy striping line and hooking big fish all day. The startup inertia is silky smooth and the reel is quite light in the hand at just 4.9 oz. The arbor is dang big and can get fish in quick with less reel rotations than normal for a reel of this size. It’s light and while I haven’t beaten the crap out of it I did take a couple of decent falls on it the other day straight onto rocks and for such a light reel it held up fine. At $239 for the 5-6 weight the Launch is a good deal if you ask me.
Cons: None that I can find thus far…
Rev Carbon Drag System
- MAX Arbor (3.50” diameter)
- Retrieve up to 11” of line per revolution
- Lightweight design (4.9 oz)
- Integrated, torque-dispersing reel foot
- Silent Retrieve
- Fully machined high-grade aluminum
- B2 Backing Channel for extra line capacity
- Quick change spool and simple L/R retrieve conversion
- Reel case included
- Fly Line Backing Spool does not include rigging service
- Free shipping
Smith Castaway Sunglasses MSRP $239
I didn’t think I’d ever get rid of my “Guides Choice” shades by Smith, but I was just proven wrong. The new angler-friendly Castaway has the looks of a big pair of glasses, but fits my small noggin quite well. The sunglasses check all the boxes for me as an angler and photographer with spring hinges, an updated built in leash attachment (PivLock) that is a MAJOR upgrade from their last try and plethora of lens choices for any angling situation.
Cons: The PivLock tailless leash is pretty darn good, but is stiff enough that if you’re wearing a sun hoody it’ll push the glasses off your face. If it was just a little more flexible it’d be perfect.
YETI Loadout Go Box 30 MSRP $249.99
When I first saw this thing, I was like what in the world can Yeti offer me with an overpriced Pelican case. I was pretty doubtful… In quick order though this thing has proved indispensable. I’m lucky enough to own a few boats and the Go Box has become just that for use between boats. I just grab it and go. It’s always got a spare rain jacket, binos, headlamp, sunblock, bug dope, extra phone battery, spare hemostats, first aid kit, river maps, etc… The organization in this thing is what makes it shine. It’s thought out incredibly well and swallows more gear than you think it would. Highly recommended if you’re a neat freak like me.
Cons: Price. But this one’s worth it.
Sitka Drifter Duffle 75L MSRP $189.00
Looking for a “Black Hole”-esque bag without all the weight? Check out Sitka’s Drifter Duffle. This thing is light, very tough, and seems to take as much gear as you can stuff in it. I’m always on the lookout for a solid water resistant duffle and this fits the bill perfectly. There are removable shoulder straps for airline check-ability, handles on four sides that can serve double duty as lash points and when you’re done packing this bag folds down incredibly thin for under the cot storage. We’ll see how the durability holds up, but right now I’m digging it.
FEATURES & SPECS
- Welded & Waterproof Bathtub Floor: Highly water resistant
- YKK Internal & External Zippered Pockets: Located on the top lid and one zippered pocket inside the main bag
- 4 Side Handles & 1 Top Carry Handle
- Removable Back Pack Straps
CONS: No wheels. Otherwise, this would be the most badass light, water-resistant bag ever.