If you thought fly fishing is a sport frozen in timeless tradition, you’d be wrong: high-tech fabrics, imported fishing techniques and the constant hunt for the best rod mean that fly fishing is constantly evolving.  MyNorth’s Evan Perry spoke with Brian Pitser—owner of Traverse City’s fly fishing and outdoors outfitter, The Northern Angler—to learn about the newest and coolest Northern Michigan fly fishing gear.  And with colder weather meaning stronger, healthier fish, it’s going to be a good year of Northern Michigan fishing.

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Introducing Tenkara

The traditional Japanese method of fly fishing, called tenkara, is a “self-contained” style of fishing.  The telescoping rods shrink down to nearly pocket-sized, making the rods easily transportable. Tenkara is fly fishing streamlined: the essential components are a rod, line and fly—no reel needed here.  It’s an excellent way to introduce fly fishing to inexperienced anglers, and the rods’ portability means that hitting the stream will required significantly less planning and packing.

According to Pitser, tenkara is perfect during the migratory period and for those who prefer spey casting.

Back to Basics

Post-war anglers saw the potential for using old fiberglass radio antennas as fly rods, and the material quickly replaced bamboo as the fly fisherman’s rod of choice.  And after cycling through other material developments like graphite and boron, fishermen have about-faced and returned to fiberglass rods.

Says Pitser: “Fiberglass makes for a much slower action compared to graphite rods. It’s probably a little more fun to catch a fish with a fiberglass rod than with some of the fast action ones, because the rod bends right down into the cork, and you can feel the fish a little bit more.  They’re perfect for dry fly fishing, and are relatively inexpensive.”

Mosquito and Sun Proof

“A lot of the new fabrics we have shield against insects,” says Pitser.  “It’s going to be a terrible mosquito year, so insect-proof shirts have been popular and they work great.  People are also more conscious of sun protection; a lot of the high tech fabrics we offer provide protection anywhere from 30 to 50 spf.”

Ditch the Vests

While the vest is something of a traditional badge of honor to fly fishermen, sling pouches are becoming more popular to store gear while on the stream.  With only one strap spanning the wearer’s shoulders and back, the pouch can be slung around (à la a flashy 80’s guitarist) to the angler’s chest for easy access.  It’s basically a fanny pack, but more stylish.

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