Elite Backing

Taylor Fly Fishing
msrp $20.00

    One piece of gear that most of us pay the least attention to is the backing on our reels. But even here, there is room for innovation. Most backing is either soft and lacking in strength, or thin, strong and with a rough feel. The Taylor Elite combines soft and round qualities of Dacron with the thin strength of gel spun line for a perfect solution.

Hardy Tropic Flats


Hardy/Pure Fishing
Msrp  $79.95

            The Hardy Tropic Flats series of fly lines is designed to combat extreme heat and constant winds, while delivering heavy saltwater flies with precision. A stiff tropic core, durable heat-resistant coating and medium head length offers maximum control when casting 20 to 60 feet. The line also has a welded tip loop and laser printed line identification.


Nautilus Reels
msrp $425.00 - $1299.00

            The new Nautilus GTx fly reels come in at the top of the line for both price and performance. The 5-inch size comes in a surprising light weight, with first rate machining and finishing. The Giga arbor spool is matched with a new drag design that was field tested for two years to produce a fighting-class reel.

Sage X Fly Rod Review

Last July while attending the ICAST/IFTD Show in Orland we lined up for our opportunity to cast the new Sage X fly rods.  We are dazed by these new fly rods. It was not until the 2017 launch of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine that we requested loaner Sage X. Faster than you can make a false cast, FedEx dropped off 9 ’ 8wt Sage X that arrived with a Sage Reel / RIO line as well. The game was on.

               Unless a fly rod is a real dog or ridiculously over-priced for the performance, it’s tough for a fly rod reviewer to not talk in glowing terms about the positive attributes of a new fly rod, or for that matter fail to give a new fly rod at least some level of accolades.  Reviewing Sage X loaner put us in the uncomfortable position of finding the appropriate phrases of praise that we have used time and time again in the past that frankly are cliques. We knew it was essential to tell truth—so here goes.

               The fact of the matter is, this Sage X is the best damned casting 9’ 8wt our team ever laid hands on. Trust, us that’s saying a lot. Well, that’s our story, and we are sticking to it. We challenge anyone to grab one up to prove to us otherwise. Lifting line from the water our Sage X generated a lot of line speed, with little or no false casting. Collectively we were habitual false casters. Now we have seen the light. Additionally, the rod has a remarkable ability to cut through the wind, which is great when fly fishing flats where blaming the wind is our favorite alibi.  To tell the truth, by our estimates, the Sage X can improve our rating as casters by 5 to 8 percent. Think about that.

Sage rods have a reputation of being high speed “casters’ fly rods,” requiring a well-developed timing. The Sage X is speedy but is remarkably forgiving of casting styles.  We were enamored with our ability to throw long, parallel, picture perfect loops.  In hand, the Sage X feels light and swings light, with a lot of spring in the butt section that transmits greater feel when cast. We liked the comfortable grips on our Sage X that are smaller and more contoured than the grips on other large Sage rod models in the past.  We found that the grips definitely enhanced our casting precision, which is was by the way, quite remarkable.

Sage X rods feature an all-new fast action taper built with the maker’s KonneticHD Technology that delivers greater blank recovery and a crisper tip stop. This is the secret to casters creating tighter, more efficient loops throughout all ranges. Sage’s fast action taper allows you to dig deeper into the rod and access the lower sections, shifting power closer to the angler. Decreased lateral and medial movement and vibrations in the blank result in a more accurate and efficient presentation, resulting in a performance driven, forgiving fast action blank that redefines synergy.

The heart of the Sage X is its makers’ new proprietary KonneticHD graphite/resin composite that is the highest energy transferring material ever created by the company.  Advanced high density (HD) fiber positioning, enhanced laminate characteristics, and optimized manufacturing techniques combine to increase composite modulus while maintaining durability. KonneticHD creates amplified strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios as needed within the rod blank. Optimized fiber-to-fiber energy transfer along the length of the blank minimizes both lateral and medial vibrations, delivering accuracy in an easy loading blank with quick recovery, a crisp tip stop, and enhanced line feel for complete loop control.

According to Sage, the optimized hoop to axial fiber positioning reduces blank weight and enhances cross-sectional strength and performance.  The result is superior tracking through minimized lateral and torsional movement. Focused energy transfer creates greater connectivity with less effort. In laymen jargon, this bantamweight casts like a dream and puts flies where you were hoping they might touchdown.

The Sage X can also be described as seductive eye candy. A Black Spruce blank with dark green thread wraps with metallic grey trim wraps makes it uniquely stunning. Other great features on the Sage X include Fuji ceramic stripper guides with hard chromed snake guides and tip-top, and a laser etched line weight on slide band. As you might expect, the presentation is impeccable; black rod bag with titanium logo and Black Spruce model tag in an evergreen powder coated aluminum rod tube with Sage medallion. Classy, eh?

So what do we really think about the Sage X? We like it a lot, and have schemed far too much on how to avoid sending back our loaner. Incredibly, actually purchasing the rod has even been discussed. It would be a first…

BTT Synthesizes Studies to Improve Conservation

According to BTT, the alterations of freshwater flows are having wide-ranging impacts on the ecosystem, which in turn is hurting the tarpon populations. As a result, BTT is trying to understand and plot a course to increase the asset of a tarpon fishery. The Neverglades Coalition will assist in planning and creating a new reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area. BTT believes this will decrease discharges down St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee. It will also improve clean water to the Everglades and Florida Bay.

Also, BTT has significantly expanded their tarpon tagging program by conducting a study to track their movement, habitat and the impact of freshwater flows.  A genetics study and juvenile tarpon mapping will also be looked at in tandem with the tagging program. All the data will be used to improve conservation efforts particularly with resource management agencies.

Featured Guide: Capt. Tuck Scott

One of the most inspiring discoveries of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine’s recent sweep through the Lowcountry was the stratospheric level of the fly fishing guide services in the region. As much as anything, the knowledge and quality of the professional fly fishing guide willing to share the secrets of the Lowcountry have turned places like Beaufort into virtual hubs of long rod angling adventures.

            Captain Tuck Scott is one of those top shelf Lowcountry fly fishing guides who are responsible for the current angler interest in these waters. An Orvis Endorsed Guide, Tuck as he prefers to be called, has helped turn a largely ignored coastal fishery into a glittering, five-star destination.

“Our mission is to provide our clients with an outdoor experience and education about the Lowcountry’s fishery while providing the best fishing the Lowcountry has to offer,” says Tuck.

Do you want to know what makes the coastal waters of South Carolina unique to other southern coastal waters? It’s the Lowcountry's large fluctuation in tides accompanied with over 50 percent of the United States East Coast marshland water, all residing in South Carolina, makes for a very healthy, unique fishing environment.  

Tuck and company provide two different schools in Beaufort; the Redfish School and the Orvis School. These saltwater oriented schools are geared to make clients better casters and saltwater anglers. When there or when you book a fishing trip, they supply everything clients need to match the target species in the local waters. Tuck and his team of guides run high-end technical poling skiffs. These crafts allow access to super skinny water where local species can be targeted. These skiffs enable the best sight casting possible.

 “My clients want shots at fish and they want to do it with a fly rod,” says Tuck. “They also like being educated about our fishing and environment, and to have a fun day on the water.”

“I grew up fishing this area as a kid with my father and my grandfather,” says Tuck.  “Everything I worked toward always ended with me wanting to be back on the water I grew up on, so I returned and became connected to Bay Street Outfitters and the head guide at the time Captain Doug Gertis who I was able to train under on my way to becoming a guide for the Outfitter.”

According to Tuck, most of his clients want to come fish a flood tide for tailing redfish from April through November. Many also schedule visits from late April through June to take advantage of sight casting to Cobia inshore. Increasingly popular also is winter fly fishing the big schools of redfish found on the mudflats at low tide.

A day in the skiff with Tucks typically begins with meeting him at one of a number of different boat landings.  Beaufort County has a cache of well-maintained boat landings that cover the area’s expansive watershed incredibly well.  Trips include bottled water on ice on half and 3/4 days, and lunch on a full day. As noted, tackle and flies are provided.

            “To those new to fly fishing the Lowcountry, I strongly recommend practicing with an 8 wt. or larger before you head this way,” says Tuck. “Spend some time working on a double haul. You will find that mastery of this is helpful for enabling you to take advantage of shots at fish.”

“The other thing to practice is accuracy,  but not for hitting stationary targets. When you come here, many of your opportunities will be at moving fish. Practice as if the target is moving so you will be able to lead fish with your cast.”

            “South Carolina’s Lowcountry fishery is a one of a kind resource,” says Tuck. “Unique shots at hard fighting saltwater fish is what the Lowcountry is all about.  All of our guides strive to not only show you fish but to make sure they provide an education for each client to become a better angler.

Win a Prize for Capturing a Fish

Ph. D. student, Addiel Perez from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) in Chetumal, Mexico, is navigating a study to better plot and understand the movements of bonefish in Mexico, Belize. Already having tagged more than 6, 000 bonefish and over 70 permit, he is close to deciphering a possible pre-spawning site that may include bonefish from Belize and Mexico. Even though he and those with him have impressive results, they request that anyone who captures a tagged bonefish to record the tag number, take a photo, document the date and location (be specific), measure the length of the fish from nose to fork and report the capture. Each tag has contact information. You may report your info at their website at https://www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/report-tagging-data.

Info from this study will be presented by BTT in their November Symposium.

Featured Fly Shop: Bay Street Outfitters

Beaufort, South Carolina

TheLow Country’s 80 miles long coast stretches along the South Carolina coast from the Savannah River in Georgia north to Pawley's Island. Millions of people visit the Lowcountry to sample its legendary cuisine. Bay Street Outfitters is to South Carolina Lowcountry fly fishing what shrimp and grits are to the South Carolina Lowcountry cuisine.

“We opened Bay Street Outfitter 21 years ago when I retired and moved to Beaufort from Atlanta,” says Tony Royal. “Beaufort is the logical hub for fishing redfish in the Lowcountry.  It is thetop spot for sight casting to redfish in skinny water. We have about200 square miles of perfect flats and can fish all year. The extensive Spartina Grass flats produce food for crab, shrimp and bait fish. Over 25 percent of the salt marsh on the East Coast of the United States is in Beaufort County, SC.

Royal also points out the importance of Beaufort is a little out of the way; not crowded; excellent motels and B & B’s; top restaurants and it’s incredible History of significance. Bay Street Outfitters is a full service, complete fly shop that is perchedbetween Savannah and Charleston. Their lines include Orvis, Simms, Sage, G Loomis, Barbour, Ex Officio, Patagonia, Luggage, Sebago Boat shoes, Tilley Hats, Fishpond, Rio and many more.

Locally tied fly patterns are available as well as special fly tying classes and one- on- one tying instruction. The shop has one tier on staff and two captains that tie “local patterns” Additionally, Bay Street Outfitters strives to have the best outdoor and travel clothing on the planet for men and women. It is not only a fly shop, but is also a Lifestyle Shop

“Key to the success of Bay Street Outfitters is our top shelf, well trained staff,” says Royal. “Additionally we have five in-house and some of the finest Captains on the Lowcountry Coast. The drivingforce here is our belief in teaching. We believe that it is OK to have a cheap fly rod but not a cheap cast.  This is critical as people are so much more focused on their time. A complete shop with captains,lessons, classes and tackle has to deliver.”

Royal notes that interest in a fly fishing has grown steadily over the last two decades. Bay Street Outfitters fly fishing charters have tripled and business traffic at the shop has doubled in the last decade. He also noted that the shop is welcominga growing number of couples and more ladies seeking fly fishing information. World class casting for tailing Redfish in the skinny water in the Lowcountry is no longer the guarded secret of local fly fishermen. The word is out.

“We see novice anglers almost daily and they do ask questions,” says Royal. “When we make a good impression and offer solutions and advice, some of them come back later to pursue the sport. The shop is always staffed with a highly experienced team.  We host 10 one day classes yearly and15 Orvis Fly Fishing Schools. The Sea Island Flyfishers, our local fly club, has meetings with attendance that often eceeds the number of regular members.

               “We are all conscious of the importance of our clean, Lowcountry water that is free of industrial pollution,” says Royal. “The Port Royal Sound Foundation has done a tremendous job of education and awareness of our beautifulEstuary. Our commitment to Catch and Release is very strong. More people are interested in our Lowcountry history thanks to the new Santa Elena Foundation. The foundation has done a great job of making us all better aware of our early history that started in the 1560’s with the first European settlement in North America by the Spainish.