Montana Fly Company Madison Ila Reel
While it’s not the lightest on the market—in fact the Madison Ila was the heaviest of all that the Gear Institute’s Dan Nelson tested—it easily performed the best. The fact that it also boasts a tasteful array of artwork from some of the best angling artists working today speaks to Montana Fly Company’s refined affection for the sport itself. The damn thing looks like it belongs on your wall, which is where you can put it when you’re not on the river.
Orvis Helios 2 Rod
The best way to counteract using the heaviest reel in our field test may be to pair it with the lightest rod. The Helios 2 ranked an impressive 91 in our tests, a versatile tool that rewards with strong casting distance and accuracy. At $759, it ain’t the cheapest—but might be the perfect investment for that tax return.
Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Top Waders
Orvis revamped their wader line last spring, so we anticipate that the fit for this year’s Silver Sonic should stay dialed, with a more svelte profile (even when wearing layers)—only their booties were judged to fit poorly. The heavier fabric does reduce their overall breathability, but it also make ‘em more durable, meaning you should get several seasons of use out of the well-priced waders. They also use Orvis’ patented SonicSeam welding technology, which obviates the need for stitch hole and seam taping.