Gray's Best 2007
Tight Line Enterprises Magnetic Fly Guard
I’ve never known a fly-drying patch I didn’t grow to hate. Whether pin-on sheepskin, clip-on foam or some Rube-Goldbergian device involving coiled springs and trap doors, they’ve all found ways to rust hooks and mangle hackles. Worse, the same infernal device that won’t hold onto your tiny nymph when you want it to and won’t let go of your tiny nymph when you want it to will happily hand over your tiny nymph to the first bankside alder it can find.
Now there’s a safer and saner path through the alder jungles from Tight Line Enterprises, those clever folks who won a GRAY’S BEST in 2004 for their brilliant little magnetic D-ring key and fly rod holder. I was underwhelmed with the Fly Guard’s little U-shaped magnetic channel on first encounter, but after a full season of fishing with one everywhere from tiny overgrown trout brooks to brawling salmon rivers using everything from invisible midges to palm-size bass bugs, I became a true believer. I never had any trouble getting the flies either on or off the drying patch, I never saw any rust or mangled hackles, and I never lost a fly no matter how thick the going. As a bonus, you can mount the Fly Guard on anything from a rain jacket to a hat to a T-shirt without puncturing the fabric and with little danger of losing it unless someone repeals the laws of physics governing magnetism. A Magnetic Fly Guard is the best use a fly fisher can find for a ten-dollar bill.
Gray's Best 2004
Tight Line Enterprises Rod Guard
Tell me this hasn’t happened to you: You and your friends drive up to the river, hop out and start pulling on waders, then you lean your rod against a fender while you search for your sunglasses, and while your back is turned your rod slides to the ground and - snap.
Or you cradle your rod against the rear-view mirror, and your friend doesn’t notice and opens the car door to retrieve his camera—crack. Or you lay the rod on the roof and spelunk for your lunch, and when you close the hatchback you don’t see the tip sticking out over the drip channel—pop. Or you fish upstream and your friend fishes down, and you agree to meet at the car at noon only you fall in and break your rod and get soaked to the skin and your friend has the only car key—groan. Or you trudge back to the car after a bone-chilling day of autumn steelheading, and just as it starts to rain hard you fumble for your keys, which ought to be in your wader-top pocket but aren’t, so you strip off your waders and search your pockets, but they aren’t there either, and then you see them sitting on the seat behind locked doors - $#*M!
Banish all these nightmares and more with the most useful fly-fishing doodad since the coiled retractor: the Rod Guard from Tight Line Enterprises. Stick it on your car and it holds your rod upright and safe. Stick it somewhere secret and your keys will be there when you get back. A simple plastic D with recessed magnets and a key ring, the Rod Guard is the best $7 an angler can spend. - JRB