Fly Fishing Gear Reviews

Our fly fishing gear reviews showcase the latest and greatest fly fishing gear as we put it to the test in the field. We try it out so you know if it works and how it stands up. If there is a product you would like our opinion on, feel free to Contact Us

YETI Soft Sided Cooler: Hopper

I wrote about the YETI Hopper soft sided cooler a while back about the zipper breaking. Of course I was disappointed with this happening shortly after purchasing the cooler but I was very impressed with the customer service at YETI. They replaced the cooler with no hesitations and within a week of speaking with a friendly representative I had a new Hopper on my doorstep.



I chose to go with the field tan/blaze orange color and while it certainly seems like the same cooler I had first purchased the zipper seems to have been improved. The air lock zipper system opens/ closes with ease and tight opening feels a bit larger than the my first cooler. While it doesn’t hold ice as well as a YETI Tundra it keeps your beverages cold for extended periods of time. Once the ice melts the water stays extremely cold and while this is great for canned beverages it is terrible for food. I highly recommend double wrapping food in a ziplock bag or tupperware if you plan on keeping sandwiches/crackers/snacks in the YETI Hopper. The upside is that the cooler is very light compared to the Tundra Series making the Hopper Idea for Drift Boats and Rafts. For this reason the YETI Hopper has become a staple for me when I am doing day trips down the river. Although my first experience with these soft sided coolers was negative I would still recommend the YETI Hopper to anyone who is looking to lighten their load and downsize to a smaller easily portable cooler. Especially after a excellent customer service experience with YETI Coolers.

Our Top 3 Terrestrial Flies for August!

August in Colorado means lots of terrestrials on the water. You need to fill your fly box with hopper patterns to fool fish sipping on bugs falling from the grass into the stream. The “Colorado Blonde” is one of our “guide favorite” hopper patterns. It floats well due to being tied with buoyant elk hair and parachute style hackle. Our clients love the “Colorado Blonde” because it is very easy to see with its white “Hi Vis” parachute post. And with its lifelike grasshopper profile the “Colorado Blonde” fools wary trout all summer long.

grasshopper fly
The “Colorado Blonde” is one of our guide favorite grasshopper imitations.

In addition to hopper patterns, August is a hot month for fishing ant patterns. Have you ever seen that trout that just keeps sipping on bugs right off the bank? You cannot see any insects buzzing around and he still will not eat even your best presentations from attractors, mayflies or even a micro sized midge? Chances are that wily trout is feeding on ants as they drown in the surface film. Next time you run into such a wily fish try throwing an ant pattern at him and see what happens.

ant fly
The “Flying Ant” from super flies is a must have in your fly box for fooling finicky fish feeding on terrestrials.

When the fish aren’t falling for our “Colorado Blonde” try throwing our terrestrial grasshopper pattern at them. You will be hard pressed to find a more realistic hopper pattern on the market as the legs and profile on this pattern can be tough to distinguish from that of a real grasshopper.   This fly is very buoyant and will float all day even without dry fly shake or gel. Furthermore, it is very durable and will hold up fish after fish, cast after cast.

grasshopper fly
For the most realistic hopper imitation on the market, check out this hot fly!

For more Superflies, check out

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Colorado Fly Fishing Reports




Winston’s Boron III LS – The Advanced Light Line Advantage

People from other states seem to believe that Colorado’s Rocky Mountains stay as cool as a cold original Coors all summer. Not true, as it is going to be a high of 93 degrees today in the hot and dry city of Denver! Sometimes, summer fishing in Colorado means getting up to the high country and out of the heat!

fly fish rocky mountain national park
Rocky Mountain National Park holds a lifetime of angling opportunities…

Fishing high country streams is a lot of fun, but you will need some specialized gear. Heavy 5 & 6 weight rods are not very enjoyable to fish on skinny creeks and it is difficult if not impossible to make soft and subtle presentations on a 9 foot 6 weight.

Winton Boron III LS
Winton’s Boron III LS

Fortunately, Winston Fly Rods has you covered with the Boron III LS. Winston’s BORON III LS series combines cutting-edge boron technology with the renowned “Winston Feel” to produce the most advanced light line trout rods made. The medium-fast action is lively and responsive, and allows anglers to delicately present flies with pinpoint accuracy. Exceptionally lightweight, these rods offer the touch, feel and control required by small stream and spring creek enthusiasts, or anyone who enjoys stalking big fish with small flies while protecting light tippets.

brown trout
Wild brown trout require finesse and delicate presentations to fool…

For “bow & arrow” casts, short presentations or technical “aerial mends” there is no substitute for the tradition and finesse found in Winston trout rods. Whether you are fishing beaver ponds, high country creeks or tough and technical spring creeks, the Boron III LS will provide you with the “touch” you need to fool more fish.

Winston fly rods
The performance of Winston fly rods can only be matched by their beauty & craftsmanship…

Boron III LS Specifications:

  • LINE WEIGHTS: thru 5wt.
  • ACTION: Medium-fast
  • GUIDES: Chrome nanolite stripper guide/ 
chrome plated, light wire snake guides
  • REEL SEAT: Nickel Silver with burled wood insert
  • ROD TUBE: Premium graphite rod tube with logo rod sock

Check out the Winston Boron III LS today at your favorite local fly shop. As Winston says, “Walk softly and carry a green stick.”

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Colorado Fly Fishing Reports

Hardy Ultralite MA Fly Reel: Review

New Fly Reel Companies are popping up everywhere. Fancy colors, giant spools, lighter materials and special inlays are making a splash on the fly fishing scene. if can you name it chances are you can find it in a fly reel. While all that flare is nice and certainly grabs you attention,  I believe a good fly reel comes down to two very simple things. The drag system and weight. Recently I have been fishing with Hardy Fly Fishing Products and the Reel that has been spending the most time on the water is the Hardy Ultralite MA Fly Reel. At first glance it looks like any other fly reel but it met my reel criteria of being lightweight with an incredible drag. The mid arbor design allows plenty of room for line capacity although you generally do not need miles of line when you are trout fishing, but should you need the extra backing the space is there. The mid arbor also allows you to retrieve the line quickly, which is a huge plus when trying to land larger fish.

Hardy Ultralite MA Fly Reel

The drag system is color coded so you can adjust your drag strength according to the color. The one thing that I, as well as others, have noticed about the drag is how little you have to adjust it. Unlike other reels that take several turns to adjust the Hardy Ultralite only takes a couple clicks to find that your drag has been tightened or loosened. Lastly the weight of the reel balances a fly rod perfectly. Often times we associate lighter as being no as well built. That is not the case with the Hardy Ultralite. I have had it bouncing around in my boat, laid down on rocks and dropped on occasion without any denting or scraping.

hard ultralite

Coming in at $275.00 this handsome fly reel is definitely worth buying. While it doesn’t come in fancy colors, the appearance of this fly reel is edgy enough that it will grab the eye of any angler. Ask about them next time you are in your favorite fly shop.

Fathers Day: Gifts For A Fly Fishing Dad

If you are anything like me you tend to do your shopping last minute and are usually struggling to find a decent gift that someone will actually use. This Sunday is Fathers Day and a T-shirt thats says #1 Dad probably isn’t gonna cut it for a man that has raised an awesome person like yourself. If your Father enjoys spending time with a fly rod or in the woods here are a few gift ideas that the old man will actually use. That t-shirt will end up getting used as a rag in the garage, don’t waste you dollar bills on that.

Yeti-Rambler-Colster-With-CanMost of our Fathers enjoy a cold beverage after a long day on the river or in the woods. And while the first beer generally goes down quicker than it can get warm, the second one is usually a bit more casual. For this reason I am recommending the YETI Colster. This marvelous invention is the last coozie your dad will ever need. The YETI Colster will hold his twelve ounce can or bottle and keep it cold long after it is opened. Coming in at 30 clams this is a perfect gift for Fathers Day.


Buying clothes for Dad is always a gamble, lets face it the old boy has been around a while and freefly Hooded Shirtknows what he likes. So when you thrown something new his way chances are he might look down his nose at it. The sun protecting bamboo shirts from Freefly Apparel might be a stretch but once your Dad pulls on this buttery soft shirt he will look at you and smile. These shirts are great for staying cool and keeping your skin protected from that beautiful Colorado sun. They can run a bit small so buy a size up if this is the route you choose to go.


Save the old man’s teeth and purchase him a slick pair of Simms nippers to hang around his neck. One of the most common things to do when on the river is to bite the tag end of your tippet off after tying a knot. Don’t pretend you haven’t done it. These groovy looking aircraft grade aluminum fly fishing accessories are a super sharp and will keep your teeth healthy for eating steak and opening beer bottles.  Coming in around 30 bucks this is a good gift idea for Fathers Day.simms nippers

Skip the sleeve of golf balls and leave the JC Penny Tie on the rack. For the ultimate Fathers Day Gift a Guided Fly Fishing Trip is always a safe bet. Your dear old dad loves you more than you know and will enjoy spending a day on the river with his son or daughter.  Happy Fathers Day to all you hard working, rock solid Fathers out there. Get outside and enjoy, you’ve earned it.

Caddis Season: Caddis Dry fly Patterns

I have been watching the USGS graphs like a crazy person and as far as I can tell our run off has peaked and water flows are on the drop. Many Rivers, especially freestone rivers, are still too high to fish comfortably but it shouldn’t be long before we are floating and wading some of our favorite fly fishing rivers in Colorado. Many rivers are already starting to see good Caddis activity but in the high country we are gearing up for an excellent Caddis Season on rivers like the Arkansas, Eagle, Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers. The Caddis Hatch is a common one that lasts for a good period of time and allows anglers to fish Dry Flies no matter the fishing conditions. Just like any other hatch in Colorado, Caddis flies come in multiple sizes and colors. Although most of the time we like to think that these fluttering bugs are tan, they are often other colors, like black, brown, olive and light orange. For this reason it is important to carry several different patterns, especially when the hatch gets a little lighter and fish get a bit more picky. With so many Caddis Fly Patterns to choose from it is easy to have your own favorites. Here are some of the most effective Caddis Fly Patterns I have found over last few years.

During the first big Caddis Hatch of the year is seems like anything will work. Fish are on the surfacecrystal_stimulator fly and feeding with reckless abandon. During this time I like to use a fly that rides high on the surface that I can skate. Since the water also tends to be on the higher side I also like to use a fly that I can see. For these reasons I tend to stick with a PMX or Stimulator. These are great caddis imitations that will float high in the surface and can be moved/skated without sinking. It is a blast throwing these larger flies tight to the bank, skating them out with a mend and watching a trout explode on it. They also work well in shallow riffles, where caddis tend to hatch.

puterbaugh foam caddisAs the water starts to drop and the caddis hatch slows down I size down my caddis imitations and have found that the Puterbaugh Foam Caddis really does great under these conditions. This fly comes in several different colors but the colors that does it for me is the Black Foam Body Caddis Pattern. These flies also work well in Yellow when the Yellow Sallies start to mix in. This pattern is great to drop off the back of a larger Caddis imitation and fish in the slower slicks and seams. A lot of times this bug with get sucked down when the larger fly gets refused.


My last go to Caddis Dry Fly Imitation is an emerging pattern called the Spot Light Caddis. This fly can be fished as a trailing fly off of a larger Dry Fly but I like to fish it by itself in slow water for the picky riser. Fishing this pattern by itself allows you to maintain better control and accuracy. I like to gink the post of the fly and let the body ride in the surface film. If you have a few slow rolling fish in a back eddy or tight to the bank the Spot Light Caddis can usually pick them up. This fly is also fun to fish in shallow riffles but can be difficult to see. Be sure to let it swing if you lose sight of it as many fish will grab it just before you pick it up.

Spot lght caddis

While there are variety of other caddis pattern in my box the above mentioned are usually tied on before the rest. If you have a few patterns that you like to fish during a Caddis Hatch please share them with us. We hope to see you on the water this summer.

Hardy Fly Rod Review: Zephrus 5 Weight

Hardy-Brand-MFlyShop-300x300A friend of mine loaned me a few Hardy Fly Rods to take for a test spin. I was able to thrown them a few times prior to run off and so far I have nothing but good things to say about Hardy Fly Rods. The rod that has spent the most time in my hand is the Hardy Zephrus. It is a handsome rod with a olive finish and black stripping guides complete with a comfortable cork grip. The aluminum locking reel seat has cool green/brown wooden inlay to add to the design of this beautiful fly rod. The Zephrus is crafted out of nano resin technology making this rod very light and incredibly strong. I have casted everything from small dry flies to large streamers with the Zephrus and it was able to deliver my casts with accuracy. It is an easy rod to pick up and throw. Recently I had some newbie fly fishermen throwing good loops with the Hardy Zephrus. As far as distance goes it seems the most accurate between 30-50 feet with longer casts losing a bit of accuracy. But, that could also be me. As far as price goes the Hardy Zephrus comes in at just under $700.00 clams which seems reasonable for a fly rod of this caliber. If you are in the Market for an all around solid trout/ bass fly rod, you should certainly try casting the Hardy Zephrus before making a decision, you’ll be glad you did. Be sure to ask your local fly shop if they carry Hardy Fly Rods and Reel. A lot of shops in Colorado do but some do not.

Hardy Zephrus


For those of you who do not know Hardy is an English company that has been building Fly Rods and Reels since the late 1800’s. Their attention to detail and quality is second to none and their products show it. Hardy Reels are also a work of art but we will touch on the reels at a later date.

Fly Reels: 3 Tand

Just like a fancy wheel on a vehicle fly reels often catch our eye and can add some flare to your fly fishing set-up. Fly Fishing Reels can be very pricey and the ones that we gravitate towards are usually the most expensive. I recently had the opportunity to look over the new 3-Tand Fly Reels and they are extremely nice at a great price point. There are several different models to choose from and come in a Silver or Black finish. The lightweight TF -Series starts at 179.00 and is perfect for Trout and Warm Water Fly Fishing. The larger T-Series Big Game reels are ideal for chasing Steelhead, Stripers, Snook Tarpon, Permit and other larger game fish that require heavier line weights. They are also perfect for switch and spey rod. Coming in at just under 350.00, this is an amazing price for reels of this caliber.

3-Tand T-Series Fly Reels
3-Tand T-Series Fly Reels

From the 3-Tand “Our Nano CF Drag™ (Nano Carbon Fiber Drag) has been labeled as the toughest and the smoothest drag for your money. We did not make that mantra; the dealers and the fishermen gave us that recognition. “High quality. Mid-range price.” That is all we heard when we introduced our reels to the market, and that was the mark we set prior to our birth. The first year out of the gates we received the award for Best of Show at ICAST; an award that is voted on only by dealers, editors and other industry professionals. Are we proud of that? HELL YEAH, but we are more thankful the industry welcomed us in this manner.”

What stands out most about these reels is the drag system. “What makes our drag different is one of our boldest and smartest features – our drag discs. We treat our drag with a nano resin and that creates an exceptionally smooth experience. We also designed them to help achieve the mega stopping power they deliver, but without the grit and grind other carbon fiber drags might put out. No maintenance required, no special directions, no BS. Fish the hell out of our reels and don’t be afraid to CAST AT ANYTHING. When you see that tank of a GT barreling down the reef edge in the Seychelles, throw something its way with confidence, knowing that the only thing failing is maybe your intermediate line because our T-Series drag boasts an insane 20lbs+ of drag.


The 3-Tand Fly Reels are availible in numerous fly shops around Colorado so be sure to give them a look if you are in the market for a new fly reel. Let’s face it we are always looking for something new.

Yeti Hopper: The Dragons Mouth

The YETI Hopper has become my go to cooler in the truck and in my boat. While I still employ my 65 quart YETI Tundra on longer excursions the smaller and lighter Hopper 30 soft sided cooler has been getting most of the attention. The reason for my switch is the size and weight of the YETI Hopper. While this cooler is still bulky it is much lighter than it’s bigger hard sided cousins and is still able to keep its contents cool on hot days. This soft sided cooler also frees up a lot of space on my raft, allowing me to store dry bags, straps, etc.. under my rowing seat.

YETI Hopper 30 quart soft sided cooler.
YETI Hopper 30 quart soft sided cooler.

Coming in at just under 350 clams I certainly feel like I am getting plenty of use out of this cooler but there are a couple things that I am not impressed with. Number one is the Zipper. I got the YETI Hopper 30 just before Christmas for a tropical trip and the zipper broke after a week of use. Of course our group was in and out of the cooler multiple times an hour grabbing cold beverages but at this price point the zipper should not fail that quickly. Fortunately my brother in-law took the time to piece the zipper back together so it remained functional. It remains difficult to open after the zipper fail and one of the zipper teeth has started to come off the cooler. I am sure that YETI would address the problem if I was to bring it to their attention but I have yet to do so. Regardless, the zipper has been my biggest problem with the YETI Hopper. The opening of the cooler is extremely tight also, which I am assuming has everything to do with insulation. But, good grief you need a welding glove to reach into the cooler or your hand gets chewed up by the zipper. I refer to it as reaching into the dragons mouth.

YETI Hopper zipper.
YETI Hopper zipper.

Despite above complaints the YETI Hopper is a rugged soft side cooler that will keep its contents cold in the hottest conditions. My experience is that the YETI Hopper works best for keeping beverages cold due to the fact that the ice inside the cooler will melt leaving (especially in hot climates) your contents swimming in an ice bath. For this reason I would recommend using ice packs if you plan on storing food and beverages together. There is nothing worse than a soggy sandwich when you are stomach is growling on a drift boat of flats skiff. The YETI Hopper comes in 3 different sizes, a 20, 30 and 40 quart so you can decide which cooler best suits your needs. Overall I would suggest this cooler to anyone who is looking to lighten up their load and shrink down their cooler size but I would be aware to the above mentioned.

Get the latest apparel from Simms fishing and always be ready to fish no matter the weather!

April can be a tough month for fishing in Colorado…

For one, the weather can be unpredictable and as the saying goes if you don’t like the weather in Colorado just wait 15 minutes. But while your waiting for the elements of Colorado’s spring to develop into either a warm and sunny Colorado day, be sure and check out the new line of products for 2016 from Simms Fishing Products…

From waders, footwear & wading boots, to innovative and fashionable packs, jackets, hoodies and ball caps; Simms Fishing Products has all your fly fishing apparel needs covered to battle the elements of Colorado and beyond!

Simms Guide Wader
Check out the all new Guide Wader!

Simms has even gone so far as to introduce the G3 Guide Wader – Limited Edition Series. For a limited time only, Simms is offering a special edition G3 Guide™ Stockingfoot to benefit the Bozeman-based Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation. WQW helps reintegrate traumatically combat-wounded U.S. veterans and active service members from recent wars into society by building hope and resilience, facilitating camaraderie, and providing security and serenity through fly fishing in southwest Montana. Help Simms raise $100,000 for Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation by purchasing these limited edition waders.

For more information and to view the latest product offerings from Simms, visit their website today at

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Colorado Fly Fishing Reports