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

Outcast Stealth Pro Pontoon

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Well if you have a belly boat this was a good run off season to use it. I have only used these vessels a few times in the past and I must admit they are pretty stealthy. We had a couple that we hiked into a brook trout pond in Western Maine. You could easily sneak within casting distance to a pod of risers and get stuff done. The new pontoon boat that caught my eye is the new Stealth Pro from Outcast. This simple design comes in at only 35 lbs and is constructed out of rugged urethane bladders. One of the nice features about this nine foot vessel is the ability to add on accessories. An angler can easily add and remove handy items like, rod holders, anchors and side bags for longer river/ lake trips. This would be the perfect craft to sneak down your favorite Freestone River once the flows are too low for the bigger rafts or drift boats. I also like the idea of being able to use flippers as a way to move and steer the craft. This way you can keep two hands free to cast and land fish. These are certainly something to look into if you are an angler that likes to do solo missions or spend time fishing lakes, ponds and reservoirs. If you have one please chime in and let us know how you like it.

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Colorado Summer Fly Box: Must Have Fly Patterns

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I was organizing my boat bag last week and was trying to get all my flies together before summer gets to crazy. I was noticing I had a lot of the similar patterns and a variety of colors and sizes. My dries are mostly caddis, PMX, Adams, PMD’s and other randoms. My nymphs are mostly BWO, Midges, Caddis Emergers, Stoneflies and a small pile of wacky stuff that came out of a bargain bin. This made me realize that I fish the same flies repeatedly and although I have had success with my selection of flies, I am wondering what I am missing. TyingFliesreleaseOr am I? Please chime in and tell me what your go to flies are for fly fishing in Colorado. I am interested in hearing about what is working for other anglers around the state. I am confident that a lot of our fly boxes are very similar but if you have something that works for you let us know. Here are the rules: you can only choose 9 flies, 3 dries, 3 nymphs, 3 streamers. I understand that there are “secrets” among us fishermen so if you want to keep it close to your chest I understand. But, I however like to share the knowledge so I will start. If I had to have one box of flies to get me through a summer of Fly Fishing in Colorado, this is what would be in it.

Dries – Parachute Adams, Orange PMX, EC Caddis Olive

Nymphs – Pats Rubber Leg, Olive Micro May, Grey Flash Back RS2

Streamers – Natural Slump Buster, Black Sex Dungeon, Olive Sculpzilla

There is my go to fly box for the summer. Not very exciting but it has done ok for me thus far. I am a believer that confidence is king when fishing for anything and I am very confident when I have these bugs on the end of my string. What are your favorites?

GoPro Camera: 3+ Black Edition Review

Recently I became one of the millions of consumers to purchase a GoPro action camera. I have been waiting for the last 3 or so years for things to get worked out and it seems that a million happy films makers couldn’t be wrong. I chose to go with the Hero 3+ Black Edition for multiple reasons but the main one being the ability to shoot in 120fps at 720p. I like the thought of being able to slow my images way down in post production. The GoPro 3+ also has the ability to shoot in 240 fps in wvga mode. Wow, thats pretty slow. Anyway, I have been toying around with this micro camera for the past month and here is what I have come to like and dislike about the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition.

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Size- great compact size and the field of view (FOV) is very wide so you can capture everything you are pointing the camera at. This is important to remember when using this camera. If you have it set on wide or ultra wide your FOV is giant at nearly 170 degrees. But it also means that you have to be very close to the camera to capture quality close up shots.

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Ease of Use – Turn it on and hit start. The camera will beep and start recording. When the record button is pressed again the camera beeps 2x letting you know it is not recording.

Waterproof Housing – tight and form fitting design makes the housing secure and safe. It is also extremely clear allowing for quality underwater shots. I like to keep a micro cloth with me when using the housing to keep spots off the lens section.

Software – The free software that is on the gopro.com site is simple to use and converts all your files quickly. The software also allows you to edit portions of your clips prior to converting and exporting to .mov files.

Battery Life – So far so good. Although I have heard otherwise from other users. It is charged by usb off your computer and charges quickly. I have heard that if you attach a viewing screen the battery really goes quickly. I have not tried this yet but I assume that the viewing screen takes a lot of juice to run.

The only problem I have had with this camera is it will not record occasionally. Last weekend I set up what I thought was going to be a great shot of a truck driving underwater and it did not record for whatever reason. Well, it did record but the file was unusable and everything was black on the screen. Seemed odd. This has happened several times and I cannot figure out why. And since I have no viewing screen I cannot playback and see if it was recorded.

So far it has been a positive experience with the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition, I will continue to test it in all types of environments and see where it excels the best.

Sage One Review

Before things got blown out I took a newbie fly fishing a couple weeks ago down the Eagle River. Granted this is not the best river for a new angler to cut their teeth. But what better way to learn then throw them right into the lions den. He showed up with all his new gear as well as a shiny new Sage One 6 wt.  After watching him flail his stick in the air I finally said “you paid about $800.00 for that rod and you are only using $25.00 worth.” He quickly got the joke and started timing his cast and let the rod do the work. After some coaching he was in the groove and putting his new stick to work. A Caddis Hatch started popping around 2 pm and he had the pleasure of hooking his first trout on a dry fly.  He was a young gun just getting into the sport and was eager to learn the ways of the fly rod. He was also kind enough to let me take a few shots with his shiny new Sage One. This is what I thought.

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The faster action gives you a lot of punch and can quickly launch the line should you need it. The rod has a ton of power and it disperses nicely throughout the whole shaft. The rod is very light, the 6 weight felt like a 4wt, which makes casting for long periods easier on your arm. Making longer casts was with precision was the rod’s best characteristic. Making casts closer than 30 feet was a little sporty and didn’t load the rod well.  Overall I would recommend this rod (Sage One 6wt) to an angler who is more experienced at casting. A novice is not going to get his/her bang for their buck out of this rod.

Patagonia Stormfront Bag Review

I had the opportunity to use the Patagonia Stormfront Roll Top Bag on a recent video shoot on a remote location south of the boarder. I put all my clothing and some electronic gear in this bag figuring it would remain safe/dry as we crossed open water.

Deep Water Crossing In Open Panga
Deep Water Crossing In Open Panga

It would have been disastrous had I not double checked the roll top numerous times prior to departure. The bag is a rugged design with waterproof welded construction but the roll top does not stay secure like a normal dry sack. I found that if you did not twist, twist and twist some more patagonia stormfront roll top bagbefore latching, the top of the bag it would open. 2 or 3 twists will not secure the main compartment on this bag. The wraps will unravel easily and the top opens up exposing your cargo to the elements. Being a Patagonia fan, I found this to be extremely discouraging about this 47L dry bag. Other than the top being a chore to close the bag is well constructed, but for the price there are better products on the market that truly work better as a dry bag. The Simms Dry Creek Pack is still my go to for keeping anything dry. I put it to the test (again) 2 weeks ago in a humid, wet salty climate and it still was able to keep its contents dry. If you have your eyes on the Stormfront Bag keep looking I wasn’t impressed.

Boat Bags: Fly Fishing Float Season

The float season is upon us and it is time to re organize the boat bag. There are many options on the market giving us plenty to choose from so what do you look for? I would focus on three things; size, simplicity and durability. Space can be limited on a boat so I try not to go overboard with a big boat bag. Simms and Fishpond both make reasonably sized boat bags that allow anglers to store plenty of flies, tippet and other gear. A lot of guides use and like the larger waterproof bag pictured below but I’ve seen busted zippers on those bags. A waterproof bag with a broken zipper does not do anyone any good. Boat bags take a lot of abuse. They sit in the sun, get covered in sun screen, dry shake, chew spit and beer swill. The also get wet, dry and wet again so finding one with a hard plastic bottom or water proof membrane will add life to your bag.

The simplicity of the bag will allow you to locate what you are looking for a little more quickly when you are floating downstream. A few different pockets are great for separating fly boxes, tippet spools and fly dressings. The more pockets the more I get confused on where I place items. The following Boat Bags are my top choices.

Simms Dry Creek Boat Bag

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Fishpond Could Burst Gear Bag

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Simms Headwaters Tackle Bag

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Dr Slick: Long Nose Pliers

I purchased a pair of the Barracuda Pliers from DR Slick about 6 years ago prior an AK trip. I was looking for a pair of rugged pliers to de-barb and remove bigger flies from toothy fish. Dr_slick_2I found that these pliers were perfect for the the task and easy on the wallet. They are constructed out of stainless steel and have a comfortable foam grip. The longer nose design allow you to keep a safe distance when removing a file or lure from a Barracuda, Pike or Musky. The pliers come with a sheath that can be attached to a belt as well as a short lanyard. On the back of the tool there are side cutters that allow you to cut wire and heavy leader material with ease. All of that for a under thirty bucks. Compared to Abel pliers at $175.00 the Dr Slicks have barracuda-teetheverything you need at 1/6th of the price. These pliers have been with me to numerous saltwater and freshwater destinations and the only quirk that I have run into is the handle. The foam grip has started to slide on my pliers which isn’t that big of a problem but certainly something to keep an eye on. I would recommend these to other anglers who are looking for a sturdy tool that can allow you to work with toothy fish.

 

Leader Connections: Tippet Rings

What is a Tippet Ring? Well a tippet ring is a way for anglers to extend the life of their leaders.tippet ring It allows you to connect larger diameter line to smaller diameter line. For example, if you have a leader that is getting short and do not want to build it out by connecting 1x to 3x to 5x etc. you can connect your tippet rig to your leader and then attach a smaller diameter line (tippet) to the opposite end. This can aid anglers by saving time on the river. Instead of tying multiple knots to lengthen your leader you only need to tie 2 knots. A pack of them will run you between $4- $8 bucks and come around 10 to a pack.

Now lets take a look at a pack of barrel swivels which are pretty much the exact same thing but are black-barrel-swivelcalled swivels instead of tippet rings. A pack of 72 is 5 bucks. I have never used a tippet ring so I cannot talk trash about them. Some guys use them and like the ability to quickly change leader lengths. I have used barrel swivels in the past and they work well when nymphing deep in areas with a snaggy bottom. They also help prevent your line from twisting. I guess I am old fashion in that I like to lengthen my leaders with surgeons knots and use my old shortened leaders for streamer setups. If any of you have used tippet tinges please chime in and give us your opinion.

Inflatable Boat Cleaner

This post is only fitting to follow up our previous discussion of boat style preference. Tis’ the season for digging out the raft and giving it a good spring cleaning. Some of you may not have a rubber boat but if you may in the future this will be good to know when you get the urge to clean it up. A lot of people use simple green to get the grit, grime and chew spit off of their boat and I think that is a fine cleaner to do the basics. But, in order to get the grease residue off the hypalon I recommend picking up a bottle of Inflatable Boat Cleaner. I know it is a difficult name to remember. This stuff is amazing and will have your raft looking brand new.inflatable boat cleaner Make sure and follow the instructions or you might end up with some odd off-color looking spots. I am not sure what it contains but the main ingredient smells like floor stripper. I am not a chemist and do not have the educations to break down whats in the container. However, I have stripped and waxed a few floors in my day and it sure smells like floor stripper to me. Regardless of what miracle ingredient is in the product it makes your boat shine like a new penny. It is expensive so use sparingly. Once clean and dry I like to apply 303 sun protectant to my raft. This helps keep you boat from getting a sun burn on the river and keeps it’s skin baby soft. You definitely want to invest in some of this. It will keep your rubber from fading in the Colorado sun. DO NOT use Armorall as a protectant solution. I have been told that if you tear a hole in your raft and try to patch it the adhesive will not stick to rubber that has been treated with Armorall.

Amos Rocking A Clean Raft On The Upper C.
Amos Rocking A Clean Raft On The Upper C.

Drift Boat or Raft : Pros and Cons

clackacraft_WARight out of the gate there is no question that a Drift Boat is more comfortable to fish out of than a raft with a fishing frame. Lets face it, a drift boat is made with fly fishermen in mind. Everything from the hard bottom, wide beam, knee braces and rod holders caters to those who fish. The only problem with a drift boat is that they are not as forgiving as a raft. Which is fine if you are constantly navigating wide slow meandering rivers like the Colorado or Big Horn. What you cannot do with a drift boat is drop it down into a canyon and row through narrow fast moving rivers, with large rock gardens and big rapids.  Both watercraft are great but if I had to choose one for floating Colorado Rivers it would be a raft. Here is why…Row

A raft is extremely versatile and can be as intricate or simple as you want to make it. Most of the frames come apart easily allowing the boater to remove unwanted weight or switch from a fishing machine to a family fun floater. Rafts are very durable and packable. The frames come apart and the boat will roll up making it ideal for canyon floats where you have to pack in.

A lot of the rivers in Colorado are fast moving bodies of water that can have some tricky rapids and rocky shoots. A lot of these rivers also have tremendous fishing if you can get down them. The only safe way is with a raft and experienced oarsmen.

nrs_otterAs a raft owner I have been in a lot of fishing set ups that are great and others that are not so great. My favorite is the NRS Otter with a Downriver Frame. It is a beefy setup that can get down whatever you put in front of it. In lower water it can get snagged on some shallow gravel bars but I have found that to be common in a lot of rafts. A good setup right out of the box is the Outcast Pac 1300 raft. Super lightweight and a bit narrower than the NRS, the Pac 1300 can take on skinny low water with ease. the frame comes in 3 parts and is easily removable.

Photo Courtesy of Outcast

However you choose to get down the river make sure you stay safe with all the PFD’s, throw bags and First Aid equipment. Float season has started here in the Mountains so get out there and enjoy all these waterways.