Mexico GD 9

Great Days 9: Fishing Below the Border

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Once again the staff over at Smith Optics have brought us a killer video for our viewing pleasure. In this latest installment, A few guys from Idaho travel south in pursuit of Dorado and Roosterfish.  It looks like quite the adventure and well the fishing doesn’t appear to suck… Enjoy

I cannot stress enough: Polarized glasses are arguably the most important piece of  gear apart from a rod / reel / line.  My Smith glasses have treated me so well over the years. I would urge you to check them out for yourself if you haven’t already .  My personal choice? The Touchstone with Black Frames and Polarchromic Copper Mirrored lenses.

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An Inside Look: Rio’s Perception Line

When it comes to accurate cast and landing trout a good line can make all the difference in the world. The ConnectCore Technology that Rio  integrated into the Perception is an ultra-low stretch core system that allows unbeatable sensitivity for better cast timing, easier line lift, and a more precise mend, making Rio’s Perception Fly Line the perfect example of how a great line can enhance the angler’s ability to catch more fish.

Ice off at Colorado High Country Lakes

An angler stands on his favorite river, swelled bank to bank with cold, turbid, fast moving, dangerous mid June runoff, and mutters, “When is there going to be some fishable water? Curses foiled again.”

Have no fear high country lakes are here! The fish are looking up, hungry and cruise the shallows.  Dead insects, formerly encrusted in ice, drift in the melted film and those alive are responding to the spring warmth. Grab your rod and get up there.

We picked three lakes above 9000’ elevation in northwest Colorado near the town of Steamboat Springs with roads close by, Steamboat, Pearl and Dumont. A short walk around drifted snow banks and we were fishing. The aspens were sucking up the snow melt and sprouting soft, tender, green leaves. Glacier lilies burst from the edge of snow banks with yellow flowers.  The mountains were alive again and soothed the soul.P1030171

At Steamboat Lake the rainbows and cutthroats hit size 8 black woolly buggers with hints of purple mixed in. A float tube was helpful to fish towards the shallow shore but cold. The possibility of hypothermia crossed our minds. Dress in layers because the skies can change from sunny to snowy quickly. While we fished, the Pleistocene era sand hill cranes soared above us uttering their strange, haunting prehistoric cries. The ancestors of this 2 million year old species, with a six foot wingspan, began migrating through North America at the end of the last Ice Age and make the lake marshes here their summer home.

Pearl Lake is only a few miles away. We aimed our casts to evening rises as the sun reflected the mountains in the cool, blue water. It was frustrating because I kept missing strikes at my Griffiths gnat dry fly. In desperation, I downsized twice and finally, with a size 18, I got a hook up. The fish darted deep, pulling my line from side to side and eventually tiring ended up in my net. It was an arctic grayling which have smaller mouths and they apparently couldn’t get their jaws around my larger flies. One of my fishing buddies said, “I never thought grayling would take a dry fly.” Typically they live deep in the lake, but in the spring move to the shallows to spawn and then disappear again.

Dumont Lake lays near the continent divide on Rabbit Ears Pass by U. S. Highway 40. We left a paved road, busy with traffic, to the serenity of a mountain lake. During the summer the lake and campground generally crawls with anglers and campers. During our spring trip we had it all to ourselves. A couple years ago the lake was drained, the brook trout removed, the dam repaired, re-filled with melted snow creeks and stocked with Hofer-Colorado River strain, whirling disease resistant, rainbow trout. The rich organic material encouraged quick growth and we encountered fat, feisty, fish. Aquatic worms were abundant. Small size 14 hooks wrapped with red floss and ribbed with copper wire worked well. Occasionally, the trout would take a larger San Juan worm or green Copper John midges too.

As always, it took a little experimentation to figure out what the fish wanted and each lake provided forage that was different, but the fish were hungry after a long winter beneath the ice. A local fly shop can offer tips to solve the riddle.

A high mountain lake awakes and waits for you. Don’t despair, get up there.

Sage Salt

New For 2015: Introducing The Sage Salt

Saltwater Anglers Rejoice! The fine folks over at Sage Fly Rods have redesigned their saltwater line of fly rods for 2015. Aptly named the Salt this series of rods will be perfect for any saltwater angling adventure. The staff at Fishwest (myself included) are very excited to see what this rod is all about.

It will be interesting to see how this rod compares to it’s predecessor the Xi3. How will it perform? According to the tech sheet the 890 Salt weighs in as much as the 9wt Xi3. How will that affect the performance of the rod?  Will the Konnetic technology allow this rod to load quicker and be more accurate? I for one have alot of questions about this rod but I am excited to get some answers. In the meantime check out what the team at Sage has to say:

Sage Salt

Our first saltwater rod created with our revolutionary Konnetic Technology, the medium-fast action (we consider it a salt-action) SALT loads extremely quickly at all distances, allowing you to make your all-important first cast with precision no matter the range of your quarry, all without casting fatigue. Powerfully tapered throughout, the stiffer tip section on this exquisite dark sapphire rod works in concert with the deeper-bending middle and lower sections to help you quickly and effortlessly lift your line off the water for lighting-fast casts that let you make the most of each opportunity.

With the same tip-to-hand sensitivity that all our Konnetic Technology rods are known for, the SALT gives you the instant feedback you need for precision casts at moving targets. And the torsional control and tracking qualities of the blank deliver your fly exactly where you’re looking. Add in new custom components like the deeply knurled and ergonomically cantered reel lock nuts, a black Stealth bead blasted reel seat numbered by line weight for quick selection—plus its built in hook keeper, and it’s easy to see the SALT is built for fast-paced action. Let’s face it, the saltwater is a place where the strong feed on the weak. Be the former.

FEATURES

  • - Konnetic technology
  • - Fast loading, saltwater action
  • - Dark Sapphire blank color
  • - Black thread wraps with silver trim wraps
  • - Oversized Fuji ceramic stripper guides
  • - Oversized hard chromed snake guides and tip-top
  • - Heavy-duty, Stealth Black anodized aluminum up-locking reel seat
  • - Integrated hidden hook keeper in reel seat
  • - Laser etched rod weight on slide band
  • - Super Plus full-wells cork handle
  • - Black rod bag with Electric Blue logo
  • - Electric Blue powder coated aluminum rod tube with Sage medallion

Tech Sheet

Orvis Superfine Glass

Glass is Not Dead: The Orvis Superfine Glass

SLOW DOWN! That is what fiberglass rods are all about. Fiberglass rods are making a resurgence within the industry for a good reason. They are great tools for beginner anglers but most of all they are just a lot of fun to fish. This video highlights the latest glass offering from The Orvis Company. The Superfine Glass is a contemporary view on a classic design. When the industry standard is  high modulus graphite rods, companies like Orvis, Echo, & Redington are bringing back rods that will suit the needs of anglers looking for something different. If you haven’t already…Check it out!

Orvis Sling Pack 2

Product Spotlight: The Orvis Guide Sling Pack

A good day fishing means that I need to be prepared for a majority of situations and have the right gear. That probably means that I need some snacks, a light jacket, some form of lunch, multiple waters, and my flies/leaders/tippet/misc ect. Finding the right pack for this type of job has been difficult for me to say the least.

A majority of the time a pack was either too cumbersome or bursting at the seams to fish with for the day. This meant that a majority of the time I found myself hiking back to my car at some point during the day to retrieve something that I had to leave behind.

Sling PackThis all changed when I was introduced to the Orvis Guide Sling Pack. This pack allows me to spend a whole day fishing either solo or playing Sherpa for friends without feeling weighed down. This pack has plenty of room. The sweetest thing about this pack is the simplicity and layout of the pack. The pack has three areas of storage. The largest zippered pocket can easily hold plenty of gear/provisions for the day.

On any given day you can find my pack filled with 4-5 boxes chalked full of flies ranging from a large C&F design streamer box to others containing various nymphs and dry fly offerings. Couple that with a couple, some snacks & lunch and 95 % of the time I am set for the day.

Sling Pack The two other storage areas on this pack are much smaller but are perfect for the smaller essentials like Leaders, Indicators, Split Shot and Dry Shake just to name a few. Of course this pack can be configured to suit the needs of any angler and the configuration of my pack will vary from outing to outing based on where and what species I may be targeting that particular day.

The great part of the pack is that gear access is a piece of cake. Simply undo the removable third strap around the chest and swing the main strap around your chest and all your gear is at your fingertips. Using the simple two straps and provided tippet holder keeps your entire tippet arsenal neat and tidy out of the way. The cherry on top is the main torso strap features a magnetic hemo holster and it also has many places for other accessories and tools.

Sling-InstructionsThe minimalist fisherman will not like this pack and it doesn’t have much in terms of organization. Just three simple pockets for all the gear needed for a day. Also some anglers may find a problem with the fact that this pack can only be worn over the right shoulder. Some may argue that the main strap may hinder the casting stroke. Being a left handed caster I cannot comment on whether or not this argument has validity.

With that being said, I feel this pack is the right tool for angler in any situation. To covering ground looking Pike & Musky to wading for trout this pack truly does it all! Don’t take my word for it though. Check it out by clicking HERE.

Neah Bay

Northwest Black Bass – A Welcome Diversion from Salmon Fishing

Each year I have the opportunity to spend several days chasing Coho with my parents in the Strait of Juan de Fuca adjacent to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.  While the primary purpose of this annual trip is to keep salmon on my grill the rest of the year, a few years ago we began to pursue another species as well.  It is a well known fact that real men arise at the crack of ten, sometimes the Coho are only feeding closer to dawn.  When this happens you had better be up and underway when running lights are required.  Pre-dawn marina departures of vessels of all shapes and sizes contributes to the charm of small fishing towns and Sekiu is no exception.  If the bite is early and the  typical limit on Coho is two fish per angler per day,  you may very well find yourself back at the dock before breakfast.  The Olympic Peninsula  is full of things to do once the salmon are caught, filleted out, vacuum sealed,  and frozen. One could venture out to Cape Flattery, the most Northwest point in the continental United States. Visit the crystal blue water of Lake Crescent, or just hike around in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Once these things are done, as most anglers are apt to do, it usually returns to some kind of fishing.

PENTAX ImageNear Neah Bay  there are hours of entertainment to be had catching strong fighting and great tasting fish.  Using an ultralight spinning  rod and a small plastic tail jig a person can burn an entire day catching Black Sea Bass near the kelp beds.  These fish typically range from 2-4 pounds, put up a great fight, and are simply a blast to catch.  The catch limit  is pretty high (check the regulations if you go) and they taste great.  We would position the boat near the kelp bed and allow the boat to drift with the wind and/or tide along side of the bed casting into the channels between the branches of the kelp.  These fish tend to school so when you catch one, there are sure to be more. Anyone that has spent a couple of hours filleting out a mess of crappie knows that it takes about the same amount of time to clean a small fish as it does a larger fish so it is definitely worthwhile to put the smaller fish back to grow up a bit and keep the larger fish.  However, if you want to take it to the next level, you can keep a few smaller bass to be used as live bait for Ling Cod, a bottom dwelling beast from another age.  Ling is a great eating fish and they fight really hard as well.

black_sea_bassOne year as I was packing for this trip, it occurred to me how much fun it might be to catch black bass on a fly rod.  My four piece five weight was summarily tossed into my bag along with a couple of Clouser minnows.  When we arrived at the kelp beds I went forward to fish off the bow since fly casting from the rear of a Grady White would preclude anyone else being able to fish.  Being on the bow, I was higher than I was in the stern and could clearly see deeper into the water.  This also allowed me to more accurately place my fly between the branches of the kelp and see its descent into the darkness below.   I was using a sinking line to get the relatively weightless fly into the fishes realm.  No sooner had the fly dropped below the first kelp petals than a strong two pound bass darted from the cover of the kelp and took the fly with an aggressiveness that shocked me.  I set the hook and the fight was on.  Since I am unaware of a method to quantify laughter, suffice it to say that I laughed a lot while catching these fish.

After a good fight the fish tired and I was able to bring it closer to the boat.  The smaller fish I was able to hoist from the water using the line, but the bigger fish presented a problem.  Since I was balancing on the bow of the boat and the net was at the stern, I had to lead the larger fish along side of the boat to be netted by Captain Jeff.  I soon found that the deeper my fly went, the bigger the fish that ate it.  Several times while the fly was sinking, a smaller bass would dart out from the kelp and follow the fly only to be chased off by a much larger fish from the depths below.  It is a good day when fish are literally fighting over your fly.  This type of fishing allows for one of the things that makes fly fishing so great, the ability to see the fish take your fly.  Allowing this revelation to sink in, I decided to fish with streamers more often on my home waters.

While all four of us were catching fish,  the fly rod was consistently taking the larger fish.  Hooking and landing a four pound Black Sea bass on a five weight fly rod makes an impression on one’s soul and brings a smile to my face even years later.

Scott Radian

Fishwest 5wt ”Showdown” – Part Duex: The Scott Radian

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Next up in our “showdown” testing is the Radian by the fine folks over at Scott Fly Rods in Montrose Colorado. This rod was introduced to the public in summer of 2013 and hasn’t stopped receiving hype since. The Radian is the newest member of the Scott fly rod lineup. It is the replacement for the S4 series of rods which are also considered fast action.

Radian

Unlike the S4 the Scott Radian has much more feel without losing that crisp fast action performance. Like a majority of fast action rods on the market today you will initially notice that this rod is extremely lightweight.  The workmanship on this rod is the icing on the cake. The components like the reel seat and small touches like hand written inscriptions make this rod easy on the eye.

Just like the first rod in our test we paired the Radian with the Orvis Encounter Series fly reel and a 5 weight Rio Gold fly line.

JC: Scott markets this rod under the slogan “Fast Meets Feel”, with that being said I think that slogan is a perfect description of this rod in the range of 10 to 30 feet. Casting light tippets with the smallest of dries to those wary fish can be done at ease with the Radian. The rod loaded up nice and easy and allowed for quiet soft delivery and presentation. The rod was also extremely accurate within 30 feet but with plenty of power in reserve for longer casts.

Casting this rod at 50 feet was also quite nice and enjoyable. This rod unlike the Sage Method we tested earlier had a much deeper loading point translated into much better feel and accuracy in my opinion. The crisp fast action was still apparent when laying out longer casts especially when the wind picked up a little bit.IMG_1905

At 70 feet this rod still performed quite well even though my casting stroke had to be opened up to allow the rod to carry that much line.  This rod struggled when trying to pick up a lot of line to lay it back down with one back cast in my opinion. I could see this rod struggling at this distance with heavily weighted flies. With that being said I don’t think this rod is designed to toss heavy flies at great distances like some fast action rods out on the market. Delivering dry flies would not be a problem at all.

Overall if I had to describe the Radian in a few words I would say well balanced. With the quicker fast action and the soft tip the rod has a lot of feel without sacrificing power. This rod has a lot of potential as a western trout rod especially in the state of Utah since our waters are on the smaller side on the grand scheme of things. This rod is serviceable in quite a variety of situations from heavier nymph rigs to tossing dries the Radian is definitely worth a look as a “do it all” 5wt trout rod. Backed up by a lifetime warranty from Scott this rod is sure to be staple in the quiver for a long time to come.

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Radian 3Morgan: Going into this rod review, I knew I liked the Radian already. I fished this rod on the Green River during some very windy conditions and it performed well. I knew I like this rod on its own but how did it stack up against a few other high-end rods?

It stacked up well. This rod can do it all and it feels right at home in any scenario.

You want to fish size 18 Blue Wings to slurping browns? It will do it with presentations so delicate you’ll be hooking up with Hog Johnson in no time. You’re a streamer junkie? It will double haul meat easily. You like fishing nymphs? This rod can handle those Czech rigs and strike indicators the size of tennis balls (please don’t attempt this! Scott has a great warranty but leave the tennis balls for Federer). If I had one gripe with the rod, it would be the reel seat. The dark grey rod with a few orange accents keeps this rod looking classy and modern but I don’t think the red burled box elder fits well with the rod, just my opinion.

On to the casting:


So much fly fishing is done within 30ft and the rod can make those close casts cleanly and smoothly. Feeling this rod load up at short distances was a welcomed feeling and the recovery of the rod is just as smooth. The presentations at 30ft were delicate and soft and this rod has great tippet control in the form of feedback from the softer tip.

At 50 feet, the rod could make accurate casts with little effort. The Radian has enough backbone to pick up 40ft of line and lay your fly back out with minimal false casting. The rod loads up deeper into the mid sections when casting larger flies but and can still make the longer presentations delicately.

Radian 470ft casts were doable but your fly options are going to be limited to lighter flies at this distance. I could cast this rod 70ft but it required a lot of double-hauling and false casts to get them there. The performance of the Radian at 70ft is about what I expected from a rod that’s not claiming to be a long haul machine.

This rod will outperform your expectations from a 9ft 5ft trout rod. Many of us have a hard time justifying the high costs of high-end rods but I think this rod is so versatile and the performance is so high, that the price tag is in line with the quality of the rod. It’s safe to say I like this rod a lot.

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Well there you have it. As always I hope you have enjoyed the insight into the Scott Radian that Morgan and I have provided. Stay tuned for our thoughts on a gem from Montana the Boron IIIx by RL Winston. You can check out all the rods we have reviewed and much more by visiting us at Fishwest.com   

 

Florida Keys

Great Days 5: Florida Keys Flats Fishing by Smith Optics

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If you don’t know already own a pair of polarized glasses is worth it’s weight in gold when fishing. I would argue a nice pair of sunnies is probably the most important fishing accessory.  Since the days of Action Optics the staff over at Smith has been committed to bringing some of the best technical eye wear to the fly fishing industry. Smith glasses are a favorite of the shop staff here at Fishwest. From Jake with his Frontman’s to Richard with the Backdrops they can be seen time and time again.   If you haven’t had a chance to checkout the offerings from Smith Optics I would urge you to do so.

Without further adieu, check out this awesome video put together by Smith highlighting the excellent Florida Keys fisheries.

Sage Method Fly Rod

Fishwest 5wt “Showdown” – Part 1: The Sage Method


We have been getting a few requests to give our opinions towards some of the more talked about rods. Last Saturday turned out to be quite the nice day at the shop so we decided to string up a few 9ft 5 weights and put them to the “test”. Morgan and I decided to test the following rods:  The Scott Radian, The Sage One & Method as well as the Winston Boron IIIx.
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In order to maintain all fairness and accuracy within the test itself we utilized the same reel and line setups on each one of the rods. All the rods in question were outfitted with the Orvis Encounter series fly reel and the Rio Gold fly line.

To gain a complete feel for each of the rods targets were placed at intervals of 30, 50, and 70 feet respectively to simulate a variety of fishing situations out on the hunt for trout in the Rocky Mtn west. Please know that Morgan and I are basing this article solely on our opinions of the rod performance. No consideration was taken on objective factors such as looks, warranty, or price ect.

The Sage Method kicked things off for us:


This rod is newest member of the Sage family of fly rods.  This rod falls into the “Super Fast” category of Sage Rods. This category started off with the introduction of the TCR series which was later replaced by the TCX line of rods.

IMG_1899_FotorAt first glance you will notice two things about this rod.  It is extremely lightweight and quite stiff. The stiff feel is to be expected with the “super fast” action profile of this rod.

JC At 30 feet I feel that this rod struggled mightily.  Paired with this line, this rod had zero feel at thirty feet and made the rod hard to cast because it would not load properly. Also presentation was compromised at 30 feet due to the stiffness of the rod, the casts tended to lie down a little bit on the harsher side.

Within the 50 foot range this rod began to excel and casting was a breeze. The overall presentation of the fly landed quite softly which was nice.  The accuracy on this rod was also exceptional at this distance and beyond.

This rod could easily touch the 70+ foot mark with accuracy and distance with no questions asked. The rod still had plenty of power to spare. Paired with the right line, possibly a 6wt GPX or Rio Grand this rod could easily cast 100 feet and more

Overall this rod despite its shortcomings has some practical advantages in my opinion.  If this rod was overloaded with a 6wt fly line it would perform much better. This rod would excel being used in a variety of situations (big nymph rigs, articulated streamers, large dries). The stiff action of this rod would stand up extremely well to the windiest of conditions.

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Morgan: Although I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of this rod, it still seems like this is a rod for more experienced casters or those with a specific purpose in mind for this rod (salt, streamers, or heavy nymph rigs).

I personally don’t enjoy faster action fly rods for throwing dry flies, in most cases they are lacking in presentation. Even though this rod lacks in presentation it thrives throwing long casts, streamers, and big nymph rigs.

IMG_1897At 30 ft, this rod is a broomstick, plain and simple. There was almost no chance of feeling the rod load at such a short distance. With that being said, it still made the cast.  Albeit, not the lightest presentation out of the bunch but definitely still fishable. Like JC had mentioned, I too would have liked this rod even more with an over-weighted line such as the Rio GrandScientific Anglers GPX or Airflo’s Super Dri Exceed. I have even heard of guys over-lining this rod by two line weights.

Casting this rod at 50ft was a breeze. This is where this rod really started to shine. We start to get a feel for when/where this rod loads up in the forward and back casts at 50ft. My casts were cleaner and had a much lighter presentation at this distance. It easily picks up 40 or 50ft of line and set’s you up to lay it right back down without more than a couple false casts to clean up your cast or change directions.

My casting abilities became very apparent when I started making 70ft attempts but this rod, compared to others, did help make up for my inexperience at longer distances. These long distance casts seemed, to me, to be what this rod was made for. Being able to pick up 40 or 50ft of line, make a couple false casts and shoot the line out to 70ft distances was a breeze. Although the line we’re using is a typical trout taper, the line shot very well and could have only shot better with a line with a heavier head.

This rod is not an all around Rocky Mountain trout rod in my opinion. This is a great rod for heavy flies and long casts, but can still make due throwing dries in a one rod situation. The Method would be great on our larger western rivers or on the salt.IMG_1895_Fotor

We hope that you have enjoyed the first installment in our four part series where Morgan and I review various 5 weight rods. Next up is the highly anticipated Radian from Scott Fly RodsStay tuned, for in depth information on the Sage Method and more, visit the place for All Things Fly Fishing Fishwest.com

Cold Feet, Forsaken Fish and the Morning After…