Category Archives: Industry

AFFTA President’s Statement to the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee

AFFTA-LogoStatement of Benjamin H. Bulis, President and CEO of American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA), for the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship hearing entitled, “An Examination of Proposed Environmental Regulation’s Impacts on America’s Small Businesses”, May 19, 2015.

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Ben Bulis, AFFTA President

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony in support of the Clean Water Act at the hearing today. I had the good fortune to be born and raised in the beautiful state of New Hampshire. I have fished around the U.S. and the world, but the rivers and streams of New Hampshire will always stay close to my heart. Now I have the great fortune to live and work in Bozeman, Montana, and the fishing is not too bad there either, as you may have heard!

AFFTA represents the business of fly fishing which includes manufacturers, retailers, outfitters and guides across the nation, who all share the same bottom line: furthering the sport and industry of fly fishing. This cannot be accomplished without clean water and vibrant fisheries habitat. The formula that drives AFFTA is very simple: Access to healthy habitat creates recreational opportunity that drives economic activity and jobs.

Our industry provides the waders, rods, guides and boats that 47 million sportsmen and women utilize every time they step foot in their favorite piece of water. Their quality of experience, and thus our return sales to enhance those days, is dependent on access to clean water.

I am here to express our support for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to restore protections for our nation’s headwater streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Simply put, the draft clean water rule is well crafted and appropriate, it should be allowed to move through the federal rulemaking process with support of Congress.

Here’s why. The small waters to which this important draft rule applies are the lifeblood for many of our country’s prized fisheries. The health of these headwaters sets the tone and benefits for all waters downstream, supporting and creating even the backbone of our nation’s marine resources. They flow into rivers, streams and lakes that provide the foundation of our industry, thus eventually concluding the voyage in our oceans–ourindustry’s viability depends on intact watersheds, cold, clean rivers and streams and healthy, fishable habitat.

Given that fishing in America supports approximately 828,000 jobs, results in nearly $50 billion annually in retail sales and has an economic impact of about $115 billion every year (Sportfishing in America an Economic Force for ConservationAmerican Sportfishing Association, 2013), it stands to reason that the health of our nation’s waters is vital to the continued success of our industry, and to the health of America’s economy. We urge you to allow the rulemaking process to continue unimpeded, carefully review the final rule when it comes out, and then determine what, if any, legislative action is warranted. We owe it to the more than one million Americans who took the time to comment on the proposal to allow the process to reach a conclusion. More than 80% of those who commented on the proposal were in favor of it. Such strong support for clean water and healthy watersheds is what our members experience every day as we interact with our customers across the Nation.

If we fail to protect our headwater streams and wetlands, we may destroy the $200 billion annual economy of the hunting and fishing industry, as well as put 1.5 million people out of work. Of those 1.5 million jobs…many are located in rural areas with limited economic opportunities and few other employment options. Some of the best trout water in the lower 48 is located here in Montana, where our entire state population just recently broached a million residents. Because of access and quality of those trout waters…world-wide fly fishing companies such as Simms, RL Winston, Montana Fly Company and Bozeman Reel Company have decided to set up shop in our relatively rural location…and employ hundreds of people in the process. If those jobs are compromised due to a lack of clean water, what options do those employees have in our rural economies across the nation?

AFFTA members from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Coast of Louisiana, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, the Florida Key, the Front Range of Colorado and the remote outfitters in Alaska are all funding their local economies by clean water and healthy fisheries. From the flies to the rods to the rain jackets for the guides rowing clients down the river…none would be possible without clean water.

In recent years, participation in fly fishing has grown. We are seeing robust interest in our sport and it is translating to our sales, to the numbers of employees we hire right here in America, and to the health of brick-and-mortar retailers all over the country. The fly fishing industry is the epitome of small business, the sustainable domestic industry is dependent on clean fishable water.

But, in addition to being acutely interested in the health of our watersheds, we are also concerned that blocking this rulemaking process could turn back the clock on the progress our nation has made since the Clean Water Act was put into place more than 40 years ago. Today, rivers that were once polluted are home to remarkable runs of steelhead, salmon and brown trout. Streams that were once uninhabitable for native brook trout are now home to robust populations of these prized fish. What’s more, our country’s drinking water is healthier and safer.

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Ben Bulis, AFFTA President, with ranking committee Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire.

Please consider the present state of our watersheds before interfering in a proven process that has generated more than 800,000 comments from the public in support of this rule. While we understand that politics these days can be tumultuous and rancorous, we strongly encourage you not to play politics with clean water.

Again, on behalf of AFFTA, I appreciate the opportunity to testify today and I’d like to also thank this committee and staff for their continued service to our Nation.

Sincerely,

Benjamin H. Bulis

 

A Look at the Glass: The Orvis Superfine Glass

I’ve been fishing a less-expensive glass rod pretty heavily for the past six months (a Redington Butter Stick, 7’6” 4wt) and I wanted to get my hands on some top-of-the-line glass to see if I’d enjoy the best glass the industry has to offer. A pretty big gap exists between low-end and high-end fly rods, and I was curious whether or not that parity exists with fiberglass.

orvis_logoOrvis was kind enough to send me the 7’ 3wt and 7’6” 4wt versions of their Superfine Glass rods. I’d heard nothing but good things about the Superfine Glass line of rods, and with Orvis being a leader in the fly fishing world, it made sense to see what they had to offer.

I played with the rods for a solid weekend, fishing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, putting the rods through as many situations as I could find out here in Utah.

I fished the rods with the help of a few friends on the Provo River, Huntington Creek, and Thistle Creek. The Provo is a large, wide river with big, picky fish. Huntington is a medium-sized tailwater fishery, and Thistle is a tiny spring creek buried in mountains of willows. I tried to find three different types of water to really put the Superfine Glass through its paces.

I’ve also decided to break this review up into two sections – one for each rod I was able to fish. But before we delve into how each rod performed and my thoughts, I’ll just give a quick few suggestions here:

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  • I fish mainly a dry-dropper rig on 11-12-foot long leaders. I didn’t nymph with these rods, because nymphing with anything under 9 feet long isn’t practical.
  • The weekend I fished the rods was very windy, which played into my final thoughts on the rods.
  • One buddy of mine, a superb fly fisherman whose skill outpaces my own, had never fished glass before he tossed the 7’6” 4wt Superfine Glass. His thoughts are included.
  • The action on these rods was amazing. The rods flexed deep into the bottom third section of the rod, and when a fish was hooked, bent nearly to the cork in some instances. Some folks don’t like that much play in a rod, but I adore it. You could easily feel every head shake and roll of the hooked trout. Surprisingly, for being so bendy, these rods also threw exceptionally tight loops at distances up to about 40 feet. For those of you who revel in casting, and enjoy feeling every bit of your line load, the Superfine Glass is a great rod.
  • If I were Orvis, I’d think of going with a different color for the blank. Olive-green looks great for the Army, but fiberglass lends itself to being A deep red, blue, or green would look fabulous. Just a suggestion.

Now, let’s get started.

7’ 3wt.

superfine_1Any 7-foot rod is, in my opinion, a dry-fly instrument. And that’s exactly what the 7’ 3wt Superfine Glass rod is. On Thistle Creek, a small spring creek with mostly smaller brown trout, it threw very tight loops, powered line out well, turned over my longer leaders, and played fish the way a rod should. I was impressed with how the 7’ rod was able to punch line – just a slight flick of the wrist and the line would shoot out straight and flat.

However, if any breeze showed up at all, the 7’ 3wt buckled under the pressure. Wind seems to be fiberglass’s biggest enemy,  as the 7’6” 4wt rod didn’t do well in wind either.

I wouldn’t take the 7’ 3wt Superfine Glass out on streams wider than say, 10-15 feet. It just doesn’t have the backbone to throw an accurate, 40 foot cast. On the Provo River, this rod really struggled to throw flies to rising fish that were beyond 40-50 feet.

I did really enjoy this rod. Small, short, light rods have their place in most anglers’ quiver, and if you enjoy the classic slow action that glass provides, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better performing rod than the Superfine Glass in the 7’ 3wt model.

7’6” 4wt

When it’s all said and done, I prefer this rod to the 7’ one. The 7’6” 4wt had the spine to turn over leaders well at longer distances, and to push the line through breezy conditions. The loops were tight, the rod was responsive, and it was just a pleasure to fish. The extra 6” on this model as opposed to the 3wt makes a huge difference in the rod’s capabilities.

On Thistle Creek, this rod performed just as well throwing small dries to fish in close. On Huntington Creek, where we battled some wind on Saturday, it was a lot of work to throw line, but the job got done. On the Provo River, it handled dry-dropper combos well and threw casts accurately out to 50-ish feet.

superfine_2My friend Chris fish glass for the first time with this rod. He said it reminded him a lot of his Orvis Battenkill bamboo rod, and that he loved the way it set the line on the water. The longer length and stiffer blank of this rod made picking up larger amounts of line to re-cast much easier than with the 7’ model.

If I had to choose, I’d definitely go with the 7’6” 4wt. It’s just a more versatile, complete rod.

When all is said and done, Fishing fiberglass fly rods reminds me of when I try to fix my truck on my own – it ends up being a lot more work than it should be.

With that being said, it’s also a lot more satisfying to fix your truck on your own instead of taking it to a shop, and the same can be said about fishing fiberglass fly rods. Although I’m not great at fixing trucks and I’m just an average flinger of flies, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.

Gear Review: The Tacky Fly Box

After a few days of letting the dust settle from the most recent Fishwest hosted trip to the Andros South Lodge, I wanted to take a minute to tell you about a really nice piece of gear I picked up for the trip.  This gear isn’t the latest fly rod, reel or line. I am talking about a fly box, a really good fly box for that matter.

1613869_718118501640955_5530473741500308413_nThe Tacky Fly Box from the fine folks over at Tacky Fly Fishing is a game changer, pure and simple. This fly box is extremely lightweight and compact with the coolest feature being the silicone slit storage used to hold the flies. The silicone feature grips the flies extremely well, which means no more torn and beat up foam, and in my case it was easy to rinse out at the end of the day to get all the potential salt buildup out.

The only downside about this box in the nature I was using it was the shallow and thin design. The larger bonefish flies that lived in the box did not allow the magnetic lid to close very easily. If the box was just a little deeper this would have not caused an issue.

All in all, for the first model of box I am quite impressed. When loaded with various bonefish flies (i.e. gotchas, Charlies, Mantis Shrimp) this box was able to hold about two dozen flies , which made this box perfect to tag along on flats wading adventures. This is a far cry from the 150+ trout flies that this box will hold but that is most certainly understandable. Lets just say it will become a go to trout box at some point.

IMG_20150312_080754I for one cannot wait to see what the guys over at Tacky Fishing produce in terms of boxes in the future. If they are anything like their first box I will be in line to pick one up for sure.

Check them out for yourself by clicking : HERE

Bonefish On The Brain: What makes a good bonefishing rod?

With spring around the corner and the 2015 Fishwest Hosted Trips to South Andros Island in the Bahamas filling up quick we want to know what you guys have to say once again.

This time I pose the question: What is your “go to” rod while fishing for bonefish?

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Again this could be viewed as a very loaded question. The variance in answers to this question can be due to what condition an angler may find themselves in.  Do you find yourself stalking these ghosts on foot in shallow water? For that type of bonefishing some anglers may argue that a 7wt is the way to go. Or do you find yourself fishing from the front of a flats boat with an 8wt? If the wind picks up do you grab a 9wt?

Once again please remember thereis no wrong answer here. We would love to hear what you think. Comment below or via our Facebook page.

For those who are interested we still have a couple of spots available for our 2015 trips to the Deneki Andros South Lodge. Please contact us for more details.

Tell Us About Your Favorite Trout Rod

Do you guys ever get sick of hearing about all the gear that we like to use? Well now is your chance to let us know your thoughts! The question I am about to pose is very simple yet up for a ton of debate.

What is your favorite rod to use when fishing for trout?

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Now I know this is question encompasses a HUGE range of rods that are good for a variety of situations. Are you a fan of rods in the lightweight class (0-3wt) to rods on the heavier side of things (6-7wt)? Do you like to throw tiny dries to wary fish or chuck big meaty streamers for predators looking for a big bite? There is no wrong answer here. We would love to hear what you think. Comment below or via our Facebook page.

 

Patagonia Presents a Stoecker Ecological and Felt Soul Media Production: DamNation

Some folks see dams as a source of energy, a creator of recreation, or even the protector from seasonal floods. This can be true but during the early twentieth century there was an obsession to put a dam on any river or stream they felt could be beneficial to human progress and not considering the environmental damages that could be caused during and after the build. Thanks to the partnership of Patagonia and Felt Soul Media, they have produced this amazing video depicting the negative effects caused by dams and the impact they have on native fish populations. This video was an eye opener for everyone here at Fishwest, each and everyone of us learned something new from it and we encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to view it.

Mongolia: The Land Time Forgot

When folks talk about fishing in remote places for most the first thought that comes to mind  is the Alaskan bush or the back country of the North West. But there’s a place in Asia where human development and time have almost been forgotten. Most of you may have heard of Mongolia and the unique salmonid found in it’s waters. For those who haven’t heard of these creatures, they are the largest in the salmonid family, and fierce predators gorging on everything from bait fish to small mammals and birds. Here is a look at what it takes to have a chance at these incredible fish and what is being done to protect it’s habitat.

Ross Reels: Made On The Water

I cannot say enough good things about Ross Reels. You have probably heard me talk about my early fly fishing memories with my dad using his Ross Reels. I landed my first trout on the fly using his old Sage 590 DS and a Ross Gunnison G2.

Not to mention I landed my first Tiger Musky and Bonefish using Ross Reel. These reels will always be held in reverence in my eyes and for good reason too.

This video gives us all a brief look on the inside of the Ross Reels. You can tell that everyone on the staff has a tremendous amount of passion and respect for what they do because that is passed on in their reels.  Look for the hidden Fishwest logo somewhere in the video as well!

You can check out all the offerings from Ross Reels by clicking HERE

Enjoy!

Inside Look: New Boron III Two-Handed Fly Rod

R.L. Winston have outdone themselves again with the new Boron III TH fly rod. They have improved the Boron Technology in the rods and is working to set a new standard when it comes to two-handed fly rods. Making them lighter and more accurate than your average two-handed rods. Check out this video highlighting the new and improved two-handed rods by R.L. Winston.

Product Spotlight: Simms G4 Pro Wading Jacket

With fall in full swing this is the time of year when the temps get cooler and the forecast calls for more precipitation. A good jacket is a must! The G4 Pro from Simms Fishing Products is the answer to your prayers when the weather takes a turn for the worst.  The G4 features a  Gore-Tex Pro Shell material and enough space to fit all your necessities while fishing. What more can you really ask for.