Category Archives: Product Reviews

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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.

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Fishwest 5wt “Showdown” – Part 4: The Helios 2


FWF05FWDCFW_lgToday marks the long awaited return of the Fishwest 5wt Shootout. Morgan and I have been so busy fishing and in the shop lately that we haven’t had a chance to get together and really put the remaining rods to the test. For that we do apologize so without further adieu here are our thoughts on the next rod in the shootout: The Helios 2: Tip Flex by The Orvis Company.

The Orvis Company has a long and storied history in the sport of fly fishing. Charles F. Orvis of Manchester Vermont started the Orvis Company in 1856. Orvis holds the distinction of being the oldest fly tackle manufacturer in America, since its inception Orvis has been producing exceptional fly tackle and is constantly pushing the boundaries of technological innovation within their fly rods.

orvis_logoThe Helios 2 is the flagship of the Orvis line with good reason.  Building off of the 2007 release of the original Helios, the H2 is 20% lighter and stronger than its predecessor the Helios.  If the performance of the rod doesn’t speak for itself the ascetics of the rod most certainly will. The deep blue blank and the Machined aluminum reel seat with beautiful wood insert take this rod over the top.

As always in order to maintain fairness within the test we utilized the same reel and line combination with each rod. For this test we have decided to use the Clearwater Fly Reel from Orvis and that is paired with the Gold Taper fly line from Rio.

Without boring you to death with more details here are the thoughts Morgan and I had about the H2.

IMG_760330ft: Paired with the Rio Gold Line I feel like this rod did okay loading up within this distance. With that being said you could totally tell this rod has plenty more to offer in terms of power so it took a minute to get used to casting this rod within this distance.  The presentation qualities of this rod would suffer in my opinion due to the tip being a little on the stiffer side when paired with this line.  I honestly believe that if an angler overlined this rod it would definitely perform much better in what I would consider “typical” trout range.

50ft: This is where the rod really started to shine. This is where the rod became more accurate and a lot easier to cast. Flies landed like a whisper. The extremely lightweight nature of the rod itself made it both easy and highly enjoyable to cast at this distance with knowing that the rod still had plenty in the tank in order to throw out the “hero” cast.

IMG_760570ft: Again long distance casts were smooth as silk and as easy as 1st grade level math homework.  Again the rod handled the casts with grace and precision. These casts rarely if ever get made when fishing for trout. However with the H2 in hand I would have the utmost confidence in getting the job done right in the first cast.

Morgan:

I was very excited to get my hands on the Orvis Helios 2 after watching some very impressive videos of the rod intentionally being broken.  Being the oldest U.S. fly fishing company, Orvis rods have a lot to live up to and the 9’ 5 weight Tip Flex H2 did not disappoint.  In my opinion, this rod was one of the best do it all, Rocky Mountain trout rods in our shootout. Orvis offers the H2 in either a Tip Flex model or a Mid Flex model. With many rods currently on the market being faster action tip flex rods, we chose to stick with the most similar offering for the H2. Aesthetically, the H2 is beautiful. A dark blue blank strays from the ambers, greens, and blacks that we see from many other manufacturers.

IMG_760430ft: The Helios 2 did pretty well casting within 30ft which is what I would consider “Utah range” for our local readers. The rod had a little more backbone than I prefer for short casting but adjusting your casting stroke will get you into the sweet spot. The tip is little stiff for close quarters presentations but an over weighted line like the Scientific Anglers GPX or even the full weight heavy Rio Grand would get the rod loading more at shorter distances.

50ft: With 20 more feet of line, the rod started to load a bit deeper into the blank which made the feel of this rod much more apparent. The smooth taper and light weight of the H2 made it a breeze to cast and a pleasure to hold. The H2 was plenty accurate at 50ft and as we saw, it could do ever greater distances with great accuracy.

IMG_761670ft: Long distance casts were met with ease and accuracy. Most of us rarely cast 70ft casts but when it becomes necessary to make serious casts, it can be done and it can still be done with confidence and accuracy. The performance of this rod with this much line out doesn’t suffer. Some rods will get it done but this rod gets it done well.

Overall Morgan and I agreed 100% on this rod. This would be an excellent “all around” trout rod. However with that being said we also came to the conclusion that this rod may be best suited overlined with a 6wt line or a line with over weighted construction like the Scientific Anglers GPX ,Rio Grand, or the Orvis Hydros Power Taper.

There you have it as always we hope that you enjoyed our thoughts on the Helios 2 and this latest addition to the Fishwest 5wt shootout. For questions about the H2 or any of the rods in the shootout please give us a call at 801.617.1225 or drop us a line at support@fishwest.com. Stay tuned for the next installment. The “One” rod by Sage.

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SharkWave: The Next Generation of Textured Lines

Last weekend I had the opportunity to try out Scientific Angler’s SharkWave Ultimate Trout fly line while fishing with a buddy. He had just purchased the line a few weeks back and had been obsessing about the line since he bought it, half way through the day I asked him if I could throw his setup and test it out for myself. I noticed a difference between the two lines on the first cast. Compared to the Rio line I have on my setup, the SharkWave felt like it just flew out of the guides, allowing me to make longer cast with less effort. Not only did I notice the difference in casting ability but also I could get longer drifts due to the line riding higher on the water. Both of these qualities should be familiar to those who have fished textured lines in the past. 

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The new SharkWave fly line incorporates the same technology as the other Scientific Anglers textured lines, a micro-textured surface to trap air for a higher ride and reduce friction through the rod guides and on the water surface. With the SharkWave line they have made improvements on an already great line designs, they have fused three different texture technologies from previous lines before into one.

The front taper is designed with the SkarkSkin texture that was introduced in 2007, as well as SA’s Dry-Tip technology. The micro-balloons in the Dry-Tip technology allows the tip to ride super high putting less drag on your leader and allowing it to float on the surface longer. The belly and running line incorporate the Mastery Textured divots for the same reason, less drag on the line, and they have added 30 inches of the TRP (Tactile Reference Point) texture to allow the caster to feel and hear the transition from the head to the running line.

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One thing I haven’t gotten use to yet and not sure if I like is the noise of the line. It is noisy and can get kind of annoying hearing your line on every cast you make. Usually when we fish all we want to hear are the sounds of nature, this is what a lot of anglers expect when we go out on the water. So does the performance override the small annoyance of the noise the line makes while moving through the guides? I believe so, eventually the angler would get use to hearing it and tune it out; you really can’t beat the performance of these lines. The SharkWave is offered in three different styles, Ultimate Trout, GPX, and Saltwater making it easy to find a line for almost any fishing situation you will encounter.

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Glass Is Not Dead: Echo Glass Fly Rod

I finally had a chance to break-in my Echo Glass this past weekend, and found that glass is just an awesome way to catch trout. I purchased a 6’ 9” 3 weight a few weeks ago, I had taken it up to one of our local rivers as soon as I bought it to test it out and had terrible luck. I Wasn’t use to the super slow action of the rod, I kept making terrible casts and couldn’t get the hook set right, it has a completely different feel from all of my graphite rods I own, once I got home I started to second guess my purchase. I couldn’t understand what all the hype was about. I had read so many blog post and comments on fishing with glass and many of them raved about how much fun glass was.

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After that first outing I put the glass on ice for a couple weeks, it wasn’t until this past weekend I decided to fish it on a smaller creek that I had great success on the week before. Knowing that the creek had been fishing extremely well I figured this would be a good opportunity to hook into some fish. This time I was more familiar with the action of the rod, making better casts and could land flies accurately where before I was lucky not to get a tangle.

Throwing a size 10 Chernobyl Ant, I landed the fly underneath an overhanging bush; sure enough I had my first take, the first impression of the rod with a fish on was, “this is awesome, you can feel every move the fish made, every twist and turn and every head shake.” It was a larger fish and was a little concerned the rod wouldn’t have enough of a backbone to keep it out of the submerged branches or handle the force of the fight combined with the water flow. I ended up coaxing the fish around the branches and worked it into a pool where I could land it. As the day went on and hooking into more fish my attitude towards the Echo Glass change dramatically, it was such a sweet feel; it made every fight super fun, even for smallest fish and the larger ones, watch out because you were about to go for a ride.

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Once the day was over I came to the conclusion that this is not a beginner’s rod, you definitely want to be an experienced caster. This thing is a noodle, so you have to slow your cast down a lot, that being said once you have your cast dialed in you can’t ask for a more sensitive and fun rod. If you are looking for a rod to fish those smaller and more technical creeks this is it, short enough to make those tough cast under branches easier but still has enough power to make longer casts.

Pros

  • Sensitive and fun
  • Ability to land cast into difficult locations
  • Great for dry flies and emergers

Cons

  • The learning curve from graphite
  • Difficulties casting when the wind picks up
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Simple Fly Fishing 101: Tenkara Rod Setup

As some of you may notice if you frequent our website, Fishwest is now excited to bring you Tenkara rods. Better yet, we are bringing you the Simple Fly Fishing Tenkara Rod & Kit from our great friends from Patagonia.

In a very simple nutshell, Tenkara is the traditional Japanese method of fly fishing, it is ideal for mountain streams. Tenkara fishing an angler only uses a rod line and fly. That means no reel is required. 

Even though these rods are designed for smaller creeks and rivers the possibilities of what these rods can do is really endless.  I for one am quite intrigued about these rods and am excited to see them in the action. Now I just have to learn how to use one. Do any of you out there use these cool rods?

 

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Product Review: The Ross Essence FC

 Over the years I have owned and casted a number of great rods, but the 8’ 6” Ross Essence FC has always been my go-to 5 weight. The rod works well in a variety of different fishing situations and styles, from tossing small dries to chucking medium sized streamers, fishing large waters to small creeks, and used in pursuit of everything from blue gills to largemouth bass.Ross Essence shot

The FC is an exceptional beginner’s rod; priced under $200 so you won’t have to take out a loan in order to purchase it, the medium-fast action is very forgiving on those less than perfect casts and throws the line out when you do get a perfect cast with the ability to get a forty foot cast.

It loads nicely for short quick casts and very accurate for close tight presentations under bushes and around tree lines. Also it lays the fly down softly without spooking wary fish that may be around. It’s super sensitive and has a great feel when you get hook into a fish. When friends ask me why I don’t use a higher end rod, I just reply “This rod has everything I want! Sensitivity, accuracy, and power, I just love the feel of it!”Ross Essence shot1

If I was to do it all over again I would probably go with the 9 foot model, at times when the wind picks up long cast can be difficult but manageable, I believe the 9 footer would handle the wind a lot better but may make fishing small creeks more frustrating. My recommendation would be to think about what situations you would be fishing in the most and that will help narrow your focus.

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New For 2015: Introducing The Winston Nexus

This time of year is is pretty exciting for us! With the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show coming up next week, retailers are starting to show of their new offerings. The best part is that we can pass them on to you!!

An all graphite Winston rod with all the bells and whistles.  It will be interesting to see how these compare to my trusty BIIIx. One of the nicest things about this rod is the price tag. $475 is far cry from the $795 that one would pay for a premium rod these days. It will be interesting to see how these rods stack up to their boron infused counterparts. I for one am pretty excited to check it out.

The WINSTON NEXUS is Winston’s revolutionary new light all-graphite smooth action, premium rod series. These fantastic new high performance deep-black fly rods redefine the high modulus all-graphite rod category with an innovative new fast action combining Winston’s legendary ultra-smooth ‘Winston Action’ with more modern, faster tapers.

See what the staff of Winston has to say about the “NEXUS”  below:

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The new Winston Nexus is a full series (3-weight through 12-weight) of exceptionally beautiful, smooth-casting “all-around” fly rods utilizing a new design to handle a range of conditions with faster tapers, especially through the lower half of the rod. They are a joy to cast, can generate added power when needed, and are made to Winston’s extremely high standards of beauty and craftsmanship in Twin Bridges, Montana.

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Because they are made with 100% graphite, without the significant added expense of Boron III, we can offer anglers the opportunity to own these incredible, smooth-casting fast-action premium Winston fly rods at an attractive savings from our top-of-the-line high performance Boron III rods.

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New For 2015: Introducing The Sage Accel

The folks in Bainbridge are at it again. This time with the new Sage Accel. This rod replaces the VXP and VXP spey rods in the Sage lineup. These rods feature the ever popular Generation 5 technology. I for one am quite excited to get my hands on one to see what they are all about. Stay tuned for my thoughts on this rod in the future. In the meantime see what the folks over at Sage have to say about one of their latest rods.

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One of the greatest benefits currently pushing the limits of rod technology is that it gives us vital insights to rod design using previous technologies. Case in point: our new fast action ACCEL family of single and two-handed rods. Created using our responsive Generation 5 technology, our all-new ACCEL benefits from key insights garnered through the development of Konnetic Technology. It’s like going back in time to bet on your favorite sports team with the score in hand—you’ve got a winner and you know it.

The already responsive Generation 5 technology was made more so with improvements to the carbon fiber alignment and resin application that help give the ACCEL its impressive loading and recovery qualities. Combining power and finesse with elegance, the ACCEL is a finely crafted fishing tool with innovative features that belie its more value conscious origins. From its bright and alluring Emerald blank to its newly-designed rod seat featuring subtle details like a matt black Stealth finish and laser engraved logo, the ACCEL is a classic representation of the Sage DNA that it embodies. The ACCEL is true casting performance and value without compromise.

Accel2Features:

  • All Water
  • Generation 5 Technology
  • Medium-Fast Action
  • Emerald blank color
  • Olive Green thread wraps with Garnet and Black trim wraps
  • Fuji ceramic stripper guides
  • Hard chromed snake guides and tip-top
  • Freshwater 3-6 weights: ( Rosewood Insert & Stealth Black Aluminum Uplocking Reel Seat + Snub-nose, Half-Wells cork handle)
  • Saltwater 6-9 weights (Stealth Black anodized up-locking reel seat + Snub-nose, half-wells cork handle)
  • Black rod bag with Emerald colored logo
  • Leaf Green ballistic nylon  tube with divided liner
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Product Spotlight: Fishpond Nomad Mid Length Net

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Why: To be honest, I really like to look and feel of a wooden net. Knowing that someone took the time to handcraft a piece of wood into a work of art is pretty special. But there are times, when a net is going to get beat up and you need a true workhorse to get the job done. Enter the Fishpond Nomad Mid-Length Net.

First impressions:

The material –  The Fishpond Nomad Mid-length net is made from a carbon fiber and fiberglass composite material. They are waterproof, UV resistant, lightweight, and float like a cork.

The specs – The Mid-length net runs 37” long with a 13”x18” head. The total weight of the net scales out to .88 pounds.

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The history – I first heard of Nomad nets a couple years ago when Kevin Best first started the Nomad Net company. It was pretty obvious that Nomad nets were solid, and it didn’t take long for Fishpond to see a good thing and bring Nomad nets into the Fishpond fold. Fishpond has since expanded the line up with different lengths and different colors of nets.

Field Use:

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One of the places that the Fishpond Nomad Net really proved itself was at Pyramid Lake. The saline water of Pyramid Lake does a number on gear, especially wooden nets. Having the Fishpond Nomad net is really nice as the salt in the water does nothing to the composite waterproof frame of the net.  The net floats like a cork so no need there was no need to worry about it when trying to wrangle a thrashing Pyramid Lake Lahontan cutthroat.

The Mid-Length Nomad net really is the missing link between a short handled creek net and an unweildable guide net. At 37” overall length, it gives you just enough reach to get the net under a big fish without being too long that you would have to use two hands.

Fishpond3The head of the net measures 13” by 18” and is plenty big enough for any freshwater fish that I run into. The clear rubber net bag comes standard on all Nomad nets, although you can buy a black bag to switch out if you want. While the rubber bags are all the rage because they keep the fish safer than the old nylon bags, I think the bigger selling point is that you’ll never get your hook stuck in one of those nylon strands again.

Due to the composite material that the net is made from, the Fishpond Nomad Mid-length is extremely lightweight. When you consider the lightweight nature of the net and the extra length of the handle, the Mid-length net is a great choice for guys who like to tuck a net in between their lumbar packs and their body. It certainly works well if you’re fishing a big river and not moving too far, although I found that after a several mile hike, the Mid-length net sort of lost it’s appeal as it can get caught on underbrush or overhanging branches.  The extra length makes the Mid-length net ideal from a float tube or pontoon boat.

 Pros:

  • Lightweight strong material
  • Rubber net
  • Floats
  • Waterproof

Cons:

Cost

I was bummed that the Mid-length net did not come with the measuring dots like the Guide and the Boat net

Prognosis:  If you are looking for a great all-around net that can stand up to some serious abuse, definitely check out the Fishpond Nomad Net Line. Shop the Fishpond Nomad Line by clicking the links below:

WInston BIIIx

Fishwest 5wt ”Showdown” – Part Three: The Winston BIIIx

FWF05FWDCFW_lgRL Winston out of the bustling metropolis of Twin Bridges, Montana has been producing exceptional fly rods since the 1930’s. The great minds at Winston are known for many technological innovations within the fly fishing industry. One of the most important technological innovations to come out of the Winston factory is the in the last 20 years is the introduction of Boron/Graphite composite blanks. Winston introduced the first series of Boron rods in 1998 and have continued to improve on that design ever since. The Boron III or B3X for short is the latest in a long line of rods to feature this technology and this is the rod we are going to talk about today.

unnamed (3)Morgan: Out of all the rods we tested, the Winston Boron IIIX is definitely the softest which was a nice change from some of the stiffer rods we tested. Although the B3X was the softest, it is by no means a slower action rod. With the continued use of Winston’s Boron technology, the rod has the backbone to cast a wide variety of flies. Even with the use of Boron in the butt section of this rod, it’s still more of a medium-fast action rod which is why this rod did so well at close range. Aesthetically, the B3X is very pleasing. I think this is a classy looking rod with deep red accents throughout the emerald green blank. There are a couple different reel seat options; and anodized aluminum and a burled elder reel are both available depending on what weight rod you go with.

30ft- At 30ft this rod had the most delicate presentations out of all the rods we’ve tested. This rod loads well at close range and delivers flies with a smooth and delicate action. You can visibly see how smoothly and how deep the rod loads as you cast. At this casting distance, the rod does the work. It’s not necessary to force anything or quickly or aggressively cast. This rod is lively on its own, you just have to point it in the right direction.

unnamed (1)50ft- Casting the B3X at 50ft was a blast. Feeling the rod load deeper into the lower sections and then having my cast complimented by the stiffer Boron section was great. The stiffer sections also allowed 40 or 50ft of line to be picked up and re-cast without a ton of false casts but the presentations are still deadly accurate and delicate at greater distances. This rod really shined at this distance.

70ft- This rod doesn’t have the backbone for huge hero casts but it still managed casting 70ft pretty well. The action of this rod isn’t nearly as fast as the others in our test but the stiffer butt section with the Boron technology still allowed for 70ft casts, just not when the wind picked up. How often are we casting dry flies 70ft anyway in the Rocky Mountain west? Even at these long distances the casts were straight and accurate.

unnamedEditors Note: I (JC) own this rod and fish it rigorously. Therefore I go into this review with a little personal bias associated with this rod line due to all the great memories and awesome fish I have caught while throwing the B3X. However I try to remain as objective and unbiased as I possibly can be while writing this. As with any review take what I have to say with a grain of salt and check each of these rods out for yourself.

Out of the gate you will notice one thing about this rod. This rod is brimming with style all to itself. The deep “Winston” emerald green blank coupled with hand inscribed lettering and red accent wraps give this rod a touch of elegance that is hard to beat. This rod is available in both a four piece configuration as well as a five piece for the traveling angler.

unnamed (4)Casting this rod is a pleasure. At 30 feet and in this rod is excellent. The rod itself loads extremely smoothly and well at this distance.  Even though this rod lays casts down smoothly at this distance you can tell this rod has plenty in the tank in order to manage longer casts, more adverse conditions, or heavier flies.

This rod casting around 50 feet is a breeze! Even in a stiff breeze! Delivering dries at these distances is quite easy with tight accurate loops. The stiffer butt section allows anglers to cast at greater distances with minimal effort with just about any fly selection. The stiffer butt section also gives anglers the opportunity to pick up larger amounts of line and with one false cast be right back into the fray.  Bottom line is that this rod also performs quite well out of a boat in just about any conditions.

unnamed (5)At 70 + feet is where this rod struggled. This rod doesn’t have nearly the backbone that some of the other rods in our test do. That isn’t to say that this rod cannot deliver flies at this distance, it most certainly can however just like the Radian the fly selection will be limited. Also if the wind picks up you can do one thing…. Just forget about it. What this rod lacks in back bone for hero casts it certainly makes up for in other qualities necessary to performing well in situations for trout. We have to remember that we are fishing for trout. A 70ft cast while trout fishing is unheard of in my mind, However I could be wrong…

Overall this rod does it all! If you would like to throw a nymph rig in the morning, go ahead! If you find yourself in the middle of an afternoon hatch by all means fish that hatch!  Lastly if you want to hit the brush filled banks with terrestrials hoping for a couple fish to explode on that poor twitching fly please feel free. What I am trying to get at is quite simple. This rod is a great all around choice for western trout. This rod series is hard to beat and definitely has become my go to 5 weight trout rod.

Stay tuned for our next installment to our “Fishwest 5wt Showdown” where we take a look at the Helios series of rods by The Orvis Company.

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