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.
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!”
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.
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.
This 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.
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.
The 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.
People constantly come into the shop and ask us for instructions on how to attach braided loops, well the fine folks over at Rio have decided to make this sweet little video with instructions on how to do just that. Welded and braided loops are becoming an industry standard due to the ease of use associated with them. From Spey to Stillwater and everything in between these little Braided Loops have a use in just about every form of fly fishing.
The Headwaters ½ day pack quickly became a shop favorite when it was released in 2012 and believe they have struck a home run with the 2014 model. The original was nice for short day trips, light and sleek, had a good amount of room for boxes, a light rain jacket, and the hydration bladder. Had an additional pocket for the smaller accessories and if you needed a little more room the hip and chest packs could be attached with Simms’s Catch and Release system. The only issue with the original, some days you wished the main compartment was just a little larger. Although you could fit a good amount into it, everything fitted into it tightly, requiring you to remove everything in the bag to reach items that may have slipped to the bottom.
The 2014 model of the Simms Headwaters ½ day pack is still lightweight and continues with most of the original features, hydration pouch, the Catch and Release Magnet system (on the front), and the breathable back panel, the main improvements are the larger main compartment and the DWR treated fabric. The larger 15 liter (915 cubic in) main compartment with stretch mesh dividers gives you a little more room and organization for all your gear, minimalizing the frustration of removing everything in order to reach items in the bottom of the bag.
The smaller compartment on the back has also been altered; they have made it larger in order to fit more accessories. They have used 420 Denier abrasion resistant fabric that’s treated with DWR for more water resistance and 630 Denier abrasion resistant fabric on the bottom for extra protection from wear. The designers also added magnetized tool ports on the shoulder straps which I found to be my favorite feature, nothing more annoying than consistently losing your hemostats or pliers because they weren’t as secure as you’d hoped or having to reach inside a pocket to get them.
The only thing I wished they continued with would be keeping the Catch and Release magnet system on the back of the bag, this was a nice feature when you were utilizing the hip or chest pack and throwing streamers, you had the extra room you needed and it was out of your way when stripping the fly. The larger secondary pocket makes up for this but it’s always nice to have the ability to add more room when needed.
All in all this is still a sweet pack, fits well, has plenty of room for your short day trips, and distributes the weight superbly, this has been my go-to pack since it came out and will be for many days to come.
Recently I bought an 8 weight setup to use for this upcoming season but still had a decision to make when it came to the type of line I wanted to use with it. The questions I asked myself when making this decision were: Where and how was I going to fish this rod? What brand of line did I want to use? Did I want to use a floating, intermediate, or a sinking line?
I thought about these questions and started to answer them one by one, I decided I would most likely be throwing streamers with the rod, and wanted a line I could use to throw large flies for pike and to throw articulated flies for trout in large rivers. I felt like an intermediate line would be the ticket for this application and decided on the Airflo 40+ Extreme Distance Fast Intermediate fly line. I knew Airflo had a great reputation for their fly lines but had never owned one, I had used their lines before on trips and liked them but always stuck with Rio when it came down to purchasing a line. I wanted to try something new so I went with Airflo, I was not disappointed.
The Airflo Extreme Distance Fast Intermediate line has a lot of features I like about it, the Polyfuse coating and the Ridged running line makes for a smooth and slick surface through the guides to get the extra distance needed for long cast, and the weight forward head loads the rod quick for less false casting. The sink rate for this line was also great, one and a half inches per second works great in the situations I would be fishing in, I can get the fly deep by waiting a few extra seconds before I start retrieving the line but slow enough to I can still use it to swing streamers in rivers without the fly getting to deep and snagging on rocks. I also like the translucent green head; I believe it gives it a little more camouflage in the water compared to a solid color sinking line or tip. Since the line is a full intermediate it gives the fly a level plane to drift and during the retrieve, making it easier to create a more life-like presentation of the fly.
The only down fall I found about this line is the shooting head on the line is pretty long, making long cast in a confined area tough, it’s not a super aggressive head so casting with trees and bushes behind you can get a little frustrating. You need to make sure you have enough room for your back cast when trying for long distance shots.
What I am using it for and the places I will be fishing it, you couldn’t ask for a better line, I encourage anyone to try this line if you are looking for something to use with streamers in shallow water. If I wasn’t disappointed I don’t think you would be either.
Many of us here at Fishwest are excited about the Orvis family of Reels. The Mirage is a machined beauty with enough stopping power to work in a variety of Saltwater and Freshwater applications. Check out the Mirage family of reels by clicking HERE.
With each passing year, fly rod manufacturers, continue to push the boundaries of manufacturing fine fly rods. The status quo is constantly evolving and hype is generated with each new release. The team up at Sage has hit a home run with one of their latest releases .“The One” is definitely lives up to the expectations and all the hype that was generated by this highly anticipated release. I have had a chance to fish this rod over the last two seasons and I would love to share my thoughts.
In this article I will be focusing on the Sage One 890-4. I just recently returned from a trip down on the island of South Andros with the folks over at Deneki Outdoors at their great lodge on Kemp’s Bay so my article will mainly focus on the usefulness of this rod in bonefishing situations.
First off let me start by saying that a fly rod can only do so much for an angler in tropical saltwater conditions. Bonefishing itself is NOT easy at all , don’t let anyone tell you differently. Practicing a double haul and dialing in a solid casting stroke is the best thing you can do for yourself when throwing bigger flies, especially in situations like you find in South Andros. Practice does make perfect.
The first thing you will notice about this rod is that it is very light. This rod tips the scales at a scant 3 ½ ounces which means that you will be able to throw casts all day without too much in the way of fatigue. This rod is the perfect mixture of a nice crisp fast action and lightweight feel which means that as an angler you can feel this rod load up in no time and be ready to cast. This came in handy because a vast majority of the shots that we were presented, with out on the flats, came in at anywhere from 20 to 40 feet from the boat itself. That is not to take away from the fact that you can go “operation launch” on this rod and send casts anywhere from 60+ feet when paired with the right line. We had a few days of extremely high wind gusts of 20+ and I never once lost confidence casting into the wind with this rod. Let’s just say the rod did its job when delivering the line into the wind and any blown shots could be attributed to my bad casts.
This rod is NOT a true saltwater rod and for that reason the rod isn’t designed to muscle fish around whereas if you had the Sage Xi3 for instance which has a much larger blank diameter and more powerful butt section it would not pose as much of a problem. So when hooked up with the larger bones I found that you have to be much more patient with them and be very mindful of surrounding mangrove clusters.
To top it all off the black blanks paired with the metallic tread wraps give this rod a very unique and great look. In short this rod a lightweight and accurate rod that performs well in pretty much all situations in both freshwater and saltwater applications. My “One” 8wt has seen everything from bonefish, bass, carp, pike, tiger musky, and trout. The possibilities are endless. This rod is truly “accuracy redefined”. I would urge you to get out and give this one a cast or two to see if it is the ONE for you. You can check out the rod by clicking HERE
With the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions and here at Fishwest we have been thinking about how that relates to fly fishing. The staff here at the shop has compiled our respective fly fishing resolutions and would like to share them with you.
Jake W. – Shop Manager
“One of the great things about the sport of fly fishing is that there’s always something new to learn.
But with that being said, there is so much to learn that anglers may find it necessary to solely focus on only one or two things over the course of a year in order to full perfect his or her skills and knowledge in that specific area of the sport. For 2014, I have decided to focus every magazine article that I read, every internet video that I watch, and much of my time on the water to the art of spey casting with a two handed fly rod and the world of steelhead.”
Scott “Scoot” – Web Team Manager / Shop Staff
“I just want to keep it simple and have my fishing year focus around friends, camping, and spending time with my dog. I think it will be a good year and hopefully I will get to be a part of the other goals on this list”
Morgan G. – Shop Staff
“My goals are simple for this year. I would like to buy some kind of boat. Do more pike fishing and finally I would like to learn to use a Spey rod and do some steelheading.”
Scott N – Web Team / Shop Staff
“Last year was a very good fishing year for me. Every time I went I was met with great success. The biggest problem was that I didn’t get out as often as I should have. In all I don’t think I was on the water even 20 times for the whole year. This must change, and so my resolution for the year is to get out a minimum of twice a month every month, once the days are longer(and warmer) increase to 4X with after work jaunts to the local spring creeks. Finally I am also resolved to fish on at least three new waters this year and expand my species list to include carp, pike, ect”
Will M – Customer Service Rep
“This year I resolve to help bring respect to the grossly underrated and underappreciated whitefish. From their blistering runs to their willingness to readily eat a sow bug, these majestic native fish
have it all. I resolve to not only fish for them and fish for them hard, but tell anyone willing to listen about why these craft river dwellers are the bees knees.”
Richard L – Web Team / Shop Staff –
(A recent Maryland Transplant who just discovered how awesome Utah is) “Looking forward to 2014 I’ve only got a few goals, catch larger trout on dries, explore more of Utah and the west’s watersheds, and land new species on the fly, specifically pike, stripers, and carp.
Last but not least I would like to share my thoughts and “goals” for the upcoming year. I would like to spend more time fishing with friends and having a good time no matter what water I find myself on that day. Hopefully I also can be a part of all of these other resolutions as well. All I know is that the ole Subaru is going to be spending a lot of time on the road this upcoming year in search of new water and new adventures with old and new friends alike.
On an unrelated note I just wanted to express my gratitude to all of you who take time to read our blog here at Fishwest as well as those of you who read my articles as well. As long as you guys & girls keep reading we will keep writing and sharing our experiences. But on that note we would always love to hear your stories as well. So from all of us here at Fishwest I would like to wish you a happy 2014! Tight Lines!
Nothing short of “ironic” describes the situation that I find myself in. I am a fly fisherman and I live in the desert. I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, home to the heritage brook trout and the fabled waters of the Ausable River that were haunted by the likes of Fran Betters. Although I spin fished the lakes for pike and bass, I curse myself now for the years I wasted not fly fishing, while living in that East Coast trout-Mecca. After bumping around the States for a year or two after college, I settled in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, married, and put down roots…then I discovered fly fishing.
Finding myself in this predicament, just means that I have to get creative. Arizona is a large state and despite popular opinion, is not just a giant sandbox with saguaro cacti and rattlesnakes. Here are a couple of fly fishing options that feed the insatiable hunger that most fly fisherman are afflicted with.
Urban Water – The greater Phoenix area is spotted with scores of golf courses and housing developments that have urban ponds full of warm water species of fish from bass, bluegill, tilapia, and even some roughfish for those interested in brownlining. The Arizona Game and Fish stocks their urban ponds with trout in the wintertime, which offers a great opportunity to introduce a young angler to the joys of fishing.
The Warm Water Lakes –Several rivers have been dammed up in a couple areas to create reseviors of water to keep Phoenix hydrated during the long hot summers. These lakes include Lake Pleasant, Roosevelt Lake, Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, Lake Mead, and Lake Havasu just to name a few. These lakes are pretty amazing ecosystems with a plethora of warm water fish most notably the big strippers that often grace the pages of the Arizona Game and Fish website.
The Mogollon Rim – One of my favorite places to run to on a weekend is the Mogollon Rim. Not only are the cold water lakes, like Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake, growing big trout, but the Game and Fish stocks several small streams that can offer the small stream nut some remarkable views and fishing.
Oak Creek – This little creek that flows cold and clear through the Red Rock country of Sedona is full of willing stocked rainbows, but has an impressive population of brown trout that are as spooky and smart as any trout you are likely to find. As long as you wait till the summer crowds are gone, a day on Oak Creek will offer an amazing day of fly fishing in one of the most unique settings in the United States.
The White Mountains – The White Mountains of Arizona are home to some of the most beautiful and magnificent waters in the Southwest. A mixture of tribal and public land, the White Mountains suffered from one of the worst fires the state of Arizona has ever seen. Although the Wallow Fire ravaged a good chunk of this area and priceless timber and ecosystems were destroyed, there is still hope for this area and many of the streams and lakes were spared. When you hear of big trout being caught in Arizona, 9 times out of 10, they were caught somewhere in the White Mountains. Apache, Rainbow, Brown, Brook, and Cutthroat trout along with Grayling are present in different waters in the White Mountains and gives the angler a wide range of fish to present flies to.
Although being stuck in the desert is most likely a fly fisherman’s worst nightmare, all hope is not lost. If you know where to look and are willing to put some miles on your boots, fish, even trout are findable in Arizona.
When the spring is wet and prairie rivers are high, I’ll stop my car where they spill over their banks. If I’m lucky, I’ll spot some carp. Flooded fields and ditches are usually the best.
Carp can be tough to catch but the ones cruising these places seem particularly ravenous. It’s all sight fishing – either from the bank or wading. For cruising fish, I like a large, buggy nymph – dragon fly imitations work great. For tailing fish, I go with a size 8 or 10 Woolly Bugger with brass eyes. An 8 weight rod and a 9 foot bonefish leader deliver the fly and land the fish. Although a 10 pound carp will often successfully dispute the latter.
Even with reasonable water clarity, casts to tailers – with their snouts in the bottom – have to be very precise. And seeing or feeling a take can be almost impossible. I have to admit, my luck with tailers ranges from rotten to so-so.
Cruising fish, however, are much more accommodating. Lead them by a few feet, let the fly sink to their level, and then give it a few short, slow strips. Magic!
Below are a few pics taken while wading a flooded field and nearby ditch…