Tag Archives: product reviews

Untitled-1

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!

ORF21HE2R3_lg

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.

DSCF0361

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.

DSCF0363

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.

DSCF0349

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
Ross Essence shot

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.

Fishpond4

Product Spotlight: Fishpond Nomad Mid Length Net

Fishpond

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.

Fishpond net

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:

Fishpond

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:

Scott Radian

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

FWF05FWDCFW_lg

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.

__

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.

__

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   

 

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.
RI30GOLD_lg_800x800

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.

___

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

The Return of a Classic: The Ross Reels Heritage Series

I have to say I was quite intrigued when I heard that Ross Reels decided to bring back the Gunnison as part of the new Heritage Series of reels. I remember learning to fly fish with  these reels as a kid on all my dads gear. Some of my greatest early fishing memories are associated with those reels. He continues to use those same reels to this day. He swears that those are the “best reels ever made” and trust me he was very quick to tell me Ross “knows what good is” when they decided to bring them back.

That’s enough reminiscing from me about the Ross Gunnison for the time being. For all those who didn’t know that these reels were coming back check out the info below! These will be available mid June 14′

rossusa_logoREINTRODUCING THE GUNNISON:

RRF25GUNRBK1_lg_250x250The Ross Reels Gunnison is one of the most famous fly reels ever produced and 28 years after its debut, many still see daily service in the hands of guides, lodges, and individual fly-fishers everywhere. The Gunnison offered form, fit, function and durability combined into a package that still comes to mind whenever anyone thinks of “Ross Reels.” Having tamed both freshwater and the salt, the Gunnison is back and available once again as this year’s featured Heritage Series product.

The Ross Reels Heritage Series is about getting back to our Colorado roots – specifically those products that made us the premier fly reel manufacturer in the world. The Ross commitment to manufacturing USA made quality fly fishing products has not wavered since we began crafting fly reels over four decades ago. To honor this legacy we are reintroducing the Heritage Series, showcasing our famous products that have been and still are the favorite on-water tools of fly fishers across the country and around the world.

RRF25GUNRBK_lg_250x250First in that line is the timeless Gunnison; a true workhorse reel made available to an always adventurous public, it gained its reputation for indestructibility and reliability on water ranging from the salt flats of Christmas Island to the remote wilderness rivers of Alaska. One of the first reels available with an advanced composite drag system, in 2014 Ross has taken the design one step further and re-engineered the bearing housing to improve performance; all while allowing post-1998 frames to fit on the 2014 edition. The Gunnison has once again set the standard for what a fly reel should be – smooth, powerful, lightweight and durable.

ross-reels-heritage-series-blackThe Heritage Series Gunnison will be available in sizes G1 , G2, and G3, individually numbered from 1 to 500, 1 to 1000, and 1 to 500 respectively, and laser engraved with the Colorado state flag. Not just a collector’s piece, these are fly fishing tools, designed for years of productive service out on the water. Place your order today, and own a piece of fly fishing history.

Check them Out by clicking HERE

Orvis Mirage Reel

An Inside View: The Orvis Mirage Reel

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.

UV Deyoung Buff

The Original Multifunctional Headwear: Buff Headwear Anthem

In all reality a Buff is one of the most underrated pieces of sun protection that you can possibly have.  This simple tube of fabric can be used so many different ways. A Buff is a staple in my fishing pack and can be used in all situations from high temps on the flats to the snowy conditions at altitude. For those who have never seen or heard of this product I would urge you to check them out, your face and neck will thank you later! For more information click HERE.