Tag Archives: saltwater

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How Run Down Does The Man Get?

I watched the trailer for “Running Down the Man” and I was hooked.  I like wading for bonefish.  I like running for fitness. What could be better than sprinting down some beach after a large, exotic-looking roosterfish?

After a fair bit of research, I booked a trip with Grant Hartman of Baja Anglers in Los Cabos, Mexico. Out of all the guides available, he had the most experience at beach fishing for roosters. He generally does week long trips, but I nabbed him for 3 days as his prime season was winding down at the end of June.

He met me at the Cabo airport and we hopped in his pickup for the hour long drive out to Los Barriles, a small town on the East Cape of Baja – north of San Jose del Cabo on the Sea of Cortez. As we drove, Grant’s passion for roosterfish, especially on the fly and from the beach, bubbled up. He compared them to permit and maintained that even a single big one, or “grande,” in one trip was a real accomplishment

Los Barriles is a very comfortable place for tourists and visiting fishermen, with good restaurants and a variety of accommodations.  A beautiful, white sand beach stretches the town’s entire length.  Grant dropped me off at my condo at the Villas de Cortez. (Note:  On the East Cape, booking a condo through a site like HomeAway is a great alternative to a hotel room.) “See you at 9AM tomorrow and don’t forget to wear something drab,” he said.

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At 9 AM the next morning, we were in Grant’s truck again, bouncing down scenic back roads through cacti and low hills. After about 20 minutes, we pulled up at a fairly deserted beach; a couple of vacation homes were the only things around. Immediately, we started rigging up my 10 weight. Before knotting on one of his custom 10  inch long flies, Grant asked me how much backing was on my reel. “About 225 yards,” I replied confidently. “Better use this,” said Grant, and he handed me his personal reel with about 400 yards of gel-spun.

What followed was a crash course in Grant’s highly refined tactics for beach roosterfish – the approach, the cast, the retrieve, and the hook set. I’d love to describe them but I’ve been sworn to secrecy!  It was all based on wading the shallow surf and spotting the fish before it spotted you. One thing I can mention is that the line of choice was a tropical Outbound Short with an intermediate head.

The preliminaries took about half an hour and then we were walking along the beach looking for roosters. After about 15 minutes, the first one showed – a dark shape I’d get quite familiar with over the next few hours, swimming parallel to the beach and maybe 60 feet out. Grant had done a great job at prepping me but I don’t think anything can really ready you for that first shot. My running line got tangled in my feet and my fly got impaled in my pant leg; there were no more chances for that fish.

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Nevertheless, another fish showed minutes later and my second shot fared slightly better. The running line and the fly both steered clear of body parts but the latter was a disappointing 15 feet short of the target. I frantically stripped in line and started to run down the beach for another cast. And promptly tripped, tangled in the running line again.

A third rooster showed up and I finally managed a good cast – right across its line sight. The fly had absolutely no impact on the fish and it kept motoring down the beach. So I stripped in my line and sprinted to get ahead of it. The next cast was also shunned. More stripping and more sprinting led to a third cast… And a third refusal.

I was about 200 yards down the beach from my starting point, breathless and sweat-soaked. (Remember, this was Baja in the summer!)  Mercifully, the rooster had disappeared to deeper water.  Grant seemed like a speck on the horizon and I trudged toward him.

Then another fish appeared… That meant three more reps of casting, stripping, and sprinting. Now I was three hundred yards from where Grant stood. When I finally got back to him he grinned broadly, “Some good casts, bro, but I think those last three were to a milkfish…” I very quickly learned to make out the characteristic tube shapes of milkfish and ignore them.

The action was quite consistent that first day.  We visited several beaches, ranging from completely pristine to somewhat populated.  Sometimes we walked along the beach.  Sometimes we drove.  Sometimes we just waited at a likely spot.  I probably had shots at upwards of a dozen roosters.   They often just swam past me – no running required.  But some needed a burst of speed – along with the requisite heavy breathing and perspiration – to overtake the fish and get in position. Roosterfish are not like bonefish, meandering along and rooting around here and there.  Most roosterfish seem to have a pace that is unfailingly linear and brisk.

The end of the day came around 4 PM, due to the lack of a high sun for spotting fish.  I had experienced nothing but refusals, but a couple of them were spectacular…

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One “grande” – that Grant estimated at fifty pounds – broke from its flight path and closed the distance to my fly in an instant.  I stripped frantically, desperately trying to move the fly, move as fast as possible.   The rooster tracked the fly perfectly, always an inch or two behind it.  When the leader was a couple feet from entering the guides, all I could see was the mouth of the roosterfish trailing my fly.  It looked enormous, like it could swallow my fist whole.  I was on my knees in the shallow surf, trying to stay invisible to the fish.  As the leader entered the guides, the fish abruptly swam off.  I was almost shaking with excitement and didn’t even try for a second shot.

Not too long after, a rooster of about 25 pounds peeled off towards the fly and followed it from about three feet back, staying deep enough so that all I could see was a dark shape.  When the leader was almost in the guides, it accelerated towards the fly and its spiky dorsal fin, or comb, broke the surface.

To me, the comb is what gives a roosterfish rock star status. When I saw it bristling out of the water, I braced myself for a hit and thought, “Strip strike… Strip strike.”  And then the fish vanished, leaving me with no more than a permanent image of its comb in my brain.

The second day of fishing dawned much like the first.  The sun was bright, perfect for sight fishing.  But the wind was howling, making the water on the turbid side.  Grant said it would be a tough day and he was right.   We tried most of the same beaches but saw absolutely nothing.  Grant even tried teasing some from the deeper water out of a fly rod’s range. He used a nine foot spin rod to bomb a hookless surface plug about the same distance as most golfers hit a five iron.  Then danced it back into shore. My job was to throw the fly in behind the plug when it came into range. Regardless, nothing showed itself.

Finally, about an hour before quitting time, we staked out a spot where a couple near shore troughs ran towards each other and met on a shallow bar. A roosterfish swam out of one trough and onto the bar, close enough for an easy cast. Unfortunately, it ignored my fly and quickly made its way towards the blue water. This happened twice more, in quite rapid succession, before we called it a day. I had been quite discouraged but the flurry of action gave me a shot of optimism for the next day.

My third and final day looked pretty hopeful. Grant took me on an isolated highway through the mountains and the sun shone brightly. Although the road was paved, it was still very much an adventure.   We stopped to help three young locals with a flat. “Never pass anybody in need in the desert,” said Grant. Their spare wasn’t the proper size, so Grant gave them his aerosol tire sealer and inflator.

A little further up the road, sections of roadside pavement were missing. The only thing taking their place was a steep drop down a cliff. After about an hour, the “highway” transformed into a rocky track through scrub and cacti. I was glad Grant drove a 4X4. Eventually, we steered off the rocks and headed down a sandy path toward the ocean. After about 100 yards of this, we emerged onto a very isolated beach. It was rockier than those we fished the last couple of days. As well, the hills seemed to be crowding it into the ocean. Although there was one beach house off in the distance, I got the impression that we had somehow left civilization far behind.

Geographically, it seemed like an ideal place, but meteorologically, things had gone down hill. It was completely overcast and the wind was howling. The water was choppy and dirty; sight casting was impossible. To be honest, back casting was also impossible. The wind had a fierce tendency to blow my fly into the back of my head with every forward cast. The only thing I could do was lay the fly line down behind me on the beach and launch it without a backcast. (You have probably heard of water-loading a forward cast. … This was beach-loading.)

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Nonethless, Grant had me blind casting and working my way down the beach.

And then I got bit! Strip strike! Rats, I missed it… Then another hit and another miss on the same retrieve. With the next cast, 18 inches of silver torpedo rocketed half a rod length out of the chop. “Ladyfish!” yelled Grant. I grinned. It sure felt good to have a fish attached to the line.

And so went the day. The ladyfish action was incredibly entertaining and almost non-stop. Every so often we lost contact with the school; however, with a bit of moving around, we always found it again. I have now seen why ladyfish are sometimes called a poor man’s tarpon; they are amazing leapers. They are not big but they certainly are fun. Grant cut back the 10 inch roosterfish fly to a ladyfish-friendly 4 inches. “Careful,” he warned, “Roosters like to snack on ladyfish and that fly is still big enough to tempt a rooster.”

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The certainty of a jumping ladyfish and the possibility of a hulking rooster kept me busy all day. The wind and the clouds never disappeared but they did not bother me in the slightest. As we drove back to town at the end of the day, I thought about the last three days. I had not caught a roosterfish but the trip was still a success in my mind. I had seen a rooster’s comb bristle at my feet and also caught a bunch of ladyfish. For me, both were firsts…

The trip still was not quite over. The next day was spent snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo, a marine preserve south of Los Barriles. The tropical fish below the water and the stark headlands above the water were both beautiful. Even though I didn’t bring a fishing rod, I have to admit that I kept glancing around, looking for the dark shape of roosterfish gliding alongside the beach…

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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.

Sage Salt Rod

Perfecting Performance: Sage Fly Rods

Check out this video from Sage that highlights the best part about Saltwater fly fishing. In my opinion one of the greatest aspects of this type of fishing is Location, Location, Location. The fish themselves aren’t too shabby either! I mean think about it, If the fishing is terrible for the day the sunshine and the flats are hard to argue with.  Maybe I am the only one that thinks that way though. All I know is I am constantly dreaming about getting back to places like this.

Having the right tool for the job in a situation like this is absolutely critical. The Salt Rod series from Sage is the latest offering in a long line of great saltwater rods. If this rod preforms like the Sage One or the Xi3 in the field, anglers will be rejoicing all around the world.

Destination Travel: Deneki Andros South Lodge

I have been lucky enough to find this wonderful sport of fly fishing and I have had the chance to check out some really neat destinations both locally, regionally, and abroad in pursuit of the ultimate fly fishing adventure. Today I want to take a moment and talk about one of my favorite places I have had a chance to go, The Andros South Lodge run by the great folks Deneki Outdoors. Andros South

Getting to the Island:

The Andros South Lodge is located on the eastern side of the Island of South Andros in the Bahamas. Getting to South Andros is a relatively easy endeavor and can be accomplished one of two ways that I have experienced.

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Andros From The Sky

The first (and my preferred method) is to take a plane into Fort Lauderdale FL and then take a charter plane from a company called Watermaker Air direct to the Congo Town International Airport on South Andros.The second (and more difficult) option entails a flight to the Capitol city of the Bahamas, Nassau.  From Nassau it is a short flight to Andros via a Western Air flight. The thing that makes this difficult especially for anglers like us coming from the west is that this results in having to spend a night in Nassau.  Accommodations in Nassau can range from staying at the luxurious Atlantis Casino to the beach front Orange Hill Inn for the evening. This is not bad however I would not recommend a Bahamian taxi ride. That was an eye opening experience for sure.

I for one would much rather take the more direct route via Fort Lauderdale and the charter flight. Customs in Congo Town are much easier than the counterparts in Nassau.  Traveling, Airports, and Security checkpoints are not my favorite things in the world therefore I would opt for the path of least resistance.IMG_0108

Lodge Accommodations:

Upon arrival at the Congotown you are greeted by the Deneki bus and Kermit the lodge bus driver.  After handing you a cold Kalik (National Beer of the Bahamas) or a bottle of water, Kermit proceeds to take you on the short journey down the one road on the island to Kemps Bay. Within 15 minutes you have arrived at the lodge.

IMG_0159I would describe the accommodations at the Andros South Lodge to be “Rustically Comfortable”. Each angler or anglers is assigned a room aptly named something fishy (Bonefish, Permit, Cuda ect). The rooms are quite comfortable, clean and simple.  The rooms consist of an extremely comfortable double bed, a dresser and a small bathroom.

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The Slack Tide Bar

One of the nicest parts of the lodge grounds has to be the “Slack Tide Bar”. This small palapa of beachfront paradise is located just steps from both the dining room and “hotel” rooms at the lodge.  Each night after fishing appetizers are served and tales of the days fishing conquests are shared before dinner. The “Slack Tide” is also stocked head to toe with just about any beverage somebody could want ranging from a great selection of beer to liquors and everything in between.  Everyone seems to convene at the bar after dinner to continue the party.IMG_0166

Meals are served twice a day (In the dining room that is). Breakfast is served starting at 6am. Breakfast usually consists of some variation of the following. Eggs served with some type of breakfast meat with Toast, Grits, or pancakes. Lunch is served on the boat while fishing and it consists of filling out a deli style menu which involves sandwiches, chips, fruit, and beverages.  Dinners at the lodge are served family style and highlight local cuisine. Meals are exceptional and may include dishes like cracked (fried) conch, grouper served with cassava root boiled in coconut milk or my personal favorite… Wait for it Lobster tails.  These meals are arguably the greatest part of the stay at the Andros Lodge apart from the fishing of course.

One more thing about the accommodations of the lodge, this is not a five star resort by any means. If you are looking for white tablecloths and something of that nature please look elsewhere.  If you want somewhere to consider home while experiencing the ultimate bonefishing adventure please look no further.

The lodge staff at Andros South is some of nicest people you will ever meet in your entire life. All of the folks are extremely friendly and treat you like you are part of the Deneki family.  From Gloria and the kitchen staff, to the self proclaimed “director of security”, Mr. Gerrard and everybody that I forgot will do everything that they can in order to make your stay awesome.

The Guides & Fishing:

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Let’s just say I saved the best for last. Any saltwater fly fisherman knows that the Bahamas is considered the arguable Mecca of Bonefishing.  I would argue that the flats around South Andros are the crown jewel of Bahamian bonefishing.  The network of flats and number of bonefish alone found within a 15 minute boat ride of the dock at deep creek is simply astronomical.  This is the perfect place for all different types of anglers from rookies to salty vets due to all the different situations and types of fishing one may experience with the Deneki guides.

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All the guides at the Andros South lodge are top notch. Bottom line is that these guys know their stuff.  These guys are some of the best guides and teachers I have ever had the opportunity to fish with hands down.  They will both challenge you as an angler but give you all the tools and instruction in order to be successful and also leave the Bahamas as a better angler. I have had a chance to fish with all of the guides except for two over the last couple of years and I have to say each one of them has there own distinct personalities. Take Freddie for example, He will sing all day from the poling platform while pointing out fish. Or Josie, who is all business, who expects the best from his anglers but will put you in prime spots to catch what he calls “bonezilla” or better yet “wife of bonezilla”.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can expect to see all sorts of fish throughout the fishing grounds near the lodge.  From shots at single and pairs of bonefish to schools of ten to twenty or even hundreds at certain places one thing is for sure. You are bound to get casts at happy bonefish. The bonefish generally range anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds with the average fish tipping the scale around 3 or 4. These fish will be seen either on flats throughout the island or while exploring an extensive network of mangrove creeks. These fish usually are found feeding or cruising in 1 to 2 feet of water and can be stalked either via poling the boat or on foot. If the bonefishing ever gets boring (which it wont) make sure you have a 10 weight or spinning rod on hand in order to throw to some rather angry barracuda or Jacks. No matter how you slice it the fishing on the island is spectacular.  Don’t fret over missed shots… You will get plenty.1618418_10152328492692845_158668094_n

I hold this place with such reverence because this is where I tasted my first success as a saltwater fly fisherman. Everything that is aforementioned makes this place amazing. The staff and guides will do all they can in order to make your stay and angling the ultimate adventure. However don’t take my word for it. Pack up an 8 weight, some mantis shrimp and gotchas and check it out for yourself.

Fishwest runs a yearly trip(s) to the Andros South Lodge. For all those who are interested you can check out the details HERE. Spots are still available for our March 2015 trips.

 

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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
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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Orvis Superfine Glass

Glass is Not Dead: The Orvis Superfine Glass

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

Neah Bay

Northwest Black Bass – A Welcome Diversion from Salmon Fishing

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

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

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

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

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