Tag Archives: trout

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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An Inside Look: Rio’s Perception Line

When it comes to accurate cast and landing trout a good line can make all the difference in the world. The ConnectCore Technology that Rio  integrated into the Perception is an ultra-low stretch core system that allows unbeatable sensitivity for better cast timing, easier line lift, and a more precise mend, making Rio’s Perception Fly Line the perfect example of how a great line can enhance the angler’s ability to catch more fish.

Ice off at Colorado High Country Lakes

An angler stands on his favorite river, swelled bank to bank with cold, turbid, fast moving, dangerous mid June runoff, and mutters, “When is there going to be some fishable water? Curses foiled again.”

Have no fear high country lakes are here! The fish are looking up, hungry and cruise the shallows.  Dead insects, formerly encrusted in ice, drift in the melted film and those alive are responding to the spring warmth. Grab your rod and get up there.

We picked three lakes above 9000’ elevation in northwest Colorado near the town of Steamboat Springs with roads close by, Steamboat, Pearl and Dumont. A short walk around drifted snow banks and we were fishing. The aspens were sucking up the snow melt and sprouting soft, tender, green leaves. Glacier lilies burst from the edge of snow banks with yellow flowers.  The mountains were alive again and soothed the soul.P1030171

At Steamboat Lake the rainbows and cutthroats hit size 8 black woolly buggers with hints of purple mixed in. A float tube was helpful to fish towards the shallow shore but cold. The possibility of hypothermia crossed our minds. Dress in layers because the skies can change from sunny to snowy quickly. While we fished, the Pleistocene era sand hill cranes soared above us uttering their strange, haunting prehistoric cries. The ancestors of this 2 million year old species, with a six foot wingspan, began migrating through North America at the end of the last Ice Age and make the lake marshes here their summer home.

Pearl Lake is only a few miles away. We aimed our casts to evening rises as the sun reflected the mountains in the cool, blue water. It was frustrating because I kept missing strikes at my Griffiths gnat dry fly. In desperation, I downsized twice and finally, with a size 18, I got a hook up. The fish darted deep, pulling my line from side to side and eventually tiring ended up in my net. It was an arctic grayling which have smaller mouths and they apparently couldn’t get their jaws around my larger flies. One of my fishing buddies said, “I never thought grayling would take a dry fly.” Typically they live deep in the lake, but in the spring move to the shallows to spawn and then disappear again.

Dumont Lake lays near the continent divide on Rabbit Ears Pass by U. S. Highway 40. We left a paved road, busy with traffic, to the serenity of a mountain lake. During the summer the lake and campground generally crawls with anglers and campers. During our spring trip we had it all to ourselves. A couple years ago the lake was drained, the brook trout removed, the dam repaired, re-filled with melted snow creeks and stocked with Hofer-Colorado River strain, whirling disease resistant, rainbow trout. The rich organic material encouraged quick growth and we encountered fat, feisty, fish. Aquatic worms were abundant. Small size 14 hooks wrapped with red floss and ribbed with copper wire worked well. Occasionally, the trout would take a larger San Juan worm or green Copper John midges too.

As always, it took a little experimentation to figure out what the fish wanted and each lake provided forage that was different, but the fish were hungry after a long winter beneath the ice. A local fly shop can offer tips to solve the riddle.

A high mountain lake awakes and waits for you. Don’t despair, get up there.

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!

Orvis Sling Pack 2

Product Spotlight: The Orvis Guide Sling Pack

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.

Sling PackThis 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.

Sling Pack 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.

Sling-InstructionsThe 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.

Scott Radian

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

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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.

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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.

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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   

 

Florida Keys

Great Days 5: Florida Keys Flats Fishing by Smith Optics

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If you don’t know already own a pair of polarized glasses is worth it’s weight in gold when fishing. I would argue a nice pair of sunnies is probably the most important fishing accessory.  Since the days of Action Optics the staff over at Smith has been committed to bringing some of the best technical eye wear to the fly fishing industry. Smith glasses are a favorite of the shop staff here at Fishwest. From Jake with his Frontman’s to Richard with the Backdrops they can be seen time and time again.   If you haven’t had a chance to checkout the offerings from Smith Optics I would urge you to do so.

Without further adieu, check out this awesome video put together by Smith highlighting the excellent Florida Keys fisheries.

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.
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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.

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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

Rio Products

How To Video: Attaching a Braided Loop

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.

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Product Spotlight: The Improved Simms Headwaters ½ Day Pack

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Ample Gear Storage

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.

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In Use (Looking For Bass)

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.

SIF84HW12FO_lgAll 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.

Check out the pack by clicking HERE