Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack Review

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In today’s fly fishing world there seems to be a million choices in hip and waist packs. After recently returning from a steelhead trip, hear what one of our guides have to say about the newly updated Simms guide pack.

“We all have our preferences on our favorite fly fishing pack system. Whether it’s a sling pack, backpack/vest combo, hip pack or chest pack we can all agree that a well designed piece is more comfortable while still making simple tasks on the water much quicker, easier and less of a headache. The 2014 Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack is one of our new favorite outfits for the angler who likes to come prepared for anything.” Click here to read the full review…

Patagonia Stormfront Roll Top Pack Review by Steve Schmidt

ImageThe Patagonia Storm Front Roll Top Pack is another well thought out fly-fishing product from Patagonia. I found it interesting that on the product content page on the Patagonia web-site that they referred to the island of Haida Gwaii as an ideal location to use the Strom Front Roll Top Pack. Ironically enough I just returned from there. When fly-fishing for steelhead in the northwest, keeping your things dry is a challenge. I was faced with this challenge as I prepared to head out the door to fish the Queen Charlotte’s in January. In doing a little research, Haida Gwaii gets some serious rain, 18′; yep feet. We just happened to get aStorm Front Roll Top Pack in right as I was trying to figure out what I needed to carry my stuff in, since you do a fair amount of walking in this remote steelhead location and because of the frequent rains, if you don’t have a waterproof pack, you’re stuff is going to get quite wet. Since their new Storm Front Packs also accommodate their modular vest pockets, the options the new Storm Front Roll Top Pack offered was a no brainer for this and many other destinations where I’m fortunate to fly-fish. TO READ THE FULL REVIEW CLICK HERE.

Buying a Fly Rod

by Steve Schmidt

As a specialty fly-fishing shop there are distinct advantages to having our roots firmly cemented as a brick and mortar business with on-line sales capabilities compared to those who have just an internet presence; we have the pleasure and experience of working with customers in person, whether its casting on our lawn or fishing our local waters.  When it comes to choosing fly rods this is critical, especially today given the myriad of very good options.   Having the opportunity on a daily basis to work with customers casting rods comparing one rod to others before making a purchase is an ideal situation for all parties.  For those who don’t have that luxury, the knowledge and experience we have gained through this process over 25 years will go a long way towards helping customers purchase just the right rod.    
 

Selecting a fly rod is a personal decision that we respect, especially with fly rods being one of the more critical pieces of fly-fishing equipment you acquire during your fly-fishing life. With print media and the internet one can find many discerning opinions about what are the best fly rods, however mo
st don’t take into consideration or have the experience to consider what is the best fly rod for you?  It’s not what our fly rod preferences are that matter; it’s what rod do you feel is right for you.  It’s much easier to get to that point if you can cast rods, a little more challenging when you can’t.

If you don’t have the chance to cast a fly rod our acquired experience and knowledge is invaluable when it comes to helping you narrow your selection down.   Although internet sites, including our own, have a lot of info on their products, interviews, along with some personal experience, what they don’t have is the hands-on part of the process, a part of the equations we’ve been doing with success longer than most.  To make up for this many sites entice you with a free fly line in hopes of getting you to make a purchase.  We’ll give you much more than that over time; years of experience, and our heart and soul.

For me personally, I don’t read much marketing print on fly rods.  I do read some of the internet shoot outs on fly rods and other products and always find them interesting and offering some useful information, but for the most part their rants don’t break their findings down to where you can make a good decision.   After all you’re making a decisi

on based upon their preferences, not yours.

Fly rods are sooo good these days.  A good one truly adds to your fly-fishing experience; light, sensitive in the hand, and simply enjoyable to cast. The variety of new fly lines also has helped make any fly rod perform better, but that is another subject and matter for later. 20-25 years ago there were some good fly rods around, but not in the numbers or consistency that we enjoy today.  You would have thought that after all these years that rod makers would be maxing out their abilities when it comes to new offerings.  As evidence of the new Sage ONE rod or the introduction of boron into some of Winston’s fly rods, fly rods today are still being redefined.

Although there is some consistency in fly rods that individuals choose, those choices are sometimes for different reasons; feel, weight, grip, casting ability, fishing preferences, water types, or simply brand loyalty.  Once you address these important considerations consistently most pull the trigger on a fly rod based upon how they feel. For me it’s often quite obvious when a rod fits a customer and it really doesn’t matter what ones ability is; there is an ease of casting, consistency in the loops and certain level of comfort that one arrives at when one casts a rod that suits them.  Given the choices today, you should never have to get use to a rod.

Sage Fly Rods, Sage One Fly Rods, Fly Rods,

Having just returned from my 4th year fly-fishing the challenging and diverse waters ofArgentina, I have been on the search for two rods that would perform better than the rods I currently own.   The bulk of my trout rods are quite slow and in Argentina these rods make my life a challenge, so I’ve been trying to find a couple of faster rods that will perform better in the wind, often times throwing bigger bugs, and having to handle some rather hefty trout.  After 3 years I finally found what I was looking for.  In the process I cast lots of rods and fished even more before I pulled the trigger.  I don’t own a lot of rods, which baffles many considering I’ve run Western Rivers now for 25 years.  I love my fly rods; each one makes me want to go fishing.  When you’re looking for a new rod whether it’s your first or one you need to fill a niche I and my staff want you to feel the same way about your rods, especially since a good fly rod today truly helps make your fly-fishing experiences more enjoyable.

This is a great time to be purchasing a fly rod.  Not that there has ever been a bad time.  Still one of my favorites is the first Winston I purchased back in the late 70’s.  Back then, however there weren’t a lot of good choices and at $400 compared today’s prices and options it was very expensive. Today given what is out there it is pretty easy to find one that will make your days on the water more enjoyable.  If you’re in the market for a and have the opportunity to visit Western Rivers, stop in grab a cup off coffee, we’ll figure a few things out then lets hit the lawn or a near by park and cast some rods.  If you don’t have the good fortune of having a shop in your area, give us a call, we’ll go to great lengths to make sure we get the right rod in your hand.

Fly Fishing/Travel Bags and Luggage Tried and True: by Steve Schmidt

Having led fly-fishing trips, fresh and saltwater, around the world for a quarter of a century I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what essentials I’ll need and those random little items that can make the difference when traveling.  What to pack them in and getting them there is another issue.  As I prepare for an upcoming fly-fishing trip to Argentina it’s a perfect time to discuss the bags and luggage I’ve come to trust and depend upon to get my essentials securely to my destination and keep them protected once I get there.

So let’s go big for starters. It’s pretty rare on an extended trip that I don’t use one fairly good sized bag. With the complexity of travel these days and luggage restrictions the choice of what bag to take has gotten a little more complicated.  I have two big luggage pieces that I’ve come to depend upon over the years that I pack the bulk of my stuff in, the Patagonia Freewheeler Max and my old trusty Black Hole Bag.

Fly Fishing Gear Bags, Travel Luggage, Patagonia Bags, Simms Bags, Patagonia Freightliner Max, Patagonia Great Divider, Patagonia Black Hole BagIf I can stay within weight limits and a wheeled bag makes sense I use the Freewheeler Max. As I get older I find the convenience of a wheeled bag a nice option. Similar to the Black Hole Bag it’s a large but simple bag, not too many compartments and like all Patagonia bags, tough. Mine’s been through a lot, however sometimes a wheeled bag doesn’t cut it.  One consideration in comparing the weight of these two bags.  It’s about 10 lbs heavier.  That’s similar in weight to a set of waders and boots. Since this duffel doesn’t have wheels the back pack straps are very useful and come in handy when having to haul this particular luggage piece for long distances.  Another consideration that the Black Hole Bag has over the Freewheeler Max is the central divider that allows me to keep my wet stuff, or dirty cloths separate from the stuff I want to keep dry.   If I was to choose between these two pieces of luggage, Black Hole Bag would be my bag of choice; lighter, plenty large enough, wet/dry options and pretty darn waterproof.

The most versatile travel bag I own is also the smallest and lightest, the Patagonia Light Weight Travel Duffel. This bag is so convenient and compact I use it for many other things outside of fishing, cycling, going to the store, camping, day trips to the river, you name it. This super lightweight duffel will easily fit in an overhead, will second as a boat bag, and when not in use, won’t even be noticed tagging along in your luggage since it packs up so small and light.  My son just took the LWTD and hauled it for two month around Thailand and Laos.  It didn’t look quite the same upon his return, but one quick run in the wash and it was good as new.  My wife was happy about that!

I’m kind of getting carried away with Patagonia stuff here, but for good reason. I’ve used their luggage for years and have found no better substitute for traveling to the worlds fly-fishing waters. Their bags are sensible, durable and have stood the test of some very tough places.  Actually hadn’t really thought about who made the bags and luggage I use until I began writing this piece.  Although I have travel pieces from a number of other companies collecting dust in my basement or being occupied by my cats, it’s been a while since I’ve used them.

Gear bags are a challenge.  We’re all rather particular about this gear piece. For anyone who fly-fishes a good gear bag is an essential part of your stuff“Stuff”, can you tell I like this word! Fly-fishing gear bags you’ll find there are many to choose from.  Most I’ve used over the years with some level of dissatisfaction.  That is until I finally purchased the Patagonia Great Divider.  I state finally since the first time Patagonia came out with this bag I passed on it.  After they re-introduced the Great Divider a second time I didn’t hesitate picking one up.

Most fly-fishing gear bags aren’t waterproof and for my consideration have too many pockets.  You spend half your time trying to figure out what pocket you put your stuff in.  The Patagonia Great Divider is waterproof, has a few adjustable compartments, and is one tough bag.   After going through a number of gear bags I realized they were all lacking in some aspect of what I needed in a bag that I use to transport valuable fly reels, journal, precious flies, camera, lenses and other essential items, whether it’s for a day floating the Green River or a trip to South America.  This bag is a great carry on piece, but it’s even better out in the elements.  To validate how good this bag is, everyone at Western Rivers Flyfisher owns this gear bag, I’m not the only one.

Finally, the bag I use almost as much as the Great Divider, is yet another Patagonia bag, the MLC (Maximum Legal Carry-on).  From commuter business trips, to weekends in the Key’s, this unassuming piece of luggage is awesome.  I own three of them. Hidden backpack straps can easily be extracted for use when you need both your hands for other things: beer, quick slice of pizza, rods or something less enticing and heavier like your other bags.

I’m fortunate to travel a fair amount.  My arsenal of travel bags helps make my trips more enjoyable.  They allow me to have what I need when I’m getting to my destination, yet in a manner that is uncluttered and efficient.  Travel isn’t easy these days, it’s not going to get any easier either.  Although there are many great gear bags and luggage pieces on the market these day, I’ve yet to find bags and luggage for travel, especially for fly-fishing that will stand up to Patagonia’s stuff.

Steve Schmidt of Western Rivers Flyfisher Sage “One” rod review

Fly rods are pretty amazing these days; they keep getting better.   Sage with their new  One Rod has raised the bar Steve’s recently tested his new  904 One Rod on Utah’s Green River.  Here are his thoughts on latest from Sage.

If you’re in the market for a new fly rod, you’ll definitely want to give this light, and accurate rod by Sage a try. You’ll find as others why this series of fly rods has been the most successful rod launch in the history of Sage and also at Western Rivers Flyfisher. If you haven’t cast one swing by the shop and see what the buzz is all about.