Patagonia R1 Field Shirt Review by Steve Schmidt

12033233_10156055923215203_2031007513125560217_nFor the past 30 years I’ve chased steehead in the fall around the great northwest. This affliction must be some what infections since now most of us at Western Rivers take time off each fall just to pursue these fish. The crew and I all know it’s a game where the elements can present fishing and comfort challenges. From a clothing standpoint if you don’t have a good layering system, including a very good rain coat, you can be miserable. When these fish are in their rivers the weather often isn’t very accommodating. I know first hand what that’s like and in my early days of fly-fishing for steelhead had a number of trips where I spent as much time at the laundry matt drying out as I did fishing. Over the years I’ve realized the importance of having good gear and I include clothing in that category when it comes to being comfortable in winter, spring and fall when the weather can send you home if you don’t have a functional layering system.

As I do most fall seasons my first steelhead trip of the year is our Western Rivers hosted trip to BC. This year was no exception. As I began to pack I pulled an original Patagonia R1 top from my drawer and after a decade or more of service it still looked good, but it had gotten pretty thin. Coincidentally we just happened to get the new Patagonia  R1 Field 1/4 Zip top in at the shop and with all the changes in design and fabrics this new piece of insulation incorporates, it’s a significantly improved top from when Patagonia first introduced Regulator fleece.  52720_FTGN.fpx
For starters, the fabric in the new R1 Field 1/4 Zip has a much improved hand, ability to move moisture and regulate you temperature. Sounds pretty high tech, as this and other Patagonia fabrics are. On the sleeves and shoulders it is reinforced with a DWR layer that will help keep wind and water out and you more comfortable in a variety of different weather situations. This reinforced  layer isn’t waterproof, but its water repellant and a great added feature for those who fish since we’re often fishing in the rain, or dealing with wind on cool fall and spring days. It’s also got two chest pockets; one inside and one out.

After purchasing the R1 Field top there was a good reason I wore this shirt for 10 straight days; it just worked in so many different situations. For starters the recycled pilled fleece was noticeably warmer and more comfortable. On this trip for some reason we had a lot of wind, and the reinforced layer that wraps around your shoulders and down the sleeves really helped keep the chill off. Unlike Windstopper fleece, which is a challenge to get dry after it gets wet, you’ll find the RI fleece breaths so well it dries much quicker. Given the mix of weather, especially wet weather I had, it was an ideal layering piece when swinging flies or hanging around camp. Although I didn’t retire my original R1 top, after this recent acquisition it might be a while before it gets worn again.

These things are killer and going like hot cakes, if you’re interested in more info or would like to purchase please visit our website.

Advertisements

Sage One Spey & Switch Rod Review by: Steve Schmidt

Steelhead SS 001 (33)I first got my hands on a Sage ONE Spey Rod on the Dean in August of 2011. Nothing like getting teased with something you can’t have. Sage fly rod Company along with other fine fly rod manufacturers have played an integral part in the development of today’s spey rods and their growing popularity. With the introduction of their new ONE Spey Rod they prove they are still an industry leader and have pushed the envelope in two handed fly rod technology and performance once again.

I remember my first spey rod, a Sage I purchased in the 90’s. Being an obsessed steelheader I was drawn early to the advantages of a two handed rod. Jim Vincent sent me some hand drawn stick figures on paper along with a formula for how to build a spey line and off to the park I went. Since then both Sage and I have come a long way in this game. Given today’s options in spey rods and lines if I had started my adventures today my learning experience would have been much easier. Looking back at my journey, however I have no regrets. After all, I didn’t get into fishing with flies because it was easy.

Credence to Sage’s prowess in the spey rod game is their iconic TCX 7126-4, affectionately known by steelheaders as the “Death Star”. This rod really addresses today’s Skagit and Scandi style of casting and steelheading techniques that were pioneered by the likes of Ward, O’Donnell, McCune, Howell and others in the northwest. This rod is light, quick and can easily handle a variety of Skagit or Scandi lines, heavy sink tips and lead eyed flies. Even with this “one” series of Sage spey rods, the “Death Star’s” cult following will not see this rod go away anytime soon.

Steelhead SS 001 (2)So how does this new series of spey rods differ from some of the other rods that are out there?  Why are I and my staff so impressed with this Sage’s latest series of spey rod?  For starters it is light thanks to its boron carbon fiber blend. The markedly slim profile is also quite evident, yet amazingly these rods possess a thicker wall construction compared to other Sage spey rods. That doesn’t sound like much, but given the average length of today’s spey rod the narrow profile will allow for improved line speed and on those blustery fall steelhead days, make a significant difference in your ability to turn over a fly. All this is good on the water, but that said probably their most noticeable attribute thanks to Sage’s Konetic technology is the ability of these rods to track like few other rods we’ve had the pleasure of putting a line on.  Having now fished and cast most of these new spey rods, I find them to be consistently nice in the hand, smooth and throw a line rather effortlessly when matched with the appropriate line.

The prototype rod I was introduced to on the Dean was a 7130-4; a rod length that never made it to production. Personally I thought the tip was a little stiff. When I got an opportunity to cast a production rod, the 7136-4, the extra inches took care of that problem and made for a smooth, very light yet very responsive and powerful spey rod. The day this rod arrived I called all my steelhead buddies for an afternoon session in the park to get some feedback. Everyone was impressed with this rods versatility, weight, ease of casting, and ability to track a line. Given the variety of rods this crew owns and fishes: Berkheimer’s, Winston’s, T & T’s, Scotts, Meiser’s, Sage’s, their more than favorable appraisal of the new Sage ONE 7136 was fair testament to its broad appeal. We’ve found that to be true with most of these new rods, but especially the 7136-4 ONE  and 7126-4 ONE. Both meat and potato rods for the waters we fish in BC and the northwest.

There are a lot of good spey rods out there. These new Sage rods however are somewhat of a game changer. Again, when it comes to rods we recognize that we all have personal peculiarities when it comes to rods and even more so when it comes to spey rods.  That said, if you are in the market for a Skagit, Switch, Scandi, or more traditional line, whether it’s your first rod or one to fill a niche, your should test drive one of these new Sage ONE Spey Rods. They are impressive.

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boot Review by Steve Schmidt

7The Patagonia Foot Tractor takes wading to a whole new level of comfort and traction. Several years ago we; Western Rivers staff had an opportunity to test these boots out on our annual shop trip. After 4 days of pounding around in them we were impressed. The Foot Tractor right out of the shoot was noticeably an improvement over the Aluma-Bar boot. After using the Patagonia Aluminum Bar Boot for the past 3 seasons (which still have plenty of life left in them), I left them behind this fall as I headed to BC for my first steelhead trip of the year and some of the most challenging wading anyone will be confronted with.
Regardless of the new bar and sole design of the boot, which is grabbing everyone’s attention, this was the most comfortable 8heavy duty wading boot I’ve ever worn. The lacing system is ingenous, and I’m glad that they didn’t use the BOA system, which they initially intended to do. Their new system almost feels like the laces are being pulled through pulleys on the lower part of the boot. The top two hooks cleat the laces in place once you pull them in. These hold the laces firmly in place while you finish tying the boot, keeping the laces secure and tight all day long. The wide upper makes the Foot Tractor super easy to get out of, also at the end of a long day this boot is so comfortable you won’t be in a hurry to take them off.On the traction side I definitely prefer the new bottom and the way they’ve integrated the aluminum bar into the rubber sole. The new bar pattern is definitely better, especially when you’re scrambling around on the bank. For those who fish out of a boat, or have an occasion to, the new bar and sole design is really nice. I hardly noticed the bars in the dories we floated. Compared to the old boots, they we’re much less slippery in the boat, on dry rocks, and on steep grassy banks, which were issues they needed to address.

IMG_1713The new Patagonia Tractor Boot is a game changer just as the Aluminum Bar Wading Boot by Patagonia was. Although it feels heavy in the hand, I never noticed the weight after spending 10-12 hrs in them. For those having trouble getting around in the river, whether its the wading or you are simply looking to feel more grounded as you wade, this boot by far, will give you the security your looking for. Plus do so in a very comfortable fashion. My only regret is they aren’t offering these in just a sticky bottom version as well. Rumor has it that Patagonia is working on them.

We are freshly stocked up on Patagonia Foot Tractors, you can purchase from our website or give us a shout 801-521-6424

Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack Review

Image

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…

Steelhead Season: Gear and Clothing Essentials

Tomorrow Schmidt and several of our great customer will be flying into Smithers, BC for the shops 25th annual Steelhead trip. Before they take off we got Steve to sit down and write an article on some of his favorite things he’s taking on this adventure.

Fly-fishing for steelhead is an obsessive venture at Western Rivers Flyfisher.  Come September we’re still pursuing trout, yet there is a creeping diversion in our focus, our purchases, and the flies we spend nights tying.  By this time of year we shift from trout rods to spey rods, use our trout lines and rods a little less often and spend a fair amount of time balancing out Skagit, Scandi or mid-belly spey lines for steelhead depending on our preferences.  Since I opened Western Rivers Flyfisher in February off 1987 fly-fishing for steelhead has been a part of our DNA.  Although little has evolved in swing flies for these migratory fish, the equipment has drastically improved over the past several decades.  Here are some new items that have been added to my growing list of essentials as I prepare for the upcoming steelhead season.

To read the full article click here…

Ultimate Fishing Pack: Patagonia Stealth Atom Sling Review

In the search for the best fishing pack we’ve come to find the Patagonia Stealth Atom Sling Pack a one of a kind. Several manufacturers have put together sling packs over the years, and even Patagonia has put one out before, but there are a few unique things that the Stealth Atom has over any others. A sling pack is the perfect size for hiking around your favorite stream. We have used this pack steel heading and find that it works well even when spey casting. It’s also a great go to pack when you’re in it for the long haul on salt water flat. TO READ THE FULL REVIEW CLICK HERE…