Friday, August 1, 2014

10 For Summer

It's summertime and the living is easy, eh?  My summer began with a couple trips to Michigan and of late has been more about work and getting some outside projects done at home.  I still need to fit in a couple flood tide trips to look for redfish around Charleston and the family pond is always just through the woods as well. 

Here's a breakdown of ten gear items that I think you might want to consider to make your summer a little better than it is already. 

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12WT. SUN GEAR
I've said it before in a couple other sun protection gear reviews (HERE and HERE), but I don't tan at all.  Never have and likely never will.  Prolonged sun exposure for me means a sunburn and I've long since decided to try and stay as sun free as possible when outdoors.

I have a plastic bin that is filled with sun protection gear of all sorts and what stays on top of the stack are the gloves and sun masks from 12wt.  The polyester fabric that they use is 30+ UPF, lightweight, and extremely comfortable to wear all day long.

I've worn the both styles of gloves for the past several years now and if you paddle, pole, or strip a lot of flies then the WORKwt. Gloves should be your choice as the patches of film laminate are in just the right places on the fingers to keep fly lines from cutting in and the palm area gives you a bit of grip.  If you are just looking for sun protection then the SUNwt. Gloves will work just fine.

A note on the SUNwt. Masks is that they are cut a bit more generously than other brands so those with "fat head syndrome" will find these to be a good choice.  

A lot of the products from 12wt. follow the idea that if it "ain't chartreuse, then it ain't no use" and there may be no other sun glove on the market today that is more recognizable than these.

BOZEMAN REEL CO. SC SERIES
Several months ago, as I was getting gear together for my trip home to Michigan, Dan Rice of Bozeman Reel Co. sent a demo from their SC Series fly reels to pair with a glass rod and take along.  I am kind of a pushover for small shop made fly reels and the SC series is just classy in all regards with a click and pawl drag system and a slender S-Handle to compliment the black anodized ported front side plate and non-ported back side plate.

The SC 223 balanced the Rod Catalog Unstructured Glass 8' four weight demo that I was giving first flexes to on the trip and I had a good time with it on an unnamed brook trout stream.  The drag purrs softly and this fly reel is just so so fine.

The Bozeman Reel Co. is a small but growing reel maker (among other gear) with a lot of ideas and innovations in the works.  For the coming year, look for some additional anodized color choices for the front and back plates of the SC series which really jazzes up the look on these already stunning fly reels.

HOWLER BROTHERS SNAPSHIRTS
As I get older, and I am turning 40 next month (blah...), I seem to be wearing less and less t-shirts and instead opting for a collared shirt of some sort in short or long sleeves.  Two of my long sleeve favorites are the Pescador and Gaucho Snapshirts and you will typically find me on the water, as well as working in the yard, with one of these shirts on.  At first I felt a little weird about the pearly snap buttons but now I really dig the look (I'm cool enough to pull it off, right?) and feel of these UPF 15 shirts.

The Pescador Shirt features big pockets, which open and close with a single snap button, and are easy to get in and out of.  The pockets are large enough to toss a phone, a couple tippet spools, or even a fly box.  These poly-nylon blend shirts are available in several color choices and the fit is regular with a straight hem and side vents.

The Gaucho Snapshirts are available in a couple different plaids or embroidered on either side of the chest with a few different choices.  These poly-cotton shirts feature a pleated chest pockets and shirt tail bottom hem. 

Always remember to use the T.F.M. 20% off discount code of "TFM14" when you place your order and don't forget the Web Specials page which features both of the shirts mentioned in this review at a sharp discount.  The last time I checked the T.F.M. discount code worked on these items as well.

LEINENKUGEL'S SUMMER SHANDY
I'll always have a soft spot for Summer Shandy as it reminds me of my musky trip last summer to Hayward, Wisconsin to fish with Brad Bohen of Musky Country Outfitters.  I arrived just as an epic weather system rolled in with high grade humidity, rain, and temperatures that pushed well over 90 degrees.  Read hot and humid and certainly no reprieve from South Carolina.  

We fished hard for three long days and after hucking distance casts with a glass nine weight with flies over a foot long, finishing each cast with a couple figure 8's under the boat, and then casting again, again, and again, there might not be anything more deserved than a cold pint of Summer Shandy while sitting on a bar stool in one of several backwoods bars that we would stop at for dinner on the way home after dark.

For those not in the know, Summer Shandy is a wheat beer mixed with a shot of lemon flavor (it's one part of what makes a shandy a shandy) and it certainly makes for a refreshing brew to enjoy as long as the day is hot and the beer is really cold.

LOON OUTDOORS FLOATANTS
Summer means dry flies of all sorts, shapes, and sizes and dry flies typically need floatant, and sometimes lots of it.  Loon Outdoors delivers in the floatant department in spades with nine different choices in gel or desiccant powder and I've been extremely impressed with several of their products including Top Ride, Loon Dust, and Lochsa.

I've found Top Ride to be especially handy since it's a mix of water wicking beads and desiccant dust that it makes drying a fly quick and keeps it floating on top with just a few shakes in the bottle.  Loon Dust is excellent for hitting the wings of a mayfly spinner with the applicator brush as you can choose where you want or need the floatant applied.  Lochsa is their premium gel and is a great choice for flies of all types, including CDC, keeping them on top of the water.

Something that should be considered is the use of a couple products together, like Top Ride followed by a dap or two of Lochsa, to really keep flies dry and floating high.

All of Loon Outdoors products are made with the environment in mind and that's something that is increasing more important to me as an angler.

MONTANA FLY COMPANY BOAT BOX
A couple years ago I reviewed a late prototype model of the Montana Fly Company Boat Box and liked a lot then but like it now even more since they made some tweaks and improvements with the latches, a better fit with the center leaf, and added a thick foam panel on the front lid as a place to store or dry flies while on the water.

The handy thing about the Boat Box is that it can be used for so many different kinds of flies and I've seen some filled completely with midges (we're talking thousands of flies here) while others will pack it full of meaty streamers (we're still talking flies numbers in the hundreds).

I've used this fly box as a place to organize and keep straight several hundred bass flies and this second box may end up as my go to for trout with a panel for dry flies, another for nymphs, one for hoppers/attractors, and one for streamers as a cover all conditions and situations type box.  There's a lot of room with many many slots to fill in these boxes and a must for someone that likes to carry a lot of flies in their boat or kayak.

POPS Q TOOL
One of the benefits I've found with living in South Carolina is that our grilling season is really twelves months long and my barrel type charcoal grill gets used quite a bit year around. 

The Pops Q Tool is six tools in one and is part spatula, fork, knife, bottle opener, grill scraper, and when used together works as a pair of tongs.  This is a genius designed tool and very handy to have grill side.

For those interested, Pops Q Tool has extended a 25% off discount to the T.F.M. readership using the code "TFM25".  This is a great deal to take advantage of and Pops Q Tool is offering free custom hand engraving as well with each ordered.

SCOTT FIBERTOUCH MODEL 723/4
Last year the Scott Fly Rod Company quietly introduced an addition to the F2 series with the "Japan Special" which was a four piece 7'2" three weight with a taper that was fuller in flex than any of the other F2's and just wonderful.  The problem was finding this three weight wonder stateside just about all of them (minus a couple) were destined for Japan.

Fast forward a year and Scott has decided to add the F2 723/4 to the lineup for all to enjoy.  I applaud this decision and if you have been thinking and wondering which F2 you'd like then look no farther than this magic wand, with my second choice being the F2 653/3.

For whatever reason the three weights in the Fibertouch series always seem to be a little more special than the rest and the 723/4 may be the most special of them all to the F2 addicts out there. 

SMITH OPTICS CHROMAPOP SUNGLASSES
I've worn several different brands of polarized sunglasses but recently made the switch to Smith Optics ChromaPop sunglasses when I'm on the water and have been beyond impressed with their performance.

The easiest way that I've found to describe what ChromaPop is all about is to liken wearing them to tweaking a photograph on the computer and to turn up the "sharpen" feature on the image.  Everything is more clearly defined with ChromaPop lenses, both above the water and below.  I sight fish quite a bit and have been astounded by the clarity of the Smith Optics ChromaPop lenses.

I've been wearing two different pairs of sunglasses from Smith Optics with the Frontman with ChromaPop brown lenses and the Tenet with ChromaPop low light ignitor lenses.  The ChromaPop brown lenses are a solid choice for fishing situations on many different types of water and the ChromaPop low light ignitor lenses are perfect to start and end the day or use all day long on those gray cloud days.  On the recent trip to Beaver Island we had a couple days that were more gray than sun filled and the low light ignitor lenses really helped to light up the flats.

YETI COOLERS TUNDRA 35
There are a lot of choices in the "premium cooler" category and many of them are solid in every respect and work about the same when you put them side by side in keeping things cold.  I own and have used several of the YETI Roadie and Tundra coolers for quite a few years now, sell them in the  T.F.M. Store, and you could say I'm firmly in the camp.  They are expensive, heavy, but they keep things cold for days when properly used.

Late last year I decided to put together an "Ultimate Tundra 35" to use in the car, boat, kayak, or anywhere else it might be needed and outfitted it with a SeaDek top, flipped the handles around to keep them from grabbing fly lines, added a YETI Beverage Holder, and added the SmithFly Cooler Kit to the front side with a 3X Pouch and an El Poquito.  Of all the sizes of the Tundra series coolers, this one if my favorite as it's just the right size for a multitude of activities, and it's the smallest YETI cooler that still includes the dry good basket for keeping things out of the ice but still in the cold.

The one lesson that I've learned with using these coolers is the importance if getting them cooled down on the inside and how that works to keep from needing to feed the cooler more ice all the time.  On our recent week long trip to Michigan, I kept the Tundra 35 filled with drinks and snacks in the back of the Element.  I filled the cooler up with ice on the first day of the trip, added a half bag the second day, and then found that through the rest of the week I was adding less and less ice to finally the last couple days I might have added a couple handfuls just to top things off.  Once cold the inside stayed cold.

What's on your top ten list for summer?  Leave a comment and let me know.  

DISCLAIMER - Items for this post were either purchased at full retail price, on an industry discount, or provided free of charge to demo and review by the respective company.  It should be known that any product that is reviewed on this website is one that I have used and would recommend for others to use as well.

FIX - A Fly For Every Occasion

FIX recently posted an article on their website, which was written by Morgan Sherburne, which is a solid primer on fly fishing basics that's worth checking out.


Check out the article in it's entirety on the FIX.com website and share with a friend (or three) who might be interested in learning more about fly fishing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rod Catalog - "Old Empire" E-Glass

Things are continuing to come together for Vlad Milenkovic of Rod Catalog with the recent introduction of the 7'6" three weight "Old Empire" four piece fly rod blank builds that have become part of his Unstructured Fiberglass Series and compliment the eight four four weight in the series already.

As mentioned before here and on the Rod Catalog website, Vlad's thought process with his proprietary blank builds is to do each one different and create something special and unique for each client's order.   


Vlad wrote...  "The Unstructured Fiberglass series continues with the new small batch of 7’6” three weight four piece blanks done in “Old Empire” red E-Glass.  The idea behind the series is to offer a small variety of custom tapers, blank colors and unique builds. The new red three weight blanks feature slim butt sections and slightly more semi-parabolic feel in comparison to the progressive 8’ four weight yellow Unstructured Glass tapers.  Some orders are already in the works, while some rods will be available for sale directly from rodcatalog.blogspot.com
 



Please visit the Rod Catalog website for more information and send Vlad an email at vladan@vladanmilenkovic.com if you have any questions or if you would like to place an order for one of these unique builds.

Matt's "Dispatches From Beaver island"

Matt Smythe of fishingpoet.com was part of the group on Beaver Island for the Beaver Bash 2014 media event with Indigo Guide Service and he recently penned a post on his website detailing the trip from his perspective with his "Dispatches From Beaver Island" post. 


It was great having Matt along for the trip.  We had a lot of fun sharing a boat together one of the days as well as a pint or three each night.  There was no shortage of good times while on the island.

Click through to the fishingpoet.com website to read this dispatch along with Matt's other fine work.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Drake - There's An App For That

I subscribe to just a couple fly fishing magazines and am always eager for the fresh copy of The Drake to show up in my mailbox, though the last several issues I've picked up for my iPad mini through The Drake app, available for iPad and iPhone, just to see how it reads and flows from the print version.  I like the digital version a lot and feel that it's a stellar compliment to the magazine.  Navigation is easy page by page and there are some added benefits to the digital version with the ability to add videos to stories along with following up on websites linked within the pages as well. 


Recently Tom Bie and I traded a few emails and he passed along these thoughts on The Drake app...

- None of this happens without a talented, contemporary designer with a keen grasp of how print and digital designs should compliment each other. We are fortunate to be working with Mark Lesh, who has a lot of experience with both, and also happens to be a dedicated flyfisher.

- The two-layer concept of Mag+ (The company we run The Drake app through) is key, allowing you to scroll text without losing the background image. This makes for simple, intuitive navigation, yet offers a viewing experience far surpassing that of a basic flipbook or strictly PDF-designed digi-mag, especially in the iPhone or iPad mini. 

- Allowing users to access all of our advertisers' websites in-app, rather than needing to open a browser, is a huge plus for both users and advertisers, making it a faster, easier, and more streamlined way to get information. 

- As you allude to--embedding video is a huge part of this, especially with so many talented writers and photographers now shooting video as part of their trip. Ryan Peterson's excellent taimen collaboration with John Sherman in the spring issue is a perfect example of that.

- Probably my biggest surprise over the past year is how many foreign digital subscribers we've added. I simply had no idea how many people were interested in flyfishing, or in The Drake, who just didn't want to pay the outrageous shipping costs to send copies overseas.

- Easily one of the biggest benefits—beyond just the ever-growing influence of tablets and smartphones—is the number of people who can now pass along mag content to their friends through social media channels. When I see, for example, someone send out a tweet that includes John Larison's steelhead essay from the winter issue, I know that wouldn't have happened without the app. 

Check out iTunes to purchase The Drake issue by issue or subscribe for the year.

Fish-Skull Fly Tester

The Flymen Fishing Co. recently launched the Fish-Skull Fly Tester at IFTD and I have a feeling that we'll all be seeing quite a few of these on the custom tier tables at the fly fishing shows come fall and winter with flies of all sorts swimming in the micro current. 


From the Flymen Fishing Co. website...
  • High quality, crystal-clear, acrylic swim tank with innovative (bi-directional) water flow design.
  • Upper, middle, and lower sections allow you to swim up to 3 different types of flies (streamers, nymphs and surface flies) at the same time.
  • Test streamer flies up to a foot long!
  • The slim line design is light-weight (less 8 lbs.), portable with a small footprint for any fly tying table or shop counter.
  • Powerful water pump with adjustable speed flow control.
  • Retail ready (boxed and bar coded).
  • 1-year limited warranty.
  • Retail price of $285.



Check out the Flymen Fishing Co. website for more information on the Fish-Skull Fly Tester along with other innovative products.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dead Flies Don't Swim

It's high summer on the Missouri River and the tricos are popping off in waves. John Arnold and Mark Raisler took advantage and got out on the water last week to create a new scumliner media video and Mark also penned a solid blog post on the Headhunters Fly Shop website which is the perfect compliment to the video.



The short of the video and the blog post are to make sure that you bring your A game, which is as applicable to the Missouri River as it is to your local.

Check out scumliner media for more video genius and the Headhunters Fly Shop website for the latest information on the Mo.