Wednesday, June 21, 2017

10 For Spring

Spring is quickly moving into summer but it's not too late to highlight the ten pieces of gear that have gotten my family and I through the last few months of fly fishing along with backyard and road trip adventuring.  The last couple months been filled with trips locally to the mountains and to the beach and then I was also away to Mexico and Vermont for a week at a time.

It's been a busy few months and summer doesn't look like it will be slowing thing down at all since I'll be heading north to Michigan later today for a week and a half filled with carp, smallmouth, pike on the flats of Lake Michigan and some night time trout gulping the big bugs and mice.     

Here we go with "10 For Spring" that is a mix of spring trout angling and camp gear essentials.

A couple of years ago we picked up a three pack of Moji Lanterns and they quickly became our favorite lights around camp to hang in the tent, place on the picnic table for games, to keep close by the stove for early morning coffee, and I've found them to be handy in creating low light photography.  The Moji Lanterns come in several colors and each give off 100 lumens.

The Moji Charging Station Lantern is the big poppa to the smaller Moji Lanterns and along with boasting 250 lumens of light, it also acts as a charging station for handheld electronic devices with a USB port access on the side of the lantern.  The Moji Charging Station is powered off AA batteries along with storing AC charge which can fully charge an iPhone several times over while keeping the lights on around camp for up to 50 hours.  Like the smaller Moji Lanterns, the Moji Charging Station can also be hung with the same double double-hook loops. 

The Sunrise 580P has been a long standing lens offering from Costa and earlier this year it got the step forward treatment when it became the Sunrise Silver Mirror 580P lens.

What often times is pushed as a low light lens to be used on the edges of the day or on cloudy days, I've instead found is really perfect for all day use especially when fly fishing in the woods were light may be streaming through the trees but you're caught under the canopy.  I also find these lenses perfect for distance driving and time spent on the firearms range while at work. 

The Sunrise Silver Mirror 580P is currently available in six different Costa frames though my longstanding favorite is the Corbina frame.

When I gave up on my old green dual fuel camp stove last fall, I deep dived into researching, demoing, and cooking off of several of the latest propane fueled stoves which included the Eureka Spire XL for the past several months.

Though the Eureka Spire XL hits all the high points with pumping out 10,000 BTU's of cooking power, rotary ignition, removable grate, windscreen, adjustable rubber feet for keeping the cook surface level, the real genius of this stove is that it's designed to work with Jetboil Luna Satellite Burner.  This stove and side burner will make meal times a breeze with two burners for cooking while a third for hot drinks can stay rolling as well.

Not only is the Jetboil system crazy efficient in bringing water to a boil, the Grande Java Kit will have hot coffee in your cup minutes after push button ignition of the flame.  The coffee press works good in this system and I am beyond impressed with this entire set up.

The Spire Stoves are offered in two sizes with the smaller stove on sale currently with free shipping on the Eureka website.  The Luna Satellite Burner can be purchased separately through the Jetboil website or through other retailers.

I have a good friend that works at Filson who he tipped me off some time back that they were working on a new line up of gear for fly fishing and to keep my eyes open for it.  This spring brought this small but well thought out line up to light and immediately the Fishing Pack stood out.

After kicking this pack around throughout the spring, I continue to be impressed with the well thought out design and overall quality of the Fishing Pack.  Old school fabrics meet brass button snaps and heavy duty zippers are mixed with smartly designed spaces, multiple compartments to handle fly boxes, tools, and accessories.  The zip down work station comes in handy for those that want to forgo fly boxes and instead fill the foam inserts with the day's needs.

The Fishing Pack also features two pockets for water bottles or one (or two) to slide a can of your favorite brew to carry along.  This pack features heavy duty waist belt, shoulder belt, and a grab handle making for ease of wear with options.  The Fishing Pack is everything that you would expect from Filson and more.        

Over the years the Nomad Net line up has continued grow and currently boasts ten different landing nets from wading nets to boat nets in a multitude of sizes and color finishes.  A new favorite in the line up is the Emerger Net which features a longer handle for extra reach and skinned in a brown trout design.  The Emerger Net is the third smallest net in the line up and perfect for both wading, kayak, canoe, and raft use.

I've been using Nomad Nets for years now and always impressed by the quality of the carbon fiber/fiberglass composite of the build but also the depth and flat floor of the rubber netting.  Fish go into these nets and stay in until they are ready to be released. 

Longtime readers know that I am always on the lookout for new and up and coming companies within the fly fishing industry and recently have gotten to know the folks at Rock Treads.  Their story started with a light bulb moment involving an aluminum canoe and the inspiration to design a better way to wade moving water.

Rock Treads are available in different sized kits with the Fry Kit and the Pickle Kit giving anglers the choice of how many aluminum discs in two or three sizes needed for their boots.

The Rock Treads website has solid installation notes on their website and I'll be doing a follow up review in the coming months.  Early option is that these are a great idea and we'll see how they hold up.

It's been a long (think loooooonnnnnngggggg) time since I've had a "blankie" but when the Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket arrived on the doorstep, I knew I was going to be fighting the wife and children for it.  

The Original Puffy Blanket features a ripstop nylon shell filled with synthetic insulation making for the ultimate home, camp, car, and wherever else tech blanket.  Tight roll the puff blanket up and it fits perfectly in the included stuff sack.   

We recently made a quick weekend trip from South Carolina to Michigan (and back) and my wife and I took turns sleeping on the way up.  You can't curl up much in the front seat of a Toyota 4Runner but the Original Puffy Blanket helped make for some comfortable and needed nap time.

The Original Puffy Blanket is available in a multitude of colors and in three sizes of Throw, 1-Person, and 2-Person and should definitely be part of your adventure vehicle's "Go Bag".

Puffy Fans, also take note that Rumpl just launched (and already fully funded) a new project on Kickstarter with the Original Puffy Poncho that is worth a look too.    

What's better than a Epic 476 fiberglass fly rod?  How about a five piece, go anywhere, Epic 476 fiberglass fly rod.

The Epic 476 blank was in the original line up from Swift Fly Fishing and has quite a following for good reason.  Last year they introduced the Epic 476 Packlight and it's quickly become my go to for off the trail trips or anytime that I want to carry a fly rod along but don't have a lot of space.

The Epic 476 Packlight is a progressive taper in glass and I consider this a "Do All" type four weight that can cast dry flies with ease while also having the ability to nymph and even cast small streamers effectively as well.  I would have no problems traveling the world with this capable four weight.

The Epic 476 Packlight is available three different ways from Swift Fly Fishing and can be purchased as a Blank, Ready To Wrap Kit, or a Studio Built Fly Rod direct from the New Zealand shop.   

Wading belts don't have to be black and boring and it took the folks at Wingo Belts to make bring some fun and color with two dozen choices featuring custom art designed wading belts that are built to last.  The Wingo Wading Belts made of a heavy duty 1.5 inch wide polyester with quick-release buckle and are adjustable to 45".

Wading belts are essential gear and might as well have one that looks good too for the long run.

Wingo Belts have been around for a couple of years now and their "Made in U.S.A." products span from Wading Belts to Everyday Belts (Bottle Openers or D-Rings) to Key Fobs and they didn't forget Dogs either.  It's also worth noting that they have a strong Rep Your Water Collection that is worth as well.  

Want to order one?  Use the code "TFM20" for 20% your order now through Sunday, June 25, 2017.

School's out and many families are planning trips that often include time spent at one or several of the National Parks dotted across the United States.  Many of these National Parks have known, or in some cases, little known fly fishing opportunities.  One of the latest releases from Stonefly Press is helping unlock these favorite places with "25 Best National Parks To Fly Fish".

This book was written by Terry and Wendy Gunn and they tapped local guides and other sources in creating a treasure trove of information which covers not only the angling possibilities in a highlighted park but also includes detailed maps, fly shops, closest airports, hotels, camping, nearest hospital/urgent care facility, cell service availability, and more.

Consider "25 Best National Parks To Fly Fish" essential reading as you are planning your summertime road trips.

That's a wrap and it's time for summer to start.  What are your favorite pieces of gear for the spring season?

ECHO - Tim Rajeff On Casting Glass

Tim Rajeff from ECHO Fly Fishing is back with another instructional video that may help your stroke when casting fiberglass fly rods.

Visit the ECHO Fly Fishing website to check out there several lineups of fiberglass fly rods in single or two hand and follow along on their Vimeo channel for more video goodness like this.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

An Interview with Ryan McDonald of Finn

As we were driving downstate on our last morning in Vermont, I sent a text message to Ryan McDonald of Finn to see if he'd be around the shop for a quick stop by.  When we arrived, he and his daughter greeted us outside and we spent a few minutes checking out the new space, talking about current and upcoming products, and snapped a few images while there as well.

I've long appreciated the work and gear that Ryan produces at Finn and it was stellar to see where it all takes shape from design to finished product.

I asked Ryan if he'd mind answering a few questions for a short interview to accompany the photographs taken during the shop visit and appreciate him taking the time with his responses.

You and I have known each other for a number of years but for those reading this interview who may not be unfamiliar, what is your story and background?

"I started a fly fishing company about four years ago called Finn.  I grew up in New England, worked for a hand full of larger companies (Burton, Adidas, and Carhartt) and have always traveled with a fly rod in my hand."

How did Finn come together and who all is part of the crew now? 

"Finn started with an idea to build high quality classic hand crafted fly fishing product in the U.S.A. 

Jake and I show up for work, this is how it comes together.  As you may understand a business is a trusted network of thinkers and doers.  Whether it be the forward thinking mentors or the good people that supply our high quality materials, we are all a crew that believe in Finn."

I noticed a several vintages packs and other fly fishing gear in and around the shop that fortunately out date the both of us.  Where do you draw inspiration from in the design of your gear?

"Yes, old gear is inspirational, often times old military bags have cool design solutions, especially stuff from the Alps.  Outside of all the old gear, Jake and I have a smart collaborative energy.  We sew up a sample, test it, and redesign and sew another.  Drawing on paper is good in the early phase but if you have a bag to test you really have something to think about."

The new shop is located on the outskirts of Richmond, Vermont and it seems to be in the process of renovation all while work is being done at the same time.  How do you think this space will evolve in the coming years and what are your plans for it? 

"Work is the only rule and this space is no exception.  I feel it will evolve over time and become a hang out, whether it be a Trout Unlimited meeting and beers or coffee and some fly tying with local Veterans.  The river is only a couple hundred feet away making a fishing break the norm."

One of the things that I have always appreciated about the gear you make is that it seems to already have a story just through the process of it being built. What is the one thing that you want someone to think about when considering a purchase?

"That's a very insightful question Cameron, and not an easy one to solve. I would want them to think about how the gear was built to be brought to life when it gets used.  We have pride in what we do and love fly fishing."

It was neat meeting your daughter when we stopped by the shop.  How has becoming a father changed your perspective with Finn and beyond? 

"Becoming a father changes everything.   I don’t really think I can do the question justice.  I can say she likes helping out around the shop and tying flies."

And just to lighten things up to finish, what is likely playing on the radio to get you through the day and what favorite brew do you search out to end the day at the shop?

"Online radio is our go to start the day with KEXP “John in the Morning" on KEXP followed by KCRW and “Morning Becomes Eclectic”.  In the afternoon we might put on a Boiler Room mix or some LCD Sound System or Bach if it’s snowing.  What beer to drink in Vermont?  That’s a hard one…so many.  Lost Nations Mosaic is this week's choice."

For more, please visit the Finn website and consider following along on Facebook and Instagram for the latest shop news. 


Cuba has been in the news quite a bit lately and after seeing this shortie film from Smith Optics, it's got me wanting to jump in on a trip and go.

There are literally hundreds of videos to check out on the Smith Optics Vimeo channel.  If you don't any work done today, it's not my fault.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

FLY PUNK - Issue 4

The latest issue of Fly Punk is live and I am particularly stoked about this issue since there are pieces by friend Jeff Scoggin (who I fished the Native Sons piece of water with) of Stick-N-String and a highlight on V-Stick Custom Fly Rods who are doing some rad fiberglass builds in Switzerland.


Morlock's Craw Bunny

This time next week I'll be back on Beaver Island for a week of fly fishing for carp and smallmouth with Indigo Guide Service.  I used to bring a ton of flies with me but Captain Kevin Morlock and Captain Steve Martinez both have their own squared away game on what works up there.

One of their favorite patterns (or a variation of this) is the Morlock's Craw Bunny and this is a great tie for your crayfish fly box. 

Check out the atightloop YouTube page for more fly tying goodness to keep you busy at the vise.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

6 Good Reads - The Tom Morgan Edition

With the passing of famed rodbuilder Tom Morgan, a wave of great articles, remembrances and recollections have been posted online. I thought it might be good to pull a few favorites for everyone to enjoy.

Please take special note of the "Articles" page on the Tom Morgan Rodsmiths website as there are many excellent reads within that one link.







And a little bonus feature with a short film by John Arnold of scumliner media which captures the specialness of Tom Morgan fiberglass fly rods of now and yesteryear.

If there are articles that I have missed, please consider linking them in a comment below.