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. 

Click Image To View Larger

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.


Unknown said...

I've gone through the same process re: t-shirts vs. collared shirts. At least the snap-fronts give the women easy access :p

Cameron Mortenson said...

Mat...I can tell you aren't married yet. HA...

DJ said...

I'd have to add the Vedavoo Spinner daypack and CBarclay 7'2" 3wt to the list. The daypack has been an essential piece of gear for my summer travels. It fits under an airplane seat and in a motorcycle saddle bag while still carrying more gear than I need. And the smallest rod in the Barclay lineup is perfect for chasing natives in small water.

Unknown said...

Here's my current 10 that always say summer. It'll be bitter sweet to put em away when fall hits:

(1) Any of my 4 Gaucho shirts—pearl snaps are where it's at—yeah, I'm 41 and think tshirts are definitely for kids and mowing the yard. Got 2 Pescadora on the way, so maybe it will be the new pick. Sorry to say but the Aransas is a poor excuse for a fishing shirt compared to others like Simms or Patagonia.

(2) Olukai flip flops—have you felt the arch??!

(3) Sipping home made moonshine or 18yo whisky from a Howler Brothers/Oxide whisky cups after a day of fishing.

(4) Hatch visor to protect the eyes and cool the head. Perfect for summer.

(5) Hatch 7+

(6) Rio Bass flyline

(7) H2 9' 8wt

(8) Chuck Kraft bass flies

(9) Patagonia stormfront sling keeping everything dry during those always surprising afternoon boomers.

(10) Any bug repellent.

Cameron Mortenson said...

DJ...the new VEDAVOO Drifter will be highlighted in an upcoming review and no doubt the Barclay three weight is sweet. I am still looking forward to casting the four and five weights soon.

Carlos...excellent list. The Olukai flip flops ALMOST made this list but I bumped them in the end. Maybe next summer's line up. I think the Patagonia Stormfront Sling will get highlighted in the fall or winter line up. It's a great sling pack.

akpowdermonkey said...

Top 10 for summer?

1: Marathon Bug Dope: Slightly less annoying than other forms of DEET, for when its to hot to wear a sweatshirt, but not hot enough to put down the bugs

2: Hippy (non DEET) Bug Dope: For the back of your hands, so as to not kill fly lines

3: Airflo Lines: DEET doesn't fuck with them as much

4: A hoody: Keeps bugs out of your ears

5: Pepper Spray: Bear are awake in summer

6: Fillet Knife: Never know when you are gonna catch a tasty salmon

7: Dry flies: Most people in Alaska laugh at me, but I especially like when I fish behind people using flesh or beads and school them

8: Glo Bugs: Bead are overrated, especially in small stream situations

9: Ziplocks: You need something to put that tasty salmon in and bring it home

10: Release Tool: Makes releasing those 10 inch fish way easier.

Cameron Mortenson said...

AKPM...stellar list. I've really enjoyed following your summer through Instagram.