Friday, September 18, 2020

10 FOR SUMMER - The Warmwater Edition

Well, there's nothing like sliding into this gear review right as summer is quickly flipping the switch to fall.  I never want to push time as I do enjoy our South Carolina summers even though they are hot as Hell with humidity that does not end.

Our summer has been uncertain, just like everyone else's, as 2020 keeps throwing curve balls but we've spent quite a bit of time outdoors and on the water.  We even made a few (careful with precautions) road trips happen which we needed.

This is a little embarrassing but this gear review is late enough in the summer season that there are a couple of items (one from Filson and then another from Rep Your Water) that are no longer available.  We're going to push on through and this is a good reminder that I need to be a little more timely on these seasonal gear reviews.  
So, look for '10 for Fall' in the coming weeks instead of the coming months...

There might be more than ten items in the mix but who cares, right?

I think I can count on one hand how many different brands of clothing that I usually wear and Filson is on that list.  High quality fabrics meet a typically great fit and look.   

I know that the Green River Shorts are advertised as a water short  but I've found them to be more of a daily wear and burly (read heavier fabric feel) Baggies option.  The are rock solid shorts and I ended up purchasing several pairs with the Service Green and Khaki getting the most use.  They are currently on sale for 40% off which is a deal on these for sure.    

Living in South Carolina, I'm always looking for lightweight and quick drying button-up shirts to wear.  I bought a couple of the Feather Cloth Shirts this spring and have liked them a lot.  They are not currently listed on the Filson website but I'd bet that they reappear next spring.

I recently began an affiliate relationship with Filson so when you click through the links in this review and make a purchase, a few pennies end up in the T.F.M. piggy bank.  Thank you in advance.
It's pretty easy to carry too many tools which all may have their own certain function, but I'm typically skipping all the extra with just carrying the Loon Outdoors Rogue Quickdraw Forceps.  They snatch hooks out of fish mouths, trim up deer hair flies that need a haircut, pinch hook barbs, clear hook eyes, and the carabiner finger loop keeps this tool handy and secure.

Circle back to a previous T.F.M. review on the Rogue Series tools from Loon Outdoors.
I get a lot of emails where I am asked about vintage fly reels and what would be a good match on grandad's fiberglass fly rod that they found in the attic or garage.  My answer typically starts with suggesting one of the many models of Martin Fly Reels which seem to be in constant supply, often in very good or even mint condition in their factory box, many decades after they were last sold.
These fly reels rock for a few reasons.  First, you're not going to have to break your piggy bank as it's not unusual to find or bid on minty ones for $25 but less than $50.  Second, I like the no frills look and the sizes out there in the Model 60 through Model 67's will fit a wide range of glass fly rods.  Lastly, under the hood they are a simple click and pawl with a great sound.  
The fly reels shown above are my family of Model 67's in three different variations.  They balance out a six to eight weight fly rod nicely.
Hint on finding one or several of your own?  eBay is a great place to start.

When I think about the number of fly rod companies that are offering fiberglass fly rods now compared to ten years ago, it's been amazing to see all the different shops and ideas in glass that have popped up.  One that started as kinda a sleeper from my perspective was Moonlit Fly Fishing as it seemed they were dabbling with glass but also very focused on shop offerings.  

Fast forward to now and if you asked who Moonlit Fly Fishing was, they are known for the Lunar S-Glass which are made in a Skittles rainbow of colors.  They have carved a nice spot for themselves in offering a really fun S-Glass construction fly rod in a eye-catching package for a price that many who are just trying fiberglass or want to add another fly rod to the stack can afford.  They recently moved to a customer direct model and the new pricing have these now at under $180.  Not bad at all.

I've been playing around with the seven weight all spring through the summer as my go-to pond rod in the kayak and it's a lot of fun.  The feel is progressive without loosing the feel of glass and it matches well with several of the bass designed fly line tapers that I use quite a bit.  I typically like heavier line weight glass shorter than 8'6" (8' always seems money to me) but this one works just fine.  
This is a lot of fly rod for the money and the 2021 models (which some are already posted on their website) are switching out the white painted butt section area for black.  I like it. 
A few years ago my wife and I took a trip out to California (without the children), starting in San Francisco and made a wide loop north up the coast and into wine county.  I can't remember the reason why now but we stopped in at an outdoors store in one of the small towns and made an impulse purchase of my first pair of Olukai sandals.  The $120 price tag hurt but after wearing them for the remainder of that trip, I was sold.  
That first pair lasted for years and I'm now on my second pair which might look a little beat up in this photograph but there's a lot of life in them.  If there is a longer lasting and more comfortable flip flop style sandal out there, I haven't found it yet.  

Long time readers will know that I have a real soft spot for the artwork of Nate Karnes and his Fish Flag Face Shields are a lot of fun and color.  I also like that where there is maybe too much trout art out there (okay, not really), Nate focuses a lot of his energy on warmwater species such as the Longear, Bluegill, Carp, Largemouth Bass, Redbreast, Redeye Bass, and Smallmouth.
There are lot of other options too to include his latest, National Park Face Shields collection.

This is all good timing as I don't think we'll be stopping wearing masks any time soon...

Remember to use discount code "TFM2020" for 15% off your order.

Insert sad trombone sound but this great straw hat is longer posted up on the RYW website but you may be able to find one at your local fly shop.  Hopefully these pop back up next summer again.

I sunburn so damn easy that I've started wearing these big hats more often than a ball cap when I'm out in the kayak or down at the in-laws pool.  The difference is amazing.

It's unlikely that Garrison and Corinne need my apparel design suggestion but replacing that front patch with a hook and loop or heavy duty foam patch would make for a handy landing zone for flies.
I've been using some version of the Anadro fly line now for several years and it's one of my all-time favorites.  It turns over warmwater flies of all sorts and is a perfect match on my favorite pond fly rods.  It's also done duty on my carp and striper setups as well with great results.

It's billed as a "Nymph" fly line but don't sleep on it as not also being awesome for other things too.  It's available in 4WF to 9WF.

Over time, Scientific Anglers has began offering the Anadro taper in the Mastery Series, Amplitude, and now Amplitude Smooth.  It's even available in a Stillwater version now too.  This means that you can spend $80 to $130 on this fly line, depending on the technologies you want in this fly line.   
For years, I've had the bad habit of carry too much when I'm on the water and this spring I decided to give my large gear bags a rest and instead put all the necessities for kayak pond trips into the new gear pouch.  
What a revelation and this is one of those gear pieces that it works so damn well that you start thinking that you need one set up for this kind of fly fishing and then one or two more set up for other fly fishing focuses.  Warmwater, saltwater, trout...
This is the first Simms piece that I've played with that employs the TruZip self-healing toothless zipper and I haven't had a bit of trouble with it.  The size and shape of this gear pouch is perfect for stashing everything from your mobile phone, tippets, leaders, small fly box, tools, and whatever else you need for a pond session.  It rode on the floor board of the kayak all summer and kept everything on the inside dry. 
Priced at $59, you need one and maybe at least one more.      
Truth told, while I like fly fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth (and the many sub-species found around the southeast) are my absolute favorite.  War-painted, red-eyed, and angry, they are fun in a river or creek and there is nothing like stalking them on the shallow flats around Beaver Island, Michigan. 

Smallmouth are scattered all over the place, both where they should be and found in other places that fish biologists aren't always sure how they got there.  They are survivors and are long-lived with many that I've caught being as old as our daughter who just started driving last month on her permit.     

They are argueably the most perfect gamefish for the fly rod and if you need a primer on the ins and outs, Dave Karczynski (writer/photog extraordinaire) and Tim Landwehr (longtime guide and owner of Tight Lines Fly Shop) cover a lot of ground in this must-have book.  
I've read 'Smallmouth' cover to cover several times and pick up something new on each read through as it's a well layed out mix of methods, essays, flies, techniques for all sorts of situations, and will sure to up your smalljaw on the fly game.  Order this one today. 
Typically, my summer pond fly box is usually a stack of several fly boxes squeezed into a gear bag.  With this summer's mantra of "Less is More", I used the new Umpqua Payload as the catch all for everything from bluegill to bass to pickerel.  If it swims in the family pond, I've got flies for it stashed in the Payload.
Available in both Freshwater and Saltwater models, the Payload is double-sided with Megaslit Hybrid Foam, see-through lids, and a ton of acreage for more flies than I really need.
It's durable and has been the perfect boat/kayak fly box all summer long.
I always like to highlight small shop custom fly tiers and Bass Pop Fly Shop Flies are a throw back to when bass flies were carved out of balsa wood and painted in bright primary colors.  These might bit a little tough to see in this photograph but they are a mix of Poppers and Wiggle Dragon Bugs.  They float high, are easy to cast, and made me feel like I was casting flies from the 1950"s. 

Jason Martina of Verona, Wisconsin is building these one at a time and offering them up through his Etsy store.  You can also follow along on Instagram to see all the different variations of his stellar bugs.  It's not too early to be thinking about your bass box for next summer...
There is always lot of YETI talk around here in these reviews and I'm unapologetic about it.  They make great products, support conservation, along with many of the artists, guides, and organizations that I'm friends or associated with.  
YETI has been rolling out limited edition colorways on drinkware and coolers and earlier this summer "Chartreuse" made it's debut.  You won't loose it by not being able to see it and the Ramblers are now offered with the Chug Cap is a serious upgrade on an already solid bottle.
Where I haven't had a lot of use for Rambler Bottle Sling just to wear around on it's own, it comes with clips to attach to the HitchPoints on the Hopper Coolers or Panga Backpack.  I've been using mine on the backpack and it's a great addition to keep a water bottle close at hand.  

What were your favorite pieces of gear that you used during this past summer? 


J and M Flies said...

Very nice write up. Missed you doing these

Cameron Mortenson said...

J&M Flies... Thanks, Buddy. Get out on the water before it gets cold again up there.