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Fly Fishing Gear Reviews & Equipment Reports

2012 Fly Fishing Gear Reviews

Water Works Lamson - The Gear Shower

Water Works Lamson - The Gear ShowerMy first time using the Gear Shower I was really amazed with how well it worked and how easily the product can help protect our streams, simply put there is no reason that any angler should be without a Gear Shower! It’s a very easy fly fishing invention to use and carry around with you anywhere. Also the setup is very easy, just prop it up on a car window and just let the hose do the rest of the work for you. Not only could I use it to clean my waiters but I also used it to clean my dog off, a really nice feature for keeping the truck clean! I strongly recommend that you get your very own Gear Shower and try it out on your next fishing trip.

Umpqua Boat Box

The Umpqua Boat Box offers a good mix of size and convenience. It comes in two sizes: baby box (10” x 8” x 3”) and ultimate (13 1/2” x 10” x 3 1/2”). I selected the baby box for review. At first glance the box is large enough for most of my streamers, yet small enough to be carried stream/lake side. At $39.99 it’s priced the same as the Cliff Bugger Beast, which is similar in size. Unlike the Bugger Beast, it comes with an additional foam slot on the outside. It’s convenient for switching flies quickly. If you’re hard on your equipment like I am, I doubt that extra slot will hold up very long as it has no protection from the elements.

Umpqua Boat Box Umpqua Boat Box with Flys Umpqua Boat Box - Closed

The internal foam slots are thick and durable. They hold up to the constant switching of flies. The box itself is well-constructed and can handle being frequently tossed on the bank. The biggest downside, it’s not water-proof. The box is far from air tight, so it’s inevitable that water will get in. With streamers running upwards to $7, I would like more protection.

The baby box is perfect for medium to small flies. I use it mostly for warm-water flies, but it would make for a good trout box. The overall size makes it easy to carry along the stream and it’s durable enough to handle the elements. For $39 I’d be hard-pressed to find a better box. However, if you have an extensive streamer collection, it may be worth investing in a water-proof fly box.

-- Matt Nery Pro-Staff Guide

Hatch 5 Plus Fly Reel

Hatch 5 Plus Reel Reel Tested: Hatch 5 Plus
Price: $500

Last year I was most fortunate to receive a Hatch 5 Plus Reel for Christmas and I am pleased to report that I have never fished a better fly reel. The reel has been a nice compliment to my favorite Winston Boron II-x 5 weight. What I have been most impressed with is the overall durability of the fly reel and the smoothness of the drag system. Hatch has lately been setting the industry standard with cutting edge yet simple and reliable fly reels. The reels look great to boot and the machining and craftsmanship is bar none some of the best in the business.

Hatch has revolutionized a new drag system; the majority of the drags on the market today incorporate a drag mechanism that is one to one surface contact. This means that one surface (metal) is driven or drawn toward another surface (cork, plastic, carbon fiber, graphite, etc.) Hatch reels take a completely different approach by incorporating a stacked disc drag. The discs are made up of a combination of stainless steel and Rulon®, and positioned in a stacked configuration.

Hatch has pioneered a new drag system EBS (Effective Breaking System) and is measured by the surface contact area of one disc times the number of surfaces it contacts. Each size reel has its own unique disc size and combination. The size and number of discs determines the EBS in square inches. The drag system benefits in several ways from this breaking system:

More surface area makes for a smoother, more durable drag and helps eliminates start up inertia. Heat distribution occurs over multiple surfaces, rather than one to one contact, thereby eliminating stick slip problems caused by extreme heat in high-speed runs. Finally, disc materials require NO lubrication or maintenance.

The “Finatic” is the do all reel and can handle everything from rising trout in the Rocky Mountains to schooling Bonefish in Belize. The reel is designed for lines 5-7 weight making a great set up for the traveling sportsman. For more information check out: Hatch Outdoors Website

-- Tyler Bowman Guide Service Specialist | Pro-Staff Guide

Korkers Chrome Kling Boots

Korkers Chrome Kling Boots

I was in need of a new pair of boots. I had a trip coming up on the San Juan River below Navajo Reservoir. The ‘Juan is one of those rivers where good traction is critical. The bottom of the river can become as slick as snot and a fall hurts. I was able to find some Korkers, the Chrome model with the OmniTrax interchangeable sole and the BOA lacing system. When I travel to destinations for fishing, maximizing the time on the water is the name of the game and great boots are the key. Like many other sports, comfortable feet make or break the day. These Korkers are light even when soaking wet. That makes for days where your arm may be a little more tired than your feet. The drainage is good and the seams have held up.

They seem to run about average to wide width which accommodated my rather wide feet nicely. The interchangeable sole is a new thing for me and I was a little weary about them, but they have mange to go beyond my expectations. My Chrome’s came with the Kling-On and the studded Kling-On soles. On the San Juan I chose the studded Kling-Ons. The ‘Juan is the only river that even in my late 20’s I would have a river staff with me. Almost twenty years later and I was staff-less on the San Juan. The grip of the studded Kling-On was solid even on the slime covered limestone. I did not fall once and slipping was mostly due to operator error. The soles are stiff and yet sensitive to feel the rocks and gullies of the river bottom. When I am anxious to get in the river, the BOA lacing system speeds things up. With a pop and a few quick turns I am laced and ready to go. The BOA system has been on the market for about 12 years and you can find it used on bicycle shoes, golf shoes even snowboard and ski boots. The system uses a wire and a ratchet drive to tighten instead of laces giving a very low profile to the front of the boot and less places to snag line. Weather conditions have little effect on the lacing and if you have ever tried to tie or untie frozen laces with frozen hands it’s tough. The BOA system reinvents the term poppin’ of my boots. One quick pull on the ratchet knob and the whole lace releases. One word, efficient!! My boots now have about 30 days on the water and they are performing well! Being pretty hard on wading boots, I like it when they can take some abuse and keep going. Good pair of boots!

-- Randy Pruitt | 2011 Instructor/Guide of the Year| The Flyfisher Group

Fishpond Bighorn Kit Bag

Fishpond Bighorn Kit BagPrice: $124.95

Where to buy:

First impression

  • Sturdy construction.
  • The bag has numerous exterior zipper pockets
  • The bag comes with 5 Velcro dividers for the inside compartment as well as an integrated top work-shelf
  • Easy access to the main compartment
  • Adjustable cinch loops for carrying a rod tube
  • Adjustable shoulder strap

Intended use

Bighorn kit bag is ideal for the traveling angler as an airline carry on. The dimensions are 18” x 10.5” x 12.5” and should fit nicely in most overhead bins. I am looking forward to using the Bighorn Kit bag on my upcoming trip to the Florida Keys in December.

The Bighorn kit bag also will be great for weekend getaway. The Velcro dividers allow you to organize and separate gear. The generous inside compartment allows you to pack reels, terminal tackle, fly boxes as well as having room for a vice and fly tying materials.

Second thoughts

Fishpond Bighorn Kit BagI have yet to figure out what to do with the “integrated top work-shelf”.

I have to admit that the price tag for the Bighorn Kit bag did give me a case of sticker shock ($124.95). The bag seems to be built for the long haul. For the price I would expect this bag to be with me after many years of use.

-- Scott McCaslin, Pro-Staff Guide

Lamson Lightspeed Reel

Few things these days can claim to be low maintenance, but the Lamson Lightspeed which incorporates the maintenance-free conical drag system is the epitome of easy upkeep. The new Lightspeed design has a few upgrades from previous models including a redesigned drag knob that allows for easier adjustment. Lamson also redesigned the reel and spool profile which takes the reel to a more flattened, and in my opinion better appearance than previously rounded models.

Lamson Litespeed ReelsOn the positive side of things, I like how light the reel feels in hand and on the rod. The Lightspeed isn’t the lightest reel in Lamsons’ lineup but you might think so if you didn’t know otherwise. The Hard Alox finish is far more durable than traditional anodized aluminum finishes making the Lightspeed almost immune to scratches and scuffs. Combine this with the already mentioned super smooth sealed conical drag system and you have a bomb proof reel that is sure to provide years of smooth fish stopping power.

Lamson Lightspeed Reel SizeOn the downside, the reel comes with a mid-level price tag with MSRP at around $300 for both 5wt models. Keeping in mind that the Lightspeed has similar conical drag components to the Speedster, Velocity, Guru and the Konic II, makes it hard to justify paying the higher price for the Lightspeed. With technical large arbor proportions, this reel picks up line faster than a standard arbor; however, it seems to perform more like a mid-arbor reel on the water, not picking up quite as much line as you might expect from a reel with large arbor qualifications.

I recently field tested the 1.5 model and was pleased with its performance when matched with a fast action 4wt rod. The reel holds just the right amount of backing and was strung up in no time. The drag was smooth and engaged with little startup inertia and handled the mid-sized trout with ease.

Overall, it seems like you are paying for durability with this reel. Combine the tough design with lighter weight, and a larger arbor, and the Lightspeed is well worth the consideration. If you are on a tight budget or in need of lightening quick retrieval rates though, I might suggest looking elsewhere.

Read more from Lamson and find where to buy one today:

-- Ethan Emery, Director of Outreach & Education | Pro-Staff Guide | President, Angling University

Tiemco Shimazaki Dry Shake:

Tiemco Shimazaki Dry ShakeSo while dry fly shake may not be the most important piece of fly fishing gear, a good bottle that will keep your Elk Hair Caddis a float is worth its weight in salt. Personally, I have always favored Gink and then after having caught a few fish I usually dress my dry with a shake. However, Tiemco’s spray works wonders and does a great job to keep your dry fly buoyant and riding high in the water column. I still think the spray is most effective when used with the Gink to help insure maximum water repellency.

Nothing is worse than watching a freshly tied Stimulator sink below the surface so stop by your local fly shop today and test out Tiemco’s Schimazaki dry fly shake.

-- Tyler Bowman Guide Service Specialist | Pro-Staff Guide

Fishpond Red Tail Wader Belt System

Fishpond Red Tail Waider Belt SystemI just received a new wader belt system from Fishpond, the Red Tail Wader Belt System. This wading belt comes with two drink holders and a two zippered main compartment and multiple “D” rings for hanging various tools and gadgets. The waist belt itself is wide and sturdy and should provide enough support for those of us so fortunate as to have some lower back issues. Let’s face it, fly fisherman tend to be gear heads, toting to the river a wide array of the latest gadgets and gizmos. However, sometimes it is nice to take a minimalist approach to fly fishing. As famed fly fishing author and South Platte River expert Ed Engle would say, “Put as little between you and the fish as possible.” Sometimes we forget that fishing really is a simple sport and all one needs to do is outsmart a fish and this can be accomplished without thousands of dollars’ worth of gear. Fishpond’s new wader belt is a great option for the minimalist angler. The pack certainly does not have enough room to meet the demands of a professional guide but would work great for carrying gear for small stream fishing where all one needs is a handful of dry flies and bead heads. Also, I think the pack would be great for hiking into back country streams and high mountain lakes and would be a great addition to the back country angler who is looking to lighten the load. Personally, I think this pack is going to become my “Go-to” pack for fishing for carp in downtown Denver. Usually when I’m carp fishing I carry just one fly box and few basic tools and I think Fishpond’s new Red Tail Wader Belt System is going to be just the ticket for pursuing the Rocky Mountain Bonefish.

-- Tyler Bowman Guide Service Specialist | Pro-Staff Guide

Ross RX Fly Rod Series

Ros RX Fly RodRod Tested: Ross RX 9” 4 weight fly rod.

Price: $299 - $300 depending on length and line weight.

First Casts: After throwing a brand new line on Ross’s new RX 9’ 4 weight and making a few casts I was very impressed! The RX is Ross’s premium fly rod and it certainly makes some nice loops. The 4-piece rod series has a beautiful deep amber finish with nicely appointed silver highlights. The reel seat is carbon fiber with anodized aluminum hardware, and the handle is hand-shaped premium cork. The grip is a bit slimmer than most factory made rods. Personally, I really like the slimmer grip because I think such a grip helps the caster get a better feel of what the rod blank is doing. The graphite design is a fast action taper that rivals the most expensive rods on the market today. The RX certainly generates a high line speed but I would not categorize this rod as a broomstick, rather I would describe the action as more of a classic trout rod as the rod is comfortable to cast at close distances but can produce enough energy and line speed for true distance casts. These rods are lightweight, yet and powerful and precise. Simply stated, the RX series is a premium fly rod with a premium price. If you are looking for a premium fly rod but don’t want to break the bank then check out the RX today! The RX is available in a variety of line weights 3-12, making for a rod series that can handle all fly fishing species and conditions.

Dislikes: Not much to dislike about this stick but I have to say it would be nice if Ross had included a small hook keeper on the rod series…

The RX rod series comes with the following standard features:

  • Fast action, progressive rod taper
  • 4-piece design — great for travel
  • Titanium oxide, super strong guides
  • Rod piece alignment dots
  • Carbon fiber reel seat with anodized aluminum hardware
  • Half wells handle (3wt. — 6wt.), full wells handle with fighting butt (6wt. and up)
  • Cordura rod case
  • Lifetime warranty

-- Tyler Bowman Guide Service Specialist | Pro-Staff Guide

Simms Headwaters Pro Waist Pack

Simms Headwaters Pro Waist PackIf you are looking for a new pack or vest fly fishing system look no further than the Simms Headwaters Pro Waist Pack. The pack is easy to carry with a comfortable shoulder sling and has a wide array of pockets and zippers for storing fly boxes, gadgets and gismos. For the discriminating trout fisherman the pack allows the user to carry a lot of gear while still maintaining a light weight and out of the way carrying option.

Waist packs are a great option for fishing guides or for anyone who needs to bring a good amount of gear on the river but would like the pack out of their way while fishing. The new design is lighter weight, with better volume and better interior access. Check them out on the Simms Website.

-- Tyler Bowman Guide Service Specialist | Pro-Staff Guide

Best Streamer of the Year!

Sex Dungeon StreamerAs the name suggests the Sex Dungeon is one nasty streamer! This articulated (jointed) streamer has lots of flashy and movement based material like rabbit strips,marabou and deer hair. This season the Sex Dungeon has quickly become my go to streamer as it fishes well in a variety of colors including black, white and olive. When fished with a floating line or sinking this fly moves very lifelike in the water and consistently draws strikes from aggressive trout. The fly fishes well by itself or with a trailer fly but my favorite method lately has been fishing not one but two at the same time! The movement and flash that this fly creates is hard for any trophy sized trout to resist!

Pick up a few of these deadly streamers today at Trout's Fly Shop and be sure to ask about our guided fishing trips. It is quickly turning to fall in the mountains and the fly fishing is better than ever!

-- Tyler Bowman Guide Service Specialist | Pro-Staff Guide

Simms RipRap Shoe

Simms RipRap ShoeChoosing wading gear is always an important choice for any fly angler and this Simms RipRap Shoe review is designed to help you. Boots, waders and wet wading gear should all be carefully selected as your comfort on the stream is very important to wading safely. Also, good and comfortable wading shoes and gear will help you work the water more effectively. As a guide I am very particular about wading gear as I spend hundreds of days a year on the water and I just don’t have time for anything less than the best.

I have never been one to like wet wading in wading boots and have always preferred sandals or wet wading shoes. This year I made the switch to the new Simms Rip Rap Shoe and couldn't be happier!

The RipRap shoes slip on and off with ease and are very durable. Plus the Stream Tread soles grip even the slipperiest of streams. The shoe is completely enclosed and it is virtually impossible to get rocks inside the RipRap, plus the outside of the shoe is thick and stout enough to keep your toes and ankles from bruising on streambed boulders. The shoes are also great for any fishing that requires a little hiking; I have used my RipRaps as a light weight shoe to wear hiking into Cheesman Canyon.

Check them out today on the Simms Website.

After one season: After a whole season of guiding and extensive use I couldn’t be more impressed with the Simms Rip Rap Shoe! The shoe still looks and feels brand new and I couldn’t be more pleased with the overall functionality of the shoe. After watching my fellow guides struggle to put on wet wading socks, wading boots and gravel guards, I couldn’t help but smile to just slip on my Rip Rap shoes! As far as wet wading goes it just doesn’t get any easier or more convenient than this simple, durable and functional pair of wet wading shoes. The soles still grip the stream bed just as good as when they were first out of the box. I will be wearing the Rip Rap when spring comes around and if they are ever to wear out I’ll be sure and find a new pair immediately! If you like to wet wade, the Simms Rip Rap shoe is tailor made for you.

-- Tyler Bowman Guide Service Specialist | Pro-Staff Guide